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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:18 am 
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OK, this will be a repost, but apparently I've got dead photo links in the above post, and due to either massive brain fade or forum time-outs, I can't seem to edit it.

>>>>

In preparation for our big summer Highway-1 expedition, I've been banging a lot of weekend time on all the small issues on the punch-list. I don't have great photos for all of it, but I can give you an idea of how busy I've been:

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Added a small hardboard shelf to the Pelican case that now rides on the left-side door rack. This lets me stack the leveling blocks and compressor kit over all my recovery gear without having everything fall out if I need something on the bottom.


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For now, I've added a z-folding mattress/topper kit. This smooths out the lumpiness of the conversion-van/bed platform transitions, but it eats up a lot of the upper cargo room in the back. Long term, I plan to rebuild the sofa seat and have it reupholstered with new foam so that everything sits nice and flat.

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Added a fairing to my solar-panel rack, since wind was getting under it at freeway speeds and making a lot of noise and turbulence. This is some ABS sheet I had lying around coupled to a bit of stainless piano hinge. The whole rack has since been offset to the driver's side to make room for a set of TRED Pro recovery ramps and their mounting bracket which will attach to the same set of cross bars, as soon as my Kickstarter shipment arrives. ;-)

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After more than six years without a headliner ([url="http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/42263-Herbie-s-Chevy-Astrolander-ZMB-Build-Thread?p=614006#post614006"]since I originally pulled it to start looking at pop-top options[/url]), I have finally finished the forward area headliner. I started with cardboard templates, then transferred to 1/8" hardboard (semi-rigid, but flexible enough to curve where needed). I added some dense closed-cell foam, then finally covered with matching foam-backed headliner fabric. I still need to get finished pictures, but I lost the light on the day, and it requires careful positioning to shoot photos of something like this without a wide-angle lens!

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Finally wrapped up on the curtain installation. I added aluminum curtain track (mostly screwed to the plastic trim), and sewed shirring tape to the curtains I inherited from my GTRV donor van. Created tie-backs from some matching 1" nylon webbing and snaps. Those curtains were odd, in that they didn't match up to the actual windows in the van (not really the correct number or shape of curtains), so I didn't use them for a long time. Since installing my fridge cabinet and semi-permanently using the left-rear window area for soft storage (see photos above), I finally realized the curtains I DID have would be good for the remaining windows.

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Added a Mob Armor phone cradle to the dash. My RAM-mount for my navigation tablet is now rock solid, but the old cradle I used for my phone didn't hold things tightly enough, and the phone would rattle out over washboard roads. This thing holds the phone very securely (clamps top/bottom). Downside to the Mob Armor magnetic mount was that I had to bolt a metal plate to the dash fascia, but at this point I've drilled so many holes in things I kind of just said "fark it".

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Picked up a set of Front Runner Flat-pack storage boxes. Very efficient since they're totally rectangular, but most importantly they happen to be the perfect shape that I can fit three of these under my conversion van seat. (The left side is two boxes deep, the water tank eats the space behind the rightmost box.) We'll use these as luggage for our trip - one container per person, hopefully corralling the bags that typically get shuffled around the van 20 times per day. Also visible in the right corner is my Iota DLS-55 charger which I've now hard-wired in to the house battery. I haven't documented that yet, more to come soon.

Stuff without photos:
* I've swapped out a flaky secondary O2 sensor to clear a P0137 code.
* Fitted a fresh fuel filter.
* Replaced the 20+ year old and failing bulb seal around the perimeter of the GTRV pop-top

Lastly, I've exchanged the old aluminum-hard-case Northman Apollo awning (also inherited from GTRV donor van) for a new ARB 2500x2500 bag awning. It's lighter, easier to deploy solo, and offers a critical couple of extra feet of deployed shade/cover. Northman awning will be for sale to any interested parties... Photos of the new ARB awning and the LED strip lighting I've attached to it to come soon.

