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2020 MR 148 Long Cargo pretty much base model.
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thank Travlin. I’ll check with them.
In the course of my investigations I learned a couple more things about the weatherguard channel.

The Q and A from weatherguard is here. Van Accessories. They consistently refuse to give advice on any application related to RV. Maybe liability concerns?

Their own roof racks attach to the rail with this J mount. A plate with two studs welded on slides inside the track and the J mount bolts onto that. 24-00019.pdf

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Mcmaster-Carr sells a square unistrut (1 1/4 inches on a side, 1 3/4 diagonal) nut that would fit and not rotate ( but in steel only, not stainless). McMaster-Carr

also, unistrut nuts fit but the grooves don’t line up. So tightening/loosening would be problematic but perhaps workable.

So


158612
 

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Made a few additions today.

First off, I had noticed when taking temperature measurements in the fridge that the items stored in the door were always a few degrees warmer. The door being the only side of the fridge I didn't add extra insulation around pretty much explained it. What to do about it was something I pondered upon, then, eventually let the CPU keep that task running in the background until an answer popped out some unknown number of days/weeks later.

Looking on Amazon I found 1/2" thick sheet cork in a size that would cover the door. I cut it to fit and used Weldwood Gel Adhesive to attach it to the door. This ought to put a damper on heat gain from this side. I also sealed the exposed sides of the cork with Polyshades polyurethane stain. Plus, I have a handy message board I may find use for. Now, where did I leave that box of thumbtacks?


Another thing about the fridge, particularly the door style, is how things inside behave like they are in a game of Pong. Bouncing here and there constantly while underway, banging up the interior and anything else that shares the space. This exuberant behavior, and how things inevitably end up poised where upon opening the door something falls out, demanded a solution.

Between Amazon and the Container Store I have found and now installed a Fridge Active Restraint System (FARS) to protect those frisky items that occupy the fridge. The darker containers are genuine Scandinavian (made in China) felt baskets. The larger container is partially pulled out in the photo. It will hold the bigger items securely, is collapsible, and a few more of them can now be found fitting perfectly on the shelves in my storage module as well as the fridge. These were from Container Store.


Now on to the Solo bed conversion system. The bench has a thick backrest matching the seat, and it will eventually be used in an optional Full bed configuration. Because most of my use will be solo, I needed to get all that out of the way when using the bench as a bed. I constructed a backrest behind the cushion from two sheets of Luan sandwiching a sheet of 3/4 R-Max poly insulation board. Glued on with Weldwood Gel adhesive (I'm getting my money's worth from the can), with 3/4" lumber framing the foam at edges. Light and strong.

Once that was done I installed a couple of bungees on this back board to hold the cushion at the top corners, and installed Nylon webbing straps with connectors to attach the backrest to a strip of 2" x 2" glued and screwed to the wall paneling at just the right height to define the backrest angle.

I can now rotate the backrest up on those straps as a hinge point and hold it there while I sleep using a Nite Ize Cam Jam and cord set from Lowes. Easy-peasy. The Cam Jam set also can double as a clothes line, or perform any of a number of handy attachment duties.

Here it is in backrest mode.


Here it is in sleep mode.
With beefier attachment I could easily convert this to provide a horizontal shelf for additional storage.
As it is, I plan to leave it in the backrest mode while driving.


Lastly, recent threads on bike storage prompted me to snap an updated photo including the storage module behind the back wheel.

Where’s the shiner in that fridge?
 

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Discussion Starter · #223 ·
Where’s the shiner in that fridge?
The contents were moved to the shop fridge when I dropped the van off for recall work a few days ago.
There is a Shiner Berliner Weisse among the inventory, from their Texas Heat Wave 12-pack.🍺
More Shiner Premium and a few of their seasonal Hill Country Peach Wheat brew are in the house fridge as backup.
 

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The contents were moved to the shop fridge when I dropped the van off for recall work a few days ago.
There is a Shiner Berliner Weisse among the inventory, from their Texas Heat Wave 12-pack.🍺
More Shiner Premium and a few of their seasonal Hill Country Peach Wheat brew are in the house fridge as backup.
Good man 👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #226 · (Edited)
Navigation has been a nagging issue. Finding the right setup that can easily be viewed, and, allows quick, easy access to controls was lacking with the phone mount I had been using.

Searches turned up the ProClip Center Mount for the Transit that makes good use of that awkward pocket to the right of the instrument cluster. This clips into that pocket (with removable adhesive tape for additional grip), and has drill points for the AMPS mounting pattern that is shared by RAM and others.

I then picked up a Lenovo 10.3" tablet, RAM's TAB6U Tablet Mount, and had most of the rest of the needed RAM Ball Mounts on hand from other projects.

Without much effort I have created a Tesla-esque smart panel that is both easy to see and operate and should reduce the "eyes off the road" distraction factor considerably.

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This does block access to the Radio, however, there is a remote control for it, and I can play music from the Tablet through the radio (via an AUX cable) and, when not dash-mounted) play via BT through another portable speaker that kept on-board.

Below is a view of the ProClip mounting point.

