The following is a synopsis of the van’s condition at the time of purchase:
- Year: 2004
- Mileage: 242,000
- Previous owners: At least two
- Cab: Clean and in great condition
- Cargo area: Shelving and ceiling racks permanently installed
- Exterior: Minor rust around the bottom, especially the doors. Undercarriage a bit rusty.
- Previous owner had been up on all fluid changes using Mercedes Benz spec fluids
- Tires: Rears relatively new, fronts pretty worn
- Brakes: When I picked it up, I assumed they were in good shape as the PO had not mentioned them. However, on my trek to Kansas, the front right began grinding very loudly. I then realized the pad had ground down to bare metal. I replaced them ASAP before continuing my journey.
- Paint: Had been repainted early in its life, so the body rust was minimal
During my drive home from Connecticut to Las Vegas, I stopped for a few days at my parents’ in Kansas. Here, I had access to tools I did not have at home, primarily, an angle grinder.
I spent the better part of a two days stripping the interior of the cargo area, including:
- Remove all the shelving
- Remove the welded-on ceiling racks
- Remove the riveted-on wood floor
- Remove the bulkhead between the cab and cargo area
- Clean up all interior rust, prime and repaint
The worst spot of rust I worked on was the threshold for the rear doors. I ended up removing all plastic pieces, ground it back down to bare metal, applied some rust converter, primed and painted.
Once the van was stripped of all accoutrements (and some rust), I was ready for the final leg of my trip home and to begin the build-out.
Photos of the deconstruction process
I admit, I should have take a lot more photos. But this whole process was such a rush that I never stopped to pick up my camera.
You get the idea: lots of grinding, lots of sparks, some sanding, some painting and it’s back as good as new.
In retrospect, I should have paid a little more attention to the mechanics. I had tunnel vision for the build out of the interior, so that’s all I gave any attention to. My short timeframe didn’t allow me any time to spare for anything but the interior. Lesson learned.
Next up, time to hit the road back home and get ready to build!