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"Humble Beginnings"
#21
Progress! We wanted to make it to a vanlife gathering in San Diego this weekend, so the mission was to get the bed done. Around 10pm Friday night we finally finished it (there was a slight incident with power saw on Wednesday that caused some delays). It was great to get out and try our new bed. At 6'1" I'm definitely a bit cramped laying sideways... if my memory is correct I think it's 69.5" wide at our bed's platform height. But, it worked and I sleep in lots of weird positions anyways. If I decide I can't take it, we can build on an extension and turn the mattress. 

Here's the finished framing:
   

And the finished platform with some 1/8" plywood just to keep the memory foam mattress from squishing through over time:
   

And here's a shot of the van gathering on Fiesta Island in San Diego:
   

I never could get all the vans in one shot, but I heard estimates of 35-40 that showed up. It was really cool to meet van people in real life, see their rigs, and talk shop. We met about 6 full-timers; the rest were aspiring vanlifers like us, or weekend warriors. At the end of the night a couple full-timers invited us to their stealth spot for the night... what a welcoming gesture! It felt like our first little taste of REAL van life, even though we've camped in it several times already. 

But, no rest for the wicked! We've got a Yosemite trip in a few weeks and NO cabinets, and our Indel TB51 has shipped but hasn't arrived yet. I've got the sliders for the rear drawers but haven't started building them yet (got some great tips this weekend though!). I still need to wire our RV battery to our starting battery, and I need to double check my roof measurements and place a solar order. Busy busy busy!


Aaron
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#22
Great Job!!
2015 GMC Savannah 2500 van, 480 watts of Solar Panels--and a wonderful furry best friend named Cody. I'm out to change the world!
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HumbleBeginnings (09-12-2017)
#23
Yes looking *very* nice
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HumbleBeginnings (09-12-2017)
#24
We started work on the cabinets this week. I'd like to state for the record at this point that 1) I have never built cabinets before, and 2) I pretty much just have no idea what I'm doing. But... ever onward!!!!

The general idea is to build a frame to hold our stuff (IndelB fridge on a slider, folding table, sink components, water tanks) then figure out how to build doors on the front of it later. How hard can that be? I guess I'll find out.

It doesn't look like much, but this was most of the weekend for me. I'm not particularly great at this so it takes some time. One of the biggest hangups... what is "straight"? When aligning the face of my cabinets, I realized the idea of straight was a bit arbitrary. Do I align it to the wall? The wall is curved. Do I align it to the seam in my flooring? Well, let's just say I installed the flooring so I'm not sure if that is the best idea. Do I make it perpendicular to my bed? See previous comment about who installed the flooring, ditto for the bed.

In the end I made a rectangular frame for the base against the floor, then roughly squared it off between the bed, walls, and flooring seams to come up with something that might possibly be straight enough. I know it doesn't sound like the most technical method, but in the end the alignment will be judged by eyeballs rather than rulers and t-squares so that seemed like the way to go.

Here is what I have so far:
   

I have an EXTENDED E350, and I installed our full mattress sideways to maximize space. Even so, as soon as we started blocking out space for the cabinets it seems like the entire space was consumed in a matter of seconds! It really reminded us that we're talking about living in a van!

It took about seven different rearrangements to finally get everything in the positions you see in the photo. The fuel inlet and wheel well leave just enough space for the 15 gallon water tank. But the other consideration was if it would fit in the orientation you see, or if we would have to turn it 90 degrees. That would have really consumed our storage! Fortunately, I had to deepen the cabinet a couple times to have enough room for the fridge and the handles in order to be able to have a cabinet in front of it. Once that happened, I was able to fit our tank in this way and everything started falling into place.

A note about the fridge, an Indel-B TB51 from Truck Fridge. Dometic seems to be the most popular, but they established their reputation with Danfoss compressors in their fridges. Now I believe they use their own compressors. Does that make a difference? I have no idea. But Danfoss is tried and true. So the question was, should we buy the fridge with the great reputation or the fridge we had never heard of that had the compressor with the great reputation? I was on the fence, but then my girlfriend found Bob's video about the Indel. That sealed the deal! It gave us that little boost of confidence that somebody who knows more about this stuff than we do trusted it. I'm sure we could have been very happy with either one. (We bought the TB51 from truckfridge.com for $550 + $50 shipping, vs the Dometic CFX-50 I think we saw for about $600 with free shipping.)

We also ordered the sliding mount, at the astronomical price of $200 + $35 shipping!!! However, I would have probably spent $100 or more on heavy duty sliders and wood, and the finished product would not have been as nice. So we went with the quality product and I have to say it seems VERY robust! I was shocked at how heavy it is. I just have to compartmentalize how much I spent on that mount and try not to think about it!

Aaron 

Aspiring full-timer
2004 Extended E-350 SuperDuty build in progress 
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#25
In case anybody here is interested in Instagram, we have more pics and info on there: HumbleBeginningsVan

Aaron 

Aspiring full-timer
2004 Extended E-350 SuperDuty build in progress 
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#26
very nice. I didn't see where anybody answered your question about silicone. the problem with silicone is nothing sticks to it and it's very hard to remove. so after you use silicone if you have a leak in the future it's very hard to deal with. I would get some of the good butyl tape and redo it. then once you have resealed it add some self leveling sealant on the seam by Dicor or 3M. highdesertranger
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This world isn't home (10-17-2017), simply lesa (09-22-2017)
#27
The channels in my roof are maybe 1/2" deep and my fan mount crosses two of them... so I have four channels to dam up with some type of seal. My first plan was layers of butyl tape, but that doesn't seem great. Now I feel like I should add something to that, and was considering using this: https://www.amazon.com/AP-Products-017-9...B00O9VFLRS

Does the "dam" I'm talking about make sense? I'll try to take a pic of what I'm talking about. I do have the Dicor, but I want to make sure I'm all done with everything else with my fan then do that last.

Thanks.

Aaron 

Aspiring full-timer
2004 Extended E-350 SuperDuty build in progress 
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#28
I have installed hundreds of roof vents if the butyl was done right it will not leak. however it needs some protection from weathering especially when it's so thick as in the channels. and yes that Sikaflex should work but first I would redo the butyl. in the old days vans had a flat spot for installing a vent. highdesertranger
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The following 2 users say Thank You to highdesertranger for this post:
This world isn't home (10-17-2017), HumbleBeginnings (09-22-2017)
#29
Very nice work! I like your bed build. I think I overbuilt mine a bit with too many 2x4"s, as this cuts down on the underneath storage. Also, completely agree with HD on his preferred vent install sticky stuff. Don't be afraid to go heavy on the sealant!
2015 Chevy Express 2500 Stealth Van named, Seneca Lodge Too.  See you at a racetrack near you soon!
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#30
Thanks! I oriented my 1x3's specifically to maximize the size of my drawers, for example the top cross bar over my drawers is laying flat even though I think it would support my weight on the bed a little better if it was stood up on it's skinny edge. But then it would have protruded down into my drawer space. So, I just added enough flat 1x3's to feel it was strong enough. I think it will be fine... I just built by my gut, I'm not qualified to calculate what the proper build specs would have been. I was an engineering dropout!

I'll post an update if I crash through it!

Aaron 

Aspiring full-timer
2004 Extended E-350 SuperDuty build in progress 
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