Skylight Cover / Gray Water Tank

June 19, 2015 Categories Camper Van

I began this morning by cutting the trim to go around the skylight/ceiling vent, then stained it and nailed it in place. Once it was installed, I added some weather stripping where the actual vent cover will sit; this is to create a light-free seal, as the goal of the cover is to stop light from getting in or out.

Then I built the cover that fits inside the trim and attached it to the ceiling. It folds back on a couple of hinges and locks in place using sliding bolt latches on either side. For the most part, it will remain open. I’ll only shut it at night when I’m trying to be stealthy, like when camped in a store parking lot.

Next I finished the trim around the vent and installed the plastic vent trim on top of it. My skylight is finally complete.

One thing I didn’t think about when adding the vent cover and latch was the clearance I needed to be able to open the above-cab storage compartment door. I lucked out and the door has just barely enough room to open; in fact, it grazes the latch just a hair.

Then I worked on my gray water tank. First thing I did was cut a 2″ hole in the top where my sink drain pipe fits in. I was gonna connect it a different way, but realized I didn’t have enough room and this way was easier. I also drilled out a hole as both a air vent and overflow drain.

I drilled a hole in the bottom of the tank and used some ABS cement to glue on a drain cap. I think this cap will be off most of the time, but again, when I need/want to be stealthy camping in cities, I’ll want the cap on so there isn’t water mysteriously coming from the van when I use the sink.

Once the glue was dry enough, I installed the tank under the van. It’s held in place with two plumbing straps that each can support 80 lbs and are held in place with four bolts. Since this is only a 6 gallon tank, and a gallon of water weighs around 8.3 lbs, the maximum weight of the tank should only reach around 51 lbs (including the weight of the tank itself). Once the tank was installed, I ran some water down the drain to make sure the tank wasn’t leaking and then drained the water out.

While I waited for the cement on the gray water tank to dry, I took care of some small stuff. First I replaced the weather stripping around the rear wall window cover because the original stuff I bought just wasn’t thick enough to keep the cover pressed in tight so light was coming through, which I didn’t want. Then I screwed in some eye hooks on the sides of the fridge and microwave spaces so that when I drive, I can strap them in place to keep them from sliding out and making a mess. I had a couple bungee straps already laying around and they were just the right size.

I ended the day by cutting the foam for the beds. The foam is fairly firm (almost a little too firm) and is 6″ thick. Let me tell you, it took awhile to cut through it. It’s way too thick to cut with scissors so I used a utility knife and had to make several passes to slowly work my way through it. Each bed by itself is 23″ wide, which is a little narrower than the average cot size, but I can fit on one comfortably enough and I’m 6’2″ and about 210 lbs. The “couch” bed is 79″ long and the extra bed is only 73″ long, due to the kitchen cabinet. When the beds are joined together, they form a Queen size bed, at 59″ wide. I assure you that when I’m traveling solo, I will be using the beds in the Queen size form. The couch is also very comfortable to sit on and the extra bed makes for a great foot rest to kick up and relax.

I still have to finish the backrest for the couch and get it secured in place and then I need to create some mattress covers and I’ll be DONE with the construction on the van. I still have some maintenance items to do, but since it’s not building something new, I’m not counting it. I just have to change out some fluids and get the headliner back in.

Finishing the Trim

June 18, 2015 Categories Camper Van

I started a little later than usual today and I ended early to go watch my cousin’s two kids, but I still managed to get the trim work around the side doors done. I really, really wanna build interior doors for the side doors, but because of where I have the fuse box and charge controller located, I’m not sure how I would be able to. If I had made it so they were about 4 inches to the right, it wouldn’t even be an issue. And no, I can’t just move them over. For now, I’m gonna have to learn to live with it as it is, but I can promise you that eventually there will be doors added. Whenever I do add doors, I’m gonna have it so the top half of the doors can fold down to provide additional counter space and a screen would remain in place on the top half.

