Using 80/20 or Extruded Aluminum

Hello all a newbie here – but been planning my van for quite some time. I had hoped for a bit more info on using extruded aluminum for the build portion - but so far only find wood in this course ;(
Has anyone used 80/20 or the like? HELP please
best
Peggy

Greetings!

While I’ve never used 80/20, I frequently use metal conduit. With existing hardware & connectors it can be easily used like an erector set.

I have frequently used it to make beds, sofa/beds, cabinet frames, lagun style tables, and much more. By using two slightly different sizes it is easy to make full length and durable hinges. It’s cheap, and since it’s aluminum it shouldn’t rust.

I also sometimes use aluminum flashing for full length corner bracings for cabinets, sometimes just on the inside, with pretty trim on the outside, or sometimes on both the inside and outside corners. Some times a U shaped wrap around for exposed edges as well.

I don’t ever remember seeing 80/20 and they’re myriad of connectors available anywhere locally, and it appears to be quite expensive. Meanwhile, conduit & connectors are easily available locally and cheap.

I’m not dissing wood either, lightweight but sturdy things can be built with wood too, and many people find it easier to work with, probably mainly because they are more familiar with it. The biggest thing with wood and vehicles is to make sure you use screws instead of nails. When using wood, I usually use a combination of liquid nails and screws.

If weight is a major concern, the foamie construction method can be used as well, to make extremely lightweight but durable cabinets & furniture.

Cheers!


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein


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I haven’t used Aluminum extrusion (yet) in a van, but have used it at work in machinery builds several times. It’s quality stuff and makes strong cabinet and light machinery frames, but it is time consuming to assemble. There’s a lot of little parts (connectors, T nuts, screws, etc.), and “fiddle factor” getting it all assembled. I have lots of (mixed) thoughts on it for a van, but the biggest thing that comes to mind is that it’s expensive. I’ve priced a 3030 series extrusion 45"w x 35"h x 21"d box (frame only) through Misumi just for a sink and drawer base cabinet at close to $400 - and that’s unassembled and without the extrusion pieces for drawer slides, the slides and hinges, etc. which will double that cost (all the little connectors, T nuts, and hardware are expensive as well). Then add in the plywood end and face panels, drawer, drawer face, and cabinet door face costs, cut and stain or paint the wood if DIY, and assemble all the components. I could order high quality custom made, all plywood glued and screwed cabinets, finished and ready to install for probably around 2/3 the price, and A LOT less work.

I’ve also looked at having a local guy weld up a similar Aluminum frame out of tube stock which would result in a similar finished product look. I’m waiting on price (expect similar to extrusion) but it would be custom fit to the van wall/floor profile and ready for panels, drawer slides, etc.

Looks like we’re going down a similar road (road-trip pun intended). I’ll post back as I move along.

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Thank you so much for the input- Yes a bit more expensive but with weight and the sturdiness “if” god forbid there was an accident- it is what I have been leaning toward. I purchased this build program with the hopes of learning more and unfortunately not a one of the “pros” on this has a build with that type of build. I follow several on YouTube and IG that use it in their true pro builds, I am definitely NOT a pro – but … even with my very limited knowledge of van builds and only online education over 6 months - I see several questionable things on the builds here – drilling straight into van with no rust pain or sealant :open_mouth: to name one.
My 2 cents –
But thank you so much for answering my question :slight_smile:

A few good resources I’ve found on YouTube; Dares Drives, Scott Adamson, and ourkaravan. I’m doing the same thing

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Yeah, the engineer and first responder in me shudders when I see the magnetic knife racks (images of knife throwing magic acts pop up) and all the improperly restrained and poorly secured/fastened stuff (even many bed frames and mattresses), in many van builds.
EVERYTHING needs to be secured both laterally AND vertically. When accidents happen, not only does stuff want to keep moving forward, but also upward, and even sideways. In a frontal impact, the entire vehicle back end pivots up around the front wheels’ axle as the center of gravity is above the axles. Unsecured stuff will fly up and forward - really fast!). It’s pretty scary. Rust prevention is important, but not to the point of skimping on attachment points. Check out the Norwegian RV crash test videos online too (you’ll really get the importance of securing stuff), and also the newer generation of Transit crash tests. The vans (MB, Transit, Ram) fare much better than most RVs.

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Greetings!

The actual quality of what you’ll find online or even purchase on this subject is highly questionable. Much of it is first time builders without an ounce of experience. It’s not that hard to make it pretty, but what you really want is durable.

Cheers!


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein


Greetings!

I like to secure everything to the seat mounts or the seat belt mounts, taking advantage of the experts engineering.

Cheers!


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein


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This guy built his van with aluminum extrusion:

There are several videos and one important point was made: He actually took part of the frame apart and cut it so that if someone rear ended his van, the frame he built woud collapse instead of smashing into his back. I’m not sure if that was handled in the linked video.

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A lot of good points and concerns expressed through this thread. I’m planning my build with 30x30 distributed through a company called ITEM (https://ca.item24.com/en/) up here in Canada. When I contacted them they gave me a ball-park price of the extrusion around $33/m (CAN$) but that will vary a bit depending upon the number of closed faces (if any). T nuts and respective bolts are relatively inexpensive … the expensive components are the specialty connectors but there are ways around this if you use a drill press and tap the holes at the connection points.

As for securing the frames to the body of the van, I’ll be setting riv-nuts in the structural body frame parts before installing the upholstered ceiling and wall panels and then securely bolting the frames in place.

A consideration needs to be how to limit thermal transfer when mounting the extrusion to the exterior van body. Perhaps using FRP Structural angles is the best method.

Last thing … despite mounting the frames directly to the van body, it is important to attach proper grounding connections to bare metal of the van body.

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Thanks had not seen a few of those - also Sevn O’Savage and Humble roads

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Yea - on your comments about securing and transfer of heat or cool to the metal as well as the grounding aspect. lots of videos on those things out there - Thanks

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