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Everything posted by chong

  1. chong

    Winter Tire Thread

    I haven't seen one of these threads for 2016 yet. What is everyone running in the winter? I'll confess that I'm not a Ford guy, but I am a Subaru guy and starting around this time of year the Subaru forums get packed with winter tire threads. We might as well start one that everyone can use. On my Subaru's I run Blizzak WS70 tires (WS70 has been discontinued in favor of the WS80 model). This is Bridgestone's "studless ice & snow" model. These tires are designed for deep snow and ice covered roads. They give up a bit on cold and dry roads, but I choose to make this tradeoff because I'm a skier and if its pounding down snow, I want to be in the car going to the hill. To that end, I tell people that I run snow tires on my cars because I want to go the speed limit year round. Coming to Ann Arbor from the UP (where it snows 300" per year on average), I'm quite comfortable driving in the snow. I actually quite enjoy it. I have a set of WS70s with only 2 seasons on them that I plan to run. Unfortunately, I need to get new rims. Subaru Wheel Spec is 5x100 and the Transit appears to run 5x108 (so close). So, what does everyone else run? If you have any questions, I'd say ask them here. I'm not an expert, by far, but I'm sure we have some knowledgable folks in the community.
  2. We bought our 2016 LWB Transit Connect for the purpose of converting it into a road trip vehicle. We often drive long distances to ski (we live in Michigan and there aren't any mountains here) and ride mountain bikes. The van is intended to serve those use cases. It isn't intended to be lived out of for long periods of time, it just needs to be comfortable enough to pull off the road when we get tired and catch some good sleep. When we get to the destination, we will stay in more legitimate accommodations (VRBO, AirBnB, etc...). I'll start with the electrical system. Having slept in my various cars (Subaru WRX and Subaru Forester), I knew that we had to invest in keeping warm. If I had my say, I'd invest in better sleeping bags and be done with it. Mrs. Chong, on the other hand, was having none of that idea. It was heated blanket or bust. Luckily, I have some friends who are electrical engineers. They helped me design a power system that will power the heated blanket we bought for a full 1.5 days without recharging. The BOM for this system is as follows: 2 Optima YellowTop D31t 75Ah Deep Cycle Batteries Battery Boxes Blue Sea Systems 120A DC Add a Battery Kit Noco Genius 10AMP 1 Bank Battery Charger 3 Blue Sea Systems Fuse Block Terminals 3 125A Blue Sea Systems Terminal (slow blow) Fuses Blue Sea Systems 6 Circuit DC Fuse Block 1000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter Combination Cigarette Lighter and USB Outlets (DC) 2AWG Copper Wire And various other bits for wiring up the circuits. The first thing to do was to run the wiring from the engine compartment into the cabin. We ran this through the stock grommet in the firewall behind the glove box on the passenger side. We ran one 2AWG wire to the positive battery terminal and one 2AWG wire to the stock chassis ground next to the battery. We installed one of the Fuse Block Terminals and Slow blow fuses between the starter battery and the add a battery kit: We then got to work on wiring up the rest of the kit. Here's a shot of the panel I made for the Add a Battery Kit and the DC Fuse Panel: That panel lives in that little cubby beneath the passenger seat. Here's an in-progress shot of wiring up the batteries, charger, and inverter: You can see that every single battery has a fuse on the positive terminal. This should keep the system from drawing too much current. If something needs more than 125A, that likely wouldn't be good. It will be neat to see what that inverter does when I finally power it on with a load. Those fuses are rated to sustain 2x the current load they are rated for, for a duration of 1 second, I believe (I'm not an expert on this stuff, but I have friends that design the transformers that live on the global electrical grid, they signed off on the design). And the forum is now telling me I'm at the attachment limit for a single post. Really need BBCode so I can link these from flickr. To be continued...
  3. Our latest adventure took us the farthest we've been in the van. Starting on December 16th we departed Ann Arbor, Michigan for Bend, Oregon. This is a bike and ski trip that would take us through Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and all the states in between. Prior to leaving I made one small change to the van. I've always had the inverter, but never really used it. The 12v heated blankets we used last year didn't stand the test of time so we upgraded to something a bit warmer that runs off regular 120v AC. We also use the inverter to run our electric kettle for making rest stop coffee and the like. The bike rack upgrades made re-configuring for carrying 2 bikes a snap. No road grime and a bit more security while we're on the go. You'll notice that I'm using Fork-Up adapters instead of the right sized adapters for the fat forks (which I have). This is by design. Using