ExpeditionVehicle build

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LargeMarge

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2003, my Very Significant Other got sick.
.
Immediately, we wrote our goals on a brown grocery bag.
Pretty high on the list -- 'holding hands while we watch the sun rise'.
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Naturally, we acquired a 1997 Ford commercial truck to convert to our concept of an ExpeditionVehicle.
I quickly removed the roll-up rear door, and fabricated a steel wall with a steel door... with dual dead-bolts.
I wanted a Dutch door, so I built a small top opener... my concept of a Dutch door.
Within a week of diagnosis -- while selling everything -- we completed our conversion and hit the road from Oregon with the vague goal of 'south!'.
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Twenty-four months twenty-four thousand miles around South America.
Alaska, Panama, multiple times all around north and central America.
Summers up rough logger tracks to remote mountain lakes.
Winters on isolated Baja beaches.
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Our interior is three paces across by seven paces long, perfect for three RedHeelers and two adults (plus a frequent yummy third).
Why so 'small'?
We are inside to sleep.
We are outside exploring most of the day, we cook outside, we shower outside
For meals, we sit around the community campfire with our caravan chums.
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Cooking:
We use induction hot-plates.
We can pull one or more from the cubby, and cook on the picnic-table or on our porch.
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Bowels:
We use a newspaper.
Folded with its accompanying tissues, the proceeds go in a plastic grocery bag.
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Bladder:
We use laundry detergent jugs.
From the factory, these usually have a spout insert, reducing the opening to barely an inch or so.
To pop the spout, we invert the jug -- lid set aside -- and bang the spout on a sidewalk.
The spout easily pops loose... leaving a two or three inch opening.
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Water:
Instead of a yuge tank, instead of a pump, instead of plumbing...
...we use retired stainless-steel five-gallon Pepsi kegs.
We like these because:
* isolation -- if one goes sour, we can clean it while using the others
* loanable -- we can loan one to a caravan chum
* multiplication -- our usual load in the rig is seven kegs, a total of thirty-five gallons.
We can always add a few more for an extended stay.
* divisible -- a couple-three kegs can go to town to be re-filled while the others stay in camp
* a keg can sit near the campfire... because campfire.
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These Pepsi kegs are engineered to be pressurized.
A quick puff from a 12vdc pump for bicycle tires, click a re-purposed sink sprayer from a stand-still house kitchen, and the five gallons are ready to dispense.
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For showers, we use a dedicated three-gallon version of the Pepsi keg.
We heat the water using a kitchen 'sous vide' circulation heater.
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Photovoltaic:
We have six (6) 305-Watt panels, a total of 1,830-Watts.
These feed our bank of Concorde Lifeline AGM batteries.
Nearly two decades in-service, they are holding-up just fine.
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Grossly over-size for our needs, we rarely draw our bank more than a couple-three percent... leaving ninety percent plus in reserve.
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Our power-train:
* Cummins 505ci mechanical
* Allison 3060
* air-locker axle
Our GVWR -- 29,000#.
Our weight across the scale -- 14,000#.
Our cargo capacity -- about seven ton.
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2010, I fabricated a toy-hauler on a similar commercial chassis.
The box is 8x16, with a tuck-away lift.
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To increase our range -- and avoid areas with high taxes on fuel -- I added a 140-gallon saddle-tank.
I acquired this from a heavy-truck dismantler ('wrecking-yard').
They had piles of dozens of different shape tanks in aluminum and steel.
The 140 supplements the factory 50-gallon tank, for a total of 190-gallons on the rig.
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To supplement those tanks, I fabricated a mount on the poop-deck of the toy-hauler... an additional 120-gallon tank.
In theory, our range without re-fueling -- Anchorage-to-Acapulco.
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In the toy-hauler, we have capacity to carry another couple-three dozen Pepsi kegs.
In theory, we could go about four months without re-filling our water.
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Nearly two decades full-time live-aboard, we refined our needs to the minimum.
At no point are we 'doing without' or 'scrimping to get by'... we have everything we need, we just need less of it.
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Early on, we realized we needed the mentoring of experienced travelers.
Accordingly, we hooked-up with a vast variety of caravans.
We learned about tools, equipment, planning... and the futility of plans.
We watched, we occasionally asked about a system or procedure, but mostly just absorbed information.
And we offered to do a grocery-run.
We offered to tag-along on a parts-run.
We just generally tried to stay out of the way while trying to be useful.
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A couple-three years ago, we fell into a workkamp gig.
We operate a small organic teaching farm near the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon.
We share the acreage with a couple-three dozen folks in a wide variety of RecreationVehicles and home-made ExpeditionVehicles.
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Our hx:
We converted busses, semi-trucks, pick-up campers.
Our latest conversion is a 40' semi-trailer.
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My suggestions to folks considering going full-time:
* get more cargo capacity than you think you need.
* build on a commercial chassis using common components for your area
* prior to investing weeks/months/years in constructing ThePerfectRig©, gut it, toss in some car-camping gear, go have fun.
* join a caravan of experienced travelers
* walk a RecreationVehicle park or resort, talk with owners of rigs you are considering.
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You may want a 40' bus, but need a 18' box-truck.
You may want a Class C RecreationVehicle, but need a semi-tractor.
You may want an ambulance, but need a sailboat.
You will grow, your needs will evolve.
Avoid believing in the trap of 'this rig is my forever rig'.
 

