We're looking for the trash fence...

2022 Winter Goals

Posted on Wed 12 October 2022 in ADVVAN

prototype platform bed

The main goal right now is to get the van ready for ski season so we can sleep in the van and be warm. This does not mean a finished interior, but a "campable" interior. We'll be using our Exped mattress, sleeping bags, and our camping kitchen from the Jeep. We'll have a place to sleep, eat and most importantly it will be warm and dry.

In addition to the Minimum Van Project goals, we're also trying to complete some projects which are hard to do to later in the build mostly because they involve cutting holes in the van.

Goals

Platform Bed

The platform bed you see above is just a lazily built prototype. We used 2x12's to create a mounting point for the Ikea Skorva support beams. This is sitting about 38" off the sheet metal floor which will be 36" off the finished floor. We'll be sorting out the final height of the bed and the final bed design in the spring. We want to be able to sit up in bed and have room underneath for our systems and toys like biks, SUPs, skis, etc..

We definitely will not be using the 2x12's as the final bed suport. They are too heavy and take up 4" in width. Even in this prototype, we'll be cutting them down so a platform can extend out beyond and into the wall cavities. The Exped is longer than the area you see Dawn laying down in.

Subfloor

The flooring install is a variation of what many vanlifers do with some slight improvements. We're using 1/2" Coosa Board instead of 1/2" plywood. Coosa board is lighter, as strong, and will not absorb water. Foamular NGX 250 XPS insulation will be used instead of the 150 you can get at big box stores. The 250 can has a higher compression rating and the NGX is a more "green" product. On the bottom Soundsulate 1b mass-loaded vinyl for sound deadening. All of this will be glued together in layers as it is installed. We'll likely hold off on the Lonseal vinyl until spring.

One thing others commonly do is filling in all the ridges in the floor. Its our belief that you will get moisture in the van no matter what you do so you want to allow for air flow and drainage.

I'll provide more details on the electrical and the heating system in future posts.


Installing Amazing Auto Seat Swivels

Posted on Wed 28 September 2022 in ADVVAN

Amazing Auto Swivels Installed

We installed the Amazing Auto seat swivels which are the only option for the 10 way power sears. It seems as though there are manufacturing variations both in the seat swivel and the Ford Transit seat riser as many people report wildly different experiences with the installation experience. For us, it was OK, but we had to hammer down two little tabs on the riser so the seat swivel's holes would line up with the riser's holes. Not a big deal.

One other area of installation disagreement is if you need to disconnect the battery since you are disconnecting the seat wiring which is connected to the air bags in the 10-way leather seats. We did disconnect the battery, but I don't know if it was necessary.

After the installation, I can see it was always going to have been be a huge pain in the butt to access the starter battery under the driver's seat. With this (any?) swivel installed this just get worse. I am planning to add external terminals so we could jump start or charge the van without taking apart the driver's seat.

Battery disconnected

Seat wiring harness

View under passenger seat

Cut off the loop on the back of passenger seat


Ford Transit 3D Scan for Design Work

Posted on Thu 22 September 2022 in ADVVAN

3D Scan and Fusion 360

I went to Calgary, AB back in August to visit Rapid 3D, who sell 3d scans of popular vans. Unfortunately they didn't have a 2022 Ford Transit LWB AWD HR in their inventory, so we worked out a deal for them to scan Van Luna.

I drove up and spent a good night at Robinson Lake Campground before crossing the border into Canada and driving the rest of the way to Calgary. This was my first solo long-trip in the still empty cargo van, and it drives awesome. The Ecoboost has a ton of power and the longer wheelbase tracks straighter and is an easy drive on the freeway compared to our Jeep Renegade's shorter wheelbase.

Once at Rapid3D I met with with Cesar and the gang who showed me around and then got to work. It would take them three days to do the scan and a week or so to prep the files to be usable for DIYers and Upfitters.

