Seat swivel

Passenger Seat Swivel

When I built the White Turtle III I did not want a seat swivel. The main reason was that I was putting the house battery under the seat and I could not have a swivel and the battery. Well I decided that I want a second battery and the weight of the battery at the back so I could now add a swivel.

The cost on the seat swivel is HORRIBLY expensive for what it is!!!! Almost $600!! But when you want something that works it is better to invest the money then try and make a lesser product work. In this case a lesser seat swivel is $400 so for $200 more I got a product that works properly.

I went with a Scopema seat swivel. Rated very high by everyone that uses one.

First impression is IT IS HEAVY!!!! Take a friend to pick it up!! Just kidding about a friend but it is heavy. Second impression is that it comes with NO INSTRUCTIONS. Good thing I had read about others installing them and knew a couple sites to get instructions from. Even the instructions that I found were horrible!!

I figured to install it would be about an hour. Well with having to move the battery it was more like 8 hours for the entire project. Now for projects like these I enjoy the process as much if not mare then I enjoy the final product!!! I love taking my time when I am doing it. Add to that the fact the weather was perfect and I had a blast!!!

  • 1 hour to make up the new #1 gauge cables with heavy duty ends
  • 2 hours to run the new #1 wire from the fuse panel to the new location of the battery
  • To redo the switch and the wires from the van to the house system about another 2 hours
  • 2 hours to relocate the battery to the rear of the van, clean up and put everything back together
  • 20 minutes to put in the swivel

Now like I mentioned earlier the seat comes with NOTHING to explain how to put it in. I was able to find instructions on-line here.

The instructions are BASIC and I also did a number of searches to see how others did it. I can tell you that many people have issues with the bolts lining up. One person mentioned it is because when the seat bases are welded that they expand and contract and are slightly off between different vans. But the best advise I found was to put in the bolts and if they did not all go in take them out and try a different combination. It took me three tries and they all went in without drilling the swivel like some have done.

Seat Swivel
Seat swivel

The other thing that is an issue and not mentioned is the child safety seat anchor behind the seat. When swiveling it is in the way. Some say cut it off but I hate doing this as someday I may need it for some other reason and I wanted to keep it. So I bent it out of the way. Still there but the seat works perfect.

A couple extra notes:

If you read other posts you are going to find a lot of information about the swivel that is wrong. One post will tell you that the seat swivels with the door closed. IT DOES NOT without scratching the plastic on the door. To do this some have cut the seat glides but it seems like a lot of work for this.

Others will tell you that you can leave the jack under the seat. I only tried quickly and so far it is REALLY tight and does not seem like it will work. I will try later when I have more time. There may be a combination that does work.

Others say you need to hammer or pry the seat base to fit the swivel. You do not (see above about the different combinations of bolts).

So how do I like it? So far I love it!!!!! Having a comfortable place to sit is amazing!!!!! Plus it really does not take up any more space. The seat is already there so may as well use it.

Now I need to rewire the house battery over the summer to add another battery for winter, a house charging system from 110v and maybe an inverter. But that is another project!

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White Turtle III 1 Year Update

1 Year Update

Hard to believe but the White Turtle is 1 year old. Or al least it is 1 year since I got most of the Turtle III finished. Well by finished I mean to the point that I can enjoy it. Over the year I have loved using it for shoots and for driving. Plus over that year I have had a chance to evaluate how I use it and what I want to change / add / modify.

A lot of the changes that I am planning have more to do with how I use the van than anything. For me the van is a place to sleep, carry gear and if in an emergency to cook and use the washroom. I am / was not planning on living in it. If I changed the use of the van I would have to change a lot more.

