Friday, April 12, 2013

An Account of the Recent Chuck Upgrades – Jen Style

(Have you noticed how boring my titles have been recently?? I gave up a long while ago with being creative with titles. Probably because I do too much reporting and not enough story-telling…)

Well, as you may have guessed, the layover in the US for van updates carried over much longer than we planned. What started as simply installing a new fridge, a solar panel to support the fridge electricity needs, and updating the front shocks, turned into a complete revamp.

With all the added weight to the pop-top, I couldn’t lift it at all, except with mighty struggling and grunting. So we contacted our good ol’ buddy from Driggs, we will call him “Jack Bombay,” who hooked us up with heavy-duty pop-top shocks. Hallelujah! Now I can lift it with ease.

In Updating the Kitchen, you saw how the whole galley got a storage-space upgrade. With soft-close slides and extra storage, these new drawers have been quite the blessing.
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As a side-project, completed when I was traveling between family visits, I also added a silverware tray. I wanted it to be as small as possible, while still being functional, to allow as much space in the drawer as possible. That inspired me to “lift” the tray so that I could put not-often-used items underneath it, e.g. matches or twist ties. Isn’t it cute?  
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We painted our cutting-board-turned-table so that it wouldn’t accumulate as much dirt.DSC02335

Jonathan rebuilt the heater box and adjusted the whole system, and added a pump so we can get warm air much sooner. Now we have a cool green-lighted switch.
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Did Jonathan mention he put in an exhaust fan to keep it cooler in the van? It is pretty cool. Even has a temperature sensor, rain sensor, and remote. So we can set it to keep the van at 75°F and it will, plus it will close if it starts raining. Sadly, with its addition, we could no longer keep the van in Josh’s garage.

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We also now have cupholders in the rear to prevent spillage when we move the tables around. (Jonathan’s cup is particularly a spill hazard at such times.)
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Then remembering how annoying it was to pull a trailer through Canada and Baja, we decided to get rid of the trailer, which meant figuring out how to put its contents in the van. You saw what Jonathan did for this in Playing Catch Up and Finding Storage. However, I had a lot to do for this as well.

I created trays for storing the small spare parts under our dresser-cabinet.
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We created access to the empty space above our dresser-cabinet. (That was a lot harder than it sounds because of the tight quarters and such. I ended up having to tape the hinges on and then try to screw them on. And nothing was straight about the whole thing.DSC02480
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And then came my expert packing. I stuffed and rearranged and got creative. I kinda felt like a smuggler with all the packing into whatever space there was available. Under cabinets, behind the galley, under the floor…
Stuffing spare hoses and clamps and filters under the pull-out shelves and behind the fridge.
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And the new storage location for my toilet: between the window and the dresser-cabinet.
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We did put a few things that we hadn’t been using into storage, but we did it. We were able to cram the contents of the trailer into the new-and-improved Chuck.

And, last but not least, I removed our old bug screen for the sliding door as it was no longer really functional with big holes in it. We kept either stepping on it or catching it on things, and it just wasn’t working. I am not sure if I covered it in previous posts, but the last one was actually version 2. Version 1 was a modified (made shorter) version of a removable sliding door screen for a house. We had to go outside and install it every time we wanted to use it, which was annoying. And then, if we wanted to leave it out, but close the door, it wouldn’t stay rolled up and will fall, which would cause it to come off the Velcro. I wanted something that would allow us to open and close the doors and still keep out bugs, so for version 2, I took mosquito netting (it was supposed be a rectangular sheet, but I guess I got confused when ordering and got the bed drapery…) and cut into two curtains for the inside of the vehicle, which I permanently installed by reusing the screws that hold on the headliner in the van. This resulted in two curtains that you could tie open to either side for stowage. This one worked alright, but as I mentioned earlier, we kept stepping on it or catching it on things. Plus, it had super large holes, like almost 1/8”, not really, but yeah. So for version 3 (I think this one is a keeper), I picked up some mosquito netting from Joann’s. It was just a sheet of it (not shaped into anything) and the holes were drastically smaller, like 1/16” at the maximum when I stretched it, generally closer to 1/32”. Much better stuff. Then I took sail tape and “hemmed” the edges into a border. Then I taped magnets onto the sides to hold it to the door. Jonathan created a rod bent in the shape of the slider path and installed it. Then I created loops of the sail tape to hold the curtain to the rod. It worked beautifully. Then to keep the insects from flying directly into the gap at the top, I took a leftover strip of microfiber that I used on my seats and stapled/glued it to the van covering over the rod and the loops of the curtain. It works beautifully.

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I am sure there were other things, but that is most of it.

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