Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Man Van Renovation

After returning from our last trip to Arkansas I decided two things.  One camping is cheaper and two, you miss so much when you are staying in a hotel versus camping. 

I have always loved being outdoors and enjoying nature, but lately we haven’t done as much camping as we used to do.  The main reason, it takes me two hours to get the knots and work the creaks out of my body after sleeping on the ground.  Even with an air  mattresses it is not comfortable.  So we have not done as much camping as we would like to do or used to do.

My husband has a 2001 Chevy Express Cargo Van that he was using for his business but has not used for awhile.  The Man Van as my girls used to call it as they cringed whenever he picked them up from school.  The Man Van is not a bad vehicle it just doesn’t have any of the frills or thrills of our car or suv. The windows have black limo coverings so that you can not see inside and it only has windows on the back doors.  It does have a radio, heat and air conditioning, but that is about it.  Anyway with a little persuasion the Man Van is now mine and the renovation into our new camping van is now underway.

Years ago we used to have a VW camper van.  It was a great little vehicle and we am modeling a lot of the Man Van after it. 

First  gutted the Man Van of its work shelves in the back.  Tune up on the engine, a new power steering pump and he is as good as new, almost.  Most of our vehicles I have given female names but there in no way the Man Van resembles a female name.  Possibly when the conversion is complete, he will look more feminine but for now it is still the Man Van.  The air conditioner needs work and only cools the cab, but not a problem I am going to change out the compressor, accumulator and expansion orifice an several small items and she should be cooling like a champ.

The gutting of the Man Van is completed, and walls ceiling have all been washed down with bleach.  Nothing smells clean like the smell of bleach.  We drew about ten schematics for electrical, redrew, and finally settled on a design we can live with.  We decided on 120 volt AC for the major appliances, air conditioner (separate from the cab), coffee pot (must have without a doubt), laptop, television and a small microwave oven.  I had thought about buying a roof top air conditioner.  Coleman makes some great air conditioners but we did not want to cut a hole in the roof.  Most of the air conditioners also start at 10000 btu which is a lot of btu’s for a van.  We are looking to cool at the most 70 square feet, so I was looking for about 5-6000 btu and that is being generous. 

With the Man Van gutted, the electric has all gone in and the walls and ceilings insulated. We chose foam board for the insulation. Not an easy chore since nothing is flat and the walls are rounded.  But it is completed and the paneling and ceiling are going up.  We chose birch cabinet paneling for the walls and ceiling but haven’t decided on what color to stain it yet.

It is almost time to start choosing the appliances.  The air conditioner is already here and the bed arrived.  So I am heading out to work on the beast that is consuming all my time.