It’s the little details…

A quick update on progress. We went back to Michigan to make use of our hangar workshop to try and finish all of the small jobs.

When you first start a project like this, the worklist is in big buckets e.g. Install transmission, mount driveshaft, install seats. But as you progress toward the end, the list seems to keep expanding but each task more and more specific; measure plexiglass for cabinet backs, drill holes for anchor points and mount eyelets, source clips for front bed face. It becomes a languishing task of expansion as we work to finish each of the elements, and the list seemingly gets longer and longer.

This weekend we focused on getting the battery system FINALIZED. We had a problem with a bad cell in one of our Lithium ion battery packs. The supplier was more than happy to swap the cell out for us, but it meant completely dismantling our electrical system to be able to get the battery out and then back in place. Not fun. After grunting for a few hours and sore knuckles, we were back connected! But we hit a problem, the computer was not reading the battery correctly. We freaked a bit, could we have another bad cell? Could the sensors on the battery be toast? We traced our problem to a small broken wire.


This connector, plugs into a little computer which monitors the sensors on the other end of the cells across the battery. It’s all in the vain of keeping the batteries safe and balanced. With that little black wire broken, the computer can’t read the battery voltage and it won’t allow the battery to connect to the system.

We now had a conundrum. The sensors are on the back side of the battery, and to remove them to send the wire plug back for repair would undue hours of work and also put us in a situation where we couldn’t hook up the rest of our electrical system. The other option would be to reach out to our supplier and see if we can get a new plug and attach it to our harness. We can easily do that with the battery in place. But would we be able to get a new plug? Would we be able to crimp it properly? We decided we’d rather take that risk, rather than not finish the system and lose the hangar time. So we pressed on.

With the battery back in place, we were able to fully wire our Inverter and Charger back into the system. This allows us to charge the batteries in the van simply by plugging the van in via a port on the side of the van. I have to say, this remains one of the coolest things to me. After figuring out we had some bad wire nuts making our AC connections, we were in business.


The other key project was the work on the plumbing of the aux fuel tank. A recurring theme in this build is that no kit, or package from any supplier is actually complete because everything we want to do is custom. This means that we are constantly having to both improvise and customize. The good of this is that we fundamentally understand how everything works and we can very easily troubleshoot and service it. The other constant challenge is that a Vanagon doesn’t have a lot of nooks and crannies; space is a premium. We have to fit air tanks, fuel tanks, water tanks, pumps, lines, etc. on top of all of the stock systems which made pretty good use of the space. Plumbing the aux fuel tank was a good example. In a 8 inch x 5 inch x 5 inch space we need to fit a fuel filter, transfer fuel pump, heater fuel pump, shut off valve, and hosing and T’s, and we didn’t want any of it to hang down lower that the tank, so it wouldn’t get bashed off, if we hit something off road. Here is a picture of the work in progress, I have to take a new one with it all complete.


The rest of the work was all over the board, installing interior lights, setting up our mobile Internet router, installing the fridge!, permanently mounting our air regulator, filter, and oiler, etc.

But this post is long, so we have to run for now. We’ll write another post about the flood and our first water crossing experience. Here is a fun parting shot of Bo. Lookin’ tough.


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