Wednesday, August 31, 2016

When Is a Project Really Finished?

In this case, a project is finished when you need to start living in it!  We need to be out of our house in a few weeks, so the last few major van items need to get done NOW!  Thankfully the list of van items continues to dwindle as we chip away at the final touches.  We are feeling the crunch now though.  Gratefully, we can change our schedule if necessary.

First up is the indoor shower. I used stainless rod and tubing to make a curtain rod that attaches to the roof. I set 4X 10-24 rivnuts into 2 of the ceiling frame tubes. These receive captive thumb screws which attach the rod. The rod/frame splits into two halves for storage under the bench seat. I used ¼” OD rod and 0.27” ID tubing. The pan is a water heater drain pan. We have the option of draining it into the sink (by hand) or running a drain tube out the slider door.

With much cursing the solar panel assembly was removed from the roof. I added a third frame member and beefed up the mounts. The new panels use a slightly different frame extrusion, so I had to re-drill the mounting holes. Of note is that the new panels have a different solder patter on the cells, and they are about 1/8” less tall due to the altered frame profile.

After much thought and debate, I decided to bond ribs to the back side of the panels. The glass on these panels is fairly thin, and flexes quite a bit when loaded. I used aluminum U channel bonded with sikaflex 252. I made the adhesive layer 1/8” thick to reduce the risk of delamination due to thermal expansion mismatches.

I will also be making a few aerodynamic shrouds to reduce turbulence, and hopefully eliminate the buffeting of the roof vent, and wind loading of the panels.

In order to maximize cooling and AC performance, I replaced the missing air deflector on the passenger side. I am also going to add some shrouding to the bottom of the bumper and around the skid plate. This should ensure that more of the high pressure air at the front of the van flows through the cooling pack. The new fan clutch is noticeably louder when driving at low speeds, and coolant temperatures seems to be better controlled. I am seeing 180-195 on the freeway with 90F ambients, which is much improved.

Jen has made some really nice padded covers for the front seats and she has nearly finished the interior curtains. We are still working on attachment methods for the slider and front curtains, as our first attempts were not secure enough.

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