Joe & Gina's 2006 Short Wheelbase Sprinter Van…

I met the van owners Joe & Gina at the beach about a month ago…They checked out my van and a few weeks later they came over to discuss some ideas…

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(above) Joe & Gina in my shop…Next to them on the workbench is a scale model of their van…

Scale Model 1
(above) I created the model out of 1/8” plywood…The squares on the floor represent 1 sq. ft. each…The seats are to scale and are hot-glued together, as are the cabinet modules…

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(above) I made several different configurations of the scale cabinets and we were able to play around with what would work best with their van and their needs…
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(above) We settled on something close to this…

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(above) To celebrate our design and all around stoke on the up coming changes, we hoisted a couple of my home-brews…Cheers…

Based on our design, I worked up a cost estimate and submitted it to Joe & Gina and they have hired me to do the work…

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(above) Today they brought their van to my place where I’ll work on it…The window van is Joe & Gina’s and the other one is mine…Both are 2006’s…

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(above) My van is the medium wheelbase model and theirs is the short model…The tire sizes are a bit different as well…Mine has 16” wheels and theirs has 15”, thus their van stands a few inches shorter…Mine originally came with the same grill (Dodge) but I changed it to the Benz grill with an aftermarket kit…

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(above) Their van, just as I got it…

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(above) Looking out the back…

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(above) Driver side wall…

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(above) Passenger side wall…

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(above) Looking forward…

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(above) Up front…

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(above) I removed the paneling to have access for insulation, wiring, etc…

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(above) Passenger side…

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(above) Measurements in chalk, tape lines to help with the measurements…

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(above) I can now plan my plywood cutting…

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(above) Up front there will be a new radio and other new stuff, a bunch of it custom, so I removed most of the dash panels for easy access to the still tight spaces…The removal of all that stuff now will really make things a lot easier in days to come…
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(above) The Dodge badging is coming off, because these are not Dodges…They are Mercedes Benz…Every part has MBZ on it…They were distributed by Dodge and Freightliner for a few years, now they are only sold through MBZ…To remove the lettering I use this stuff…It takes a while to soften the adhesive, but it does no harm to the paint…The coffee stir sticks open up the space between the glue and the paint and make taking the letter a lot easier to get off…

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(above) Where it used to say SPRINTER, after peeling the letters off…You can see the gunk lines around the old lettering…

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(above) The right door is where it had the SPRINTER badge…I did the final clean off with GoJo citrus based cleaner…I’ll finish the DODGE side later…

Enough for today, more later…
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(above) The start of a new day…Roll out the tools and get set up…

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(above) Might as well have the inside a good place to work, I’m going to be here a while…

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(above)First thing to do, get the seats out of the way…Later I’m going to add seat swivels…

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(above)Twelve screws out and the seat belts disconnected…

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(above)Now where did I leave off yesterday…Oh yeah, here…

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(above) Since toady is almost all electrical, I disconnected the battery…See that hole I’m pointing to, that’s where the new, heavier gauge wire will feed through for the new 12 volt outlets I’ll put in the back…


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(above) To get the wires from the windshield to the back, I’ll run them behind the headliner…To make life easy, I run a stiff copper wire to pull the flexible wire through…

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(above) The pull wire taped to the speaker and 12 v. wires…One pull is all I needed…

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(above) And a pull wire at the back, near the rear doors…

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(above) After I pulled the new wires, I added a plastic grommet to prevent the wires eventually getting rubbed through and perhaps even shorting out…It’s easy to deal with it now, the right way…

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(above) And another grommet at the top…

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(above) I’ll splice these together later…

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(above) On the passenger side I did the same pull wire, grommet thing…

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(above) At the front console I’m moving the switches from the area near the shifter to near the instrument cluster…one of the switches needs longer wires…I’m an old school, solder ‘em together, shrink tubing kind of guy…I color code the wired with colored tape to keep the right wires going to the right places…

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(above) After shrinking the tubing…

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(above) Up front, wires ready to push in the cavity…

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(above)I pulled a radio wiring diagram off the interweb and matched the radio wires to the factory wires…I hooked up the battery again and Voila, the radio works…I like it when that happens…

