80/20 is a brand name for a modular framing system that consists of different size aluminum extrusions, connectors and fasteners. There are other manufacturers of identical extrusions. I use the “T-Slot” brand because I can pick up the extrusions locally to avoid the shipping costs. The system is ideal for use in a conversion. It is very easy to fabricate structures for the interior cabinets. Many people only use the stock connectors available from the extrusion manufacturer and have the extrusions cut to length at the 80/20 factory. I have found that 90% of the connectors I want are not available as stock parts and I prefer to buy the extrusions in stock 242” lengths and cut the extrusions to length in my shop. I have my supplier cut the extrusion in two to 8’ and 12’ lengths so I can fit them into the van. My cost of the extrusions for the Transit was about $1300.00 including some accessories. I buy aluminum angles and flats from a local metal supply to make the connectors. The fasteners are purchased from an industrial fastener supplier. One aspect to keep in mind is aluminum is a good conductor. The 80/20 framework needs to be thermally isolated from the van steel structure.
A wood chop saw is needed to cut the extrusions. I use a 12” saw with a special non-ferrous cutting blade. The blade is a Skarppaz part # NF121N. It has 100 teeth, style N5TCG, .095 plate, .125 Kerf and a 1” bore. A smaller diameter saw could be used. I already had the 12” saw so use that. Caution: I almost had a serious injury because I was cutting an angle that jammed. It was not clamped. Never cut without clamping the extrusion. A drill press is also required. A vertical band saw is also needed. I use a 14” band saw. A vertical belt sander is needed to debur the parts. The last tool that is required is a hand tapping machine available from Grizzley Model # G8748 for about $100.
The majority of the extrusions I use are the 15 series 1 ½” square with one, two, three or four slots. You can buy the extrusions with smooth surface or with lines on the surface. I prefer the looks of the smooth surface extrusions. The 15 series slots are designed to accept a 5/16-18NC carriage bolt. The number of slots required depends where the extrusion is located. I prefer a plain no slot surface for the cabinet fronts. Extrusions come in several different weights/ft. in the same size. For conversions the lightest extrusion has adequate strength in most locations. I also use a small amount of 10 series which are 1” square and accept a ¼-20NC carriage bolt. The 1 ½” size makes it easier to install panels. The 15 series extrusions have a center hole the correct diameter for a 5/16” X 18NC tap. I regularly use the end tapped hole to attach something to the end of the extrusion.
As much as possible I use carriage bolts in the extrusion slots. You must remember to preload the carriage bolts before you restrict the access to the end of the extrusions. If you do not want to take the framework apart to add a needed carriage bolt, you can use 80/20 “Drop-in T- Slot Studs”. They are a special stud that can be inserted through the slot.
They also have many different nuts that can either slide in from the open end or roll in into the slot. When I want a threaded hole I use either the two or three hole economy nuts. Add a 5/16-18NC X 3/8” set screw in one of the holes and use other hole for the tapped hole.
The van is subject to constant vibrations. Always use Elastic Stop Nuts on all fasteners. I did not on the Sprinter build and found loose fasteners later.
The aluminum connectors are fabricated from flat and angle extrusions in my shop. They are designed for use with 1 1/2" 80/20 series 15 extusions. Cut to length, drill holes and debur. Very easy to just make what you want as you build. Less expensive and no need to order and wait for the parts to be delivered. The hole locations do not need to be real accurate because there is some clearance in the 80/20 slots.The connectors are 3/16" thick instead of the 80/20 standard 1/4" thickness. 1/4" thickness is not required for a conversion. The 3/16" thickness can be tapped with 5/16-18NC threads. The hole locations in the angles are usually different than the standard 80/20 connectors. I prefer to use carriage bolts with the angles. At least one of the angle holes must be 1" from the apex in order to install the elastic stop nuts.
Below is a list of the connectors that I use with a picture and a drawing of each in PDF format. Select the file to display the drawing. With drawing displayed, right click the drawing to "save as" a document on your computer. Select the drawing and open into/with Adobe PDF Reader. Using the Adobe PDF Reader is a better program for viewing.
I also will make special connectors as required. Connectors H,I,J,L, and M are standard 80/20 parts.