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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am about 6 months into a conversion project and will periodically post my progress if there is an interest.
An initial project completed was the installation of floor L-tracks. I purchased the Track extrusions, along with compatible plastic end caps, online from Disable Passenger Resources. http://www.disabledpassengerresourc...ck-100-Long-Predrilled-for-5-16-Fastners.html
Many companies sell this track, and it may all be the same as far as I know, but this company specializes in products to secure wheel chairs in vehicles so I went with them. I chose the flange series L-track because I was installing heavy duty vinyl flooring on top of the plywood and this track profile makes for a cleaner installation. Each track is 100” long and quite robust in construction. I cut off 11” from each track segment for my installation. Since I was installing sound deadener (Noico) I removed the plywood floor however if you are not insulating under the plywood the tracks could be installed without removing the ply floor. The plywood floor is only 9mm thick, about 3/8”, so I was able to remove it myself and I’m an old guy. I removed the jack mounts, which helped get the ply floor in and out. The jack was eventually installed at a new location so I had no concern drilling out the pop rivets holding one of the jack mounts.

There are 4-stamped/pressed recesses in the van floor that will accept track installation. (see 1st photo) The center line for the outside track installation begins at the factory D-ring tie down, in the floor, behind the driver (and passenger) seat, then rearward to the factory D-ring tie down bolt, located just inboard of each wheel-well bump. I began by installing a track extrusion temporarily, on top of the ply, along this line. I bolted through the top hole in the L-track into the tie down location behind the front seat. (using the existing 8m bolt with a Torx socket.) Then I aligned the track with the tie down bolt inside the wheel-well bump. Of course the tie-down bolt hole was between existing extrusion holes so I had to drill the track in order to bolt it down at this location. I secured a 89” track segment at these two (front and middle) locations. This allowed me to use the track as a straight edge to mark, with sharpie, the cut lines on the plywood. The width of cut is about 1.5 inches. If you’re confident these cuts can be made with the ply in place using a circular saw with a shallow blade depth. You have about 1.25” clearance between the bottom of the ply and the top of the metal but a little less toward the edge of the slot where you will be cutting so cut shallow. Drill inspection holes in ply if nervous. It requires 1.5 inches beyond the track length to install the end caps but be sure to custom cut these in because they have a specific shape.
If you cut these track slots with the ply out of the vehicle, like I did, you will need to temporarily screw wood supports across the slots before re-installation otherwise the thin ply may break on the sides because of the reduction in structure.

I bought a piece of Loncoin marine vinyl flooring on eBay for 179.00 and installed it over the entire ply floor. https://marine-plastic-innovations....s/loncoin-marine-and-boat-flooring-stone-gray
I then used a router with a bearing guide bit to trim away the vinyl over the track cutout as well as the D-ring attachment points. The ply, with installed vinyl flooring, was then secured with the factory D-ring attachment bolts and plates not affected by the track installation.
Photo 1- with Noico sound deadener installed. 4 slots for track installation visible.
Photo 2 – Ply floor out of vehicle being cut
Photo 3- Ply floor back in - next step install vinyl. Center slots utilized the extra 11” cut from the track extrusion and will be used as seat belt anchor for the seat/bed.
Photo 4- View of flooring and track installed. Porta-potty temporary installation until cabinets are built allows use of vehicle for camping as I progress with build. Yeti cooler between seats.

I will continue with the actual track installation on a follow up post.
 

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This thread is gonna be a keeper. I'm subscribing to it, so @mikit please return to this thread for further posts. great ideas and pictures. Love it, and thanks for sharing.
 

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Looks good. Nice clean work. Are you doing a perminant platform bed, or a bench seat that will fold to a bed? We are hoping for a full width Reimo style bench seat, someday. Keep up the detailed post.
 

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Thanks for the update and keep 'em coming! It looks very good and certainly functional.

Did you use more fasteners on the L track besides the existing front and rear cargo tie down fittings? If so, how did you make the attachment to the floor?

