Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Max the Road Warrior version 2.0. Beyond Thunderhome

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent a good chunk of January doing the remodel in the Sprinter rig.  Max the Road Warrior was bitchin' without a doubt but there were a few things to be improved.  For a refresher on what the finished Road Warrior looked like click here.  Our biggest gripe was the bed.  As you can see in the old pictures, we were sleeping sideways with our feet under the cabinets.  The van is 5'8" wide and I'm 5'10" with the Colinator being slightly shorter but much more sprawly in the sack.  I brainstormed ideas for a bed that would maximize space for a year.  Seriously.  Much like the naked Archimedes and Doc from Back to the Future, my best ideas often come to me in the bathroom.  Slightly less brilliant than a flux capacitor was my folding bed idea which came to me in the shower as I washed, rinsed, and repeated the flowing golden lock that covers my bald spot. 

The other big improvement is the addition of a fridge.  I researched for a long time and decided to go with electric over propane for a number of reasons.  With the addition of an electric fridge I also needed to up my battery bank.  I did have one 55 ah AGM battery mounted under the passenger seat and I chose to add in 200 more amp hours for a 255 total.  The other two batteries would have to find a home as well.

I'm not going to go into all the pain in the ass details of tearing apart everything and redoing it except to say that that is what I had to do.  The counter had to come out an inch to accomodate the fridge depth and the cabinetry beneath had to be completely redone as well.  You'll notice if you look in the old pictures that the drawer moved front and center over the fridge, food storage moved to the left, and pots and pans remained under the sink, though the door had to be cut back to 13 inches wide.  I also added a slide out dining table for the booth, which we will see momentarily, and a small table between the two front seats.  Let's give er a walk through and check the specs on:
Mad Max the Road Warrior version 2.0 Beyond Thunderhome!!!!

 One thing I learned in college is that sorority girls love pillow fights in panties.  I cannot stress enough the importance of always having an ample supply on hand.  This is the view of the back of the van with the doors open.  Water tank is on the left with a hose that runs into it, through a PVC fitting that keeps the intake near the bottom.  The pump is mounted near the wheelwell and it feeds the sink with 12v electric power.  Simple.  Propane is on the right.  Two things I added to version 2.0:  The tank used to be a bear to get in and out because it was taller than the framework.  I cut the crossbeam and added a kickstand support on a hinge.  It's secured with a wingnut on the bottom and holds the tank in place.  It folds up for tank removal.  Click the picture for detail.  I also cut a hole as big as my hand in the bed platform.  Now if a fire starts inside or we smell propane or simply want to cut it off at night for safety reasons, I can pull the mattress corner up and twist it off without having to remove the tank like I used to.

This is looking into the rig through the sliding door.  Note the curtains.  Another new addition.  We have curtains on the slider, the back windows and a two piece curtain that closes behind the front seats.  Good privacy for Walmart parking lots.  You can see the fridge in the middle now.  Also note the bench that comes out a bit further than it used to.  The bed is six feet, 1 inch long now.  It is cut in an L-shape that is hard to see in this picture.  An extension cord is stashed in the foot step.  I can pull it out, run it through a cracked window and plug in.  The cord runs to a power strip that powers a battery charger (mounted over the wheel well under the bed) and another power strip that is accessible from inside for 110 power.  No hardwiring!  Simple and effective.  The wires from the alternator run to a single 100 ah battery beneath the passenger seat then along the edge of the floor above the step in a wire hider (hard to see in this pic) to the other two batteries that are mounted just in front of the wheel well inside that box.  That box has a space heater as well which we will see. 

Looking toward the back of the van you can see our seating arrangement.  The back rest is made up of the bedding rolled up in the back and the additional bed cushion on the left. 

This view shows the little nook of floor space between the cabinetry and the bed.  Lilah's custom dog cave was improved with padded floor in addition to her carpeted walls.  She loves it and even spent time in there when I worked on the van.  Trash can and dog food on the left and some additional cubbies for stuff.  There's always something to stash in cubbies. 

This is the slide out table.  I really like the additional counter space and it's nice to eat at the same table with Elissa.  No more plates in the lap. 
The kitchen is improved.  Food on the left, drawer and fridge center, pots and pans under sink. 

The space heater is mounted on a door that folds open.  It runs off the propane tank.  It closes and locks in place with a simple gate latch bolt style closure when driving. 

The crux of the bed design was figuring out what the folding portion would settle on when in the open position.  Google came to the rescue and I found the perfect option: a motorcycle foot peg.  The peg folds up flush and out off the way when not in use.  You can also see in this picture the inverter, the slide out table and bolt latch to hold it in place, and the custom cut slot that perfectly accomodates a 24 pack of beer. 

