I spent the last few days fabricating a new cabinet for the van
A place for a battery and some shore power features
What I did was replace the existing molded trim panels with a custom fitted storage unit that also houses a deep cycle battery and a battery charger and an 800 watt 12 volt / 120 VAC inverter. I used some cardboard stock to make some general patterns to get an idea of what kind if space I could use.
What I was up against and layout
The section of trim is one big section with a molded section of padding and carpet that sat over the wheel well. Part of this section was the passenger rear wheel well. So it was a bit tricky but not a big problem. What I ended up with was a cabinet that goes from the side door pillar all the way back to the rear door. The base depth is the same as the wheel well. But because of the odd contours of the van walls it gives a forward bulkhead of about 8 inches with a rear bulkhead if only about 2 inches.
Secure and Support
My next element was a way to support this cabinet. And make it accessible if I need to remove it for some reason. My solution was simple. Four 1 inch flag straps screwed to the pillars Two front and two in the back. I drilled the metal “flags” for some threaded nut-serts. These 4 locations will secure the cabinet shell / fascia in place.
Pattern and Fit
After patterning the two bulkhead contours I cut them out of some scrap 5/8 plywood. After I applied a framework of 1X2 pine I decided to face the unit with 1/2 MDF. It was all glued and screwed. Solid as a rock. Then it was time to plan out a top. Once again with the help of the trusty cardboard I patterned out the extended top that is 12 inches wide by 61 inches long and overhangs both ends by a couple of inches. Getting the contour to snug up to the existing window trim. After a few passes on the pattern it all looked good so I transferred it to my glued spruce 1 X 12 section. Some cutting and a bit of tuning and it fit right in. Some corner rounding and a couple of passes with a half-round bit on the display edges of the top finished it off. A couple of coats of polyurethane and the top is ready to get screwed down. I may add a couple of drink holders at a later time.
The cabinet has a bunch of room behind it and if I was ambitious I could probably make use of it. Shelves, drawers that kind of stuff. But for now it is a big power box with a nice counter top!
I managed to appropriate the passenger rear corner for a bunch of the power stuff. First off is a deep-cycle battery. I fastened the mount to the floor and bolted it in. No biggie here. Next was a small 6 circuit fuse panel. This will fuse the power ports and whatever else I want to plumb into this secondary system. Then I pirated and re-purposed my 6 amp solid state battery charger. After losing the handle I fabricated a mount to put it right inside the cabinet. It is plumbed right to the battery. And to get 120VAC to the charger I mounted a 20 amp marine shore power fitting through the body at the rear corner. All I have to do is plug in an extension cord and the charger does the rest. Nice!
So for now that is it. I will cover it in some tan carpeting in the next step. Just a pretty pretty. And some better eye appeal.While I was making changes I did add a prefabricated storage pocket to the passenger rear door face. Can’t have too much storage.