In the fourth picure, the plywood sheet with the box on top of it has what appears to be fasteners protruding up through the wood. I assume those fasteners are attached to the L track. If so, would please you add a link to that type of fastener.
 

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> The plywood floor is only 9mm thick, about 3/8”, so I was able to remove it myself and I’m an old guy. I removed the jack mounts, which helped get the ply floor in and out.

I tried this earlier in the week and failed. The oluwood floor is wider than the rear door opening, and I couldn't lift the front high enough to twist it diagonally to get out. I looked at your photos and see why I had a different outcome. Mine came with the cargo partition which I removed, but there is a horizonal support from side to side just behind the seats about 12 high where thw lower edge of the partition screws into. This bar also supports a shelf between the seats, unlike yours which has an unobstructed floor between the seats. On my van, the wooden floor extends forward under this shelf, and that prevents me from getting the floor turned on the diagonal. I also removed the jack bracket. I also removed two tie downs on the horizontal bar. But, no luck. Instead, I lifted it as high as I could and crawled under it to install the Noico sound deading material.

Did you have much trouble removing the bolts holding down the tiedowns? The threads on mine were coated with a grey paste that requied an impact drill with a T45 bit to remove, and the bolt on the rear passenger corner sheared off! I lubed all of the bolts before reinstalling, and they went back in fine. I tried tried one of those "stripped screw head" removers. It bit into the bolt great, and then the tip sheared off in the body of the bolt! It's titanium and is impervious to any drill bits I have. I gave up on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Part 2 track installation
So I have the floor back in the van and secured with the 4 factory D-ring attachment plates that are not involved with the track installation. The addition of the Loncoin Vinyl flooring and the long parallel slots cut in the floor represent a lot more work getting to this point that is visually evident. What follows is not difficult but represents a lot of work also.

To begin with the area under the outboard tracks, the sheet metal floor pan, is over the main fore and aft frame box beam that is the structural backbone of the vehicle. In other words there is no access that I'm aware of underneath for a nut or backer plate for the 25 machine bolts that will hold each track down. The only solution I could think of, besides giant sheet metal screws, which I rejected, was to install rivnuts. (rivet nuts) A rivnut is a tubular rivet with internal threads. These threaded inserts are compressed into the sheet metal with a hand tool allowing bolts to secure the track. I purchased the 50 - 5/16” rivnuts needed from eBay.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/URBEST-50-P...692088?hash=item33ca705738:g:t~sAAOSwXYtYx~-F

From eBay I also purchased a tool for they're installation. It is possible to install these inserts with a nut, bolt, washer and two wrenches but since I was installing 50 in a narrow space I bought a proper tool. You have to make sure the tool has a compatible fitting for the size of the rivnut being used. (5/16” for my installation). The tool I bought has several interchangeable mandrill heads, both metric and US.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hand-Rivete...hreaded-Pop-/232174933285?hash=item360eb45525

To begin, the tracks with end caps are dry fitted into the slots cut in the ply floor. The tracks are bolted down at the two locations along the slot where factory threaded 8m inserts are welded in. The first locations behind each front seat, and the second inboard from each wheel well bump. As previously mentioned I had to drill the track extrusion to align with this 2nd attachment point. Now that the tracks and the flooring are secured a whole bunch of holes need to be drilled. The holes in the track are spaced 4” apart and it would be wise to make sure the drill is plumb with the track holes while drilling. I cheated a bit with a self-centering dowel jig that I‘ve had around for at least 30 years similar to this. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Self-Center...485163?hash=item51f688662b:g:cKEAAOSw4GVYLTTy
By adjusting the jig to the outside of the extrusion and centered on the track holes it gave me a bit more help aligning the drill bit. Because there is a ¾” space between the bottom of the track and the sheet metal floor it would be easy to drill off center. I first drilled a 5/16” hole at each location matching the hole size in the extrusion. After removing the tracks I re-drilled each hole to the diameter matching the OS diameter of the rivnut. I put a dab of paint on each drilled hole and installed all the rivnuts without issue. It worked and all my bolts eventually screwed in with out any alignment problems, which amazed me. The bolts I used were stainless machine bolts/screws 5/16” X 1-1/2”. I bought these our local Fastenal store for a little over $20, I think, for the required 50 fasteners.
The good news is that I didn’t hit anything when drilling the holes. Looks like there’s nothing inside the frame beam. The bad news is that I wasn’t done yet.

