Posts By Matt

Affordable DIY Van Awning

We planned on getting a Fiamma F45 S awning for Gidget, we even bought the special mounts from Aluminess to mount it, but after going on a few trips now we’re not so sure anymore. At a cost of around $1000 the Fiamma awning is expensive enough to make us think twice about it.

For the type of adventuring we do, always on the move seeing sights, we don’t tend to set up camp in anyone spot for very long. And if we do park it for a few days, a quick deploying awning isn’t crucial.

At about $140, our DIY awning can be deployed in about 15 minutes and cost significantly less than the Fiamma option.

Rear Door Storage

An adventure van always needs more storage, you can never have enough, that’s probably the one thing we have learned while using Gidget.

Easily accessing surf related items from the back doors was an area that needed improvement so we added some mesh pockets to the back door.

Redoing The Bed A Third Time

Originally we installed the bed perpendicular to maximize the space in the living room of Gidget. This was never ideal as we are both pretty tall (Matt 5’11” – Tricia 5’10”), but we could have made it work. After the original install it squeaked like crazy so we even redid the whole platform.

When we installed the folding bench seat, we were left with a large gap between the bed and the seat. This created the perfect opportunity to turn the bed parallel in the van to give us more sleeping room. Third time’s a charm, right?

Adding Extra Seats

The biggest con of getting the cargo version of the Ford Transit is that it only comes with two front seats. With only two seats it makes hanging out in the “living room” hard to do. It also prevents us from taking friends with us on adventures.

So we added a Freeman Handi-Flip folding bench seat. Now Gidget has a total of 4 seats with seat belts.

We had help with the install to make sure it was safe. If you decide to install an aftermarket seat we strongly encourage you have it done professionally.

Adding Light Bars To The Roof Rack

Any respectable adventure van needs a light bar, it’s just a given. And now that Gidget has a rack to mount lights on there was nothing stopping it from happening.

There are some very expensive light bars out there and they are probably great but would be serious overkill for our needs. We just need a little extra light when traveling on dirt back roads, particularly in Baja.

So we found some affordable ones on Amazon that had decent reviews and so far we are very happy with them.

Roof Rack and Ladder

For extra storage and a place to mount the solar panel we decided to install an Aluminess roof rack and ladder. From order to install took about 2.5 months. Actual installation took about 5 hours at the Aluminess headquarters in San Diego.

Ford Transit Customer Connection Points

Ford Transits come with 1 60A fused Customer Connection Points (CCP) as standard and up to 3x 60A may be fitted depending on vehicle configuration. If you are ordering a custom Transit you can get 3 CCPs by ordering the upfitter switches (option 67C).

If your Transit only has 1 CCP you can add the missing 2 by ordering kit part number BK2Z-14S411-A. CargoVanConversions has a good write up covering the installation process.

Ford Transit Upfitter Switches

When ordering a custom Ford Transit you can add Upfitter Switches, also called auxiliary or accessory switches. These switches allow you to control accessory items like lights, winches, or inverters with factory looking switches.

The switches are simple on/off style with an indicator light located in the center console between the driver and passenger seats. If the key is in the ignition or run position and the switches are turned on (flipped up), they provide a 12 V and 20 A max output.

Build A Surfboard Rack For Your Van

Building a surfboard rack for your van allows you to pull up to your favorite break and pick the right board for the given conditions. It’s pretty awesome being able to do a surf check and have a large part of your quiver available.

After watching a couple Youtube videos it was pretty easy to come up with the plan for Gidget’s surfboard rack. It’s basically just your typical wall mounted rack, but mounted to the floor. The boards are being stored horizontally under the bed, so we created 2 racks to keep them in place.

Creaks, Pops, Cracks, and Squeaks – Redoing The Bed

New creaks, pops, cracks, and squeaks are the last thing I want to hear while road testing a new addition to Gidget. We’re still early on in the conversion so any new noise we introduce is pretty noticeable and infuriating. When we added the bed a couple weeks back we wrote:

We are happy with how it turned out except when driving. Every little bump in the road results in a squeak. It kind of sounds like the metal is flexing where the wood attaches. Maybe we should have put something like felt in between the metal walls and the 2×6 wood? Or maybe we need to take some of the load off of the van walls with a support in the middle of the platform? We’re going to do some experiments to see if we can get the noise down.

After driving it around for a couple of weeks the squeaks reduced somewhat as everything settled but it was still pretty loud. After much debate we stopped being lazy and decided to disassemble the bed and do something about the noise.