those adapters allow me to remove the bikes and put them on the roof quickly when converting the back of the van to sleep mode. This extra speed came in handy on the way home when we were getting things ready at -11F temps. Days 1 & 2 were travel days. The first overnight in the van was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. From Cheyenne we drove to Bend. From Ann Arbor to Cheyenne is about 1,100 miles. We stopped every 250-300 miles for gas and to switch drivers. The nicest thing about the Transit Connect is that it drives like a small car. This makes it a drama free driving experience for Mrs. Chong. I still miss driving a manual transmission every day, but we wouldn't have made it all the way across the country in 2 days if I had to do all the driving. From Cheyenne to Bend is about 1,100 miles. We made it on schedule. It turned out that it was a low snow year. Our original plan was to ski at Mt. Bachelor in Bend for 2 days, but there was no snow to be found. Talking to some people in one of the Local Bike Shops, we learned that at this time last year (December 18-20) the town had 5 feet of snow on the ground. Temps were in the 50s for the first 2 days. Perfect for mountain biking. The trails in Bend are amazing. The town of Bend itself felt like home. If you take Ann Arbor and drop it into the mountains, you have Bend. We definitely want to go back and spend more time there. Because we were so close to the ocean, we took a day and drove out to Cannon Beach, looping back through Astoria (Goonies never say die!) on the way back. We've now touched the Pacific ocean on 2 continents (日本が大好きな!) The last day (my birthday, actually), it snowed! We did a 6 mile hike in town. Bend was awesome, but it was time to leave. From Bend, we drove down to Sandy, Utah. I can't think of a better place to get in the first turns of the season, even if there wasn't a lot of snow. From Sandy, we headed south to Moab. This was the only reason we brought bikes. Stopping in at the LBS, we learned that Moab doesn't see a lot of snow and that the 8" or so they got a couple days ago meant that riding the famous Moab Slick Rock trails wasn't going to happen. Luckily for us, there's a lot of other stuff to see in Moab. Arches National Park. From Moab we started back North and East into Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Initial plan was to ski at Aspen, but weather patterns were driving snow into Northern Colorado. Santa brought a foot of fresh and no crowds to Steamboat! Morningside had the goods on its first day open for the season. I was really missing my Subarus on the drive up to The Boat from Glenwood Springs. There was over a foot of unplowed snow on both I70 and the smaller highway north. The Blizzaks did their thing, but the manual transmission and ground clearance on my old Forester were missed dearly. We met up with my family in Denver for the rest of the trip. None of us are actually from there, but my sister and brother in law were flying in for a 3 day concert and my parents decided to drive out from Traverse City, Michigan. Being that we go out west all the time, we were on tour guide duty. We spent a day in Breckenridge skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking. Another day back in Steamboat skiing followed by soaking in the hot springs. The rest of the time we were on our own. We took another day to Fatbike out in Breck as well as stop in town for some supplies you can't get back in Michigan (Tele boots and skins). We took 2 days to drive home from Denver, sleeping in the van in Davenport, Iowa. We ended up hooking up the Arduino controlled remote start that night to keep us a bit warmer as the temps plummeted to -11F outside. Gas: 278 Gallons ($732.25) Miles: ~6500 Memories: Countless Pictures: Flickr
  4. Awesome build! Reminds me a lot of my build. I need to get moving on siding and making the walls look nice. I don't want to add holes to the van if I can help it though. That's been my hangup for over a year now!
  5. Got my new bike rack installed. This was definitely a worthwhile upgrade! Previously, I was just screwing the fork mounts down to the floor, which worked fine, but if I ever needed to carry different bikes I had to spend a lot of time moving things around to make sure everything would fit. Now I can just slide them around in the channels. Test fitting my Fat Bike rack: Front channel mounted in the van: Rear channel mounted in the van: Test fitting the bike: With the previous location of that mount, my tire would rest up against the rear door. Now I have some clearance: That's my longest bike, so everything else should fit perfectly. I drove about 400 miles round trip yesterday to participate in Global Fatbike Day. The rack was rock solid. This was definitely money well spent.
  6. They are various sizes to fit the various racks (some require smaller bolts). They range from M3 to M6.
  7. Got my custom rails that will make up my bike racks in the mail yesterday. The idea is that the fork mounts will bolt into the channels with T-Nuts allowing me to slide them from side to side depending on the bikes I want to carry. Can't wait to get these installed. We leave for our next road trip in 2.5 weeks!
  8. chong

