Why I built my van in modules

If you’ve seen my original photos and compared them to my current van photos you can see my van has undergone lots of remodels.

The first two builds attempted to leave the original van seats and build around it. That was a disaster.

This was my first attempt to build my bed. I would lay the cushion foam down and it would extend onto the middle factor seats.

So I went to Pinterest for ideas.

Spent more money and built this disaster.

What both of these had in common is that they will not work well over time.

The first one was too heavy and wasn’t easy to disassemble. The second was too tall (followed a blueprint off Pinterest) and for my van size (width & height) made it difficult to open.

So I had two problems to solve.

Software development to the rescue

I’m a software engineer by occupation and I deal with lots of projects of many types. There is a process called iterative development and continuous improvement.

You build and deliver functional software in small increments, adding new features and improving functionality over time. Software is developed using isolated modules or containers. A modules share functionality or features with other modules. They are independent of the software and can be removed or replaced without breaking the program.

Building the van in modules

I had a problem in need to solve. I was spending and wasting money on lumber and needed to find a less expensive alternative.

Back in the 1980’s I had a wood working shop. I made custom furniture. My garage was filled with templates I made from drawings. When a customer order something from my catalogue I pulled out my templates and traced them onto wood, then cut them.

The solution

I purchased black foam poster board from the Dollar Store. I measured, cut and taped together my kitchen, then the bed until I got the measurements right.

Every piece added to my build including the side wall can be removed or replaced without needing to remove other things.

Here is an example of the Kitchen build.

Here the foam board becomes my template.
A photo of the bed concept.
I used the foam board to cut and build this.
Added my solar controller.

Its kinda like software testing

As I mentioned before I’m a software engineer, so I thought, why don’t I integrate testing and continuous improvement.

So I went on bi-weekly camping trips for 3 months. Each time testing to see if doing anything feels natural or does it feel confusion, lost or create frustration.

Each change or alteration in my van was designed to solve a problem. The office answered a problem where my laptop kept getting stepped on because there was no place for it.

The relocation of my solar batteries answered the problem about a permanent spot for the batteries where they are out of the way.

The answer to wasting watts used by my 1500 watt inverter was to purchase all electronics as 12 volt DC devices.

Example of my first kitchen design

My first complete sink. But it got an upgrade.

Although this kitchen setup was nice at first and it was usable. I didn’t like how much light and air flow the cabinet blocked.

I removed it and rebuilt the cabinet.

Note the kitchen is removed in this photo. Nothing else was affected by its removal. This is the start of the bedroom wall design. See the foam board against the side wall.
Removed the wall paper and adding adhesive carpeting.
There is also a folding table just below the propane burner. You can see the piano hinge
Any part can be removed and upgraded.
This is the bottom of my bed. There are 3 “L” brackets to hold the bed in place. Remove them and the bed folds and slides out easily.

3 Replies to “Why I built my van in modules”

  1. This is an awesome build, Your project methodology superb!!
    I think with your explanation, I can do the same for my dodge caravan… I just have to be confident using nails, saws and drillers. Great travels 😊

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