Whew. That's a lot of work!

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Summer Roundup
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 3:17 pm 
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Well, all of the recent work has really paid off. In June, the family took a long road trip up the California coast. Wildfires in the SoCal area knocked out a few nights of camping (fire went right down to the El Capitan State Beach campground), so we spent a few more nights in Motels than I'd planned, but it was still a great trip.

Here's a quick video summary of that trip: Youtube

A couple of shots from that trip that didn't make it to the video:

Image Image

Managed to spot this late-model GTRV in Morro Bay! It had a kitchen but no upper bunk, and looked well-used. Wished I could have found the owners. I was out of cards or I'd have left a note on the window. Other than my conversion and T.Low's van, I think this it the only other GTRV I've actually seen in person!

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We did manage to get a couple of fantastic nights of camping in at Kirk Creek, right on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. I don't normally prefer established campgrounds, but it's really hard to beat a view like this:
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The nearby Elephant Seal rookery was also a treat for my daughter:
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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 3:38 pm 
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July was mostly about recovering from that trip and lining up next-steps, but in early August we were able to sneak in one more trip before my daughter started school. I'm still collecting the media from that trip (Wife shot a lot of good material), but it was quite the adventure.

We set out to find one of the awesome "Yellow Post" campsites in the San Bernardino National Forest. These primitive sites are sprinkled around various FS roads and are usually well apart from everything else, making them wonderful hideaways. We climbed FS 7S02 up to the top of Santa Rosa mountain and found a beauty of a spot right near the peak. At just about 8000ft elevation, it was appreciably cooler there, a wonderful change from the heat and humidity we'd been suffering through down below.

Unfortunately, that massive difference in temperature was about to become significant - just after we'd leveled the van and setup the awning, the weather turned. Here, in mid-August, in the midst of a 2-week heatwave, it started to sprinkle, then hail. I started to climb the rear steps to unload the roof rack when my brain clicked to what comes next during a summer hailstorm. We retreated inside the van and played a couple of rounds of Uno to see what would happen. Sure enough, within 20 minutes, I heard the first roll of thunder. My wife tolerates, but does not enjoy, the trail driving required to get to the top of the mountain (particularly the not-at-all-groomed and very tight spur we'd taken to get to that site) and wasn't too keen on leaving and repeating the day's driving to get back down the hill. After lightning hit the peak maybe 1/4 mile from us, though, she came around to my way of thinking and we quickly stowed the awning and picked our way down the (increasingly muddy) trail. One of my concerns was not knowing how long it would rain, and I wasn't sure how the "road" would fare if it went overnight. Between that and knowing that fetching half my gear from the roof rack could turn me into a lightning rod on top of a mountain, I figure I made the right call to bail.

In the end, we spent a lovely night in the nearby village of Idyllwild. We found a cheap cabin and a restaurant that had good cocktails and live music, and the kiddo, who had initially been disappointed to the point of tears about losing a night of camping, was soothed. In the morning, we had breakfast in the village and re-packed our gear.
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We set off to explore another trail, 6S13 at nearby Thomas Mountain. The weather looked clearer, and Thomas is a fair 1000ft lower so it doesn't create the same weather effect. As it happens, that road is much better groomed as well, so aside from a few white-knuckle moments on the edge of a mountain road, my wife's nerves were much more calm. We found this lovely spot right around noon:

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My daughter and I took a short hike, following an overgrown jeep trail that lead away from camp. After that, we spent the rest of the day just relaxing and reading. And of course, at 4pm the bar opened.
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I fried up some salmon on the skottle, steamed some broccoli and a pot of cous cous. Fire restrictions were in full effect due to the crazy drought, but my propane campfire is still kosher so we had a wonderful evening under a very bright moon.
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I'm really enjoying just getting to use the van, rather than work on it so much. That said, there's still a couple of jobs left to do: Re-gearing is the next item, and sometime soon I'll need skidplates and a few other goodies too...

