Showing posts with label Build-Out. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Build-Out. Show all posts

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Day 249 #VanLife: Fifty Shades of Grey or Inside the Kraken

A lot of folks have asked about how I live in a van and what it looks like on the inside. So here's the video you've all been asking for!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

VanLife: First Night or the Fantastic Journey Begins

My first night enjoying #VanLife was pretty sweet really. Oh, sure there were and are some links to work out in my interior design but by and large it was very comfortable in so many ways.

I had the occasion to visit a friend/mentor, Jerry Capel, and pick up a few supplies on the way to my Mother's Day show in Manhattan Kansas to sell art glass. A visit with Jerry is always fun. Whenever we get together we always laugh, plan, scheme, dream, eat pizza, along with some decadent desserts, and just generally share our lives and our faith and have fun. Having known one another for about 27 years, we have a bit of shared history and have long ago perfected our social interactions.

The night went pretty well as expected and we laughed and told stories late into the evening, enjoying ice cream and one another's company. Jerry retired to his house and I to the Kraken parked in his side yard by a studio his daughter Renee tinkers away in creating art and beautiful things.

Earlier in the evening we had loaded 6 folding tables in the Kraken adding to his already full interior along with some packing material in the form of boxes, tissue, and shopping bags for my coming show. When I climbed into the van, at least my bed was clear! However, moving around the van was like trying to horizontally navigate a storage unit with about 2 1/2 feet of headway.

My windows were open and there was a cool breeze flowing through the van across the top of my body. When I built my bunk, I positioned It 2 to 3 inches below the window line thinking that I would enjoy the cross breeze ventilation keeping me cool in the evenings. My plan worked like a charm. It was delightful.

There was rain and possible thunderstorms forecasted for the early morning hours. I wondered how well my van would stay dry with my windows open and if I would need to wake up and close them. This made me sleep lighter than I would have liked but all in all I slept pretty well in my new bed. As luck would have it, it rained but no rain came through the windows and the breeze was exquisite. The gentle pitter-patter of the raindrops on the roof of the fan lulled me in and out of sleep.

All in all, my first night in Van life was fantastic! Even now, I am listening to a choir of birds singing as we begin morning prayer together, welcoming a new sunrise and a new day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Blackout Panels & Curtain for Stealth Camping

So as it turns out the blackout panels and the curtain were the most expensive  endeavor for the van.  I'll detail my final cost in an upcoming post.

For the blackout panels I used "plastic cardboard" or corrugated plastic sheets and Reflectix reflective insulation.

I cut the plastic panels to size and then used 3M Spray Adhesive Hi-Strength 90 to laminate the Reflectix insulation on both sides.  I used the 90 because it was heat resistant and I thought that perhaps that might be better given that the panels would go in the seven windows in the van.

I used craft paper to trace the pattern of the windows and then transferred that pattern to the plastic sheet and cut it out with an xacto knife.  The panels fit really tightly so I added gorilla tape pull tabs to each of them to help in removing them from the windows.  All in all, it worked well and took about two days to complete at a cost of about $120.

The black out curtain I lucked into in the clearance isle of a Wal-Mart.  They were standard curtain panels of about seven feet tall.  I cut them down to about four feet and hemmed them with permanent fabric glue.  I hung them from a tension rod between the cab and the cargo area.  The three foot remnants I also hemmed and kept for possible future use. The curtains were on sale for about $20 each and I used two panels.  With the fabric glue and tension rod my cost was $56.  This brings my total to around $176.

Honestly, this was the most challenging part of the buildout but one that I'm very pleased with in the end. The panels fit surprisingly well and the curtains are perfect.  I'm also glad that I doubled the amount of Reflectix I used.  I like the way it looks on the inside and it does double duty as insulation.

The Kraken is one step closer to #VanLife!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Much of my build-out was based on my bed.  I needed as much room as I could get without sacrificing a decent bunk to sleep on.  A good friend of mine had suggested I look into a Zinus Memory Foam mattress and that's just what I did.  I managed to find a narrow twin which is only 30 inches wide a 75 inches long.  So it would be long enough for a 6 foot tall person like me to sleep on but take up as little width as possible in the van.

I added it to my Amazon wishlist and behold, my very first patron and a very good and thoughtful friend of mine bought it for me as a surprise.  It arrived ready to unbox, unroll, and inflate.  I was beyond tickled and excited!  This single event kind of made the whole thing real for me.  I would really be sleeping in this van out there the world somewhere and soon!

The link I added above is not the mattress that was purchased for me. Sadly for you, dear reader, it would appear that Amazon is no longer carrying that exact mattress that I now have but offers a hybrid of some description instead.  I'm just glad my friend acted when he did and purchased my original choice.

The instructions said to let the new mattress inflate for 72 hours before use so I had to wait three days to try it out.  In the meantime it made sense to try and pack my glassblowing show back into the Kraken to see if everything would indeed really fit, tables and all.  It took no small amount of arranging and rearranging but finally I was able to get it all in with a little room to spare and without blocking the windows which was a big goal for me.

This exercise in spatial relations reminded me very much of those finger puzzles I would get as a kid which had square tiles of letters in a plaque with one square empty from which you could shift and maneuver the letters around to make words.  You simply had to move "A" to move "B" to move "C" to spell CAT.  Well my friends, it would appear that I have been able to spell CAT with this build-out.  I hope it functions as well in reality as it looks here in preliminary preparations.  Only time will tell the story.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Alchemy of Turning Wood Into Iron

The alchemy of turning wood into iron is pretty easy as it turns out.  It's called Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Flat Metallic Soft Iron Spray Paint and Primer in 1.  I really couldn't have asked for a better color.  I have a thing about grey.  Perhaps you've noticed a pattern evolving here?!

