A Craigslist Van

I am incredibly blessed to have an intelligent, successful father who also happens to make a living in the car business. He has always been the provider of sound advice and reliable vehicles. When posed with my questions about how to road trip to Alaska – he remained steadfast in his recommendation of “take your SUV and stay in hotels, or fly.”   He and I have never agreed on what constitutes enjoyable traveling.  I was hoping that by the 10th time I asked, his answer would somehow parallel my wishes of buying a cheap camper van and vagabonding my way across the country with cats (like JB, he believes the best solution to cats was no cats at all). Unfortunately, I have always relied a bit too heavily on mi pops taking care of automotive affairs, and I found myself clueless and desperate for a van; he only commented about my financial wishfulness and imprudence. Always respectful of my father’s opinions, I bought a $2500 Craigslist van. That’s half the price of the other van that was up for consideration.

The associated Craigslist ad is no longer available, but  I will hit the highlights: strong engine (true), working A/C (partially true), decent to good interior (false, so false), 1 identifiable point-source leak (would be true if 1 were 6). JB and I visited with Willy, the seller, who won over my heart with woe of needing money to make mortgage payments and began to cry during our test drive around the neighborhood.  (I do hope Willy is feeling better.) JB gave preliminary approval on mechanics, and somehow in half a day I became the owner of a Craigslist van.

Walking into the van for the first time there was no moment of absolute recognition that this was the van for me, instead I was distracted by the lingering public toilet smell (which was eliminated with the removal of  hidden toilet fresheners). Regretfully, I didn’t take any pictures of the van before renovation, honestly, because I wasn’t sold on the project turning into a success story and I wanted minimal proof of my “financially imprudent” decision. However, I was able to find one old picture Willy provided us. It does not wholly display the true nature of the “decent to good” pink interior.

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Within a couple days we recognized the need to completely remove all  flooring, carpet, wood and cabinets. The project’s scope increased exponentially and I cowered at the workload. I cannot thank JB enough for the hours he has spent so far demolishing and rebuilding. Once the van was stripped (below) I was a bit discouraged.

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I was finally able to do something constructive by painting while JB put down the base for the floor. I may have made an impulse decision on the bright seafoam green. You can see what the final flooring will look like (below right) we decided on laminate wood look-a-like.

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Jb also cut plywood to cover the fiberglass (below) revealed once the old walls were removed. He’s the best!

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I stained the wood walls while he built a new kitchen for the fridge, stove, microwave (bottom left); most of which was fabricated from scrap wood a nice guy let us have. He also replaced the overhead cabinets and wood in the back bedroom (bottom right).

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It was about this time in the renovation we had our first significant rainfall here in Tallahassee, FL. With the help of duct tape and Great Stuff foam, we had repaired a crack in a roof window and a massive gap between the roof and the air conditioning unit. Post-storm we entered the to find about 4 additional leaks. Luckily this was discovered before putting carpet down at the front of the van.

We have also been frequenting the local Pick-and-Pull junkyard in an attempt to salvage some new-old chairs and save a significant amount of money, this is still a work in progress. We are headed there again today.

Jb put up storage space (bottom left) at the front of the van and I began adding fabric trim to cover up the deformed, rusted metal (bottom right).

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This is where we currently stand with renovation progress. For the past month or so we have worked mainly  on weekends, sometimes during the week. There is still quite a bit to be done before it is road-ready for the beginning of July, such as, electrical and plumbing work, finishing the floors, additional storage space, curtains, yada yada. The van has already been towed illegally by a grumpy guy, but with my discouragement now transformed into anticipation I look forward to updating you on further progress.

Finally, a picture of the exterior. Original ambitions included re-painting this drab looking girl, but now she will suffice with just a spunky interior.

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