7 Crucial Steps To A Successful Surf Van Fit-Out

2 Feb 2016 3 Share

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Photos & guide: Mitch Cox // @mitch.cox
Guide: Adrian Catt // @adocattso
Additional Photos: Nick Green // @nickgreenphoto

Summer is here. The days are hotter and hotter, and start itching to escape the big smoke and hitting the open road for some much-needed R’n’R. While many of us opt to camp, ‘glamp’ or hit up Airbnb for a couch to surf, there are those who have submitted themselves to #vanlife, transforming their everyday automobiles to a mobile paradise.

These ‘vannies’ have opened up a world of opportunity in the sense that their home is wherever they pull up the handbrake, and with a whole sunburnt nation to explore, why wouldn’t you live out the back of your wheels?

We hit up three legends, Adrian Catt, Nick Green and Mitch Cox, who love the van life and have spent many hours tinkering on their vans, to help us compile a Rough Notes on “How to fit out a Van for a Summer Roadie.” This is a rough guide and hopefully serves as inspiration to those wishing to kit out their ride for those epic summer roadies.

Without further ado...

When I started thinking about what to do with my van, I had a million ideas running through my head. It got me really excited! The possibilities were endless! With the right tools and your imagination, you can design and create a wonderland on wheels. The best part is, the design phase never has to end. – Adrian Catt

1. Firstly, start by taking measurements of the back of your van. Keep in mind storage and the size of your sleeping space. If you’re a surfer, you’ll probably want room under the bed frame for boards. The size of the frame you’re going to build determines what additional space you have left to play with.

2. Next measure your mattress. Take into consideration the height, length and width of the overall size of the mattress together with the frame. Having the mattress/frame at the right height is key. You don’t want to be too close to the roof or so low that you can’t fit anything underneath the bed.

3. Gather the materials needed to line the floor and build your frame base. Consider any additional materials or coverings to increase creature comforts that could make your van look and feel like The Hotel Belvedere.

Pine on treated pine timber is perfect for making your bed frame, and plywood on top makes the bed solid and sturdy. I used 70mm x 35mm treated pine to build my bed frame. The lighter the frame, the better (more weight equals more petrol and more coin). I laid 15mm ply on top to complete the bed frame. – Adrian Catt

4. Install the floor. Depending on the floor of your van, you may need to line the floor with ply or timber. Screw down timber battens as a fixing point for the flooring before screwing your ply or timber into the fixed battens.

Lining floor with foiled backed polystyrene to reduce noise and increase insulation. Timber battens screwed down as a fixing point for flooring. – Mitch Cox

5. Building the frame. Start by measuring your timber, and then cut the individual pieces to the required size and lengths. Once you have all of the pieces to your puzzle, begin screwing them together. Using screws is ideal if you were ever to take the frame out. You can just unscrew it all and put it back together when you want to. Make the decision to assemble the frame inside or outside your van. Be cautious, if you assemble it outside of your van and it’s too big it won’t fit. We suggest assembling it inside the van.

Measure the ply that will be the top of your bed base and mark it out using a pencil. Cut along your outline using a handsaw, jigsaw or circular saw (if you have access to these power tools). Fit your ply in the van and screw it to your frame.

6. Storage. After your frame is built, it’s time to consider shelving and storage options. There are many paths to venture down, from plastic tubs to custom built storage areas. Gather some inspiration from the lads below.

7. Time for those creature comforts. Like Adrian mentioned, the design process is endless, so why stop at a bed frame and mattress. Those little extras can make all the difference to not only the aesthetic but the comfort of your van. Consider things like curtains, mosquito nets, and carpet. Hell, you could even go down Mitch’s path and insulate your van and clad the roof and cover the surface tops in Western Red Cedar!

From Top to Bottom. 1. Lift up storage area/bedside table. Timber is Western Red Cedar. 2. Roof was insulated with foil then clad with Western Red Cedar. 3. Slide out kitchen built with 125kg locking draw runners. Contains food and the stove. – Mitch Cox

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