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Open Roads Forum  >  Class B - Camping Van Conversions  >  DIY

 > Step one. Bought the van.

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WVvan

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Posted: 07/08/12 07:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Another project. Replace really dirty original driver side seat belt with brand new one.
[image]

This one's pretty straightforward. Get a T-50 Torx bit and 5/8" socket. Unbolt the old one and replace with the new one.
[image]

Here's another one of those "put off till later jobs". When I installed the battery vent in the side of the van the hole I drilled ended up being just a little too large. It's probably off by no more than 1/16" but it just bugged me. Till now that is.

You can see the gap in this photo, along with where someone/something scratched the side of the van.
[image]

From McMaster-Carr I ordered ten chromed washers. Didn't need ten but that was the lowest number I could order. The inside diameter of the washer is smaller than the outside diameter of the threaded shaft on the vent.
[image]

I take the insulated wall panels on and off enough times that I'm thinking of just calling them "access panels" instead. Remove the access panel over the battery vent and unscrew the vent.
[image]

I don't have a drill bit the exact same size as the vent shaft so to enlarge the hole in the chrome washer I'm using a end mill bit on my milling machine. The end mill is smaller then the diameter of the hole I want to make. The table on the mill moves front to back and left to right.
[image]

By carefully moving the table while the bit spins I'm able to make a hole just the right size.
[image]

Perfect fit.
[image]

[image]

Mount back on the van. Much better.
[image]

Mark one project off the list and add another to it. Paint the van.

By the way, if anyone needs a 9/16" SAE chromed washer let me know. I've got a quantity up to nine for sale.

* This post was edited 07/09/12 05:19am by WVvan *


Open the pod bay doors Hal.

Once I exit Hal, this is what I do.
WWW.WVBIKE.ORG


Grub

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Posted: 07/09/12 08:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WVvan wrote:

Grub wrote:

Turn your feed speed down a smidge.

Thanks for the tip. I'm forever messing with the wire speed and current. It never fails that when I get it dialed in just right I'll change over to welding something different. If my livelihood depended on my welding ability, I'd starve.



Lol that's okay! A good weld shouldn't be bubbled up, material doesn't make the weld, the penetration does. Low feed speed (I rarely go above 1 unless I'm filling in a hole) and a power setting of A or B is good for most materials.

A gentle C motion while you're joining a seam will get you the best looking and strongest weld. Slow and steady is the name of the game.


Any day enjoying the great outdoors beats any day enjoying your 8x8 office cube!

WVvan

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Posted: 07/11/12 10:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Time to dig into the dash. I already showed some of this with the posting about the switch for the greywater dump valve. Start by taking off the doghouse then removing the stock radio.
[image]

To remove the radio use a Din Radio Tool. The tool is these two U shaped wires. Around $6 from Advance Auto. The stock radio is surprisingly slim.
[image]

Here's the view without the radio.
[image]

Install a new radio using a custom bracket. This leaves some room in the old radio opening for a switch panel. Cut out a template from paper.
[image]

It measures 7-1/2" x 1-1/2".
[image] [image]

Cut the panel out of an aluminum sheet.
[image]

See how many switches I can cram into the panel. I've bought a selection of toggle switches because not yet sure what all I'll be controlling.
[image]

Measure and drill holes for the switches.
[image]

Add the switches and label them. At this point they not really wired to anything.
[image]

With the new radio goes new speakers. The van only has two speakers. One in each door.
[image]

To take off the door start with the screw in the bottom right corner.
[image]

Pop the cover off the front of the door handle and swing out of the way. It exposes a torx head screw.
[image]

Unscrew and remove the handle. You have to wiggle the handle to work it free.
[image]

Use a small screwdriver to pry the cover from around the door handle.
[image]

Above the handle is another screw. Remove it.
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There is a black plastic cover on the inside of the door.
[image]

Carefully pry it off.
[image]

This gives access to the one last screw.
[image]

The plastic door panel lifts straight up and off.
[image]

Here's what it looks like without the door panel.
[image]

Out with the old speakers and on with the new.
[image]

Put it all back together. I had one problem and that was in figuring out which wire was radio plus and which was minus. The wire color didn't match what the Ford manual said it was supposed to be. I used a voltmeter to trace which wire was which back at the radio. Problem solved.

landyacht318

Near a large body of salty water

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Posted: 07/12/12 07:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How Odd.

I just replaced an older Sony Stereo with the same Stereo shown in your pics, no more than an hour ago.

Lookin' good

WVvan

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Posted: 07/12/12 07:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks. Great minds think alike. [emoticon]

NewsW

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Posted: 07/12/12 08:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you get that far:

Might as well replace all the bulbs in the dash (instrument cluster, HVAC control, etc.)

