Van Build Progress Update

Progress on the van build has been slow but steady. I’ve been working on this thing for about a year, and it’s almost done. Progress has been stifled somewhat by a combination of scheduling conflicts, extreme weather, and the laziness that is inherent to all computer programmers.

This update is for those of you who do not follow my build on YouTube. I update that far more often, for some reason.

Looks like my last update was in February. I was working on the superstructure at the time. I have long since finished it, including the dinette and side cabinets.

The kitchen is as done as it’s getting. I have a manual hand-pump faucet that sucks water in from a 5-gallon jug, and a sink that drains into a gray tank that is compatible with dump stations and pit toilets. There is an area next to the sink where the stove will go. This area is heat-protected with a bit of aluminum flashing. Food preparation will be done either on the dinette or on a portable folding table, which we can fit in the entry area.

The electrical system is in and complete. I was able to fit 700 watts of solar on the roof. Three panels go into one 40A charge controller, wired in series (36V, but really closer to 60) and the other four go into another controller (48V, but really closer to 90). The controller’s upper limit is 96V, so here’s hoping it never gets to double what it should be!

The electrical system also boasts a 3000W pure sine wave inverter, a Fantastic Fan, a Dometic CFX-50US 12V refrigerator, a weBoost Drive 4G-X cell signal booster, USB ports, 12V lighter sockets, and a series of 9 computer fans to ventilate the downstairs storage. With two Odyssey 214Ah batteries, able to recharge fully by 9AM, I am confident this system is robust enough to handle any demand I am likely to throw at it.

In order to mount the solar panels the way I wanted, I built and waterproofed a wooden roof rack structure, and secured it to the existing metal roof racks with 18 3″ #12 wood screws. The roof rack structure also supports a rear-view camera, an 8×10′ awning, the weBoost’s external directional antenna, and a series of eye bolts to serve as mounting points for shade cloths, a solar shower, and whatever else I want to hang from the exterior in camp.

Unfortunately, I am a subpar woodworker, so the assembly creaks and moans a bit at high speeds, so I’ll  have to try to keep it below 60 MPH.  Two-by-fours are not the most aerodynamic solution I could have gone with.

The van is now “done enough” that I could move into it. However, the house still needs some work before we can put it up on the market. Therefore, I plan to resume going on camping trips soon. As is usually the case, I’ll ease into it. I’ve already started sleeping in the van in my driveway. Soon, I’ll move onto weekend trips; then I’ll work my way into working from the van during the week.

I also need to stay somewhat close to the house until we sell it. I need to be able to show up to sign papers etc., and the wife won’t always be able to come with me until she quits her non-mobile job.

All the while, the wife will be preparing the house for sale. By the time we sell it, I should be well on my way already. The future is looking up.

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