Self-building the Adventure Mobile, pt. 2 - An Isolated Affair

Go here for pt. 1. 

Damn, it's been close to 4 weeks since I wrote part 1. I intended to make this a sort of weekly thing, but things've been busy so I never got around to it.

Enfin, here's part 2:

I guess I spend around 3 days removing and cleaning up all the shit from the previous owner, gradually working my way to a clean van (as pictured below).

But as I was cleaning up the van I started noticing a pattern, explained in haiku form:

Much Tiny Rust Spots .
Floor. Ceiling. Roof. No Good, Man.
No Can Have That.

So the next few days were spent grinding down all the paint around the rust spots, and apply rust treatment. The entire first day I hacked away with a tiny chisel (Dutch: beitel), like an idiot, until I learned about a neat invention called a sander. It went quite a bit smoother thereafter (bad pun totally intended). All in all, I spent a day or 3/4 removing rust, fixing holes with fiberglass resin, and applying new paint on the barren sheet metal to prevent future rust formation. 

That slimy stuff right there is the rust removal jelly called Rustyco. It works amazingly well. You can combine it with a wire brush for deeper rust spots as well.

I'm gonna be straightforward about my feelings of this process:  
It was a mo-ther-fu-cker to remove it all. 

And what was even worse was thinking you're all done and then rediscovering some more rust spots in some unexpected spot (e.g. under the hood). This cycle repeated itself a bunch of times.

When it was all done it was time to put in the floor, which turned into quite the issue as well. I'd bought 9 smaller plywood boards for the floor, which made it quite difficult to make the floor level as the plywood was laid on top of soft, spongy isolation material. This created a sort of pontoon effect, which would cut into the vinyl over time. So every board had to be exactly level with the other. 

I first made a template of the floor with some plastic which I'd used to cut the isolation material and jig saw the plywood into their correct shapes. A neighbour of mine, Kasper ten Hoven - a contractor by trade, helped me make the floor level by installing a wooden frame beneath the plywood. This way all the insulation material fit into the wooden frame, and the plywood was screwed into the frame and through the bottom of the van, creating a very solid flooring.

Below some photos of the flooring process:

Templates for everything!

Kasper's help was much appreciated, because I didn't yet have the necessary skills, the patience nor the knowledge to do it properly. As a Generation Y kid, I'm perennially impatient and want to do things fast. It's ridiculous, and a cancer outgrowth of our productivity-driven society, which my generation is bearing the brunt of.

We lack the patience and the diligence to do things properly, we have massive FOMO and we lack the understanding that good things are hard, and hard things take time to master. (This will actually be a common thread in this blog, and a big driver behind the name of this project, The Slow Lanes. But more on that later..)

Anyway, Kasper's help is just an example of people spending their free-time to help me with the build. It's great to see this build turn into a community project, with people chiming in with suggestions, coming over to talk and have a look, or offering tools and tips. Apparently blocking half the street and building a camper is great for social cohesion. I probably should get some kind of government subsidy for it. 

Next up, isolation.

Books can (and should) be written about isolating a van. There's so much BS out there. Vapor barriers, glass wool, using Reflectix without any air barrier around it, pU foam, people buying a black-colored van and assuming they can get it isolated, and so forth. I'm not gonna bore you with it, but if you have specific questions just ask and I'll tell you what to do in detail. 

I used 15mm and 20mm X-Trem Isolation foam, which is a closed-cell foam that helps with all types of insulation. Nothing else. Wood will covered it all, and between there'll be an air barrier, which should provide plenty of isolation. Applying the foam is a straightforward but arduous process: cut it into pieces and glue it on.

It did give the van an interesting look:

Next up will be the roof vent, installing the solar and laying down the vinyl. This already happened about 3 weeks ago, so I'll try to play catch up with these updates, because we're already building the kitchen as of this moment!

On to the next.

