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van life

Exterior Overhaul

I am working on finishing the exterior of the van so that I can start on the interior. I wanted to get bigger tires and lift the van. I didn’t want to go crazy and wanted to go with the simplest option. I decided on a 2″ body lift so that I didn’t have to mess with the torsion bars. Basically, you buy the pucks, the bolts (or spend more and buy a kit), the shackles for the back and go to town. This cost me about $100. I know absolutely nothing about vehicle mechanics and the guy that I work with that has helped on the van (he engineered the custom roof rack) did the lift for me. Therefore, I don’t have a step-by-step with this.

Stock tires are 215/70R/16 – I decided to bump it up and go with 245/70R/16. I bought Cooper AT and there was barely any trimming to do. I wish I had a side-by-side comparison, but I don’t. In person, you can tell the van is lifted. Photos, not so much.

Cooper AT
New tires added to the lift
Clearance after minimal trimming on the lower part of the bumper

In this process, all the plastic was stripped off the outside of the van as well as the running boards. What it left was a weird empty place in the front of the van as well as it showed this van had previously been hit (driver side back fender). The plastic was held on by double sided tape, which was not a fun a project to get off. I went on amazon and bought a decal remover that was really cheap. This worked great for the top tape, but the bottom tape, not so much. It was an absolute mess of what could be best described as giant boogers! What I found best to remove this was lacquer thinner, some elbow grease and using the decal remover. This took time. It is done though.

Now, the next thing I plan to do is spray bed liner where the plastic was, inside of the wheel walls and on the bumpers. It will help protect as well as hopefully add a badass appeal to it. The only other thing to accomplish at this point on the exterior is replacing the ball joints. Then I can move to the interior which will start with all the electrical. This will include a solar panel to be able to stay off the grind. Stay tuned!


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!

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