Sunday, September 30, 2012

Driver's Side Insulation

One of my biggest problems with this project is that I haven't planned it out very much. I reach a point every day that I work on it where I kind of freeze up because I suddenly becoming worried about future wiring or future projects that will end up being hindered by something I do today. But the fact is, there's no way I'm capable of planning it out enough. One, I don't really know what I'm doing and two, I just don't have that kind of focus anymore.

This becomes a big problem because in my book the subflooring goes first, then walls and ceiling. These are all the first things! So if I'm just making it up as I go, how am I supposed to know where I need to leave holes for things I haven't figured out yet? Haha.

All of that aside, today I ended up getting the driver's side mostly insulated. Below the line of windows I did my predetermined Reflectix against the skin and then 1" foam sheeting with foil side in. I also covered two of the three windows. I had decided early on that I was going to leave the window next to the bed uncovered. In the end (of course, I guess there's plenty of time before the real "end" of this project), I even decided to use the original plastic trim piece around the window. I figure I'll end up painting it so it's not the original color. I want to make the back of the van to be as non-vanny as I can. In the end this might not be accomplished due to sheer lack of skills on my part but I really want the illusion that once you enter the back portion, you're not in a van, you're in a home. A very tiny home.

Back to the windows I covered. I had been wondering what to do about this for some time, and in the end what I did was the only thing that made much sense and what fit quite well. Earlier in the day I had screwed a 1" x 3" board to one of the metal pieces that ran the length of the van. This is for securing the plywood walls later. It also created a nice tight cavity for the bottom of the 1" foam to fit into to cover the windows. A snug fit along the top is there too. The way the van curves keeps this foam an inch or two or who knows, I didn't measure, away from actually touching the window. Which originally was a concern of mine. I had envisioned something being pressed right up against the window to black it out but then I started to worry about condensation and mold and a slow water damage process. I like the foam. My only concern now is that it's not enough insulation but it's going to have to be. The other 'issue' was how to black out the window. Factory tinted quite dark, but still see through. A lot of materials you could plainly see behind the window. My goal is not 100% stealth but at least if you're from a distance you can't tell something is blocking the window.

I had a couple ideas, nothing really worked. Today I finally took down the ceiling lining and I thought that might be great to put along the foam. It was gray and didn't look too bad really but in the end I had problems with securing it to the foam, the quantity I had, and the quality of it. I went with black trash bags. Wrapped around to the backside of the foam and secured to the foiled side with some Reflectix foil tape that I had. By the time I got this done the sun wasn't shining on that side of the van and it was getting darker out anyway. It looked good being on the shady side. I'm hoping to remember to look tomorrow morning before work when the sun is shining on those windows. It might look hideous. Who knows. Even still, I like the idea and if the trash bags don't work out I'm going to be looking for some better black plastic material with less creases.

So the driver's side is insulated from the floor to the bottom of the fiberglass top. I spent a lot of time staring at that fiberglass top trying to figure out how I'm going to frame it, insulate it, and panel it. Haven't come up with that answer yet.

The bed is removed here. It won't be screwed down permanently probably until I finish insulating and paneling the wall. I'm tempted to start driving the van to work. Besides the problems my other vehicle is having, I'm kind of excited to give the bed a try on my lunch break. Nap times are good.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back at it.

Work on the van had halted. I've been really into the idea of a small motorhome. Something I can stand up in and that gives me the extra foot or two in width compared to the van. But really about the same length as the van. I've got a couple I'm quite interested in, and in theory could afford, but I'd be spending all of my money and that idea scares me.

This afternoon I put some gear oil in the rear diff on the van. Didn't fix the noise. I'm not completely sure where the noise is coming from. But in driving it around and everything I decided I'd stick with the van plan for now, as it's all I've got right now. I ended up buying some more screws, one sheet of plywood for the top of my bed, and 4 sheets of 1" foam insulation with foil on one side.

Definitely been up in the air on the insulation issue but again, I've decided to just to SOMETHING. It seems the walls will now be a layer of Reflectix by the outer skin of the van, and then the 1" foam with the foil facing towards the inside of the van (not sure if that's the way it should be, but I figure foil facing foil would be pointless too), and then 1/4" plywood.

It was getting dark by the time I got home so I just got a little bit of the foam insulation put in and covered with plywood in a small section I had already been working on next to the bed. I got the piece of the plywood for the top of the bed cut, and that was it for the night.

My bed is kind of flimsy and I didn't plan it out. Just built it as I went. But it did support my weight for the minute I laid there tonight. And then I put an old hospital mattress that I got for free from my friend's neighbor a few years ago on it. The mattress itself is quite heavy and I don't like it for that reason. BUT, even with that and myself it held up. Was a little wobbly but I still need to secure the bed and add a bit more support.

So, if you can excuse the blurry phone picture (it was pitch dark), then here is a small picture update.

Ankle update: Still hurts, and is a long way from being healed. The bruising has all finally gone away this week and I've stopped using my air cast, but really should get some other kind of support before I twist it again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I wonder if I'm one of those people that does more thinking about their dreams than actually living their dreams. It would seem that it's in my DNA.

The two times I've managed to break free from my home state and live in my travel trailer, I've always come crawling back after my seasonal job is done. Each time I've intended to stay away. I had plans lined up for afterwards. 'Car troubles' usually send me crawling back, but maybe it's more than that. Maybe that's just a convenient excuse.

Anyway, I worked on the van some more last weekend. Didn't get a whole lot accomplished. Bought some more supplies and started framing out a bed, which might end up getting scraped.

The bigger picture, however, is that the few times I've driven the van around lately I'm becoming increasing aware of a howling, roaring, grinding type noise coming from the rearend. Always while slowing down, and usually starts around 20mph. Maybe it's something as easy as just putting some rear differential fluid in there. I've never done that. Maybe that's not easy at all. But it's possible that it's something larger, more complicated. Maybe even an entire rear end swap is required.

So I'm not sure what to do at this point. I'd hate to back out on the idea and get rid of the van. But I might have to. My daily driver is falling apart too. I'm just waiting for the transmission to give out on that one. Sometimes I hate vehicles. I've spent an awful lot of time and money on them in the last year and a half and I'm still nowhere better than I was before. It might be time to retire the car I've had for 8 years, and the van I've had for 8 months. But then where does that leave me?

Update on the ankle. It goes well. I did end up going to the ER and getting it x-rayed. They said it was just sprained. Numerous people have told me that initial x-rays won't show fractures and they take a while to show up, but I'm not going to get it x-rayed again. Still waiting to see how much the first visit is going to cost me. Most of the initial brusing is gone, or near gone. The bruises have shifted around a lot and the newer ones are still there. I'm still wearing my aircast I got from the ER and walk all day at work.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Twisted Ankle

Here it is, a glorious three day weekend and I was supposed to get a lot done on the van.

Nope. Yesterday afternoon I had just started working on the van and got my first piece of underlayment down and then I twisted my ankle jumping out the side door. Bad. Now it's swollen up and it's impossible to put any weight on it. So much for getting any work done.

I had also planned to take the two old seats out of the van so I could take some pictures of what I've been doing on the inside without things cluttering up the space. Didn't get that far.

I only managed to take one picture right before I twisted my ankle.

Here you can see the Dricore (OSB with plastic underside) as well as the first sheet of the underlayment I'm going to be putting on top of the Dricore. I also put some Reflectix on the far wall yesterday morning when I had a few minutes to spare. Just wanted to see how much of a difference it'd make. Still planning to add some type of other insulation also.