Self-building The Adventure Mobile, pt. 1

Some friends and family - mostly forlorn souls without Instagram accounts - have asked me to share some of my progress on my latest and greatest project; self-building a adventure mobile from scratch, with the goal of touring Europe from March to October next year.

Here's how it started.

At the end of August I bought a big-ass Mercedes Sprinter. It's in pretty great condition, considering its mileage (155k) and its build year ('07). This wasn't an impulse buy, I'd been thinking about doing something similar for a few years now. It started off as a crazy notion, sometimes building up in intensity and urgency only to slowly ebb away back into some dark crevice of my mind afterwards. But every now and then, there it was again. But as with any thought that continues to linger in your mind, it warrants further investigating.

Around May I started doing just that. Me and my business partners just went our separate ways after a great run. Here I was, nearly thirty, wife-less, childless, soulless, and with a yearning to not end up in corporateville. I'd initially set my mind upon migrating to Barcelona (sorry, Peter. One day...), and possibly spend some time somewhere in Asia as well. But shortly after deciding so, that damned notion started to make its way to the forefront of my thoughts again. And this time I had the cash, the time, and no one depended on me. 

The choice was easy. When in doubt, always pick adventure over comfort. Always, most of the time.

And thus began the deep dive into #vanlife. 

And after procrastinating on it for a while - interspersed by a few weeks ofhouse sitting on a stellar apartment of some friends in Amsterdam - I pulled the trigger and bought my first Benz. I'd just turned 30 and I already own a Benz, what up. Can't wait for the next high school reunion.

I had to get used to driving the thing. It didn't drive quite as smooth as my parents' Toyota Auris hybrid with automatic transmission, it has to be said.

Not as smooth, but thrice as brute. And way more fun. Also way hotter, given the absence of anything resembling an airco. 

Having parked it at my parents' place, first up was removing the shitty fixtures that the previous owner had built in. I figured this would take about an afternoon. This marked the start of a trend of me underestimating how much time things take, especially for a DIY-noob like me. 

By the way, I should really get Spotify premium. I have this thing against Spotify because they still don't pay the artists as they should, and therefore I don't want to pay them, but every 20 minutes or so the most god awful set of commercials kicks in, totally kicking me out of my writing bliss. This was such a moment. Let's continue..

This was the inside when I bought it. We'd already removed some stuff by this point. Just look at all this shit. I think removing the cabin divider alone cost me a day or so. It was so stuck I had to saw through parts of it with a grinder (slijptol for the Dutchies).

And yes, there were a few 'what the fuck have I gotten myself into'-moments. As it should be.

Ever since I decided to do this I had been stretching my limited drawing skills by sketching possible layouts of the interior. The interior will always be a compromise, given the lack of space (and the abundance of space I personally occupy, being 6 feet 3 and a quarter). I spent a good few weeks researching other setups and making a few dozen detailed drawings of possible layouts. Some of them are found the gallery below.

The next post will show some more progress, but I don't want these things to be too long. To be continued..

Meanwhile, you can follow my progress on an Instagram account, which is a visual chronicle for just this project. The handle is @asprinterbuildout

I will also be continuing to update the buildout and the coming trips and adventures on a Facebook page, also named The Slow Lanes. Also, and I hate doing this, but can you please like the FB Page? If I get >25 Likes I can claim my custom URL, instead of something like , which just looks plain ugly. Thanks!



Beach Bound.

Sometime in August I dropped my parents off at the beach on the best day of the year so far. While they took their place amongst friends for an evening picknick-of-sorts, I dropped off my bag for a swim and headed towards the cold North Sea waters. 

Afterwards, I took my bag, said goodbye and sauntered off, with the idea of taking a long walk and test out my new Sony RX100 IV. Unmatched quality for a hyper-portable device, it produced some pleasant pictures, with minimal editing necessary.


You can rent these for €420/week. Comes with everything, including WIFI. Houses 3/4. Not a bad deal at all, but it gets crowded during the day. Love the concept, but waking up to 100 screaming children. Nah, thanks.

That gradient tho.

Accidental selfie.