Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Getting Down To Business

Over the last few months we have been getting down and dirty converting the van.  Here are the highlights!  It may not seem like much, but the foundation steps are often the most critical.

First off we decided on a layout for the interior.  This layout features a permanently deployed rear bed (Jen’s request).   A drivers side Galley, and a 48' bench/couch.

Next we got rid of that ugly cargo divider.  Feels so much bigger!

Anyone need a sprinter cargo divider?

The van is only 72” wide where the bed mounts (left-right orientation).  Because I am 73” tall we needed to make a window flare to allow for some extra headroom.  Here is the flare in process.  It is being molded from fiberglass over a hand-made foam plug.

We also decided to spray expanding foam insulation into the walls of the van.  We purchased ours from Tiger Foam.  It was surprisingly easy to work with.  After many hours of masking, and about 30 minutes of spraying we had some results.

On a warm day in October I installed power lock actuators and cruise control bits. We used OEM actuators made by VDO (Amazon had great prices). I still need to run the wiring and hook up the remote unit.  

In my next post I will discuss some of the van's camper systems.  Heat, water, electrical, and solar.  We have decided to go with no propane (single fuel all the way!).

Chucks new owner has been treating him well.  Here a few photos from his new home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our Next Adventure, Planning Edition

To the faithful who still follow our currently boring blog; I say Greetings!

To the new readers who have just stumbled here from the vast depths of the internet; Welcome to the great intermission between adventures.

It has been several months since we sold Chuck, it was sad to see him go, but we must continue; spurred ever onward by the relentless and dogged flow of time.


We have found Chuck's replacement!  The as-of-yet unnamed van is a 2004 Dodge Sprinter, here are the vitals.

Origin: Manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in Germany in late 2003

Drivetrain: 2.7L Inline-5 CDI (Common Rail Direct Injected) Turbo-Diesel | 154HP and 243lb-ft |  ULSD and LSD fuels | 5-speed automatic transmission

Body: Arctic White | 140" wheelbase | super high roof (72" interior hegiht) | 5 doors

Equipment: Base Cargo | A/C | Manual locks and windows | 2 seats | rubber and plywood floors

Condition: Good | 105,000 miles | fleet maintained | a few dents and scratches

We flew to Orlando Florida to pick it up and drove back to Tulsa over 2 days.  Besides some comfort issues the trip was uneventful (except for a bit of drama at the outset).

When we were first inspecting the van, I noticed that the turbo resonator was completely split!  This is a common failure point which results in low power and/or limp home mode (LHM).  Thankfully I had a roll of duct tape and the 2 tools required to change this part.

After applying a copious amount of 3M industrial duck-tape the van was mobile once more.

The resonator as we found it.

Some dirty hands for scale.

3M High Temp adhesive tape (great stuff!).

A really hot abandoned Florida parking lot.

We then proceeded to drive the van to a Freightliner dealer who had the part in stock!

mmmmmm fresh....

Then it was off to Walmart for a open space to park and swap.  Two bolts, a box of baby wipes, a well burned back and several clamps later, we were ready to roll!  Only a couple hours later than desired.  Not a bad delay all things considered.

Did I mention hot parking lots?

And we're off!

The rest of the drive was about 21 hours of uneventful-ness.  Although figuring out the climate control system was a bit of a challenge.  Something about European cars maybe?

We have been daily driving this van for several weeks now, and no issues to report (except really cold A/C). The plan as it sits, is to finish up some maintenance items, and a few minor fixes.  Then we will set upon doing upgrades.  Air suspension seats, cruise control, and power locks are at the top of the list.

Then, let the up-fitting commence!  Just thinking about the epic pile of hardware we will need is making me drool...  The final product will be something like Chuck, but so much more.  Giving a couple of engineers a blank slate, is a very bad idea (especially for the budget).  I hope to keep a somewhat detailed log of our build out progress.  The conversion clock is ticking, with approximately 18 months to completion, its going to be tight.

Until next time; make your plans big and keep your ideas grand.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Steph & Joe's Short Enterprise

Hello, my name is Joe and together with my lovely wife, Stephanie, we embarked on our first an adventure with Chuck.  Jon and Jen loaned us Chuck in March 2014 for a week long excursion of our choice.  This is our contribution to the life of Chuck.

