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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
1,722 days a wanderin'

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Getting Back to Things by Busting Knuckles

Dec 17, 2014
by John

Three weeks have passed since we sold our home but we don't have much to show for it. Time, priceless yet finite, was lost in and of itself. We definitely needed some decompression but building the van is the pressing priority. It's the only thing I think about, loosing sleep while engineering the interior. My scribbles have become ever more senseless, I'm lost to their translations. Knowing the best way to handle almost everything, we started with something small.

We have wavered over the past few months with how to refresh our running boards vs acquiring a different pair. We've always loved the work van aesthetic they bring, one that holds true to the van's history, not to mention the ad-hoc camp shelves they provide. Our aching backs prevailed (we've been relegated to jumping out of the van ever since we removed them) by finally over-percolating our procrastination, thus forcing us to finally make a decision, coating them with bed liner. The cost to have them professionally sprayed by a local shop was less than ordering a kit... some movement.

The next day we were installing them on the JaMvan and our hunger was rekindled, more like my obsession was restarted. I began ordering most of the remaining components for the van and scribbling my drivel on every paper-esque object within reach. The fever, madness, is familiar and wonderful. I'm that dog that will never stop chasing its tail, or drop the bone. Focused, lists of delivery dates that will eventually correspond to a schedule of tasks. Progress.

Step it up yo!

Step it up yo!

No more jumping in and out of the van!

No more jumping in and out of the van!

All of this converged this past weekend. Wanting to capitalize on our recent running board momentum, we decided to tackle most of the exterior additions that need to be completed before building the interior walls. First up, a solar panel. Installing it was fairly easy, we already upgraded our windows and redid the penthouse hardware, so within a few hours we had a gigantic 250 watt panel bolted to the roof. It'll be wired in as soon as we get a chance, but for now it's out of the way and secure. We probably shouldn't be so nonchalant about drilling holes in the penthouse, it is what it is. Yes, the panel is rather large, I might have made a slight miscalculation...20 inches or so.

Jackson, we have a huge solar panel on our head.

Jackson, we have a huge solar panel on our head.

The penthouse top is harder to raise so we may be adjusting the lifting springs in the future, or conning someone into helping us do it as that is a bit dangerous. We did find that there were oversized blocks shimming the helper springs, used to aid in the initial 6 inches of lifting, which we removed to see what the end result would be. No change in lifting but it did stop the top from hopping and making an almost unbearable racket while driving so we'll leave them out for the time being. Onward.

Every van needs an outside light, so we installed three. Two are normal task-based run of the mill fixtures, one on the driver and the other on the passenger side. We decided to bypass the on-fixture switches since we will be installing switches to operate them from inside the van. This will prevent anyone from turning them on or off when we are not around. Seems logical, we left the wiring so we can change it back later if we are so inclined.

The third light is a small red one that is located below the two external 12V sockets on the passenger side. Its purpose is to provide enough light to navigate camp without introducing unnecessary light pollution. We have one for inside the van too for stealth mode. We'll see if these are genius ideas or just wasted efforts once we get some miles under our belts. All of the lights are LED, power consumption should be minimal.

Aziz, light(s)!

Aziz, light(s)!

Three little piggies sitting on a tree

Three little piggies sitting on a tree

It really felt great to get back to building out the van. We both busted our knuckles, out of practice and all, and are in desperate need of regaining our chops. It's silly to get a bit nostalgic on the same project but it's been several months since we've focused on building out the van. We flirted with it a bit after she returned from NC, selling the house prevented us from really starting the project again. The reality of our timeline has been sobering. If we're going to make it then we need to get it done, we also want to have time to see everyone before we take off. The van may be the priority but it's also our anchor, our connection between this phase and the next. An overwhelming task, a trying lesson in ups and downs, our current point in time.


Say what? (3)
Dec 17, 2014 at 10:01 AM
Great idea the outside red light ! I may steal it and make the same on VivaLaVida... ;-)
It's definitely missing sometimes, when the large LED side lights are to bright.

Something you may want to have with you when travelling : the tiny two bucks plastic part linking door handle rod and the door latch. No Junk yard in the area, so I ordered one from Ford dealer. I'm waiting for it since two weeks, unable to open driver door from outside... ;-)
Dec 17, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Thanks for the tip. We've just started our must have yet minimal parts list. Having a 7.3, we already have an extra CPS. When we added Jimmi Jammers to our door locks I was concerned about that plastic piece but have since forgotten. It's now on the list.
Dec 22, 2014 at 04:15 PM
It's all coming together!
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