Below are some highlights of the conversion process for our 2010 Chevy AWD Van Conversion. For any who wish to dig deeper I have a build thread over at the Sportsmobile Forums at “Accrete’s AWD Chevy Van project” thread, though since i sold my original domain that hosted many of the images the textual ponders is the bulk of what can be gleaned there. Over time i will continue to share details of the Chevy build at this new blog. You can check out the build of our other van, a 2017 Ram Promaster here.
Individual posts will be listed under the “Adventure” category subarea “Rigs” in the upper main menu, or click the “Rigs” tag in the sidebar.
Here is a shot from the archives… the day we brought it home from the local Chevy dealer in the fall of 2010:
It began its life as a stock 1500 AWD cargo van with stock privacy glass window treatment on curb slider and rear barn doors. Over the next year we would have Van Specialties of Portland Oregon install much of what is seen in the next photo.
Below is a shot taken at the beach near our home on the Oregon Coast in the fall of 2015. Some of the goodies seen are the Fiberine 24″ “Bubble Top” which yields a clear 6′ headroom under a 4″ drop ceiling allowing room for insulation, LED lights, and the fan housing, Fiama F45 Awning, MaxxFan roof fan, Rhino Lining on the Rockers/wells, LED headlights from Truck-Lite, Weather Tech window and hood deflectors, Boulder Off Road Van lift-kit and Anti-Sway bar, upgraded Heavy Duty GMC 4-leaf rear springs, Fuel Wheels, BFG KO2 265/70/r17 tires… and i’ve updated the original post to show it with all it’s Aluminess bling as of 2016 (as a 2020 update, the upper rail seen has been removed when we had the top refinished/repainted in the fall of 2019 at a pro-shop):
The van doubled as my wife’s daily driver on her easy ~10mile round trip~ commute for the first 8 years of its life before we both retired in 2018. My wife would regularly report of yet another instance of Van-Envy and marriage proposals from a random guy or gal that was in awe of the van she was driving! Even as I post this update in Spring of 2021, we are regularly approached by peeps complementing us on the van and how nice it looks. It is no stretch at all to say It honestly looks nicer than the day we picked it up off the dealer lot in 2010.
The idea back in the summer of 2010 was to find something that would allow us an easier camp set up on what we call our mini-adventures. These are frequent Monday through Friday trips (home for the weekend) that we take about once every 6 weeks. We went to this sort of “Vacation” as it seems to bring much more satisfaction and fun-factor than doing some big once or twice a year event.
Inside the van we wanted a comfortable full time platform bed with usable storage under. An easy to setup multifunction bath-closet that would include a private (well as private as one can get in ~60 square feet!) area to use a porta potty and shower. All walls were covered with a high-quality Hull-Blanket fabric by my wife and I. A warning to any who may venture down this path; Be sure your dearly beloved is wearing her hair up under a ball cap or shower cap! That 3m adhesive spray is crazy sticky and you might find yourself springing for make-up dinner and roses. Just saying 🙂
Here is a shot of the layout seen from the swiveling front passenger seat:
We had Van Specialties keep the stock roof on aft of the pillar in front of rear doors, and forward of the pillar behind cab. This gives great room for organized ~20″ high storage above those two areas. The black area seen on street side above bed platform are two sliding doors that give access to a nice closet area. The platform bed has ~19″ vertical clearance below the metal frame so we can use our Engle Deep Blue coolers (one for cool & one for dry, kept outside when camp is set). The vertical closet forward of the bed is a shower closet my MacGirlver of a wife dreamed up that we had the V.S. crew fabricate when they did the interior:
Closed closet (~30″w X 60″h X 18″d) There is a shelf above that holds ~4 to 5 dozen 16oz water bottles for drinking/cooking.
Open in potty mode (we utilize WAG bags):
Open in shower mode (we utilize a battery-operated portable shower head with water heated in kettle):
The above setup is designed in the spirit of “Dry Cabins” that are popular in some remote areas of Alaska. We wanted the simplicity and utility we felt the design would allow, and the past five years use has worked well. (Note: none of the pictured toiletry items, water bottles, ice-coolers, etc. would be included in any possible future sale.)
The bed platform is set up with a Froli Sleep system + 4″ Cotton Futon + 3″ Gel topper. (Note, the Froli and/or mattress/bedding is not included in any possible future sale. IF the buyer wants to purchase the Froli from us, we can discuss the option.) I remember a conversation my wife and I had the morning after arriving home and sleeping in our luxury pillow top queen bed in our home…after a ten night maiden voyage with the new sleep system in the van. My wife said; “Thom, do you think a Froli would work in our bedroom?” I did some quick thinking, said yes, and we had a FSS in our bedroom a couple weeks after. I highly recommend the setup. The other advantage is there is airflow under the mattress so no mold issues.
That pretty much wraps up the highlights of the build so far. Again, for any who wish to dig deeper I have the build thread over at the Sportsmobile Forums at “Accrete’s AWD Chevy Van project” thread. Also if you are in a research mode and enjoy google searches, try either; “AWD Chevy Van” or “Chevy AWD Van” you should come up with some good info.
As a PS. During the winter of 2016 we had Aluminess fabricate some custom bumpers that were installed by V.S. The bumpers/rear-boxes take the van to a whole new WOW Factor level.
And a parting thought …
I wanted to send heartfelt thanks to each visitor that has stopped by our AWD van’s build thread over at the Sportsmobile Forum. Over the past five years I have enjoyed the many comments, questions, and ideas shared. Our van would not be what it is today without the interaction from the members at CheapRVLiving, ExpeditionPortal, and SportsmobileForum forums.
I was greeted with a fun surprise the other day when searching google for “Chevy AWD Van”… “Accrete’s AWD Chevy Van project” build thread showed up on the first page of the search!
Wishing you and yours many happy adventures!
==== > > UPDATE: 2021 < < ====
WhoooHoooo…. I know it is only a number, but it’s a fun number! Accrete’s Chevy AWD Van build thread at the SportsMobileForum nears 300,000! Now that we are settled into our Tiny House, we have decided to make the van available for purchase in May of 2021. Someone will be the happy, proud new owner and making some fun memories.