Mattress system, wall panelingRead Now
We had custom sized laminated latex and foam mattresses mad for Redford. I picked them up on Tuesday and did a test fit yesterday. The goal was to have comfortable seating for the day but an easily convertible bed for sleeping at night. In terms of bedding I'm planning on using a sleeping bag most of the the time and Angela is thinking of using a comforter "taco style." This will allow for quick take down and set up of the bed. I'm going to see about stuffing the sleeping bag and comforter into cushion covers so that they will act as cushions during the day and not need extra storage space. I laid on the cushions and they are very comfortable.
I got all of the window frames installed today. This allowed me to continue with panelling the walls.
Kitchen cabinet and window frameRead Now
The kitchen drawer side is really close to being complete. All that's remaining to do there is to attach the false front in front of the cook top. I went to Homedepot and unfortunately they don't carry the hinges in store - they have to be ordered online (sigh!) Wiring in the outlet for the backside of the cabinet (for potential outdoor use) was a bit challenging. I thought I had left myself extra wire but there was definitely no extra which made things very challenging for working space. I also gave myself a bit of a scare when I went to test the outlets and was wondering why there was no power (I had tested the wires before beginning to make sure the power flow was correct and all was good.) After checking the outlets and the breaker panel, I realized that I had forgotten to reset the GFCI button on the outlet! Phew (again!) Next item for the cabinet are the slide out trays for under the sink. As there are two cabinet doors, we're going to have a pull out tray for each side. One will be for the garbage can and the other side for the cleaning supply caddy.
I finally got going on the window frame for the large window on the passenger side. The window frames need to be completed and installed before I can continue any further with the wall panelling. The frame itself was not a big challenge but the opening for the 12v charging points was a bit of a bother. I had recut it larger a few times prior to assembly to make sure the sockets would fit through the opening. Then I applied the aging compound to the individual pieces before dinner thinking that I could assemble and test fit after dinner. All was good - the frame fit into the space very nicely - but then I realized that one of the three 12v sockets was shorter than the other two and the lock ring would not be able to secure that socket. More cutting... (a few times.) Eventually I did get it to fit into the frame.
Cabinet drawersRead Now
Work on the kitchen cabinet continues. After visiting three different kitchen cabinet and counter top suppliers in Langley, I was not able to find a supplier for Corian solid surface material besides a big box retailer. The price estimate came in much higher than what we think is reasonable - and we wouldn't even get the cut out waste material from the cooktop and sink cuts. We'll probably end doing a laminate on either plywood or a pine board shelf. We had considered doing a wood countertop (which we see in many vans and it does look really nice) but we think it has a couple of drawbacks. First, when we've looked at vans with wood counter tops, after time, the wood splits or shows excessive wear. Second, we already have sooo much wood in our build. The cabinets, ceiling, and floor all show wood grain and earth tones. We felt the Corian would have helped lighten/brighten the interior. Laminate will do the same. So one more job for me to do - but at least I can cut and finish the counter myself.
Lots of work occurred yesterday when I built all of the cabinet drawers and installed the boxes on rails into the cabinet. Today I only got a few hours to work after dinner and did some tweaking of the drawers with their finished wood faces. Boy, building and installing drawers is really fussy work. I had never done it before and trying to get the faces to line up properly with the cabinet frame was exasperating. In the end I think I have them reasonably well aligned. The last finish for them will be hand holds and then South catches. It will be the catches that will pull the drawers tight so that everything lines up nice and tight.
Kitchen sink cabinetRead Now
Spent the entire afternoon picking up leaves today... and that was only about one quarter of the leaves! So plenty more to come down and plenty more to pick up. I continued to work on the kitchen cabinet and the false front for the sink area was probably the most challenging thing I've done yet. If something could go wrong, well it went wrong. In the end, I was able to repair the mistakes and accidents but it was a bit frustrating. I had mentioned previously that working in a van is the "gift of small spaces" but this was magnified today. Even though I tested the length of pocket screws and holes (and the test went fine) a screw still went astray and punctured the side of the panel - in a highly visible area (right on the edge of the panel that faces the dining area.) Arrrgghhh! After several hours (all while picking up leaves) I was able to repair the edge of the panel so the mistake is not longer visible. I've also installed the first of the wall panels (pictures of that tomorrow.)
