Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Van..........Long Haul.

I drove the van to Cincinnati from Marshall last Sunday.....Here are the stats...

1 Full tank of gas.....31 gallons
Still on that tank.....395 miles later
Van ran like a champ
Guessing I am getting around 14-15 MPG

That is all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

been a while... I have been neglecting this blog a bit as I have been working on my new tiny house but here are a few updates from the Vandaminium....

I am getting ready to head to Cincinnati for my tree gig. I have been doing this for the last three years and it has proven to be a great way to make some cash for the winter. The downside is that it is 6 hours away. The van seems to be running strong so I am pretty confident that I will have a good trip. We will be staying in an old kindergarten up there. We had a great house to sleep in last year but that has been rented and this year we will be crashing in an old school. Prolly creepy.

My new headhunting job is going well. I am making a lot of phone calls and although I have not gotten any fantastic resumes in I am sure that if I stick with it I will make some money next year. As it stands I am working 20 hours a week at 10 dollars an hour which is plenty to survive on. The money that I make at trees..I plan on putting into the cabin.

I have not purchased any new van living gear. My Zodi shower crapped out on me. The pump went. It's not a big deal as I wanted to switch to a 12v pump anyway. I will wait on this. I have been living at our outpost which has hot water. I can fill a bucket up and use my fountain pump shower (more on that later).

There are a few items that occasionally live in the van with me....namely a Travelchair camp table and a camp kitchen stand that I got at Wally World...

First off....The table. It is great. It is lightweight, sturdy, easy to assemble and easy to clean. The only downside is that it has a bunch of parts. The leg assembly, the table top and 4 "tent pole" pieces that I am afraid I may lose. They are not shock corded (which would be great) and the bag that holds the table is pretty loose at the top. That being said, I have had this table for almost 7 years, used it hundreds of times and it spent 27 days on the Grand Canyon with no issues. I love this table! It does take up valuable cargo space so it does not live in the van but it's always close for camping/boondocking trips.

The "camp kitchen" is a different story. The link above is for a nicer one from Amazon and anyone thinking of getting one I would suggest anything but the model that I bought at wally world. It works and it's light but it is flimsy and complicated and not that well made. The one from Amazon is much nicer (a friend has it) and I would recommend that one.

That's it for now....back to work on my tiny house....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adding a second battery to your rig.

Adding a second battery does two things...

1. It allows you to run your extra van electronics longer and...
2. It ensures that your starting battery will have enough juice to get you going in the morning.

I have always had 2 batteries in my van but one of them was a jumpstart battery pack that I only used to power a small fan in the summer. I had a 12v solar panel to charge it and I would put it out during the day to charge. The battery pack worked but when I added the Edgestar fridge I quickly realized that I needed a second, high capacity battery to run it and a way to charge that battery.

I settled on a type 27 marine battery from Advance Auto Parts. I bought it and a plastic battery box and some heavy gauge hookup wire. I also ordered a battery isolating solenoid from

I built a small tray inside the cabin of the van and although this is not the best place for the battery, it was all that was available. There was just no room under the hood. The battery box is vented since most batteries produce hydrogen gas (very explosive!!) when charging. My van is a conversion van and the interior lights, radio and CB run from a dedicated fuse box inside the van. There was a cable attached to the starting battery for this fuse box and instead of running a new wire I simply attached the existing cable to the house battery side of the solenoid....

Yes the SOLENOID. This is a very simple relay that makes a connection when 12v is applied to a terminal. Hooking the solenoid up is very easy. Mine grounds to the vehicle so I found a spot near my starting battery, scraped the paint away and screwed the solenoid in with self-tapping screws. On one of the main posts of the solenoid I added a heavy gauge battery cable to the positive terminal on my starting battery. On the other post of the solenoid I ran an 8 gauge cable to the positive terminal on my house battery. I grounded the house battery to the body and my second battery was almost ready to go. The solenoid needs to be turned on/off by the ignition. Under the hood of my van was a connector (for something) that was not hooked up. It had 6 connections and with a little trial and error I was able to find a connection that provided 12v when the ignition was turned. I ran a wire from this to the small post on the isolator and made sure it worked by listening for the solenoid to click when I turned the key on.

