Wednesday, March 29, 2017


By Jen.

During every long journey for us, we hit two points:

  1. Scenic Overload – the point where we have seen so many beautiful sights that it has to be pretty special to impress us.
  2. Need to Change the Van – the point when the van, despite all its wonderful aspects starts to wear on us because it needs some modifications (Us being mostly Jen).

After about a month of traveling in Tassie, we hit both of those points nearly simultaneously. At that point, it became how quickly can we knock of the items on our list so we can get back to Melbourne to fix the van. Don’t get me wrong. We always enjoy seeing beautiful sights, but at some point, instead of becoming a highlight of a trip, it is more just an item to check off a list. AND, to take a picture of so that you can reminisce of all the wonderful places you have been when you have to work to earn money again. We also love the van. It fits us so much better than Chuck did. However, since it is the first time anyone has ever accomplished this particular configuration (as in, we made our own designs), there were still some tweaks to work out. However, those tweaks were wearing on us while we were getting to a stop where we could fix them.

So, after Tassie, we spent a week holed up in a suburb of Melbourne, making those tweaks. When you see what we did, you will think that they were rather minor items and what was our problem, but taken all together in the small space of the van, it makes a big difference. Here is what we accomplished:

  1. Squeaks
    1. High-pitched, squealing brakes
    2. Seats squeaking
    3. Rear-door squeaks
    4. It didn’t take long after we started traveling again that our squeak mitigation didn’t work and had to see what we could do again.
  2. Ant Invasion – While Jonathan was working on the brakes, he discovered the nest of the ants that we had just started seeing the day we got off the ferry. Apparently we picked up a whole colony of stowaways while we were on the Overland Track. They decided to make the sill (basically a long channel that is built into the underbody of the van) on both sides of the van their home. There were thousands of them! We ended up using a pressure washer to evacuate them and spraying insecticide just to be sure. DSCN1597
  3. Storage Organization - We had several undefined storage areas, so to avoid the clutter and having to pull everything out to get to the item we needed, we added some storage pockets
    1. Storage Pockets
      Sewn on this classic machine (I don’t even know if I have it threaded correctly):
    2. Bench Seat Lid Protection – To keep things in the upper storage area from falling into the lower storage area.
    3. Containers
      1. Before
      2. After:
      3. In the sink:IMG_20170329_124354
      4. In the fridge:
    4. Vertical-Cabinet-Shelf Retention Lip – The vertical cabinet storage was overall working really well, but the containers kept sliding inboard and getting their feet stuck over the edge of the shelf, making one of the doors difficult to open. To prevent that, we added a lip to each shelf.
    5. Storage Bungees
    6. Purse-Bin Division
  4. Maintenance
    1. Oil Change – Rather than doing an oil change on the road at 10,000 miles, we did one at 8500 miles at a friend’s garage.
    2. Brakes – Jonathan replaced the rear pads and checked the wear on all components.
  5. Repairs
    1. Awning – The awning kept making weird noises and really did not like to be extended. Jonathan pulled apart the drive unit and found that the gear-reduction unit was seized. Simple enough fix using some grease and a hammer.
    2. EGT gauge – In Tassie, we bounced enough that some solder points came loose on our EGT gauge, so Jonathan had to fix that.
    3. Inverter Fan – Wasn’t working properly (didn’t turn on at the right temp), so it got adjusted.
    4. Water Pump -  Cut-out and bypass pressure were off, so it cycled rapidly sometimes.  Fixed with a 5/64” allen wrench.
  6. Non-Slip Liner – In Tassie, Jonathan kept recommending we get a high-nap rug to better catch the debris from our feet. The original rug that I had kept showing the dirt and debris and I guess he didn’t like how often we had to clean it. So, instead, we picked up some astroturf. It worked great, except that it did not have a non-slip backing. We rectified that this time as well.

While we were there, some generous friends gave to us some of the produce from their extensive gardens. We have been trying to figure out ways to eat them. Let’s just say that I am becoming an expert at stovetop apple crisp and have learned how to cook quince.





  1. YUM. SO COOL. ps i love your organization.

    1. Lol, yes, organization is super important in small spaces.

  2. Wow!!! Very Impressive.... You two rock.

  3. Squeaks!! Ugh! Good on ya for lasting as long as you did. I hate squeaks.

    1. Yeah, it was tough, but fortunately only when we were driving, which wasn't very long every day.

  4. Like get that drive top apple both so awesomely strong...are night hot or to you both

    1. Thanks! Nights are fairly cool. Between 40s and 50s.