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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone!
I joined a little while ago when I started shopping for my first Duramax. However, I didn't find one until mid July of this year so now here I am!! :) Hope'ing to learn a lot and stay clear of rookie mistakes when it comes to modding these D-max's.
I'd been needing a new Daily Driver for quite some time and no, I really didn't need a van. ;) I was actually looking at a variety of things really prior to purchasing this, even test drove and put an offer on a used C6 Z06. In the end though...I went with Creeper status level 4 Alert Man-Van! :nod:

Main reasons for buying a van were:
-Duramax Diesel
-Towing Capability
-Can haul my street/dirt bikes around easily
-Versatility with the cargo bay
-Fairly good on fuel efficiency
-It's different
-It's GM based so fairly familiar with it
-Modability

Here's what it looked like when I bought it...had to fly to Houston to get it. Diesel vans are not that comman apprently so had to go out of town to get one. Its a 2006 Chevy Express 2500 Duramax Diesel. Was an ex Anheiser-Busch company van w/ 103,000 miles. Was assigned to one employee since it was bought so all in all it was really well taken care of.

I think with a little work and creativity this can actually become a pretty sweet little tow-rig/Daily Driver. So onto what it looks like and then onto what I'm doing with it.





First fill up! Averaging 18.5mph completely stock



I slept in the van on the drive back home...wasn't too bad but have since adressed that issue in a major way, more on that later.
Inside was stripped down and cleaned by the Used car lot, wasn't too pleased with that since they posted pictures of it as being fully paneled inside. Got him to knock some of the price down but still wasn't too thrilled about it.



Installed a class V tow hitch on it and bought myself a car hauler. She towed really well when I finally got the trailer load situated correctly. Averaged 14.5mpg's while towing +/- 10,000lbs. :rock:







So that's what I bought...here's what I'm doing and plan on doing...

First thing I did was install a double din 6.5" Kenwood touchscreen Stereo w/ Nav. two 10" subs.



Followed that by ripping out the Adrain Steele cage. I'm sure it's super useful for work vans but to me it was just annoying so I pulled it out.

Next up was the interior walls...
Decided on Radiant Technology Double Sided Reflective Insulation - Rated R19 at 75 degrees inside. Should help keep the van at even temperature during hot days and not act as such a Heat absorbing Tin Can during the day and a freezer at night.

Ripped out the headliner and the door panels and wiped down all the interior walls...








Also ripped out the crappy POS rubber mat that was on the floor, underneath it was 6 years of spilled beer and nasty rotted out insulation! :barf:



Here's with the Insulation installed...


 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Next up was to do the floors, had a bunch of different ideas but settled on Rhino-lining it... was more expensive than I thought it would be but I think it came out great! Notice that I had them go up the walls an inch so it fills all the cracks between the floor and the van walls. This way I can hose down the interior and the van has a bath-tub effect and that water can drain out.






Had them do the uprights as well so that they won't get too dinged up when I load gear and bikes in and out of it. The ones that are coated are the support ones, all the other ones I've learned are only there to keep the van sides from flexing in and out while the van is at speed, so essentially I cannot use them as tie-down supports or what not.




Don't mind the foot prints! :D


That's where I was at before I left for a little vacation. I dropped it off at a van customizing place and they were in charge of lining the walls with cut-to-fit FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Panels). They will cover the walls and the Ceiling of the van. After that was a 76" Folding bed that I could fold it up against the driver side wall and it should stick out between 3-4 inches which is fine because that well inside the wheel well. When it folds down it's a couch and then folds down once more into a bed. Should work better than sleeping on the damn floor! :jest:

Last thing they were supposed to install were two Aluminum Logistics Tracks (L-tracks). They anchor into the floor flush within the ribs in the floor. Each track is rated to hold down 4,000lbs of gear so with two of them they should be able to tie down a couple bikes when needed. They come with quick disconnect clasps which should make securing the bikes a cinch.

Also got the windows on the Van tinted, I've tinted about 10-11 vehicles so far and it always blows my mind how much cooler the inside of a vehicle is once you get dark tint! Score!!






