While we were overseas in Europe, we made some upgrades to our 2017 4×4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van in preparation for a trip across Central Asia, Russia, and Mongolia. That trip didn’t happen due to closed borders and an invasion so we’ll try again at another time. So what upgrades did Read more…
Building your own electrical system in your camper can be a scary and daunting task. There is no shame in hiring a professional to make sure it is done right and done safely. But for some of you, building your own can be an exciting challenge. If you fall into Read more…
One of the more complicated part of building a van for many people is choosing the right equipment for the electrical system. Selecting electrical components for your build can have long lasting impacts on how you use your DIY camper van. Will you have enough power to charge all of Read more…
Update: In the Spring of 2022, we shipped our van back to the US from Europe. See all details at the end of this post. In September 2018, we shipped our van from the US to Europe to order to continue our traveling adventure on a new continent. Here is Read more…
One of the more significant tasks we are taking on during this trip is homeschooling our own little kindergartner. Ava is now 5-years old and will officially start kindergarten in the fall. We began researching different types of homeschooling programs when we decided to go back on the road and were really lucky to find a great program for newbies like us at Ventura Charter School.
Getting your trailer ready for some serious boondocking usually calls for some type of replenish-able, off-grid power source like adding solar panels and a generator. However, power generation is only 1 part of the formula when considering ways to build up your off-grid power. You will also need to consider ways to increase power storage capacity as well as items to help lower your consumption. The latter two are frequently ignored even though they can be more cost efficient.
During our last visit to the shop, we asked the guys at C & G Trailers to install our solar system for us. But rather than buying a complete turn-key solar system, we did some shopping around and put together a basic system of our own.
We live in an older house built in the 1920s. Unlike today, people back then did not subscribe to the ‘bigger is better’ mantra that dominates today’s capitalistic society. So we live in a sub-1000 square foot home with a modest garage set in the rear of the property. That gives us a long and narrow driveway to park our Airstream in.
This photo shows how the driveway looks before the new fence and gate were installed. The old fence is on the right with the jasmine bush on it. On the opposite side is the property line with our neighbor’s side yard.
The Discovery Channel program ‘How It’s Made’ showed the making of an Airstream trailer. In most of the shots, they are building a 25 ft International Ocean Breeze just like the ol’ Mish! Check it out. One day I will post a video of a complete walk-thru of our own Read more…
The standard battery bank on the Airstream consists of two 12-volt group 24 batteries connected in parallel stored just in front of the trailer and behind the propane tanks. Group 24 batteries are designed to hold around 75 amp hours of power each. At a full charge, they store just enough juice for you to run all the lights in the Airstream for about 2 seconds. OK, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but the power-hungry halogen bulbs Jackson Center, Ohio installed into our 25 foot International are not really designed with boondockers in mind. Bright and warm as they might be, they are very inefficient. Many people have swapped them out for expensive LED versions of these lights bought from Internet sources. The problem with this ‘upgrade’ is that in return of them running forever, you have to deal with these dim little blue lights that makes you feel like you are living in the International Space Station.
Towing a trailer for long distances presents a lot of potential hazards. As a driver of the tow vehicle, you have to be extremely attentive with your surroundings and diligent about the maintenance of the rig. Everything from the trailer hitch to the running lights have to work flawlessly for the rig and the occupants to be safe while traveling.
After putting a few thousand miles on our trailer, I have developed a bit of a pre-travel checklist to make sure I am not forgetting anything.
- Check hitch bolts on tow vehicle
- Check weight distribution system for proper balance
- Check all cotter pins for security
- Lubricate all moving joints
- Check running lights and electrical connection
- Check brake controller for proper functioning
- Check wear and air pressure on all tires