RAPID 3D Scan

If you'd like some tips on how to use the mesh files in Fusion 360, Rapid3D put a nice how-to on LinkedIN. Also convenient, Fusion 360's September update had huge perf improvements for working with Meshes.

One of the great things about the accurate scans is using them to place drawn objects and plan as in the picture above. The other useful thing is being able to extract outlines of shapes to use for things like cutting floor panels on CNC.

I'm a novice CAD user, but so far this has been a good process and fun to learn. Thanks to the whole gang at Rapid3D!


Hydronic Updates

Posted on Tue 16 August 2022 in advvan

Hydronic System Diagram 20220816

After many hours of research, I've answered some of my questions I mentioned in Hydronic System Planning, so it is time for an update.

Did I miss anything? :-)

Yes. since I plan to isolate the house sytem from the engine system, a coolant expansion tank is needed. The expanstion tank cap will be the highest point in the system. It is the kind of tank that is pressurized (7PSI). If the system is too full or boils over, the capp will open and release coolant out the vent hole. It can be run out of the van or into an overflow tank. Overflow tank is nice if you don't want evey spill coolant on the earth or fear you migth overfill. But it is not necessary in our application.

3 Way Valve Control

Can the the EastStart Pro control the Eberspächer 3-way valve so I can run the coolant pump and circulant coolant through the plate heat exchanger? I believe residual heat mode will run the pump, but I’m not sure about the valve.

No. The EasyStart Pro only connects to and controls the furnace. It can not control the Silencio 2 (air matrix \ radiator) or the valve.

Further, the Eberspächer valve is an automated valve, not a relay controlled valve. It is not suitable for this use case, where we want to control water flow to our preferences.

Can also add the EasyStart Web to the system?

Yes. But Not in the U.S. This controller has its own builtin in LTE connectivity. It is only available in certain countries.

Silencio Contoller

I’ve looked through the EasyStart Pro Installation, Instruction and Wiring diagrams. I don’t see how the EasyStart Pro wires up and how it controls the Silencio 2.

Sadly, it does not also control the Silencio 2, or any air matrix \ radiator fans. This is very disappointing as it means having to controllers. Seems like a real miss. In an Air heater solution, the Pro will control the whole system, this limitation is only for the hydronic heater.


Awesome Ford Transit

Posted on Tue 02 August 2022 in advvan

"Awesome Lists" are very popular in the tech world. They are well-formatted lists of helpful things for developers many times.

This list is an Awesome Ford Transit Resources List. Curated links to awesome stuff for your Ford Transit.

You can make a pull request to add to the list, or get a hold of me and I'll do it.

Enjoy!


Hydronic System Planning

Posted on Fri 29 July 2022 in Advvan

First system design discusion !

I've looked at several paths to achieve a comfy camper with warm showers and hand washing. This can be done many ways and you can find them all online, so I won't get too far into the other options. But this approach with a single Eberspächer Gasoline furnace which heats coolant that is then used to heat water or the camper was my preferred approach. The main advantage to me was the single furnace system and not using AC (see the common Bosche heaters) except when on shore powr.

The main goals and requirements of the system are as follows:

  • Runs off the gasoline fuel tank
  • Camper heating while driving and camping
  • Water heating while driving and camping
  • Shore power water heating
  • Engine system isolated from camper and water heating
  • Engine coolant heat can be used to heat water without extra furnance
  • Remote (over the internet) Control

System Diagram

Hydronic System Diagram

Major Components

  • Eberspächer S3 Economy B5E Kit Part Number: 29.2135.30.0021
  • S3 B5E gasoline (petrol) furnace w\ High Altitude
  • Water (coolant) Pump (12v)
  • Fuel pump (12v)
  • EasyStart Pro Controller
  • 300mm Fuel Pickup
  • Muffler
  • Wiring harness
  • and more …
  • Silencio 2 Air Matrice (12v) Part Number: 41T0034
  • Eberspächer 3-Way Valve (12V) Part Number: 29.2180.01.0030
  • Kuuma 6gallon Hydronic Water Heater (w\AC heater)
  • Single-wall plate heat exchanger
  • T Check Valve
  • Coolant reservoir

