DIY

THE EPIC TRANSFORMATION OF “THE BAND VAN” PART 2

The continuing saga of the band van…My weekend was jam-packed with trying to finish this project before Joel comes home on Wednesday from his trip to Europe. The next modification was to build a giant box in the cargo area of the van that would serve two purposes. First, this box would serve as a more secure storage space for the band’s gear. By creating the box, which would end up being an inch and a half thick, we would make it nearly impossible to to get to the gear in the event that a window was broken. Also it would hide the gear from sight, deterring someone from breaking in in the first place. The box would also serve as a platform for a queen sized bed so that the guys could take turns driving and sleeping. So with design help from our good friend, Treb, and actual build help from another friend, Tim, Tim and I spent a beautiful Saturday making this modification a reality. Tim is so incredibly talented, he can literally build or fix ANYTHING!!!! If you need any home improvement projects done please contact him via Facebook here. This is just one photo from one of his amazing projects

Tim sent me the shopping list for The Home Depot, and I got the supplies the night before heading out to his house. Note to self, don’t go shopping at The Home Depot when you are too tired to see straight, you will forget something. Like the piece of lumber that will be the top of the box, you know something small (epic facepalm)…Luckily we needed a couple of other things from The Home Depot, so I didn’t feel completely stupid having to go back to the store. Ok, I lied, I felt completely stupid…Moving on, I learned a few things about building along the way: measure and re-measure to make sure that things are perfect. It’s not very easy to fix a miscalculated cut, and you don’t want to have to make another trip to The Home Depot. We were persistent and this wasn’t Tim’s first rodeo, so we luckily didn’t run into that issue. Also, complete strangers will help you load ridiculously heavy pieces of lumber into your rad van just for the opportunity to have a look inside 😉 Another really important lesson I learned was that your project is going to turn out as good as your tools. If you have the wrong tool for the job, you are going to be fighting the design the whole way which could cause mistakes. This leads me to another point, power tools are sexy…And make sure to wear eye protection, and close your mouth around the table saw, ahem (still spitting out sawdust). Finally, I have an unhealthy phobia of splinters, please don’t judge me 😉

Before

Before

 

Before

Before

During

During

 

After: We all signed the back of the box with well wishes

 

 

 

 

After

After

Here you can see the storage space for all the gear, which includes: guitars, amps, stands, full drum kit, upright bass, full size keyboard, effects pedals and more. On top is 1 1/8″ thick douglas fir that can support several hundred pounds. When the van is backed up to a wall or garage it will essentially be impenetrable. The box is secured to the floor of the van in case of a rollover accident it won’t crush the person on top. I will be outfitting the bed tomorrow with 4″ thick euro foam which is much lighter, and longer lasting than a traditional mattress. We are kicking around ideas for how to safely secure the sleeper to the bed in case of sudden stops or being rear-ended, and so far the best idea, from Tim, is to anchor a wide mesh cargo net to the top of the bed to keep the sleeper from shooting out the front window. You can also see the finished blackout curtains in place making it pretty swanky inside.

In order to have enough cargo space we took out the third row bench seat, taking the carrying capacity down from 12 passenger to 8 passengers. I can’t wait to go on tour, or camping, or travel across the country as a gypsy…

So, $300 in lumber, a perfect afternoon hanging out with some amazing friends, building a surprise project, topped off with a rewarding dinner of margaritas and fajitas sitting under the stars is definitely one version of a perfect weekend in my books. I think that Joel will be very pleased and surprised with the finished product, plus he gets to go out to Campo, my favorite Reno restaurant, for a thank you dinner for Tim and Lori who built this for me as a gift.

I’m still looking for names for “The Band Van” so leave a comment below!

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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.

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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!!!