Monday, May 18, 2015

Spring Update

A bit overdue, but welcomed nonetheless;  The van is making steady progress towards something camper-ish. 

We have almost finished the preparation stage, and are moving into the actual build-out.

Closing out the mechanical prep is an air system using a Viair constant duty air kit.  It is mounted beneath the van near the rear axle.  The purpose of this unit is to provide compressed air for inflating tires, and the air suspension on the air-ride seats that we just finished installing.  It will also power an air horn (yet to be purchased) and possibly rear air bags for leveling purposes.

While I was getting down and dirty I decided to extend the exhaust all the way to the rear.  The original exhaust ended just past the sliding door, the extension helps prevent exhaust from getting pulled into the cab at low speeds.

The battery bank has been installed and some of the cables made.  The bank weighs about 300lbs and is mounted aft of the rear axle where the spare tire normally goes.  Getting the batteries mounted was quite the ordeal.  I gave up on using pure muscle, and bought a transmission jack.  After that it went quite smoothly!  Never under estimate the value of correct tools.  Now I have to find a reason to use this tool again (can you see how I make more work for myself?).

A little nudge to get everything lined up....

You can see how tight the clearance between the batteries and the van floor is.  The goal was to put the batteries up as high as possible in order to prevent and reductions in departure angle.  I regret not leaving additional space, as the installing and routing the cables is proving to be difficult.

The interior walls/ceiling, and the hood have been insulated with Thinsulate automotive insulation.  This is a hydrophobic noise blocking material that resembles standard fiberglass (minus the itchiness) and has an R value of about 6/inch.  Also the cab floor and step wells have been insulated with ½” neoprene foam.

I finally got the motivation to install the power lock wiring and controller.  The van now has fully functional power locks!

The head lights were fairly dim and the lenses dully.  I sanded and painted the lenses with UV resistant clear coat, and upgraded the bulbs to HID lights.  The kit was less than $60!  The lighting is MUCH improved.

Just recently we started building the galley cabinet.  It will accommodated a double burner induction cooktop, 15in sink, and an enormous C115i Vitrifrigo fridge.  These cabinets will all be worked to a smooth finish and painted with a gray semigloss paint.  The once cavernous interior is rapidly becoming crowded.

The bench seat is coming along.  This cabinet will span the entire width of the van.  It will accommodate the inverter and electrical distribution box.

Unfortunately, it doesn't fit! There is a small raised area (about 3/8s of an inch) on the aft edge of the sliding door.  The bench wont clear it, so at this point we cant get the cabinet into the van.  We have a couple of positions left to try, but the last resort is to shorten the cabinet enough to fit pas the door.  I would really hate to do that, mostly because wasting space feels nearly criminal!

About 6 weeks ago we ordered some new seats for the van.  Jen has this requirement of adjustable headrests (which usually means expensive).  These new seats have an integral air ride suspension with 4" of travel, dual armrests, and 3 way adjustable lumbar.

These seats don't have seat belt mounts on the seat themselves (instead they are on the mount plate). To get around the belts pulling when the seat moves I am adding mount brackets on the upper seat frame with tie straps to the mounting plate.

Here are the original seats that are being replaced.

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