Many of the things work as planned and I am really happy with them.
  • The bed is VERY comfortable and while it is short it fits me perfectly without using up a lot of space. I have thought long and hard about whether I should have gone with the longer wheelbase van so I could have a larger the bed. But after thinking about it I am happy I went with the 148″ wheelbase. Like I have said before the main purpose is to drive the unit and a longer unit would make it harder to turn around and park.
  • Insulation is more than enough. If there is a weak spot it is the doors (back & side). I have solved this with a couple moving blankets over the doors. I was out the other night and it got COLD, went to bed around 10:30 and it was warm without the furnace running till 4:30, then I turned the furnace on for a few minutes to warm the van up. Then shut it off the furnace and went to sleep till 7:30. Turned it on again at 7:30 and it was toasty warm. I did not use the moving blankets that night for the doors or to block off the cab so I still could have kept it warmer. The other day I took the van out shooting. I drove around for an hour with only the vehicle heat on. After coming home and leaving the van parked for a couple hours I went out to do some work and when I opened the side door I could feel the heat come out. Pretty good for just sitting in the cold parked.
  • Bathroom. While the bathroom is nothing more than a porta potti in a closet it is perfect. I have not used it much but it sure is nice to know it is there should I need it. The porta potti could have just put it in a cupboard, or on a slide under the bed but having it in the closet gives more privacy and I have storage above the toilet for towels and toiletries.
  • I love the size of fridge that I went with. I could always use a larger fridge but honestly don’t need it. Again I use the van mainly for driving so the fridge is for short term storage and I am not filling it for a week at a time. It cools fast and does not use much power. I have had a issue with the second coldest level and that it runs a lot more than I figure it should but I am going to add a vent fan for the rear cupboard and see how this does. SO happy I did not go with a propane fridge as I never worry about the angle of the camper when the fridge is running
  • When I built the cupboard that houses my food and dishes I thought it may be too small. I was wrong big time. At this time it is just a cupboard with two shelves and I use a couple containers inside. It holds a lot of stuff!!! Added a slider and put in a platform so I can pull out the food and dishes easier. Works great!!!
  • I originally was going to put a stove and sink built into the counter. So far really happy I did not. Have yet to use the portable stove. I have changed what and how I eat when traveling and just have not needed it. Not that I won’t use it just that when I am shooting I eat small snacks / meals all day rather then a huge one at the end of the day. Plus I am eating more food that does not require cooking. Sandwiches, vegetables, fruit have taken the place of cooked meats, eggs etc.
  • Sink / water was a big issue for me to decide on. I wanted running water/ hot water but did not want the extra stuff to do it. So I did not even add a sink and I carry a collapsible water container under the bed. So far it is working perfectly. I do not miss the running water. I have started to wash up at gas stations, tourist information stops and in campgrounds that have hot water. If I do need hot water I have the portable stove to heat some water on.
  • Flooring was another area that I struggled with when planning. Do I build a wooden floor, or leave the floor with the cargo mat and cover it with carpet? I decided on the cargo floor insert that came with the van, underlay and carpet. It works / feels GREAT!!!! Again I am not on it 8 hours a day but even then I think it would be enough. AND the time / cost / weight that I saved is HUGE!!

Some things I still want to tweak

  • First is the house battery. Currently I have the group 31 battery under the passenger seat. When I put it there I did not cut any of the bolts or modify anything so I can easily remove the battery and return to stock. After 1 year I have decided that I want to move it to the back under the bed for a number of reasons; The battery weight will be at the back for some extra traction. Also I can add a second battery easily. With the battery out from under the passenger seat I can add a swivel to the passenger seat. I cannot add the swivel now as the battery is too high. The battery(s) will be close to the external power and I can add a charger / maintainer to the set-up easily. I can also add a inverter (lots of space) to get 110v power when on the road.
  • Exhaust fan and roof vent is being added. This is still a question with me as I am happy without it but I know in the heat I will appreciate it.
  • I really want to finish the wiring as it has been 1 year. I did not know what I wanted for power & wires when I built it and now I think I do. So far the wires are rough run and I want to finish that up. I also want / need to run power to the exhaust fan I am adding. May also add another light over the bed for reading but honestly the light I have is really bright.
  • Slider for the food cupboard. I have some bins in there now and it works but I think if I have a slider then it would work even better.
  • Fan on a switch to move more air from behind the fridge. Will run it while I am driving to keep it cool behind the fridge.
  • Passenger seat swivel. After 1 year of use I decided that I want it.
  • Considering a bench by the door for sitting. It would add a lot of storage space as well and the space could be used for easy outside access. Really not sure about this, will have to keep designing and thinking about it. Have some cool ideas but really do not need it. May be a fun project! Could add some lights and a drop down table.
  • Screen door(s) and screen for the side windows. I have inserts for the side windows for at night but will make some screens for during the day. Also may make a screen for the side door with magnetic closer.