To be continued.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Part 3, track installation completed.
Something that surprised me when I initially removed the plywood floor was that it was not setting flush on the sheet metal but was elevated with wooden risers running for and aft at different points. These risers are about ¾ inch in depth so when the floor is secured and the flush track extrusion is in place, ready to be bolted, there is a ¾” gap between the bottom of the extrusion and the sheet metal. I could have secured the track ignoring the gap but was concerned the many machine bolts holding the track down may cause the flooring to be pinched upward out of level when tightening the track down. The solution I decided on, instead of using a bunch of spacers, was 1x2 (3/4X1.5) furring strips that fit perfectly in the slots and filled the gap. I placed a track extrusion, with end caps, on a furring strip and mark center for the 25 holes in each side. I drilled oversize holes at each center point with a spade bit so it went pretty fast. Spade bits leave kind of rough finish and make a lot of mess so I did the drilling over a trashcan instead of using the drill press. The furring strips were cut to length allowing enough room on either end to accomodate the single screw necessary to secure the end caps. I used some construction adhesive to glue down the furring strips to the sheet metal, not the aluminum track. The tracks were installed and tightened down. Finished.

Two bolts in each track are the original 8m and are bolted into the vehicle frame. These factory bolts along with the remaining 23- 5/16” machine bolts in each track, using rivet nuts, make for a very strong installation. It took a few days to get this project completed but it was a necessary part of my conversion plan.

To answer the question from Ransom Ridge on how I secured the temporary toilet to the L-track. I use L-track threaded stud fittings. The type depends on the application. Some have a provided bolt, some have a threaded insert for your own bolt, and some have rings. I even bought several individual L track plates that I will be installing off the floor at various locations to secure things with ring fittings if needed. This link shows the various fittings available. https://www.cargoequipmentcorp.com/L-Track-Accessories-s/503.htm

Comment to Tree95. I used a T45 bit in a socket fitting for my ratchet and had no trouble getting the D-ring Torx bolts out. Oh, except for one. Amazing It’s always the last one. They were all tight but the last one would not budge. Another tool that I’ve had for decades, used for getting out frozen screws, is a hand impact driver. Removing the screwdriver bit holder so the Torx socket fit and a few blows with a hammer loosened the last bolt. This tool has saved me from having a lot of stripped fasteners over the years.
 

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I am puzzled. Why would you choose such a small van for a camper conversion? I just bequeathed my E250 Quigley 4WD which would seem a significantly more compatible starting point. I love my Metris passenger, but why start with a Metris? What motivated the Metris as a choice?
 

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Metris is good for fitting into tight areas a Econoline would be a bit of a pain to deal with. It's tall and big. Doubly so for a quigly on the tall.

It depends what kinda camping you are into.
 

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Uh, I don't think that could be it. The Metris is more like driving a E350 through the woods. Not going to happen. And, I never saw a trail that was tighter than the turning circle of a full size van.
 

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I am puzzled. Why would you choose such a small van for a camper conversion? I just bequeathed my E250 Quigley 4WD which would seem a significantly more compatible starting point. I love my Metris passenger, but why start with a Metris? What motivated the Metris as a choice?
I chose a Metris for size. The Transit Connect (and similar) were too small. Sprinter too large (and too expensive). The low roof short wheel base Transit would have been OK, but the cargo version appears only to be available in white. Yeah, I did find a stray non-white, but trying to get one with the turbo and decent options was impossible. They're made in Hungary, so special ordering, waiting months, and praying Ford didn't fck it up wasn't an option.

