to simplify 2.0    notes from the open road

Thursday, February 23, 2017


With the total number of beauty contests won by the spaceship's 29 year old front seats holding steady at zero, and with $1500 burning a hole in my pocket now that the transmission doesn't need a rebuild, I decided to pull the trigger on these babies:

I scored this pair of practically new seats on eBay for under $300 shipped, but since they came out of a 2015 Dodge Caravan, I really had no idea how I was going to make them fit until they arrived. That's either confidence or stupidity – such a fine line. Anyway, another fun project was born...

Since the rails on the new seats didn't line up with those on the spaceship, Q and I put our heads together and came up with a couple of nice, beefy 1/4" thick steel adapter plates – in fits and starts over several days thanks to the biblical rain that has nagged LA over the past week. 

We finally got a window in the weather to do a test run the other day, and let's just say they nap pretty good. Important.

With the return of sunshine and blue skies today, I was able to give the adapter plates a paint job and then complete the final installation. What a huge improvement over the stock seats. I shoulda done this one a long time ago...

Stay tuned for more fun as this latest LA pit stop continues.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dynamite Mexicans

Sure, I give LA a hard time, but the place does bring certain advantages to the table. Such as the modern miracle of free one-day Amazon Prime shipping. There's a $35 minimum though, so you find yourself adding some random things to your cart just to qualify...

But it sure is handy when, as a for instance, you accidentally ruin a new pair of speakers in the process of outfitting your spaceship with a decent stereo system. Such are the perils of any home improvement project, and you just hate to stall progress for days when these things happen.

New pair ordered last night at 10:30 PM, arriving in Q's driveway less than 12 hours later. Dynamex is the delivery company, and every time, it's the same Mexican lady who pulls up in a minivan with the goods, so clearly Dynamex must stand for Dynamite Mexicans. Mark my words – this company is going places.

In addition to the new stereo system, a slick 52" LED light bar is now sprawled across the top of my windshield. This baby turns night into day at the flick of a switch, giving me the flexibility to hang out in town until the evening hours whenever the mood strikes, yet safely make it out to the campsite after dark.

Yes, things at the workshop have by now ramped up to full speed. Best of all, draining the transmission and filling it with Red Line MT90 the other day, along with an hour or two spent tweaking the shift linkage, and I no longer think she needs a rebuild. That's around $1500 still in my pocket, and three weeks that I won't be sitting around twiddling my thumbs. A winning combination if ever there was one.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Getting Started

Listen up, grasshoppers. You want to ease into these pit stop stretches. Start off with a few of the less glamorous items, build up some momentum, and only then take on the bigger stuff. 

I know what you're probably thinking – "Are those new rear hatch lift supports, or is that van just really happy to see me?"

It's the lift supports. The van is totally indifferent to every aspect of your existence. Nothing personal. Anyway, I've bumped my head one too many times on a sagging rear hatch, but no more.

And for the first time since I've owned this magnificent chariot, the sliding door is now properly aligned with the rest of the body. Which means it should no longer pop open unexpectedly on bumpy forest roads.

In between bouts with what I think they call "rain" outside of Southern California, I spent the better part of an afternoon the other day wrapping my head around the five adjustment points for said door. Not my first attempt at this job by any means, but for some reason, it all came into focus this time. Every now and then, persistence really does pay off.