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LargeMarge

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1996 Ford CF8000 commercial truck.
Stock tires/wheels were standard HDT (Heavy-Duty Truck) 22.5; we swapped those for logger 24.5 high-profile for a ground-clearance gain of about three inches (about a palm or fist).
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Here are the logger lug 24.5 plus the 140-gallon 'saddle' tank.
(The camera angle is misleading plus the rig is parked on a hill; that tank is 16" off level ground.)
 

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LargeMarge

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Location
Baja frequently, Oregon occasionally
Our summer kitchen:
* curry goat stew,
* sweet potato pies baked in the Dutch oven,
* boiled 'bagels' rotisserie-toasted then halved then re-toasted.
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(leashes held by VerySignificantOther and FrequentYummyThird.)
Our supervisors are Sugar and CallerNumberFive:
 

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LargeMarge

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Location
Baja frequently, Oregon occasionally
Solo Trip, New Shower Gizmo!
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Eugene, Oregon to Redding and the Shasta volcano, back to Eugene:
I left the farm for a week-run through southron Oregon and north California.
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October 10th, 2022.
In Eugene, I fueled the rig at us$4.859.
I pulled out of the filling-station, drove a few dozen yards/meters/metres to the traffic-signal, made a U-turn...
... and glanced at the fuel-price sign...
... and during those two minutes, the price raised to us$5.799 per gallon.
Almost an entire fedbuck more.
So, that stuff must be better, right?
.
Geez lu-weez, it is a good thing I am made of money, cash over-flowing my pockets.
Sure.
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Eugene was 50°f and foggy.
Redding, California -- 100°f, so that would be twice as warmer, right?
Sure.
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As anticipated, California fuel is automatically a fedbuck more than normal places.
(The increased price means the juice is better, right?)
Generally, around California, I saw us$6.899 for diesel...
... although I drove past a tiny independent two-pump QuickyMart© in the other side of noplace with diesel for us$5.959 per gallon.
That stuff was probably not as good, right [shakes head in disdain]?
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In our introduction (above), we discuss our 'saddle' tank, increasing our on-board fuel to 190-gallons of independence from places with an extraordinary self-importance of their worth.
Good idea?
We think so.
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At the truck-stop south of Redding, I rendezvoused with a caravan of chums headed to Baja for the winter.
We exchanged notes, swapped rig tours of changes (and potential improvements) during the meet-n-greet of new-to-me chums.
That was a great day and evening!
The area is farm and ranch country, so we asked likely candidates in the coffee-shop about over-night circling in a vacant lot for our traditional BBQ and stories.
Score!
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An aside:
Showers at that truck-stop were us$6 the last time we were through.
October, 2022 -- showers are us$17, so they must be better, right?
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As we describe in our introduction (above), we shower using a dedicated three-gallon 'Torpedo' keg heated by one of our 'sous vide' circulation heaters.
That works great with two (or more) showerers...
...one to scrub, and one to spritz, and the other one to help scrub.
We firmly believe a shower is a group effort, so that must be better, right?
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On this solo trip, as I considered a solo shower [sobs uncontrollably], I wandered into a local-owned family-operated hardware store for some ideas...
