Insulating the Camper Van

As part of our amazing journey back, Nick and I realized that the camper gets very cold at night, in large part due to it being a van and not a house. But there was one key element we noticed was letting a lot of cold air in, the cooktop (stovetop) vent. Today, I set out to remedy the problem. I managed to do it all without spending any additional money by using things I had laying around the house.

First I cut down a piece of leftover hard foam insulation I had used to insulate the tire shed. I didn’t have a long blade so I used a technique where I cut it it along the line I wanted using an X-acto knife, put it over a counter top edge, and broke off the chunk I didn’t want. It doesn’t make for very clean lines, but more on that later.

Foam Vent Cover - Cut Outs After that, I pressed the foam up against the vent to mark the indentations in the foam. Then I cut out the areas around the indentation so the foam would fit flat up against the surface of the vent fan shroud (see the green boxes in the photo), preventing air from leaking through. When test fitting after making the cuts, the piece actually stayed in place tightly because it “tolerance fit”. However, to be a bit more secure and have the part last over multiple removals and insertions, I decided to install some magnets.

I took some fridge magnets off the refrigerator that we seem to have an abundance of and took the magnets out of their cases. I pushed them into the foam to create an impression (see the red circles in the photo). Using an X-acto knife, I traced the circle impression and then cut in at very shallow angles to remove the foam. I used copious amounts of gorilla glue and glued them in. I put a little extra around the seams (even though they were already pretty snug) to make sure these didn’t pop out while trying to remove the cover.


Finally, I wanted to keep the rough foam edges from fraying off and leaving tiny, clingy pieces of loose styrofoam every. To solve this problem, I was going to use some duct tape I had bought for the trip back from Florida. However, Jessica found the Refletix aluminum tape we had used to make tire warmers for the Hoosier’s used on the STI a couple seasons ago. It was the same width as the foam insulation edges! I lined the edges all the way around (even the smooth ones) to protect them from damage. Finally, I installed it in the van and took some pictures.

It doesn’t look too bad and it is definitely light weight — not bad for a hour or so of work. It kind of looks like I’m smuggling some drugs up there.

Tow Rig

For those of you not following my adventure across America the long way (FL to WA) on Facebook, I recently bought a tow rig in the form of a class B motorhome. It’s a 1996 Roadtrek 190 Versatile that I got for a bargain near Sarasota, FL. My great friend Nick Smith and I drove it back in a weekend using some hardcore driving techniques. Nevertheless, now I need to get van up to snuff.

Besides replacing the some fuses to get the carbon monoxide detectors, ABS, and a couple other miscellaneous components working, the first thing I tackled was polishing the headlights. I used a Mother’s Power Ball, Meguiars PlastX, and some painters tape to achieve the results below.

Both Headlights Unpolished Both Headlights Polished

It is not perfect, but it is an improvement and definitely helped with light brightness and clarity. Below is a close up of the driver side light (before and after).

Single Headlight Unpolished Single Headlight Polished

A few days after this, I replaced the windshield washer fluid pump after diagnosing the problem down to the pump. The sprayers are integrated into the wiper arms and spray as they move. I checked the fuse, hoses, nozzles, electrical connections, and finally that just left the pump. I replace it all works. I must say, the pump design on this fluid reservoir is crazy and I was only able to install it after some trickery and guesswork.

More fixes and posts to come as I check things off our to-do list and get ready for the SCCA San Diego National Tour at the end of March.

Team Oly Express

Here is a long overdue but quick update. I joined another 24 hours of LeMons team (Team Oly Express). I was able to work on the car a grand total of 4 weekends if you don’t count the last day scramble. The team worked their asses of to get the car ready for Sears Pointless at Infineon Raceway last month. The car of choice, a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda, not only made it through the race, but placed 44th overall out of 171 cars, 3rd out of 22 in class C, and, most importantly, won the Index of Effluency!

I have one video posted of a short stint on YouTube, but will have more images and video to come as I get time.

The car took a couple hits, none when I was in the car. Though I did get a black flag when a guy forced me off the track (to avoid collision).

If you want to follow the team’s progress, the best thing you can do is follow Team Oly Express on facebook. That location will have the most up-to-date information. We’ll be racing in Shelton in July. I hoped to see you all there.

Race Preparation Mostly Complete

Over the last two weeks I’ve swapped springs (600/500 from 500/400), put in new trailing arm bushings, put in a MSI Direct Steering Kit, installed a new intercooler, drove to Oregon to get a ProTune from Tim Bailey, grinded, sealed, rolled, and pulled my rear fenders, got new Hoosier A6’s mounted, and I just now I’m finished up putting on my Hoosier stickers. I haven’t even washed my car yet.

I’m taking off in a couple of hours, I might still take out the backseats and seat belts as well as my amp/sub from under the front seats.

Mod Weekend

This weekend I installed (well, I helped, Robby is a tour de force in the garage) new forward and rear trailing arm bushings, a new front control arm inner bushing, and upgrade the spring rates front and rear +100 lbs (600 lbs Front, 500 lbs rear). Body roll is pretty much nonexistent now. The main goal of the springs was to keep the rear tires off of the fender (they are gouging the tires and have stripped some paint).