When I turn the van on the solenoid closes and connects the second battery to the first (and the alternator). When I turn the key off the second battery is isolated from the starting battery....simple right???

I also hooked up my solar charger to the second battery with a charge controller. The solar charger cuts in when the battery is low and turns off when the battery is fully charged. The charge controller is super simple and I mounted the solar panel on the roof and bought an extra long cable to hook it up.

From my second battery (house battery) I am running my fridge, a 3 way 12v plug for my cell charger and any extras, a 12v fan mounted over the drivers seat, another fan that clips on near the bed, my pump for my sink, and a 12v hand vacuum when needed.

Everything is also fused. I have a large fuse on the wire running from the solenoid to the second battery, a fuse between the second battery and the fridge, between the second battery and the pump, the interior lights are on a dedicated fuse panel and the fans both have fuses built into the 12v plugs. Everything should always be fused.

Here are a few things that I learned during my no order whatsoever.

if you are running a cable through sheet metal, use some cable protection through the hole like a rubber grommet (this was a 200$)

make sure your grounds are good

fuse everything

use the heaviest cables you can afford and nothing less than 10 gauge

draw everything out on paper first

cable management is very important especially under the hood

label your cables

use the proper connections on the end of cables

don't electrocute yourself

disconnect both batteries while working on the system

learn how to reset the clock on your radio

That's it for now.....

Monday, October 17, 2011

....setting up a sink in your van.

....When I built my kitchen cabinet I struggled with the price of an rv sink. The units I found were in the mid 200$ range and I just couldn't swing it so I decided to build my own. I had just a few requirements...

1. Battery Operated
2. Hidden (mostly) when not in use
3. Cheap
4. A large water capacity

I wanted a push button sink. I had a hand pump sink in an old pop-up I had and it was always a PIA so this time around I got a 12v pump/faucet combo from Jabsco on Ebay. Here it is.

Installation was pretty straight forward for the electrics and a bit more problematic for the water supply. The pumps + wire attaches to the faucet switch's + wire and then to the +12v from the battery. The ground from the pump goes to the ground of the van. That's it for the here comes the fun part.....Water source.....

A usable water container proved to be difficult. Sure, I can buy an RV fresh water tank but where is the fun DIY in that (honestly, I wish I had. My trial and error on this was costly). I ended up using a blue Reliance 6 gallon water jug which I modified the spigot end so I could hook a hose directly to it. Here is the jug...

Mine is a little different than this as it has a screw on breather cap. I got mine at Wallyworld. They make a smaller 4.5 gallon unit as well and that would be great for a setup that used less space.

The next step is connecting it all together. I ruined about 3 different containers (and different valves) trying to cut a hole in the water container and glue the right kind of connection in. One failed at night with a full jug of water and soaked my floors so I decided to go a different route. The Aqua-Tainer has an on/off spigot for the water. This spigot is two pieces. The big piece screws onto the container and the actual spigot part screw into this plastic ring. I unscrewed the spigot part and went shopping.....and did not write model numbers down so you'll have to do a little legwork. Sorry.
First, I bought a plastic thingy in the plumbing section (at lowes I think) that had the same threading as the inside of the plastic ring. This bit was also threaded on the inside (basically a reducer). I screwed this into the Aqua-Tainers plastic ring using some teflon tape. Then I found a screw in barbed connector (at Tractor Supply) that matched the inside of my reducer and screwed that in using teflon tape. This barbed fitting matched the inner diameter of the plastic hose coming from the pump (be sure to measure that!!! Once cut, you cannot return plastic hose). In my case I found one that was at a 90 degree angle, which worked for my shallow cabinet. The pump and faucet will need a connector hose too and I think that this is a smaller diameter than the pump inlet hose (maybe not, measure everything twice).