... and discovered a Craftsman 20v back-pack garden-sprayer.
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We have several Craftsman tools using those 20v batteries -- including a chain-saw -- so this Gizmo showed potential.
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And I am happy to report... it works!
The hopper holds four gallons (sixteen liters/litres) of fluid.
For our use, that would be water.
The dark red hopper absorbs sun like there is no tomorrow, so a nice warm comfy [solo [sobbing...]] shower is ready in a few.
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The power switch has a HIGH pressure and a LOW pressure.
I experimented with the LOW to start, thinking I could go higher if needed
No need.
LOW is plenty.
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The box comes with a wand and adapters for different spray patterns.
I thought I might experiment with just the grip-switch at the user-end of the hose... no wand.
Score!
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After a disgusting day of sweating and cooking and hugs, my shower was perfection.
I soaked and lathered and shampooed, I rinsed and spritzed my sandals.
I had a great time.
Score!
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After I dried off, I off-screwed the hopper lid to check the water level [cue -- astonishment!]...
...it was down maybe six quarts, leaving enough Magic!Sauce! for another couple showers!
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I pulled the 20v battery, and plugged it into the charger while I wrote a text to my sister (the truck driver).
That quick, before I finished the message, the charger indicated the battery was full again.
Score!
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Disadvantages:
* you need an inverter to operate the charger for the 20v batteries
* you need a suitcase-size cubic area to store the Gizmo
* you need a deck or raised shelf for the Gizmo to set to get the 3'/1m hose high enough to worsh your hair
* you probably need a use for other Craftsman 20v tools... or get a couple spare just-in-case batteries.
And you need a semi-private area to do your doings (unless you are like me... slightly 'exhibitionist').
.
 
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LargeMarge

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Baja frequently, Oregon occasionally
Working! To! Stay! Ahead!!
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I caught this at the long-running SurvivalBlog.
(The SurvivalBlog focus concerns folks getting ready for major changes:
* job elimination or inappropriate/inconvenient transfer
* physical disaster, such as a volcano, flood, drought, plus fires at a hundred food-processing plants simultaneously
* a catastrophic illness, physical or spiritual or... 'other'.)
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I am fascinated by this author's attitude:
* studying full-time, while
* working full-time, while
* taking full-time care of the house while simultaneously working and studying.
I think a 'YIKES!' would be appropriate.
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How many notice the author scheduled zero down-time, a break for (my favorite) falling asleep in the recliner with a cat on my chest?
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And I am fascinated by the author's opinion:
* doing all that, so a different job can 'keep me ahead of inflation'.
I think the justifying [below] is world-class professional-quality rationalizing at its finest...
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[open quote [edited for clarity and brevity]]:
"...I’m studying for a certificate...to get a job [to] keep me ahead of inflation. In other words, money is a concern, but my real poverty is time. On the plus side, I’m on a hybrid schedule, so at least I can get some stuff done at home...between tickets, even when I’m working. Working hybrid or all-remote is a great way to save money (gasoline and vehicle maintenance) and time; I encourage fellow SB readers to pursue such work.

