• rebasgr8

The Carpenter Part 2

Updated: Jan 27

Following up on my last post, "Me? ...a carpenter!;" here's a summary of the rest of my van build.

As you can imagine, there were tons of details not listed in the last post. The next big thing was tackling the ceiling. I opted for 1/8" Baltic birch sheets which I stained white and cut into 3 panels. In retrospect, four panels would have been easier. The ceiling was by far one of the most difficult tasks of the build. I had to cut the panels perfectly so that each could share a horizontal furring strip. This was extraordinarily difficult as I was measuring curved surfaces above my head. Luckily, I was able to persuade a couple of friends, Kristen & Heather, to help me hold the panels while I attached them to the furring while stuffing them with Havelock wool insulation. When I didn't have help, I made do, even creating a tower of tubs to hold up the ceiling, subbing for an extra set of hands. Lots of curse words and frustration passed, but in the end, I am happy with the results.

Fortunately, I have a talented friend who was willing and able to do the electrical work. He was amazing, and I am so very grateful! He designed and installed the system which was much more work than either of us had realized. I have shore power, a DC system, an inverter to run 120v, & two lithium batteries while my van also charges from the alternator when the car is driving. Finally, my mechanic installed my aluminum UNIKA roof rack and 200 watt solar panel. For more about my electrical work, including the components I used, see this post.

The work never stopped, planning & researching while eating dinner and enjoying a glass of wine.

Attaching the upper cabinets and two kitchen cabinets took some researching and consulting with others. My biggest fear was stepping on the brakes and having a cabinet come flying forward. So, I bolted into the cross nuts directly when I could and screwed into the furring strips I had installed. Because nothing was straight, each attachment took custom shims to make the surfaces level. I also used pocket screws to attach everything to the 3/4" subfloor. My friend Brian helped me hang the final upper cabinet and finish the countertops, working 'til 10pm with me as I rushed to get started on my vacation.

At this point I was starting to cut into my vacation time and the van still wasn't finished! I worked day and night and started my vacation two weeks later than planned with a partially finished van and no running water. However, I wasn't complaining. On the contrary, I was elated. Van life was finally to begin!

PS: To learn about how this dream got started, you might be interested in reading "Heading on Vantastic Voyage"if you haven't read it already.


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