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Summer Roundup
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:06 am 
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Herbie wrote:
Well, all of the recent work has really paid off. In June, the family took a long road trip up the California coast. Wildfires in the SoCal area knocked out a few nights of camping (fire went right down to the El Capitan State Beach campground), so we spent a few more nights in Motels than I'd planned, but it was still a great trip.

Here's a quick video summary of that trip: Youtube

A couple of shots from that trip that didn't make it to the video:


Very cool trip! Thanks for sharing!

_________________
Matt
Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
-07 Can-Am Outlander XT -->My yellow 4x4 quad for work & play
-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


No new projects until the current ones are done!


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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:34 pm 
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Great threads, nice documentation. Thanks! Much food for thought as I camperize my Safari.

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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:59 am 
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No major updates, a couple of minor ones.

I went over the roof and patched some holes I'd added during the ill-fated attempt to use powered actuators to raise the roof. Doing this allowed me to relocate the mounts for the forward extra crossbar that I've used to mount the solar panel and TRED boards:

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This stabilizes that mount some (more spread). I also finally hard-wired the roof solar through the aft-end of the pop-top, so I can raise and lower the top with the solar panel on the roof. (Previously always just had the wire running through the side window, so I needed to disconnect the panel (and pull it out of the mount if I wanted to use it) when raising the top. Fine for long stays when I put the panel out and move it around a lot anyhow, bad for quick stops when I wanted to pop the top for an hour.

Mostly though, just using the rig! Here's our latest video, form Thanksgiving:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lFPsjEzors&t=1s

_________________
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:39 pm 
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Very cool!

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Matt
Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
-07 Can-Am Outlander XT -->My yellow 4x4 quad for work & play
-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


No new projects until the current ones are done!


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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:21 pm 
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Minor New Year's update: Replaced the gas springs for the pop-top. This turned out to be significantly more complicated than I'd guessed when I started the project back in Summer. These are the original springs from the 1995 conversion, and they've seemed to have lost some oomph lately. Moreover, given that I have a lot of weight on the roof (forward-mounted solar panels, roof rack, etc.), I wanted a bit more spring rate over even returning to stock.

Background: As built by GTRV, the pop-tops used Faucher gas springs, specifically part #777-7357-P1-150lb:
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The bad news is that Faucher no longer makes this exact spring. If you call GTRV or Faucher, they'll both tell you that the replacement spring is part #777-7305 (rated to 158lbs (700n)). I opted to order part # 777-7306, rated to 203lbs (900n). The length of both the -7305 and -7306 parts is the same. Unfortunately, neither of those is quite as long as the old 777-7357 part:

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Those two inches turn out to be quite important. With the new springs fitted, the pop-top tent is quite slack, and since the spring is the thing that limits the upward travel, you can't simply push up and brace the tent to hold it taut. The bummer part is that Faucher springs come from Canada, and even if I got them to waive the restocking fee due to the supposedly compatible parts being different lengths, the shipping, customs, etc. would be a significant portion of the cost. Luckily, since these are a "standard" part on the newer GTRVs, I was able to shift them to a forum member whose springs were similarly worn and was also looking to upgrade the lift capacity for his roof. OK, back to "zero", wallet a few bucks lighter but otherwise unharmed.

Next problem is that there aren't a lot of replacement options at this length. It seems gas springs in the ~1000mm range are thin on the ground, especially at higher spring rates. Luckily, I found Gemini Gas Springs (geminigassprings.com), also in Canada, who has a similar part. Theirs is actually longer overall (1005mm/39.5"), but longer is better than shorter. I was not able to bolt these in directly, but since the spring mounting brackets on the van and pop-top are offset, I was able to make them fit by swapping brackets left/right to move the pickup points outward to accommodate the longer length. Getting the balls seated into the cups is always a tricky exercise, but by using a floor jack and a 2x4 lengthwise inside the van to jack the pop-top to the exact height needed, I was able to get things aligned.

