Finishing touches

So we are just going to pretend that it hasn’t been a month since we last posted 🙂 we have been making progress on the finishing touches of the van. We are now at the point of integrating and committing to the installation of all of the major systems. Up to this point we have been putting in the foundations of the major systems of heat, water, air, and electrical,but now it’s time to connect them all together. I liken it to us laying the pipes and wires in the walls of our house and now we are about to seal up the walls. One would think this is a crazy exciting time, but it’s actually pretty stressful.

With the van apart we can easily get to every wire and connection. We can add labels, zip ties, and extra wires. But mounting the cabinet and connecting the panel means, that we better be pretty confident that we have it all sorted. Otherwise the time to correct it is going to be hours.

Here is the cabinet out one last time!

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The first major project was to wire the electrical breaker panel. We have decided to try and minimize the amount of fuses in the van where possible. We ordered our panel months ago, but in hindsight I wish we were just ordering it now. Despite the best laid plans, some of the items you thought you were going to use, you end up not using and that changes the size of the breaker you need. Ugh. So now you have your awesome panel, but you need to change out some of the breakers. Sigh, luckily we don’t have this problem by and large but still something to be aware of. What I do really like about the panel though is the ability to easily switch off circuits. This is pretty helpful, as most devices, even when off, have a power draw. In the case of Bo, we will pretty much always want the computer system (more on that in a sec) running and the fridge. But the other circuits are fine to be disconnected. We can easily do that with a panel. Here is the panel in progress.

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In the electrical design, we basically have a huge integrated loom of connections in the main cabinet. It has the cables for the fridge, cabinet lighting, 2 solar charge controllers, water pump, etc. That massive loom then meets up with all of the other cable runs that are run through the van to the back panel. Wiring the panel was a huge a deal because by doing that we are now committed to the cabinet being in place! Now to remove the cabinet we would have to undo all of the electrical connections to the panel. This made me wonder if in a future build I would basically have sub panels. A panel on the cabinet, the rear closet, and under the seat, and basically by disconnecting just two cables (a positive and ground) you can take out that unit, because each unit has its own mini panel. I don’t think would significantly increase cost at all, but would ease service.

We’ve tackled a few other random jobs. We have plumbed both auxiliary tanks for their filler hoses. The aux gas tank is complete with the filler opening cut into the side of the van. The aux water still needs the filler hole cut but the piping is connected to the tank and in place. We forgot the hole cutter this past weekend. We still have to plumb the connections at the rear of the tanks but this is a huge start. We also had to modify the main cabinet again to provide room for the wires to run behind the cabinet to the power substation under the drivers seat. Just a few notches so the cables would have room to lay into.

We also dealt with a scary (at the time) battery moment with one of our lithium batteries. We are working with the manufacturer now to figure out what happened. But the good news is that we we in no danger and we now know just how tough and safe these batteries are.

Overall it’s been productive and we’ve been blessed to have a hangar we were able to work in for a weekend! Yes a hangar!

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This weekend I am going to try and tackle some trouble shooting to get the solar charging, car Internet network, and the alarm system set-up. And maybe if I get to it, figure out one of our lighting circuits. Sucks because its back in the cold on the side of the street…

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