New flooring for Chief Pete

In March, I undertook installing the 9-piece Vanagon carpet set I purchased from Sew Fine in January. Even though new carpet was a must for sanitary and health reasons, I was really nervous about this change for a few reasons. I was scared of what I would find under the carpet, and I was not sure how well the carpet would fit. Also, I was disappointed with the quality of the carpet when it arrived. I almost returned it because it felt cheap and I can’t see it lasting in a vehicle application. As I’ve seen stated elsewhere on the Internet, the replacement carpet available for Vanagons is nowhere as nice as the original. I’ve also heard it said by install pros who use Sew Fine that it takes a ton of patience, fussing, and glue to get this carpet installed.

Sew Fine states that the carpet is a direct fit; however, in several areas I did not find that to be the case. Luckily I’m handy with needle and thread, and after re-sewing several of the seams in the carpet, I got a much better fit. Out-of-the-box and without these sewing skills, I guarantee you this carpet kit would have looked an utter disaster. It would have been especially puckered on the wheel wells and under the dashboard behind the shifter. I did significant trimming in those areas and still had too much fabric. Thank goodness for really good glue, a heavy roller, and a lot of patient problem-solving. That said, I still had to contact the company, because since I did not use their carpet padding (which I purchased and returned because I anticipated it would be lumpy, bumpy and awkward to glue down/glue against). My floors aren’t as high since I’m only using Dynaliner, and the firewall carpet pieces were too short. They offered to re-cut them for me for $10, and then later tried to charge me $60 when I called in my credit card at shipping time. With some negotiating I got them down to $20. After that pain, I’m hesitant to contact them about the final fit of my two front floor carpet pieces, which just do not fit. Granted they’re really nice people, but do you ever just get TIRED OF A PROJECT?

It could have been easier. I’ve been sewing 32 years, and IMO these guys need to check back in with their pattern, and make sure their cutters/seamstresses are paying careful attention. This isn’t a direct-fit kit. I’m mildly disappointed overall, but at least I’m not living in the filth of a 35 year-old mystery anymore. If you use this kit, keep your expectations low and you’ll be happy enough.

If I had to do it again, I might buy a higher quality carpet that tolerated cutting (without massive fraying such as the Sew Fine carpet suffers) and heat molding. This doesn’t feel like a long term solution.

Anyway, when I took out the sink cabinet to install the carpet correctly, I opened another Pandora’s box… and went ahead reflooring the entire van. HAHA, no big deal. I’ve included my photos here because the project was big and I had a lot of questions I had to answer for myself. I hope my photos help you. I like my new fake wood tile but it’s scratched already and some of the joints aren’t sitting well. Not sure I’d recommend, though it was affordable and did go in easy. Even if I did glue it down it would still be getting scuffed up. I’ll probably switch it out for some tough linoleum in the future. I really enjoy having a floor I can sweep now!

One note is raising the floor ~1/4″ like I did messed up the geometry of the bench seat and I had to install a couple 1/8″ shims under the brackets attaching it to the van floor just behind the engine bay. It could also use a lift on the front. IMO it’s just one more reason to switch to linoleum and drop the floor back down to original height. You’re opening a can of worms messing with floor height. My new subfloor is almost identical in height to the original; however, and I was also able to sink screws down through the original subfloor mount holes — meaning I didn’t create any new holes in the van.

In July I’m going to tackle the leaking driver side sliding window. It’s another pinch weld leak, like I had in the front and rear. Luckily I’m staying somewhere really dry so my new insulation and floor doesn’t get messed up.

Oh and yes! My Westfalia is much more quiet. I can enjoy my music a little better now, and I no longer hear the clutch noise.