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.


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.


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.


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!

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.


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.


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.


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.

Thinking of Dive Hookahs

Posted on Fri 08 June 2012 in Projects

I want to build a 12VDC Hookah which will support two divers while cleaning the bottom of our boat (6 feet). We don’t have room to store one of the floating motorized version, but we have plenty of room to mount one inside the boat.

Here are the basic features \ design elements I’m looking to include.

  • 2 Divers for shallow dives less than <30 Feet. 90% of the time < 6eet while we clean the boat bottom
  • 12VDC Compressor with switch to cycle on\off to fill reservoir tank
  • Reservoir tank to allow air from compressor to cool, and to keep compressor from running continuously
  • 40 Micron particle filter
  • 4-5 CFM @ 45PSI minimum 100-150PSI maximum

If you have built something or have comments on the specs, let me know!

Trying to wrap things up

Posted on Mon 19 September 2011 in Fuel

We're still in Charleston. Still trying to get all systems back online. The main part of the project removing the engine and putting in a new fuel tank are completed. Friday we along with Kyle from Tarheel Aluminum Fabrication lowered the engine back through the companion and set it on its new mounts! Saturday we finished hooking up the engine, new 100amp alternator and external three-stage regulator. This morning we start the engine for the durst tine and it fired right up, but the regulator is not coming on, which means we can't charge the batteries without shore power. the engine is also running a little hot.

I spent most of today working on the regulator with the voltmeter checking how things were hooked up. I won't bore you wight the details on that, but I think it's a problem with the ground and a call to Balmar tomorrow should resolve that.

As for the engine temp, we need to make sure there's no air in the cooling system which seems pretty straightforward.

In addition to all that Dawn has also been working n some teak projects, stripping the cetol from the hand railings in the cabin top and she sanded down the campionway hatch boards and trim. It's going to look amazing when she's done!!!

We are definitely feeling the need to head south, but also seeing that the immediate weather patterns aren't looking great either. When the engine is 100% we'll start looking to pick our window to jump to SF or maybe another intermediary stop like Port Orchard or Eureka.

Still not done

Posted on Fri 19 August 2011 in Projects

When we were still on the dock at Shilshole we'd get asked all the time "when you going to be done?" And I'd always say, "never!" Well, in that spirit you should know that we're not done yet!

Today I worked on adding six new switches to control some functions of the AIS and power on/off various components of what we call the NavSystem. The new switches will allow us to turn off the transmit portion of our AIS to save power or avoid being tracked by CB. The other switches will allow us to turn off the PC, WiFi Bridge, LAN/USB Hub, and the NMEA 2000 network (instruments). All of these things used to come on or off all at once, now we can more granularly control our power usage, which us very good thing!!


Chainplates : Before and After

Posted on Tue 31 May 2011 in Projects

Here’s a series of shots of polishing and installing our chainplates. We polished them by hand starting by cleaning them with water and a scouring pad, then sanding them with progressively higher grained papers. The first go was with 100 grit and we ended up at 1200 grit. Mounting the paper to a board or a table was helpful, but this is intense labor and is very hard on the hands. However, paying someone to do it ridiculous. We did not put the chainplates (or any of the rigging we polished) on an actual polishing wheel, the 1200 grit seemed like it was as good as we were going to get.

As as DIY projects go, this is pretty easy one and just requires sandpaper, a bunch of free time (or late nights in my case) and a desire to stick through it.

Thanks to Port Townsend Rigging for the tips and the encouragement!

DSC_7136 Here’s the chainplate pulled and lying on the deck when we were in the paint shed back in November 2010.

DSC00323 After cleaning them up we marked where the deck would be and covered that area with butyl.

DSC00340 The butyl was then tamped down by hand until it was a bit recessed to the deck (no shot of that)

image The small space was then filled with Sika Flex, the chainplate covers were installed and any excess Sika Flex was cleaned off.

DSC00342 A shot of the bolted on chainplate and the green bonding wire (which were also replaced) from below decks.

These pictures were taken in May 2010 and thus far we have had no chainplate leaking. (knock on teak)

New Nav Station Bench and Desk Completed

Posted on Sat 16 April 2011 in Interior

New Nav Station Bench and Desk

I am very pleased to show off the new nav station bench and and desk. This replaces the cooler and board I’ve been using for years. You can see more pics of the pieces coming together on flickr.

The 1/2” cabinet grade teak has all been finished with at least 4 coats of varnish. The desktop has an additional coat of a heavy duty varnish.

You can probably make out the hinges in the bench, it does open and has a pretty decent amount of storage.

The only thing left to complete is to put a locking clasp of some kind on the lid.

In addition to the desk I also mounted the new 19” Viore LED Monitor (LED19VH50). That’s the large monitor on the right of the picture. It’s mounted with a standard VESA mount and can directly off of 12VDC!!! The size of the monitor is important because It’s mounted on a door that opens and the monitor has to swing over the top of the original desk.

I’m VERY excited to have this completed. Next step in the aft berth is to put up the headliner; things are coming together !!!

Today’s Miracle–Threaded Inserts

Posted on Sun 13 March 2011 in Projects

I have been looking for  way to attach the teak hatch to the bow bulkhead that allows access to the new chain locker. Previously this area was just an empty storage area and the hatch was held in place poorly and frequently popped out. With the new chain locker and the interior panel of starboard securing the chain, the teak cover is less important to hold stuff in, but with only a 1/2” of bulkhead to which to fasten the hatch how to do was becoming a concern. I had thought about using a tee-nutimage, but that would require removing the chain to access the interior of the locker again. Not something I wanted to be doing any time soon.

Low and behold I happened on the threaded insert at my local hardware store. It is basically a sleeve with wood threads on the outside and 1/2-20 machine threads on the inside. With a 1/4-20 cap screwimage to be tightened by hand… PERFECT!

Here’s a pic of today’s miracle