The Metris drives like a dream, parks like a car, turns on a dime. Beats the other vans I tried hands-down. My main wish list would include 4-wheel drive. I stupidly got it stuck in some mud last month and needed AAA to pull it out. I know others wish for diesel, but I'd hate to give up the peppy performance of the petrol motor.

My conversion so far: http://imgur.com/a/R4iIU
 

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Tree95- just read through your blog. I'm following a similar course with converting a cargo van to a camper. I'm currently planning my electrical system.

It sounds like you have an inverter already. If not, a Magnum Energy inverter/battery charger allows "pass through" of 120 volt shore power through the inverter (even when off) to power 120 volt appliances in the van. It also uses that 120 current to charge the battery bank. I am not associated with Magnum Energy in any way other than being a satisfied customer from using their MS2012 on a boat. I'm planning on installing an MS1012 in my van.

I'll be very interested to hear how and where you connect the isolation relay to the Metris. Here is an interesting article on the difference between an isolation relay and an automatic charge relay. https://www.bluesea.com/resources/58

These are some nice lights to consider for the ceiling- they're just over 1/2" thick and easy to mount. I have 8 of them and they have a nice, cool light. They will work perfectly with the 1" rigid foam that I'm putting in the ceiling. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012KCNN5O/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1
 

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I chose a Metris for size. The Transit Connect (and similar) were too small. Sprinter too large (and too expensive). The low roof short wheel base Transit would have been OK, but the cargo version appears only to be available in white. Yeah, I did find a stray non-white, but trying to get one with the turbo and decent options was impossible. They're made in Hungary, so special ordering, waiting months, and praying Ford didn't fck it up wasn't an option.

The Metris drives like a dream, parks like a car, turns on a dime. Beats the other vans I tried hands-down. My main wish list would include 4-wheel drive. I stupidly got it stuck in some mud last month and needed AAA to pull it out. I know others wish for diesel, but I'd hate to give up the peppy performance of the petrol motor.

My conversion so far: http://imgur.com/a/R4iIU

Great build log. You got it all going on. I see that you are getting what you need size wise out of the Metris and I agree it drives like a dream. I've had a lot of vans. Metris is the best van ever.

If you are going to leave the trail, you might want to consider a trailer hitch mounted winch with a lot of synthetic cable. You don't need much for most rear extractions. a heavy ATV winch will do it with a snatch block.
 

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It sounds like you have an inverter already. If not, a Magnum Energy inverter/battery charger allows "pass through" of 120 volt shore power through the inverter (even when off) to power 120 volt appliances in the van. It also uses that 120 current to charge the battery bank.


I'll be very interested to hear how and where you connect the isolation relay to the Metris. Here is an interesting article on the difference between an isolation relay and an automatic charge relay.[/url]

These are some nice lights to consider for the ceiling- they're just over 1/2" thick and easy to mount.
1 - Yes, I have a 2KW inverter from previous vehicle. In my house's garage, I have 2KW Xantrex inverter/charger on 4 deep-discharge marine batteries that acts as a UPS for critical home loads - computer, internet, TV, DirecTV ! (yes "critical") - I think it acts as you describe the Magnum - normally, 120V passes through to the output sockets and an internal charger keeps the batteries topped off. When the 120V input fails, the inverter starts and keeps the 120V sockets powered.

But, for the van, I'm going to use my existing 2K inverter and wire a relay to switch my internal 120V sockets from the inverter to the external AC power, when it's active. If I were buying things from scratch, I wouldn't do it this way, but I'm building on what I have.