Remaining Open Items

  1. Did I miss anything? :-)
  2. Can the the EastStart Pro control the Eberspächer 3-way valve so I can run the coolant pump and circulant coolant through the plate heat exchanger? I believe residual heat mode will run the pump, but I’m not sure about the valve.
  3. Can also add the EasyStart Web to the system?
  4. I’ve looked through the EasyStart Pro Installation, Instruction and Wiring diagrams. I don’t see how the EasyStart Pro wires up and how it controls the Silencio 2.

Meet Van Luna

Posted on Tue 28 June 2022 in ADVVAN

2022 Ford Transit 350 AWD Cargo Van

16 June we picked Van Luna our 2022 Ford Transit 350 AWD Cargo Van.

We ordered the van in October 2021. Then the waiting and hoping to get a VIN, which is the golden ticket, letting us know our van would actually be built. In April we recieved the email from Ford with our VIN and then we waited for Chris Reade at Evergreen Ford in Issaquah to let us know when the can arrived.

I won't go into every little decisions we make, but as we do our build becuase there are so many good posts and DIY builds we're copying. I will do write-ups similiar to those we did for s/v Deep Playa when I think there is more to share, or when I feel like writing things down.

Here are some common quetions we get asked though:

q: Why Van Luna?

Dawn named the van. We both love to go stargazing and with her silvery paint she just felt like a Luna.

q: Why a Ford Transit?

1) AWD 1) Because they're less expensive and parts are readily available in smaller rural towns.

q: Why not buy a fully built van or a kit?

We enjoy this stuff. We enjoy the project, the learning that goes into the build, and making our own compromises vs. living with the compromises someone else made.

q: Which Transit did you get?

spec value
Year 2022
Make & Model Ford Transit 350
Body Type LWB Cargo Van
Drive Train AWD
Engine 3.6L Ecoboost
Color Silver Ingot

q: How long will the build take?

Forever. :-)

I think we'll always be tweaking it. But the short term plan is to get the van ventilated and insulated so we can use it for rough camping this summer. Then to work on a more permanent bed and heating so we can use it as a ski van this winter.

After that, we'll work on the planned large electrical system and more finished carpentry.

q: What are you going to do with Artie McFarti the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk?

Artie will still be our daily driver and there may be times we plan to go place Luna can't fit or can't get to, that the nimble Jeep Renegade can easily go.


Jeep Renegade Modifications - Making Artie More Awesome

Posted on Sun 08 May 2022 in Projects

Omaha Orange

Artie has been amazing and reliable adventure buddy. Dawn and I love seeing his bright Orange glow when we come back to a parking lot after a day in the mountains.

The Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is not a Wrangler Rubicon, or a Sportsmobile. However, for the forest service roads we venture down its a very capable truck for our needs. We've only twice gotten stuck. One was due to poor judgement when I drove into snow that was too soft and high-centered the whole Jeep. The other was with friends and were just trying to see if we could get up a steep hill and up a log. I think if I had gunned it or didn't have so much gear in it at time it could have done it. But this was just a for fun thing. There was actually no reason to go that way, there was a perfectly easy road we could have gone around this section.

Rear Seats

The one thing we were struggling with was our camping setup and bringing gear. We never take passengers in our vehicle so we decided that the back seats were really in the way. Lots of other vehicles have after market kits to replace rear seats with flat panel systems and access hatches. A "Rear Seat Delete" package does not exist for for the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk so we made our own.

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Rear Seat Delete

This is the completed platform. You'll notice we cut the cup holders out of the arm console and made a spot for tissues. These are both easy to access even when driving. The whole thing comes by removing two bolts if needed for repairs or accessing the fuel pump. Before assembly we put down some rattle trap. The foam of the seat absorbed a lot of noise and this helps with that.

