The Epic Transformation of “The Band Van” Part 1

I’m going to stray a little off topic from my own personal “epic transformation” and share with you a project I have been planning for a long time. As you all know by now, my husband, Joel, is in the touring band The Novelists. A few months ago he acquired his dream touring vehicle, a Mercedes Sprinter. A few of the most awesome features include 20 MPG fully loaded this thing is as big as some RV’s, it has seating for 12, it runs for 250,000 miles before any major scheduled maintenance, it’s easy to drive, you can easily tow a trailer and it looks super cool. There is actually an up-and-coming company that converts these vans into tour vehicles for bands. Bandago is the company and you can check them out here. Fuel efficiency and low maintenance make these vehicles a top pick for touring artists.

Since the Novelists tour all over the country they needed to modify the van in a few ways. Me, being the planner that I am had been planning to surprise Joel with the modifications complete when he came back from his trip to Europe. So I recruited the helpful assistance of my mom to make the first set of modifications. I had the idea of making it impossible to see inside the van from the outside, obviously to keep prying eyes from spotting thousands of dollars of musical equipment and breaking into the van, as well as creating a dark and more temperature controlled environment for sleeping. I perused the vast internet for curtain and blind ideas, but came up short either due to cost restrictions or having to do a lot of work to attach the curtains to the structure of the van. So I decided to make blackout curtains that could be easily attached to the van without damaging the structure of the van and were affordable.

2014-05-23 14.20.39

Free labor!!!

The van has six 54″ windows, and two 22″ windows in the back. I was able to find blackout curtains by Martha Stewart that were 54″ wide by 80″ long, which made it amazingly easy to make two curtains for the Sprinter out of one panel. At $19.56 a panel at The Home Depot this made the curtains very affordable. I wanted the curtains to be easy to install and remove so I figured I’d use industrial strength velcro to attach the curtains to the window frames. 25′ by 2″ wide industrial strength velcro cost about $25 and I sliced the velcro in half width wise to get a total of 50′ by 1″ wide. I got my mom to be my sweatshop labor and we spent the afternoon measuring, cutting, ironing, and sewing. I think we also shared a few moments of cursing too after we realized that sewing through adhesive backed velcro will make your needle sticky and eventually break and cause damage to your sewing machine, oops. We endured and completed the project in about 4 hours and around $110. Much better than $70 each from the British company, Van-X.

I think it turned out wonderfully, and my mom and I were ecstatic at how perfectly we calculated out our materials. We were within inches of velcro and had a perfect fit on all the windows. Stay tuned for the Epic Transformation of “The Band Van” Part 2, for pictures of the completed curtain project. I’m also taking suggestions for the name of “The Band Van”. The rules that apply are: German name, since it’s a Mercedes, and female since I have a hoard of drooling men ask me if they can check out the van anytime I go somewhere. I’m thinking, Zelda which means “grey battle maid” and because Zelda the video game character was an explorer. Leave me a comment with your suggestions!!!

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