Intro: Homemade Camper Van: Simple, Easy Curtains
This is the first of a series of instructables about the construction (in progress) of my stealth Toyota camper van.
The object of a stealth van is to be able to park anywhere, and blend in with other on-street vehicles. This way you can live in your van, and travel from city to city without paying for anything but gas!
The first thing about a stealth van is, you can't be able to see that someone is in it. And that means you need blackout curtains, so that you can have a light on at night without people seeing you.
Another important thing is keeping heat in in the winter, and out in the summer. So there are 2 main criteria for curtains in a stealth van:
- Good insulation value
- 100% Opaque
I do not want to hide in a dark van all day, so there is a 3rd I will add:
- Easy to install/remove
Step 1: Gather Materials
There's a material that suits these criteria perfectly! It is called "Reflectix" and is pretty cheap: $15 for a 10' x 24" roll. It's available at any Home Depot or similar store. The pictures on it even show uses that involve putting it in your van!
To get them on and off quickly and easily, nothing beats Velcro. At first I worried that Velcro would be considerably more expensive, because it has to go around the perimeter of the windows, but luckily, it turns out you don't need much. Save yourself a hassle and get the sticky-backed kind.
I got Velcro at Michaels', a craft store for $3.50 for 3 feet. I bought 9' because I didn't know how much I'll need to do the whole van. The 2 rear windows so far took about 1 and a half feet... looks like I overestimated?
Step 2: Slap It Up in the Van
Slap it up! Well, let's take our time and do a decent job. Avoiding light leaks is key, or else what's the point.
I started by measuring up and making a cardboard template - not pictured. Then I cut the reflectix to fit.
I did the next part at night so I could easily check for light leaks.
I taped it up and started sticking 1" velcro strips in the corners and working inwards to see how much would be required. The corners were not enough, so I stuck more strips in the spots where any light got out until it was completely invisible.
The second pic shows the placement of the strips that kept the light in. A bit uneven, but it was necessary to do it that way to contain the light.
Then, you will realise some of the strips aren't sticking that well. Carefully take off the reflectix, holding the van sides of the strips down while you do, and then smooth the strips down really solidly to the van.
Put the reflectix back up and don't mess with it. The strips take 24 hours to cure.
Step 3: Done! and a Few More Things You Can Do.
Here's a night-mode pic from outside the van with the dome light on. Note how no light is visible from the left side with the blackout curtains.
A few more things you can do:
You can see the reflectix in the pic here and in the first pic. It is reflecting the flash in the first, and here it is reflecting the street-light.
In real life, it's quite hard to see unless you stand beside the van and give it the eyeball. However, if your windows are less tinted than mine, you may want to spray it black on the outside. I'm leaving it shiny for now in hopes of getting a slightly higher insulation value during the day.
The inside is very shiny. While it does boost light levels inside greatly, it's a little hard on the eyes. My girlfriend claims she will paint something cool on them, so it will look more like home.
While I was working on the left side window, quite a few people walked past on the sidewalk (the right curtain was already done). I watched them, and nobody gave the van a first glance, let alone a second glance.