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Here is a side view of the RAM hardware used in this install.

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ProClip makes a heavier duty mount for this pocket if it is desired. I think the load on this mount is around 1.25 lbs. and the tablet mount is rated for 2 lbs. in standard duty and for 1 lb. in heavy duty (Offroad) applications. Time will reveal if this setup is adequate as is, and it is good to have options.

An 8" Tablet would probably be fine here and would leave Radio and AC vent more room, but I went with the 10" so I could replace the laptop I usually carry along. This size screen ought to be big enough for most of what I have uses the laptop for. We'll see how well this plays out in practice.

If it becomes necessary, I may get a longer RAM arm to open up airflow from the AC vent, though I expect this setup will work fine and even offer some cooling for the Tablet over long hours of operation while driving. Particularly when it is in direct sunlight. Seems like a reasonable arrangement as it, unless I find some pressing need to alter it.

Update:
Wrapped this project up by adding a M-M Aux Audio cable between Tablet and Radio so I could use the Tablet's Music Player to control the in-flight entertainment playing on the door speakers.​
The Phone pairs with the Radio via BT and tested out perfectly. Calls made or received will mute/pause the audio from the tablet for the duration of the call, and use the radio's mic and speakers for convenience.​
 

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Looks nice. I’m trying to decide something similar for my set up. Does that Lenovo stream audio through its USB-c port to the van’s radio, or are you using Bluetooth?
 

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Discussion Starter · #228 · (Edited)
Looks nice. I’m trying to decide something similar for my set up. Does that Lenovo stream audio through its USB-c port to the van’s radio, or are you using Bluetooth?
I have yet to configure the tablet, but I've been using BT from my phone to the radio and will do that for the tablet as well.

The radio is not OEM, though it does have a port for a USB thumbdrive. I don't know if I could easily make it work from the tablet via USB.

For my next trick I need to work out how to file transfer from phone to tablet. Hey, Bullwinkle, watch me pull a rabbit out of a hat!
 

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Discussion Starter · #230 ·
Working on final touches for the "Tesla Dash" I had a minor setback. In ordering an Aux Audio cable, I forgot to look for a "shielded" cable that would block electrical noise coming from the engine's ignition system. This resulted in an engine-matching hum being added to the audio moving between the tablet and the radio. New cable is on order, and, oddly, priced out at 20% less than the non-shielded one. Go figure. Just wanted to mention this in case anyone reproduces this set-up in their van.

Beyond that, I've loaded up the Tablet with lots of music and audio-books for a plethora of choices for those long hours on the road. Lots of classic audio books in the public domain are available free to download from several sources online.

After having used a 2DIN Head Unit running an Android based Auto version of the OS, I had been very disappointed with the functionality. It was hard to see, a long reach to operate, and the screen died after about a year.

The new setup places a screen that is at least double the size of the HU just off the steering wheel for much easier operation, greater visibility to check information at a glance, a sight line that has less deviation from looking down the road (enhancing peripheral coverage when checking the map), and can easily be moved to the living area or outside for further use options which a Head Unit can't offer. Win, win, win!
 

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Reading through the thread, I found a post questioning the motives of Hein. I feel compelled to offer my opinion. Hein may or may not be brilliant, but all evidence supports his opinions to be reliable and based upon experience. I don’t think he needs the money. If Hein says it, I believe it. Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #232 · (Edited)
Reading through the thread, I found a post questioning the motives of Hein. I feel compelled to offer my opinion. Hein may or may not be brilliant, but all evidence supports his opinions to be reliable and based upon experience. I don’t think he needs the money. If Hein says it, I believe it. Just my opinion.
Welcome to the forum Dotar,

I've never questioned his motives so much as pointed out how there can be a thin line between "information" and "marketing" any time the one who is sharing info is also selling the item the info applies to.

This bias is unavoidable if you believe in your product. It will always influence what is being shared. If for no other reason than "familiarity breeds contempt." He provides his solutions across several different van forums and I suspect people in each of them have pointed this out as well.

Hein, due to his experience, tends to downplay equally applicable options he may have little experience with in favor of those he has worked to create solutions for. I suspect I would do the same were I in his shoes. Folks reading what he writes who are aware of this subtlety can take that into account when forming their own opinion, as you have. On the occasion he made what seemed to me a misleading statement I have responded in order to determine if data were available to support any such implication.

I have respect for Hein and the useful information he has provided. Still, I operate from the premise that there may be other ways to consider that are equally viable. What he makes, and the items he distributes are well received and folks rave about the quality of the custom items he has crafted. He added the garment thickness Thinsulate to his line of goods after I posted up about how I had used it. (under the automotive part number for which he had exclusive retail distribution rights to back then) That is good business accumen.

While I was building I found other ways to accomplish the same goals some of his products do, often at a significantly reduced cost, and in some cases with better performance. I shared the methods, reasons, and data here that led me to those choices. I hope that some folks have found that information useful.

There will always be more than one way to skin a cat.
(just don't mention this to my cats, okay? ;) )

Edit: Updated remark about exclusive distribution thanks to a correction provided by @Dotar.
 