    Winter Tire Thread

    Went down and measured my Blizzaks and found them to only have 3/32" of tread left. They are practically on the wear bars. I'm going to give the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 a go this time. On paper, they look to be quite awesome. Can't wait for the snow!
  9. I did remove the glove box and it was not hard to get out, but I'm pretty sure we had to cut some plastic to be able to pull it off the pegs (I don't think it was designed to be removed with the dash in the vehicle). Doesn't really hurt any functionality, but you should be careful putting it back in as it will weaken it a bit if you aren't careful. For the record, my glove box hasn't fallen out and I keep it pretty loaded up! Take this bit of information with a grain of salt, my memory is pretty fuzzy. Also be careful running the wire through the grommet. There is almost 0 room and if you manage to unseat the grommet, the sheet metal is damn sharp and you'll risk stripping the jacket off either the wire you're running or the wiring that's already there. Good luck!
  10. Just ordered some custom aluminum extrusions with appropriately sized t-nuts to make a much nicer interior bike rack. Parts should be here around the 2nd week of December. Can't wait to get the parts in and install them. Should make switching up the fork mounts a 5 minute operation.
  11. She's 4'11" I'm 6'5". The car side of the awning is probably right around 6'6", but the poles on the other side telescope and we can make that end a bit higher if desired.
  12. The Awning is the Arb Awning 2000 The heated seat kit is this eBay auction
  13. Had the day off Friday so I decided it was time to add heated seats to my Van. This isn't my first rodeo with adding heated seats to a car that didn't come with them from the factory. The first step was to yank the seats: Having an elevated work area makes things go a bit faster: Disassemble, add the heating element, reassemble: We pulled the center console and mounted up the switches: Wired everything up to switched power and we're off to the races: No more cold butts!
  14. It doesn't really do anything of value unless you service your van at the dealer (you used to be able to get coupons, not sure if that's still true). I have it turned off on my van.
  15. I have 2 aux batteries in my setup. I ran the alternator cable through the grommet with the stock wiring on the passenger side of my 2016. There's not a lot of room there, but I wasn't able to find another place to feed it through without requiring the use of a drill and some primer. As far as placement. Depending on the size, they will fit under the floor extension (see my build thread for some photos of this), but in my case, it wasn't a good fit. I did the same thing as Glenn and built a box for them directly behind the front seats.
  16. I have 2 aux batteries in my setup. I ran the alternator cable through the grommet with the stock wiring on the passenger side of my 2016. There's not a lot of room there, but I wasn't able to find another place to feed it through without requiring the use of a drill and some primer. As far as placement. Depending on the size, they will fit under the floor extension (see my build thread for some photos of this), but in my case, it wasn't a good fit. I did the same thing as Glenn and built a box for them directly behind the front seats.
  17. That explains the clutch pedal... Edit: I use Weathertech. Like them a lot.
  18. So we've now had our van for 1 year. We've put almost 37k miles on it. We're loving it!
  19. chong

    2014 nirVANa build

    Looks great! I'm curious how you secured the walls. My wife has been bugging me to make the back of the van look nicer, but I don't want to drill any new holes. It looks like there are already some pre-drilled holes with captive nuts welded to the backs, but I've not had the time to experiment with any of them yet.
  20. I have 2 batteries. The design requirement was to be able to run 2 heated blankets for 8 hours (the coldest overnight temp we've slept in the van was -18F). I put together a system to do that while running a powered cooler. A battery monitor is definitely on my list of upgrades for the future.
  21. I have both in my Van. My battery bank is 2x Optima Yellowtop (each battery is 75Ah). I have them connected to the Alternator via a Blue Sea Systems Add a Battery kit. I can also charge them via AC with a NOCO Genius 10a charger. I've documented my build here: Vincent VanGoing 1.0
  22. That's a kickass trip! Sucks about the windshield. I'm on windshield #5 in less than a year and I just took another rock on the way home from work 2 weeks back. Happens, I suppose...
  23. It looks to me as though someone just drilled. I'll see if I have any good pictures of my naked roof. Edit: Oh, just realized you have a 2012. My 2016 is likely quite different.
  24. chong

    GPS antenna but.....

    It is, on his model year at least. The SYNC3 GPS antenna is built into that same puck for model years with SYNC3. If the OP has either of the previous iterations of sync then there's a GPS module floating around in there somewhere, but I have no idea where it would be placed. Usually under the dash on top of the steering column.