Van Improvements

Sorry for interrupting your scheduled reading about our adventures in COVID-19 locked down Tasmania but this morning up on the big island (mainland) Egg has been picked up by Delica Garage for it’s 3rd visit to Johno’s workshop. I figured it was therefore as good a time as any to publish our list of services/modifications that we’re doing to get Big Lap ready. I’ll put the costings in too when I have them but Matt keeps forgetting to send them to me.

First Service

After buying Egg which you can read about here we did what all good second hand car buyers should do and took it in for a service. It turned out the couple that sold it to us had done exactly the same thing after they bought it from the importer so the garage already knew our van. They gave it a once over and made us a list of possible problems and improvements we could make to the van in the future.

Second Service

Following the absolute smash fest that was Spicers Gap Road (whoops) Matt took Egg into the Delica Garage for a second going over. Because our first visit showed that there were no major issues this time we were more interested in upgrading and fixing a couple of niggles. To say it was lucky that we did is a huge understatement, the weight of the internal build combined with our enthusiastic 4WDing had resulted in the transmission mounting breaking at 3 of the 4 connection points. We were one mount away of having it drop out…eep.

Along with remounting and reinforcing the transmission we upgraded to a new thicker radiator, added and engine guard, and completely replaced the springs so that they were correct for the weight of the van. This inadvertently also lifted Egg no word of a lie probably close to 15cm which looks absolutely ridiculous and means I now need to do a silly hop to get into the passenger seat.

Matt’s Water System

One of the things that we first noticed the van was lacking on our camping trips was a water storage system. We have been using a supermarket bought container of water which we have been placing on various chairs and logs. It is awkward and has resulted in spills on more than one occasion.

We ended up spending quite a lot of time debating water with Matt trying to convince me 30L was enough and me trying to convince him that was unacceptable and we needed at least twice that amount. We looked at jerry cans on the roof or mounted on the back, we looked at installing a pipe around the top of the roof rack for showering but ultimately we ended up settling on a 55L tank that slotted down the side of the van beside the draws and under the bed, and if we get desperate for showers/emergency water we will have a couple of back up camp shower bags.

The water system is still a work in progress as Matt is putting together a pump system and various connections so we can get water out with the press of a button. Once it is done I will get him to write up about it because it is that complex it’s beyond me.

Cooking

The van came with two single burner stoves that we accidentally crushed on our third overnight trip. I replaced them with a Coleman Fyreknight Hyperflame Camping Stove which in turn meant that we needed gas bottles rather than small canisters. For ease of lifting and carrying Matt installed 2x4kg gas bottles on the roof in each rear corner. I’m stoked that I don’t have to go to bed worrying about gas in the van. Matt is currently looking at how he can run a gas line from the roof so he doesn’t have to keep climbing up to get the bottles down.

Third Service

That brings me up to where we are now. We’re still in Tassie but off to pick up Egg and drive her down the coast in just over a month. I’m so so excited to get her back. So before we bring her down we thought it would be a good idea to arrange one last visit to the Delica Garage Qld, which will be the last time Johno sees it before we go on the big lap. It is sneaking up on us so fast!

So the plan is that we will get the timing belt replaced and overhauled including all the little bits and bobs that go with that (spark plugs, seals etc) and have a bash plate installed to the front to protect the underside of the van. Johno is also going to look at our windscreen squirters and take off the stupid side steps that we smash on absolutely everything when we’re off road. We were also going to get a long range fuel tank installed but the shipping couldn’t get it to Brisbane in time so we’ll get that completed when we are on the road and going through Geelong.

Planned Upgrades

  • Re route the fan so it’s not running over the engine.
  • Snorkle (probably not though because Matt thinks it is silly)
  • Bigger tyres as with the lift our current ones make the van look like a toy car.
  • Bullbar (maybe ++ $$$)
  • Mosquito netting.
  • New awning (ours got broken at Freshwater Campground).
  • Long range fuel tank.

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