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IMO Hein is a honest person and has been very helpful with his opinions and posts. He has built a business around designing and selling products for conversions. I do think Hein is a reliable source.

I have built two conversions and have not needed to purchase anything from Hein. As has been said there are other methods to accomplish the same results.
 

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Hello,

I once believed that Hein had exclusive rights to market Thinsulate to the conversion market but discovered I was not correct. There are several other sources for Thinsulate and other 3M products. A Google search will verify.
My impression is Hein believes his opinions are accurate. Something I have found common with engineers for better or worse.
‘I’m not an engineer but I too have been guilty of utter confidence in my opinions. Age has resulted in more humility. I once had a boss explain there is more than one way to say ‘no’ ranging from ‘**** no’ all the way to saying it so people want to come back and hear it over and over again. A wise man.
Maybe it’s just me but an exchange of opinions supported with evidence is better conducted than by questioning the motives of others.
Again, just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #235 · (Edited)
Hello,

I once believed that Hein had exclusive rights to market Thinsulate to the conversion market but discovered I was not correct. There are several other sources for Thinsulate and other 3M products. A Google search will verify.
My impression is Hein believes his opinions are accurate. Something I have found common with engineers for better or worse.
‘I’m not an engineer but I too have been guilty of utter confidence in my opinions. Age has resulted in more humility. I once had a boss explain there is more than one way to say ‘no’ ranging from ‘**** no’ all the way to saying it so people want to come back and hear it over and over again. A wise man.
Maybe it’s just me but an exchange of opinions supported with evidence is better conducted than by questioning the motives of others.
Again, just my opinion.
Funny thing is, once you are done buying Thinsulate you stop looking for places to buy it. Back in the day (2017-2018) it was only Garment sources or Hein. At the time what was written was valid. I won't be updating the original text to accommodate changes since then, but I have updated the text in the previous comment. Good that there are more ways to skin that cat now. Thanks for letting me know just the same.

You will find plenty of examples in this forum of exchanges of opinions supported with evidence that I have participated in. It seems important to me to challenge opinions that don't add up, and prove others that aren't the favorite with the "in" crowd, rather than taking them at face value. No matter the end result I always learn something, and have saved thousands in beer and bacon money in the process of building a van. At a recent tally, I have ~$25K invested in the conversion, including original purchase price of the van.

Someone who has more money than time to research might make different choices to achieve their goal. That's okay too.

In the end it always comes down to "you do you," doesn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #236 · (Edited)
Now for some fun, as lessons in humility often are.

For some time now I've been seeing degradation of the solar charging side of things. Not a failure, just a nagging feeling that it could be better. So, off I went on a tear to isolate the problem while I was in the midst of all the electrical bits while installing the new battery. With decades of experience professionally troubleshooting electronics I check the connections first. Starting at the battery, then those at the Inverter (which is also the MPPT for the solar inputs), measured for resistance (voltage drop) across switches, and then went up on the roof and unplugged and reconnected each point in the bundle of cables up there. No Joy. Didn't make a whit of difference.

Even cleaned the panels in case it was an optical problem. The Victron Battery Monitor still indicated the charge rate was under-performing. Though sunlight, passing clouds, etc. can muddy those waters with uncontrollable variables. So, I finished the battery install and went on my trip. While traveling, the system was getting enough sun to recharge every day and I didn't worry too much about it. I remembered last year on a trip to Arkansas how the tree cover everywhere left me using Shore power to boost the charge each day, and had written it off to environment back then.

Upon return it was bothering me and turning into a real head-scratcher.

I decided to nail this down and find out if something was broken and needed replacement. Decided to start from the top down. For historical reference, some time ago I had switched the two panels from being wired in parallel to being wired in series, as the MPPT input was rated for up to 48V. When I measured on either side of the panel input's cut off switch to ground I was only seeing about half the expected voltage with the panels in full mid-day sun. Hmmmmm. A clue!

Previously, I had checked voltage drop across the switch, but didn't actually take notice of the voltage itself, as all the other places I had been looking were on the 12V circuit and it was reading 20V or so. Seemed legit.

Back topside to look things over once more. I began dragging out the cables in that narrow space between the panels and the roof, tracing them back to their origin. This is how I discovered I had only thought I had wired them in series. Instead, I had inadvertently connected one of the panel's two cables together and the other panel was all that was feeding into the MPPT. Doh! This didn't take long to fix. I'm really glad that solar panels aren't damaged by this sort of nonsense on my part.

Needless to say, as is so often the case in troubleshooting, always look first at the last change you made to the system. Yeah, this great first step will often be forgotten and then you get to take the refresher course as I have so many times. But, there it was, the last thing I did, well over a year ago. Maybe two.

Looking back, I'm fairly impressed with how well the one 200 Watt panel had been keeping up with the usage. Should be good to go from here on with an actual 400W set of panels sending 40+ volts downhill to the MPPT.

TTFN, as I must go close all those open tabs where I have been researching replacement panels, replacement MPPTs, chargers, etc.
 
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