After spending 3 years building vans solo, Mike has recently hired a few new folks to the team. With this and the addition of some amazing new tools, our build process has both sped up tremendously while also improving build quality, precision, and durability dramatically.
The New Guys
With more and more interest from clients to build out campervans, Mike decided to bring on some new team members to streamline our builds.
Greg - With a background in high-end custom boat building, Greg knows a thing or two about building in small spaces with extremely high tolerances. He has joined the team as the Shop Manager and will be leading the team of guys working on the custom van build segment of the business.
Alan - A machinist and engineer with decades of experience, we were lucky to have Alan walk down our driveway one day and offer his services. It just so happened that Mike had just bought a CNC machine for the shop, and Alan began using it to design components to create perfectly fitting walls, floors, ceilings, cabinetry, and everything else needed for these new builds. In the future, this will become a completely separate side of the business and we will use the CNC to cut our DIY kits as well as everything needed for our custom builds.
Zach - Recently graduated from CU Boulder, Zach is a CAD expert and joins us as an entry-level builder. He takes care of installing everything from heaters, solar, and plumbing to AC units, roof racks, and anything else needed. Having an extra set of competent hands around the shop works wonders for build speed and efficency!
Trace - To handle everything digital, Mike needed to bring in some help. Trace is in charge of the website, social media, content creation, and basic customer service. He’s on a mission to make Satsang Vanworks a household name in the DIY van builder niche and help thousands of people build their dream van.
Before using these, framing used to take 2-3 days. Thanks to a suggestion by Greg, we’re now using stainless steel rivets to secure our framing to the van. Each one has a 1,000lb sheer strength rating. By simply pre-drilling through your framing and van wall, you are able to use your rivet gun to insert the rivet into the material in seconds. This has sped up our framing from a process that takes a few days to a process that takes a few hours.
Changing when we run wiring in the build process to earlier (and with the help of the special zip ties found in the video), we were able to make this phase much simpler and streamlined. Mounting electrical boxes at places where switches and outlets will be also allows for much more convenience when finishing up wiring. Before the change, wiring time was around 3 days. Now it’s around 3-5 hours.
Acquiring a CNC machine has completely changed our build process. Obviously this is out of reach for most DIY van builders, but that’s why we plan to soon offer full kits cut with our CNC machine that will give you the convenience we get to experience with our builds, and obviously gives you a level of quality and precision that most DIYers can only dream of. Check out our YouTube for more on the CNC and our plans with it.
Using fabric to cover small gaps and fill strangely shaped spots has a few benefits. First, it’s extremely lightweight, and secondly it saves tons of time. See the video for examples of spots we use fabric, and feel free to experiment on your build to find useful places you can use some fabric to cover gaps.
We hope you have learned something useful for your own van build with this info. As always, if you have any questions for us or comments, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org - thanks and good luck in your build!