Over the weekend I went over to my local Makerspace, they have plenty of tools for woodworking, metalwork, 3D printers and alot of knowlegable people. I highly recommend looking if you have a local Makerspace if you’re planning to do a campervan conversion (or any other project).

I started the prep work by removing the wooden panels on the walls of the van. I might return them to the walls after putting in the insulation, not sure yet.

Before And After Removing The Wood Panels.

Behind the backmost panel on the driver’s side is the built-in 150/400 Watt inverter, which could come in use later on.

The Van's Built-In Inverter

After the panels it was time to take off the bulkhead.

The next step in the prep work is to take off the floor which will require removing the seats but it’s coming along nicely so far.

Before And After Removing The Bulkhead And Panels.

I wanted to test out the van for an overnight stay. The first thing on my list was getting another fan since one of the notes from sleeping in the Fit was to get better airlow so I got a 5-inch USB powered fan from Amazon in addition to my previous battery powered fan.

The Fan

The airflow from the two small fans was enough to get through a night in Florida.

Plenty Cool

I put down some cardboard boxes and put my mattress topper folded in half on top of that (I folded it in half to have it around 30 inches wide to simulate the width I will probably end up having the final van setup) and covered that with a bed sheet.

The Bed

I placed a blackout curtain with a rope through it (the one I used in the Fit) to cover the open parts of the bulkhead to block out any light.

Blocking The Bulkhead

Similar to the overnight stay in the Fit this was also a success. The bed width and length was sufficient and I actually underestimated how well both fans worked so I was a little chilly during the night.

Top View From The Bed

Over the weekend I went a bought my new ride and what will eventually become The Zen Van. The van is a 2013 Nissan NV2500 V8 High Roof with 60,000 miles on it.

The Zen Van

There are minor issues with it, the rear right tire is leaking and the passenger side mirror is shaking during drives but those are both easily fixable. There is a bulkhead separating the cab and the cargo area which I will probably remove for additional space.

Cargo Area

The cargo walls have a few wood panels that I can probably re-use in the conversion


There are also several lights on the ceiling that I might be able to re-use


Since I’m still working on getting the van (which is probably the most essential part of The Zen Van), I went ahead and experimented with how it would feel like to sleep in my car. Even though my Honda Fit is much smaller than the van I would eventually get the Fit’s cargo space (with the seats down) was long and wide enough to fit in a queen mattress cover folded in half which allowed me to completely stretch out in the back.

The first step was folding down the back seats, I then laid down two pieces of large cardboard to flatten on the space for the queen mattress cover which I folded in half and then I placed a bed sheet on the mattress cover.

The Setup

For the windows I bought a front window heat shield from Walmart and cut it (crudely) into sections which I then taped onto the windows by putting 3M Industrial Strength Velcro Strips on the windows and re-purposing felt from a few unused skateboard pads and taping those onto the cutout heat shield. For separating the front area from the cargo (for privacy and cooling) I used a blackout curtain with a rope through it attached to the front grab handles.

Repurposed Pads

I then threw in a few pillows, had my cooler and a battery operated 5-inch fan from Walmart on the side of the mattress before heading out for the night.

The Fan

After experimenting for the night I have a couple of tweaks I’m planning on doing for the second run:

  • Get a better fan. Even though the fan I got was better than nothing I still would’ve preferred something with a little more power (especially in the Florida heat). I’m thinking of getting a larger USB powered fan which I can hook up to my portable USB battery overnight.
  • I would’ve preferred to have the front blackout curtain attached with velcro to the side of interior to better position but the mounting tape I used didn’t stick to the fabric so I will try to use fabric glue for the next time.
  • I will more precisely cutout the heat shield to cover the window, even though the cutouts certainly helped their were still quite a few missed spots that let light inside.

Overall though I’d say the experiment was a success.

The View In The Morning

Welcome to the online home of The Zen Van.