Big Blue version 4.0 – Building off the new foundation

Once the interior was demo’d and effectively a blank canvas, the work shifted to the implementing our plan. Kerri had an idea – who am I to argue – and found some great cedar wall paneling that would not only give the interior a very cool log cabin look, but would also provide a natural scent every time we opened the doors. Only a quarter inch thick, we would not lose much of the van’s width to it… always important to save every inch. We had put the old panel-walls back in place so the cedar could be glued/nailed directly onto it. The change was dramatic to say the least.

Then the stage was set for all the new wiring to be completed. Two outlets provide ‘shore power’ but the real fun stuff is that there are two additional outlets providing power from the inverter, and a healthy sprinkling of 12 volt & USB outlets all about the van. There will be another of each up on the dashboard when it is all complete. We should have no problems finding an outlet to charge our devices when this is all said and done.

The hundred+ feet of new wiring all had to be routed to the new battery location behind the driver’s chair, and under where the fridge will be installed, and plugged into the new fuse box. With all the new wiring and outlets, Kerri and I felt the need for additional protection by over doing it on the fuses, with six independently fused zones within the interior of the van.

In the large picture above you can also see one of Kerri’s handcrafted additions; the new window inserts. Foam board cut out to fit inside the window frame, with fabric on one side and reflectix on the other, gives us options on how best to use them in varying conditions to maximize to warming or cooling we seek. Speaking of the windows, they too needed a complete removal and reseal (double sealed) after the walls were complete.

All in all, two full days were spent working on the walls and electrical outlets.

One of the big projects of this build was to give Big Blue the ability to handle some rougher terrain. Sure, as much as we would love to have 4 wheel drive, we aren’t going that far. Instead we went for installing airbag suspension on the rear for added lift (about 2-3 inches when it is all done) of Big Blue’s saggy behind. The added clearance will not only keep the bumper from dragging in the mud, it will also allow us to mount larger – all terrain – tires under the van. The tires will come at the end of the whole rebuild, but for now the airbags are in place… which turned out to be a bigger pain in the butt then it was on Kerri’s truck last year. It took a whole day or hard labor for this project alone.

And the final big project of the last week was the addition of even more Monstaliner. The black band around the bottom was added to give Big Blue a little more ‘muscle’ in his appearance. A lot of these projects were being completed as we waited for the rubber flooring to arrive before starting the cabinets and bed. When it did arrive, at the beginning of this week, we found that we ordered the wrong quantity and are not able to cover any more than 1/3 of the floor space in the van. Ordering two more boxes will take too long, and will make the floor too expensive. So, for now I will start with building the cabinetry while we rethink the flooring options.


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6 Responses

  1. Alan B Christensen says:

    Will there be information coming on your battery choice?

    • Van-Tramp says:

      How about now? It is a LifeBlue 200 Amp Hour lithium battery. A big step up from my two lead-acid batteries (equal to about 3X the stored power) and less than half the weight of them as well. We went with a Bluetooth charge controller so no displays necessary. Instead, we can login on the phone to monitor the battery and solar input.

  2. Alan B Christensen says:

    Wow, mighty spendy. Or did you get a great deal somewhere?

    • Van-Tramp says:

      It is an investment in the future plans to go sailing. The battery will be moved to the boat when the time comes. It just got purchased a little earlier is all.

  3. Kate says:

    We just got the same battery for the truck camper!

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