For my notes or any future shoppers: Gemini Gas Spring Part # 10/23 450-1005/800N B32/B32 (10/23 rod/sleeve size, 450 compressed to 1005 extended length, 800Newton spring rate, B32 balls at both ends). The only bummer was that the B32 ball sockets turned out to be the wrong fitting, they're the correct 8mm thread, but fit a smaller ball than I had on the van. Luckily I was able to transplant the socket fitting from the Faucher springs. Next time I'll have to part-dig a bit better to make sure I get the right ball/socket joint too!

No pictures of the final springs - they look the same as before, and there were too many moving parts to stop and take pictures of the process, but I'm happy to report that the top goes up with less effort now, and holds in the full-up position without sagging, even with the solar panel in place, etc. (which it didn't do before).

_________________
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:45 am 
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Well, it's finally time to change up the interior to fix some of our lingering issues.

You can see from back on page five that the Dodge (MarkIII) Van-conversion bench/bed has never been perfectly flat:
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I did the best I could with the extension platform, but the fact remains that due to the seat's geometry, the seat portion always sits slightly lower and at an angle to the "back" when everything is folded into a bed.

The advantage that this "bed" had was that it worked well with the relatively low overhead height of the Astro van. It sits at ~15" off the deck, though with a bit less rake than the stock bench seat. But more importantly, it doesn't move up too high when slid into bed position. But like I said, it sleeps worse than the rickety old hide-a-bed in your great-aunt's basement. Look, I paid $100 for the thing from Craigslist back in 2009. It's time for a properly flat (and comfortable bed).

A while back I picked up a set of reproduction Westfalia "Rock-n-Roll" bed hinges from Bus Depot, but I've been sitting on them for over a year because the westy geometry presents some challenges when it comes to headroom-challenged vans. That said, I finally got off the fence and started working on the problem:

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No, I'm not building a miniature bed. I just figured the only way to figure out all the "gotchas" and be able to spec out the bed in order to fit all my needs was to mock it up first and run it through all the movements. Some time on the table saw with some scrap plywood and particle board, and I had this mockup built. I started with the usual "westy" dimensions and made some educated guesses on how I'd need to alter things. Aside from the width, it's pretty close to the dimensions I'll end up with, (still sits a bit too tall, and the back isn't high enough), but it's complete enough for me to see where all the critical clearances are. I've literally got pages in my notebook recording how one dimension influences the others.

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Joy of joys, the biggest relief is that the bed can be made to sit really flat. Once I get the numbers all worked out, there will be minimal gaps, too, so it should be a LOT more comfortable. The HARD part was making it sit not too tall. I needed the main "box" to be at least 8" high, so I can still fit the 12g water tank under it on one side, but because of the arc the pieces move through, they end up rising almost 4 inches, so I had to keep things as low as possible otherwise.

So the mock-up went together fairly quickly. One thing I don't like about the Westfalia construction, though, is that they always build the box, back, and seat out of plywood. Very simple, and probably sufficient if you're only using the seat as a sofa or bed, but since I'll be strapping my daughter to it as a regular auto seat while we're driving, I wasn't feeling good about the construction. Instead, mine will be steel!

More pictures to come...

_________________
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:19 pm 
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Lots of work, not too many photos to share, yet.

The Rock-n-Roll bed is nearly complete. All the fit-up, welding, and grinding is done. I'm working on the finishing in pieces because it's hard enough to move the big pieces around and there's moving parts.

Here's the "base" frame. On a VW bus, this would simply be three pieces of plywood bolted together and fastened to the rear firewall. Here's an excellent set of photos of how a Rock-n-Roll bed normally goes together. Obviously I don't have a rear firewall or engine cover to sleep on, so there's a bit more "structure" to my version.