The platform has a lot of room underneath which we access from the sides and and it gives a nice large flat rear cargo area for loading in gear.

One thing I would do differently, is not paint the platform with bedliner. We've scratched helmets and goggles on the rough surface. We plan to resurface it with a rubber mat.

Image

We also added Maxtrax to our recovery kit. They would have been great that time in the snow, but they'll be really useful as ramps when we need that extra bit of ground clearance.

Maxtrax

Water Tank

When we go camping, we bring 5 grocery store jugs of water. Sometimes we refill existing jugs, sometimes we buy new ones. All of this creates plastic waste and it is not ideal to work with jugs of water instead of pressurized water like we had on the boat. Easy fix, buy a tank, hook up a pump and you have a portable water system. (see pic above.)

iPad Dash Mount

In the RV we used an iPad for navigation. That RV was from the 80's so it didn't have a big screen or navigation, but even the Jeep with its own screen doesn't have good integration with the iPhone and Apps.

The main issue was where to mount the Ram Mount attachment. Again, there is no turnkey solution for the Renegade so I had to design something. I started with the Ram Mount ball on the back of the center console air vent but that placed the screen really high, almost cent of the windshield. The approach I'm currently using is this prototype wedge I fabricated in the shop.

Prototype

This wedge tilts the ball forward which then enables the iPad to be lower. The main issue is the Ram Mount arm has limited mounting angles. Since I've made this, I've also been thinking about using an piece of 90 degree aluminum so the ball is mounted horizontally. But as-is, I'm going to use two arms and see how that goes on my next trip. Even if we stick the wedge, it will be redone to be the full width of the Ram Mount track and painted black or CNC'd out of black UHMW plastic or Delrin.

1UpUSA Bike Rack

1Up USA Bike Rack

We recently bought gravel bikes and need a way to mount them that would hold up off-road.I won't go super into details, 1UP has a great website. But the rack doesn't wiggle or make any noise at all. So far we love it. I might add a swing-away arm and\or a adapter to raise it up some. We'll see if that is needed after the next trip.


COVID Times

Posted on Sun 08 May 2022 in Landlubber Life

Last night, I updated the version of Pelican I use to generate the site, and fixed A LOT of layout issues with articles that I never cleaned up when we switched from using Wordpress. Still a lot of bit rot links that are gone forever, links to spreadsheets, etc.. But as I did that it was a lot of fun to take a trip down memory lane and remember all the fun things we have been so priviledged and fortunate to be able to do.

Let's get back into that !

Wow, last update was in January 2020 when we went to Winter Park. Well in February of 2020 we went to Zermatt for our 10th Wedding anniversary with friends. It was an amazing trip. Zermatt is so beautiful.

Aniversary Gang

This was right when COVID was starting to become the big news story. And from Zermatt we skied into Northern Italy which was a COVID hot bed at the time. One our friends thinks she got COVID either on this trip or the wayback, but the rest of us faired well.

When we got back to Seattle, Dawn was first asked to work from home because she had been travelling, but the next week the whole company went to work from home.

We still skied during COVID and that was such a stress reliever. We thought about geting kayaks. Couldn't find any. Also it would have been hard for us to store them.

View of Artie

Still did some camping with friends. Socially distanced at the time because no one was vaccinated. Artie has been such a joy to give us a way to get out when the times were more scary. I will do some posts about Artie soon, as we've made some modifications.

Through these times, we've been careful, but not completely shut-ins (well except in the beginning). I had been going to Kraken Games, until they stopped asking (they never enforced) mask wearing. Kraken hockey games have been so much fun.

Release The Munky

Both Dawn and I are life long Flyers fan it is a little weird to now have two teams, but going to games is a blast and it helps when your seats are amazing.

Kraken Hockey

I'm not going to rehash two plus years of generally miserables times. But even with that, it was not all bad, and it is good we remember to make great things happen even when the days are dark as night.