The whole thing has to be removed to fill the water which is a pain but there is a screw on breather cap that sits on the top of the water tank. I am thinking of attaching a hose to this which will get routed to the outside of the van with one of these... I can easily fill with a hose. Remember to close the breather cap while you are driving with a full tank because water will slosh out of it.

OK, so the pump and faucet are all hooked up. One of the things about the pump is that it needs to be below the water source (a little water pressure) to work. Sometimes mine is finicky if the breather cap and hose angle aren't just right but a little shimmying usually gets things going. The next step was the.......

Sink. I used a stainless steel bowl that I already had and cut a hole in the bottom and added a sink drain kit from Lowes. Cutting the stainless was a pain with a hole saw but it worked and the sink drain was pretty straight forward. I used plumbers putty around the hole and the whole thing works fine. I used a washing machine outlet hose for the drain and drilled a hole in the floor for it. The hose stays put with a little silicone and a rubber drain stopper closes off the exhaust fumes while I am driving.

I countersunk the sink Bowl and made a wooden plug that sits in the sink so I can use it as a counter top too. On the underside of the sink cover I mounted a knife sharpener. I spent a bunch more on this project than I should have because of trial and error but as a whole the system works great now. Just remember to close the breather hole while you are driving (I always forget!!!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

....the case for cast iron.

....remember those old frying pans your grandma cooked on. Well, I tend to use nothing else. Cast iron is easy to cook on, heats evenly, is easy to clean, is durable, and for me, a bit nostalgic. I use several cast iron implements and over the years have stopped using anything else. Here is my cast iron collection...

6 qt Dutch Oven
10" fry pan
8" fry pan
reversible grill/griddle
12 qt. dutch oven

I also have a dutch oven tool (pot grabber).

Cleaning cast iron is as easy as scraping out any food with a metal scrubber, using a plastic scrubber and hot water, and rinsing. I always finish with a super light coating of veggie oil. Every once in awhile I will clean the pots with hot soapy water and re-season them in an oven (which I am doing as I write this). The pots are almost completely non-stick when properly seasoned an I never have to worry about teflon non-stick chipping of my pans.

There are a lot of cheap sources for cast iron but I tend to hunt at thrift stores for good brands such as Wagner, Griswold, and Lodge. My two dutch ovens are Lodge as is my griddle. My fry pans are Griswold and Wagner. The dutchies are great for soups and stews and can be set right in the fire. You can also bake bread and cakes in them as well as biscuits. Dee-Lic-Ous!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

a partial list of essentials for Van living.

not in order and not the usual....just random thoughts.

duct tape
zip lock bags
spare tire
zip ties
some 12 Gauge automotive wire
electricians tape
a pantyhose (use as a spare belt for short distances)
spare key or two
flushable wet wipes
a 5 gallon bucket with snap on lid
a 12v hanging lamp with battery connections
heavy duty trash bags
a small can of kitty litter
some small mason jars
some dried food tucked away in an air tight container
Leatherman Skeletool
2 part epoxy putty

hmmmmm...........I will add to this later.