Onward with the transformation into the bed.  The backrest is velcroed to the wall and the seat cushion is just sitting there.  throw those on the back and fold over the wood piece.  I am gracefully holding this up with my foot and shooting the picture at the same time to demonstrate. 
 The cushions pop in place.
And the bedroll rolls down already made up.  No need to stash blankets and remake the bed everyday as is common with other conversion designs.  That was the requirement for me is that I wouldn't have to make up the bed everyday. 

Another addition in 2.0 is a small table up front.  I used a scrap from the countertop and cut it to fit.  It's mounted on painted iron pipe and rests on the arm rest for more support though it doesn't really need it.  It just pops onto the pipe for use and I store it behind the driver seat.  The vertical pipe is fixed.
I was able to use the existing holes that were for the safety kit common in most Sprinters.  The fire extinguisher fits nicely on the driver seat mount visible in the above picture. 

This is the mount under the table.  I cut all the way through that fitting with a hacksaw.  It took a while.  The threaded nipple just slips over the iron pipe.  I'm a little bummed that the paint is going to chip away pretty quickly but...whatever.   
These pictures aren't really in any order.  Just kind of hopping around.  This is the power strip.  This is the same compartment that holds the trash can and dog food.  Not very easily accessible but the times that we'll be using shore power are few and far between.  In the rare case that we do have it we'll only be running a small electric heater.  Like I said before, once that extension cord is plugged in the batteries are charging so we can run all our 12v with no regard for power conservation anyway. 
You can see just left of the light is the battery monitor.  I'm really glad I got the good digital one.  It's really helpful in managing the 12v power.  I was a bit concerned with how much power the fridge would consume but so far I think it's going to be fine.  255 ah battery bank and the fridge pulls about 3 amps for about 40 seconds every 5 minutes or so.  Very efficient.  I left the fridge on for a few days and noticed no significant battery drain at all.  Still 12.7 volts after 3 or 4 days.  I am aware though that it's been highs of 50's and running it in the middle of the summer is going to be a different story.  We'll see.  You can also see the fan here.  I like this fan a lot.  With the back door cracked and a front window slightly open you get a nice cross breeze.  I'm a little bummed I didn't install the fantastic fan but one of my requirements for the conversion was to cut no holes in the van.  The only one I cut was for the sink drain. 

The final shot here is the clothes cabinet which remained unchanged.  The left two are for clothes.  The shelves are removable. On extended trips it's nice to have all three shelves in so you can organize but for shorter trips it's nice to pack a small backpack in the house and just throw it in with the shelves collapsed.  The right cabinet is for big stuff like dirty laundry bag.  The small portion at the bottom is a slide out shelf for a laptop so you can lay in bed and watch movies.  One space that opened up is the large storage portion below the clothes cabinet where our feet used to go when we were sideways sleepers.  It fits a crashpad perfectly (a large piece of climbing gear for those unfamiliar) or just extra blankets, jackets, dog on a cold night, or even a child for the first 7 years of their life.  The wood divider folds down and there is another piece of covered mattress that fits that spot.  I did it that way so that if I go on trips by myself I can still sleep sideways if I want to avoid the tiny hassle of having to transform the bed. 
Mad Max the Road Warrior version 2.0 Beyond Thunderhome!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Forget about it.

I thought about trying to catch up since my last blog post and the more I did that the more I procrastinized and the more daunting the task became.  So forget about it.  I'm going to try something new in an effort to stay up to date.  Bullet point blog posts that take 5 minutes.  I really like keeping this blog so I can look back and remember the cool stuff that happens around here and elsewhere but I've put too high a standard on what i post and it's caused me to fall behind and not do it at all so start to expect trash!

Recap:  Last post was September something.  Good weather came and climbing season happened.  Overall it was a fairly unproductive season. 

Mega Proj:  Shut me down again.  Year 3, 100 plus days.  Seems to get harder as I get older.  I had more hair when I started working this thing.  Note the lack of bald spot year one.   

I kind of lost mojo this season.  I felt like the proj was holding me back from doing other routes in the prime season so I did a tour of the cumberland plateau.  I spent some time at the red in the fall and did some cool stuff.

I got to spend some time with my friend Pete and Lidija and their dog Buster.  They are from the Lake Tahoe area.  I met them in Smith Rock a few years ago and they are amazing people.  Pete has always been a world-class bad-ass climber.  A few years ago he lost his leg when a piece of machinery fell on his foot at work.  It hasn't slowed him down much and he's probably the strongest prosthetic leg climber in the country.  Still climbing 5.13!