I weighed this fat ***** and came up with 6080 fully stripped! :nono:
 

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Subscribing, looks like a fun build
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
So when I got my van back, all-in-all I think they did a bang up job. They knew that I was pretty pissed off with them due to their missing their completion deadline 3-4 times so they went ahead and Lined my wall panels with Suede!! :jest:
Wasn't anything I wanted or even had interest in getting done but it really made the interior look very good! Especially since I was joking about painting the walls or putting wall paper up to make it look less commercial. My only issue with this unexpected and free upgrade is it turned my van from a work/haulin van into a bit of a RV. Meaning it's a bit to nice to where I can't just throw tires, trannies, motors, dirt bikes and other crap in the back without making extra sure that I don't touch the walls because...**** they're SUEDE!! :/

Anyways, here's some picture of how it all turned out:
Driver side suede walls with the bed folded up against the wall...


Passenger side and the sliding door


Looking forward


Bed folded up, give an idea of how flush it is with the van walls




Bed folded down into the sleeping position rather than the seating position




Here's the L-track and the securing clips




 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Next thing I did was to debadged it. Didn't take too long but I did need to go buy a plastic razor to help get that crap/glue/gunk/foam off the van without scratching the paint.

Here's a before:




And with the badges ripped-off but that crap/glue/gunk/foam still on...









And after some Heat gun/Goo-off/plastic razor...



I left the Duramax badges cuz i like them...



 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I wanted to build a shelf to hold all of my tools and towing gear and instead of buying an Adrian Steele one or something pre-fabbed because they cost a little too much I decided to build myself a custom shelf. So I laid out all the gear/tools that I'm gonna want to keep in the van. So far this is what I came up with...



And the shelves that I'm gonna build are gonna be installed right here, behind the bed:



I'm no carpenter but have built a few things before so I was kinda looking forward to building it.
So I started the cabinet and picked up a sheet of 4x8' 3/4" MDF at home depot. Cost $30 so it wasn't too bad, not sure how much an equivalent sheet of Drywood would of been but this wasn't too bad on the wallet.

I think it reached triple digits today in LA :bang:


Here's the first upright, I'm from the school of measure once and cut 7 times! :D




Followed by the second upright that's just behind the bed...


I got a little sloppy with the wheel well arch! :nono:



Made a top shelf, which took alot of time because of the contours but after quite a bit if sanding I think I got it just right...





And followed by the bottom shelf:




I also bought some tool bags to hold all the misc tools and make it easier to store it. Ended up getting a basket and a gearbag.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I added the final two shelves into the cabinet, I think they came out real nice.

First one...




And becaust the bottom two shelves will be holding the most weight(bout 30-35lbs each) I decided to go overboard on the shelf support. In addition to the wood glue and the 8 total screws screwed into the shevlves from outside the shelf uprights, I also added some heavy duty gusset 90's brackets to those two shelves, so 4 brackets for each shelf. Using MDF made me wary about it's strength so I tried to distribute the load as much as possible. I countersinked and pilot holed every screw that I put into the MDF so there really should be no splitting, I hope...


Here is the shelf complete with most of the heavy tool bags and tool boxes loaded up in the shelves, hold them easily. I also found a black wire basket that you can see on top of the shelf that I will be securing to the top of the shelf. It holds about 6 oil bottles perfectly. I'm also going to build a rack(towel rack) into the side of the shelf and use that to hang all the cargo straps instead of having them piled up in a big ball and get them tangled up. I'm sure I over built the shelf but better to be safe than sorry...




After that I pulled it out and spray-lined them with the truck liner stuff. It seemed to work well. I put it in the garage to let it dry over the weekend while I took off to go out of town so when I get back I'll have a better idea of what it's like and if it will work out well. I did notice that it's not very thick, nothing like the thickness of the liner we have in our beds done by line-x and rhino but I guess that's to be expected. The paint/liner is still wet in these pictures, then again I'm no pro when it comes to spray painting so hopefully it dries evenly...




So all that's left now is to put it in, bolt it into place and figure out a way to keep things flying out of the shelves. A lip won't work because of the very low clearance I purposefully built into the shelf for the tool box. I also have to build a few wedges and bolt in some Heavy Duty brackets into the van first to help secure the shelf but that shouldn't take too long I hope. Kinda excited to get this thing in there and to put it in use.

So that's where I am right now as of today.
What I have left on my to-do list (which is growing bigger by the day!:sigh: ) is...

