Friday, July 28, 2017

Retro Post: Astrolander Rear Door Rack - Version 2

Another Retro Post.  This time, we're catching up on some (not-so) recent changes to the rack system mounted to the rear doors of the Astrolander.

After using Version 1 of my our rear-door fuel storage rack for a while, I learned a few things.  Namely, I learned that I needed more outdoor storage for dirty stuff and things that need to be accessed or put-away while the van is more or less "loaded".

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Retro Post: Interior build v3.0

In my quest to get the blog caught up with my various forum Build Threads, it's time for another Retro Post.  This time, making a big leap forward with a new approach to the interior systems.

So I'd been talking about doing this for quite a while: Fixing the interior layout to better fit my needs. We love the van, but there's a bit of a "10lbs of crap in a 5lb bag" problem, and some of the decisions I made early on have caused problems down the line.

Most specifically, I really hated that I was never able to find a perfect arrangement for the fridge. I knew I wanted it somewhere behind the driver's seat or under the bed, but lack of overhead height meant the latter was a no-go, and getting any chest fridge to fit behind the seat either wasted a lot of space or forced me to relocate a BUNCH of stuff every time we stopped to camp. Not good. The whole point of this is for things to be easy.

 I spent a lot of time (like literally 2 years) moving things around, building different fridge mounting boxes, and trying to make things 5% more efficient. During this time I was also hanging out at the Samba and daydreaming about how much interior space the Westy VW guys have. There, I got exposed to "the new hot thing" for their kitchens - a Danfoss swing-compressor replacement for the finicky old Dometic Absorption fridges that Westfalia originally installed.  Mechanically, they're the same hardware as all the good "chest" fridges the Overland folks are using, but in upright "front loader" footprints.  The VW guys are loving them because they can slot right into place in the original westy cabinets, but actually hold more food, since the swing compressor takes up less space than the old heat-engine system. Better yet, they run efficiently on 12v batteries and don't carry all the problems of a propane-driven 3-way.

Lightbulb.
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Retro Post: Fresh Water System

As I'm in the midst of rebuilding a few parts of the Astrolander interior, including the fresh-water system, I realized I never properly diagnosed "Version 1".  Time for a Retro Post.

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Retro Post: AWD to 4WD Conversion with NP233 Transfer Case


Another Retro Post.  This time I'm documenting converting the Astro from All Wheel Drive (AWD) to proper Four Wheel Drive (4WD) with a 2-speed NP233 Transfer Case from a S-10 Blazer.  (Thanks again, General, for making parts-interchange work so well!)

This was almost installed as a "kit", as I purchased 95% of the bits from another Astro/Safari owner.  His original thread is here, and includes a lot of other good detail.  Check it out, if you're headed down this path.  The completeness of the work Dean did means there's very little new "art" here (which is why I initially didn't do much write-up), but once again, this could be useful for someone outside the Astro/Safari community.

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Retro Post: Astro Van Lift-Kit Installation

I've been guilty, multiple times during the life of the Astrolander project, of letting my detailed blog posts get out of sync with the current state of affairs.  My build threads on ExpeditionPortal and the AstroSafariVans.org forums have been maintained somewhat more diligently, but I realize not everyone follows there.  To help remedy that, I'm undertaking some "Retro" posts to re-document some of the work that I've done but not covered here.

Here's the first installment:  Installing the Overland Vans 4" Lift Kit.
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