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(above)Without a lot of head scratching I got the right plastic back in the right palaces…No extra screws left over is a good thing too…

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(above)Finally, up front the old DODGE emblem is gone…Adios, amigo…

Enough for today, more tomorrow…

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(above) After running the wire, the wall cavity is fitted with fiberglass insulation…

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(above) 1/8” plywood over the insulation…Next, layout where the cabinet will go…

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(above)After a few cuts on the tablesaw, and some glue and nails, the rough cabinet for the passenger side is taking shape…

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(above)There will be a sink over here and the countertop will be stainless steel…I hot glued together this pattern for where the SS will go under the window…

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(above)Pretty simple stuff…

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(above)Pull the cabinet out and finish up the gluing and nailing…

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(above)How it looks from under here…

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(above)Alright, how about this side…

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(above)First, determine what will go where…

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(above)Next, figure out how tall a cabinet will fit…Too tall, wont fit right…

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(above)Just right…

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(above)Fast forward about an hour…

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(above)I’ll deal with the gap at the back later…

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(above)Having it fit as it does, it allows me to use all 10” Accuride 3832 full extension 100# drawer guides…The good kind…

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(above)OK, let’s step back and see how it all looks…Mighty fine…Mighty fine indeed…

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(above) Back to this cabinet, to get access to the wheel wells for more storage, I cut out the bottoms of the cases…

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(above)Where the sink will be, I put the cut out piece back in…The cord lets it lift out easy…Cool looking ply, eh…???…

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(above) Next, the cut out for the sink is done…

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(above)The sink will drain out in the wheel well, over the tire…

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(above)Note the drain pipe…

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(above)And where it fits through the cabinet…

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(above)The wheel well over here now has access for storage…You might be able to make out the chalk lines where the drawers will go…Roughly…Five in the tall side and a pair on the low side…

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(above) The speaker holes are jig sawed out…

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(above)Over here too…

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(above)The full size countertop template is done…

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(above)And the one over here is ready…

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(above)Finally the pattern for the drop leaf table is made…
Today was a good day…

More later…
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(above)Good morning Sprinter…Roll out tools and lets get started…Actually I’ve already started…Been to the sheet metal shop and ordered the stainless, then off to Home Depot for carpet, insulation, plumbing materials, roof rack components and some small hardware…

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(above)I’ll start easy with insulating the rear doors…

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(above)…both of ‘em…

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(above)Then I’ll get this wall done…

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(above)Insulation ain’t rocket science…

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(above)Passenger door – Done…

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(above)Driver side door – As well……

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(above)I decided to add another 12v. outlet just behind the driver seat…I ran the wire inside the wall but it had to lay on top of a couple pieces of straight cut sheet metal, so I cut a section of extension cord outer casing and taped it over the wall wire…I feel good about having it that way…

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(above)After cutting and stuffing, this wall is done…

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(above)I took a minute to re-roll the carpet I bought…

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(above)The darker is for the floor and walls…The lighter is for the lid…

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(above)I figured out how I wanted to have the gap at the side of the tall cabinet finish out…I needed to add some slightly curved backing, so I ripped some 3'/8” bending ply and glued and nailed it to the cabinet…Nice to have stuff like this handy…

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(above)This side too…

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(above) Behind the cabinet I put plywood cleats against the steel panel with polyurethane adhesive…Under that is the first layer of foam insulation…

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(above)And another layer of foam…

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(above) Next, I put the cabinet back in and screwed it to the wall and put the plywood side fillers in…

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(above) Again, on this side too…

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(above) Time to do a few small things…First drill the 4” hole for the speakers in the headliner…

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(above)Over here as well…

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(above) Then I did some of the rough drain plumbing…Custom fixture since they don’t make what I want…Life’s like that a lot…

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(above)Next I got started on the water supply…

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(above) Custom cuts on the fittings to keep it as compact as possible…I need to work on this some more and that’s what tomorrow is for…

More later…

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(above) In the morning while it was still dark outside, I figured it was a good time to start the front console conversion…

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(above) My multi-tool rarely sees action in my shop…Most of the time there are better, more specific tools for a job…For these cuts it worked fast and accurately to gut the center from the console…

The stores would be opening soon, so I headed out to get more materials, then it was back to the shop…

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(above) What this is, is the start of the roof racks…1” galvanized iron pipe, street elbows, floor flanges and stainless eye bolts…

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(above) Loosely assembled then placed on the roof…Looks about right..

