It’s been a while….but for good reason. We stopped camping in the van by the end of September and just started again at the end of March, and concentrated on enjoying another winter season on Mount Washington. Summer is still our favourite time of year, so as soon as we had a bit of sunshine and warmth, we were back out into the van again.

There have not been any major changes since my last update in September, but two pretty good upgrades! The bed is completed but we have not started on the other elements of the van (cooking area, more storage etc) as these are more related to our long term plans (i.e. the big trip across Canada) that we have decided to delay until Spring 2014.

Upper Klaklakama lake rec site

New tires

We have recently fitted off-road truck tires (spelt the Canadian way), our most useful and expensive upgrade to date! They look impressive and we hope they will live up to the specs. We purchased BFGoodrich All-terrain T/A KO; an all season tire with good snow traction. The treads on these are ridiculous, see the second photo below. These tires should give us the freedom on the logging roads that we have been waiting for! We have had a few dodgy moments at times, including a flat tire last year. We will still need to be on the look-out for rocks that become embedded in the tires, as this can easily happen with treads like these. There are a few disadvantages to running our van on truck tires, such as more noise (especially on highways) and less fuel efficiency. We haven’t really tested the van much with these yet, so will do an update in a few months on how the tires are running.

new offroad tires chevrolet astro back view homemade camper conversionThese treads mean business!

astro awd homemade camper conversion chevrolet
We washed the car today and I couldn’t resist a shiny Astro name shot!

Window covers

The second upgrade is window covers. Over autumn and winter Jean Robert did fit some black curtains around the bed at the back, using a fairly soft blackout material. These worked fine (although we still needed one between the front seats and the back/bed area), but then we were told about using foil insulation to cover the windows with by our fellow traveller Joe. He has this material on his converted van’s windows, and after seeing how well it worked on a camping trip, we were off to Home Depot to buy a roll of our own!

Foil insulation for Astro campervan
View from inside

We paid $45 for a roll of Reflectix Bubble foil which covered all of our Astro Van’s windows and windscreen. OK, it almost did, Jean Robert ran out at the last window (driver’s side) and had to use patch up the leftovers with foil tape to finish. The insulation is great stuff; it is very easy to cut to fit and sits in the window frame well. At night, the windows just appear dark, and you really couldn’t tell it was foil insulation until very close to the vehicle. Perfect for stealth/wild camping!

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View from inside the van. At the time of taking the photo, we were just testing the insulation out, so hadn’t yet removed the curtains. You can see that while the curtains are adequate, they do gap at the top and obviously have a gap where they join together. The foil insulation is a much better solution in this respect. The foil insulation blocks provides a complete black-out, great for sleeping anytime! (Yes, the lighting looks very odd in this photo; it turns out that it is difficult to get it right when you have covered up all the windows and door with foil!)

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View at front of vehicle. The drivers’ side window is the patched one, though it really doesn’t look too bad.

We haven’t tested our new window covers on a camping trip yet, so I will most likely write a little more on my next update. By the next update, Jean Robert may have started on more inside construction.

chevrolet astro back view homemade camper conversion

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Our third update for our Astro Van Camper Conversion. New tires (better for gravel roads) and window covers are added to the van.

Gemma
Author

One half of a Canadian/British couple currently living in Penticton, British Columbia. Gemma is happiest with a paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

6 Comments

  1. I’m glad the blinds are working out for you – try look great! I could do with some better tyres for the logging roads… and 4×4! I had to turn back not far from a rec site a couple of days ago after encountering a splattering of snow. The van is a work horse but he is afraid of snow!

    Joe

    • The tyres were a pretty big investment but they’ve already changed my outlook on travel…looking at all the logging roads on the north of the Island don’t worry me one bit anymore! Can’t wait to test them out properly. Sorry to hear about the snow, but you definitely don’t want to get stuck at a rec-site in some of that!!

      – Gemma

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  3. How do the foil bubble wrap window covers stay in place?…. By the way, glad to know you Canadians know how to spell tire correctly.

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Hi Ken,

      The foil window covers fit nicely within the window frame – between the window and the plastic fascia. It’s just the right thickness to wedge in and hold. In the middle of the car we have two opening windows, and JR cut the foil to fit around the window fixings. When fitting the foil at night, we pop out the hinge of the fixing, place the foil on the window and then close the hinge. For the windscreen, he cut a big sheet in half to follow the curve. The two sheets meet at the rear view mirror; they both have a cut where they insert into each other. When using, we would also put down the sunshades in front of the driver and passenger seats and this keeps the foil in place. Hope this all makes sense, but feel free to give JR an email to: [email protected]

      – Gemma

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