2 - The Metris book makes it very clear that at most one exact duplicate of the starter battery may be added directly (through an isolation relay or an ACR) to the existing alternator. I have 200Ahr of extra battery (two 6V golf cart batteries). So, I'm using a CTEK D250S 5-stage DC-DC charger to charge the house batteries from the Metris 12V system. It has low voltage cutout, so it won't drain the Metris starter battery to charge the house battery. It's also got a solar input and contains an MPPT solar charger. It will only charge at max 20A from the Metris 12v system, though. That's OK with me.

I see you have another thread asking about whether the Metris alternator/electrical system will do multi-stage charging. I don't know the answer to that. But, I know the CTEK will multi-stage charge my house battery.

You asked where I connected into the Metris 12V system for the interconnect to my house battery. I know the official spot is in the passenger footwell, but I didn't do that. On the front inside wall of the battery compartment under the passenger seat, there is a plastic enclosed wiring board that has a direct connection to the 12V battery. Inside are high current fuses for various things with wires headed off to other places (like the starter, the passenger footwell, etc.) But, not all of the connections are used, and fortunately, the unused ones have fuses inside the plastic enclosure.

I removed a plastic cover over an unused screw stud (along the bottom, near the middle if memory serves). It had continuity to the 12V wire going to the (removed) battery's positive post, so I put a terminal ring over the screw, tightened it down with a metric nut and routed the wire along the front lower edge of the battery box, along the lower left side, and then out the lower left rear corner - there is an opening into the cargo area just in front of the plywood flooring.

Moving back a step to charging - I have a 120V 20A (40A? I can't remember) marine battery charger. It's going to be connected to the external 120V socket on the side of the van. The 12V charger output is going to be hooked to the wire described above that goes to the van's 12V starter battery. This way, the 120V charger will charge the Metris starter battery, and the CTEK will charge the house battery. I don't envision this being the usual way to charge my batteries as the alternator will keep the Metris battery charged, and 400W solar will keep the house battery charged. But, when I park the van for a month or more at a time in the garage, this will keep the Metris starter and house batteries charged.

3 - I clicked your Amazon link and got a "You ordered this item on ..." message. I love those LED lights. I have 8 of that type ready for mounting.

I like your build postings; keep them coming. I know I should pull down the headliner up front and insulate like you did, but I can't bring myself to do it. I know I'll break off 50% of the mounts, and it will never go back together again without rattling like a pile of tin cans :-( When moving, I think most of the heat up front comes from the expansive windows. I should tint the side ones and see how much tint (if any) the state of California permits on the windshield. When parked, I have reflective shades that are effective.
 

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Tree95- Once again, thank you for the very thorough response!

The CTEK looks like a super good product for an RV with the built in MPPT controller. Unfortunately my panel is a 60 cell version producing 35 watts, which exceeds the limitation on the CTEK D250S (22 volts is their limit, which is what a 36 cell panel produces.) I also want to get at least 30 to 40 amps from the alternator since there are 5 months or so of very limited solar charging here in Alaska.

I have not looked around the start battery for connection point to draw power from the alternator yet, but your install certainly points me in the right direction- thank you!

As for the Metris alternator using a multi stage charge, I think its highly unlikely. To fully charge most 12 volt batteries correctly you need several hours. The bulk charge can be relativley quick, but the absorption stage takes more time at a lower voltage to top off that last 10-20% of the batterys capacity. Car designer (specifically the electrical engineers designing the charging system) can't count on a long period to recharge the battery. They need to recharge it as quickly as possible since the vehicle may be doing numerous short trips. That means as many amps as possible at the highest possible voltage that the battery can reasonably absorb. Which is why we're both looking for an alternative to recharge the second battery (or battery bank).

Dropping the headliner is surprisingly easy. The toughest items to loosen are the pastic trim panels on the B pillar. The fasteners are metal clips so they are not easily damaged. The plastic trim cover by the rear view mirror is the flimsiest thing, with all plastic construction. I might have broken one of those tabs on removal but its staying in place so apparently not a big problem.