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(above) The bolts are too long to get a wrench on the nut, so I’ll cut ‘em down…

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(above) The cut-off wheel worked great…

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(above) Good steel.

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(above) Steel pipe is oily, so to clean it so I can paint it, I gave everything a wash with paint thinner, then with some seriously soapy water…

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(above) Pipe wrenched tight…

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(above) Where the bolts pass through the elbows, the holes can let in water, so I grabbed an old tube of constriction adhesive and gave five pulls of the gun into each elbow…Watertight…

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(above) Next I started the painting…

Alright, now I can put those aside and add more paint throughout the day…Time to work on the countertops…

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(above) The stainless steel will be attached to the 1/8” plywood patterns, which will be wood glued to the plywood cabinets…To stick the SS to the patterns I’ll use “Destructive Strength Pressure Sensitive Adhesive”…Peel and stick…You want to take it apart, you destroy the material…One shot to get it right…As it should be…

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(above) First I wipe the contact surfaces with denatured alcohol to remove any grease, then roll out the PSA and place the plywood flat on it…The paper backing around the edges gets cut flush and then….

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(above) the paper backing is peeled away…

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(above) I have a 90 degree alignment board I use to build drawers and it is perfect to align the ply/PSA with the SS…So easy I could do it one handed while taking a picture…Like I said, destructive strength…Now, you try it…

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(above) Close enough…

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(above) From the factory the SS had a lack-luster finish…Dull…So to give it some character, I wet sanded it with 220 grit…

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(above) Three minutes later it’s close to how I want it…

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(above) The sink piece was only rough cut to size, so I need trim it before it can be installed…But first I need to eat something…

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(above) With crumbs still on my lips, I got out my sharpest metal shears and followed the lines…

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(above) The again it was plywood on the PSA…

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(above) Alignment board assist…

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(above) Then I sheared away the overhangs…

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(above) I’ll put a string on it and hang it in the yard and call it art…

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(above) For the sink cut out, I brought out the metal cutting wheel…

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(above) After the sparks settled…

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(above) Yeah, about like that…

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(above) …and over here too…

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(above) More rattle can paint…Thick…

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(above) Next, I finished the sink drain pipes…Built solid…As it should be…

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(above) Then it was time to get the water tank 95% complete…I wet sanded all the pipes and fitting, dried them out then glued ‘em up…

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(above) Loosely zip-tied in place…The valve will go in later…

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(above) And that how it looks at the end of week one…I’m stoked on the progress…I hope you’re enjoying the process…

Back to it on Monday…


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(above)Now that the rough cabinets are built, it’s time to make the drawers…Old school calculations using the essentials…

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(above)Before heading to the wood store for more plywood, the freshly painted racks are put in place…

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(above)Looks right…I’ll wait for the afternoon when it warms up before I mount them…

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(above)Compare the racks, if you can…

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(above)After I got back from the lumber yard, it was time to cut the drawer parts…My circa 1967 Delta 9” table saw has plywood sheet #174,375 pass over it…

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(above)I also plugged in the drop saw to cut the small pieces…

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(above)After cutting wood, squeezing glue bottles, triggering the pin-nailer and twisting the screws in, the sink cabinet is taking shape…Still a lot left to do…

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(above)And on the other side it looks like this…I need another sheet of ¼” to finish the drawer boxes on the tall side…Tomorrow…

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(above)Late afternoon turned out perfect to mount the roof racks…The Fast Cure 5200 is ‘Da Bomb…The 1/4” stainless bolts go through the roof…

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(above)The next day…Just back from the lumber yard with the needed ply…Nice grain, eh…???...

