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The Van - Part 2

The wiring ……… well this took forever…........

So much so it ate into our schedule and week 3 as well. I had totally underestimated this part of the build - in my mind it was a case of just thread some wires through, connect to a battery and job done - oh no not even close! Luckily I have an Andrew and he is so completely across all of this that all I can do is watch in awe, make tea and act as a gofer.

So first up - before we added anymore insulation we ran flexible cable ducts all through the cavities and panels in the van - obviously we initially worked out what was going to go where - i.e. lights, charging sockets, electrical panels etc... etc. - we chose to use a flexible duct (approx 13mm and 20mm diameter) and this worked really well. It was fairly easy to pull through and this would provide the conduit to feed the wires through. One other essential point - before we pulled the hose through we dropped a messenger down each pipe - basically a bit of string with a fishing weight on the end - this provided an easy way to pull the wires and cable through ( see the yellow line in the picture below)

The insulation was then finished and a waterproof membrane seal those insulation fibres in and moisture out! ( fyi - we attached the vapour barrier with a butyl rope)

So as I said that was the easy bit next came the complicated part - something I stood well back from.

Andrew had spend weeks reading up on van wiring - seeing what others (mainly the guys at Far Out Ride) had done and planning our own layout. But now was the time to take what was sat brewing in his head ( and in a large -ever growing - box full of electrical bits) and bring it all together.

A lot of time was spent with a chalk pen. Drawing in the location and type of wires needed for each part of the system. Different electrical loads require various wire sizes so it's imperative we get this right.

Once we were happy with the wiring diagram, the wires were cut to size and hydraulically crimped - it's a complicated looking system but feels like a work of art to us!

Now all the system had been fitted, we then had to remove it all ( a heart breaking time ) so that the whole bulkhead area could be covered in flame-proof fabric - to make it look more 'professional' Before this was glued in place, holes were drilled into the bulk head for us to screw the various smart boxes and wires to.

So once we were happy that the fabric had glued in place, I had the fun job of burning holes through to said drill holes - this entailed locating the hole in the bulkhead through the fabric (not as easy as it sounds), heating an old screwdriver with a blow torch and then simply melting through - what could possibly go wrong????

Luckly I didn't burn the van down, destroy too much or even poison or burn myself so things were looking up! and on the strength of my success I was given the next task of setting the rivet nuts to all the burn/drill holes - and a very neat job it did too! (see image below) I was rather proud of myself!

That was where my involvement ended - Andrew then spent the next few days wiring everything up and connecting to the various systems - solar, leisure battery, car battery etc.

One quick tip - if are going to do this or drill any metal in a van do remove every last bit of swarf and debris. These will either form tiny rust patches on any metal surface or embed themselves in your toes later - so do spend the time cleaning them all up straight away - I speak from toe impaling experience! Also probably a good plan not to do things barefooted either!!

So we now have a working electrical system - Lights, charging sockets, an inverter to allow us to charge out laptops - and something that absolutely blows my mind - we can now connect the van to the pod and the generator. The van runs our electricity and heating in the pod and the generator charges up the van's batteries - there are wires running all over our building plot connecting everything - but it's a small price to pay to live off grid, in the winter, in the Highlands of Scotland! I could even have Christmas lights up!

Next up was to finish fitting the wall coverings - more riveting and hole burning for me - and then it was time for the heating system and the water. Time is running out we had 10 days left before term starts ( & that's grabbing some days from freshers week!)

bye for now

Liz x


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