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Old 07-06-2019, 04:22 AM   #11
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Default Re: 144 HR 2fer: two people, two bikes, two kayaks

After ten hours assembling 8020 cabinet frames (it would be a lot faster if I didn’t make mistakes and have to redo so much), my new car stereo was waiting in the mailbox.

This is a beoplay A1, and looks remarkably like an overgrown hockey puck.

The sound is better than any car stereo I have owned, but I have never had a car that sounded remotely like the home stereo. In the car, I usually choose music that sounds okay distorted and leave the jazz/classical/opera for home use.

Testing at home, the A1 is able to get louder than I want in a large room. I can’t say if it distorts at max volume because 70% was as loud as I was prepared to test.

The A1 speaker is fairly musical. My favourite test song is ‘The Last Time’, recorded by Marsalis and Clapton at the Lincoln Center jazz night. This is 1920s style jazz, with a lot of polyphonic melodies. (Not a music geek? The first 30 seconds of ‘Layla’ from the same album is a pretty good example of ‘polyphonic’.)

I was surprised to find the sound was fairly good. It was easy to follow the clarinet playing against the trumpet or trombone, but the two trumpets just get lost in each other. This is a song that is incoherent in my subaru, becoming monophonic, but it is still possible to identify solo instruments. Using MBUX, even solo instruments are not recognizable. The A1 isn’t perfect, but I wasn’t scrambling for the next song button like I do in the car.

While the A1 is not going to compete with the home system, I am pretty happy with what I got for $220 Canadian.

The big downside so far is that you seem to have to wake the speaker up with a button press. It saves battery power by sleeping if you don’t use it for a bit.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:20 AM   #12
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Default Re: 144 HR 2fer: two people, two bikes, two kayaks

I finally cut a hole in my brand new sprinter!

Six weeks of mental preparation, and it was so easy that it was a bit of a let down.

I decided to do the floor vents in the face of the sliding door step. It is accessible, and well separated from the future heater exhaust and toilet vent.

Because it is easy to grow holes, but difficult to shrink them, I decided on 2.25” holes, with three expected to give me the target flow rate. If I come up short on flow rate, I can join two into a large oval.

I did one hole, and then paused for some testing.

I drilled a very small hole to confirm the location, then used that as a pilot hole for the hole saw. It took about two minutes to drill both holes. You can see the rustoleum paint (sprayed into a container and painted on with a q tip) isn’t a perfect colour match. It took much, much longer to collect all the steel shavings with a magnet.

The hole(s) will be covered by a mouse screen and a mosquito screen. Soon.

On the test drive, it was like I had undone all the sound insulation work. The transmission whine was now audible all the time at lower speeds, but a higher speeds the whine was almost drowned out by wind noises and tire noise.

The hole faces bare metal with a third metal end wall, which is great for echo effects and enhancing noise.

For test two, I put a heavy beach towel in the step well.

This knocked down the noise dramatically, pretty much equal with the ‘before’ sound level. The transmission whine and tire noise just vanished, but some wind noise was still heard.

For test three, I taped a piece of flexible PVC over the hole and left the towel in place. This was the quietest drive yet in the van.

Removing the towel and leaving the PVC cover on for test four was indistinguishable from the ‘before’ level, as expected. The transmission whine returned and tire noise was audible, with no wind noise.

Overall, test two and four were similar noise level, but different noises.

Dust came in on gravel roads, so I will need a way to close this vent.

The next step is to build a box around the holes and install a computer fan (0.1A at full speed) to encourage airflow.

The scary final step remains: cut a 3” diameter hole in the roof and install my marine grade exhaust vent. I just need a day with no rain, cool weather suitable for painting the bare metal and continued cool weather to give the silicone sealant a long enough working time. That weather will probably happen a few times before I am emotionally ready
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Old 07-14-2019, 03:56 AM   #13
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Default Re: 144 HR 2fer: two people, two bikes, two kayaks

Roof vent, marine style.

I decided that I wanted skylights more than I wanted an combined emergency exit and roof vent. Based on sailing experience, this tiny 3” diameter vent should be enough for the van. The Vetus Scirocco is intended for high flow, but we will be installing a small 37cu ft/min intake fan on the floor vents.

A quick fan test showed decent airflow, with cool air flowing into the van. Too bad I don’t have the house battery installed yet.

These vents are designed for marine use, so they are pretty effective at keeping water out. There is a raised ring inside the vent, which is very effective in rainstorms and moderate wave impacts.