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(above)The last of the drawer boxes are done…Whew, talk about repetitive…

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(above)I need to glue up the drop leaf table top together…Yellow glue spread with a notched spreader…

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(above)Titebond II…

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(above)85#s of clamping force…

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(above)I pulled the drawer boxes out and sand ‘em inside & out…

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(above)After putting the drawers back in the case and fine tuning the drawer slides, it’s time to glue the stainless top to the base cabinet…Heavy Duty Liquid nails is a good choice…

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(above)I’ll leave it clamped overnight…

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(above)Next, I fit all the drawers on this side…More work than it might seem…

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(above)And at the end of the day it looks like this...There are the start of the face frames on the verticals…Tomorrow the drawers faces go on as does the countertop edging…You’ll see…
More later…

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(above) There is rain in the forecast, so I’ll get the white fiberglass reinforced panels installed on the rear doors to keep the insulation from getting wet if it does rain…I’ve been meaning to do this for days, but the cabinets have been my priority…I traced the originals panels onto the FRPs and cut them to size on the tablesaw…

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(above) Simple stuff…Round some corners and a few cut-outs…

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(above) Rejecting the factory “push–in-plugs’,I laid out new locations for the screws that will attach the panels to the doors…

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(above) Before putting the new panels on, I washed the doors…Suds rule…

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(above) Panel #1 installed…

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(above) Panel #2 done…

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\(above) Next on the list of things to do was to get the countertop edging cut and put together…

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\(above) All the pieces cut and masking taped together to see how it fits…Fits good…

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(above) I tape the miters together with masking tape for alignment…Glue gets on the contact points and a few finish nails lock them in place…

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(above) While the glue sets, the edging is taped in place for the day…

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(above) On the tall cabinet, I put a decent piece of fir ply on the top…

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(above) I believe this area will be a nice catch-all for Joe & Gina…

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(above) Time to prep the drawer faces…The surfacing planer comes out and the pine planks get a dressing…

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(above) Over to the sink…Upside down…There are two punch-outs and I’ll only use one, so I cut a scrap piece of stainless and 5200’ed it in place…

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(above) One last countertop frame edge to cut and assemble…

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(above) OK, time to put drawer faces on drawer boxes…

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(above) But first, I want to install the sink…The space between the hold-down channel gets filled with silicone caulking…I put the sink in the cut-out and attached permanently…

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(above) The high cabinet needed a piece of trim at the wall/cabinet juncture…A piece of pine glued and nailed in place…

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(above) I had enough drawer faces to cut, that it made sense to put together a new sliding fixture to cut them to length…

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(above) Faces cut, time to install…HD construction adhesive and pin nails work…

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(above) I keep an eighth inch space all around…I made some spacers from scrap ply and taped them to the face to keep them from getting dropped during the install…

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(above) Ready to install…

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(above) Sink cabinet drawer faces installed…

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(above) Next, the under sink space needs a shelf…

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(above) A piece of left over pine works for the back…With just it in place, it’s easy to get into the under cabinet storage…

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(above) Another scrap piece of pine fits in front and is snug enough to not need to be nailed in place…Tight is right…

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(above) Piano hinges on the doors and the sink cabinet is almost done…

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(above) Just the drop down shelf (on the left) needed to be connected…Mission accomplished…

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(above) The drop down, down…

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(above) Spacers, construction adhesive and pin nails (and a bit of fitting) is all that’s needed to get it to this point…

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(above) I went over everything with 40 grit on the orbital, then 80 grit…Not done, but getting close…

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(above) And before I close the doors for the night, one last shot of the results of a few days of wood butchering…

More later…

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(above) Where to start…???…

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(above) Something easy…How about finishing removing the stick-ons…???…

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(above) Now is a good time to get started on the lid…

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(above) To insulate it, I have 1/2” foil faced foam insulation…

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(above) I need to know how long they need to be, so I cut a narrow strip and hold it in place ….

