Ursula Sadiq

"Hey, how did I get here?", asks the once and future geek. "Each step made sense along the way, didn't it?" Didn't it?

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So I’ve been slacking on the van build. I have a ton of reasons, which I’m recognizing have slipped into the excuses realm. I'm procrastinating in starting the work. Current excuses are: I need to do the floor before I do the rest. And I need special wood for the flooring (Baltic Birch, or at least marine grade plywood, neither available in my local big box home improvement stores). And I couldn’t shop for it because I was being mom (not true, just easier to shop when you don’t have a bored kid in tow). And then I couldn’t shop for it because I’m isolating again after a COVID exposure (testing indicates I beat that rap, but still it's a 14 day quarantine) Also, I need it to be 50+ degrees so I can rustoleum the minor rust under the floor, so I can’t progress even if I had the wood.

All of which is nonsense. There is no reason I can’t do the ceiling and walls and do the floor after. I’ve been not thinking about the walls because of the floor holdups and also my havelock wool insulation as not yet arrived (but it should in a week or two.)

But I’ve had the ceiling fan for 3+ weeks, and made no movement on installing it. In my head I had to wait for the insulation before I did the ceiling fan. Now I’m recognizing this is not even vaguely the case. In fact I want the fan in before the insulation so I can insulate around it. Duh. 

I’m getting a referral to a local guy to do my fan install. I haven’t actually talked to him yet, but I'm working the smalltown referral network. The network being what it is, I have high hopes to get moving on this. I recognized that this means moving at the speed of Delaware (which is slow), but I’m still optimistic that the fan will go in later this week. Or next.

A friend gifted me a big box 2 weeks ago of sound deadening material. I assumed it was all kilmat or dynamat or similar. Turns out when I opened it, it is indeed some kilmat type stuff called CLD Tiles but also Thinsulate, Mass Loaded Vinyl, and closed cell foam. So since it's here, I’m going to put in the CLD tiles and use the thinsulate on the ceiling. I’m going to forgo the MLV and CCF - its heavy and tedious. I probably don’t have enough Thinsulate to do the whole van, but no matter, my wool insulation is coming soon. And I’ll layer that on too. 

I got up this morning all ready to put start with the CLD tiles. I even dressed in my stain paint splattered work clothes. . . it’s 1:30 and I’ve yet to get started . . maybe after I get this posted. Motivation, she is a fickle fickle mistress <-- this is my current favorite excuse

One thing of positive progress I’ve made: I’ve been buying all the stuffs. Spray glue for the insulation, rustoleum paint, roller to install the CLD, ceiling planks, extra strong folding shelf brackets for a sometimes bed, magnets for the ceiling (yes, I am planning to hold up my ceiling with magnets just like this guy  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfuUC88SYx0 

So hopefully the schedule is:

  • Now: install the CLD tile; schedule the ceiling fan install, pick up ceiling planks
  • Next: get the ceiling fan installed, cut the thinsulate to size, install it on the ceiling
  • After: Put the ceiling planks on. Insulate the walls. Shop for floor wood. Rustoleum the floor. Etc. Etc.
>>>"There is no reason I can’t do the ceiling and walls and do the floor after."

I'm sure you've got it figured out, and I know that it's possible, but my gut instinct falls in line with your original thought. I think I'm just picturing dealing with the 'overlap' from walls to floor.

>>>"...hold up my ceiling with magnets just like this guy..."

Okay - that's really cool. I've never seen that approach and I kinda love it. Also - magnets - how do they work?! :P

Ok, I haven't been building so much as striping out the stuff if came with and making plans. Today the inside looks like this.

What's in the box? I'll get to that...next post. It's also a pretty good kiddo playhouse. (no rearview mirrors were harmed in taking of the photo)

And good for transporting Christmas Trees.

When last I wrote, I was just starting to remove the wall panels. Well since then, I've removed pretty much everything. Some lovely folks drove up from south of DC and took the shelves and bulkhead, and left me a little cash for them. I ripped out the floor. Well, mostly, the floor mat was riveted(?) grommetted(?) to the metal floor in 5 places. I had to use a razor blade knife to cut it out. There are still tufts of matting at the grommet points. It was not a fun task, but its (mostly) done now.

