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I wish I didn't have to actually upload images to the forum. I'm too lazy to edit them down (flickr does that for me and hands me bbcode embeddable links for various sizes).

Here's a shot from inside Banff National Park:

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One more:

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All in all, it was a good trip.

I learned some things that I'll be using to guide my changes when it comes time for version 1.5 of the build. First, FWD is horrible in the snow. I'm not used to driving an automatic so feathering the gas to keep the tires from spinning is going to take some getting used to (need to make use of sport mode). It's fine on the highway with a good set of winter tires (I have Blizzak WS70 tires mounted up right now). The turbo was awesome in the mountains and had to problem supplying adequate power. I must confess, that once we got there, I was missing my baby (2008 Subaru Impreza WRX 5MT Turbo Swapped making about 300hp at the wheels on 91 octane):

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The single most useful thing I did for the build ended up being the Arduino based remote start. It was -18F in Fargo when we stopped the first night. The hour long timer was perfect. We managed to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep that night without having to wake up and start the car. The added bonus was that the coolant was still warm the next morning so the van was warm as soon as we fired it up. I got no complaints from the Mrs about being cold so I'll consider it a win. That night was the coldest the temps got for our entire journey. We didn't use the remote start system at all over the final night in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The temps overnight there were around 30F and the heated blankets were more than adequate.

I'll be making some changes starting in the spring. First, I'm going to reconfigure the position of the batteries so that they don't take up so much length or height. While there is plenty of room to roll around while sleeping, I'd like a bit more vertical space and I'd also like to fit one of my bikes inside. With the extra length, I might be able to fit my skis inside too. With the roof box up top and the bikes on the hitch, wind became a concern. I don't worry about it in the summer, but on icy roads, it wasn't terribly pleasant. For this van, that's about all I'd like to change. I'll also spend more time this summer making everything look nicer. Van 2.0 will likely be a larger transit with the extended wheelbase and high top roof. Something like that is at least 5 years out though. 

As for not showing up on youtube... I wish I had a dashcam. Just after crossing the border back into North Dakota we almost had an incident that would have totaled the van. We were on Southbound I29 the day after it was re-opened from the blizzard that went through. The road itself was clear and dry, but there was about 2" of standing snow on the shoulder. I was in the passing lane with the cruise set at 75mph (the speed limit) about to overtake someone in the right lane. The guy in the right lane, apparently, had a lapse in concentration and dipped a tire onto the shoulder. He also must not have a lot of experience driving in snow because when he did that, he did everything wrong. He yanked the wheel to try and steer back onto the road while hitting the brakes sending him into a skid. He spun twice and ended up sideways in my lane. My only option was to lock up (yes, you can do that even with ABS) the brakes and dive into the shoulder that he just left in order to avoid t-boning him at 75mph. The Blizzaks did their job once they hit the snow. I was able to lift off the brakes and guide the van back onto the highway. The other guy spun at least one more time, but he also never left the road. I can honestly say that's the closest call I've ever had. My heart rate monitor registered 153bpm after the ordeal. For context, my resting heart rate is about 75bpm as I'm sitting here typing this. 150bpm is race pace on my mountain bike. We spent a couple miles at about 50mph, but never stopped. It's funny how things slow down in the moment...

Edited by chong

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2 hours ago, chong said:

Sadly, my windscreen will need to be replaced

What happened?

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Pretty fancy information display, compared to the 2015 model. It's nice to be able to see everything without scrolling down too much.

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What a great trip you have had.  The Van has earned its spurs.  It is good your  near U-tube experience happened after you had completed the TC winter driving training. 

In my Cross country travels the wind screen seems to be an often replaced Item.

Every thing that one designs and builds gets modified after the Idea meets the real world.

Great post Looking forward to more adventures.

 

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3 hours ago, mrtn said:

What happened?

In many northern states they dump hot sand on the roads instead of salt because salt doesn't work so well when it gets really cold. The sand melts into the packed snow and adds a bit of friction which helps your tires work better. In Michigan, they dump sand, but apparently in Alberta, there is the odd bit of gravel thrown in. Combine that with the majority of people in Canada actually equipping their cars with winter tires and you get rocks thrown around all over the place. I assume that a rock hit the windscreen and started the crack. The freeze thaw cycles overnight made it grow. It sucks because I have the heated windscreen, I can't imagine my insurance company is going to be happy that they are going to have to pay for a replacement at full dealer cost (I'll be requiring the OEM windscreen rather than opting for a cheaper aftermarket variant).

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Figures. Winter tires are mandatory here, so I know the situation.

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My windshield took a rock when the Transit Connect was only 3 weeks old.  I have a $500 deductible.  So, no claim.  I just had to pay for the rock chip repair out of pocket.  According to the tech, what the glass companies use is not the same as what you buy over the counter at the auto parts store.  Oh well.  $25 - $35 for a one time use kit at the store.  $50 - $60 for a shop.

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The insurance company will have to replace the Heated screen with one of equal capability.   The heated after market wind screen would not  not be that much cheaper than the OEM  one.

The sand that is used on the roads around here has lots of gravel in it.  The result of which is that  Wind screens  are only good till the next rock.

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On my company car, which goes on average of 50,000 miles a year, I get a new windshield about every 6 months.  More miles driven, greater chances of getting hit by rocks I guess.  My personal pickup still has the OEM windshield after owning it for 10 years.  And in all the years of owning Jeeps, I've only had to replace 1 Jeep windshield.  Strange how those things work.......or not work in your favor.

