Working hard on the west coast!

So it’s been a little bit since we have updated the blog and its totally my fault. We have simply been so busy that we haven’t had the time, but I know that we need to make the time if we are going to pull this off while on the main project.

I am writing this from sunny, but surprisingly chilly Santa Barbara, CA. We are in the final push of our build to get our finishing work done and have a little fun in the van. From a work perspective, we are out here with our buddy Burl from Burley’s Motorsports. He is our craftsman and Pit Boss of sorts. He has designed our suspension set-up, custom made our tire and expedition racks, currently creating us a rear bumper from scratch, replacing ball joints, rethinking and custom building suspension parts, and the list goes on. He is really our ace to make this thing go, and it’s a huge assett that he has raced vehicles across the dessert and knows about remote expeditions and repairs.

Burl immediately noticed that the van was sitting In a way that wasn’t going to fly long term. We keep adding weight to the van and that effects how the suspension works and van sits. Ideally the van will sit level side to side and front to back when fully loaded with our gear, and the suspension will have room to move both up and down. The set-up we have now is going to call for some new springs and some new thinking by Burl. Not a lot of off-road / heavy duty springs come sized for Vanagons. So Burl has to fabricate a custom adapter that’s going to work for a new set of springs and with the shocks and other items we already have. We are going to be posting the video shortly that we shot of Burl during our last visit so you guys can have a sense of the guy, but he’s a really great guy and in this 100% with us. In addition to the springs, we also needed a new rear bumper that would be strong enough to be yanked on in the event that we get stuck and can’t winch or dig ourselves out. He is also fabbing us a mounting plate for our front winch, and fairlead, making us reinforced driveline protection bars with skid plating, and some other goodies. he is basically helping us dial in the remaining structure of the van and all of the little outstanding items.

While Burl is working on that, we are busy at work on the “systems” of the van. The electrical, water, heat, and aux fuel. We finally got our aux fuel and water tanks from South Africa in. They are made of stainless steel and going to be awesome. We are having to modify the mounting hardware that came with the tanks because we are installing sensors to tell us what the levels of the tanks are. Those little sensors stick up on the top of the tanks so you can’t press the tank as firmly up against the bottom of the van, or you will crush them. Another request for some out of the box thinking from burl. The auxillary heater arrived from Germany, and it’s sweet because it will run off of gasoline, vs propane which may be difficult to source outside of the small cooking containers. That involved some pretty intense cutting of the floor to make it fit and the need to make a special “plate” to seal it to the floor. More custom work.

And our collective favorite system is the electrical system. It’s one of those projects that we have been at for some time now. Building the battery box, ordering more and more wire, wiring up the computers for the batteries, etc. we have tackled the major challenge of integrating all of the cars loads and charging sources under my seat. This is where the big batteries get tied together with the alternator, the solar panel, the reserve battery, etc. and since we are working with properly sized wires for our distance and loads, is a bit of a struggle to work with the thick wires In a small space. But seeing it come together yesterday was beyond gratifying!

It’s time to get to work today and so I will leave you with a shot of the bus bars under the drivers seat. Gorgeous.

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