And I finially figured out how to get the rear sill plate off. First challenge was figuring out what it was called so I could google it. I kinda like the sill plate, and probably will be reinstalling it, so I wanted to remove it gentlely. Turns out, you have to pry off 5 little covers and then unbolt these 5 little hex screws. With a 6mm ratchet of all things. Everything else has been 7/16" or 1/2" nuts. Go figure. Fortunately, I've had many years of acquiring tools, so I had a 6mm ratchet. Yay, me.

There is just a little smattering of rust. I will rustoleum that shortly. Still thinking what to do with the several holes in the floor. Patch them? Plug them (with what??)? Leave them? 

I spend time watching youtube and reading blogs on RVing. Also reading FB groups, but that's less enlightening. I'm in a FB van life build group where every f'ing day someone new posts "What van should I buy?" And there are a bunch of people who just want to snark. I figure I'll be leaving that group soon. Still sticking around for the electrical advice - for now. I'm in ANOTHER FB group for female transit vanlifers. And that group is lovely. Everyone is very helpful and supportive. 

Anywhooo, electrical. I've figure out my shore power approach. It's this, complete with link of power plug to buy: 

Thank you random youtube guy. I like not drilling a hole in my van side!

I ordered a MaxxAir vent fan. Should be here around New Years. Then I'll have to cut a 14" x14" hole in my roof. RV store never called me back, so I have to figure out another option for installation. I'm sure I know someone around here who know someone who knows what they are doing with respect to autobody mods.

I'm still unclear how I will power the vent fan. Thinking it through. Obviously I'm gonna need a battery of some sort. That can charge while I drive or from shore power (and maybe someday from solar). I'll get there, but I have time.

PS: I also made a library with all my van photos. Some of which are copied into my posts, lots of which are not. 

12/15 '20 5 Comments
So when we text you

And you're in your van

We'll be Van Hailin'

I'm here all week try the tofu
Thomas Boutell 12/16 '20
Ursula Sadiq 12/16 '20
This so so cool, not only the work you're doing but the community you're finding. :)
So. Frickin. Good.

I got the licence plate and it's now registered all legal like in Delaware. Hurray.

But of course it is getting a vanity tag, so this tag is just temporary. I put it on anyway, because I may need to get a Christmas Tree in it this weekend.

I called the local RV store about installing shore power for me. I know I *could* do it myself, but this (and the ceiling vent) I'm quite happy to pay a professional. .. they haven't called me back.

I started removing the inside fluff, err, wall panels. So far no rust! Yay. I'm thinking I may reuse the panels after I put insulation in the walls. I wonder if I can paint/stencil them. ... I don't really want plain black walls.

I ordered insulation. I'm going with Haverlock Wool for the walls/ceiling because reasons. It should get here in 4-6 weeks. Although I'm going with polyiso insulation for the floor, covered probably with 1/4" plywood. Also because reasons. I'll doubtlessly go into the reasons at some point, but this is pretty much the case for wool

The resources out there are staggering. Quite the subculture, it's easy to get sucked into "research" for hours on end. MUST RESIST. . . this GreenRV site sucked me in today on my insulation and flooring research. And will likely do so again in the future.

Current effort:

Step NOW: Continue to remove interior fluff and unneeded stuff

Step NEXT: Drag in my camping cots to see how/if they'd fit (I have 3). And the trifold mattresses (I have 2). Nag the RV store on shore power/vent fan installation.

Step AFTER Next: Get moving on the floor.

Pending: Electrical design -beyond Shore Power hookup (Alternator Power Hookup). 

12/4 '20 2 Comments
I would agree with paying pros for certain elements (including the ones you mention). My philosophy is that things like water and electric can damage other elements pretty easily, so (where reasonable) I shove money at those problems. If it's about making it look good, or functional in any way that _doesn't_ put other aspects at risk, I'm good enough and smart enough to figure it out.

That's actually my life in general, honestly.
This is exciting! After I bought an old school bus in 2002, already minimally converted by some NASCAR yahoos, I discovered the "skoolie" subculture, but I never did put in the time and energy to make major changes. I get the impression that DIY RVers are a good bunch.
Chris Herdt 12/7 '20

I got a Medium Top Used 150-Ford Transit 2015 Cargo Van. Bought it in Connecticut, picked it up last weekend, getting it tagged at the Delaware DMV today (God willing and the creek don't rise.)

It currently has shelves and a bulkhead divider in it. Which I need to take out. I posted the shelves/bulkhead on FB marketplace and craigslist, no takers yet.

