#VanLife Step 4: Progress To Completion
Every day we make progress on MoZee and inch towards her completion. The Midwest has had some drastically cold days this winter. Andy has been such a trooper in braving the cold. We’ve had a couple neighbors complain about the van sitting in front of their homes (there isn’t much curb space available with parking on only one side of the street and everyone having duplexes with double car garages). At least we only received one nastygram on the windshield and one notice from the postman. So, I’d say we’re doing alright. Lol.
Below is a list of the progress we’ve made over the past 4+ months:
While the weather was still decent, Andy and his friend Lil’ Delbert installed the Maxxair 12V vent fan in the roof and it works great. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0050EEO94/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
We received our HQST solar panels, Renogy inverter, HQST charge controller, and Vmax AGM batteries from Amazon. We were surprised that we were able to install the entire system in one night. Installing took far less time than researching, calculating, designing, and all of the phone calls we made to Renogy & HQST. We ended up installing (3) 100 Watt solar panels in conjunction with (2) 155 amp hour AGM batteries.
Next, we hooked up our Whynter FM-45G 45-Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer. We ordered it from Jet.com as they had free shipping & 15% off. We chose this model based on price, reviews, energy usage, and dimensions. We have been very pleased with it so far! The only thing we wish it had that we know Dometic offers, is a USB port. We’ll deal. (https://jet.com/product/Whynter-FM-45G-45-Quart-Portable-RefrigeratorFreezer-Platinum/8758bf833c4348a8a45e32393f0fd8be)
In October, we had the privilege of attending a wedding in Colorado and took MoZee for a test run. She ran like a dream! Nights were a little frosty at elevation though. She had to be turned on a couple of times during the nights for some heat and a little electric space heater kept our faces from freezing. We didn’t have our bed or any cabinets built yet, so it felt like everything was just strewn about. We will appreciate the organization of cabinets when it’s complete.
While camping, we realized we lacked privacy inside the van. When we got home we took the van into Tom @ High Impact to get the windows tinted. Andy began to build our bed and quickly found out that nothing in the van is square. A few modifications later, we had our base for the bed! We decided to make a cubby for shoes at the back of the van. Andy was sweet enough to allow me the larger half of the storage area for my clothes. Hopefully that doesn’t enable me to bring more than I need! Ha!
After the bed was installed, Andy installed our vinyl plank flooring. It was very quick and easy to install. We overestimated on the square footage needed and was pleased to have three unopened boxes to return to Menards. It looks great! He has been working on installing the cabinets. We laid out painter’s tape on the floor to eyeball the layout and space. Hoping an inch here or an inch there will not make a big difference in the end!
We ordered this 4″ High Density Foam Mattress for the bed on Amazon: (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017WPIFA2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). We purchased duck canvas at Joann’s Fabric to cover the foam mattress. Initially thought we’d want a waterproof canvas, but after reading reviews determined that it would be difficult to sew with the machine and didn’t like the crunchy sound when sleeping on it. My next step is deciding whether to use snaps, or buttons. Decisions decisions. I guess if that is all that keeps me up at night, we’re doing ok. Never mind, I fall asleep in less than a minute regardless.
We ordered our roof rack bars from Amazon and found a Thule cargo luggage box at our local Canfield’s Sporting Good store. With the roof layout, we were limited to which box shape would work on our roof. We also wanted one we could possibly use later in life to transport skis and snowboards. We chose the Thule Alpine Force. It can open from either side and comes with locks. Seems rather flimsy and every time Andy looks at it he comments on how much it cost us! Hopefully it will last a long time and hold more than our bumper sticker souvenirs. The black & white Instagram filter sure does make MoZee look fancy!
After the floor was installed, we proceeded to design and construct the “closet” and “cabinets”. Each were customized to fit the space available and items needed to store. This took a lot of visualizing and determining what was absolutely necessary in surviving life on the road.
We decided late March would be our departure date. The pressure was on to complete the van, tie up loose ends at work during our final two weeks, pack our belongings for storage, move our necessities into the van, and clean out our living space we had been renting for two years. Shout out to our awesome landlord/roommate Shalimar for putting up with our ongoing prepping messes! We had a send off #vanlife party to see most of our friends and family before taking off. Let the adventures begin!
Andy – Packed and ready to go. *Researching #vanlife potential stops while drinking a tallboy PBR.
Monica – Pacing around the basement not knowing where to begin packing!? *Takes a BIG GULP of wine.