Starlit Rambler - Adventure Travel Our Way
Without further a-due, we would like to share with you the progress we have made on the Sprinter Van and the steps we have taken thus far. Let's say it has been a full two months of brainstorming ideas, developing plans, then revisiting the creation of ideas and plans multiple times. I think I have decided this much brainstorming may not be healthy, but I am the type to thrive on the last minute flawless idea that came together by circumstance. Jeremy, on the other hand, is much like his Dad, thriving on the development of multiple creative ideas even after we finally agreed on one. To say the least, the amount of research we have completed on all subject matters concerning Sprinter Vans and similar topics has taught us so much in a lot of areas we had no knowledge prior. On contrary, like most concepts in life, the more you know, the more you question, and the more you revisit your decisions.
If you are wondering what our research has entailed, here is a small glimpse of the complexity of such vehicles if you really dive into it. To utilize existing paneling or plywood, need of foam insulation for paneling, types of fabric for indoor paneling. What does 12V vs 120V vs Amps vs Watts all mean!? 12V vs two 6V deep cycle batteries vs multiple battery brands vs battery Amp/hrs. Degree of watts utilized for daily electrical functioning, which determines how many watt Solar panels needed. Solar energy vs charging battery off van alternator, deciding on the many components necessary for each system. 3 way refrigerator (utilizing propane) vs 12V refrigerator vs Yeti cooler. Ventilation system through roof van and whether or not to add additional posterior windows. No less the mere layout of the van in order for it to contain inside space for 2 whitewater kayaks, 2 mountain bikes, 2 paragliders, canyoneering/climbing/backpacking gear for 2, bed, galley, and storage. Not forgetting rear indoor space for the potential small 150cc dirtbike that would be utilized for self-shuttling during many of these activities.
When a project like this is conceived, most like us, are naive to the endless possibilities. By heightening your mental capacity you start to realize how this kind of creation can go in so many directions from a grand scale to basic. Even though our sprinter van will have far more comforts then my backpacking tent and small sedan I once completed a two month road trip in, we decided for our purposes an original focus on gear storage and "basic" is best.
As we furthered our education on the Inter-webs and a great handbook 'The Sprinter RV Conversion Sourcebook', we conceived our skeleton plan that would work efficiently for us. After writing down several of the items we agreed on, I came up with a drawing of the proposed layout..
Due to how ridiculously 'not-to-scale' my drawing was, Jeremy created a 'to-scale' version of the van. I still believe my drawing allows for an easier imagination of the layout.
The layout may be one of the few things that we have not altered from multiple times to only return to the original idea. I do understand better now how building something with a partner can be a relationship builder or killer. So far we continue to make progress.
Following plan drawings, we removed existing panels and bought supplies for buffing out rust spots on exterior to then cover the lower portion of van with spray rhino liner. Proceeded with consultation from our mechanic friends at 'A Rusted Development,' located in Heber, UT, which resulted in replacement of the van's breaks, rotors, fuel filter, air filter, oil filter, and is currently welding the wall rails for our three panel bed system. We decided on the three panel bed system to allow for movability, since they can stack upon themselves. The panel bed creates for increased gear space whenever desired, hopefully not during sleeping hours.
We have also decided on a headliner fabric for the interior upper wall panels, taking out the step of creating a foam layer. Sheet metal was simultaneously decided on while choosing the panel fabric, due to the need of a more rugged material for the lower gear space. Much thanks for Beth's help with these fabric decisions and cutting out the fabric for each panel. Following the great fabric debate, we started ordering the larger necessary items. Items that recently arrived at our home include one overhead ventilation fan with remote/rain sensor/reverse mode, one 12V 200Amp/hr deep cycle battery, two 100W solar panels, other necessary electrical components, and ARB 50Qt 12V refrigerator. Soon to follow will be mock installation for sizing, foam insulation, electrical wiring, DIY bench and galley building, and a few more orders for necessary supplies.
With a hopeful departure date of 1st week of May, we have a ways to go but it's coming along. Our friend Jason, owner of Ledyard Homes, who has been ample in our 'stoke department' and electrical knowledge, will be installing the insulation/wiring. Favorite Jason quote, "You are building a van, not curing cancer." This statement has reminded us to keep it all in perspective and enjoy the journey, even when solely camping in a tent might seem extremely enticing.
On a side note.....we ventured to Crested Butte, Co this past weekend to visit with our friends that live there and partake in the beautiful outdoors that resides. After a great powder ski day, snowmobiling, skinning, backcountry cabin, and local flavor activities with fantastic company we proceeded to the Banff Mountain Film Festival that happened to be in town. One of the several great films that really caught our attention, DamNation, is 100% worth checking out and getting involved in. You will be blown away in what you never knew and how much a difference your awareness and signature can create. That being said my sister (April) who is audacious, adventurous, highly intelligent, professional whitewater kayaker, and environmental scientist for the State of California is partaking in a cause that corresponds with the DamNation project. Check out her project and consider a contribution! She will be launching even more information about the cause on International Rivers Day, this Saturday, March 14th. Check back here and on our Facebook page for more information.
Thank you all for your thoughts and support!
Author: Rachelle McEwen
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