There have not been any major changes since my last update about our Astro Van conversion, 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. Here are all the details.
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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.
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!
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!
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!)
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.
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