Also, now that we have a new iPhone mount for the car, I can record some stable video. Here’s video of my winning run from event #5.

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I co-drove John’s Elise on Sunday. It was the second time I’d drove it (first time in the dry and first time on slicks). I didn’t fair too well in the AM in class. John, however, managed to pull out a 2nd place trophy (out of 7). I ended up in 5th. I did manage to pull out a quick run on my last run of the day (a 44.4), which would have been the fastest time of the day had I not hit the cone on the way out of the slalom. Overall, I think things are looking to be fun for this WWSCC season.

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Progress on the E30

Despite the E30’s current engine problems (significantly down on power), Robby and I decided to press forward designing and fabricating the roll cage. One of the struggles of working in Robby’s shop is that he lives so far from supply shops that if you make a mistake, it can cost you a whole day of travel. Well, after traveling half a day to Lakewood and back, buying the the only piece of 1.5″ x 0.12″ DOM they had, our first hoop turned out too narrow because of an input error into the bend calculation software we were using.

The next day we drove all the way to Centralia to get another piece (this time 24′ in length, so there was enough extra for a whole hoop). This time things went much better, even though the bend calculator gave us the wrong cut length. Here’s a quick video of the bend preparation and the final product, which we’ll mount up on thick plates and a box.

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Video From the Last 2 NWR-SCCA Events

Here’s the video from event #5:

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Decent day for me, left a bit on the table (4th out of 8).

Here’s the video from event #6:

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Not a very good day for me overall, but good enough for 4th out of 7.

2010 NWR-SCCA Event #4

Here is the video of all 4 of my runs from yesterday’s event. The video was taken with my iPhone 4 (so 720p is available). I’m going to get a shorter mount hopefully, so it will be more stable. But other than the shaking from the mount, I was very pleased with the footage.

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Fast forward to the last run if you want to see my fastest run.

24 Hours of LeMons Recap

So, the race is over, our final result was 79th place (out of 106). The result isn’t very impressive, I know. But, at the very least, we finished the race. Which is especially good when you consider all the mechanical woes we had.

While our team captain, Richie, was completing the team’s 3rd lap, he spun on fairly mild corner. We all headed over to the penalty box to see what our punishment was, we all berated Richie and helped him with the punishment. Just as we finished writing “It’s too early in the morning for this shit” 100 times on the car, Rich noticed there was oil all over the front-passenger-side wheel. We pulled the car back into the pits and realized we didn’t have much of a choice other than replacing the main seals and the oil pan gasket. Almost 5 hours worth of work, luckily one of the local auto part stores had a main seal. After the work was done, we were then worried mostly about people getting seat time at all (in case the car didn’t make it), we rotated out drivers after 3 laps. After that, we did some longer rotations (still short) and then let Richie finish out the day.

Day 2 started with me putting the front air-damn back on after Richie broke it on Saturday when he lowered it onto the jack. That lip didn’t even make it through the first session as Rich spun the car coming down turn 5. This broke the air dam off again and tore the passenger-side-front tire off the wheel bead. We brought the car into the pits and did a fairly quick tire change (I was impressed considering how out of place everything was). Rich finished his hour stint, then it was John’s turn.

John’s hour went by without issue; then it was my turn. I went for just over 30 minutes before I tried a new line at turn 5 and spun it. I came in for my black flag and accepted the punishment having a steel cutout of 2 rabbits mating welded to our roof. Because the penalty took so long, I sent Richie out to finish my stint and run his.

Richie came in at the end of his stint; we thought because it was just time up, but that wasn’t the case. We lost the alternator belt. We called all the parts stores; they were all closed. At a last ditch effort, we ran around to other teams and asked, success! After a few minutes of getting the belt on, we were back out on the track.

It was Rich’s turn again. Rich started turning really fast times, managing one lap of a team best of 2:40. At the end of Rich’s session, he was black flagged again, this time for not negotiating turn 11 successfully and having to drive on the other side of the tire barriers. He convinced the judges his first spin was because the tire blew, so his penalty was to write “If I didn’t point out loopholes, I wouldn’t have to write this shit” 100 times. This took a long time because it’s a long ass sentence.

Then it was John’s turn again. John came back in with 15 minutes left for his turn because he apparently passed on yellow flag (which we find hard to believe because we couldn’t pass anyone). Because that was our 3rd counted penalty, we got a cone of shame stuck to the car (signifying we had 0 black flags left before being kicked off) and an hour penalty (which they only made us stay 40ish minutes of).

With about an hour left, we put 5 gallons in and I finished out the day, taking the checkered flag for the team. I was just running consistent, safe 2:44’s to try and get our lap count up. But hey, we finished! Overall, it was quite an adventure, having to rebuild basically the whole bottom end of the engine was quite a task. Luckily John and Richie knew what they were doing, because I sure didn’t.

Below is the extended length video of what we captured. I might put together a short highlight video later, but don’t hold your breath, there weren’t many highlights. 😉

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