Posted by: Bob McMichael | August 4, 2010

Eurovan modifications

2001 Eurovan Camper

Our 2001 Eurovan Camper with Yakima Kwik Rails freshly installed

Another road trip approaching, another round of “improvements” to our 2001 Volkswagen Eurovan Camper. We’re up to 71,400 miles on this baby and we love it more each time we get to use it. During each road trip, we think of things we can do to it to make the next trip better. Thus, the never-ending modifications…

Since my last post about this (Eurovan Obsession, November 12, 2009) we did the GoWesty Lift and Level Kit, which made a big difference in stability and ride. Plus, it’s cool having Mercedes Benz wheels on the van as well as a little more clearance.

Yesterday, I added:

  • Yakima 8B Side Rails (Kwik Loaders) so I could put my old crossbars on top and use our Thule Spaceboost or whatever it’s called. We also might put the canoe on top if the mood strikes us to do a float down Big Springs next week (the origin of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, in Island Park, Idaho). The hardest part of installing the Side Rails was figuring out where they should go. I tried finding pictures of late model Eurovans with them installed, but could not, so I thought I’d document it in case anyone else wants another user’s input on it. Here in a nutshell, is how I did it:
  1. I wanted the biggest spread between bars I could get and still easily add the rooftop box I have, which turned out to be about 40″. Then I checked the overall length of the box (ours is 90″) and made sure it wouldn’t interfere with the rear door or roof vent. This put the center of the front bar about 25″ from the front of the poptop.
  2. Using SIde Loader as a template for drilling holes

    Using SIde Loader as a template for drilling holes

    I used the Side Loader as a template to mark the two 5/16″ drill holes for the front rail. The elevation location of the loader rail – at least on this poptop – must rest on the bottom of the curve just above the lower part of the poptop that holds the gasket. Any higher and the inside mounting plate will not fit. I was concerned that the plastic-coated clips on my Yakima towers (which clamp onto the bottom of the Kwik Rail) wouldn’t have enough clearance because of the protruding lip just below the rail, but it just barely clears it when fully tightened (the instructions refer – briefly and vaguely – to this, but since they’re not vehicle-specific you just have to check it on your particular ride).

  3. Then I measured 40″ back to find the rear location, and marked the drill holes there.
  4. Mounting plate inside poptop

    Mounting plate inside poptop

    Then I checked the inside of each location to make sure the mounting plate would fit; there are structural ribs located inside the poptop ever 12″ or so, which could interfere with your fore-aft location. I had to move my original spot about an inch in the front to avoid hitting one of those ribs.

  5. Once I had the locations marked and double-checked the measurements to make sure I had the rails set up exactly in the same place on both sides, I started drilling the first two holes. I learned quickly that it is much easier to line up the holes by starting the drill actually through the rail holes. The first two holes I just drilled through my pencil marks, and the bolts were about 1mm too far apart for the inside mounting plate to fit over the bolts. It took some pounding and re-drilling to get the two holes in the mounting plate to slide over the bolts. The tolerances are fairly tight, so it’s much better to get the holes started through the actual holes in the Kwik Rail. I had no trouble with the other three once I figured this out.
  6. When drilling each hole, I made sure to keep the tent material safely out of the way in case the drill bit flew too far through the poptop. Access on both the front and rear spots was fairly good, but I had to raise and lower the poptop several times for each rail; to avoid having to go inside the van each time I dropped the poptop down and release the latches, I put a 2×6 scrap at the front to keep the lid from going all the way down. This saved a bit of time and energy.
  7. Bolts with adhesive sealant

    Bolts with adhesive sealant

    After testing the fit of the bolts with the gasket and the inside plate, I removed the assembly and added a small bead of Goo (clear poly auto adhesive/sealant) to the part of the bolt just up against the inside of the gasket.

  8. Fully gooed, I put the assembly back into the holes, added the lock-washer and nut, and tightened it all up with a 1/2″ socket and ratchet. I checked for tightness on each one, and noticed a small amount of Goo oozed above and below each bolt, as well as a little rubber-squishing of the gasket. Since the poptop is just a huge piece of molded plastic with no insulation or anything to crush, I tightened the bolts fairly tight without worrying too much about damaging the poptop.
Bolt covers from synthetic wine corks

Synthetic wine cork bolt pads

Overall, it went pretty smoothly. One thing I added to the setup was a home-made bolt cover for the inside of poptop to protect the tent fabric from getting cut up with the bolts protruding from the nut. I cut two synthetic wine corks into four equal pieces each (total of eight), and then used a 1/4″ drill bit by hand to ream out enough material to be able to “screw” the cork piece onto the end of each bolt. It would have been nice of Yakima to include those flexible plastic caps to cover the bolts and nuts, but in a pinch I hope my method will keep my tent from getting torn… Time will tell.

  • Utility rack for Eurovan

    Utility rack for Eurovan

    Front dash utility rack: I spent some quality time at Target and found a small organizer to hold our cell phones and other doodads safely out of the way. I used a couple small metal brackets (which I had to modify a little) and the existing screws in the upper part of the lower dash cover to secure this gizmo.

  • Two 12-volt outlets – just tapped into the existing outlet. Got these at Radio Shack pretty cheap.
  • An iPod/MP3 player cable – tapped through the lower dash cover and held in place with a rubber grommet. If I want to use it I can pull it out at least a couple feet.
    Utility rack, 12V outlets, and MP3 cable in Eurovan dash

    Utility rack, 12V outlets, and MP3 cable

    Shelf added to Eurovan medicine cabinet

    Shelf added to Eurovan medicine cabinet

  • Rear medicine chest cabinet shelf: also from Target, a little organizer tray that I snipped up and screwed in at a slight angle to make the cabinet a bit more user-friendly. Would it have added much more to Winnebago’s conversion to put a little shelf in there? Anyway, I’m thinking this will be a good spot for my toilet bag, which on previous trips was just lumped in there with Windex, paper towels, dog treats, licorice, hand-cuffs, Kim Chee, and an old dog-eared copy of Pride and Prejudice.
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Responses

  1. Did you install the Go-Westy lift and level kit yourself? I have a 97 Eurovan camper and am thinking about doing this. I noticed that the difference in the 1995-2000 and the 2001-2003 kits is that the 3 spacers vs 1 spacer for the newer yrs.
    do you know where the 3 spacers go on the older yr kit?

    • Hi – I sent you an email with more information.

  2. Bob,

    I have the same question as Tom. How did the lift/level work go? Did you do it yourself? Do you still have the directions? I’d sure love to read them. I’m considering the same thing.

    Markus

    • It went well, but I had a mechanic I know do it. Took him about an hour. The directions from GoWesty are minimal but I can’t find them. The only thing they specify is the height difference between front and rear; I believe the front should be about 1″ lower if I recall.

  3. Great site Bob
    I’ve got a 99 EVC and would like to do the lift and level but I’ve only got an inch and a quarter of excess height available in my garage height – do you know how much this kit raised your EVC height?
    Thanks david

    • Hi David,
      I wondered and worried about the same question but went for it based on GoWesty’s page about the Lift-Level. They claimed it didn’t raise the height of the van at all because in leveling it you actually lowered the side that was higher and raised the other side to level it, thus actually lowering the overall height. I was skeptical, but it did exactly that. In short, if your EVC fits in your garage now it should fit just the same – or even with maybe a centimeter more clearance – after you do the mod, assuming you follow their instructions. Let me know how it goes. Good luck!

  4. […] Dash-mounted utility rack, 12V outlets, and iPod cable […]


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