Sprinter Conversion: Floor, Ceiling Fans and Awnings

The posts on our Sprinter Conversion have been few and far between, however, lots has been happening! Jonty has been getting his money’s worth out of his monthly membership at Maker Labs. He has full access to the CNC machine, MIG welder, full wood shop and other random things like ladders and scaffolding, which make getting on top of the van roof much easier. Honestly, this space has been fantastic in more ways than one.

Once time permits, we plan to post the details of each major job. Until then, these progress pictures will do for now. Really, this post is mainly for the benefit of our families, who are awaiting more pictures, apparently 🙂

Sprinter Conversion Progress check-list thus far:

  • The Fiamma awning has been installed and, given that it hasn’t come flying off on the highway, I’m pretty sure we’ve mounted it properly 🙂
  • Two Maxx Fan roof fans have been installed, which means we cut two large holes in the roof (eek!). Given that we’ve survived the torrential June rain in Vancouver without any leaks, I’m pretty sure we’ve mounted and sealed both properly 🙂
  • The van floor is soooo close to being done and Jonty will be soooo relieved when this engineering feat is finished! With hydronic in-floor heating and a few layers of insulation, we might have gone over-board. However we spent enough cold mornings and evenings in our rental Sprinter van last year, that we didn’t want to compromise on having warm feet!

Fiamma Awning

Installing this awning made me nervous, mainly because it required hoisting a 120-pound awning onto a 12-foot-high Sprinter van, using somewhat questionable rickety ladders we rented for the day. Right before we clambered onto the ladders, I believe Jonty’s words to me were “Under no circumstances, are you allowed to drop this awning. You break your body, before you break this awning”! At least, that’s how I remember it 🙂

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter Fiamma awning

My hands immediately started sweating (not ideal for hoisting the 120-pound awning up over your head), but I didn’t drop the ball. Phew!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter Fiamma awning

Until we get the electrical wiring done it the van, this awning uses a crank to manually extend it. The kit does come with an automatic option, so we will get that wired up in due time. For now, it’s still pretty great. We just need the sun to re-appear along the West Coast!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter Fiamma awning

MaxxFan Roof Fans

We do not want to install an energy-sucking air conditioning unit in the van, instead opting for two MaxxFan roof fans. We’ve installed one at the front of the van, near the kitchen area, and one at the rear, where the bed will be.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter roof fan

The fans require a stabilizing mount on either side of the roof. This poses a slight problem, as there are ridges on the roof that need to be accounted for if you want your mounts to lie flush against the van roof. Jonty, my smartie-pants, has modelled the contour of the roof ridges in software and CNC’d the mounts. How satisfying is it, to see a perfect fit?!

Mounting the roof fans is a messy, dirty job. You’re left with a sea of metal shavings after cutting the roof holes, and the black adhesive sealant goop tends to get everywhere.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter MaxxFan installation

But, at the end of the job, it’s so satisfying to see the fans fitting without any problems.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter MaxxFan installation

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter MaxxFan installation

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter MaxxFan installation

Sprinter Van floor with Hydronic Heating

From the beginning, Jonty knew the van floor was probably going to be one of the most complex designs of the entire project. A few of the reasons why:

  1. We did not want to skimp on insulation.
  2. We wanted to put in hydronic (in-floor) heating.
  3. We’re both tall. Without the floor, the inside height of the van is 6′4″ and Jonty is 6′2″ without shoes. This leaves us with about 2 inches of space to work with. It’s a tight fit!

I’ll save all the juicy details for another post, but essentially, Jonty designed the floor into 4 layers. Two insulating layers, 1 layer of hydronic piping, and 1 plywood layer are all held together with L-track and aluminum channel bolted through the van floor. Figuring out how they were all going to fit together was a slow, but steady, process.

There has been a lot of time on the CNC machine…

… And a lot of time staining the marine-grade plywood in our apartment…

… And making sure the L-track fits properly into the CNC’d grooves…

… And making sure it all fit back into the van as it should…

… And that the L-track aligns properly to be attached to the van itself…

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter interior floor

… And that the hydronic piping fits into the channels of the van floor and surrounding insulation…

I think it’s fair to say that this part of the Sprinter conversion has been the biggest undertaking thus far. We’re finally at the stage where we can put the floor together for the last time!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Sprinter interior floor

If you’re still with me, congratulations – you’ve made it to the end of this post! It was a doozy, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed looking at the pictures 🙂

Project #MJsprinterconversion is well underway!


    1. No problem! Jonty got the hydronic tubing connected through the floor this week, and it’s looking good. He’s done such a fantastic job so far. I think we’re going to try tapping the fuel tank early next week, to get everything hooked up. Wish us luck!

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