Thursday, October 17, 2013

Van Remodel - Part 2

A couple weekends ago the 老公 and I tackled the ceiling & the wall panels, but first we had to deal with an old leak. Back when it was raining cats & dogs over here, we discovered our windows were leaky so we sealed the windows with some silicone caulking on the outside. However, some of that water made it underneath the nice new floors the 老公 put in and made it further into the floors than he had originally treated for. So we had to take out part of the floor to get everything dried properly, which was annoying but 'tis life!

Here you can see how he insulated and built up the floor:
We then proceeded to cut 1/4" plywood for the walls. The 老公 began the process by making cardboard templates for the various pieces. Since the actual panels are much larger than any cardboard we had, he simply used the cardboard for templating the curves/grooves in the corners and measured/trimmed as needed for the other dimensions. I was on hand to help dry-fit the pieces & other small tasks but let's be honest: the 老公 is the power-tool-user out of the two of us. At one point he asked if I wanted to give the jig-saw a try, which resulted in nearly ruining one of the $20 sheets of plywood (not dire, but would be annoying to have to go back to the store and dig through the heavy pile to find another nice sheet!) Luckily the bad cut I made was in the perfect spot for another panel we had to cut later. I partly blame the person who drew the cut line though. You see, I know I'm perfectly capable of using the tools, I just don't use them with the same ease as the 老公! I'll stick to being the creative director on our projects ;)

So to summarize: the ceiling was insulated & the paneling cut & fitted for the ceiling and then wall panels cut for the back half of the van. We didn't install the wall panels yet because the 老公 still needed to run wiring for the lights and I still need to install and vapor barrier the insulation in the top section of the wall. Though after we wrapped up for the weekend, the 老公 went back and did all the wiring. =p We had put up the ceiling panel but then later took it down because the 老公 realized he needed a different gauge wire for the solar panel hook up. While he was hard at work, I researched methods to trim out the windows, which is proving more tricky than one would think! We've been lucky that many before us have converted their vans and have posted blogs/photos of their process that we can reference and get ideas for but it seems there are a very small number of converts out there with rounded windows like ours that need to be trimmed out with custom work! In my online search I came across 3 options: order custom window boxes from a place like Van Specialties, DIY our own window boxes, or mould strips of 2mm polypropylene. In the end, we decided to go with kerfing plywood to get rounded corners.

After the 老公 ran the wiring, we planned out the lighting in the van. We decided on lights for the front seats, lights near the door step well, lights underneath the bed by the back doors, reading lights on either side of the bed, and overhead lighting. The 老公 ordered LED strip lighting for the overhead lighting and we probably won't use it all so I've been racking my brain thinking of a way to DIY our own casing for the LED strip light as all the ones available are expensive and would defeat the savings of "using what we have on hand". But then it came to me! We are thinking we will assemble some sort of track for it out of wood strips. 

Anyways, here's the ceiling framework & insulated with the vapor barrier:
This is how the ceiling panel looked when we installed it and put in the vent fan trim.

Visible progress has been stalled because of the window trim issue: we need to make the window box trim first, then attach it to the wall panel, trace the opening of the window onto the panel, cut out the opening & smooth out, varnish the trim, and then install the panel with window box trim attached. We have faith that everything else will move more quickly once this window thing is figured out. 

Once the walls are up, we'll hopefully have our carpet in for the front area, put the seats back in, install the bed frame, install the water tank/fridge frame, build out the cabinets, and install the sink. We intend to cover the wood wall/ceiling paneling with fabric but when that happens will depend on when we decide to place that fabric order & how long it will take to ship in. We are OK with doing that later if it means everything else is in place & we can use the van sooner! 

Until next time =)

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Van Remodel - Part 1

As some of you may know, last month when the 老公 went to look for a space in the van for a second battery, it quickly snowballed into a full-out gutting of the van and complete remodel. Here are some before pics:

And then this is what I saw after the 老公 went out to the garage and didn't come back in over an hour.

Before any of this started, the 老公 had built a bed that fit inside the van with the back seats out. Yes, that is a queen-sized bed =) He put it in so that we could sleep in the van along our road trip move from the Sierras to the Rockies.
He had designed the bed to fold up so we could still fit the middle passenger seats in.

But after many road trips over the summer, he started thinking that we could do better in terms of insulating for better temperature regulation & more functionality of the space.
This is what our completely-gutted van looked like:

And of course he ended up finding space for the second battery underneath the van! 

The irony was not lost on him. He welded a base for the battery to sit in to be strapped to that is attached to the metal supports for the door step. So now he knows where any future batteries can go since the metal supports are along all the door steps.

The main things we wanted to put in were the following:
- ceiling vent fan
- second battery
- solar panel
- insulation in floors, walls, & ceiling
- bed that split-folds along the length
- sink

And then when the 老公 wouldn't stop saying "there's no reason why we couldn't...", the following were added to the list:
- new door panels
- re-cover the dash
- fridge
- new lights
- new amp & speakers

Needless to say, there's a lot to do! Our goal is to have it in a usable state by Thanksgiving, so at least floor, wall panels, insulation, & bed would be installed.

We are currently at the point of insulating the ceiling, installing vapor barrier throughout, and cutting the paneling for the ceiling & walls. I feel like we're at the hardest part in the process because it's the point right before we start installing the "furniture" & the flooring, which is just too exciting to wait for! But alas, the more work we put in now will pay off when everything gets installed in the end.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Wow, have I really neglected this blog since last December? Oops. Sorry!

Where do I even begin with the updates?? Well after Christmas we flew the 老公's family in for a week, during which we had rented a cabin at the YMCA in Estes Park (highly recommend!). There were lots of climbing trips throughout the winter, along with a handful of snowboarding trips.

Then we got a puppy!
He came to us with mange & the name Mike, but after a month in our care he was all healthy with a nice coat of fur and officially became ours in March under a new name! We named him Enzo after a character in a show the 老公 & I used to watch called Reboot. Apparently the character's name origin was very fitting given the 老公's line of work =) And he's been growing like a weed ever since. We got him at 12 lbs and now he's over 60 lbs at 9 months! Not much of a puppy left in him now. His weight estimate is hard to pin down because he's a mixed breed and the adoption center did not know the parents so we have no idea what mix he is! But the vet guesses german shepherd/heeler/chow mix of some sort. 

Then I went to see a fabulous lady get married!

Then we went to Tahoe with some friends for a quaint little reunion, where the weather was perfect & it was evident to us where Emerald Bay got its name. 

And then we did some more climbing.

...and some more...

At some point I started a garden where watermelons grow.

Then I went climbing some more, followed by steamed bun making for the first time.

And then I went off to see another fabulous lady get married!

Followed by a trip further south to visit the sweetest baby ever

...and lunch with my best friend for her birthday.

While I was gone, the 老公 got working on our camper van.

He's since gutted it, stripped the old wiring for the lights, added a second battery that will be powered by a solar panel, laid insulation and secured a sheet of plywood on the floor, and ordered a whole gamut of stuff to outfit the van. I will be doing a whole other series to document that progress, so for now I will just leave you a link to the Pinterest board I started for the project to track valuable links I've found & pretty things I want to put into the space. This is essentially our vacation "home" so we are putting in the work & money to reflect that.

You might've heard in the news about some flooding going on in CO & I am here to reassure you we are dry and safe and should not be impacted other than having a soggy lawn from all the rain. The sun is finally out now though =) 

Happy weekend for now!