Wednesday, July 6, 2016


In Part 1 of this post, I described how we commissioned custom carpeting for the cab of our 2007 Airstream Interstate.
It's so danged pretty, I have to show it twice!!
The carpet was a wonderful addition, but we also needed weatherproof matting to go on top of it.  Because we have such a prominent aisle with fresh carpeting on it, I initially didn't want just those little insert mats that go in front of the bucket seats - I wanted a one-piece all-encompassing job.  And here was the overwhelming problem with that wonderful idea:
EVERY mat-like raw material that I found came in widths of four feet only, whether it was on the internet or in brick-and-mortar stores.
Four feet is the reason why the off-the-shelf T1N weather mats offered by aftermarket sellers would be too short for an Interstate.
No matter how skillfully they are cut, they are always going to be a foot short due to those material size limitations.  That is why they would extend only as far as the emergency brake (notch on lower left side shown above) rather than to the seam with the Interstate's main cabin flooring.  Compare this outline to the carpet photo above.  I think it would look ridiculous.  I would have three different types of floor covering visible in the space of twelve inches - the mat, the cab carpet, and the sheet vinyl of the coach.    
I don't think it would look right, and furthermore, David at Sprinter Parts Depot didn't think that such a one-piece mat would fit right either, due to the fact that carpeting had already been installed.  In view of these factors, I completed an exhaustive search for some alternative material that might be adaptable to this application.
For crying out loud, I even ordered samples of dance flooring to see if that might fulfill the need.  Wonderful stuff, but too thin.  
The T1N's cab cannot be be one-piece'd with an uncut raw material smaller than 5' x 5'.  In view of that, the only feasible option that I could find that was cost effective was to buy a garage mat and cut it myself in order to make it fit the cab.  How did I know for sure that the raw material must be 5' x 5' minimum?  Because I got down on my hands and knees and templated it.
Like this.  It was a bit tedious, but it had to be done.    
Again with more detail this time, why go to so much trouble to cover the whole aisle?  I had two concerns here:

(1) I have a dog with frequently muddy feet, plus two humans with muddy feet.  Furthermore, it's not ordinary mud we're talking about - some of our intended destinations have deep black tannin-rich organic mud, the kind that can ruin a carpet in a single day. Therefore, the entire cab aisle needed to be covered if possible.  No side or end gaps.
Fresh, fresh bear tracks, my foot at bottom for scale.  That's the kind of mud I'm talking about.  Even if I don't invite this bear into our Interstate for a snack, I still get the mud all over my own feet.   
(2) Knowing that I was buying a material that was not developed or intended to be a vehicle mat, I wanted to make sure that it was large and heavy enough to stay in one place, and that I could assist immobility by "locking" it against the sides and front edges of the bucket seats and also the seam between the cab and the cabin.

This is what my template ended up looking like.
Well, shoot, not surprisingly, it looks pretty much identical to the commercial templates for T1N Sprinters, except it's a foot longer, duh.  
Alas, that templating work was all for nothing - not every project can be a hit, and this one fell into the category of very big miss.  There just isn't any way to re-purpose a different material to make a floor mat, unless you spend far more money than I was willing to spend.  The garage matting I ordered wanted to curl badly once cut, and I just didn't want to struggle with it.  Furthermore it, too, did not want to fit right.  There were too many irregularities in the cab floor for a larger area to be covered like this.  

So I capitulated, tossed that idea (and my prototype) out the cab window, and went with individual 2006 T1N Sprinter stock mats from AutoAnything.  They are made out of Lloyd's Rubbertite product, which I have in my daily driver and really like.
Driver's side.  The coverage area is limited but the fit is pretty good.  
Passenger's side.  Not going to win any awards, but not offensive either.  
The round circles in the mat material echo the perforated aluminum used in the new computer table I just finished assembling, so at least I've got good design cross-referencing and repetition going on here.

As for those really dirty hiking days and the potential for the aisle carpeting to get soiled, I'll just have to cross that bear-ridden bridge when I come to it.

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