Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Commencement Day for My McVansion’s Metamorphosis

The day finally arrived! Yesterday, September 11th 2012, I officially began the construction of the interior of my Ford van, now know affectionately as “My McVansion” after a van naming contest I began right here on this blog.

Now, yesterday holds some national and even worldwide significance as the date of the worst attack by foreign individuals on U.S. soil. It was the anniversary of the unforgettable attacks taking nearly 3,000 lives in the collapse of the two World Trade Center Towers in New York City (along with the loss of other smaller buildings), the Pentagon in Washington, DC and the lives of airline passengers on the four U.S. passenger airliners hijacked and used as missiles in the attacks. The heroic passengers of the fourth plane saving either the Capitol or the White House from nearly certain attack by crashing that plane in a field near Somerset, Pennsylvania.

Additionally, as the day rolled out and while I was working on my personal construction project other events and attacks against the United States were taking place in Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya that ultimately cost the lives of four American diplomats including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. We live in troubling and dangerous times. The events of this day in 2001 and again in 2012 should make us all stop and not only take a moment to remember those who have perished, but also how important freedom is, both politically and personally.

So, while I certainly remembered the negative significance of the date, yesterday, I was also feeling some exhilaration and fulfillment as I took the next step towards my own progress in achieving more personal freedom. In light of the events that were unknowingly unfolding, I was enjoying the beautiful day, comfortable temperatures and doing something I hadn’t done in a long time. I was working with my hands and creating something that was designed to propel me forward towards my personal objective of living free(r). I feel it was all very fitting. I certainly decry and condemn the dastardly actions in the Middle East, yesterday. However, there is little I, as one individual, can do to change the course of events in the world. The only thing I do have any power over is the course of events in my own life. I must remain responsible for my actions and myself.

This past Saturday, I ventured to the nearest “Harry McVansion Owner’s” DIY emporium and selected a batch of materials that would allow me to begin molding my Ford van into my McVansion. You have seen photos of the van posted on the blog before. Here is the basic van as I purchased it.

The Exterior of  My McVansion as purchsed
(Fiberglass running boards and flares in place)
Interior as purchased with seats and couch in place

Space wasting and useless "atmosphere" lighting panels just above the windows

I removed the rear seats right after I obtained the van. 

Van interior with all rear passenger seating removed but seat belts still in place

Finally, two weekends ago, I found a local man here in Keyser, West Virginia, about a block away from my “Eastern Base Camp” who had a garage, a lift that could handle the van and we removed the aging and badly deteriorated fiberglass running boards and wheel well flares.

Some of the damage and deterioration to the fiberglass running boards and wheel well flares

That instantly eliminated several problems including the terrible squeaking and screeching noises those fiberglass parts made as the road and vehicle motion flexed them. We also removed the spare seatbelt anchors for all the rear seats and removed some excess trim that was of no value for my purposes and will make the build in somewhat easier.

After removal of fiberglass running boards and wheel well flares - right side
Interior with seat belts and useless wood trim/atmosphere lighting removed
The left side useless wood trim & atmosphere lighting removed (the 12 volt truck wiring remains)
One of the included shades was damaged when I bought the vehicles, but I have plans for that

So, I loaded my purchases at the DIY place in the van and took them back to Base Camp. My bank account was a little lighter and there sure doesn’t appear to be very much there. But, everything is carefully calculated to serve a specific purpose. When one decides to take approximately 50 square feet of floor space (the space between the back of the driver’s and right passenger’s seats and the back doors of a van like this and turn it into a habitable environment, it doesn’t take much to fill. Every inch needs to be as efficiently utilized as possible. Additionally, weight must be taken into account, especially in these times of high fuel costs. The more weight, the lower the gas mileage will ultimately be.

So, I’ve designed and redesigned the floor plan of the McVansion several times. I’ve continued to find ways of utilizing as much of the space as possible for multiple purposes. I’ve attempted to build in as much useable storage (in addition to some limited storage in the original van conversion as I bought it) as possible, with full recognition that, again, I need to be very cognizant of the weight factor and that less is more in this kind of living environment. Here are just two of several floor plans I've developed. The plan I'm pursuing is not here and is still evolving as I build in.

Rear Bunk Floor Plan
Side Bunk Floor Plan

So, yesterday, I built the frame for what will ultimately be the bunk that I’ll sleep on at night and the couch like seating area I’ll relax on during the day, especially on days when the weather is inclement and I will need to remain inside My McVansion and either work (at writing or some audio production) or catch up on some reading or find some other way of occupying my time when the great outdoors is inhospitable. The frame will be raised high enough to provide for various kinds of storage underneath. A plywood sheet will be on top of the platform to support a memory foam mattress. I am not building this for beauty, but for functionality. As pragmatic thinker, my mantra has pretty much always been “form follows function” and that’s true for My McVansion.

Doesn't seem like much, but my checking account groaned as I paid for it
From humble beginnings a "tiny house" on wheels begins to take shape

So, 9/11 in 2001 changed the world forever. Politically, 9/11 2012 made another statement on the condition of the world we live in and on freedom. And, 9/11 2012 is the day I took the next step towards my own personal freedom and the ability to live free as I define it for myself. Follow along as I document my project and get My McVansion ready for a “shakedown cruise” and then to be exploring America.

There is one final note I want to make about this project. Procrastination is a terrible thing! I just looked back at the records on the van and I acquired it on September 16, 2011. That's just about one year ago minus four days. If I had been on the ball, I would have had My McVansion on the road by last winter and spent a good part of this past year traveling the country and meeting up with all the folks who have offered me a place to park and visit, many are already friends I've known for years and other are friends I haven't met in person, yet. There are too many little obstacles and, more often then not, excuses we allow to slow up our progress. I urge you, if you have a dream, a purpose, a passion or an objective - DON'T PROCRASTINATE! Like the Nike slogan says, "Just Do It!"


Rob said...

That's a boss purple for the interior! (the color on my computer).

Think about it... several Saudi's attacked the US & killed around 3000 people, so we invaded Iraq & Afghanistan.
At the same time around 40,000 Americans die every year because they cannot afford the fees 'Health Care Industry' demands.

It doesn't mean anything, it's just my perspective.

Have fun with the conversion!


Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Thanks, Rob - regarding the interior. It's relaxing and that's good.

I attempt to not get political in the blog. I'm apolitical and don't appreciate government - pretty much on any level. Unfortunately, to keep chaos to a minimum, we have to put up with some kind of governance. I'm sure you saw my takes on the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and my post on to vote or not to vote. I just made sure my South Dakota voter registration is up to date and requested my absentee ballot - we'll see.

Right now I've been watching the Middle East issues. That's more of our taxpayer money at work. As a freedom lover and pragmatist, I see very simple solutions to these problems. But, the government doesn't care what I think and doesn't want to hear me except through my vote to keep the status quo allowing them to keep plundering the taxpayers. So, I'll just go on my way keeping myself as distanced from the various levels of government possible and living as simply, frugally and free as I possibly can under the prevailing system. But, I hear you and understand your point loud and clear.