Last September (2012) was the commencement of building in the living accommodations in "My McVansion." I began building in my '94 Ford E150, high-top conversion van. I got just so far then I decided to spend time living with the basic plan I had put together. After several months I determined I wasn't happy with the original plan, so I had some hauling to do and that gave me a good reason to strip it out and start from scratch.
This weekend was the appointed time. Of course, I appointed the time. All my hauling is complete. I removed some remaining steel plates and anchors on the floor. They were installed by the original van conversion company to secure the rear seats and couch that I will never reinstall in the van. I plugged the holes in the floor with nylon plugs and automotive silicone sealant. So once again, I found myself ready to start building in.
The following photos document this weekend's work.
|Here you can see how the forward 2/3 of the bunk platform is hinged and easily raised to allow full access to the storage below.|
|This view shows how much storage is available under the bunk in the forward 2/3. You can see the wheel well in the only obstruction. I've seen trunks in recent model year cars that don't provide this much trunk space.|
I'm very tired. It was very hot outside so I got to build up a good sweat. I have some new calluses, a few bruises, got to verbalize a number of expletives, ache all over and . . . feel great. There's something very fulfilling when you get something significant accomplished, no matter how many calluses, bruises, aches and how sweaty you got.
So, what's next? I'll build in a chest of drawers on the passenger side. I'll also build an enclosure that will house a porta-potty with a built-in holding tank. It will only be used for convenience reasons when public facilities aren't readily available. On the driver's side of the van, between the bunk and the back of the driver's seat I'll install a small, basic galley. It will include a small refrigerator, a small microwave oven, a storage unit for dry, non-refrigerated food and cooking/eating utensils and a small two-burner propane stove.
I'll also be adding black out window covers, 12-volt DC and 110 volt AC power receptacles and LED lighting. My desk/workstation area will be wired and set up to operate efficiently and be connected to the Internet with public wifi or my own wifi from my wireless phone/data service. Additionally, I'll be changing out the radio for a state-of-the-art unit that will not only provide the standard AM/FM/CD and mp3 capability, but also Sirius/XM radio.
The cockpit will also be equipped with GPS capabilities provided by my new Hisense Sero Pro 7 tablet, other electronic navigation through the tablet and my smartphone and a dash-mounted video camera. And, since I've been an amateur radio operator for the past 54 years, I'll have on-board ham radio equipment, CB, FRS/GMRS radio, as well as the prerequisite wireless phone service.
I'm also planning to have a Fan-tastic fan installed in the fiberglass roof. I don't feel confident in doing that installation myself, so I'll that done by someone else who has both the experience and tools.
It appears that I'm going to have considerably more storage than I originally thought I would. The under bunk storage will be used for various things I won't need very often. The storage space in the rear of the van under the back part of the bunk and under the desk will be the location for the deep cycle battery bank used to provide the "house" 12 volt DC and the 110 volt AC with an size appropriate inverter. I may eventually include a small generator (Yamaha or similar) for AC power and to charge the batteries.
Something else I'm very interested in adding to "My McVansion" is solar power. I count it as very fortunate that I have a few friends in the van dwelling community who are extremely knowledgeable and experienced with solar power systems. Additionally, I've read all Bob's information in his book and on the www.cheaprvliving.com and www.cheapgreenrvliving.com sites. Solar is a way to keep those house batteries charged during sunny days and don't have access to shore power.
Of course, I will be doing some interior finishing as I move forward to make the space more homey. I am having a custom cover made for my 5" memory foam mattress. Workspace counters will most likely receive a liberal coating of polyurethane. A blackout drape will be installed between the cockpit and the living area.
The only thing I may miss is air conditioning. Neither air conditioning nor use of a microwave oven is realistic without shore AC power. So, I'll have to think about using the microwave - short bursts only. Since I plan to spend winters in the warmer southern and southwestern regions and summers in the northern and higher regions, I'm hoping I won't need or, at least, miss air conditioning. Time will tell.