Adventure is a foot!

Dawn and I have many irons in the fire and planning new and exciting adventures. With that, I plan to get back into the blog as it is a great time capsule and ocassionally its been enjoyable and helpful to others as well.


Winter Park Resort

Posted on Tue 07 January 2020 in Destinations

Untitled

We spent Christmas Ever through New Year's Eve at Winter Park Resort in Colorado. We chose Winter Park because the ski-able terrain resort looked immense (it is) and it had no blackout days with our Ikon Base Pass.

The whole West was suffering some from lack of snow so I didn't get to ski all the things, especially the side-country areas in Vasquez. So it was a lot of groomers which was fun and good to work the legs into shape. I put in 23K vertical feet one day.

They do a great job grooming the mountain. And because of that every lift has a Green and Blue run and most also have Diamond and Double Diamonds, so from one lift your whole group can ski what they like and then regroup at the bottom. I definitely recommend Winter Park for families and groups where everyone is not the same skill level.

Dawn took a full-day lesson one day and she really loved the instructor and the lesson. The class was focused on improving your parallel skiing. She feels like she got a lot out of it. I can also say, her skiing improved as well. (Solid skills are the foundation of a lifelong love of skiing!) The instructor was soo friendly. I ran into the class on the mountain and he took our picture. He didn't need to do that, it was very nice of him.

Ikon Pass Experience

Winter Park is a fully digital lift experience, which let's you walk up, scan your Ikon Pass trough your parka and use the lift. No need to stop by the ticket booth lines or barcode scanners. In addition, on-mountain you can pay with your Ikon Pass and get discounts on food and other purchases (t-shirts, stickers, gloves, etc.) the Ikon Pass was a great experience at Winter Park.

Travel

We flew Alaska Airlines to Denver and then took Home James Shuttle to the hotel. Flight was great, and Alaska is used to handling Skis so he whole experience was seamless.

You meet Home James Shuttle at the airport and they drop you off at your Hotel. Shuttles are High Roof passenger vans, very comfy. Easy Peasy! On your way back to the airport, the shuttles can get off schedule. I would plan to take the shuttle that is the one before the one you think you need to take. Give yourself extra time. You may think you'll have 1.5 hours when you get to the airport, but you'll end up with 50 minutes and no time to eat or whatever else you need to do. Just pad your schedule, their website will let you cut it too close.

Lodging

We stayed at the Viking Lodge. Its a very affordable lodge which at the time of our visit was also being remolded. This place is very cute and the people are super nice. I am sure once the remodel done prices will go up. Beds were comfy mail-order type memory foam mattresses. I had never slept on one of these, and was worried, but it was comfy. They offer pod-coffee in the lobby where you can also sit on coaches by the gas fireplace and read a book by the Christmas tree. It was a place to relax.

The hotel also has outdoor lockers to hold your skis. They will hold up-to 2 pairs. It was nice to have and right on your way in. I've stayed at other places where you had to go down into the basement to locker your skis which was less preferred.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Viking to travelers who don't like to spend their whole budget on hotel rooms and when the remodel is done, I think the charm will grow exponentially!

Dining

!! FOOD DESSERT WARNING !!

If you are arriving to Winter Park after 8pm on any day, depending on your dietary needs, you may have limited or NO options to get food. We arrived on Christmas Eve and NOTHING was open. McDonald's was closed. We ate some bars we brought with us and some chips from the vending machine at the Best Western. We could have grabbed some food at the airport before we got on the Shuttle. I wish Home James or the Viking had mentioned this.

On-Mountain and In-Village

Snoasis

This place needs to be remodeled. I guess its the cheap place to eat on the mountain. I thought it was dirty and not up to the standards of the rest of the resort and the food was not interesting or good. I wish we had not gone in.

They were playing a Jazz Station from Denver on the PA outside the DJ was straight outta the Beatnik playbook. Very funny and great music!