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Many insurance companies will fix windshield chips for free, even if you have a comprehensive deductible. Saves them money by hopefully preventing a full windshield replacement. In PA in the USA, I usually have to replace or repair my windshield for every five years of vehicle use. So I also had my insurance changed to have a no deductible on glass.

Edited by Boomerweps

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Most insurance packages here include windshield replacement for free (in case it was caused by road debris).

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Hey Chong, 

First off, nice build! The full back being a platform makes a lot of sense to me. Tons of storage! 

What hitch do you have on the van? Did you install it yourself? 

 

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On 1/31/2017 at 4:14 PM, Torton said:

Hey Chong, 

First off, nice build! The full back being a platform makes a lot of sense to me. Tons of storage! 

What hitch do you have on the van? Did you install it yourself? 

 

It's a Curt 13167 Class 3 receiver. Installed it myself. It was pretty easy to get it up there, but I'm not too impressed with the clearance around the spare tire. I would have preferred the OEM receiver, but I wasn't going to pay the extra money.

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Spent yesterday taking the cabinets and batteries out of the van. Spent today measuring and modeling. The cabinets were good enough to get us skiing, but for the coming bike season, I wanted to be able to get a bike (or 2) into the van. I need to do a bit more tinkering to see if I can get 2 bikes into a 2 foot wide space, but I'll definitely get at least 1. The problem with the previous design was not having enough length for my main bike (Surly Ice Cream Truck). I'm also slightly pigeonholed into the mattress dimensions because I don't want to buy those again (they are really nice). Rough design is here:5922091419c16_ScreenShot2017-05-21at5_48_01PM.png.07bba6dd61c2b6b4ae7a0882d3d92feb.png

The other thing I'm going to do is spend some time adding some hardware to my Fobuino. It occurs to me that I should be able to buy an arduino compatible thermocouple and use that as the trigger for starting the Van. That way, I can set a temperature threshold and let the van run for 15 mins whenever I get above/below it. The best part about that will be that I don't foresee ever cutting a hole for a roof vent.

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With Optima batteries, you can mount them without using battery boxes.  Just strap them down in any position so they can't move and you're good to go  -  Makes finding places that they will fit much easier!

Don

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The boxes don't take up that much extra space, but I also didn't know that. I'll have to investigate that.

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The only issue with not having the battery in a box is the need to protect the terminals so a major short cannot happen.

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Granted, you do have to mount the battery so it cannot move around which might cause the terminals to come into contact with anything.  A secure mounting system is always needed.  Also, using protective terminal covers would be a good idea

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Blue-Sea-4010-CableCap-Red-0-70-to-0-30-Stud-PVC-4-6-8-Cable-Sizes-Terminal-Boat-/292017687581?hash=item43fd9c4c1d:g:kzEAAOSwls5Y7t27&vxp=mtr

With sealed AGM batteries, you can mount them in all sorts of unusual positions  -  Laying on their side, for example.  The fact that you never need to access them  for maintenance enables you to stick them in places where you won't have good access to them in the future

Don

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The AGM's are great. You need a smart controller to charge both the House AGM's and the Regular TC battery, The Stock Regulator will not charge both correctly. The AGM's  are susceptible to overheating so that must be taken into account.
The space of a small rig will make using the battery area for storage of other stuff, So Terminal protection will be necessary.

Edited by G B L

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I've been making progress. Over the long weekend I spent time getting my battery cabinet re-built and getting my bike mounts installed.

My longest bike (just barely fits!):

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Got the electrical bits re-installed and tested to ensure everything still works:

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As you can see, I have a bit of finishing work to do there, but everything is secured down and I'm able to drive the van, which is good because my WRX blew a tire on my way home last Friday!

I'm now able to fit both of my mountain bikes inside the van. This helps immensely from a security point of view. It isn't unreasonable for me to be carrying $10k worth of bikes depending on which ones are in there (between the wife and I we have 10-12 fairly high end bikes).

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On Wednesday, I spent some time test fitting the bed frame. None of this is installed, I'm just sliding it around the floor to make sure everything fits. It should start to look a bit more like the model I posted a couple weeks back.

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The next task is going to involve coming up with a better way to secure the bed frame so that I can quickly and easily pull everything out. I also will need to rig up some supports to hold up the bits of the bed that flip out into the empty spaces. All-in-all, I'm quite pleased with how things are moving. I've been able to re-use 95% of my lumber. I've only had to spend about $20 in new materials. We leave for our bike trip on June 30th. We'll be carrying 5 bikes in total and planning to sleep in the van 1 night. The bikes riding in the van will re-locate to the roof while we're sleeping. Can't wait!

34219200593_e88cb099ff_z.jpg

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Very cool stuff, way beyond me ! :drop:  Although this is not a mechanical or electrical matter, don't forget the bear spray...:arrive_alive:

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Nice redesign. I'm curious, though, why not mount the electronics under the false floor? My van has the vinyl floor and I removed everything related to the false floor, including the vinyl that's hiding underneath the false floor, and there's something like 11.5" of vertical height wasted in there. If you look at my gallery pics, there's a whole bunch in there from when I took out the floor. In any case, it would put the electronics & battery out of the way so you have more storage room for other things you need... Right now, I have part of the false floor back in my van because I needed some extra flat space. My plan is to build an opening toolbox/chest there at some point.

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jrm222 - check his first page.. he talks about the batteries under the floor there.

Chong:  would it be possible to fix that remote start timing system to a temperature sensor as well?  I'd be interested in having that as a back up for my car when I have the dog with me.  We are extremely careful in monitoring our dogs in the vehicles when at training or searches, but it would be a nice back up system to have the car auto start with the AC on full during the summer.  Either once every hour on a timer or when the temp sensor hits 100F.

Tiller

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