Cargo bay:
-Build shelves on drivers side by rear door to hold tools, straps, hitches, etc...
-Cut vent into ceiling for vent-fan.
-Relocate subs to behind front seats and add additional speakers in cargo area
-Install fridge between two front seats with power inverter to run 110/220V plugs.
-Install small water tank on passengerside by rear door for fresh drinking water
-Maybe install Flat-screen and DVD player behind drivers seat, (actually my Double-din plays DVD's so maybe just wire the TV as an external monitor)
-Tint the rear tails

Drivetrain and wiring:
-Wire up 7-pin towing harness
-Add Cruise control
-4" DP and full exhaust, EGR block off and any other restrictive crap
-Tune
-Intake and snorkel kit up out of the engine bay. (no reason other than I think it would look cool :jest: )
-Some kinda Bull bar with winch up front, haven't looked at any yet but should make this thing look and be a bit beefier and help get myself out of jams for when I take it to the desert.
-Ice cream truck music for the kiddies?? :jest:

Wheels and Suspension:
-Lower van 4-6 all around.
-Add tow bags
-Fit off road suspension (not for offroading, just to stop this thing from acting like a van and absorb bumps rather than transmit them through out the frame.
-Saw these wheels on a van the other day so maybe get something similar...



And finally Paint/wrap...no idea what the hell I'm gonna do but open for suggestions. I've already thought about all the theme vans (*******, mystery wagon, Dumb and Dumber, Inspector gadget, Teenage mutant ninja turtles) and I don't think I wanna go that route. So if you have some cool ideas/color combo's I'd be interested in hear them.

Anyways, that's where I am and where I plan to go, no time table or schedule but hopefully I can get this done in a reasonable amount of time.
 

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sub'd too. nice job on what you have done already.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks guys. Didn't have a chance to work on it today but tomorrow I should get quite a bit done, at least finish the projects that I have on-going. I also bought some Diamond Plate and will be cutting that to fit on the passenger side to cover the Suede so that I won't mess that up when I haul stuff in the cargo bay.
I'll add more updates tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
So update:
Not much got done since the last update since it was a long weekend and been pretty busy but I did finally get the shelf painted and mounted into the van. It's in their Solid as a MotherFuqqer! A neighbor came by and shook the shelf to see how well it was mounted and he ended up rocking the van back and forth! It didn't budge one bit from it's mounts, just exercised the suspension!!

So here are the mounts I made, they are all down low and super beefy, I also added one at the very top but I did not take a picture of it unfortunately.








Here is the Shelf all painted and ready to get bolted in:



And then here it is all said and done, I still need to install the retaining system, I have a decent idea of what I'm gonna do, just need to hit up a hardware store.



I wanted to paint those brackets black but I decided to take a break from it and fix my street-bike since I got all the plastics for it in the mail. That took me all night but I did get that damn project finished. Not sure what's going on right now but I have three projects going on, my van, my truck and my street bike! I need some cheaper hobbies!
 

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Drivetrain and wiring:
-Wire up 7-pin towing harness
-Add Cruise control
-4" DP and full exhaust, EGR block off and any other restrictive crap
-Tune
-Intake and snorkel kit up out of the engine bay. (no reason other than I think it would look cool :jest: )
-Some kinda Bull bar with winch up front, haven't looked at any yet but should make this thing look and be a bit beefier and help get myself out of jams for when I take it to the desert.
-Ice cream truck music for the kiddies?? :jest:

Wheels and Suspension:
-Lower van 4-6 all around.
-Add tow bags
-Fit off road suspension (not for offroading, just to stop this thing from acting like a van and absorb bumps rather than transmit them through out the frame.
-Saw these wheels on a van the other day so maybe get something similar...
Van looks like it's coming along nicely. A few comments/suggestions/ideas for you:
* Make sure to use a converter for the trailer wiring. Don't run the trailer lights directly off the van wiring.
* Cruise control makes a big difference with these van's, and really helped my mileage too, especially with towing! It's super easy to add...just buy the new stalk that has the CC switches and swap. The wiring is already in the steering column making it a real easy upgrade. Cost of new stalk was around $80 IIRC.
* I'm running a diamond eye DP and 4" straight through exhaust (custom made exhaust). I've had great service from Alligator Performance when buying parts, including the exhaust.
* I'd take a serious look at your steering before doing much else to the suspension. The stock steering on the GM HD's (trucks and vans) suck! I don't know if the upgrades for the trucks fit the vans, but I would guess they do. The tie rods are tiny, and the idler arm is weak.
* After the steering is upgraded...time to upgrade the suspension. The stock van suspension also sucks offroad. I would guess that new shocks would be very helpful (get GOOD ones, i.e. Bilstein or similar). The rear van springs are also pretty stiff and don't travel well. I had new custom rear leafs made for mine (they were made with a lift built-in). I'd check with Alcan Spring and really consider new springs for better offroadability. Add some airbags and you're all set.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So Update:

Finally finished the shelves, I bought some wood dowels and some wooden closet rod holders.