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(above) …then make a mark at the center of the roof…Do it on the other side and you have your length…No measuring needed…

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(above) To stick the foam to the metal roof, I’ll use the destructive strength PSA…

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(above) All the pieces of foam were simple cuts except for the rearmost which have a notch out of them…

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(above) To get the corners to fold in easy, I used a 2’ long piece of plastic pipe and rolled it with some pressure where the radius is…It really helps to loosen up the foam…

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(above) Looks good to me…

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(above) Carpet time…I have the carpet on my work table and use 1/8” hardboard below the cut and a strip I use as a cutting straight edge…The nails keep things from moving when you do the cutting…

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(above) Everything pre-cut and ready to install…

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(above) I smeared a thin layer of the carpet mastic on the roof and…

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(above) …a similar spread on the carpet back…From the table it goes right to the roof and gets put in place and I use a wet towel to push it in place…I push pretty hard to have solid contact between the roof and carpet…

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(above) Next I want to get the wire rack over the sink cut and installed so I can mount the water tank…To bend the corners I wrap the steel rack piece in tape then use a piece of pipe to bend the corner…Next I cut the back 6” of rack off with either bolt cutters or diagonal cutters…

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(above) Rack and tank installed…

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(above) Nice and clean…

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(above) Next, it’s time to carpet the floor…I rarely measure with a tape rule…Instead I prefer to make patterns…Brown construction paper works fine for soething this size…

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(above) So simple to do this…

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(above) I put the straightest side against the cabinet, then tape it in place…Next, I push the corners in hard and fold them over and tape ‘em…

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(above) Just like I did on this side…

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(above) Not a single measurement made…

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(above) I have the carpet fuzzy side down, then the pattern goes on that…

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(above) hardboard straight edges and a knife with a fresh blade gets you to this point…Ready to install…

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(above) Dropped in with no extra cutting at all…Gotta love the patterns…

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(above) Before I glue the floor carpet down, I want to finish the wire racking…Notice how the end of the rack on the left side goes through the white steel roof support…I drilled out  he wire rod and put a pin through it to hold it firmly in place (after I shimmed it)…

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(above) Next, I installed the speakers up front and high…Old school solder…

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(above)Wrap the ends with friction tape…Old school again…

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(above) The 12 volt wiring gets the same treatment…Solder and friction tape…Never a worry about loose connections…

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(above) The wires to the speakers are soldered too…Overkill, perhaps…

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(above)With most of the up high work done and the afternoon at its warmest (mid 50;s) it is time to glue the carpet to the floor…Similar to the roof, glue on both the floor and on the carpet…

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(above)I put the carpet on the lower walls as well…

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(above)And finally put the faucet on the water tank…

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(above)Day’s end and everything is looking tight…

More tomorrow…

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(above) I made a run to the stores for stuff I didn’t have..I also picked up a small electric heater to expediate the drying of the floor adhesive…This morning was in the 30’s with fog…A combination that would never let the cement dry…

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(above) So today I’d work on the awning…Here are the 5/4 x 4 cedar boards that the tarp will attach to…I’m drilling the holes where the screws that will hold the tarp in place, as you’ll see…

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(above) I ripped the cedar on the tablesaw then sandwiched the tarp between the cedar, then screwed them together…

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(above) The attachment point to the racks is here…I have a swivel clip on a u-bolt…

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(above) The legs are 3/4” electrical conduit that was cut to 7’…

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(above) Eyebolt-washer-pipe-washer-cedar-washer-nut…The bolt has been cut to minimal…

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(above) Test fit…

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(above) 10’ long and 12’ wide…

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(above) Like having a 120 sq. ft. room outside…

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(above) Oh, yeah, I put rope light on it too…A lot of the campsites these days have electricity, and a set-up like this is nice to have…On our set-up I have a jump-start-battery with a 100 volt outlet that powers a similar set up for over an hour…

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(above) The rope light is attached in a plastic rope light channel and screwed to the cedar…The wire runs down the leg and is taped twice to the pipe leg…
Hopefully the 24 hours of heater time in the van will allow me to get back in tomorrow…

More later…

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(above) The morning was cold…sub freezing…The floor carpet adhesive was still not cured, so it seemed like a good day to do some work in the heated shop…Above, I added wire extensions for an outlet that is linked to the ignition key…Future use is designed for a GPS unit…

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(above) Next on this chilly morning is to work on the front console panel…I pulled out the drop in box from my van to use as a pattern…It’s that black thing in the rear…

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(above) I put it into the opening from Joe & Gina’s van to see how it would fit…

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(above) Good enough to use as patterns…I cut the new parts from 1/8” plywood just using a knife…

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(above)I taped the parts together on the inside…

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(above) …then folded it up and taped it on the outside…

