The Truck

 

photo: Derek Fagerstrom
photo: Derek Fagerstrom

This beauty here is a 1982 Chevy Step Van – aka the “Sweetheart of the Road”.

It was originally a fleet truck for American Linens, and their logo is still faintly visible beneath the white body paint. I bought it from a very kind man in Washington who was mid way through an RV conversion. He had installed a shower, toilet, stove, fridge, water heater, a massive propane tank, and convertible sleeping bench. It was a shame to rip out all his hard work, but I wanted to customize the interior to work for this project. As nice as it would be to have all those amenities onboard, I needed the space to function as a printshop, with adequate work and storage space. And so, one sunny day in April, my brother and I tore everything out. Floors, walls, ceiling, ratty insulation… everything down to the metal skeleton. In retrospect, this is something we should have done *much* earlier but, you know, I’d never torn up a truck before. I think I was also struggling with some anxiety about the whole thing, feeling like I was in over my head and just didn’t know where to begin. Turns out that diving right into demolition work and spending some time working under the truck is an incredibly empowering experience, and was just what I needed to feel like maybe, just maybe, this was something I could actually pull off.

clockwise, from top right: demolition; steel skeleton/windows/flooring/wood paneling; almost finished!; cabinet facing in progress
clockwise, from top right: demolition; steel skeleton/windows/flooring/wood paneling; almost finished!; cabinet facing in progress

I hired an electrician to wire the truck for DC and AC power, and added in a couple golf cart batteries for auxiliary power. He also cut and installed windows and vents, and built an indestructible steel frame for the bunk and cabinets. We were able to reuse most of the steel from the previous owner’s work, and it was all bolted down into the truck body.

Next up came the cabinetry, which was built around the steel skeleton by an amazing carpenter.  Half-inch plywood was applied to the steel, and then it was all faced with maple paneling.  Butcher block countertops and green marmoleum flooring finished it all off.

I finished the walls of the bunk area with the maple paneling, but left the original metal siding on the ceiling and the rest of the walls to retain some of the industrial character of the original truck.  Also, magnetic walls rule.

That's me, in disbelief that I have my own custom-built studio-in-a-truck! Photo: Derek Fagerstrom
That's me, in disbelief that I have my own custom-built studio-in-a-truck! Photo: Derek Fagerstrom