Watching delivery drivers jumping in and out of a step van without having to open or close the doors… that was the the type of van that I needed.

I first spotted Ol’son while cruising through ads on Craigslist, hidden in the photo of a listing for a ’91 Utilimaster.
I contacted the seller and asked about the ’85 Grumman Olson hiding in the background, was it was for sale as well. Lucky me… and the price was the same as the Utilimaster
a paltry $800 cdn!

Perhaps the only thing that saved Ol’Son from a rusty west coast demise, was that it was covered in dust, and graffiti and hidden at the back of a dry gravel yard for more than a decade.
I purchased it on the spot and then arranged to have it towed from North Vancouver to it’s new temporary home in Deer Lake Park.

I’m stuck between
“I need to save money”
and “You only live once”

Now… I was pretty sure that all that crap in the back of my newly acquired step van wasn’t there when I looked at it the first time.
It must have been those rose coloured glasses I wore that day, causing me to miss the fact that it was full of discarded wood, mechanical parts, boxes and boxes of discarded neon lights. All thrown into a heap in the back, I was beginning to suspect that they were added after the purchase… hmm.

First order of business, pressure wash the outside and remove the grime. I needed to get a quick paint job on it to cover up the graffiti, choosing to use a marine paint I rolled on two coats and managed to hide the graffiti sufficiently enough, from the neighbour’s prying, judging eyes. 

It was like digging out a hoarders shed, full of rotten cardboard, wood and boxes of used neon lighting. But the biggest mess to remove had yet to be revealed to me.

The original use of the van was, as best I can deduce, a hydraulic pump truck for big jack hammers?
I did see a similar reel setup on a BC Hydro truck, with the reels running down into the sewer, so I can’t say for sure. But it was incredibly difficult to remove the thick, heavy, metal wrapped pressure hoses running under, through and around the undercarriage of the van. Covered in years of grease, grime and dust.
The deconstruction of the interior and the removal of those components took weeks… that ran into months. But eventually the interior was free and clear of previous clutter and then, that too, got a good pressure wash… twice!

Bare canvas time

Where’s Ol’son
Lasting impression
Full on grime removal
How come I missed all this
Follow the hoses