Building a bulkhead – What is it?

My van did not come with a bulkhead wall.  That’s nice.  What is a bulkhead?  You already have seen them but probably forgot the word.

Here is the definition…  “A dividing wall or barrier between compartments in a ship, aircraft, or other vehicle.”

Have you ever flown?  Then you have seen bulkhead walls.  They separate you from the captain.  They separate first class airline passengers from the poor section (where I have always sat).

In a standard passenger van, there is little need for a bulkhead. Usually a church or commuter van, the driver is not liable to get conked in the head by a flying hammer or other airborne accoutrement.  The cargo (people) does not need to be locked up out of site.  Open is okay in that context.

A cargo van is different  The driver needs to be kept safe.  Also, cargo might need to be kept out of sight or locked behind a door located behind the seats. As a van camper or dweller, you need to be protected from outside eyes.  A curtain just doesn’t cut it in many cases.  A curtain may also be a dead giveaway that you are a camper.

I decided to make my own bulkhead.  On the sides of the van I saw some square holes near the ceiling.  They were at just the right distance from the seats to run a 2 x 2 across the van for the top partition support.  I will fasten the bottom of the wall to the front of the flooring OSB.  Forward of the wall will not see any fancy flooring anyway. It’s going to be covered in a mat to blend in with the cab of the van.  Cool beans.

I will run 2 x 2 boards vertically horizontally to form a very sturdy wall.   It will allow for an opening to the front of the cab as well as a door.  I’m not sure exactly how I want to do the door part right now.  It can wait.

Both sides of the bulkhead wall will be covered in plywood and painted.  In between the wall will be a nice, fat layer of insulation, probably some of that leftover 1.5 inch stuff I should have never bought.  This will help deaden the sound inside the cargo area as well as the cab.  I’m excited about adding the wall.  Woo hoo!

The AGM batteries will reside on the floor, forward of the bulkhead but out of sight.  One will be behind each seat.  At this point I am considering battery boxes for them and for mounting the charger and inverter inside the bulkhead (behind the driver). As soon as I get the wall done and electronics wired, I will post some pictures of the setup.

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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