staying clean.. Zodi Review

Living mostly full time in a van is great.......for the most part. Staying clean can be a challenge especially since I am in a river all day who's cleanliness is questionable. last summer I made a great purchase, a Zodi hot water shower. The unit heats cold water up to a bearable level and has a built in shower head. It stores in it's own bag (in a multi-use 5 gallon bucket) and runs off of propane. The water is heated as it is pushed through a copper tube which is heated by a "camp-stove" type heating element. A submersible 6v pump supplies the pressure which is just enough to wash down with. It runs on 1lb green propane bottles but I bought a bulk propane hose to run it off my 5lb tank. I keep a couple of green bottles around just in case. There are two problems with the Zodi. First, the piezo igniter is garbage. It broke on my first Zodi which I returned and then broke on the replacement. I use a stick lighter now and it works just fine. The second problem is the power for the pump. It runs on 4 2.5v D cell batteries which wear down too quickly. I never tested it but I would guess the batteries are good for a dozen showers. I have been thinking of hacking a 6v power supply or a different pump but you want the water pressure to stay the same because it heats as it goes through the copper tube. If the water goes too fast it won't heat and you will have to cycle the water in the bucket to get it pre-warmed. Speaking of the bucket. I store the Zodi in it's bag in a 5 gallon bucket which I use to hold my wash water. I have found that I can get clean and have a nice shower on half a bucket of water (2.5 gallons). If I have to pre-heat really cold water it helps to have the bucket only half full.
To use the shower you simply fill your 5 gallon bucket up with the water you intend to use. Drop the 12v pump and shower head into the bucket, push the on button on the battery pack making sure the water is flowing, turn the gas on and light. Depending on the temp of your source water the shower could be warm enough or you may have to cycle the water in the bucket for a minute to pre-warm. don't pre warm too much though. The water coming out of the shower head is going to be much hotter than the water in the bucket since it goes through a heating cycle as it comes to the shower head. It is also important to shut the burner off before you shut the water pump off so you don't melt anything.
My shower process is simple. Get wet with luke warm water and put the shower head back in the bucket. Soap up and rinse off. The rinse water will be warmer since it has been cycling while I lathered up. I carry bio degradable peppermint bar soap (Dr Bronners)and use that to wash my hair as well. I use bio degradable conditioner as well. My soap stays in a zip-lock bag and I always hang my towel up inside the van to dry.
Since I live in a secluded parking lot I usually strip down and shower right out in the open which is not practical if you are urban camping. If you are trying to be stealthy you will need an alternate method of staying clean. This is where baby wipes become your best friend. These things are great for staying clean, can be flushed, take up little space and are usable in confined spaces. I have a sink in my van so I can wash my face but getting to the undercarriage can be tough in a van. I keep the baby wipes in a zip lock and I buy them in bulk when I can. I have often thought of a way to use the shower in the van but it is just not practical.

....the river rises. the last month or so of rafting has been tough. After a season of relatively easy water levels the river dropped and really sucked the fun out of what I do. It's not really that much harder to paddle low water but it sure does change the dynamic with the customers. They simply do not have as much fun with the river which makes the guides have to work harder to be more entertaining. It just became a lot of work. Well last week the mighty river rose to 4000cfs (cubic feet per second). To put that in perspective, the last trip I did before that the river was at 680cfs. It wasn't high water but it was at least water and and it certainly rejuvenated me. The next day the river was back to 2000cfs and I am not sure where it is now but still up over a thousand. That is a nice little kick at the end of season. I have also been getting some "Trip Leader" trips which helps out. It's a little extra money but more importantly I can work on a one boat trip. There are a lot of hungry raft guides out there right now and I am trying to keep my (and Sho's) bellies full.

speaking of electronics.

I do not have a bunch of electronics in the vandaminium save a small Acer net book, a Kindle reader, and an old portable 10"DVD that no longer works on it's own battery and has to be plugged into 110v electricity (I lost the 12v cord). These are the "entertainment" electronics. I also have 12v incandescent lighting, a 12v Edgestar refrigerator, a Sony car stereo, a CB (never used) a 12v pump for my sink, and 2 12v fans. These items are powered by the marine battery which is charged from a small solar panel as well as the alternator when the car is running. You may notice the lack of an inverter. With the exception of the DVD player and computer, everything I run is powered from the 12v system. I charge the computer up while I use it at coffee shops, surfing the net or writing. As I don't boondock that much this works out great. For boondocking I will add a small inverter and more solar panels. A small generator might be on the horizon as well. I find that if I drive a bit everyday my house battery stays charged but if I stay in one place my battery only lasts 2 days. More solar and another deep cycle should allow me to stay out for a few more days which is the goal. I would like to be able to stay in one place, away from civilization for 7-10 days without having to drive the van to charge batteries. The generator would alleviate this but I don't want to put a stinky, gas generator in the van and I dont want to mount it outside and blow my stealth ability. If I add more solar panels they are not going to mounted to the roof of the van but put on a rack with a quick disconnect so I can aim them at the sun for more efficiency. When they are not in use they will slide into a special sleeve under the bed. Tha's the plan anyway. Amazon sells a 45w kit as does Harbor Freight. This may be my next purchase.