Upper cabinetsRead Now
It took quite a while for the whole process: take down the doors, template and cut the hand holds (two holes and jigsaw for each), sand, prestain, stain with the thinned stain, varathane three to four coats, sand again, and then remount the doors. In the end we're happy with the appearance. The cabinets had a flush face and the look is clean. Tonight I also got the rest of the gas lift struts in place. Onto the driver's side dining area and bathroom. I'm leaving the kitchen drawers to later...
Cabinet doorsRead Now
Working around very slight (and some not so slight) slopes makes installing cabinets a challenge. I purposely set the cabinet bottoms a little back from the tops so that there was less chance of whacking my head on a cabinet edge. That posed the challenge of now having a hinge point that would close at an acute angle (less than 90°) which is unusual for a cabinet. After trying several different Blum hinges from Home Depot, I found one that will work. It is a Euro style for a frameless cabinet - but it is not a clip in hinge (none of those worked.) It is adjustable but the door attachment is a screw onto the mounting plate. I worked carefully to try and have nice looking wood grain (no patches) with a reasonably consistent stain application for all the doors. This meant doing all of the upper doors at the same time. We're still deciding on whether to use cabinet door pulls or to do cutout slots on each door. Because each door will have either a magnetic or mechanical latch on them (to keep them from accidentally opening while driving) there is a certain amount of force needed to pull the door open. In terms of using a handle/pull, we see two main downsides. One, pulling hard on the handle will loosen the screw and probably create problems later. We have this (handles coming loose over time) happening in our cabinets at home and there are no magnets or latches at home. Two, the handles protrude into the van living space. Another inch here or there is a big deal in a tiny living space.
I think I've mentioned this before - there's so much to keep track of during the build process. I had planned on installing the Seelevel tank monitor panel and the Victron battery monitor unit in the panel just over the cargo slider door on the passenger side. I had previously tested the wiring from the grey, black, and fresh tanks to make sure the wiring was working. What I forgot was that when I tested it I had used a + and - wire from a different location in the van as I hadn't finished all my wiring yet. Well... I forgot and continued with the build. Low and behold, I built my overhead cabinets and installed the kitchen cabinet shell overtop of all the wire runs. When I went to wire up the Seelevel panel I was looking at the wiring thinking, "Hmmm, how did this go together again? Oh CRAP!!!" I realized that the wires to the battery were not installed. THANKFULLY, I had the right idea in that I had planned for access to the wires behind the cabinets - they were covered over with 1/4" plywood. So I undid 9 screws and jumped + and - connections off the wires that I had for the lights nearby. This also reinforced for me that I am happy I ran heavier gauge wire than is necessary (12 gauge when many people would have used 14 or 16) to the lights so jumping another connection off the power source wasn't going to overload anything.
Life gets in the way! There haven't been many full days of work that I've been able to get in. Plenty of various other activities and events - but life is good:) I have managed to squeeze in a couple of hours on most days.
The kitchen cabinet shell has been installed. As with everything else, building the pantry was a "one off custom job." I bought hidden bottom mount glides for the pullout pantry and the slides had "slow close" mechanisms built in which I at first thought was great. Then after installing them I realized that we were going to need some sort of restraint mechanism for when we are driving (other wise the pantry might fly open on a corner.) I realized that the slow close wouldn't close with enough force to engage a latch. After some thinking and serendipitous shopping, I came across a solution - a sash lock like those used on windows. Because our pantry is right next to the heater cubby, there is an exposed vertical wall which would allow for mounting the lock.
More updates coming today on what's been happening since my last post.
Calvin here - after spending almost 33 years in education as a high school teacher, elementary teacher, and elementary administrator, it was time to retire! I did so happily and with no regrets; it was a terrific and fulfilling career. I do enjoy building projects as the design and building process is very therapeutic and you see a completed functional product in the end. Now to combine the build with another of Angela's and my passions - travel - is something we're really looking forward to.