Anywho, I cut the final piece of paneling that goes above the side doors and set it in place. Then I cut the board for the bottom of it that wraps the wall into the frame of the van. The bottom piece took me a few minutes to make because there were a couple parts I had to reduce the width of the board to 1/4″ and notch out around where the door catch is. Once everything was cut and seemed to fit right, I nailed it in place and stained it to match. I like how it came out.

Next I got to work on building out the framing around the vent. These two little pieces were quite tricky, as the bottoms are thicker than the tops and the side against the wall is cut at two different angles.

Then came the rest of the pieces, which were just as much of a pain; particularly the piece that sits next to the side door. Cutting that piece to match the curve of the wall and then add the angle cuts to line up perfectly with the opposite side took me awhile. You might notice it stops part way down the door and that’s because the couch backrest extends up to that point and will cover the rest. I tried keeping the entire vent cover as close to the wall as possible to maintain a low profile and not be too obstructive. The boards come out just enough to barely cover the pipe and that’s it.

With the frame done, it was time to add the paneling over top of it. I started with the section that the dimmer switch gets mounted in and worked out from there. The dimmer switch controls my main cabin lights and is something I’m really glad I got. I had originally bought a very basic dimmer knob but then I came across a really cool, touch screen dimmer panel and they had one in black, to better match my interior and personal design preference. It’s pretty neat and even remembers the settings you had the lights at if you turn it on and off.

I’m gonna try to find a thermometer or something for the top section to help take away the focus of it jutting out of the wall. It’s a 5″x13″ space and just looks out of place as is.

Oh, and my solar panel did really well today. I left the van in its normal spot, which is fairly shaded, and it was still able to average around 50W. It generated enough power that the batteries maintained around 12.3 volts the entire day, and that’s with a fan on and music playing, plus the fridge running and microwave plugged in.

Finishing the Battery Vent

June 17, 2015 Categories Camper Van

I tested my solar panel out today and I’m pretty happy with its performance, given the somewhat cloudy skies. I have a 250W Renogy monocrystalline solar panel and with only the fridge running and microwave plugged in, it not only maintained the battery voltage, but was able to give a little extra juice in the process. Mind you, this was only for an hour or two while the van was actually in direct sunlight and generated 180W (it may have generated more, but I only looked at it occasionally and that was the highest amount I saw). There’s a number of trees where I live and as the day went on, the van was back in the shade again. When I first plugged it in this morning, the van was completely covered in the shade of a large tree and the panel was only producing about 18W. Once I moved it, it jumped up to the 180W area. Around 1 or 2pm, it was fluctuating between 40W and 80W, depending on the cloud cover. Again, I was also back in the shade of a tree by this point.

I think once I’m out West and there aren’t as many trees around, I’ll average out at least at the 180W I saw today; hopefully closer to the full 250W. Another thing I tested today was charging the batteries via the engine. I had the solar panel already hooked up and running when I tested it and as soon as I started the van, the voltage jumped up to 13.5 volts. I don’t want to risk overcharging the batteries, so I don’t think I’ll ever allow both charging processes to run simultaneously. I’ll probably end up turning the solar panel off while driving for long distances and then turn it back on once I’m done driving.

Anywho, on with the day. Before I hooked up the solar panel, I disconnected my batteries and pulled them out so I could drill a vent hole into the floor. This hole is to allow fresh air in to replace the gases being exhausted through the battery vent. While getting ready to install my battery tie down strap, which was gonna be bolted through the floor, I realized there’s some stuff in the way under the van directly where I needed to drill. So, I had to improvise and made a “strap” out of a 2×3 that’s anchored into the battery box; the box is anchored directly to the wall and floor already.

I also raised the wall around the inverter compartment because I installed the fuse box higher than I had planned so that the rear outlet on it would be accessible. Then I built lids for both compartments.

With the compartments completed, I put together some PVC pipe to extend down and connect to the lids I just made. This pipe connects to the pipe I had already installed awhile ago that vents out through the roof. I’m venting both compartments in case there is any spillover from one to the other. Once I had the pipe ran, I drilled holes in the tops of the lids to extend the pipe through.