I found the plastic in the base of the bulbs deform over time, and the bulbs no longer sit tight --- had to dump the base and bulbs at same time.

Also clean out accumulated dust back there and wiring contacts cleaned with circuit board cleaner and greased with dielectric grease.


The doors consider adding insulation in between the factory plastic liner and the plastic --- greatly improves sound / road noise as well as hold in the heat.

Likewise, add insulation to the step.

All insulation has to be wrapped in between plastic and sealed to prevent it from accumulating moisture.

Consider lifting seats and then adding new padding / insulation / etc. on floor.

Insulation, in sealed bags in dash really helps with noise.

Big Katuna

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Posted: 07/12/12 10:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you DO add insulation to the inside of the doors, take care not to plug the drain holes. Self-adhesive roofing repair tape works well. Poor man's Dyna Mat.


My Kharma ran over my Dogma.

WVvan

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Posted: 07/13/12 05:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

More dash work.
I own a ScanGauge II but have never got around to finding a permanent spot for it. Time to take the plunge. This looks like a good spot.
[image]

Make sure it's clear of the gear shift handle when in drive. Easy to see when driving. Let's put it here. There is a wire that hooks the ScanGauge to the OBDII port located below the dash. The wire can either be plugged into the back of the end of the Scangauge. To run the wire out the back I'll have to make a hole in the dash but it will be a cleaner look.

Make a small template and use pencel rubbing to copy over the socket location.
[image]

Use this to plan out the hole.
[image]

No backing out now.
[image]

Run the wire.
[image]

The gauge comes with velco strips with adhesive backing. Stick to the back of the gauge.
[image]

Stick the gauge in place.
[image]

Then fire it up.
[image]

The wire that comes with the gauge is longer than I need so roll up the extra and zip tie it under the dash. Then go for a test drive.
[image]

Looks really nice while driving except for one little problem. As you turn the steering wheel it blocks the view of the ScanGauge. D'oh! Didn't even occur to me. Maybe if I lived in someplace with flat straight roads, Kansas I'm looking at you, I might have left it be. Around these parts that's not an option.

Find a new spot I like higher up. Will have to disassemble the dash to mount it.
[image]

[image]

Looks like this hasn't been done since the van was new. I wiped out all the ductwork I could reach.
[image]

Check that there's nothing in the way on the back of the dash panel where I want to mount the Scangauge.
[image]

Do the same for the inside of the dash. No problem.
[image]

Here's the new location.
[image]

What's one more hole amount friends.
[image]

While I have the dash apart do another project. Here is a panel voltmeter I bought on ebay for around $7.
[image]

It's made to be flush mounted but there isn't enough free real estate on the dash panel. I'll have to make a case for it. Here is a sheet of shiny steel I took off of a VCR I was tearing apart. It's thin and was used like a veneer on the outside of the VCR. Thought it might come in handy so I held onto it. Make a paper template case for the voltmeter.
[image]

Use the template as a guide for cutting the steel.
[image]

The front edge of the steel has a small lip that will grab the voltmeter.
[image]

Notch the lip where I will be bending it.
[image]

Use welding pliers to make the bends.
[image]

[image]

Once the metal is bent into the box shape it's fairly sturdy.
[image]

Make the case deeper than it needs to be.
[image]

Add a sheet metal screw to hold the case closed.
[image]

Bend the extra metal from the case depth inward.
[image]

Use bolts through the back to hold it in place on the dash panel.
[image]

By removing the sheet metal screw on the side I can open up the case and slide the voltmeter in or out. Drill a hole for the voltmeter wire in the dash panel.
[image]

Button everything up.
[image]

I wired it to one of the switches on the new switch panel so I could choose to display either the van (starting) battery or the house battery's voltage.
[image]

One more thing to check. The voltage used by the voltmeter itself. I turned the voltmeter on and locked up the van.
[image]

Here it is 18 hours later. The voltage hasn't dropped at all.
[image]

One more thing. In the above photo you can see that the first hole I drilled for the Scangauge wire now has a round rocker switch in place. I had the switch on hand and it's a perfect fit. I'm sure I'll find a use for it.

* This post was last edited 07/20/12 05:12am by WVvan *   View edit history

WVvan

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Posted: 07/19/12 08:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the insulation tips. I'll have to think on those.

I'm been doing a lot of work on Hal without a break so overdue for a road trip. I hooked up my running water system along with portable AC unit, a microwave and a Engel 12 volt fridge. Beside the water pump, everything else was mounted temporarily for this trip.

