Saturday, 12 December 2015

12/12/2015 - new Monroe 4x4 Adventure shocks, 50mm raise, new springs, ready for 30 day trip!

So my final major modification, 4 x 4 Monroe Adventure shock upgrades all around, is done. It was not cheap, but well worth the hit to my Visa card (will pay off when the next bill comes!).   I got the following mods done to my van:

a) Monroe 4x4 Adventure Shocks (4x)

b) My van was raised by 50mm (2") in the rear and 25mm (1" in the front)

c) Loads more clearance under the back 2/3 of the  van now! 

d) Risers on the rear axel
e) Removed my extra "fancy 4WD" step bumper from the left side to avoid getting high grounded in rocky condition. I still have the step inside the van! 

Besides going a food shopping trip just before I leave on the trip to fill my 41L fridge, the van has been fully modified is ready for anything (more or less).    My next blog entry will be for the first day of the trip or just afterwards...

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

10/12/2015 - Stocking up with GPS/radio, 2 stoves, new machete, etc

Garmin Rino 650 - GPS and 5Watt VHF
radio with altimeter & more! Dash mount included!

13" Machete for hunting, fishing, wood cutting,
and taking down zombies...
With about 8 days before my big trip - 30 days 4WDing on New Zealand's south Island, I'm starting to organize all my important survival gear.  I pack my fly fishing gear including waiters, net, 4 piece travel rod, and a whole bunch of custom flies already in the van.  I have a surfcasting rod as well with a really nice real in 15 pound test on.  I'm not sure about my fishing lures for saltwater, etc so I'm going to stop in a fishing supply store somewhere down south island to make sure I have the right stuff. No worries though.

I went shopping today and I have a new machete.  Ironically I got to test the machete today because I am cooking a lamb's leg and had to chop it in half in order for it to fit in our pot.  Since it is a full-size lamb leg with thick bone, I put it on our cutting board and with only one simple swipe of my new machete it cut through it like a hot knife does through butter.

Wow!  I guess I have my zombie apocalypse weapon.. No ammo required(!??!?!) < evil laugh!!!>

I picked up the machete at the local hunting and fishing store.  I also picked up my MSR XGK II stove with the pump. The stove and the pump were being check for faults by an authorised MSR repair centre nearby.  I'm really glad I got a check because the jet burner was broken/ very faulty, and they said if I would've turned it on it might have exploded on me.  They replace some O-rings on the pump, and gave it a good clean.  So even though my XGK stove is about 10 years old, it's now running like new!  I have another stove in my van already and it's the MSR Whisperlite Interational.  Both of the stoves serve specific purposes for me:

XGK II - is the ultimate mountaineering and cold weather portable stove.  It boils 2L water in about 1.5 minutes

Whisperlite International - is a globally recognised reliable stove that is for cooking, boiling and simmering.  While I could use it for boiling, I prefer to use my XGK as it is faster.  This way I can boil water for coffee or tea using the XGK, while cooking on the other Whisperlite International.

Tomorrow afternoon I get back my van from G Guy Motors with four new shocks, new custom springs, my lower step bumper removed and my newly replaced 400watt LED bar for my bull bar. I'm getting quite excited here!!!  Eight days from now,I depart on my 30 day/ 4WD trip to New Zealand's south Island....

09/12/2015 - Rear door gas struts re-gassed for strength

Since G Guy Motors added the custom made rear ladder onto my van rear door, the rear door had 'issues' staying upright.  In fact, prior to the ladder being installed, it was not the best anyway.  So I hired the only professional in the region to "re-gas" the struts to be better than new.  New struts are $125 each. He re-gassed both of my struts for $115.00 total!   Yes they are BETTER than new.  He added additional pressure to ensure the rear door stays up even in high wind. 
Holding up the door while the specialist re-gasses the
left strut to finish the job..

Today & tomorrow:
10/12 - 11/12: My van is back at G Guy Motors to have some more work done on it:

1) Four (4) all new Monroe Off-Road shocks installed (to replace my wimpy factory shocks) as well as fabricating me custom springs for the rear of wheels of my van to raise it up some. Then to wrap up that with a 4WD 4-wheel alignment.

2) New LED light - Two weeks ago, even with a security system installed/active, some f*ck*rs stole my twin 300watt LEDs (IP68) from my bullbar at night. I filed a police report, but they'll never get caught. So I have a replacement 400watt LED light bar (IP68) being installed with the best security screws all around. These screws are one-way on, no off screws. The only way to get them off is a blowtorch or grinder.  G Guy is installing that for me too.

3) G Guy is unbolting/removing my fancy extra low"side step bumper" as its unneeded and could cause me to get high grounded on my left side while 4WDing. I'll store that in my garage until it's needed again.

4) G Guy Motors is investigating a way to install some better lights for reversing at night since my factory lights cannot be seen through my limo grade window tinting. TBD on that.

