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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
1,358 days a wanderin'

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We're Giving Her All She's Got, Captain!

Mar 23, 2015
by John

With a couple of shakedown trips fast approaching we've been giving the van build all we have. Our brains are a bit mushy, yet somehow progress is being made. Time is pressing, I'm also starting to feel some pressure from our impending reversal of cash flow. We could be under a wee bit of stress but damn if our van isn't super freaking bad ass! We catch ourselves just ogling over it, when we come up with a good cat call we'll be sure to share it.

Storage and surfaces have been the primary focus over the past couple of weekends. We cheated a little by purchasing a pair of lockable underbody truck boxes to use as our primary cabinets. We stole the idea from a build on the Sportsmobile forum. I think we could have paid to get them powder coated, the aluminum extenuates the exposed hardware of the walls fabulously. The boxes are bolted together then to the platform. They fit perfectly, my original rough measurements were off, we reduced the height of the platform they are on when we were building it.

We initially thought bungees or similar on the sides facing the rear door would be good for securing longer items like hiking poles and such. While in the midst of the project we remembered the really cool PVC storage Tribe-of-5 has in their ambo, a much cleaner and functional solution. We were gifted some faded purple pipe (reclaimed water) but ended up using black 4" ABS since it is much lighter. Cut to size then covered, Mandi hated the black and swore our stuff in them would "boil," we bolted them to the boxes leaving just enough room to place a folding outside table underneath. We swear the gray and yellow bag it came in was a coincidence.

The shiny boxes were distracting other drivers, the bright ass green should be a bit better

The shiny boxes were distracting other drivers, the bright ass green should be a bit better

During this time we finally acquired all of the necessary parts to install our sink and countertop. The drain was made for 5/8" pipe but I was able to use 1/2" tubing with some help from our heat gun. The purpose of the 1/2" was so we could affix a garden hose fitting to attach it to the Jerry can, the one we purchased doesn't seem to match the thread pattern of the can though. The hose fits in the Jerry can opening rather snugly, we might double back later with the correct fitting.

Hitting a point of having more fun than grinding through it, long having realized my straight cuts haven't improved during the entire build, we got a little artsy with the piece next to the sofa that fills the gap between the aluminum bins and the van wall. I think it is Mandi's favorite, it has been receiving the precious treatment, I've been scolded a couple of times already for leaning on it.

Happy rays for those gloomy days

Happy rays for those gloomy days

We've slowly started the process of packing the van while working out the last remaining pieces which has resulted in a few changes. Our plan to secure the stove to the countertop was scrapped, the use of the rear storage box evolved. Realizing we'd need to get the propane tank out of the rear box every time we will cook, the box has been designated as our primary camp container. The stove, griddle, chairs, portable solar shower, potable hose, etc...will all be housed in it. A few other odds and ends might be in there as well, air hoses and fittings right now, but our overall idea is campsite in a box. All the daily use and dirty items will hopefully be neatly organized in said box.

When we purchased the box we also picked up a shelf. Once we re-purposed what the box would contain it was evident we needed another. We have quite the collection of assorted left over wood so we used some scraps to add a second shelf to the top section, an add-a-shelf shelf. The stove and griddle fit with just enough room to get them out, one at a time, the tippy top ended up being the perfect height for our chairs. Long term use will determine its exact contents.

Oh how I wish it would stay this way

Oh how I wish it would stay this way

Camp tables have become an obsession of mine, not sure why really. I'm concerned with not having enough space for cooking, eating, playing games, working, etc... We have always planned to have some sort of table extending out of the van in front of the Jerry cans. Brenton from Ruined Adventures sent me a link a few weeks ago to a side table kit that was perfect. It probably saved us an entire day, I tend to over engineer, it's much more elegant than what I was envisioning. It consists of two main components, an adjustable leg and a two piece table mounting bracket. Our table fits in between the kitchenette and van wall when not in use, a great use of the space we lost to the curved walls.

The cafeteria is closed

The cafeteria is closed

Bacon Slayer 10Thousand, new for 2015

Bacon Slayer 10Thousand, new for 2015

We had planned on adding a second attachment point for the table on the ladder, the two portable tables make that unnecessary. Our idea was to use it to cook overly odoriferous items away from the barn doors, going away from the van entirely be way smarter-dumbass function off. Sometimes I just want to smack the stupid out of myself, our intelligence is greater than all other creatures on Earth...r-i-g-h-t.

Another long-procrastinated project percolated to the top, we finally started the installation of a handle on the left side barn door. We ran into an issue with it's location in relation to a speaker hole. We used some aluminum bracing from a previously cancelled project to span the hole. Ultimately that might end up as a lucky problem to have as the bracing provides a serious amount of rigidity. Mandi made a good point about the handle possibly being improperly used to assist in van entry, its intention is for closing the door and to dry small towels. We used a thread sealer to lock the bolt in place, it's a Jeep grab handle so it does appear to be quite beefy.

What you pullin on Willis

What you pullin on Willis

For the first time in many months our to-do list is almost short enough to memorize. Sleeplessness seems to be due to the reality of setting off very soon. There is a great deal of uncertainty at times, my mind gets lost in what this trip will truly become. When I'm explaining the van's purpose to strangers it seems surreal, 6 weeks is all that is remaining. A bit of nervous excitement, childlike innocence anticipating one's birthday. Not an uncertainty of the trip, more about where and who we will be once it is over. All of this is probably related to the fact that almost everyone we have been following is ending their trip or will be soon. As of this time, the end seems to be an inescapable torture to the mind of an overlander. What do I know, we haven't even left yet.

Yup, that much coffee is needed G

Yup, that much coffee is needed G


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Say what? (3)
Eric
Mar 24, 2015 at 12:43 PM
Lookin' quite nice!!!
Mar 25, 2015 at 04:26 AM
Yeah, it looks like you're now really close to a completed build. Great job! Keep going, you're almost there! :-)
Mar 25, 2015 at 06:53 AM
Thanks guys!
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