Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer Update #4

The inevitable progress towards completion continues. Although, the more items I complete, the longer the list becomes? I keep finding more small (but time consuming) things to do.

At the top of my list is fixing the maddening rattling of the Maxxair fan. In the closed position it is quiet when driving under 65mph or when there are no cross winds. However, any substantial cross wind, or high speed driving makes it rattle excessively. My fan has the plastic bushings on the mechanism arms, so this is not the cause. Instead the wind over the van roof causes the top to shake. It’s not much motion, but it makes the rain guard and hardware rattle loudly.

Upon disassembly I discovered three sources of noise. The first is the forward pivot. It is plastic on plastic; some heat shrink tubing fixed this rattle.

The second is contact between the lid and a mounting screw. Some judicious trimming fixed this one.

The third is the aft hinge. This unit has tons of slop and is very poor quality. I pressed the pin out and covered it with heat shrink tubing to increase its diameter. Hopefully this will stop the rattling completely.

I replaced the lower sliding door roller. I was astonished how easy to operate and quite the slider is now! It even latches better!

I have added some insulation to the fridge drip tray. The freezer is not as cold as I would like. Hopefully this will increase the temperature differential between the fridge and freezer.

One of the reading lights is installed.

Finally the over-cab door has been installed. A Blum assist bar keeps it open.

I ordered a Webasto FCF 5000 unit yesterday. After some budget analysis and consideration it made sense. We will likely run it off the batteries occasionally to keep the sleeping area cool/dehumidified at night. When we are driving it can be run from the alternator. It will fit under or behind the bench seat. A radiator, pump, and lines still need to be sourced. One more thing to mount under the van…

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Update #3

More finishing touches on their way; Seatbelts for the bench seat were first on the list as we may need to carry passengers in the near future.

Next up is the galley lighting and under body lights. I ordered these switches. They have a nice flush fit, and are long enough for mounting in plywood.

We also had the front windows tinted with 3M crystalline material. It is pretty amazing stuff IMHO, and worth the cost.

I placed an order for about $700 in spare parts. Mostly electrical bits that could leave the van stranded. Also included were belt drive parts and hoses (coolant, intake etc).

Jen has started working on the curtains. We have some fairly novel ideas, hopefully they will pan out. I am also planning on a roll down shade for the rear windows, maybe the galley as well? They are cheap, and the cabinets make a great mounting location.

We have also been discussing a small AC unit for the rear, either 12VDC or 120VAC. The cheapest route seems to be the Webasto FCF units and an underbody mounted radiator. For less than $1500 (including installation hardware) I can get 5k BTU of cooling at 4.4AAC load. I could feasibly run this unit for a night to cool the van and dehumidify as it consumes 50AH per hour when running continuously (not counting radiator fan/pump).

In theory the unit would fit under the bed or bench seat. I could use a detachable duct to route cooling air into the van or sleeping area. Cutting the cooled area down would likely have a significant impact on power consumption.

I ordered a steel “bumper” from South Texas outfitters. It’s not quite my look, but it will definitely stop wildlife intrusion into the engine compartment with schedule 40 pipe guards.

I also mounted a pair of fans in the van. One is mounted above the galley where it can swivel to cover much of the cab. The other is mounted on the driver’s side of the bed.

Here is the forward unit.

Here is the aft unit. The timer feature is fantastic for sleeping.

I took the van into to correct the alignment (steering wheel wasn’t straight). Of course the shop tells me the ball joints are “toast” and that the inner tie rods are also bad. Despite showing them the Daimler TSB they still wouldn’t believe me that unloaded play is normal.  I pulled the boots and guess what, no play...  In addition, the slow leaks at the tires were supposedly at the beads. They found some “light corrosion” on the sealing surface. Why they didn’t notice and fix it when the mounted the tires 2 weeks ago is beyond me. Earnest guys, but they will not be working on my cars again.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer Update #2

We had numerous issues on our trip. As to be expected on a shakedown.

Two of the tires would loose air on the highway. Should be fixed at this point. My frustration with other mechanics/techs has only grown deeper.

The fuel filter fittings leaked a bit. Fixed that one in Missouri.

Our fuel economy was only 15-17 mpg.  Not what we hoped.  Of course tires constantly loosing air, brutal headwinds, and 75mph don't help much either.  Hopefully once we get some more "normal" tanks we can get a better idea of long term mileage.  

The turn signals and AC were having issues. I ended up removing the main fuse block to attempt a repair of the intermittent turn signal issue. It turns out several of the relay contacts in the block were corroded. Though this was not the cause of my issue. Instead the spring/pinch contact for the turn signal relay had a stress crack, and would not firmly grip the relay leg. Some work with the soldering iron had it functioning again. I have a spare FB1 on order just in case.

On our way to Missouri we hit a deer. Minor damage to the front end. The airbox, headlight, and fender panel were all messed up.

I was able to repair the deer damage with just a headlight assembly. I still need to find a wall and level location to adjust the headlight alignment. I am sure it will be off due to the deformation of the lower mount. It’s not perfect, but from 10 feet it isn’t noticeable. Now I have one clear and one yellow headlight. Time to clean up the other one I guess.

I then rewarded myself with a few hours of hammock time.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


We hit our preliminary financial goals 2 weeks ago. WOOT! We still need to pay for a few last minute upgrades to the van and a boatload of gear. After we ship the van one or both of us may continue to work on a limited basis. Might as well pad the bottom line as much as possible.

Of course now we can look forward to tons of shopping... Which might literally be the last thing we want to do.

Over the last two weeks we gave the van a shakedown driving all over the place. Got some like camping in, and successfully avoided our day jobs.

First off, we visited the Overland Expo in Arizona. It was a lot of fun. We were tempted by a variety of rigs, some familiar and some new. If you have a quarter million or more burning a hole in your pocket this is the place to be.  We got to talk with some other travelers about our destinations, and see lots of cool gear.

If I had $250k to spare I would have ordered one of these Earth Cruisers.  Well designed rigs with a well rounded configuration.  Of course if I had $250k to spare I wouldn't be the kind of person to buy a Overland rig.

We found some great camping in the national forest nearby.Lots of great deserted camping spots on the service roads.

Of course jen needed a place to hang her hammock.

More details in the next installment.