T-minus 8 days before my 30-day 4WD trip to the NZ's South Island begins...  I am getting pumped!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

20/11/2015 - New add-on: All-in-One storage box & padded chair

After van camping a few times near home on the coast, I realised there's a missing link with regards to my van.   I need storage space to frequently removed and put back items like my solarshades.   I also would like this to double as a padded seat for "guests" who just want to hang out in the van.  The solution was to create a custom box/padded seat.  So here we go:

The box shown here fits perfectly in the centre right side floor.  It's padded
on top to double as a seat. The wood used is the same wood as the main
cabinet.  Nice!

The top is removable with a light velcro in each side. The box is
magnetically secured to the floor as my 2 beach chairs are stored to the
right of it under the bed nice and snug! 

My main cabinet drawer (the pantry) nicely opens up over the storage box
/ chair combo.

Lost of storage space inside the box.  Inside my anti-mossy wall in a bag
front cabinet window solar curtains and curtain wires that double as lines
to dry clothes/towels, etc.
A view from the outside inward with my new
Cessna 172 sticker on the door...

My next (final) major modification is my 4 shocks upgrade in early December (next month). This will be the last major modification to my van.  :)

Saturday, 14 November 2015

15/11/2015 - Minor Mods: X-mas lights, prayer flags & Anti-mosquito wall

So on a bad weather Sunday, I deciced to take care of some well-need minor mods that cost close to nothing:

a) Anti-Mosquito Wall (between front cab & living in the back)

I used netting from an old anti-mossy net for the living area of the van.  I trimmed it off an old bed mosquito covering which was not being used.  So rather try than cut to fit, I did the following:

1) Glued the soft fuzzy of the velcro to the arch over the wheel hump.
2) Put matching prickly velcro on it with the sticky side out.
3) I spread the netting just over the fringe of the sticky side.  It instantly sticks to the net.
4) I cut matching cardboard strips to glued them onto the sticky netting.   Let it dry-- it does dry quickly!
5) I removed the prickly velcro/cardboard netting attachment.
6) Finally I trimmed off the excess from the just rearward of the cardboard strip.
7) It doesn't pack well in a sack for storage, but I will give this a go for a while.  :)

b) Xmas Lights

Everyone likes Xmas lights!  :)

This was quite easy.  Just plug the one-way strip of lights into the power strip (which is plugged into the 600W interverted which is plugged into the deep cel batter with goes to the solar panel).  The after use some special pins that allow to hang lines to hold them up on a interior van wall.  This strip is 4.95m and is perfect length for the rear of the the Delica Starwagon.

c) Nepalese Prayer Flags at sliding door entry

These were very easy to install as well.  Just cut off 6-7 flags off the master string of flags.  Tied one end to an eyelit already installed to the left of the front passenger seat.  I used the already installed curtain wire over the sliding door with white plastic curtain holders to hang the flags like curtains to flutter in the wind!

Having these installed is special because I actually bought these in Nepal back in 2010 on my Mt. Everest basecamp trek 30 day trip.

When these flutter in the wind, ancient Buddist writings said they spread love and good spirits to anyone nearby!  

13/11/2015 - Friday night fun! 4WDing on the coast at night time!

We had some houseguests so I decided to take one of them out to the coast for at little bouncy bumpy driving fun...  Nice weather and nice experience as this was his first ever off road experience...

Sunday, 1 November 2015

2/11/2015 - Custom SolarShades installed - imported from Australia

After some delays from Australia, I got my well-needed Solarshades from SolarScreen Australia.  While not cheap, they are a must have for anyone who values warmth in winter, coolness in summer and privacy.  My 3 permanent pocket curtains each have a solar shade behind that will never be removed. The others will be removed whenever needed.

Solar shades all installed for daily parking or sleeping mode

Solar shades all installed for daily parking or sleeping mode

These are almost light proof except the stitching on the shades themselves.
The window sun visors are NOT holding up the windscreen solar screen

Very very very nice indeed. The top left corner of the front cab windows were
cut out like this to give a little light and for a peep hole to the outside world.

I like how the suctions are strong, but still not too hard to remove. I think winter camping will be a blast.   I thought about getting an RV-style diesel heater like this installed, but I will give winter camping a go without it.  After all if a warm mummy sleeping bag and window insulation is enough, that's a huge cost savings for me.

Next major modification are the 4 new shocks and custom fabricated rear springs to make up for the extra weight of my van as compared to the usefulness of the base factory shocks/springs.  This modification won't get getting done until early December however... (its too expensive!  LOL!)

Sunday, 25 October 2015

26/20/2015 - Minor Mod- interior fishing rod holders fitted

In anticipation of many long 4WD camping/fishing trips, I had to find a way to have my fishing rod at the ready, easy to reach, yet stored with stability for the bouncy 4WDing.  So I utilised my power drill/screwdriver kit, industrial strength velco and glue, and a minor bit of engineering.   I fitted my heavy strength freshwater / medium weight surf casting rod to the inside. 
This is not going anywhere!  Even with rough 4WDing I am sorted here!

