van setup tips requested

A bit off subject, but here goes…

I'm looking for advice on what you guys have found useful in setting up a van for hauling bikes. I am modifying a '97 Dodge maxi (extended) cargo van. I was going to install a partition made out of 2x4's and good quality plywood with a reinforcing length of channel iron running width-wise to butt the front tires of the bikes against and to provide the tie-down points. The partition will be located just aft of a bench seat that will be installed within approximately a four foot space behind the two front seats. I want to have an access door in the partition to be able to get to tool box sized items in the cargo space without having to do a major unload of bikes and other stuff just to get to something back there. High top vans are pretty cool, especially the ones with the taller doors, however, this conversion would be beyond my budget. Similarly, box vans, RVs and fifth wheels are just too expensive for me to fool with now.

Any tips you guys can provide on the following subjects would be greatly appreciated:

Alternate approaches to building/buying/installing a partition?

Ideal spot to locate the partition?

What hardware do you recommend to bolt/weld it in place with?

Partition access door, size, location and hinge/latch types?

What type of sealant/insulating material around the edges of the partition and access door work best (need to keep the fumes out of the driver’s compartment)?

Cargo space lighting (any good 12v dc florescent durable light fixtures out there)?

Bench/sleeper seat selection - maybe one that the seat section slides forward some and the back folds down to make a wider sleeping space?

Tips for installing the upholstery (headliner, carpeting, etc) in the front space?

Fuel jugs/air tank/tool box storage, shelves

Any help you can provide for this project would be greatly appreciated.

I would really like to see some pictures how other folks’ rigs are put together. So, if you have any, e-mail them to me at hoge@qnet.com Again, thanks for all the help.

Cheers!

Scott

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