Thursday, March 15, 2018

Farewell to the Van?

Half of the New Rig

After 4 years of faithful service, I have decided to retire the old van!  I will probably end up selling or trading it.  After making the long trip back to West Virginia from California in a week, I came to the decision to let the old blue van go.  Although it ran good enough for it's age, it was apparent that the van was just not comfortable to drive long distance.   Although I did my best to make the van into a converted home, it was always intended to be a work van, and the cab portion reflects that.   The steering wheel is the old hard, thin kind (no airbags btw) and it actually messed up the nerves in my hand from holding it for long periods.

Super nice interior.  Jump seats in back.

I also wanted to find a solution that would let me stand and take an indoor shower.   Although I got by on the road with truck stops or a solar shower when hot, sometimes I had to go uncomfortably long without one.   Also when working (and sweating) it becomes less feasible to do it that way.  I needed a trailer or something to pull, and I kind of wanting something i can separate for fuel savings when set up for long stays.

With the help of a friend, who is the king of hustling for used vehicles, I was able to get the above chevy S-10.   My criteria for a vehicle was super demanding considering my lack of funds.
  1. I wanted a v6 (for better gas mileage)
  2. automatic
  3. reasonably comfortable
  4. front wheel drive or four wheel drive
  5. able to pull at least 3500lbs
  6. less than 150,000 miles
  7. for $2000 or under.    
Yeah, so I was delighted that this wizard managed to find all of those criteria except one in about a week, when I had been looking for months.   I had to add about $1500 more dollars to that pot.   It's unfortunate, because the plan was to get a cargo or other small trailer to pull behind it with the money I had left over.  So now I am scrambling to find the cheapest solution for the other half of the rig.   Wish me luck. (I have some tentative plans to buy a gutted popup trailer for 200 bucks and convert it to a hard side...)

That said the truck is in really great shape, with 140,000 miles.  It is a 1995, so older than I was expecting, but it only had one owner since new.  They kept up on most of the maintenance.    And it is CLEAN, the body, engine, underneath.   Everything.

The engine looks detailed!

Not surprisingly it needed some small things, like a tune up, the steering tightened up, and a new catalytic converter (i could get by on the old one but I wanted to maximize power).    I plan to add this cheap back up camera, just to make my life easier, especially when trailoring.  The 4x4 is amazing, I already had to use it several times in the sudden blizzard that hit here.   Its a little picky about locking in, but most of them are at this age.  Oh and it has cruise control!   I've wanted that for forever.

Soon I will be taking it across country again to return to my work camping job, and then head down for the RTR for some RnR and then maybe looking for more work.    Pray I find a cheap camper soon, as my time to skidaddle is fast approaching.  If i have to, I guess I can always throw a bed in the back right?

So I guess I will have to use a much more loose interpretation of "van life" from now on?   Caravan life?   So European!   :)