In order to make even the best velcro adhere to a factory Delica interior roof, you're not only going to need industrial strength velcro, but also some serious industrial strength glue, small brass 1/2" screws, a phillips head manual screw driver and a power drill/screw driver.  You'll need your actual fishing rod with you in order to do this properly/accurately. Here you go; this is based on a 2 piece/9' long fishing rod:

1) For each adhesion point, cut a enough velcro (fussy/soft) to lay down perpendicular to the length of the van.  (I recommend 3 velcro straps/adhesions for the thicker 1/2 of your fishing rod) as shown below)
2) Use your glue to glue it down to the factory roof with the softside up. Glue goes on the velcro adhesive side of course!   Be careful to be sure to align it right before doing this!!!!
3) Let it dry for at least 5-10 minutes!
4) With your power drill/screw driver, drill a small screw on the end of glued on velcro on the INSIDE of the van (farther away from the window!)
5) For the other side matching of the velcro (depending on how wide your rod is at that point), cut at least 120% of the length of glued down part.  Test the length first BEFORE cutting your velcro.
6) With your power screw drover, use your freshly cut stip and screw together the velcro at the end(s) where the window is closest.
7) If you have the same issue as me, you'll see the power drill has too much torque because the velcro together get all twisted up.  So reverse the screw out a bit. Take a phillips head screw driver and slow manually tightening it up. Make it smooth and use your fingers to make sure its nicely done otherwise the velcro will never line and work well.
8) Remove the fishing rod, and note down where it was being held in place.
9) Use your power screw driver to drill another screw into ONLY the backing (the glued part) at the same spot from step 9. Do NOT screw both side of velcro together again!  
10) When you're done one of them, it should have 3 screws on the velcro backing and look like this...

11)  Repeat 2 more times and when cutting the velcro take into consideration the thickness of the fishing rod where your velcro will be.  
12)  Repeat steps 1-10 for the thinner end of your rod on the sliding door side of your van.  Be careful of lengths of the velcro you cut as this piece of your fishing rod is usually far thinner hence less material will be needed. You should only need 2 strips for this piece.

The heavier base of my fishing rod on the NON-sliding door side of my van

The second and thinner piece of my fishing rod with only 2 velcro points required...

Enjoy and good luck fishing!  :)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Day Trip #1: 27/9/2015 - Peka Peka Beach, 4WD day trip lunch on the beach with my girl...

I took my finally completed / fully modified 4WD camper out with my girl for a day trip to a beach for lunch.  Oh what a day!  It was also the first day of daylight savings time frame for the 2015-2016 spring/summer/autumn season!   Enjoy the pics!

Chatting up some fisherman on the beach...

Just in case the apocalypse comes...I am more than ready!  

The shovel is bury the dead zombies of course..  (also for self-rescue!)

Busy New Zealand beaches...  oh yes

Thursday, 24 September 2015

24/9/2015 - All major mods nearly all complete now... (Bumper bar, side protection, bash plate, IP68 spot lamps, awning, etc)

Well everyone, my massive number of planned mods for this baby is coming to a close.  After too much spent on the mods (all well worth it!), I am happy to say the only real mod left is to upgrade the shocks to handle this much heavier than factory van for prep for a very long off road trip.  That upgrade can wait for a month or two so I can save some $$$ to pay for it.   ;-)

New custom bumper bar with side protection & bash plate.  New IP68 (fully submersible and dustproof)

A few minor things I need to grab at the nearby stores like:
a) camping food - cans of food, basic pasta, spices, misc camping stuff...
b) Pour and Go - water purifier to help my water filter to a better job (40L fresh water)

New custom bumper bar with side protection & bash plate.  New IP68 (fully submersible and dustproof)
Now is the time to start to prep this expedition van for some road trips and camping.  With the awning in place, this really makes camping a lot easier.    I need to mount my waterproof tool box up top on the basket with marine grade cable and lock. That's only needed to do before each road trip. There's no reason to put it up there other. My MaxTrax are up there now, but will take them down unless I am on road trip.

Up Close - New custom bumper bar with side protection & bash plate.  New IP68 (fully submersible and dustproof)

Rear ladder was repainted frost white to match the rest of the stuff.. nice work!

RhinoRack 2.5m awning - to cover us from light rain or harsh sun...  
Sorted!  All major mods complete except new shocks and perhaps a lift by 1" - 2" (TBD)

Waterproof locked tool box with marine grade cable & marine grade master lock

A must have for every 4WD that's ready for the zombie apocalypse
I still have yet to receive my solar shades that I ordered, but no worries they'll be here soon. I gotta say this entire 5 month long journey from buying this van to getting to this point has been tiring, but it's sooooo worth it the efforts and money spent.  I will have many many good memories with this expedition van no doubt...

Let the good times roll...