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(above) Next I removed the inside tape…

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(above) …and painted the inside with epoxy…It was set on top of the heater in the garage to accelerate the cure…

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(above) While waiting for the epoxy to cure, I made the faceplate…Definitely not square…

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(above) Just after finishing the faceplate the epoxy was cured, so I put it back on the bench and pulled the tape…

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(above) I taped the faceplate over the opening…

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(above) …then put the box in place…I mixed up some 90 second epoxy and tacked the box to the faceplate…

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(above) While waiting for the epoxy to cure hard, I marked where the accessory out would be on the improved console…

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(above) Careful drilling and a few straight cuts, and the outlet fits fine…

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(above) Silicone caulking will keep the outlet from moving over the years to come…

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(above) Over to the heater with the console…

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(above) The new box faceplate was cut out with a knife and sanded…Perfect fit…

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(above) Some black paint is what it needs…

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(above) Then over to the drying rack…

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(above) By now it was mid-day and time to get in the van…

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(above) I pulled out the pattern for the carpet to help keep the carpet clean while I work in there…Over the paper I put down rigid foam and some scrap hardboard…

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(above) Next on the list was to install the 12 volt LED rope lights…Nice glow…

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(above) Then I put up the racks on the doors to hold, whatever…

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(above) …Including the ladder…

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(above) Back inside, the lights are doing their thing…

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(above) Totally cool looking…

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(above) Day’s end and all is looking pretty right-on…Definitely right-on…

More later…

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(above) Another cold night, another night with the heater going inside…

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(above) Ready to work…

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(above) First off, I put in the wall carpet behind the driver seat…To class things up a bit I put the metal trim across the top…

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(above) The wall carpet back here was installed as well…

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(above) Might as well finish up back here…Solder the speaker wires, again no push on connecter to possibly come loose…

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(above) Voltage check on the 12 volt outlet…

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(above) Soldered and hot glue on the connection points…No possible short circuits here…

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(above) Spin the screws on the cover plates and they’re done…

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(above) This side too…

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(above) Moving forward, I put this tennis ball under the drop-down table to eliminate rattling when driving…

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(above) Next, I put in tie-downs on the lower sends of the driver side cabinets…Board tie downs…

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(above) On the other side of the wheel well…

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(above) Looking good…

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(above) End of the day, the heater goes back in…

More tomorrow…

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(above) With it still dark outside, I worked on the front console…

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(above) I fabricated the thin plywood box for a cell phone to sit in…
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(above) Next I made a jig for drilling the holes for the drawer pulls and barrel bolt latches…

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(above) Ready to get in and work…

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(above) I installed the seat swivel for the driver seat…

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(above) These are really nice to have…

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(above) I finished up the console…The box insets all got carpet inside of them…

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(above) I unrolled the foam sleeping pad to check the fit…looks good…When not on the floor they fit folded in half on top of the cabinet behind the driver seat…Two bungees hold ‘em in place…

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(above) I found the fittings I wanted for the faucet spot…

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(above) Next I used the drawer pull / barrel bolt jig to mark where the screws go …That’s a spring loaded nail-set I’m using…

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(above) Hardware installed…

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(above) It all is pretty basic…

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(above) Clean and basic…

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(above) The carpet needed to have the edges finished so I installed this aluminum trim…All the screw holes had to be countersunk…

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(above) Getting close…

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(above) I am really liking how this thing is coming together…Superior functionality…

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(above) A hook on the wall for the knife and vintage bottle opener…

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(above) Up front, the hood is ready for the grill to be installed…It should be here soon…

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(above) Time to make the curtains…The sewing was straightforward, time consuming work…

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(above)To keep the lower part of the curtains where you want them, I added magnets…A piece of the pressure sensitive adhesive was put on a scrap piece of fabric, cut into squares, the paper backing pulled off, a magnet put in the center, the fabric square was pushed onto the curtain…simple sand easy… 

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(above) The grille came…

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(above) Joe and Gina are going to pick it up today, so I’ll get the last set of pictures…

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(above) Joe & Gina in their dream machine…Happy campers…!!!…

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(above) Off to a lifetime of grand adventures and exploring possibilities…

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(above) Who's next…???…