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V-LogoVan.JPG, 2.9kB Van V-LogoVan.JPG, 2.9kB

1997 Dodge Custom Van

V-Oakmont.jpg, 101kB
V-Compare.jpg, 29kB

The near Van is my B2500. The far is a 1500.
V-Custom.jpg, 18kB
I have owned four large vans. But the Dodge is the first custom van that I can stand up in. Actually, my head just touches the ceiling; I am 5 foot 7 inches tall. Since I was young I have enjoyed dry camping in a van, and this is the first one that I can get my pants on standing up.

I have no internal tanks in the van. Those are true class B RVs, and are too claustrophobic for me. They qualify as small motor-homes.

V-Cam.jpg, 27kB
I needed a way to see the hitch ball. I needed a way to hitch up the trailer without getting in and out of the van, hopping in hopping out, just to check the alignment.

The camera is the type that normally is mounted on the two top screws of a licence plate. But if you do mount this on your licence plate, and a police officer has ulterior motives, then he or she can legally stop you because this camera will obstruct part of the lettering. I personally have never heard of this infraction being enforced. I married into an extended family of officers, and this minor technicality and lapse of judgement, is just another convenient tool useful to the officer; not to you.

The camera is rather high, but it works, and by keeping it on, I can see cars behind me. The auto industry is making Backup cameras that must be turned off when not backing up because they are an integral part of the mirror. I do this myself so that I do not have this limitation. I have more cameras on the trailer RV, so that I can see behind it too. And they stay on. They must stay on. I can select which camera to see from the drivers seat.

V-CamDisp.jpg, 26kB
On all cameras, the guide lines are unfortunately upside down. All cameras are mounted upside-right. As you can see, the monitor is mounted upside-down. The base is mounted above, on the celling, next to the visor. So the video has to be manipulated, electrically reversed, and turned upside-down, at the monitor. I have to be consistent: I started out with cameras mounted upside-right, and I would have to change all of them. Too much trouble! Also, there is the problem of switching the video left to right. With the up and down, and the left and right; It hurts my head to think about it. I can not get my head around the gymnastics. Also, some day, a manufacturer will figure a way to keep the guide lines with the video, and not dependent on the monitor mount. But, overall, it works, and that is good enough...

Behind the monitor is the visor, where I store my sunglasses. That monitor has solved another problem: where to store sunglasses. Those are my new sunglasses, stored on the visor, still with the label.

V-Instruments.jpg, 29kB
I use this van to tow, and when you tow, you have to see what is going on.

The meter on the left is Outside Temperature at 75.6 degrees in red LED. The meter in blue LED is Transmission Temperature at 117 degrees. The van was supposed to have the Towing Package, but without a Transmission gauge, it is not a full towing package. The center meter in green is the Engine Temperature, and it is very important. The stock gauge is not quick or fine enough. The bottom meter in green is my tach. And when pulling up hill, I can keep revs optimum for both engine efficiency and clutch fan cooling.
With wind noise and tire noise, I can not always hear the engine.

You might think it a bit cluttered. I am an engineer; I love meters.

V-SolarPVP.jpg, 46kB
I have had this flexible solar panel for over 10 years, and it still works, but I do not know how: It was severely damaged in a hail storm. The fiberglass roof of the van survived, but the steel hood over the engine took some dingoes. During the storm, I stopped all forward motion to protect the windshield from breaking, and I stopped under a tree to be totally smothered in torn green leaves and small brown twigs.

V-Bed.jpg, 29kB
Originally, the van could seat seven people comfortably: Four Captains Chairs, and three across a couch. But I don't like people, especially in my van. Although the coach is motorized, I keep it permanently down in a bed configuration.

The woofers can easily look out in comfort. They can be lying down, and be watching squirrels or people. In a car or SUV, they have to stand up to see out a window. This is convenient for them. When Linda is shopping I can pull the shades, lay back and read a book. And this is regardless of away from an RV, back in a park somewhere, or away from a brick house. The woofers and I have water and snacks at our finger tips.

V-EmptyChair.jpg, 23kB
One chaptains-chair was permanently removed. Now with this floor plan, there is a small living room for the woofers to run and play. A large Van has an advantage over a SUV: more room for storage and activities. Also, you can haul 4 by 8 sheets of plywood. Normally, this task would require a pickup.

V-Loft.jpg, 24kB
There are times when you are too far from the RV, or too far from the house. And you choose to sleep in the van. And it is cold. I use Reflectix insulation.

The large loft is perfect for storing Reflectix window insulation. Three of the pieces are large, to fit the three large windows. You can not put shiny Reflectix directly in the windows for stealthy habitation; it shows too much. I have glued decorative paper to one side of the Reflectix Insulation. It is that side that faces outward, and it is non obtrusive, and it is difficult to see. And each peace is cut exactly for each window. Looks nice. Parking lots are probably proud to have us.

A different concept is used for the RV however; Obviously, it is not stealth. Pulling around such a big thing is difficult to hide, and diffinity not stealth. For the RV, one side of the Reflectix is painted flat black, the other side left reflective. If the inside of the RV is hot, then the shiny side is faced outside to reflect heat and the sun back outside. If the inside is cold, the shiny side is faced inside to reflect heat back into the inside of the trailer.

V-Screens.jpg, 27kB
Many windows have screens. This is a must. Just so much as one invisible, barely audible, blood thirsty mosquito will drive you nuts. How many SUVs do you see with screens?

V-Ceiling.jpg, 23kB

VanStanding.jpg, 121kB To better insulate the van, the window panels are made of two layers. One layer is the pretty corrugated paper. This shows to the outside.
The other layer is the Reflectix. And it goes to the inside, and it reflects infrared heat back inside the van.

Also the corrugated paper is designed to fit inside the window frame. And the Reflectix is designed to fit inside the intire window cavity. There are more or less two gasket seals. Also, the corrugated side touches the glass, so that if the glass is improperly sealed and there are air currents that allow condensation, then the water will not soak the paper.
VanWinGlue.jpg, 64kB Here the two layers are being glued together. This side of the paper is not corrugated and sticks well. Also by applying glue to this side, both glued pieces will still bend.
VanWinRBackIn.jpg, 59kB Heat is reflected back into the van. Also, there is a conduction "R" insulation value to Reflectix due to the bubble wrap. It can be in the low 40's out, and I still can not feel any coolness to the Reflectix.
VanWinRBFresh.jpg, 73kB There is one thing that I have learned from my RV, as well as from my van: Always provide for fresh air - no matter what! This is more important than keeping warm. I have found two things that give me a headache when I wake up: One is falling asleep at high altitude. The other is sleeping in an air tight box. In both cases your oxygen levels go down. Anything less than 90% gives me a headache.
VanWinRBOut.jpg, 46kB From the outside, and behind the glass, it looks nice. Where the vent is open, you can see the corrugated paper. This should either be closed off by closing the glass, or opened for a vent.

My van looks good in any parking lot. But particularly in a place like Safeway, that stays open all night. Recently, the two woofers and I stayed in a Safeway parking lot in South Shore Lake Tahoe where the temperature was 43 degrees. We were warm all night long without starting the van.