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The frame is just over 8" high, so I can still fit my Valterra 12gallon tank under it. The Rock-n-Roll hinges attach to the side pieces, one bolt through the center tube (sleeved), and the other through the plate. Setting the angle of the hinges is pretty critical to getting the "rake" of the seat back correct. The raised front tube (right side) sets the angle of the seat bottom, but also has to be at the right height for the supports to sit on when the bed is deployed. This will be easier to understand later. I've left the rear cross tube open as I plan to use it to chase wiring through. The chunk of angle-iron on the left attaches to the two short upright tubes on the rear - this makes an adjustable perch for the rear portion of the bed and substitutes for the rear engine-lid where the bed comes to rest on a VW.

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The base flipped over, and primered. I'm re-using the same holes through the floor that I drilled for the old Conversion-van bench seat, so the passenger side bolts right through the seat's frame (also sleeved), while the driver's side has an extended flange. I did it this way, rather than just making the frame wider, so that I could leave a little room on the driver's side to build out the cabinetry there. You can also see the short length of angle-iron on the forward end of the driver's side of the frame, this is part of what will hold the water tank in place once it's all bolted down.

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And here's the the seat bottom. Structure is framed in steel, with tabs to hold the plywood flush with the tubes. The "corner" pieces are short lengths of 1"x3" rectangular tubing. I didn't want to weld the seat pieces to the hinges (for ease of finishing, moving, rebuilding, etc.) and the hinge plates normally just bolt directly to the plywood, so I needed something substantial to bolt to. Using the hinges as templates, I drilled these pieces first, added weld-nuts, and then built the rest of the seat base frame onto them. The seat back (not pictured, yet), is pretty similar, except that the "top" of the frame is a bit more complex because I had to graft in the folded-steel sections that the headrest tubes mate with (more on this later). After the steel is painted, all the plywood will get a coat or two of wipe-on poly, just like the fridge cabinet I built last year.

EDIT: Photo links updated.

_________________
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Rock-n-Roll, baby!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:29 pm 
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:guitar: Who's ready to Rock-n-Roll?

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I'm nearing completion on my project to replace my $100 craigslist conversion van bench/bed (that was never flat) with a Westfalia-style Rock-n-Roll bed.

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I used reproduction Westy bed hinges, but since my little girl rides strapped into the back seat, I didn't feel comfortable building the box/bed system out of plywood. (Especially since we don't have a rear firewall to tie into like the VW vans.) Instead, I fabricated (mostly from scratch) a frame from steel tube. Since safety was a concern, I harvested the top of the seat-back from my conversion van seat, since it had all the punched holes and hardware necessary for a full (removable) headrest system. It took a lot of fiddling with the box dimensions to get things tall enough to fit my 12gallon water tank underneath, but to sit low enough for the Astro's relatively low overhead clearance.

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Seating surfaces are 1/2 birch ply (same as my cabinet), and I trimmed the back of the seat (covering the headrest system/innards) with a nice 5mm (Poplar?) surfaced ply. All the wood just got 2 coats of wipe-on polyurethane. Since we don't have a rear firewall/bulk-head for the bed fold back onto, and since having a perfectly flat sleeping surface is one of the driving forces of this build, I designed adjustable supports into the frame. The black piece with the two bolts catches the seat back, and is slotted so it can be raised/lowered to make sure the back portion of the seat levels out perfectly. The rear extension platform (instead of the VW engine decklid) rests on the same black bracket at the forward edge, and on adjustable legs at the rear. The angle of the seat "bottom" can be adjusted by shimming the support brackets.

Image

With a Rock-n-Roll type bed, it's necessary to keep the frame "locked" into seat mode so that things don't fold back in an accident. I used a hotrod "bear claw" trunk latch that works perfectly.

Still left to do:
I've rebuilt my "water pump" box to fit against the new seat, but I need to finish re-plumbing to the (reoriented) water tank. I've got an Ikea foam mattress I'll be cutting for the seat/bed cushions. I'm still deciding how I want to upholster the cushions, but I may stray from the "All DIY" approach and just order zippered slip covers from one of the many inexpensive internet retailers that will make them to order. (I don't mind sewing, but that's a lot of work that needs to be done accurately and I'm running out of time/energy for this particular project.)