Monday, September 26, 2011


I want hardwood floors in the van.....or at least laminates. I went to Lowes today and found packs of 24 square feet for 16$ each. I have stripped the original shag carpet up and have been using a carpet for the last year. Unfortunately, this black carpet shows mud and dog hair so bad it is impossible to keep looking nice. Also wood floors in vans is bad-ass! So soon I am going to put cheap laminates in. There I said it. New floors......soon. water pump and alternator and belts and.....

I picked up the van yesterday and have been doing some test driving.Everything seems good. My mechanic installed a new water pump and alternator. He also replaced all of the belts up front and the voltage regulator. All for 175$ in labor ! The charging system seems to be doing great although I might have installed a better, higher amperage alternator. My alternator must have gone when I had a short a few weeks ago. The diode pack blew and even though the alternator was still working it was overcharging. This would have eventually destroyed both batteries. The short was where I fed the cable from my battery isolator to my extra battery passed through the metal firewall. The rough edge cut into the cable and ....POOF! The charging system is working now as are the gauges which started acting funny after the short. My spare battery is charging again so the fridge is back on line. I re-wired the fridge and the sink and hooked the little solar panel up to the spare battery and everything seems to be OK.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

wants and in a van. Storage. Storage. Where do I put it all. I kind of cleaned out the van the other day and took a look at everything that I have been carrying around. Most of it needs to be in the van but there were a few things that I really didn't need. I carry a lot of camping gear......some I use...a bunch I don't. I just put a bunch of stuff in the storage unit (more on that later) but here is what is left....

3 big dry-bags (I only need one for a laundry bag)
1 pelican case (empty)
small dutch oven (never use it)
1 bag of tarps and poles (almost never use them)
1 small cheap dry-box (actually holding some epoxy and adhesives)
1 large duffel full of cold weather clothes (some of these I need)

This is all extra. Here are my storage places....

1. Under bed. Lots of room
2. New Closet. Hanging clothes on top and three plastic drawers on the bottom
3. In-Door cut-outs. A little space in these. used for small miscellanious items
4. Kitchen pantry. Pretty good sized for dry foods and canned goods
5. Silverware Drawer
6. Some room on top of the stove
7. Some room under the sink
8. Empty spot where the passenger seat used to be
9. small slot in bulkhead above bed
10. Small storage ottoman

That's it. I need to pack it all in these spots .......and nice. My biggest problem is wet clothes. I work on the river in the summer and bathing suits get funky quickly. I have tried rinsing and hanging them but.....well, funky. Wet clothes end up laying on the floor and then the clutter begins. I think a mesh bag on the roof is the answer for that....

I need to build a seat/storage area where the passenger seat used to be. That can hold the deep cycle battery and maybe pots and pans etc. Under the bed I can put extra clothes, tool bag, and the outside living set-up (more on that later).

.....and more repairs. And new Blackout Curtains the vandaminium is back in the shop and I am couch surfing again. I am having a new water pump installed and hopefully having the charging system fixed. My alternator has been overcharging since a bad short-out. The alternator was putting out close to 17 volts......way too high. Hopefully it is the voltage regulator. I installed new rear and side curtains the other day. They were cheap and easy from the dollar store. here is a shopping list with approximate costs...

. Black Polyester Black Out Panel 10$
. 2 extandeble curtain rods 3$
. 1 can black spray paint 1.5$
. Lighter (had)
. Shallow sheet metal screws

The black out curtain was long enough to cut in half and use for two windows. I singed the bottom with a lighter to prevent fraying. I screwed the rear curtain rod into the plastic cover for the rear air conditioner. The curtain has a simple pocket for the rod which is better than tabs because the top edge stays tight to the ceiling allowing no light to pass. The side doors were done the same although this time I spray painted the curtain rod black for aesthetics. the cheap curtains do a pretty good job of keeping light out and in. If the van is parked on a marginally lighted street the outside glare on the windows would likely make all but the brightest light from the inside invisible. It greatly reduces sunlight coming in (but not completely). I may still tint the rear and side windows for added stealthy-ness.

