Less of a build report. More of a shakedown cruise recap

Somewhere in southern colorado.
Somewhere in southern colorado.

As you might have seen, there have been few updates here lately. Not because I gave up on the sometimes overwhelmingly large job of converting a van, but because I’ve been out on the road for the past 6 weeks.
7800 miles, 23 states and a lot of fun.

This was basically the vans shakedown cruise. A way for us to take a long look at the systems we planned to put in the van and how they work. A way to gauge the space available and our options for cramming stuff in those spaces.
And really, it was a great excuse to be a gypsy for a month and a half.

IMG_6528Before departing Buffalo I hurriedly installed several items in a beta/trial setup. This 2 weeks of scrambling almost broke me. My hands were so swollen and cut up from working in the cold that I had problems using them some days. Laying under the van while snowmelt trickled down my neck and diesel dripped into my mouth was sometimes enough to send me inside to contemplate just what the fuck I was thinking with this whole project. But then my hands warmed up, I changed clothes and just went back outside.

 

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The electrical system is going to get an entire entry on its own as it was complicated and deserves a breakdown for people thinking about something similar. Quick version: I attempted to install the 2 Group 8 AGM’s under the driver side of the van in the battery box that I had designed. This did not go well. Not only were the batteries an absolute bitch to try and hoist up under the chassis, but the design/construction of the box was not up to the task of holding 350lbs of batteries as I bounced down the road. If any part of this box had failed at speed it would have been catastrophic. And by that I mean I would’ve wrecked my new van.

IMG_6519I ended up just putting the batteries mid-ship for the time being. This is a temporary solution. The carpentry skills on display here are not impressive.

When stuff like this happens all you can do is make the best of it. So the battery box will now be the vans basement. In a possible DIY Sprinter conversion first, I’m going to attach this box in the space under the drivers side, weather seal it, and create trap doors in the floor to access the space. It’s about 8-10cu ft of storage. Thats a lotta macaroni and cheese boxes…

I also installed the hydronic heat system. Again, this deserves its own post as I have not seen anyone else document a diy install of one of these systems from Rixens. New frontiers and all that. Another quick version: the heater worked out great. I was able to sit in the van in just a t-shirt in North Dakota while it was 2 degrees F outside. Pretty impressive. Full install post on this soon.

Since this is a build-out blog I think I will just condense the trip into some van porn with captions. Enjoy!

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The first leg of the trip was Buffalo to Wyoming by way of Iowa and the Dakotas. I took my time and shot a mini project in North/South Dakota.

 

Made it to Wyoming. I had several days of skiing planned.
Made it to Wyoming. I had several days of skiing planned.

 

Jackson, WY. Taking a break from skiing to shoot some timelapses.
Jackson, WY. Taking a break from skiing to shoot some timelapses.

 

Teton Pass, WY. This was just before a monster system rolled through leaving 3' new snow overnight.
Teton Pass, WY. This was just before a monster system rolled through leaving 3′ new snow overnight.

 

Exploring Bridger/Teton National Park by skis. This was also where I spent the night. 9000' and -11 degrees.
Exploring Bridger/Teton National Park by skis. This was also where I spent the night. 9000′ and -11 degrees.

 

Road icicles.
Road icicles.

 

Dropping down south into Colorado to start the second leg of the trip.
Lunch break! Dropping down south into Colorado to start the second leg of the trip.

 

Georgia. This road was named Gator Hole Rd. Its where I spent the night and I did see a gator.
Georgia. This road was named Gator Hole Rd. Its where I spent the night and I did see a gator.

 

Clearwater Florida. After being cooped up inside the van in freezing temps, warm air and the ocean felt surreal.
Clearwater Florida. After being cooped up inside the van in freezing temps, warm air and the ocean felt surreal.

 

Woke up to the ocean outside the sliding door.
Woke up to the ocean outside the sliding door.

 

Last leg of the trip was a photo project in the orange groves of central florida.
Last leg of the trip was a photo project in the orange groves of central florida.

 

I ended up spending a week on the project and slept in the groves every night. Peaceful.
I ended up spending a week on the project and slept in the groves every night. Peaceful.

 

Lots of people want to know details about bathroom stuff. Here's some details
Lots of people want to know lots of details about bathroom stuff. Weirdos. Here’s some details

Ok, thats it for this one. Look for some serious updates soon.

 

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2 thoughts on “Less of a build report. More of a shakedown cruise recap

  1. Awesome! Glad you got it out in the field. I for one would be deeply appreciative of an exhaustively detailed post on the Rixen install. This is in my near future, and I would love to have the benefit of hearing your experience. Are you still out west?

    Regards,
    Mark

    Like

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