- New Bump Stops (Sumo Springs)
- Battery monitor
The entire installation took only one day (once we got all the parts) but most of that time was spent dinking around with the batteries. Each battery sits on a tiltable “shelf”, tucked up into the chassis and impossible to access without tipping at a really dicey angle. Brian raised the van on wood blocks (in order to crawl under the low clearance) and then used a motorcycle jack to keep the battery shelf from sliding out of its slot, hurtling this hazardous 75 pound hunk onto the pavement (or someone’s head). I got the job of making sure the jack didn’t roll away. Yeah, that means I also had to be under the elevated van – good times.
After drilling the necessary wire access hole in the bottom of the van and cutting an opening in the wall of the bed for the gauge, Brian ran electrical wires from the battery post into the interior. Our new meter works as expected and is reasonably precise, within a couple points plus or minus. As on the boat, Brian is once again content, now possessing this immediate information. Picture Mr. Burns from the Simpsons – a giddy “amp accountant” reveling in his “bank status” and dictating whether or not I can “afford” to watch an episode of Downton Abby. Loan… DENIED!
- Bedside tables
Our TV-tables are made of three types of solid wood (sapelle, cocobola, bubinga) and finished with a clear gloss. Brian fabricated brackets from aluminum bar stock, using the existing window trim screws to avoid drilling any new holes in the van metal. Each table has two screws protruding from the back that slide and lock into these brackets. And there’s a single support leg that rotates down into a routed space for flat storage vertically under the bed using Velcro. Plenty strong for a drink and a plate of food, they only take a minute to set up or take down. For us, it’s the perfect solution. Now we can eat dinner while lounging on our respective beds watching Downton Abby (but only when we have sufficient amp credits or plugged into electricity!) Our ‘tiny house’ living room is complete.
- Windshield shades
- Shower curtain
- Sewer hose holder/”bumper step”
Just today, we witnessed what we recognized as inevitable with the windowless hose: camper thinks sewage is done streaming, camper unhooks hose prematurely from trailer, camper eyes go wide as he sees his shit-stream is NOT done flowing and actually is still flowing quite profusely, stuff splashes everywhere (on the ground, the trailer, the camper), camper swears loudly, camper fumbles to reattach, camper (grumbling) resolves to buy a better hose. Who hasn’t done this to one degree or another! It only took us one use of the crappy hose to agree this was a priority. After watching that spectacle, we our looked at each other and smirked. WHO wants a crappy crapper hose? Not us.
But storing the additional 90-degree attachments and the longer 15ft hose was problematic. Brian researched and found the adjustable Sanitube storage tube to hold everything in a sealed container. But he could find no good way to attach it under our van. We really didn't want to store it IN the van (gross) and didn't desire the added length, weight and cost of a Stowaway trailer hitch storage box. So Brian came up with this idea of a “bumper” of sorts, fabricating a 5ft wide bracket made from 1” square steel tubing that attaches the Sanitube to the trailer hitch. As an added feature he welded a step on top to protect the tube, making it easier when getting in and out the back door. He painted the whole thing black to match the tube and added non-slip tape to the step (‘cause he thinks of everything). The whole contraption sticks out only 7 inches from the bumper. After having used it many times now, we are very pleased with our new gadget; it makes an icky job much less so. Plus, we will never be THAT guy.
Amid Brian’s month-long van modification session and the beginnings of my TransUnion death debacle (see last post), we squabbled over what to rename the van. Alas, Brian didn’t like the name Winndigo. Too hard to say. What?! I thought it was cool, whatever. Brian liked Silver Bullet (no way, too much like the Budweiser slogan… wait, I think that IS the slogan). I wanted to name it KYLE: Kickass Yuppie Liveaboard Expediter or TIMMY: Travato Inspires More Miscellaneous Yondering. But Brian didn’t like my Southpark references. Sigh.
What about V-Ger? From the first Star Trek movie “The Motion Picture” (1979 and yes, the worst one) in which the newly self-aware NASA Voyager 6 satellite assumes its name is “V-Ger”, rather than Voyager, because moon dust covered up the “oya” portion of its name on the ships’ hull. Not such a smart satellite. Yeah, we just spoiled the surprise ending if you haven’t gotten around to watch the 40 year old movie yet. Anyway, we feel it’s fitting:
- our silver van looks a little sleek and space-shippy;
- it’s intended purpose is for us to voyage where we haven’t gone before;
- while self-aware satellites (or vans) usually are NOT a good thing, self-aware humans ARE… and so we shall strive, in honor of Spock;
- and finally, if you don’t get a little dirt on your space vehicle, you haven’t really explored!