Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July Update

Late last year we set ourselves a goal of having the van complete enough for a shakedown run in September.   Why September?  In Oklahoma (where we live currently) the devils own hellfire descends from late June through the end of August turning the air into the consistency of a hot wet sock.  Needless to say with daytime high temps over 90F and humidity rarely dropping below 50% camping is not a desirable option.  Thankfully come September it gets cool enough that sleeping at night is quasi-reasonable.

So, 9 months later, where are we on our goal?

Well, we have most of the cabinets built but not yet painted.  Noticeably lacking at this stage the galley, which needs a counter top before we can complete its build out.

The drivers side vertical cabinet has been framed out.

The bench seat is ready for its upholstery.

Here the bench seat is getting its last round of structural reinforcement.  The aluminum angle is bonded with construction adhesive.  Several gussets were attached to the back wall in order to stiffen the backrest.  The bench is secured to brackets with through bolts.  The brackets are bolted to rivnuts in the van floor.  The same goes for the inverter and water tank.

 Here is the bench seat with one coat of acrylic alkyd paint.  This is the color we chose of the cabinets.  The exposed surfaces were smoothed with primer surfacer (3 coats with 220 grit sanding in between).

The water tank mounts have been fabricated, and the tank has its fittings welded on.

Here is the water tank in-situ with one of the hold down brackets.  The brackets will be backed with 1/2" and 1/4" closed cell foam to protect the water tank.

The water tank we chose is a 40 gallon unit from Ameri-Kart.  It comes blank with no fittings installed. Normally the fittings are spin welded to the tank.  However spin welding requries special tooling and a powerful router.  Having neither of these I picked up a plastic welder from Harbor Freight for ~$80.  The tank is made from polyethylene so I chose fittings and filler rod to match.  After a bit of googling and some practice we have a custom tank!  My total costs were about the same as a custom tank.  Difficulty?  Surprisingly low.

The water heater is ready to install, and I have an pile of hose and fittings to plumb it in with.

The over-cab cabinet has been framed in and is ready to accept the switches and rear view camera.  The visible brackets are anchored to the van with rivnuts.

Some of the major unknowns at this point are:

  • Indoor shower (pan, head, plumbing)
  • Air heater (location, ducting)
  • Curtains/shades (fabric, mounting)  
  • Bench Seat belts (math needed)
  • Gray water tank (will likely be a custom affair)

Will we make it to our shake down in September?  If we do the van will most likely be lacking a few of the desired options (cabinet doors, flooring, storage nooks, paint).  Of course, as long as the sink, cooktop, and bed work, we should be good to go!

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