Memorial day is in the rear view mirror. Turn off the diesel heater, let the built-up sheet of ice thaw from the roof, and get the camp chairs out – Summer is coming.

We’ve put together a short list of exciting van innovations which we’ve had our eye on for some time. Read on to see if they can help bring your van build to where it ought to be.

Modular Van’s Interior Mounting System

Modular Van is doing some incredible work with their modular bed and cabinet systems. Their owner and design engineer, Dennis Veatch, has been dreaming up, and finely crafting solutions to make van interiors as complex as their owners. For our next van, we’ll definitely be using their system.

Quest Overland Window Covers

We’ve always struggled with our roll-up window covers. They’re pesky to store and difficult to unfurl. Fortunately, the couple in charge of Quest Overland have created a cost effective and innovative folding design that makes storage easy and setup a breeze. The units mount using magnets, and are hand-built in the USA.

Prime Design Rear Access Ladder

We continue to be blown away by what people are paying for ladder and roof rack systems, so feel obligated to share the most accessible and low cost option that we’ve found. It’s the Prime Design rear door ladder. Mounts without drilling, using only basic hand tools.

What are we doing?

Things are moving smoothly as we continue to design our modular table, and work towards a shelving kit for the ford transit. We’ll keep you posted when they’re available for sale.

But for now, if you’re on the fence about one of our products, or know a friend who could use one, Use coupon “SPRING15” until this Sunday to receive 15% your Vancillary purchase.

On February 6, we launched our “marketing” plan. A.k.a not much more than than an informational post to sprinter-source.com and a friend pushing out a blurb in his weekly newsletter.

The main question, and central cause of stress in my life, was if anybody was going to buy our product. It made sense to various #vanlife friends that were open to the idea, but there was still this feeling of diving into the unknown. You’re putting something out into the world to be judged. That is a vulnerable place.

Starting a business looks nothing like this!

But the product took. We made eight sales in three days. One of our first customers left me this note:

“Thanks for filling a need with a great product. Really like your product and how it serves the DIY community. Excellent download too.”

To have sales and start reclaiming our costs was one thing, but to connect with someone who shares your values is another. And when they really ‘get’ what you’re trying to do, that generates a feeling that is hard to describe.

What are we up to?

Since launch, we’ve created a 1-1 scale paper template to add-on to the kit. This is so you can cut their own shelf with matching hardwood. Most of our customers seem to be going this way now, and I’m not that surprised. Wood is just as sturdy as metal, and a whole lot cheaper than going the fabrication route. If you’re already building out a custom camper, what’s cutting another sheet of ply?

We completed the 2019+ bracket design in late February. The kits will stock on April 10. Here’s a snap from our early scan data and development of the new model year variant – can you make any sense of it? Good thing we have an engineer handling the important stuff…

We are now working with an ISO-rated supplier in Indiana to produce our aluminum brackets for the Headliner Shelf Kit. North American manufacturing can be incredibly expensive and we were honestly unsure if it was sustainable. Some quotes we received were initially about $15 per bracket, not kit. Yikes! This would now be our third production run with them, and they have by far done the most impressive work we’ve seen. The powder coating is called “Mock-rock” Grey, which gives a subtle contrast to the existing headliner fabric, and would look fantastic with a darker-stained wood as the shelf surface. All Sprinter Headliner Shelf kits will have this finish moving forwards.

headliner shelf bracket kit

Safety has been at the front of my mind lately. We’ve had a lot of requests come in about selling a standalone paper template so that users can DIY the whole headliner shelf setup. I don’t argue with them, it looks like a simple job. But the problem lies within the resources people are following. For example, there is a video on youtube showing how to mount a shelf with velcro. Others are using dollar store bracket, bending them once, twice, and a few more times. Is it not common knowledge that when you bend metal one way, and then bend it back, it becomes extremely fragile? Do I need to comment on the velcro?

We’re really not comfortable with selling something that might be fundamentally compromised in the process of it’s application. People, you don’t need to die trying to save $50 on a load bearing shelf that rests over your head while you are driving. If affordability is seriously an issue, just email us and we will send you a kit for free.

What’s next?

sprinter van modular console table

Our Webasto heater bit the dust just as we were heading out on a ski trip at the beginning of march. One burner, and glow plug assembly later, we made it out for a few days of skiing in the rocky mountains before spring fully sprung. Lots of time to test out a table we’re developing – this modular unit mounts in the center console when in use, and folds flat for storage when not. Tell us what you think about our concept?