My side windows are tinted- I thought that was standard? My insulation is geared toward keeping heat in.... somewhat of an issue in Alaska for about 9 months of the year. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Messed up and the following somehow posted to another thread. I'm at risk of breaking some fourm rule by reposting this to my original thread and not just provided link which I have to figure out how to do.

I regress a bit to mention Sound deadening insulation. I had not installed this type of material before so I went with online research and feedback from others who have used the brand I eventually purchased. I went with Noico 80mil Butyl automotive sound deadener. Comes in sheets, 9 sheets to a box, and required 4 boxes to complete the van. The four boxes covered every surface inside the van, including above the cab headliner and wheel bumps. I did not install behind the cab door panels and the floor of the cab. I wasn’t up to going there at this time. The size of the sheets made it convenient for installation and I actually ended up with very little waste. From experience as a sailboat owner and maintainer I’ve had a long time admiration for Butyl and its function as a bedding material. I trusted it would install as advertised and it did. Installation was straightforward and the product attached securely. At 80 mil this is a heavy product easily adds 100 pounds to the vehicle. Perhaps 50 mil would have been sufficient but there is no doubt that what I installed did what it was designed to do. Makes driving nice and quiet. I purchased the product from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00URUIKAK?psc=1
The price was reasonable and includes free shipping. I’ll say it again this is a heavy product so to get free shipping was hard to believe.

Instructions provided say in order to set the product, compress the diamond shaped impression in the aluminum with a roller until smooth. This may not be bad if the temperature is up but that was not the case in my garage this winter. When cold, using a roller was hard work necessitating the use of a heat gun on occasion. To the rescue was a set of inexpensive plastic trim removal tools I picked up at Harbor Freight. Enclosed photo. These tools allowed the leverage I needed using wrist and fingers to greatly simplify the installation. Especially helpful getting the product to mold around all the hills and valleys stamped into the sheet metal. Works as a burnisher as opposed to a roller. Here is a similar kit on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Dkii-Removal-...+removal+tools

Overall quite satisfied several months after installation and have no reservations about insulating over and closing it in.
 

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Hey Mikit, now that the summer is in full swing, do you feel like the amount/ thickness that you used, made a big difference with cooling the van? I'm driving to Portland on Thursday and the temps are going to over a 100. I am dreading it. I think sound deadening/ insulation will happen this Fall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I doubt if the sound deadening product does much in the way of keeping the heat out since its adhered directly to the metal and is only about 1/16" thick. The aluminum surface may have some reflective value but probably its most effective in keeping the inside temperature moderated. At this point I have the ceiling, lower panels, and flooring deadened & insulated, and closed in. The upper panels, including the rear doors, only have sound deadener at this time. Now that I have the floor and headliner completed I will be insulating and building cabinets, installing opening side windows, etc. over the upper panels and slider. The floor has thin insulation, a kind of high end foam underlayment used for floating floors. I figured this was better than nothing since I didn't want to increase the height of the factory floor ply. The lower panels are insulated with rock wool in plastic bags and is quite thick. The roof is insulated with aluminum faced rigid foam, varies between 1" and 1/2".

So, my experience so far during the recent high heat - parked, the interior is very warm but tolerable. At this point I wouldn't leave my dog in the van, even with the windows down, when the temperature is above 75 deg outside. I would say its normally close to, or maybe a little warmer than, the outside temp, not too bad. At high outside temperatures I imagine it would be unbearable in the van without the existing insulation. When I start the vehicle however it cools down real quick and stays cool. I have to crank the air conditioner back to stay comfortable. Same with the heater. It gets quite warm fast but I do have the cold weather package. We've recently overnighted on the Olympic Peninsula and at higher elevations in the Washington Cascades. Quite chilly at night but snug inside where I have to keep my sleeping bag open for comfort. Must keep the vent opened a crack otherwise moisture forms on the inside of the sound deadener. That will be resolved as I complete insulation and finish the interior.
 
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