Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"they did whatever the hell they wanted"

Lately I've been going to school and working on the van whenever I have had enough free time. This has all taken place over the last month.

Now the van is completely stripped out inside. I can't believe how much shit was in this thing and how it was all held together. When I got the van I figured I'd keep most of the walls and ceiling but there's not a chance of that now and for good reason.

By the way, I've been taking pictures of the entire process but I haven't got them uploaded yet so I'll probably post them all together later. Words will have to suffice for now, so use your imagination.

The captains chairs and bench seat were the first step. Once they were out I could strip out the carpet and then the walls.

I sold the two captains chairs to a guy who just moved to NC from New York, he was amazed at the condition of my van. Of course, a van 20 years old in NY would have already been reduced to nothing but rust. I guess that's one good thing about living in the south. Hopefully I can sell the bench seat too, if not it might make a nice couch in some kid's tree house.

Once the seats were out I started tearing out the carpet. The carpet wasn't in bad condition at all but I think that carpet is disgusting in any condition. Carpet holds allergens and releases the chemicals that it is made from as it ages and degrades. Gross cancer carpet. Underneath the carpet was about two inches of cheap polyurethane foam that was glued to two pieces of 1/4 inch plywood which was then screwed to the body floor with wood screws. I would later discover that the entire conversion was held together with a few hundred wood screws. I had to scrape up all the foam to find all the screws before I could pull up the plywood.

I got all of the seats out and pulled out the carpet and foam in one day. I also got started on the smaller wall and pulled out the rear overhead "storage" compartment.

One thing that was keeping me from finishing my demolition work was the rear AC unit. It was connected through a hole in the body to about 5 or 6 hoses that lead to the engine area. I knew that AC units use freon or some other refrigerant that is pressurized so I wasn't about to cut those hoses. It was just one of those things that had to be done by a professional with the right tools. So I bit the bullet and took it to ford again.

I learned that Ford dealerships hate conversion vans. Ford didn't want to work on it but they sent me to an AC specialist named Tim. I brought my books so I could study while waiting on it. Tim was a cool guy. I could tell that he wasn't used to having customers wait on stuff in his shop, mainly because of his "lobby/office" area. It was a 10x10 foot room with a couch, a micro fridge, a small TV, his old computer, a messy desk, and about a thousand papers scattered all over the place. Only half of the couch was fit for sitting on, the rest was covered in car manuals, receipts and boxes of old doughnuts. I also noticed a guitar in the room. I didn't want to play it though, I could tell just by the case that the poor thing wouldn't be worthwhile to get in tune.

Tim, who has been working in automotive AC for thirty years said, "Ford doesn't like to work on these conversion vans so they send 'em to me. 'Cause the folks who did the conversions, they did whatever the hell they wanted." He had another late 80's ford van in the parking lot and a dodge conversion too. So I was pretty confident that he knew what he was doing. I said "yeah I know, everything inside is held together with wood screws." he laughed and asked what I was going to do with the van. I told him that I was turning it into a camper so that I could travel and go climbing, which is mostly true. I left out the "living in it" part. He said "I knew a fella' that used to teach rock climbing, he builds motor cycles too." I only know of one hardcore biker who used to climb and the guy he was describing sounded allot like mike the "dude man." So I asked, "You talking about Mike?" And it so happens that it was Mike, that crazy hippie/biker/climber who took me out to crowders mountain and table rock when I was just starting to climb. Small world.

The rear AC was also a rear heat unit, which means that it was hooked up to the engine coolant system which I just fixed. Its a good thing I didn't just decide to cut those hoses, I would have leaked all of the freon and engine coolant, that wouldn't have been good. Tim did a great job though. When I went to pay him he realized that his printer was out of paper so he couldn't print off a bill or receipt, he told me that he would just mail it. After watching him struggle through using the computer I realized that Tim was computer illiterate. The best mechanics always are.

With the rear AC unit taken out I finally could finish the demolition. I ripped out the remaining floorboard and also pulled out the other wall recently.

Tons of wood screws and cheap plywood. I'm glad I'm taking this crap out. Whats worse than that though is what I have named "the disintegrating foam of death." In the upholstered walls they decided to use a quarter inch of cheap foam to help fill out the fabric. However, that foam has since biodegraded and will disintegrate as soon as it is touched to form a sticky powder that gets everywhere and makes me sneeze a lot. It's a good thing that I decided to take those walls out, otherwise I probably would have died prematurely from breathing in the poison particles from the desintegrating foam of death.

I've got just about everything I need to start building inside. Once building starts I'll get the photo journal started. Its going to be NICE.