I have made several advances over the last few weeks. None of them dramatic but all important and all that have taken much more time then you would think. Its surprising how much time needs to be spent just looking and thinking about a problem before it can be solved.
Over bed storage
I had built a small plywood shelf above the bed. It was so neatly cut in and shaped to the strange curve and angles of the cab, but it just looked naff. It didn’t suit the style of the van because it just looked slapped together and even though I took decent time to make it, I was never happy with the way it turned out.
So when I was browsing a local reclamation yard I got a flash of inspiration. Do you remember being in reception class at school a Long Time Ago©. Well on wet days, if you went to my school, you’d put your coat on a hanger above a bench and then take your plim-soles off and put them in a wire rack under the bench to dry. Under this wire rack was a hot pipe that warmed them up, so at the end of the day you had warm dry shoes. I havent had that much luxury since I stopped using stabilisers
Well by a stroke of luck the wire rack is exactly the right size to fit between the folded up bed and the ceiling. Its also much more capacious and sturdy than my dodgy shelves and give a nice sort of rustic re-used look to the place which is exactly my style.
To add a bit extra comfort to the van, I’ve also mounted a small USB fan to the end of the wire rack. This blows softly and quietly on my face to keep me just cool enough on the hot summer nights we have been having recently.
A friend also has access to a high power laser cutter so furnished me with a cool Harley Davidson sign. Its heavy but looks awesome so it stays for now, unless the van needs to go on a diet…
Bed hook ups
Along with the replacement of the shelves, went my only way of holding the bed up in the folded position. I was using the wooden shelves as a hook point for bungees and now it had been removed I would have to use the wire rack. Except I didnt because the bed is very heavy and I didnt fancy bending my nice newly reclaimed second hand wire shoe rack over bed storage solution, or NRSHWSROBSS…. For short.
It had only been a temporary solution anyway so now I found a permanent way of securing the bed. I didn’t fancy just to screw into the wall cladding so I made a point of fixing metal load eyes to the metal chassis of the van. Coupled with some climbing carabiners and para-cord gave a very secure solution.
Everyone needs one of these, there is no getting away from it. It also poses a particular problem in a van because obviously you don’t want a full size house bin, that needs massive black sacks. Supermarket carrier bags is an obvious miniature version.
I’m using a small Ikea recycling bin hooked behind the passengers headrest on some left over climbing cord (ever-useful) This does the job nicely, keeps it accessible but out the way and the right way up. Out of reach of the dogs and easily removable for emptying. The only downside is that if it gets a bit smelly, its right by the passengers head… Maybe this will have to move, but its fine for now.
When I installed the ceiling board and LED strip lights I had run the excess length inside the over cab storage box. I felt this was a stroke of genuis personally as it perfectly illuminated the otherwise dank hole and made it useful.
I had, however been so impressed with myself that i was lazy and didn’t finish the job of tidying the cables away properly. They just hung from the ceiling, preventing easy access to the space. I was having to be really careful not to pull out the cables or snag the LED lights when moving stuff in or out of the box and that really made it a pain. I’ve now fixed all the cables in place and can use it properly without fear of damaging anything, far better than what it was before (below)
Another laziness task I hadn’t finished was the installation of the leisure battery. I had been having problems with running the battery down so after a long drive checked it with a multi-meter. Really, after a few hours drive a partially used battery will be back up to full charge. The original leisure battery that came with the van was only reading 11.8V, definately a sign it was knackered <- official technical term.
Replacing it was really only a 10 minute job. Unbolt the old one, hoik it out, drop in the new one and bolt it all back up again, remembering not to let wires touch anything they shouldn’t.
<< No Photo, its just too boring to look at a battery >>
I had been collecting chutney jars for the last year or so because they are a nice pleasing size for tea and sugar and hot chocolate powders and square shape to be easily packed without rattling too much. I did however need somewhere to put them. The laptop table cupboard is the obvious place but it is still missing a side so stuff can just go flying if not wedged in nicely.
Somewhere in the depths of Dads garage emerged a small wooden tray. I think it used to house a flower pot and candle gift set or some such rubbish which had long been thrown away. After a clean and test it was found to fit 6 of these jars perfectly so into the van it went. I mounted it on left over metal brackets I had from assembling many Magnet kitchens. It had a slot in the top for position adjustment which I used in conjunction with a partially seated screw to allow me to remove the whole tray at will. A removable tea rack, perfect for the middle class English garden tea parties I’ll be having…
Lastly was a bit of proper engineering to secure the folding table in place. It was a stroke of genius I had had to have a folding table. It dramatically increases the size of work-space available but was arranged in line with the direction of travel. Each time I sped up or slowed down, the table swung around and banged into the cabinet supporting it. I had quietened this a bit with he use of a rubber bumper but it was still annoying and I feared over time would cause damage to itself when I kicked it off its hinges for being so annoying.
The solution I made was a simple catch mechanism hinged on the cabinet that latched over a screw-head. It was made form a piece of metal bracket which i cut to size and chamfered the edge. This chamfer meant that the table could simply be folded down and gravity would act on the latch to lock it in place, very swish. It stopped the banging and wild swinging around and a small lift with my toe would release it to be folded up whenever needed.
This was a simple solution to a developing problem. The floor of the cab area has a sort of rubber and foam covering to the metal chassis. This presumably deadens road and engine noise and makes it a bit warmer and impervious to water and mud – very practical. However over the 100,000 miles of the vans life, this has started to wear away under the drivers feet.
To stop it getting any worse and make it look a little nicer than the utilitarian dark grey expanse of mental hospital rubber matting, I got a simple door mat from Aldi and cut it to fit. I can’t claim credit for this idea as it was Angus who did this first. I was so impressed with the result I’ve now done it too.
Individually these are not much to write about, but collectively they have made a large diffference to the comfort and practicality of the van. There are many more things to be done, but I’ll get around to them, in time.