Archive for the 'repairs' Category

Van Rebuilding

January 23rd, 2014

Thanks to the forethought of family, we are able to rebuild the van while still on the east coast. And it is none too soon. The body was starting to show some rust from the months we spent camping on the Texas coast. And, after living with our previous design for just over a year, we are ready for improvements.

On the inside, we pulled out all of our furniture, ripped out the plastic, took up the rubber, and removed floor padding to expose all of the metal. All surfaces received a good cleaning. Then, all flecks of rust and bad paint were removed. A good spray of primer was followed by glossy white rustolium. The inside of the van was a beautiful white palette.

It was time to consider the insulation. For the floor, we tossed the old compressed, and probably original carpet padding that was under the rubber mat and replaced it with a layer of 6# carpet padding. We tripled it up in the “living area” for extra comfort. The rubber mat was in good condition, paid for and easy to clean, so it was a keeper. We layed it right back down where we found it.

The roof is done. We are still working on our walls. At this point we feel a little envy for those folks who have cargo vans with out windows. They can just slap whole sheets of insulation and wall cover up. We’ve had to think of ways to deal with the wings and the parts that make them work. We’re still trying to figure it out. We are trying to use a lot less wood this time around and that makes fabricating a lot harder. When we pulled everything out of the van, I swear the body gained three inches of clearance. A decent amount of the weight was wood furniture.

Time to cut the insulation

Right now, we have placed a layer of reflectix. We followed it up with Polystyrene. We threw canned foam into the frame holes and any gaps around the styrofoam. Lastly, we are covering that up with insulation board. All together, it was the best weight, R-value, price ratio we could find on the spot.

Waiting for the Sun

February 18th, 2011

Our solar panel

Our solar panel… installed

After three years on the road and using a generator, we’ve finally managed to get a solar panel on the roof. The problem with getting the ‘best’ price on solar panels is that we never managed to be in the right place at the right time until this winter. We had to do a local pickup from the warehouse in Phoenix in order to get a single panel in the size / price range we wanted. On the plus side, during the three years we spent trying to figure out how to get a panel, prices dropped significantly. For what we would have paid to get a panel three years ago, we could have easily afforded two today.

On our way to RTR, we picked up the panel. The trouble was the size of the panel! We had to put it on the bed as that was the only safe spot large enough to hold it… which meant Jenn and I, plus the dog and a cat or two slept on the couch our first night in Quartzsite. Comfy.

The next morning, we hit Solar Bill’s shop to pick up some wiring to make a connector for the camper and headed over to RTR. Our first afternoon was spent installing the panel and controller, which probably seemed anti-social to some folks, but I wasn’t going to spend another night on the couch.

Our solar panel is slightly tilted

Our solar panel is tilted…slightly

It’s over a month later and we’ve only run the generator for power tools and a quick charge up right after the installation. I’m sure that’ll change once we leave the desert, but I think we’ll have a lot less generator hassles in the future.

It’s too bad we abused the batteries for three years with constant deep discharges. I think we’ll still get a few years out of them, but they and the inverter are probably the next ‘big ticket’ upgrades. There are also a few smaller tweaks we may do in the future, but even as it stands, I’m loving the ‘free’ electricity that requires so little work from me.

Our Home Office

November 22nd, 2010

Our White Board

Our food cache/whiteboard

*secret stuff blurred

Well, I have a little free time now, so I finally did the modification to the camper we’ve been talking about for ages. This morning, I went to Lowe’s and picked up a piece of ‘marker board’ or ‘shower board’ paneling. For $10, I got almost three times what I needed, but maybe I’ll find a use for the leftover bits before we leave Campbellsville.

Our refrigerator came with paneling that has wood grained wallpaper to match the interior of the camper. So, my quickie project of the day was to remove that paneling and replace it with hideous, white shower board. Why? Now we have a white board in our camper! Well, two actually. One on the fridge door and one on the freezer door.

I also grabbed a pack of dry erase markers with built in magnets and erasers that stick to the range hood above the stove. In theory, we can now make a grocery list as we run out of things without having to keep track of a notepad. Also, we can use it to scribble down ideas for FreeCampsites.net and not lose the darn notepad before we get around to implementing them.

A whiteboard is one of the things I miss the most from a career in IT. In my first management position, we had an 8’x4′ whiteboard that was our main organizational tool.  I’ve always needed to draw ugly pictures with incorrect labels when designing a new project whether it was software or something more hands on.

I know… there should be pictures. Before I got around to taking any, we had already covered it in scribblings regarding freecampsites.net. As such, if we had an IP lawyer, I’m sure he’d have a fit were we to post images of our plans. Actually, I’m just lazy.
Update: Picture added – super secret plans have been blurred!

Wonder if having a whiteboard in the kitchen will convince the IRS that it’s really a home office?

The Truck Is In Pieces – Part II

October 3rd, 2010

Well the passenger side is done. We knew there was something wrong with it but really had no idea exactly what it was until we pulled it all apart. It appears that the axle seal failed. Dirt was then able to get inside of the bearing assembly. Once things in there were no longer smooth and flush, the axle had some play. That play caused the metal part of the busted axle seal to eat into the steering knuckle. So, after a new steering knuckle, a new Timken 515025 hub bearing assembly, a new vacuum hose, and some new ball joints (we had already bought them), the passenger side noises are all gone.

Rain and our new 515025 Timken hub assembly

We would have the driver’s side done as well, but instead of paying $60 for a tool, we are relying on a local mechanic to install our axle seals and not a single auto repair place is open on the weekends in this town. We hope to be done with the front end work tomorrow. All that we could find wrong with the driver’s side was a bad upper ball joint, a disintegrating vacuum hose, and a “drier than I would like” auto locking hub. Thankfully, unlike the passenger’s side, we only need buy one more part, an o-ring.

Lots more work to do. Come Monday, I imagine that we will get the front end back together, drain and refill both differentials, and do some triage on the turbo.

Enclosed is a picture of Rain next to our new hub bearing assembly. =)

The Truck Is In Pieces

October 1st, 2010

Front end work on our truck
Repairing our truck

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