Finally, it was time to add the finishing details by carpeting both boxes to match the rest of the storage compartment.

With my storage compartment finally complete and my battery vent done, I should be able to start the trim work around the side door tomorrow. This includes framing around the door, covering the battery vent, and installing the dimmer switch for my LED lighting. If I have enough time, I want to get the cover built for the ceiling vent/skylight.

I’d really like to build interior doors so that I could panel them to match the rest of the van and there would be absolutely no sheet metal showing anymore, but I’m kinda sick of spending money. If nothing else, I’ll at least buy a screening to put over the door area so I can have the doors open but keep bugs out.

Paneling the Beds

June 16, 2015 Categories Camper Van

By the time I finished working today, the in-house batteries were down to 11.5 volts. Now, that’s after running the microwave, having the fridge running for a full day (and boy, does it keep things cold!), having the lights on for 6 hours, running a fan for 16+ hours, and playing music for 8 hours. If you ask me, that’s pretty darn good. A 12 volt battery is considered “dead” around 10.5 volts, so the van *should* be able to provide power for two full days without any type of charge being provided.

Tomorrow I’m gonna connect the solar panel and test how well it can recharge the batteries. Normally, the solar panel will always be connected and anytime there’s a good deal on sunlight, the van will be getting new power. Even if the van sits for a couple days running the amount of power I ran in the last 24 hours, the 250W panel should be able to keep up. Granted, the van will almost never sit for multiple days and if it did, I would turn off as much as I could to conserve power. Also, the batteries get charged any time I drive the van. If I drive for five hours, that’s a full charge to the batteries from completely dead.

Anywho, I started this morning by building a face for the under the floor drawer and finishing the trim around it. I’m honestly not sure what I’ll use this drawer for. I added it in my initial designs to simply make use of wasted space. I have a feeling it’ll end up becoming the “junk” drawer for all the things I don’t know what to do with.

Then I got to work on building the bed paneling. This took a lot longer than I was hoping it would, as I had to rip a couple 1x8s down into 2″ boards, then run five boards back through the table saw twice to cut out the channel down the center, and run a sixth board through the table saw cutting a channel on both sides of it. Of course, then I had to cut everything to fit, cut out the plywood inserts, glue and nail everything together, and sand it smooth.

After the panel was built, I cut a hole in the end that goes to the rear of the van to put an outlet in. This outlet was originally inside the storage area of the bed, but after I made some design changes and no longer needed the front face of the bed to slide out with the top, I decided it was better to move the outlet to a more convenient location. Then I stained the entire panel and got it installed in the van.

I made the second bed paneling just like the first, except this one is in two pieces, as the rear 15″ of the second bed is removable to access the portable toilet.

I also cut a hole in this one to mount my propane alarm, then stained everything and put it in place. My propane alarm is installed directly in front of where my propane tank sits. Since propane is heavier than air, this type of alarm needs to be installed near the floor. As a side note, if you ever decide to build a project like this, don’t buy the dual propane/CO alarms… unless you like being dead. CO alarms need to be placed high, propane alarms need to be placed low. Even if you settled on a “happy medium” and placed the dual alarm in the middle of a wall, you’d likely be dead by the time it ever went off.

The last thing I did today was set up the charge controller for the solar panel so all I have to do is connect the two wires on top of the van in the morning. I’m waiting until tomorrow to hook it up so that I can monitor the voltage the panel is producing and how well it charges the batteries throughout the day, without reducing the current load on the batteries.

