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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
1,679 days a wanderin'

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Walled in, the Travesty of the Home Builder

Dec 31, 2014
by John

Leading up to our launch has us a bit at odds. There's the soon to be loved leisure of slow travel, behind the monumental task of completing the van. Knowing our days of procrastination are coming to an end, we spent Christmas day with family. It was wonderful, complete with temporary princess and pony tattoos. Tackling the inevitable, we awoke the day after to face one of the largest obstacles of the entire build, the walls. There are those we wish to dream our days away behind, then those we will require for our 30,000ish mile journey ahead. The latter becoming more of a reality requiring us to start the next phase of this project.

Deep inside I think we both have been putting off the walls because we didn't know how to build them. We started the morning with a heated discussion over how they should be placed, inset or outset the interior van framing - both have advantages over the other. Outset prevailed, Mandi's exquisite vision, and we were off to sorting out the odd shaped wonders that exist to encompass a van body. Idiots could only imagine the idiots capable of engineering such a miserable set of angles, misalignments, and perplexities. The internet is the only tool anyone less than genius could employ to begin to tackle such a complexity. Images help in so many ways, a couple hours later we jumped in.

Before getting to any of the details, a little background. We previously stripped gray carpeting and some form of silver backed foam padding off of the walls revealing a few items that needed some extraction and attention. After cleaning, repairs and painting we added some sound proofing to the large areas. Shortly after the sale of our house I spent a couple hours, with the assistance of our nieces and nephew, completing the sound reduction job by adding a hundred small pieces to the walls. The rule we've heard is only 30% needs to be covered for 100% effectiveness. It definitely adds a creep factor in raw form. The triple Xs, shorthand for extreme, scream "free candy" when covering the inside of a van.

Stare, drink some cofee, stare some more...yup creepy looking.

Stare, drink some cofee, stare some more...yup creepy looking.

I will never be remembered for my ability of deliberating, I'm better a fool in action. Getting the ball rolling seems to get my haphazard, stumble into place engine functioning so after we decided which way we were going to install the walls I insisted we just start. I think I can only solve problems, not prevent them, so I need to be faced with problems to be able to think. Mandi wholeheartedly agrees but in keeping this PG-13 I'll refrain from sharing her detailed analysis. The rest of Friday was spent making templates, cutting out the passenger window wall board and dry fitting it about a billion times making micro adjustments as needed.

Saturday started with visiting the local hardware stores to purchase mounting hardware and other assorted materials, residual procrastination. This has been a hard train to get moving, especially when every few inches we found a new curve, bend, or post that needed attention. We also needed to decide on wire runs and how they were entering and exiting the walls. Of course it'll be part of the first panel. Who wouldn't start with the panel that:

  • Is the most visible as it ends at the camp side door
  • Is in front of a window
  • Arcs over a wheel well
  • Is the access point for wiring to switches and all electrical junctions
  • Encompasses the most drastic change in horizontal surface levels

 

Lesser beings would curl up into a ball and cry. Not the stupefied who are forged from the fortitude of iron laden drawer pulls, we never once curled up (although Mandi did partake in a some tear therapy). We kept plugging away until we finally had a wall bolted in, never mind that little detail of the window being covered.

Coffee break on day two, still working on that first wall

Coffee break on day two, still working on that first wall

Realizing our walls are going to be a decent distance from the window frames is a bit puzzling. We have ideas on how to solve that issue but cutting the hole to access the window proved to be a more pressing problem. Our first attempt was a bit embarrassing, lopsided would be putting it nicely. I get a good laugh from it, Mandi still tears up a bit. Fighting like a champ, albeit loosing like a chump, we brushed it off and made a new panel using the failed one as a template. A half hour later we were back at placing the window access hole. Math, oh how wonderful you are, helped us get lucky the second go around. At the end of day two we had completed our first panel. This took a bit longer than we expected, obviously. That evening we covered it with padding and marine vinyl just like our doors.

Holy window wall panel Batman

Holy window wall panel Batman

Project 'Remove Creep Factor' is a go

Project 'Remove Creep Factor' is a go

The start of our last day of the long weekend was shaky (read this as Mandi crying like a baby cuz she's tired and cranky), seeing the yellow panel installed was invigorating. Once we finally settled down a bit and began making a new template we were in sync and fitting the second wall panel on the passenger side. It was a bit tricky so we made several passes with micro adjustments, after a couple of hours it was in. We decided to wait to cover it as it is an exact fit for the drivers side too so it'll be used as a template once we get to that point. Two panels made and three to go.

Starting to come together

Starting to come together

It would have been great to knock all of the wall panels out over the long weekend - didn't happen. We were getting tired and the seatbelt trim pieces are an amazement in conflicting geometry. We spent several hours getting the first driver side panel cut and installed but we ran out of steam while daylight was beginning to fade. Our nemesis, the window access hole, will have to wait until the beginning of the new year. We're hoping all of the templates we made will be useful in completing the drivers side wall. Each piece will be covered before the next will be made to ensure a good fit.

Awaiting surgery

Awaiting surgery

Building walls after selling our home could be interpreted as a Phoenix being reborn from its ashes, or it's just getting shit done that we need to. Either way a great sense of accomplishment is starting to build. The culmination of transitioning from this moment in life to the next, adrift on the horizon. Moving in a direction yet slightly stuck in place. There is great difficulty in the energy required to expend before getting to rest when resting is the ultimate end result. A horridly wonderful conundrum.


Say what? (6)
Dec 31, 2014 at 09:50 AM
Way to get shit done. You guys are well on your way...months from now you will look back and laugh with a beer on your hand in some far-flung place surrounded by beauty (and the colors of your beautiful van) :)
Dec 31, 2014 at 10:06 AM
Thanks Brenton. Hopefully we'll get to share a campfire and some of those laughs with you guys before we get too far flung! Seeing everyone before we set off is why we need to keep plugging along.
Dec 31, 2014 at 10:24 AM
Good work guys! It's one of the worst step of the build and you're almost done with it, congrat.
Time to wish you a Happy New Year, the year where you're gonna start and enjoy your trip! It'll be soon here. ;-)
Cheers
Claude-Alain
Dec 31, 2014 at 11:01 AM
It's definitely been a hard nut to crack. Now that we have started it we're feeling much better about it. The window set back from the walls and a couple other weird spots will give us some trouble but we'll get through it.

Happy new year!
Jan 1, 2015 at 06:12 PM
Good work guys!
It'll all come together, don't sweat it! =)
Jan 2, 2015 at 03:42 PM
Thanks. We have been working hard the past two days and have made a ton of progress. We're honing in on the weird bits but we have enough done to break out of the stall.
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