Sunspot Mountain Top Lodge & Provisioner

I had the chicken noodle soup, solid soup soo good when its 10F outside. It was PACKED.

We had a drink one afternoon at the bar. They cannot make a Manhattan. Order a beer or something on their cocktail list.

Lunch Rock

OMG the Chicken Confit Pot Pie is soo good. Seriously. Just go and eat it. The Green Chili is also good. But order the pot pie again the next day too. ;-) It was PACKED.

Doc's Roadhouse Food good, the sausage appetizer is 3/4s of a pig I think. So plan accordingly. We sat the bar and the service was horrible, waiting for drinks, waiting to order food. It was not busy and the bartender was chatting up everyone else working instead of waiting on customers. (Bad service is a thing in Winter Park... there were lots of help wanted signs in town.)

Mary Jane Ale House

Solid Beer. Not more to say other than again... crappy service. Sitting at the bar and no they will not ask if you want anything... ever. You have to interrupt the straightening of coasters.

Vertical

Vertical has hands down the best pork chop I have ever eaten. Go there. Eat things. Be Happy. The baked Avocado was also soo good. I'm going to have to try that at home.

Untitled

We again sat the the bar and it was busy but I thought this bartender did a good job keeping up. the food though was soooo good!

In Town Dining

Deno's

We prebooked (weeks ahead) a reservation for 7pm for Christmas dinner. We were given a crappy table under the stairs. Staff could NOT deal with the traffic at all. What I wanted to order (the special for tonight) was unavailable. Fine, I guess... mind you its 7pm not 10pm. So, I had to then wait 20 minutes for the waiter to come back and take our order. They do have an extensive wine list if you can afford it. I've had 1975 Mouton its not worth $800.

The food we finally did get was good but not great. My thought on Deno's is order a steak. If you don't eat steak don't go to Deno's. It seems to be what they do, it was my fault for thinking I could eat something else. (I don't usually eat steak.)

Paella's

Really good. Great Service. Staff super friendly. Best place we ate in Winter Park.

Casa Mexico

Solid Mexican. I had the Pollo Mole which was great. I'm picky about my mole. The bartender was super friendly and funny.

If you're really nice they'll give you a shot from the hoof!

The Peak Bistro and Brewery

We went on Sunday. Last Day of the Regular Season Sunday. The staff was SLAMMED although the place had just turned over 1/2 the tables (1/2 empty). Sitting at the bar did not yield faster service. I don't blame the staff on this one, clearly they lacked the people to deal with the size of this venue. The bartender was also busing tables.. The staff was nice though and I could tell they were also frustrated. Beer... very good. Food... good quality bar food. Solid. Nothing you've never had, but a solid brew-pub.

Ciao Monte

I had the lasagna, REALLY good. Also order a salad though, its not huge. It is the right serving you should eat. You just might also want a salad.

Dawn had a salad that looked nothing like the photo and it was extremely boring and meh. I think all their photos are from stock photos and not of their actual food. Read the descriptions carefully.

The Perk

Great coffee comfy seating. All you need. They share space with a high-end outdoor retail shop so you can look at that too.

Other Places

Green Spaces Co-Working

We need to put in a day of work so we hit up the Green Spaces co-working. The place is super functional, the guy working the desk was very nice. Everyone was wearing their Everest expedition down jackets because it was cold. The exposed concrete in the couch alcoves and the exposed metals beams were the s ame temperature as outside (it was 6F or maybe 12F that day). I think the place is new, I'm sure they'll fix that.

Otherwise, we were very happy with the network and the coffee. Dawn had phone meetings the phone booths were great. They had these suction cup desks on the window so you could also stand up if you wanted. I liked the space, it just needs a couple tweaks.

The Foundry (Movies and Bowling)

We just walked through here and it was adorable inside. Newly renovated the place is done very well and it was very busy\popular. I wish we had time to bowl, it looked fun!