I really do LOVE the van. It is not a luxurious as many campers but it is homey enough for me and I love it. Now all I need to do is to get out some more!!!

Still comfortable after 1 year
Still comfortable after 1 year
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Waterton May 11 2019

Headed to Waterton yesterday, May 11 2019. Was an AMAZING day. Not many people outside of the town site. The town site was PACKED. Was going to spend the night at Belly River campground but decided to head home as the wind came up later in the day.

A few pictures of the van in Waterton.

first stop has been the same for the last year and that is up on Chief Mountain Highway. I head up to the border then turn around and work my way down.

It is cool looking into the US without crossing the border. From this lookout I headed to Belly River Campground to see how busy it was. Not busy at all but that will soon change.

Waterton May 11 2019
Looking across the border into Glacier

After a tour and shooting around Waterton it was off to find a quiet place to rest. Maskinonge is the perfect spot, lots of people drive through but they don’t stay, must be because there is no services there. I do not mind, better for me. Also being May 11, 2019 it still is not tourist season.

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Van updates

I have several van updates that I have on the to do list. In the past year I have not done a lot on the van. Using it and has been the most fun! I do have a number of little things planned but the weather sure has not been helping me. This past weekend I wanted to get into a couple projects. But it was so cold I only got one done then went back and hibernated.

Sliding drawer Van Upadate
Build shelf, toss stuff on and hibernate again
Top shelf is easier to get into.
Top shelf is easier to get into.

I had thought for a while about adding a slide to the cupboard where I keep my food. Was going to do both shelves when I thought about it. But after doing just the one I realized that that was all I needed to do. Now I can pull out the bottom shelf to see what is in there. The top shelf I can see into so I am happy.

I managed to get the shelf built and installed. Then it got cold and rainy so I tossed everything back in and went to work in the garage. Took a couple pictures today as the snow was melting!

Another project done a few weeks ago in a brief warm-up was the towel rack in the bathroom. Not a big deal but helps to keep me organized.

Now all I need to do is to wait till it warms up so I can do a couple more van updates.

Bathroom van update
Bathroom just about done.

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Red Rock Coulee

Red Rock Coulee – Great in all seasons!

Red Rock Coulee
Red Rock Coulee
Red Rock Coulee

If you are looking for an amazing road trip may I suggest Red Rock Coulee.  I have driven past on highway 3 a number of times and always wondered what was there, now I know. It is well worth the drive for a day or even if you want to stay in the area for a couple days.

Will be heading back that way soon for some more pictures and exploring!  Funny thing is that all the rock pictures that I took and I like the flower ones the best!

This place is amazing, a little out of the way and NO services. There is one broken picnic table and that is all the extras that are there. But it is well worth the drive. I do suggest that you go WELL prepared. When it is hot out this place is even hotter. If it is dry this place is drier. When it is cool this place is COLD!! There is no shelter to get out of the weather unless you hide behind a rock and they are not that big!

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Mud Flaps – White Turtle III

Mud Flaps

Back in December I ordered a set of mud flaps for the White Turtle III. It was actually the van’s Christmas present. They arrived a week into the cold snap that we had and I was not going to try installing them at -30 or -50. So today all the ice and snow melted in the driveway and it was warm enough to install.

Read moreMud Flaps – White Turtle III

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