I’m so close to being done, and yet I feel so far away from it. I still have to complete the following things, in priority order:

  • Finish the battery vent
  • Finish trim work
  • Install gray water tank
  • Build sliding ceiling vent cover
  • Finish the couch back rest
  • Cut my mattresses to size and sew some mattress covers

Electrical (Fuse Panel Setup)

June 15, 2015 Categories Camper Van

I’m quite happy today. The She-Beast’s electrical system is installed and I’m currently testing it to see how long the batteries will last in a real-world environment with what I expect is my average daily usage. The fridge is plugged in and running, I ran the microwave for three minutes, I have the main lights on, I have a fan running, and I have my iHome plugged in, though I only played music for about an hour earlier. I started testing just after 4pm today and I’m hoping everything will easily run until tomorrow at 4pm, but ideally it *should* run for a couple days or longer. Nothing is charging the batteries right now, so this should give me a good idea of how long I can go without driving or having a lot of sunlight to give the batteries more juice.

Before I started on the electrical, I fixed my water leak by remaking the small connection between my water pump and accumulator. After running the water for a couple minutes to test it, I noticed the connection on the other side of the accumulator had a slight drip, so undid the connection, added new plumber’s tape, and put it back together. I tested again for a couple minutes and both sides appear to be leak free. I kept some water in the tank and left the lines pressurized all day without any leaks that I can see.

Then I got to work on the electrical. First thing I did was put a board around the floor drawer to bring the raised floor out and even with the end of the drawer box. There will be another board on top of this one to make the drawer face flush with the step.

I added some strips of wood as spacers to bring the end of the bed out and even with the board I just added.

Next I built the panel that the fuse box and charge controller mount in and cut out the openings for both. I also drilled some holes for a DC outlet, a two port USB charger, and a battery voltage meter.

Then I stained the paneling and put my fuse panel in place. As you can see, I have five AC circuit breakers; one 20 Amp main breaker that cuts off power to all other circuits, a 15 Amp for the fridge and outlet above the stove, 15 Amp for the microwave, a 15 Amp for the rear storage outlet, and another 15 Amp for the outlet built into the rear of the fuse box. I have 11 DC circuits, but don’t have the fuse installed for the propane alarm since I don’t have the alarm connected yet and I don’t want a live wire just sitting there. The large, gaping hole that’s still open is where the charge controller for my solar panel goes.

One of the neat things I added was this three hub DC panel. It has a two port USB charger on top, a battery voltage meter in the middle, and a regular DC outlet on the bottom. Particularly, I love the voltage meter because it lets you quickly and easily see how much charge you have left in the batteries.

Here’s a peek inside the power and battery boxes. I still have to drill a hole in the bottom of the battery box for fresh air and add my battery tie down plate.

Here’s my microwave, plugged in and clock set. I heated some water in a bowl for three minutes to test it out. The battery voltage meter dropped about 0.5 volts while the microwave was running, then returned to normal once it stopped. I also tested my USB outlets with a small fan and plugged a slightly larger fan into the rear storage outlet and left it on.

My van is now fancier than two of the homes I lived in during 1995 and 1996, as it has both running water and electrical. Those are two luxuries I think most people take for granted.

Electrical (Inverter Setup)

June 14, 2015 Categories Camper Van

Today I worked on getting the electrical setup basically complete. I can’t fully finish it until I add paneling to the wall where the fuse box and solar charge controller get mounted, but both my AC and DC systems are operational. For anyone interested, I basically followed this guy‘s electrical system writeup to the tee. It’s very well written and even includes pretty pictures and diagrams. I think the only thing I did differently was use 12V AGM batteries and a 100 Amp breaker going to the DC fuse box.

First thing I did was connect my battery isolator and 50 Amp circuit breaker to my van battery power source (the big, red wire I ran the other day). There’s another 50 Amp breaker in the engine bay, so both sides of the long, red wire are protected.

Then I connected my battery ground wire directly to the van frame.

The last part of the isolator setup is connecting a trigger wire telling the isolator when the ignition is on. This wire just needs to be connected to any electrical component that is powered only when the vehicle’s ignition is in the ON position. When the isolator detects power coming from that wire, it opens up the circuit between the van battery and in-house batteries, allowing the in-house batteries to be charged while the van is running.

Next I connected the inverter to the batteries using a 150 Amp breaker. I also connected a ground wire, but forgot to take a picture of it.

Then I connected a 100 Amp breaker for my DC fuse panel to the batteries.

