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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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Floorplan 2.0, Making it All Fit

Dec 3, 2014
by John

Over the last few weeks we've periodically taken breaks from moving, stuffing our faces with holiday goodies, and playing with our nieces and nephew to re-evaluate the JaMvan floorplan. We have been happy with our previous layout but it was based entirely on the amount of stuff we wanted to take and was essentially just theoretical. Putting the couch, potti, fridge and other assorted bins into the van to get it all into temporary storage gave us a random opportunity to practice dry fitting our intended floor plan, practicing is a disease we suffer from.

A wireframe outlining our original floorplan, not to scale

A wireframe outlining our original floorplan, not to scale

As soon as we began loading the van we immediately figured out we didn't need to alter the base for our jack-knife sofa. It'll install, with a few extra inches from the wall, in front of the wheelwell on its existing frame. That was a huge discovery and a big relief given our inability to locate local fabricators that would take such a small job. Ironically, while selling our remaining unnecessary stuff on Craigslist, we met several wonderful folks that have offered us shop space and help if necessary. So, if we find we need to alter the couch or anything else, we have a wonderful new network of friends to call to action.

However, once we placed the fridge we knew its positioning was a major problem. It being perpendicular to the side wall had it very close to the couch, leaving a rather small space to shimmy though to get access to the potti and the rear shelving. Since our entire floorplan was mostly based on the rear shelving, practice placing the fridge and couch helped us find a serious flaw in our proposed layout. We'd need to navigate that tight space to get to almost everything everyday. Our response was to rotate the fridge to make it parallel to the passenger wall resulting in some additional floor space. That would block access to some items on the rear shelf, we knew some things were going to be blocked by the fridge anyway, and require shortening the kitchen cabinet.

Thus began our journey back down the floorplan rabbit hole by remeasuring our bins to see if we could maybe change to having side storage next to the couch instead of shelving across the back. We'd loose some cubic storage space but with the location of the couch we could make it fit by moving the potti to the back corner next to the fridge. The change in opposing dimensions allows for a deeper set of side shelves, a longer counter in the kitchen and a center walkway! Gaining access to the back of the van seems pointless when you consider the bumper-mounted spare tire and storage box we have, both must be swung away from the outside, but getting easy access to the back of the van would be huge. Popping up, use of the rear pop-out windows, accessing the van if we are sardined in and the ability for a decent cross breeze would be great.

Floorplan version 2.0, also not to scale

Floorplan version 2.0, also not to scale

A few days after practicing the dry fitting I started looking into aluminum boxes. Security of certain things has been on my mind a lot lately so having locked pelican cases in a locked box inside a locked van sounds reasonable, at least to me (not mentioning my cable idea that will be inside the aluminum boxes to secure the cases to). I was able to locate some really nice boxes that are made for underbed mounting on trucks. This idea isn't original, there is an awesome build on the Sportsmobile Forum that incorporates many of these boxes. Using those in lieu of storage bins really opens up the storage possibilities, not to mention securing the cargo to prevent it from becoming projectiles or smashed bits after a rough road.

That night Mandi and I spent several hours searching for different shapes and door configurations of aluminum boxes. The original ones I found had full length fold down doors but we wouldn't be able to stand in front of them. The make shift shelf the fold down door could provide would be great but also not as functional from the side. Eventually we found a dual opening side swing door box that wasn't made out of diamond plate. We'll be staring at these for many years and diamond plate is not a favorite of ours.

We are still undecided but are leaning hard towards getting a couple of those aluminum boxes so I've been playing with how the space behind them will be utilized. Something like the way some VW camper vans have long side access cabinets behind front facing ones. That would make a great spot to cram stuff that won't be used as much like kayaking and backpacking gear. It'll also be a great spot for winter wear that will be used at the beginning and end of our trip, assuming we make it the whole way. The bottom portion will require laying the sofa down to access it, perfectly acceptable considering what we plan to store there.

How John's World Works - Notations Added for Clarity

How John's World Works - Notations Added for Clarity

A few issues still need to be worked out but we are ecstatic to have had the fridge problem to ultimately end up with the center walkway. A side sofa and a center walkway make up our ideal floorplan. It's funny how we've gone full circle. We are also willing to get rid of more stuff to have the home we know we will enjoy. This is all still theoretical but it's coming together much like how we ended up deciding to make a run at the Pan-American, all accidental like. I guess we're just destined for the haphazard.

Say what? (4)
Dec 3, 2014 at 02:57 PM
Looks Perfect! We are waiting to see it in real :)
Dec 3, 2014 at 04:21 PM
Thanks Sri! Now we just need to get back to building it out. Lots to do but at least we have a direction.
Dec 5, 2014 at 11:55 AM
i remember those conversations well. really no way to see what fits other than do a trial load, rip it all out and start over. ;)
when you think you're close, go spend at least a few days living in the van and youre likely to rip it our again!

i wouldnt worry too much about security. we never locked our doors, but went the opposite approach of simply looking like we had nothing of value.
I did add a couple hidden storage areas for the things we really cared about losing...but at least in my opinion, the more locks you put on something- the more worth breaking into it seems. =/

enjoy the rest of the build!
Dec 5, 2014 at 12:21 PM
Great advice Bryan and Jen. We're really happy with this layout so once we complete the installation of our walls we may practice living in it. We know we want to take too much stuff so hopefully we'll continue to pair down as we inch closer to launching.

I agree, for some reason I'm over thinking security...current compulsion or something. We get back to the build this weekend so I should be refocused instead of suffering from my self inflicted what ifs.
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