Building my Adventure Van (2011 NCV3)


p.s. I still have the rear-door windows sitting in the garage - I haven't had the time to tackle those yet either.
Thanks so much for you input and guidance. Hopefully i'll head out to CO sometime with my Husaberg and mtb and we can hit some trails.

I sought out a van with a rear window. Now having them, i'm not so sure that was worth it. From the driver seat, I can hardly see much out the rearview mirror. There will be pros and cons, obviously. That area is a nice storage area with netted pockets.
I'm now having to make curtains and heat block.

All good though. Good luck with rest of move.


New member
Thanks so much for you input and guidance. Hopefully i'll head out to CO sometime with my Husaberg and mtb and we can hit some trails.

I sought out a van with a rear window. Now having them, i'm not so sure that was worth it. From the driver seat, I can hardly see much out the rearview mirror. There will be pros and cons, obviously. That area is a nice storage area with netted pockets.
I'm now having to make curtains and heat block.

All good though. Good luck with rest of move.
Our windows aren't for driving.. they are for the views camping in the middle-of-nowhere places we prefer :D
I use my camera for rear-view.


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New member
Were you using anything like this?

Harbor Freight to the rescue.

The shops have a power tool, basically a special tip/blade for a sawzall...
The adhesive I'm referring to is the "glass strip" in the photo below (the glass is permanently bonded to it)

I don't know if that HF scraper tool would work. It looks to be the wrong shape (it'd take paint) and the rubber is too hard (that'd be too flimsy). The rubber is crazy hard - as hard as a hockey puck (but denser)

The steel cable is cool but the adhesive is located in a filet in most places so I don't think you could get it in there either :(

We tried a number of tools/shapes/sizes and a good ole narrow putty scraper worked best (combined with copious quantities of heat gun - to the point things were smoking):

If I could "make a tool" for the job it'd be a super sharp (yet strong) razor blade on a 90 degree handle - with a delron slider on the top of it to keep it from digging into the filet - and a heat gun.
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New member
I now have the window installed that I bought from State-Wide Aluminum. As it's the first and only window I have purchased for the Sprinter, I can't compare like for like to any other brand. Now that it's installed, I'm happy with it. However, my experience wasn't spectacular.

State-Wide Aluminum was very responsive to my sales request. The national sales manager responded quickly to my email. The purchase process over the phone was simple. The window was shipped out quickly.

The box arrived with slight damage to the cardboard. The window inside had taken a little bit of a beating. The top frame had a slight bend to it (which was easily straightened out), and the little plastic clips that hold the screens were broken. It took 3 (unanswered) emails and two phone calls to get new clips to replace the broken ones. Still awaiting the clips. I've been told they had upgraded the quality of the clips and that was the delay. They wanted me to have the better clips. I've been told the clips were posted this week. We'll see. I'm not being charged for the new clips or postage.

The window does look pretty good. There is some degree of wave to the glass as Geek displayed earlier in this thread. The glass isn't perfect, but it's OK. The interior trim was installed using two-sided tape and some good quality adhesive. The trim piece has holes drilled in it apparently for screws, but it wasn't clear where the screws were meant to secure to. There were no installation instructions included with the window.

In the end, it's fairly decent and at a competitive price. I was in a heavy rain shower today and the window didn't leak. :thumbup:

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New member
Geek, love this post, I am begining my transformation adventure and would like to know about your wheel/tires experience (BFGoodrich).
Did the gas mileage differ from stock tires ?
How do they hold up throught time and mileage ?


New member
Hi Everyone! I'm back :bounce:

After a significant hiatus on the sprinter build due to buying a house up at 8000 feet in the mountains, moving, etc..

The sprinter build has resumed! :rad:
The shop is somewhat thrown together at this point but it is in a state where I can get some work done. :thumbup:

A couple of "personally significant" photos:

Night time? Irrelevant :smilewink:

Raining Cats and Dogs? Irrelevant :smilewink:

It is so nice to have it inside finally! :clapping:

Time to order some plastidip :popcorn:


New member
Disclaimer: As usual, I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just making it up as I go along and make lots of mistakes so you might not want to copy my ideas :bounce:

When I first built the rear rear seats/benches I just used cheap plywood; knowing I would replace it at some point.
That point has arrived.

One of the things I learned from the Plywood, is that I wanted something a bit more sturdy/significant.

I decided to use 1/2" MDF just for the benches. I have no idea how it'll hold up but I'm hoping with my build technique it is going to be a good solution (the plywood warped over time).

