Learning, Learning & Learning
I have been learning a lot with the build of my van……… it has been a lot of fun, a challenge and I have to say again FUN!!! I love learning new things and building the van has really challenged me to learn. Looking at the van today I am 100% done with the functional part of the build. I could leave tomorrow and drive anyplace in the world and the van would do what I want it to.
What I want from the van
For those that have not read everything about the van let me recap what I wanted from the van. Overall I wanted a trustworthy vehicle that I could use to travel and shoot and if the weather was bad I could live in it. But mainly it is for sleeping and carrying gear. No hot and cold running water, built in stove, shower, etc. just wanted the basics. Something that is better than a tent (no setting up), larger than the Dodge Journey (standing up to get dressed is nice) and less extras than the motor home has (not all the niceties of home). That is what the van has given me.
So far I have only slept in the van for one night and it was GREAT!!! Shoot, toss gear in van, sleep, wake up, shoot, go back to sleep and then get up and hit the road….. perfect!!!
What did I get????
Solid walls, soft floor, soft bed, porta potti, heater, fridge, lights and some storage. I also got something else that I hoped for but did not expect. With a white van, no windows and nothing on the outside to say who I am I got invisibility! When parked or even driving others look at me as I am just a worker man and ignore the van. But I would rather be invisible then stand out.
What is to come
There are a number of little changes that I want to do, a extra cupboard door here, a shelf there. Overall it is mainly things that I will decide on as the van is being used and what is needed. A swivel for the passenger seat is a possible update, it will mean changing the house battery location so not sure if it is worth it or not. I have a new volt meter for the house battery coming today. Some finishing around the doors. That is about it.
What would I do if I did it again???
There was a lot of learning in this first build and like I said the van is what I wanted it to be, a vehicle that is light and easy to drive. It works for this purpose and really I would not change anything. Okay maybe more screws to get panels off and less nails and glue, but that is it!
BUT after doing the build I know if I wanted a van for long term camping in one location I would do a number of things.
First if the van was for camping in cold weather and staying in one spot and for less driving I would make walls and a ceiling that were fully insulated (2 or 3″ thick at least). The insulation that I have is really good but if the walls were thicker I could put in more insulation. Problem is that more insulation means more weight, cutting down on the ease of driving and the MPG that I get. Also if I made the walls straight and not conform to the angle of the van finishing would be easier – try cutting everything with a curve…. not easy!
Second for longer camping trips a small wood stove. They type they use in a boat would be great. Again if I was using the van to park for multiple days this would be cool as no power would be used for heating. PLUS a wood stove just adds so much coolness!
Third solar. If parking for a long time solar is the way to go – FREE power!!!! No plugging in, no generator. As it is now I drive enough to keep the battery topped up so not a big deal. I am waiting for a true adhesive solar panel, if they came out in high enough watts I would be all over them. Attach the panels directly to the van body would be great. Plus no mounting brackets (less weight and no wind noise). If I find one of these I would do it to this van just for the free power.
Fourth as mentioned above and I may do this one yet. I would make all the panels on the cupboards easier to remove and reinstall. This way I could access the space behind the walls to run wires. I used a lot of glue and nails for stability but it makes getting them off impossible. The finished look is nice without screws but having it easy to remove panels allows more updates, always something to think about.
And that is about it for now. Now I need to hit the road some more..