Wrapping Up Phase One of the Build

At this point we were 2-1/2 months into our van build and intended to take it on the road for an East Coast trip soon.  We still had no place to sleep, no lights, no water, no storage.  So basically a van with infrastructure.

We started with the shiplap ceiling (made by slicing a couple sheets of plywood), then the driver-side tongue-and-groove wall (left over from a home renovation).  Simultaneously we were building a new mattress platform, treating head wounds from flying power tools, and tweaking lights.

Electricity—did I tell you how much I dislike working with it?  So here are the basics: You need positive and negative.  Positive is usually a RED wire which is counter intuitive to an accountant who knows that NEGATIVE numbers are always RED!  But I digress.  The positive wire needs to connect to the positive wire on the light.  That light is almost guaranteed NOT to use the same color scheme so the positive may be black or it may be black with a white stripe.  But hey, if you get it wrong fuses are fairly cheap.  And connecting different size wires?  Someone should have told me early on that it is okay to be creative with connectors.  It would have saved countless trips to the big box stores looking for supplies they didn’t carry.  (New pro tip:  Autozone had the best electrical connector selection. )  But if you need 10-12 AWG connectors you may be out of luck.  Seriously. I took the LAST PACKAGE at FOUR different stores!

Next we attacked the cabinets.  The projects were becoming more and more intimidating at this point.  We built the first one in the garage and would put it in the van for its fitting.  Do you remember rule number one that there are NO STRAIGHT LINES in a van?  When it came time for the second cabinet we just built it in place, making it up as we went along.  I kind of preferred that method.  Installing the sink, by cutting a hole in the butcher block countertop was almost traumatic as cutting windows.  Several times one of us would say ‘just trust me’!


And now that we had a sink we needed a faucet and running/not dripping water.  You probably know where I’m going with this.  Installing the 12v water pump was a breeze. Making it work outside the van was a snap.  Moving all that inside the van and connecting to a faucet that created pressure was another matter.  Oh, did I mention we actually spent TWO AND A HALF HOURS in the plumbing department picking out six fittings?  Turns out we only had to go back once!  We did disconnect the faucet connection about 8 times trying to stop a slow drip.  Additionally there were online searches, calls to our son for advice, and some bedtime prayers for wisdom.  In the end some plumbers' putty turned out to be the heavenly wisdom we needed.  While this was going on Jenni was performing magic with her cutting board and sewing machine by cutting up the foam mattress and making special covers, sheets, and curtains.

We agreed cabinet doors were not essential at this phase, plastic containers would suffice for storage, and upper cabinets would have to wait. 

We were now road ready.  
(even though we had not tested ANY of these improvements on a public road)

1 comment

  • David, You MUST collect these into a book. Your descriptions are unique and comical at times. “Treating head wounds.” You are definitely a story teller.
    Merry Christmas to you two. We have several inches of sleet/snow mix on the ground.

    Helen Ammons

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