With my inverter connected to the batteries to supply my AC power and my DC circuit ready to supply power, I temporarily hooked up my fuse box to test out my DC circuits. I also plugged a power cord into the inverter to test if my AC power was working. I’m happy to say that both my DC and AC have power and everything seems to be working fine. The inverter only makes a small hum and I think once the lid and wall are on the power box, I won’t even be able to notice it. I didn’t take any pictures of my “testing” because the fuse panel is literally just sitting on the floor since I haven’t paneled the wall it’s getting mounted to.

One of the DC circuits I tested was my water pump. It was nice to finally see running water in the van.

Unfortunately, I discovered a small leak between the pump and the accumulator, but I already bought new plumbing parts to fix it. Somehow the PEX swivel elbow is letting water out. I tried tightening it, but that only made it worse (clearly I’m too strong for my own good; better eat more cookies). And yes, it’s the fitting that’s leaking, not the joint where the fitting connects to the pipe.

I need to panel the end of the bed tomorrow so I can get the fuse box and charge controller installed. Once I do that, I want to leave the inverter on with the fridge plugged in to see how long the batteries will last. I’ll also probably plug in a fan and leave a light turned on for a few hours to simulate a normal day’s usage. No matter what math you do to figure out your estimated power usage, it’s gonna be different in the real world.

 

Recessed Lights / Battery Cable

June 12, 2015 Categories Camper Van

This morning I decided to get all my recessed LED lights installed. There are a total of five of these lights in the van and each light has its own on/off switch. I bought these lights as reading or personal lights, not to illuminate the entire van (that’s what the LED strip lights are for).

I also tested them out to make sure everything worked. The lights can tilt side to side, so I positioned them to tilt forward or backward, not left to right, as I want them to stay focused on the “personal” space. They’re plenty bright enough to allow you to read a book or whatever else you’d wanna do.

Next up, I decided to tackle my list item of getting the battery cable ran. This cable connects my van battery to my in-house batteries so that I can charge my in-house batteries as I drive, as well as via solar or city hookups. There will be a battery isolator installed so that the van battery only provides power to the in-house batteries when the van is running, as I don’t want my van battery to get drained down. I’m using 0 gauge wire, and as you can see, it’s about as thick as my finger. I didn’t actually measure it, but the roll was supposed to be 25′ long and I used the entire roll.

I installed one of the lugs before I installed the wire. Being that this is a massive wire, you have to solder the lugs on with a torch. You can crimp the lugs on, but pretty much everything I read or watched said to just solder them. This was my first time messing with cable this thick, so I educated myself by searching Youtube for examples. First, you have to strip back enough of the wire shielding for the lug to fit on, roughly 3/8″; I cut mine off using a utility knife. Then you apply a coat of flux over all of the exposed wire, including the very end. The flux will help the solder be absorbed into the copper wiring. After that, you slide the lug on, making sure not to have any stray wires hanging out, and begin heating it up with a torch. I bought a small, propane plumbing torch for this. You’re supposed to keep the blue part of the flame down to about an inch. When you hear the flux crackle, you can start feeding in the solder. It takes quite a bit and you keep adding it until it forms a nice pool on the very end of the wire. Once the wire cools, you can slip on the rubber booty to cover the lug or add some heat shrink if your lugs didn’t come with a rubber booty. Although my first lug seems to be held on really secure, it did not turn out as “pretty” as my follow-on ones.

In order to get the wire from the engine compartment to the rear of the van, I had to drill a hole through my firewall. Finding a good place to do this was a task upon itself. There’s not a lot of room under a van’s hood and I ended up taking off the engine cover inside the van to make sure the spot I found wasn’t gonna hit something on the other side of the firewall. Once I had my spot chosen and my hole drilled, I fed the lug end of the wire through the hole and out next to my battery. I’m not hooking it all up until I’m ready to connect my batteries, I’m just getting everything in place today. Then I slowly started tucking the wire away so it doesn’t get damaged. It goes from the firewall, up the dash, follows the trim up and along the door, goes over my dividing wall, along the top of the side doors, and then finally down to my battery box. The wire that’s still showing inside the cab will end up being covered by the headliner material and the wire along the side doors will be hidden behind wood paneling that I’ve been waiting to install until after I got this wire ran.