I do NOT plan to live in this van full time. I do plan to take it to parks for a few nights (the type of parks that have bathhouses). I plan to sleep in it at rest stops. I don't expect to be spending more than 5 nights in a row in it. 

I expect it will be just me sleeping in the van 50% of the time; 25% of the time to have my kid with me, 25% of the time to have another adult with me.

My first scheduled trip is to the Delaware Seashore state park (Indian River Inlet) for 3 nights in early April, most likely with my 10yr old. The second trip will be 2 weeks of hiking in Utah with my brother. We'll sleep in the van on the drive out and back, but will be in tents/hotels for the hike. These are guided hikes where the outfitters take care of sleeping accommodations.

So I have 3-1/2 months to get this van into "sleep for 3 nights" in 40degree weather condition. Also to get myself into "hike for 2 weeks" condition.

I've been thinking and dreaming on how to proceed. The blank canvas is a bit daunting, but also exciting. So breaking the build down into smaller and smaller pieces so I can attack them one at a time. 

Step NOW: Get it tagged

Step NEXT: Remove the Shelving & bulkhead (and other interior fluff), which I could use an extra set of hands for. Which I don't have, so it'll be interesting. In non-Covid time I'd get a neighbor to help - in particular the young dad from across the street who is always very helpful when you, say, need a half dead mouse dispatched from under your sink or need help changing a flat. Or I'd throw a deconstruction party of sorts. Stupid plague. Just going to have to figure out how to muddle through from within my bubble.

Step AFTER Next: Figure out Vent Fan installation. Figure out heat and AC (?) options.

Pending: Electrical design - Shore Power hookup, Alternator Power Hookup; Insulation choices;  Sound deadening

Ok, it's apparently to me now that I need a step 0: Start a document to get all my thoughts together. Doing that now.

12/3 '20 15 Comments
For some reason I thought you would turn it into a mobile crafter/makerspace, but a camper van is also awesome! Congrats on your movable tree house!
Sean M Puckett 12/3 '20
I still might turn it into a mobile makerspace. ... with a bed for those overnight crafting adventures.
Ursula Sadiq 12/3 '20
It occurs to me that the two are not mutually exclusive. Especially if you're thinking about it from the beginning. :)
Rob 12/3 '20
This sounds SO exciting.
Offer to help stands. Wearing of masks, and good ventilation (van doors open etc) would obviously be a requirement, and I _100%_ understand if that's still too bubble breaking for you.

Also, if I'm honest, I'd probably be really annoying to work with since I've watched so many #vanlife videos. I'd have so many solutions that it might lead to Option Paralysis which does no one any good. :P

Moral of the story: psyched for you!
I may take you up on that. Lets see how January looks. I ordered insulation today, which has a 4-6 week lead-time.

I'm pretty good at not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, so I'm not SO worried about option paralysis.
Ursula Sadiq 12/4 '20
Sweet! I'll enjoy following along until then. :)
Wow, so cool!
Anne Mollo 12/3 '20
Have you named it? Is "Beethoven" too obvious?

I'm confident you are waaaay more than capable to handle this project yourself, but if you want to bounce an idea off three pals of mine who have lived / toured / camped in said vans, my friends are really lovely humans and I'm sure they'd love to chat with you.

One set of humans is a couple: the folk duo from Newark known as The Honey Badgers. They toured the US making music for over a year living in said van. They did all the modifications themselves. They even had a doggo with them.

My other pal James is a writer, and he got himself a sprinter van after the 2016 election so he could travel the US and talk to random people about things so he could try and wrap his head around how a Cheeto could get elected. Anyway, I don't believe he ever traveled with any guests.

I'm so excited for your adventures!

I have NOT named it. The moniker "the white whale" was floated, but I'm scared of whales, so that got nixed immediately.

I've spent enough time in RVs to pretty much know what I want. And I'm not in it full time, so it doesn't really need stuff like plumbing (though I might add some anyway) But yes, I may need some advice once I get going on the wiring plans.
Ursula Sadiq 12/4 '20
Can't believe I forgot that James did that whole thing! Good gods those brothers are just awesome.
SWEET. This, this is what money is for.
Thomas Boutell 12/4 '20
Indeed! Until the Money is no more!!
Ursula Sadiq 12/4 '20
CM Adams 12/6 '20