It seems to me...one of the biggest barriers to preparedness (independence) for everyone isn’t just money; it’s time. And the more the Federal Reserve [bankers] inflates the dollar, the more people are forced to work at jobs of questionable use to society just to keep ahead. This might be a feature, not a bug: people who work are less likely to cause trouble..."
[close quote]
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Show of hands:
* how many cheapRVers work jobs of 'questionable use'?
* how many of us Do! Something! just to keep ahead of the bankers?
... and the biggie...
* how many are doing some gig to avoid misbehaving...
...or perhaps...
* appearing to be merely another worker-bee in The Hive to camouflage your misbehavements?
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I associate with 'questionable' types because I rarely need to explain my vehicle-living motives.
And I noticed something:
* pretty much everybody I know enjoys 'misbehaving' as a part-time hobby, just something to do for the sharts-n-giggles.
How about you?
 

Solarcoast

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IMHO..

"Society" has lost its right to determine whether I am behaving or not. "Society" is sick with greed and indifference. "Society" has no moral leg to stand on to be lecturing me on my behavior.

I refuse to needlessly hurt people or take advantage of them. I care about animals and the environment. I work for a living. I'm happy with who I am and the questionable people I associate with. I won't let society's judgements affect me.
 

LargeMarge

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Our Heating System:
.
Our interior is about 7x12 x 7h, around 600cf.
Our insulation is excessively obsessive, our windows tiny and dual-pane.
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We acquired three Wave 3 catalytic heaters, we use one on 'LOW'.
Nearly two decades full-time live-aboard, the other two heaters are new-in-box unopened.
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We open two windows on opposite walls.
The escaping warm air carries odors and humidity.
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We have two smoke detectors from different manufacturers.
We have two CO detectors from different manufacturers.
.
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An aside:
Early in our journey, we experienced monsoons over the bed and other interior drenchery.
Avidly believing in the 'No! Holes! In! The! Roof!' theory of avoiding moisture invasion, we taped all the roof seams, we sealed the roof as a unit, and none of that helped the interior humidity caused by -- we incorrectly presumed -- leaks in the roof.
T'wasn't that a'tall.
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The humidity was from closed windows.
And, as you might imagine, everything inside was soaked squishy:
* bedding
* towels
* upholstery
* pillows
* matches
* etcetera.
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We slowly discovered the proper window openings -- plural -- to flush humidity sourced from the combination of:
* cooking humidity
* breathing humidity
* humidity from the heater.
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Another aside:
With our bizarre amount of insulation, we rarely burn the heater above about 40°f.
Example:
November 3rd, 2022.
Eugene, Oregon.
No heater all night, windows open a half-inch each.
Frost on the Dodge windshield.
Inside the rig, we never noticed outside got below freezing.
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And yet another aside:
The Wave 3 catalytic heater is marginal at heating air.
We discovered it works better by heating something, so we laid our floor with slate.
On its stumpy legs, the heater heats the stone, then the stone slowly radiates warmth into our habitat.
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A side benefit:
* the warm slate floor is tootsie comfy.
.
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An aside:
For the first couple-three weeks, we covered the cooled heater like 'Internet advice' says to do.
But, for most of the past two decades, it sits naked, it is stored naked... and we use it naked.
 

LargeMarge

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re -- battery security
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2003, for our ExpeditionVehicle, I fabricated a set of battery trays for under the rear-entry deck and between the frames.
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To check on the bank, two pad-locks are removed, the deck rotates 'UP', then the deluxe hum-dinger tire-thumper slides into place for support.
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In this series of portraits, you might be able to see a pair of big flat-worshers welded to a cross-member under the deck.
These 'mate' to a corresponding pair welded to the vehicle frame.
For battery security with the deck in the 'DOWN' position, an inexpensive pad-lock goes through each matching pair, completing the Fortress Of Invincibility.
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We chose this type of pad-lock because they are 'keyed-alike' to the dead-bolts on our entry door and the door on the 40' semi-trailer.
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An aside:
To reduce rattles between the deck and vehicle frame, we hand-crafted a pair of 'snubbers' from a discarded bicycle tire.
Please, note the white-walls... posh all the way!
 

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