That's all for now...... I will keep you posted on the van repairs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

.....Problems with systems....

OK. Been a month or so and I have been working out the bugs with the new dual battery setup and the bugs........with the van. The steering on the van had been dodgy since I bought it so last month I started re-doing the front end. I started with new shocks all the way around which my buddy Chris and I did in an afternoon. It improved the ride (the old shocks were completely dead) but made me aware that there were more problems with the front end. I took it to a local service shop to get an estimate (and to figure out why I was losing coolant) and was told that I needed new upper and lower control arm ball joints and that that alone was going to cost 600$. Bad. The coolant leak was from some bad freeze plugs on the motor and the local shop would not fix them. I was hosed. A buddy recommended a shade tree mechanic he knew and so I took it to him. He was willing to to the ball joints for 100$ per wheel if I brought the parts!!! After a few false starts on the internet buying the correct ball joints I left Napa Autoparts with upper and lower control arm ball joints for both sides, idler arms for both sides (yes my van has two), 3 freeze/expansion plugs and my fingers crossed. My mechanic installed all for 340$ and the van actually steers now. I paid less for all that work than the "shop" was going to charge and I am just tickled. My new mechanic said that I need to replace the water pump soon so I bought one and I am just waiting for a food time to install it. Here is a list of the work done in the last 10 days....
1. Upper control arm ball joints (both sides)
2. Lower control arm ball joints (both sides)
3. Three leaky freeze plugs on the engine block
4. 2 Idler arms
5. New shocks all the way around

Normally I would have tried these repairs myself but the fact that special tools were needed and I found a mechanic that didn't charge an arm and a leg, I had the work done.

The van is riding remarkably better which makes the other problems stand out a little more. More to come. I am going out to work on the van......

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dual battery setup....

.....was necessary after I added the Edgestar fridge. The system consists of a continuous duty solenoid hooked up to my charging system and a marine dual purpose battery mounted in the cab. When I turn my van on the solenoid closes and my alternator charges both batteries. When I turn the key off the second battery is disconnected from the starting battery (but still connected to the fridge and all my interior lighting). I can run this battery all the way down and still start the car with no issues. I intend to add a second house battery for longer periods of not charging but for now I need to run the motor at least a half hour a day to keep my house battery charged to run the fridge. The fridge has a neat feature for saving the house battery too. Since it is bad for a battery to run it too far down, the Edgestar cuts out when the battery reaches a certain voltage. Although it is still possible to kill the battery this makes it a bit more idiot proof. Also, since the house battery is a dual purpose, in a pinch I can jump my main battery from it if I ever leave my lights on.

Some future refinements will be adding a second house battery, hooking my solar trickle charger up to the system and wiring my car stereo to the house battery system instead of my starting/car battery so I can listen to the radio into the night. I am going to add some running/fog/off-road lights to the car battery and maybe some exterior flood lights to the house battery. Since the van had running lights and side markers on the running boards (both of which I removed) the switches and wiring are already there. Should be pretty easy.

Edgestar FP430 review

.....So cooking for one person is hard.....unless you like canned food. I don't. Storing leftovers was always a problem. I had a big cooler which I would ice every day and it just became a huge mess. I had read about 12v refrigerators like Engle and Weaco on some 4x4 forums but they were just too expensive. The domestic fridge/freezers like you find in RV's were just too big (and still expensive) so when I started reading about the Edgestar 12v fridge/freezer on the Expedition Portal forum I got pretty excited. They were originally priced below $400 and were small enough fo my van. Earlier this summer I googled the model number and found an Ebay classified ad for a used one for $225. The best part was that it was located just about an hour away. Needless to say I went and bought it. It was like new and fit beneath my stove in the cabinet (with a few modifications). The fridge works great although it proved to be a bit more of a battery drain than everything I had read. That was OK since I planned on adding a second house battery anyway. I mounted the fridge on a slide out under the stove on 100lb drawer slides and hard wired the fridge to the second battery with a 10 amp fuse. The battery will run the fridge for about 2 days with a full charge and I find if I drive a bit every day (30 minutes or so) it keeps the battery charged enough. The fridge keeps a 12 pack, leftovers, eggs, cheese, milk and a few bottles of water at a cool 38 degrees when the outside temp is in the mid 90's. Not too bad. It actually keeps beer colder than the fridge in the outpost.

