Archive for the ‘Motor home’ Category

Cabinetry and Storage

September 19th, 2012 Comments off

Great. So I’m having a motor home built that is definitly not going to be like flying economy class. It’s getting plenty of light and a huge amount of [unexpected] counter space. But, where do I put my stuff?

You’ll notice that about half of the space under the counters is actually where all the mechanics of the motor home are hiding – the water heater, the furnace, the power inverter, and the clean water tank. This leaves a small amount of under-counter room for a slide-out pantry shelf unit, drawers, and shelves. In addition, there are small overhead sliding shelves but even part of that is hiding mechanics like the bed lift system and the speakers. Somehow, I need to fit my essentials for living and working in these spaces.

I started by taking the suggestion of my friend, Liz, and putting all that I think I will need into volumetric bins to get an accurate measure of how much space volume I’d need. This includes clothing, toiletries, kitchenware, and garage tools. I’ll start by saying that I’m going to be creatively using my shower stall space. And I’m definitely going to invest in the future add-on of a roof-rack for a patio and for a storage crate. There will be more on this story once I move in and actually try to fit my belongings into these spaces.

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September 19th, 2012 Comments off

I opted to use propane to run the heating elements in the motor home – the water heater and furnace. Although propane can be used as an efficient source of power for many mobile fridge units, I didn’t use it in this design because of the ventilation requirements for propane. There is already one vent cut-out into the body of the van for the water heater and furnace. I didn’t want another cut made for the fridge. (This resulted in an extremely expensive fridge but, dang it, it has a large freezer!) The propane tank is tucked away neatly underneath the van. The folks at RVI have done a fantastic job of making this as stealthy an RV as possible!

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September 19th, 2012 Comments off

Electrics is an area of the van conversion that is very close to my heart. Partially because I have a passion for lighting design and partially because I need electric power for almost everything that I use for my livelihood which happens to be centered around two key tools – the computer and the mobile phone. I admit it, I’m an electric junkie. I could not survive in the wilderness without these tools of my trade and my connection to the rest of the world. The Mongolian shepherds I met during previous travels had it right – be out in the wilderness, but have solar panels to power your gadgets.

I estimated a minimum power requirement of 1.2kW per day. == CR200 fridge 33Wh, laptop 45Wh, Fan 23Wh, LED lights 20Wh => 121Wh x 10 hrs/day => 1.2kW/day == On top of this, I expect to use power for moving the bed, using the toaster, and recharging small gadgets. I have 2 4D AGM batteries installed underneath the van, from which all the power is drawn. There is a power inverter to feed the batteries from either an AC source or from the solar modules (200W system) which are mounted on the roof. And, in case you’re wondering, I have internet access through Verizon’s mobile personal hotspot.

The main set of switches to control the lights are just on the inside of the sliding door with another set of switches by the back door to turn on/of the lights in the garage.

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Hide-away Bed

September 19th, 2012 1 comment

To save on space, I opted for a custom bed that fits into the ceiling panels and lowers to sit on top of the counters. It is suspended by a pair of straps and driven by a motor. To tuck away into the ceiling, the mattress has to be 3″ or less. Perfect for me since I’ve become quite accustomed to sleeping on the floor on top of a couple sleeping bags!

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September 19th, 2012 Comments off

I’m planning on transporting and housing a motorcycle in the “garage” at the back of the motor home. Thus, I have aluminum diamond plate on the rear half of the van. The front half is a resilient flexible resin called Duraplank that looks like, well, planks of wood. The color scheme of the interior was actually built around using aluminum diamond plate. I wanted the chrome and industrial look but softened somewhat for the living area. I also want the box of a motor home to be as bright as possible so I picked light colors and reflective flooring and ceiling fabric.

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Roof Over Your Head

September 19th, 2012 Comments off

A good start to any home would be to have a roof over your head and walls that protect you from the elements. The previous owner of the van had a wrap on it to advertise his business. Unfortunately, water had gotten under the wrap and caused serious rust in some parts of the roof (which was disclosed when I bought the van). Additionally, the owner had removed the wrap, resulting in ugly glue residue. So the first thing in order was to fix the rust, buff the paint on the roof and hood, and get a new paint job. Then the real work could start: install wiring, plumbing, flooring, wall insulation, fabric.

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July 11th, 2012 1 comment

[im-pur-muh-nuhnt] — n Synonyms: fleeting, temporary, ephemeral, evanescent (

Throughout my life, I’ve been reminded, in gentle and harsh ways, of the impermanence of space and time as we pass through it in our life journeys – possessions, friends, family, school, jobs, homes, and even scientific knowledge. [I still fondly regard Pluto as a planet of our solar system. There are nine planets. Even the little metal plates on the lawn at Griffith Park agree with me.]

I could relay thousands of bytes worth of my own stories and experience with impermanence but many of my friends already know about them. Instead, I’ll provide two examples of embracing change (welcoming impermanence) that I’ve adopted this past year.

First, in living spaces. I have surprised even myself in how quickly I have adapted to new living arrangements every few months. I’ve maintained a nomadic lifestyle this past year, at first while backpacking across Eurasia and then when I was back in the U.S. for work. I’ve moved from the Culver City area to Long Beach to Pasadena, traveling to Phoenix, AZ every month for work. I’ve had a couch or floor to sleep on through the graciousness of friends which has allowed me to save money to build my motor home – yet another impermanent living space. Once the motor home, I’m looking forward to having the flexibility of sleeping anywhere I can park and watch the stars (through the escape hatch being built above the bed area) and waking up to see the sunrise from different views in L.A. Anyone know of a good place to park for the night with an uninhibited view of the downtown L.A. skyline?

Second, in work. Why have I not been willing to settle down into an apartment or home in L.A.? Mostly because I haven’t found the place where I’d want to work. In the past, I found my living space first and then looked for work that would allow me to commute from there. My outlook on work this past year has changed such that I’ve become a bit of a “job snob”, only willing to accept work at small or medium-sized companies that more directly build things that benefit the environment or society, like a socially responsible organization. I’m not willing to sacrifice my values simply to support a lifestyle that centers around creating a stockpile of personal possessions that are of little use to other people. I’m willing to stay in an impermanent living environment in order to keep my work options flexible. I don’t feel like I’m alone in this thinking and the willingness to move for the right job. Actually, a good friend of mine is actually banking his career on the belief that there are people out there looking for the perfect job and who just need a way to find it. His company is currently matching technical job-seekers so, unfortunately, I still have to do my own searching for the right socially-responsible company that could use a project manager in non-software companies. Although I’m encouraged that more companies are understanding the desire of employees to “do good”, it is still very hard to find a company that sells itself on these merits. I’ve found that the only way I can find out how much a company supports volunteering, or how efficient a non-profit is in being good, is by getting into that job interview and asking the persons who work there direct questions like, “Do you have Green IT initiatives and what are they? If the product you are creating is not directly helping the environment, how are you replacing the resources that you are using?” I have not always received candid or even understanding responses to questions like these at a job interview. Do you know of a company that sells itself based on its ability to give to society or the environment well?