Cut them to size, painted them black and wrapped the ends with some carpet to act as insulation to keep any rattling noise buffered and also ensure there's a nice tight fit.







Also bought and mounted a steel basket, was a cheap alternative to building something up there.



So this is what it looks like finished w/ a couple tools in it...




There's still a couple things I want to do such as:
-Paint the mounting brackets black so they are hidden and don't stick out.
-Mount a small rack on the outside facing wall to hang ratchet straps


Also started on another project. I bought some Diamond plating and started cutting some templates out to cover the passenger side wall over the wheel well.

Here's the plating



And where I'm gonna put it so crap like that piece of wood or ramp don't start tearing up the suede...



I have a little more cutting to do till it fits perfectly but I'm debating whether or not I want to paint it black or leave it chrome. :hmmm:


That's it for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Van looks like it's coming along nicely. A few comments/suggestions/ideas for you:
* Make sure to use a converter for the trailer wiring. Don't run the trailer lights directly off the van wiring.
* Cruise control makes a big difference with these van's, and really helped my mileage too, especially with towing! It's super easy to add...just buy the new stalk that has the CC switches and swap. The wiring is already in the steering column making it a real easy upgrade. Cost of new stalk was around $80 IIRC.
* I'm running a diamond eye DP and 4" straight through exhaust (custom made exhaust). I've had great service from Alligator Performance when buying parts, including the exhaust.
* I'd take a serious look at your steering before doing much else to the suspension. The stock steering on the GM HD's (trucks and vans) suck! I don't know if the upgrades for the trucks fit the vans, but I would guess they do. The tie rods are tiny, and the idler arm is weak.
* After the steering is upgraded...time to upgrade the suspension. The stock van suspension also sucks offroad. I would guess that new shocks would be very helpful (get GOOD ones, i.e. Bilstein or similar). The rear van springs are also pretty stiff and don't travel well. I had new custom rear leafs made for mine (they were made with a lift built-in). I'd check with Alcan Spring and really consider new springs for better offroadability. Add some airbags and you're all set.
Thanks man, van is a fun little side project that doesn't seem to blow up in my face as often as my race truck does! :mad:

-That is great news about the Cruise Control upgrade. I was asking around as to how I could go about doing that and most people were telling me some ridiculous idea's and costs to do it. Like upwards of $800 to wire it in. :eek:
I'm definitly gonna get a stalk that has the CC buttons on it and do that! :)
This van came with nothing in terms of options, I don't even have power locks or windows so I'm slowly trying to upgrade the van but without having to pay massive $$ to do it. Eventually I plan on buying some doors out of some junkyard vans that had power windows and locks and salvaging the mechanisms from those.

-I'll hit up Alligator performance when the time comes and go from there, I'm planning on doing the same 4" through exhaust, I just hope that the van isn't annoyingly loud without the Cat and Muffler. How does yours sound, any vids of it?

-Thanks for the tip on the steering, it acts pretty funny sometimes when I'm driving at speeds and making a slow turn. Something's not right with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Creeper alert! :p :D Nice project buddy! What does that new GF of yours think about your man van?
LOL
Hey Chris! Well I have you to thank for making me a creeper now don't I? It was you...that night, at the county fair in the back of the fun-house...right? :confused:

She learned to love the van after we christened the "bed". Planning on going dirtbike riding next week and put the van through it's paces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Got the tie-down hangers built. I used some stainless steel drawer handles. I plasti-dipped them black and the came out kinda good



Drilled and mounted...



And with a couple tie-downs I had laying around. I have about a dozen or so, should work well once they are all on there.



Shelf is 100% done. Now onto other things.
 

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LOL
Hey Chris! Well I have you to thank for making me a creeper now don't I? It was you...that night, at the county fair in the back of the fun-house...right? :confused:

She learned to love the van after we christened the "bed". Planning on going dirtbike riding next week and put the van through it's paces.


Shhhhhhh.....our little secret.

Glad the lady friend likes it :coolnana:
 
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