We know most people want to know what’s inside the van, so here you go. We purchased the van from MN in September of 2016. Freddie is a 2005 Freightliner Sprinter 2500 cargo van with 140” wheelbase. Like all Sprinters, regardless of their branding, Freddies has a Mercedes engine, drivetrain, and body.
Freddie had a metal partition between the cab and cargo area, and the walls had plastic paneling. The first thing we did was remove the partition and took it to the metal to recycling for which we got $2.00 in exchange. The plastic wall panels stayed in place until we figured out what we were doing for layout.
The first addition we made was horse stall mats on the floor. These were cut to match the floor and are floating on top of the stock wood floor cover. We took a few weekend trips sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor and even loaded motorcycles in the back.
We then cut and glued (3M 90 spray) Thinsulate automotive insulation to the ceiling, walls, and back doors. We then began applying Reflectix foil layered bubble to the entire interior for a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from getting to the van’s metal and causing rust. The amount of moisture from breathing at night is significant, so you don’t want the van to rust from the inside out.
Next came the 2x4 bed framing, shelving, wheel well covers, and toolbox frame, which were drilled and bolted to the van’s interior structure. From there, the 2x4 and plywood bed platform went in along with plywood wheel well covers. The walls received 1x2 furring strips for the 1/4” Birch plywood finish panels to attach to. Lastly, the toolbox was drilled and screwed to the 2x4 frame, and we were set. It was now mid-November, and the build was nearly “done,” and we began spending more weekends adventuring and figuring things out. As with any van project, you are never done. If you think you have achieved this point in life, you’re delusional.
The summer of 2017 saw us spending more time adventuring in Freddie and sleepless hours researching electrical options, cutting a massive hole in the roof to install the MaxxAir Deluxe fan, screwing two Renogy 100W monocrystalline solar panels to the roof, cutting a hole for the solar wires to pass through, and connecting everything to a battery through a Blue Sea fuse block. Since we had already “finished” our build, additional work was required to move the shoe shelves, remove the wall, and ceiling covers, and eventually seal it all back up.
In the fall of 2017, I bought a multiprocess welder, and through endless YouTube videos, began honing my skills as a DIY fabricator. I use fabricator very loosely. After building a couple of furniture pieces for our home I decided Freddie 2.0 was necessary using my newly taught welding skills. After countless sleepless nights planning, measuring, and over complicating things, we took one last trip in February 2018 to Moab in Freddie 1.0. After returning home from our Moab trip, I began tearing nearly the entire back of the van apart.
The ceiling came off, wall panels came out, bed platform and framing, shelves, wheel well covers, electrical. How did I get back to square one?! VAN LIFE! I gave myself less than six weeks to complete 2.0 before our next trip to Moab. I went to the local metal supplier and purchased the metal for the new shelving units, bed rails, and bed platform. 1/8th wall angle was used for shelving and bed rails, while 14ga square tubing was used for the bed platform. I reused the wood for the wheel well covers and only had to replace one of the wall panels for the 2.0 build.
Freddie 2.0 allowed us to do everything I wanted it to do for our trip to Moab. We drove to Moab with bikes under the bed, bike rack on the back, and bed in high mode. Once we arrived to dry Moab, we moved the bikes to the bike rack and the bed to the low position. The low position is lower than 1.0 and meant we were 12” lower than the original wood bed height. No more step stool to get into bed! We love the low position so much we hardly ever put the bed in the high position.
We continue to add convenient storage solutions and ease of use items to the van. The toolbox was once filled with too much stuff as we felt the need to fill the space. We have since cut down on duplicate items and try only to carry the things we use. If we find ourselves not using an item that season, we usually remove it. As you’ll see in our van tour YouTube video, I didn’t cover every detail of the current build in the blog as there are too many to list. If you want to know anything about the build, please let us know. We’ll gladly help you with your van build if you need it.