The Grand Canyon was the chosen destination- being a mere 20 hours away, this would be perfect for seeing new sights and curing my hunger for adventure (in retrospect, this trip made it worse).
Driving in a home on wheels is great, it gives you the freedom to live life at your own pace, savoring beautiful moments as they come. 

Planning this trip was pretty exciting, I spent most of my free time during school planning, and discovering the awesomeness of BLM land and free camp spots. Below was the break down of the trip, plan would be travel there in 3 days. Stopping and camping in Palo Duro Canyon park in TX, El Malpais National Monument in NM, driving through the Petrified Forest in AZ, and finally arriving at the Grand Canyon. 

Scroll on for photos...

Our first morning waking up in the wilderness...
 Destination B had no vacancy. 

Checking out point C: The Arch in El Malpais National Monument.

Driving Through The Petrified Forest: The view from Chuck is excellent.

We made it! ... 4 days later
My wife was excited, you can tell by this specific expression.
The hike is easy going down
Going up... well, we got lazy fast
Cell phone photo seemed sufficient to capture the canyon
Only way to experience it, is to be there
So here's to Chuck, he was a great van and won't be forgotten! We're hoping his new owner is enjoying him as much as we did. 

A big thank you to the Luths for letting us borrow Chuck. We've been inspired to spend a couple years traveling in the future. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Into the Sunset

Chuck is gone.  Here it is, no easy way to say it.  Lots of memories and thousands of hours gone into the setting sun.  Hopefully we will meet again.

Exactly 7 days and 1 hour ago Chuck was taken by his new owner.  Left for warmer shores (So-Cal Bound!)

Alex, the founder of Genasun flew into Tulsa to pick up Chuck and head for southern California.  He promised to take Chuck camping in the mountains and keep his oil topped off, its the best a van can ask for.

Its bittersweet, but we are looking forward to our next adventure.  The search for the next van is on in earnest now.  No van could truly replace Chuck, but eventually, just maybe, we can find another 4 wheels to call home.  Our schedule is pretty tight, we have about 8 weeks to acquire our next ride, and to begin the long conversion process.  I will be posting build details to this blog as they develop.  This promises to be an epic undertaking, the complete Up-Fitting of an quasi-expedition vehicle.  Look forward to it!

Until next we meet upon the paths that wrap this earth, farewell good Chuck.

“Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds..."

― Edward Abbey

Chuck's First Road Trip

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Time of Parting

The time has come. After 60,000 miles, countless border crossings, and 5 tires; today I posted Chuck's for sale ad.  I will miss him, but C'est la vie.  Within 4 hours I had a buyer call, after some discussion he decided to pass on Chuck.  His final comment was that I should have a higher asking price!  Something about Volkswagen vehicles inspires loyalty in their owners.  

Why are we selling Chuck?  That subject is going to need its own post.  It has nothing to do with Chuck's road-worthiness.  Instead our needs have changed, don't worry, we haven't yet given up the vagabond dream.  Road-Trip 4 Life!

On the off chance that Chuck's next owner is reading this, the ad is listed below.
TheSamba Ad

For those of you wanting a few parting van shots, here is Chuck all cleaned up and out, ready for his next adventure.

If you are feeling a bit nostalgic here are a few posts to remind you of Chucks long journey. 

We are designing our next home on wheels currently.  (it has yet to be named or procured)  We hope to have a vehicle sometime mid summer, and to start the long planning and conversion process.  If may be a long stretch between posts, so if you haven't, I would suggest following us by email.  Thanks again for reading and following us.  Our goal has always been to inspire others to achieve there goals, and to think outside the box.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Long Intermission

Well, it seems our travels have come to a pause.   It will be some time before we can once more take Chuck on an Epic Road-trip.  Jen and I have started working again, and will be doing so for the foreseeable future.  For one last hurrah some friends of ours have borrowed Chuck for a spring break road-trip.  They have assented to writing a guest post.  So look forward to it!

If you noticed the font issues, some change at blogger has altered the way fonts render.  I will be remedying that in the near future.

We have some big plans for the next couple years, and we will be posting them over the next few months.

Until then, peace out!