The installation went fairly well until the moment of putting the vent on the roof. The sun came out just as I started the silicone bead, which reduced the working time to five minutes. It didn’t help that it was already 29C (a cool and mostly cloudy day!). The final result looks nasty from the bottom, and I didn’t get time to wiggle the alignment for the slightly misplaced 6th bolt. I drilled a tiny pilot hole (slightly scary moment), and then spent what is hopefully the most frightening two minutes of this entire build cutting a 3” hole with the hole saw. As before, rustoleum in an almost matching colour should slow the growth of rust.

I have decided that the mismatched rustoleum colour is actually a good thing, as it is easier to see what was been coated.

This install won’t pass ABYC, but as it will never experience a wave impact, five bolts should be enough.

The approach is wildly different than a normal RV set up, but my experience in sailing suggests that the HVAC calculations are correct and this will be effective.

Theory is great, but real life testing is coming soon. Watch this space.
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Old 07-30-2019, 04:29 AM   #14
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Default Re: 144 HR 2fer: two people, two bikes, two kayaks

We went for a week long glamping trip to test the first build steps. We stayed at serviced campsites (showers, toilets, drinking water, picnic table) as our van is a long way short of finished.

On the first day we installed our temporary mozzie screens (https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07...?ie=UTF8&psc=1). If you order from these (very helpful) people, they email you a discount coupon for your next order. Construction and stitching is surprisingly good for the price, and much better than the similar products we found at home depot and Rona.

We chose the 60”Lx86” size for the sliding door, which hangs about four inches too tall, but worked very well at keeping flying insects out. The back door is 64”Lx86”, and it is about 8” too tall.

The magnetic closure works surprisingly well, despite the weights at the bottom dragging and the lowest magnets snapping to the van exterior.

We got these as a temporary solution, but we are now planning to resew the bottom hem to fix the height issue and keep them permanently.

I have to say that loading the bikes requires pulling the curtain off the velcro, which can be a pain in buggy Alberta. We also discovered that the mozzie screen lets a lot of water through if a hail storm hits halfway through loading the bikes. Oops.

Other lessons from a week on the road:
1) The tiny vents are, as expected, insufficient without a fan. The interior was 7C warmer than the sunbaked parking lot in Drumheller after two hours with the doors closed. No shade, no wind, and two hours to preheat. It won’t hurt when we finish the insulation (which, like the fans, is waiting on an electrical system).
2) Hand sanitizer is NOT a substitute for being able to wash your hands.
3) The option to pee in the van is even more attractive after a midnight stroll through a mosquito festival.
4) Nothing beats the joy of sleeping dry during heavy rain! Watching the stars from bed after the storm ends is pretty close though.
5) Fuel economy was decent, by RV standards anyway. We got 10.0l/100km actual, with 10.1l/100km reported by MBUX. This will probably be typical for us, with two major passes each way and two headwind days on the prairies. This is about 23mpg for any Americans out there. In comparison, our Subaru gets 7.0l/100km with the hitch-mounted bike rack loaded, but no ski box.
6) We will need to put a curtain behind the front seats on hot days. The air con was just barely keeping up on a sunny 30C day.
7) TrailForks may show trails at your destination, but that doesn’t mean those trails are going to be fun to ride. Drumheller has 8km listed, but it is all paved. Sigh.
8) Our tiny carpet on the step isn’t enough to keep the floor free of mud. During rain or mozzie attacks, we need a second carpet, large enough for two people.

Next up, the electrical system. I am really, really looking forward to fans, refrigeration, and recharging mobile devices.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:43 PM   #15
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Default Re: 144 HR 2fer: two people, two bikes, two kayaks

Thanks for the posts! Any progress on electrical? Also, what are you planning for heat? Do you have a drawing of your layout?
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Old 11-21-2019, 02:55 PM   #16
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Default Re: 144 HR 2fer: two people, two bikes, two kayaks

Cool build/thread, look forward to future posts!
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Old 11-22-2019, 01:55 AM   #17
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Default Re: 144 HR 2fer: two people, two bikes, two kayaks

It has been a while since I updated our progress.

I got a private question about 4x4 and skiing in BC. I decided it would make more sense to share why we didn’t choose the 4x4 option.

We aren’t skiing with the van this winter, but will do so next year after getting the heat and plumbing done.

Most serious skiers will tell you that good tires are the most important part of winter driving.

4x4 does help with getting up hills at low speed. The problem comes when you turn around to go home and you now have to get back down the same sketchy roads.

We have a subaru as our daily (ski) driver, and while the all wheel drive is very helpful in getting out of parking lots, all the real challenges come in driving downhill.

The Mercedes 4x4 doesn’t perform at anything like the level of the Subaru all wheel drive, and the Subaru AWD only helps when you have your foot on the gas.

Most of our driving will always be on paved roads, and the fuel economy and lower centre of gravity of the RWD make a big difference there.

And yes, someday soon I am going to write up the electrical system, which is 80% done now.
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