First stop, Roger Waters and "The Wall" in Philadelphia.
[image]

Then off to the beach.
Cape Henlopen, Delaware.
[image]

Back on the road. Maryland House Rest Area, I-95.
I wonder what it is about White Ford Vans that make them seek out each others company?
[image]

Fort Frederick State Park Maryland Campground.
Hal has scared away all the other campers. Or maybe it was just me.
[image]

If you're traveling west of Hagerstown Maryland on I-70 I can highly recommend Fort Frederick State Park. It's only a mile off the interstate. The Fort was built during the French and Indian Wars.
[image]

[image]

It housed British prisoners during the Revolutionary War and Civil War Federal Troops were stationed nearby who mixed it up with Mosby's Raiders. The C&O Canal passes through the park along with the Western Maryland Rail Trail. And the campground which sits on the banks of the Potomac River sure isn't overused.

On to what I learned about living in the upgraded van. Having running water for the first time is a real sea change! I've been tent camping for years and using the van as a glorified tent since I bought it. Up till now this was my idea of running water.
[image]

I would go three or four days with this single 2-1/2" gallon plastic gas can as my sole drinking water source. For this first trip I just filled up one of the 5 gallon water cans figuring that would last a while. WRONG. I was amazed at how fast I emptied out that first 5 gallons. When you have an electric pump, 5 gallons is nothing. Luckily I learned this lesson while staying at a campground and not while boondocking. Easily refilled the water can at the closest spigot. After that I was more mindful of my water usage.

This was also the first time I've used a fridge. The Engel model was great. It doesn't use much electricity even though I had it at the coldest setting. The noise it makes when running was somewhere between a low hum and a purr. Not the least bit distracting. I first realized how neat it was to have a real fridge when I was shopping and found myself doing the "only buy two days worth of cold food since that's when the ice gives out" calculation. Had to remind myself that's no longer the case. After testing that the freezer section in the fridge would make ice cubes in regular trays, not just the tiny one it came with, I tested it with a six pack of Klondike bars. It keeps the bars solid but not by much. Have to eat them fast once you remove it from the fridge. It will also freeze a one liter squeeze bottle solid.

Next up the microwave. I've read where some people don't use theirs but that won't be the case for me. Used it on a Hungry Man dinner, microwave pizza and some leftovers from a restaurant. This will be a keeper. The microwave I bought is a small 700 watt unit and my inverter and house batteries had no problem keeping up with it. If I was worried about the power drain on the house batteries I would just idle the van while the microwave was running. I posted the other day about having installed the ScanGauge II on the dash. It shows me using about 0.66 gallons an hour while idling. With current prices that works out to about .04 cents a minute. To heat the microwave pizza I made last night would have only cost .20 in gas if needing to run the engine.

Someone posted that my van is starting to look like a spaceship. If you're going to have a spaceship you might as well get a robot. Say "Hello" to my version of R2-D2.
[image]

I'm going with the suggested name of "R2-BCool". Most of my camping is of the boondocking in the mountains variety but I wanted to try it at the beach where AC is a must. This AC unit is only for the times when I'm hooked to shore power. I used this for several days at the beach. One problem is the exhaust hose radiates a lot of heat. I'm sure wrapping it in Reflectix would help. But a bigger problem is that all the air it exhausts is being drawn from within the living space. Then that air is being replaced with outside air. The space inside the van never gets real cold. It only really cools you down if it's blowing the cold air it makes directly at you. It's best use was when I was sleeping since I'm not moving around much. It did help lower the humidity so it's better than nothing.

A more efficient arrangement would be to have a separate hose for outside air that is drawn into the unit then used to carry the heat away from the coils and exhausted back outside. Then the cold air in the van would be continually recycled and made cooler still.

I'll have to open it up and see if I can modifying it.

I do see one problem with all my new conveniences. When the van was like a tent with a minimum of comforts it's easy to get going in the morning. Now it's a lot easier to just lay there and listen to the radio or get something to eat out of the fridge. I can definitely see a downside to all this.

markopolo

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Posted: 07/20/12 06:17am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WVvan wrote:

I do see one problem with all my new conveniences. When the van was like a tent with a minimum of comforts it's easy to get going in the morning. Now it's a lot easier to just lay there and listen to the radio or get something to eat out of the fridge. I can definitely see a downside to all this.


We really noticed that when we went from a B to a B+ to a full C. We started having a lot of meals inside and missed the "camping" aspect and we were slow to get going.

You might consider a rear window air conditioner if your portable doesn't work out. With the window type A/C the unit heat is outside. I've done some testing running one on an inverter with encouraging results: Rear window air conditioner on inverter

I think your battery bank has a greater capacity than mine.

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