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:44 pm 
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Thanks for the update!

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Matt
Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
-07 Can-Am Outlander XT -->My yellow 4x4 quad for work & play
-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


No new projects until the current ones are done!


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 Post subject: A little more Rock-n-Roll
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:12 pm 
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The Rock-N-Roll bed is "done". Or at least, "done enough to sleep on". :guitar:

It took a bit of a push, especially given the near record-setting heat and humidity we suffered through for the Labor Day weekend, but we're at a point where we can sleep on the new bed system. Between that and a few other odd jobs, we're good to go for camping next weekend!

Image

The main work was sorting out a new rear extension platform which takes the place of the rear engine deck-lid in the VW vans. I used a similar platform with our original "conversion van" bed, but the dimensions changed just enough that a new unit was needed. As I mentioned in the last post, the platform rests on the same adjustable crossbar that the seat-back folds onto, this ensures that the two platforms mesh evenly, with no transition "hump". You can also see a couple of metal plates in the picture below - these limit the platform from moving forward. Since the platform is "floating" (so as to be easily removable), it could technically be pushed forward where it would interfere with the seat reclining - these straps keep it perfectly positioned so that the seat drops down flush.

You can also see that the seatbelts have been re-installed, the water tank has been re-plumbed, and I finally undertook the simple task of marking the sight-gauge for 3/4 and 1/2 full.
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Also, reason #426 why I love my van (and why I built the bed base to be open back-to-front):
Being able to transport 8-foot plus long stuff inside the van. In this case, I've got the old awning from our donor van.

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The other necessary change to finish the bed project was to get an even mattress. As I've mentioned previously, the old conversion-van seat had two different foam densities, plus the seat-bottom section was sprung, while the back was rigid, this meant that each of the three parts of the bed had a different "sink". Now that the bed platform is perfectly flat, I've also topped it off with a single foam mattress, cut into three sections. This is another budget solution, an Ikea Lycksele Lövås futon mattress. This was pretty close to the right size, so there wasn't too much waste. One surprise, not advertised on the site, is that the mattress is "divided" into a long and a short section (presumably to fit their futon frame). Fortunately, the split was in a place convenient spot. At the moment, the cushions are just (somewhat loosely) wearing the recycled covers from the conversion-van seat, but new zippered covers are next on the list.

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I had time to complete a couple of other minor projects that don't merit their own post, but are worth preserving. First was to whip up a couple of adjustable straps and to drill the bed platform so that I can safely sit the chuckbox on the rear bumper. The slim and slightly angled nature of the bumper means just resting the box here can be a little precarious. I bent up a couple of hooks so that the box is held back and won't tip off the end of the bumper. I won't typically use it this way, but occasionally I just need quick access and don't want to setup a stand or move the box to a table. At least now I have the possibility of prepping a quick meal off the "tailgate" of the van.

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Just a quick detail from a project that will be covered in more detail in an upcoming post:
What do you do if your "precision" stainless steel fender washer fits the threaded portion of a bolt, but not the un-threaded shank portion? Enlarging holes in thin material is always tricky, and damn near impossible on something round that you can't easily clamp. Even on the slowest setting of my drill press, I could never drill this somewhat hard stainless without the bit catching and whipping the washer out of whatever clamping system I could devise. This is the right way to do it, especially if you only need to enlarge the hole a smidge: Using a table clamp and a long-jaw C-clamp, the washer is pinned at the corner of a slot in my welding table. Then, I use a tapered hand reamer to slowly remove material until the washer fits the shank of my bolt. Zero-percent chance of snagged washers and a perfectly round hole*.

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* Machinist-geeks know that a "regular" 2-flute twist drill bit actually makes a triangular hole in thin material.

_________________
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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