Since I had the torch out, I made a couple shorter wires. One is to connect to the van battery, which then connects to a 50 Amp breaker, and then connects to the long stretch of wire. The shorter of the two is for the opposite side, connecting to the in-house batteries, then to a 50 Amp breaker, then to my battery isolator, then to the long stretch of wire. I ran out of solder, so I couldn’t make the shortest of the wires I need to connect the battery isolator to the 50 Amp breaker. I also have to solder up my grounding wire.

My cousin just bought a house, so I cut out a little early to help move stuff and paint… and eat pizza. Mostly eat pizza. I didn’t get home until 1am, that’s why I didn’t post this yesterday (June 12th). I won’t be getting anything done on the van today, as I’m going back out there to help paint and continue moving junk.

Building the Stove Cover

June 11, 2015 Categories Camper Van

It was rainy today. I spent the morning working on my stove cover, a.k.a. my counter top. I began by ripping apart some more of the old silo doors I bought so I can reuse the wood from them. Once I had it ripped apart, I took all the nails out and ran all the boards through the table saw to clean up the edges. It created a nice, little stack of wood.

Then I laid all the boards out and cut about 3″ off the ends of each one. Those 3″ will be the stationary portion of the cover that the hinges will attach to.

I cut the boards for the cover to be even, then glued and screwed them to a scrap piece of hardboard I had left over.

I nailed on a front face board, added the hinges, and installed it over the stove. Right now, I just have it sitting in place because I’m thinking of changing the design. It currently has one set of hinges allowing the cover to fold straight up. Although there should be plenty of room to cook with the cover there, I think I can create more room by adding a second set of hinges in the center of the cover so it folds on top of itself and should tuck away under the “lip” where the wall changes angle. I definitely like having the counter top area and have already made use of it being there. Since I’ll only be cooking for 15 minutes or so a day, it just doesn’t make sense to allow the stove to take up all of the counter space for 24 hours a day.

I stopped for lunch and decided to take a break hoping the rain would let up. It didn’t. I don’t like working in the rain because I have to constantly go in and out of the van, tracking mud everywhere. I only ended up going back out because a package arrived that had my second LED light strip, a better dimmer switch, and some other things.

First thing in the package that was installed: a rooster sign that says “Wake the hell up!” I bought it as a nod to an old friend who used to always point out things with roosters on them when we’d go to stores together (she enjoyed making jokes about the other name for roosters). I also think it gives the van a cool retro/vintage feel, since it’s painted to look like an old sign.

The only other thing I did today was install the second LED light strip and test out the two strips together with the new dimmer switch I bought. I had to wire them twice because the first time I installed them I just defaulted to automotive wiring colors and assumed black was the negative wire but it’s actually the positive wire on these lights (it’s the same way house lighting is). The lights won’t turn on with the polarity incorrect, so I had to correct my mistake to get it working. They look a lot brighter in the picture than what they look like in person. Daylight was still shinning through the ceiling light, so I’m not sure exactly how well they light up the van. I’m gonna go out tonight after it gets dark and see how bright they really are.

I didn’t complete two list items today like I had hoped to, but I’m glad I at least got the one item done; now I’m down to eight things on my “To Do” list. I’m still trying to find people to travel with or do other activities. I may have found someone in Utah to show me some cool hikes; we’ll see. Utah is one of my favorite states and I plan on being there for a month or longer, so it’d be great to meet local people there and learn about places other travelers might not know about.

Carpeting the Cab Wall

June 9, 2015 Categories Camper Van

Today I randomly felt like finishing the cab side of the dividing wall. I started by covering the wall in a thin sheet of hardboard to give me a clean, solid surface to attach some carpeting to. I cut the hardboard to as closely follow the contour of the van as I could, as I’m trying to keep light from getting in/out. Any little cracks will be sealed up with caulking or some of that spray foam later on.