One nice thing about 8020 is you never have a shortage of straight edges around :D

The bench is a bit of an odd shape due to the egg-shape of the van. The cut ended up being 165.5 x 66 x 164 x 65.5 (cm)

Since I'm hoping this will be a "final build' on this piece, I'm taking my time and trying to be extra-accurate.
I'm trying to account for the thickness of the foam and of the fabric wrap in the calculations as well

(aside: I'm going to be building two little cabinets into the wall - hence the reflectex being pushed in back there)

To keep the drill from wandering... rather than do a pilot hole I just did a bunch of quick center punches - the MDF is squishy enough to allow it - worked well.

I then sanded a chamfer all the way around on every edge to take the "bite" out of the bench when you sit on it

I found this flooring foam at HD that I'm hoping will work well for the benches - just to give them a little bit of softness. I don't know if I'm going to put this stuff on the walls or not - I'll judget after I see how the benches feel. :popcorn:

Contact cement sprayed - using a cardboard edge to catch over spray as I went. It sure was nice to be doing this inside! In the past I've made a helluva mess when the wind came up during the spraying out doors.

I rough cut the foam slightly oversized to give me an edge to pull on well I pulled it tight and bonded it

I then ran a razor around the outside along the chamfur I sanded earlier (about a 45 degree angle) giving it a nice transition

Now to let the cement dry a few hours.. and then to try bonding the interweave fabric.

The costs of mistakes get higher when creating finished pieces. I'm afraid to think of how much a muck-up is going to be if I get this part wrong or it doesn't turn out right :D



Van Guru
Nice work. A couple of things about MDF. It absorbs moisture like a sponge and will swell up accordingly. And it contains urea-formaldehyde so the dust isn't the greatest thing to be breathing. You can seal it with polyurethane but it will soak up a lot of it during the first coat.


Well-known member
The edges are where I have found most moisture problems. Elmer's makes a rotten wood hardener that I have used on the edges of MDF that has helped with fasteners grip and moisture. These edges were either hidden or painted as well. You could also sand the edges with very fine grit to get it as smooth as the face before painting that seems to help but is a lot of work. I did this on the edges of kitchen doors I made about 10 years ago which have lasted longer than the MDF doors that came with the house.


New member
Thanks for the info on the MDF.
It'll be interesting to see how it lasts.
Colorado is a desert.. so humidity won't be an issue for the most part.

That said, I'll see what I can do to seal up this next board. :cheers:

Back in the shop this morning...

Lay the foam covered wood out on the fabric and cut it off with enough to wrap around each edge:

Flipped the wood over and then got to play with my favorite $20 toy :D

For some reason when it comes to the "crux" I forget to take photos.. lol
so I flipped the wood and fabric back over.
Sprayed both with contact cement and let dry 10 minutes.
then pulled the fabric up and over the wood and pressed the fabric everywhere to stick it to the cement.
Then flipped it over and started pulling and stapling all the way around the bottom.

Flip it back over and relieved to see - it looks great!

Then used a punch to re-punch the hole locations in the fabric. The fibers spread easy enough that I don't think I'll cut them in any way (making the hole less likely to ever fray)

Some extra long 80/20 bolts

...and voila! one mounted bench that, when you sit on it, doesn't feel like a board due to the foam layer.
There will be cushions made that go over this, but this is what will be there when in "utility mode". to make a matching piece for the flip up portion - and then the other side.
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Well-known member
Nice work and I love the new shop and garage. The wife was looking at a house online and she was happy to point out there is even a "home" for the van.


New member
pfflyer: The opposite happened with us.. I was playing with zillow looking at an area in the mountains that I wanted to live in.
When I clicked on this place the first photo was of the shop with the 12' high door.

"I found our new home!" I shouted to my wife without even looking at the photos of the house itself -lol.
The next morning I called a Realtor buddy and we drove up and looked at it. The shop was great! (and there is a second workshop and a 2 car garage).
That night my wife came up and confirmed there was also a house and she loved it so we put an offer in.
The house was already under contract but lucky for us their financing fell through so we closed 45 days later :)

Down the road I'll look into insulation, drywall, windows, etc.



New member
So considering the MDF advice above, I looked around the shop and found some stain I had kicking around. Pulled out the brush and let the MDF soak it up like a sponge.

After I was done I looked at the label. "minimum 8 hours drying time". Argh!

I guess I'll working on something else - lol


New member
lol Dave - for the Sprinter's shop :smilewink:
The house, garage, other shop, etc are already together :cheers:

I still haven't figured out how I'm going to get the Sprinter up the driveway in the winter however... it is a crazy steep switchback mountain driveway. :thinking:

It is so steep that one morning (dry summer day) I was going down it and remembered I forgot something. I stopped the van and went to back up and the van sat there spinning. :wtf:

I had to go to the bottom and take a run to go back up. :crazy:

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