Sunday, July 19, 2015

The making of a beach van (Part 1)

As you may know by now if you follow this blog, I hurt my left knee over a month ago, making me unable to drive my Jeep (Blue Leader) and making me postpone Epic Trip 2015. This is the first part of a 2 part (ok, maybe 3) build of a beach van.
 I've had a 1997 Ford Aerostar van that my parents gave me a few years back that is an automatic transmition, it was needing a little tlc to become a daily driver again, and even a beach/picnic van after I'm able to drive manual again. After addressing some mechanical issues (new battery, starter, and radiator) it was running again like nothing ever happened. Now it was time to take care of the exterior by giving it a much needed paint job.
Here you can see some of the paint damage and areas that needed to be sanded down to bare metal.
Sitting outside everyday and being by the salty beach air for so many years has not been very kind to the paint. Those conditions came into consideration when choosing a new paint job, or coating in this case.
Introducing Top Down Custom Coatings. Once the van was dropped at the shop Mike Heverly and Kevin Osborne quickly went to work prepping the van.

Mike wasted no time working on the body, masking, and filling where needed.


So far this project is budgeted to be completed for just under $2000.00 with paint taking the largest part of the budget, repairs and new parts second and miscellaneous items (seat covers, new radio, new used passenger side rearview mirror, and a paint spray can) completing it. I already had the ARB Fridge/Freezer so I'm not counting it in the budget (yeap she has a refrigerator).
The van also had cargo racks so no need to add roof racks for the SUP. I will be making a custom shelf behind the back seat to hold a 2 burner lp gas stove, first aid kit, road side/tool kit, and other small items needed for an impromptu picnic/day at the park.
I'm sure by now some of you have asked "why would you spend that money on that ________" and the answer is two fold, first it's paid for and I needed an automatic vehicle to drive for an indefinite time while my knee heals (I have this thing about not driving other peoples cars) , second there are already too many vehicles in junkyards polluting our planet, and while I wouldn't call myself a tree hugger, I do not believe in wasting for the heck of vanity. So now I have another vehicle to get me around, that I also enjoy driving and serves several purposes (dog transport, equipment transport for the classes I teach, and a day at the park/beach).  

Oh and after rambling for a little while here is the final product of phase 1 of the van build.

The guys at the shop also threw in a new to me set of wheels and tires that (in my opinion) look way better than the stock wheels it had. They also painted the grill and windshield cowl black and polished the Ford emblem to a brand new look. Attention to detail like this is what makes me recommend them and be a fan of their work.

There were some interior upgrades done too, in the form of seat covers and a much needed hula girl on the dash.

The below listed shops were part of this build and were kind enough to provide discounts besides excellent service, so keep them in mind if you need any work done and tell them I sent you!
Top Down Custom Coatings:
Phone: 484-393-JEEP (5337)
Baez Auto Repairs:
707 NE 11th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304