With the hardboard in place, I began cutting and trimming some indoor/outdoor carpeting to glue onto the wall. I chose to cover it in carpeting to blend in more with the van interior. The van interior is gray, so the carpeting should blend in nicely, even though it’s a slightly different color of gray. I also added a cheap pull handle to the cab side of the door so I can close the door from within the cab.

Then I got to work on the box for the portable toilet. I was originally planning on making the lid fold up and the front support fold down, but that was before I decided to build the rear wall. With the rear wall there, the top of which tilts in 10°, having the toilet lid fold up was no longer an option. Instead, I built it as one large, removable corner piece that can be lifted out. It’s a little more hassle, but I only plan on using the toilet for emergencies anyway.

I also covered the propane box. I wanted the lid to fold straight up, not to the left, but I didn’t plan the design well enough and the lid hit the water pump switch when opened straight up. The lid needs to be able to open a complete 90° or more in order to get the propane tank in/out of the box.

The van is looking pretty good. The “extra” bed that the toilet and propane tank are under (driver side of the vehicle) is a bit shorter than the main couch/bed due to the kitchen cabinet extending over the raised floor. I don’t think anyone over 6′ could comfortably sleep on that side; not while it’s being used as its own bed, anyways. When the beds are joined together, you could easily sleep at an angle or curl up a little since there’s more width.

I made a list of the things I know I have left to do as of right now. There are 11 items on it, but some of them are related. If I can knock out a couple of them per day, I’ll be on track to leave around June 15th. I have a feeling it’ll be more like June 18th or 19th, though. Either way, that gives me a solid two months of solo travel before I head out to California to meet up with a potential travel partner, if things go as planned. I’m trying to find other people to travel with to make things a little cheaper and because I think it’d be more fun.

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Building the Cab Door

June 8, 2015 Categories Camper Van

I honestly didn’t think about what I was gonna work on today until I got up and headed out to the van. Since I didn’t plan ahead the night before like I usually do, I didn’t have all the supplies to do what I wanted to do, which was build the door to the cab. I didn’t feel like working on anything else, so I made a trip to the store to buy a few supplies. I didn’t need much, just some wood paneling, weather stripping, and hinges.

The door to the cab is pretty narrow and barely over 4′ tall. Although I weigh over 210 lbs, the door is wide enough for me to fit through it. Granted, I’m also pretty tall, so my weight is distributed around over a greater area. For someone shorter who weighed anywhere near what I do, they’d have a heck of a time trying to squeeze through that tiny door. It might even be funny to watch.

I built the door using 2x2s to form a rectangle and then covered it with the same wood paneling that I used on my walls. I used the paneling to try to make it blend in as much as possible and not really look like a door. I cut a groove out of all the edges of the backside of the door to fit over some strips of wood I nailed in the door frame. I did this in an attempt to block light from entering/escaping. The inside wall of the cab will be covered in a thin layer of hardboard and then have outdoor carpeting glued on top of that. If light manages to get through, I’ll be impressed (which really means I’ll be disappointed). I haven’t been taking a lot of pics lately and I didn’t even take a picture until the door was built and in place. Whoops.

I stained the door to match the wall and added the hardware. Instead of a door knob, I just used the same kind of handle that’s on my cabinets and a sliding bolt latch to keep it shut.

To help give the door a tight fit, I put a piece of weather stripping down the latch side of the door. It’s really soft. I wish I could sleep on a bed made of this stuff.

The only other thing I did today was install my fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector. Being that the van is such a small space, even a small amount of CO could be a really bad thing. These are just a couple of the safety devices I’m installing. I also have a propane alarm, which will be installed when I trim the bed frames, and I have a fire extinguisher. Being crazy enough to live in a van and travel around doesn’t mean you have to be stupid. Basic safety measures should be included for anyone out there ever planning on doing something like this.