Here's Pete on Dogleg at the Red River Gorge. 

And Lidija with Buster. She always looks like this. Always laughing uncontrollably. Great people.

Another friend I got to hang out with was Nick Duttle.  Here he is during one of the most incredible redpoints of Kaleidoscope.  About half way up he started to look like he would fall at every move.  He just kept going.  Everyone at the crag was simultaneously laughing and cheering.  It was hilarious.  He'd lunge and sag out, then reel it back in.  Every move.  Not a single person, Nick included, thought he'd clip the chains but he did! 
After the Red, the weather moved in and I had to head south for warmer climates.  I spent a few days climbing at Little River Canyon in Alabama.  Great crag and great stone.  The canyon is near Fort Smith, Alabama. 
Fort Smith is known for two things: The Alabama Fan Club and Musuem and socks.  Yes, they make socks in Fort Smith.  I love America. 

My partner for the Alabama trip was fellow Sprinter van dweller Ben Gilkison.  Here he is on the highlight routes of the trip: Unshackled.  One of the best 8a's in the south!
 Bald eagles soar high above the canyon.  We had one fly right over our heads at Unshackled one day.  I took this picture of an eagle.  It was sitting motionless behind the glass of a Park Service information board.  This is a picture of a picture of a bald eagle that I took.  National Geographic, here I come. 

The conditions became frigid in Alabama and with no rock further south I had to head west to Arkansas.  Jasper, Arkansas is in the heart of the Ozarks.  This is one destination that has been on my hit list for quite some time. 

The Horseshoe Canyon Ranch  is a private dude ranch that caters to cowboys and climbers.  It is without a doubt the finest moderate sport climbing destination in the country.  It lacks hard routes but makes up for it with excellent hard bouldering.  It is probably my favorite bouldering area in the country.  Hueco is restricted, Bishop and LRC are crowded.  HCR is empty and excellent boulders are everywhere! 

 A bit further south is the town of Cowell, home of Fontaine Red and Fred's Cave.  This is Fred's cave. 
 I sent a problem!  Tag my fist in the camera.  Shikidang!  How'd it feel?

Ironclad beta:  Arkansas is a dry state.  You heard me right, it's a dry state.  There are some fringe counties at the edges that sell beer in select locations but for the most part consider it dry!  Byob.  We had to make a 120 mile beer run to Missouri.  Don't be stupid like us.  Bring beer!

 No climbing trip to Arkansas is complete without a stop at the regionally famous Ozark Cafe.  Kirk got the half-pound Ozark burger and I must say it makes our WV Long Haul burgers look like a mere morsel.  Again: Shikidang. 

Onward with the whirlwind tour....I headed back east just in time for Christmas with the Colley's.  A good time to relax and regroup and a wonderful time overall.  Then Elissa and I headed to the Obed for New Years.  We met back up with Ben and his wife Tiff for some solid Farkle dice and champagne.  Dude, we raged on New Years!  A little dice game, a little drink, in bed by 10:00, just the way I like it! 

January had me back home at the New to work on Max's remodel.  Max the Road Warrior has been transformed.  He is now, Max the Road Warrior version 2.0 Beyond Thunderhome.  Expect a seperate blogpost on this when I get some pictures. 

I headed back to the Obed for a short two day trip to meet up with Kirk who was returning from Red Rocks, Nevada.  I knocked off the project I picked up at new years in short order and split back to the New where the weather has finally turned for the better. 

The past week, Kirk and I have been hitting up the Lakebed, putting up new routes, and knocking them down.  I bolted and sent a fine new 13a. 
 This new route follows the rope.  It starts with the first two bolts of Aryan Race (12c) which I put up last year.  I had rapped this line last year and thought it didn't go.  I rapped it again this year and thought the crux would be V9 or so.  I fired in some bolts and sent it second try.  I couldn't believe the crux goes down like it does.  It requires using a non-hold on the arete that just magically works somehow.  really amazing route.  Cleaning this route was as easy as brushing a spider web out of a single pocket.  That was it.  I would eat off of any part of this route.  It is immaculate white stone.  It's also the first route I've drilled with my new drill.  My drill's name is Michael Boltin' and so that is the name of this route as well.  Yeah, I know it's stupid.  Deal with it!

Boom!  up to date.  I'll do better now I promise.  Honestly, the fast pace of this blog post feels about the same speed that the winter went.  I can't believe it's spring already.