Vanning is a compulsion, an obsession, an occupation, an affliction, a fascination, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it, must. Those who don't, think it's a waste of time. For me it is a calling.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

looking back to the start!

           I have been working on this project for some time. I have had several people ask me  where the idea for this came from.  I thought it would be interesting to repost the spot I did when I started this van to see how it compares to the original idea, and a lot of you never saw this post to begin with   so here it is....

At one time or another , we all have said," I'd love to go back and do it all over , knowing what I know now". That would be nice but we know that isn't going to happen. RIGHT? ..... Well, I might just get the chance.., sort of. My first attempt to build a custom van was to say the least, crude. Ever since I sold it, I have wanted it back. But alas, it went to the crusher, after it was sold about 4 times. 30 years of sellers remorse has given me the desire to reproduce that van, but eliminating the mistakes I made and doing it right . The van was an early model Dodge that I cut in half and shortened. It was a real cute truck, but I really didn't know what I was doing, or have the proper tools. Over the years I have dreamed about what I would do to refine it. Adding ideas, changing things,and making it a little more contemporary. I definitely remember the things I screwed up. I haven't got a lot of pictures of that van,but here are the ones I can find.
My Father-in-law was trying to teach me to weld. I took out the tired slant 6 and, replaced it with a small block V8. Here ,I'm welding the motor mounts. These are pitiful photos. Maybe 4th generation copies.
No ,this is not a trick photo. The chain hoist goes through a hole in the roof that became a sun roof.
This shot in primer shows off how short it was. I still get jazzed looking at this picture. I went to my first van-in in this van in 1975 , still in primer. The camper van was my mom's. Behind it ,is the last car I owned. A 73 gremlin. It went shortly after I started driving the van I took this picture the day I brought home this Chevy van. It was to become the Barnstormer.. I still have it.

There are a lot of things that I want to change. The porthole is of the day, but will go, as will the side pipes. Larger wheels and tires. These are 14's I think. Move the gas filler,and put it behind a door. I want to seal up the rear doors. Solid with no windows. I love that look. Tunneled tail lights..gotta have tunneled tail lights .I did that with the Flamin' Banana. This is the Flamin' Banana. a 68 Dodge van that I built in the early 80's. My first chopped van. (that's my brother) Here it is almost finished at the 13th Nats. in 1985 I've had several early Dodges over the years. I had a beater van (it would make a great rat van today.) that I got so I wouldn't have to drive the Barnstormer every day. Had a lot of fun with this van.. And believe it or not it was a trophy winner.(that's C.B. not me..)

When my brother went into the Marine Corps, he gave me his van for a couple years. I did a lot of work on it and drove it around . We called it the Rubber Biscuit. He was a Blues Brothers fan. I had Juan do a mural on the back of the "Brothers". While I was at This years Rat Fink Reunion I received a call from a friend of mine, Tom, from so. California. A guy in his van club had an early Dodge he wanted to sell. Tom thought of me. The van is a long wheel base, has a v8,and an auto trans. Exactly what I would want to reproduce my van.
These are the pics I have of the new van. It doesn't look like a lot to the untrained eye, but for a 40 year old van this is in great shape.
Look at the floor. The floor under the driver is one of the first places these vans rotted out. This van still has the factory paint on the floor . It will be nice to work on an early without having to fix a bunch of rot. Tom has the van now. Currently I am working on one of his vans. The sooner I get his done ,the sooner I can get this home. I'm excited!! Stay tuned. I will post more on this project.  


That ws about4 years ago. I think I have stayed pretty clost to the plan. I am up to working on th4 interior..I will have more updates on that real soonb.

old news never posted

With time getting short,there are several things to do. the stained glass for the little door inside needs to be installed. had to cut the old glass out and make new wood for the glass. first I had to etch the butterfly design on the clear glass. aahhh always get sand in the shorts. Then to stripe and shadow the lettering.


With time getting short,there are several things to do. the stained glass for the little door inside needs to be installed. had to cut the old glass out and make new wood for the glass. first I had to etch the butterfly design on the clear glass. aahhh always get sand in the shorts. Then to stripe and shadow the lettering.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Summer is winding down. Wow, that is hard to beleive... school is back. Work is still keeping me busy. I am working on a couple projects as well. keep a watch here to see whats coming. here are a few of the cool cars I've had to do this week.

With the arrival of fall comes football.. as some of you know I am big Ohio State fan. I tailgate at the games with my buddy, Tom Pace.  Had some new  guests the last game. Its been a good season so far. The bucks are on a record 23 game win streak!  Next up those nasty wolverweenies!!!  Then it's off to the Big Ten championship game!!

I finished this tailgate today. Another fink project. Turned out pretty good..

got a couple trucks for sam again this past week. check these out

I've always liked to work with my hands. I like mechanical things. Building and making things. Even as a little kid my favorite thing was getting in my grandfathers garage and playing with his tools. (I won't tell you about the time I sawed the picnic table in half) One thing I really enjoy is woodworking. I have done a few projects around the house. There was the kitchen remodel. And my favorite, the family room, where I built 2 mission style bookcases across one whole end of the room.

They are made of oak,from plans I found in a woodworkers magazine . It took nearly 2 months of rather intense labor but the results were quite rewarding. Not surprising, the interiors of most of my vans have a lot of wood in them. I'll see if I can find some pictures of them to post. Well it's back to work. I have a can I need to finish up and a couple pieces of artwork to get done.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

time to start the interior

  He loved it

   Back to the van. The walls have been insulated with foam and dynamat for noise.
 I have changed my mind on the material color and the design again, but its time to decide.  I have had basic ideas of how I wanted to do the interior but when you start to measure and actually start cutting panels and material you discover that it just wont work as planed.  Some things are minor others require a total rethink.  The door panels are one of those..  I originally wanted to use the stock door panels since they were cut to fit the door handles. but they didn't cover the whole door, and the door handles are chrome and some what pitted.   SOOOO, I came up with the idea of removing the door handles just like I did on the outside.  That will make an absolutely clean door panel with no cranks, handles, or buttons.  Totally clean!.  The windows are already converted to electric, and the switches are to be mounted in the center of the console. That just leaves the door release handle to figure out.
All vehicles from the 60's had door lock buttons on the top of the door. Since I took off the outside door handles these are not necessary. I was going to make fake ones and put tikis on the shaft.  So I decided to make them functional and connect them to the door latch release.
I cut the lever from the door latch mechanism and repositioned it to move up and down.  Connected a rod to it and ran it up to the hole in the top of the door.   All you do is pull up on the lock button and the door pops open!   To darn easy.
 There has to be a bed platform in the back but it has to be big enough that I can sleep on it as I intend to use this van to go to events.  I wanted to get some visual interest so I am building it at an angle.  Wide enough for me but that's about all, the inside is small comparatively since I took out so much of the length. but its suppose to be a surf wagon.  Some place to crash and storage for your gear underneath.

 I got the bug to do a canvas of the fink I did on the back of the van.  Almost done!

I built a recess into the wall between the side doors for the bass amp.  All wired up and led lights to boot!