The Van layout..

The vandaminium started out as a high top conversion van with 4 swiveling captains chairs and a fold down bench seat in the back. I removed the center row of captains chairs and the bench seat in the back. The bench seat was replaced with a platform bed (biggish twin size?) with enough room underneath for storage. A counter top with a sink and stove runs the length of the remaining room on the drivers side. The cabinet started with a stainless sink with a 12v water pump (Jabsco), a blue Reliance 7 gallon fresh water tank and a 2 burner camp stove which did not fit right due to my mis-measurements. I replaced the stove with a 2 burner RV stove and added an Edgestar FP430 12v refrigerator/freezer.

The bed is laid out the width of the rear of the van and although it is a little short, if I lay at an angle I can stretch out. The mattress is a couple of pieces of foam giving me a total thickness of about 4 inches (could use a little more!!) It is covered in cotton sheets and in the summers I use a fleece blanket and in the winter I use a down sleeping bag. The bed is pretty comfy and I usually sleep pretty well.

The kitchen setup is a work in progress with one element usually working at a time. The stove works great and is hooked up to a 5lb propane tank which lasts a long time. The tank is located under the sink although I would like to get a horizontal mount propane tank under the van. The sink is hooked up to a blue Reliance water tank that kind of fits under the sink. The pump runs off the second battery and this setup has never really worked to my liking. When I re-do the kitchen I think I will go a different direction. As it is, I usually just use a gallon water jug when I need water. The sink drains directly through the floor and since I am very aware of the cleaning products I use, I don't have a problem with discharging grey water on the ground.

This year I added a closet for hanging clothes with a set of plastic drawers beneath for t-shirts and underwear. The closet works pretty well but is not quite tall enough. It is better than last years solution which was a plastic bin under the bed with all my wrinkled clothes mismashed in. This way at least the upper parts of my shirts a relatively wrinkle free. I have also removed the passenger seat for more storage. My raft lives there now but I hope to move that to a hitch mount cargo carrier and build a small platform with storage underneath where the passenger seat used to be. I also have a small storage ottoman which doubles as a seat. The interior is a little cramped but not too bad. If I could change anything, I would have a higher roof like a bubble top van. as it stands, I have to stoop inside.

The back story....

I moved into my current home a couple of years ago. It is a pretty nice home with most of the amenities of any other home. I have a comfy bed, a closet, a fridge, a stove, a sink, a shower, a washer and dryer, a computer, a radio.....etc. Only for me all of this is contained in a 1986 Dodge Conversion "Vandaminium"

My "house" gets about 16-17 miles per gallon (more than all of my friends houses combined) and is not stuck in one place so when the scenery gets old I can easily move it for a different view. In the summer months I park near a river (that I work on as a River Guide) in western North Carolina and in the colder months I usually travel south to warmer climes. For the most part, the van runs well and a few hundred dollars every year keeps things going nicely.

Living in a van has certainly had it's share of challenges but for the most part it has been a great experience and has taught me how to live a simpler life with a lot less stress and a lot more free time.

Welcome to Pikey living...

Welcome. This blog is about small living.....camping.....van-living.....dreaming and making a living outside the conventions of modern society. I have been cards. All of it. 4 years ago everything changed and I decided that a rebirth was needed and with that I left the comforts of regular society and became a in a van down by the river. This blog has started late and much of this will be a re-telling (to me at least) with fuzzy details. I hope some of the information helps others that are looking to step outside the boundaries of convention.....

Please enjoy.