The furnishings would now blend with the interior in a minimalistic camouflage of soft iron grey.  The putrid color schemes of most RVs and even typical conversion vans have always given my eyes a type of visual nauseousness. 

Putting a brace between the table and the bunk served three purposes really.  The first purpose was to brace both structures in place without bolting them to the vehicle.  The second was to provide an effective half-wall behind which to securely stack crates of glass show inventory and supplies.  And the third purpose was to keep me from using the back doors as an entrance and egress.  The back bumper is short and rounded, a perfect trap just waiting to cause a slip and fall accident.

With a little wiggle here and there, it would appear that most everything will fit as I had hoped.  Again, my glass show inventory, tools, and supplies will take up more room than my every day living supplies will.  

I embrace minimalism pretty well.  And while that's true, it's also true that I sell trinkets and dust catchers for other folks to clutter up their lives with.  Oh the irony of it all but that's life!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Splinters, Blisters, and a Build-Out, Oh My!

Had I known, I think I would have purchased a Class C RV.

Armed with a screwdriver, a hammer, some nails, some glue, and leftover paper towels I went to work.  Lucky for me, my measurements and the cuts that the helpful guy from Home Depot made were all spot on.  That made the job less troublesome to be sure.

I started with the table.  It was smaller and a little less complicated than the bunk and yet it was pretty close to the same kind of structure.  However, if I was going to go through a learning curve, I wanted it to be on a piece of furniture I wouldn't be trying to sleep on at a later date that could fall apart in the middle of the night if I shifted my weight the wrong way.

The Gorilla Wood Glue was amazing and money well spent.  I suspect it made up for some of my lack of carpentry skills.  Only time will tell how well it holds up, or holds me up, as the case may be.

With only a few challenges, the table pretty much went off without a hitch.  However, I did see a pattern emerging...  One in the palm of my hand from the screwdriver.  It was called a blister!

The bunk build was larger and more of a challenge in terms of logistics.  Due to its size it weighed more and due to my size I wanted at least six legs on it to hold me up.  My hands were already tired from screwing around with the screws and blisters were forming. 

Please remember, "Damn it man, I'm a glassblower not carpenter."  That never gets old. ;-)

Now that they were basically built I needed to do a little trim work on the furnishings with some 1" X 3" wood trim.  This would further secure the pieces and help prevent slippage by anything that might be placed on top of their respective surfaces.

My hands were pretty well torn up by this time so I borrowed a rechargeable drill.  It made the work go that much faster but let me just say, they sure don't make drill bits the way they use to!

All in all, I'm glad I built these items instead of just buying something already created.  It is, after all, part of the journey of #VanLife and now I have a good story to go along with my blisters and splinters.  More importantly I know that while I'm a glassblower damn it and not a carpenter, I can still turn a screw.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Build or Buy? VanLife Decisions

Well, after looking around at flea markets, researching various ideas, and literally weighing the options, I've opted to build what I need.

Now, how to do that with a manual screwdriver, a hammer, and absolutely no carpentry skills.

In a phrase reminiscent of one of my childhood heroes, Dr. Leonard McCoy Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise off of Star Trek TOS:

"Damn it man, I'm a glassblower, not a carpenter!"

Lucky for me Home Depot cut my wood to order!  So all I needed in addition were screws, wood glue, and maybe some paint.  Oh, and some Reflectix insulation for creating blackout panels for the windows.

All said and done, I spent about $80 at Home Depot on the build-out and another $20 at Walmart on the spray paint.  Now, let's see what I can do with a hammer and a manual screwdriver!

Here's my list of supplies:

Bed 30" x 75" so cut 31" x 76"
Frame 2 - 76" 2x4 & 3 - 29" 2x4

Table 16" x 48"
Frame 2 - 48" 2x4 & 2 - 13" 2x4

Trim boards 76" + 31" + 31" + 48" +16" + 16"

6 Bed legs: 18"
4 Table legs: 23"

Gorilla Wood Glue
1 1/2 inch all purpose screws

Reflectix 2 - 10' x 24" rolls

Spray paint color: Flat Soft Iron

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Let the Build-Out Begin

Deciding what one needs in a vehicle one is going to live in encourages much thought and planning.  You have little space to work with and every square inch counts.

I don't want to mess with the flooring, the walls or the windows.  The Kraken is pretty nice and reasonably well insulated for my purposes, as I don't plan to have him in any extreme hot or cold weather.  Unlike a typical cargo panel van, the Kraken has windows all around the cargo area because it once was a people moving wagon and those windows offer great visibility which is wonderful to me.

I'm essentially looking at a couple of furniture structures to provide some basic support and minimal comfort as I travel.

The build-out on the Kraken is going to be very minimalistic.  The reality is that I need more space for my glassblowing show: inventory, tools, tent, tables, et cetera than I do for everyday living amenities, at least for now.

I've basically decided on a table and a bunk.  The table will some day hold a basin and possible water tank and a small camp stove of sorts.  The bunk obviously will be my bed.

The table will be on one side of the van and the bunk on the other.  Both will run along the length of the cargo bay instead of the width.  At 6 foot tall, I need a full length mattress on which to sleep but I don't need it to be very wide, maybe a narrow twin will do.

During my last two years of minimizing my possessions I have given away many of my tools and am left with the basics.  Do you think a screwdriver and hammer will be all I need?  Perhaps I should shop the flea markets and find furniture that's already built that will fit my needs.  What to do...  Time will tell the story.

On thing is for sure, the captain's seats in back need to come out!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

1 #VanLife Meet the Kraken

Meet the Kraken in his YouTube debut.
My 1995 Ford Econoline E150 Club Wagon Chateau