Monday, September 03, 2012

Promoting - Prepping The Bethel Van

I don't know what else to call The Van - I really only use it for Bethel. I think last year, in 2011, I drove it to and from Bethel, and that would have been it except a mechanic scolded me for letting it sit 363 days a year so I drove it a few days here and there. Whatever, it's telling that the van still had a bunch of gas in the tank when I drove it to Bethel in March of 2012.

It sat there until Labor Day weekend.

The Missus and I visited my dad et al in the area and, on the way back, took a detour to pick up the van. Luckily it started up right away - I don't know the last time anyone drove it but it was sitting in about the same spot I put it in back on April 15th.

As we got going I realized the van wasn't all that, at least not this trip. The windshield wipers were unusable and, more importantly, there was some short or loose connection for the dash. The interior lights wouldn't turn off when I closed the door (they should turn off).

The headlight knob allows you to turn on the interior lights by dimming the dash lights all the way but instead of turning on the interior lights turned off. When the dash lights got juice the interior lights turned on.

Driving with the interior lights on at night isn't good so I turned them off, dimming the dash lights until they were dark too.

The radio turned on and told time but the speakers had no power. And the fan didn't work either.

(Later I checked the wiring diagram of the van - a 1998 Dodge Ram Van - but to no avail. I'm thinking ignition switch or a wire/connection to it because the stuff that's always on - clock, lights, etc - all work and the stuff that's gets juice when you turn the key - dash lights, speakers, etc - don't work.)

Anyway the drive home became a bit more interesting. I didn't want to turn anything on or off because I wasn't sure what would happen. Therefore no high beams, no toggling the radio on and off (hoping for sound), etc. I even started avoiding turning on the interior lights to see my speed - instead I put my DroidX on the dash with the LED light on.

The Missus followed me, blissfully unaware of the various issues with the van, and we got home okay.

Today, on Labor Day, I set out to clean out the van. I haven't done this in a while so it's a bit dirty - full of sand, twigs, little debris like that, and, to my surprise, a couple large chunks of pavement, the largest being the size of maybe a baseball.

I also found this - cold weather Rudy. Since the headlock thing was broken I tossed it.

I emptied out the front, middle, and rear, and vacuumed up all the debris with a shop vac. While I was moving stuff around I decided I should paint the podiums a nice base layer of Zinsser white so, after making sure it wouldn't rain any time soon, I did just that.

I also started up the leaf blower (unused since about March, but stored improperly with fuel in it), threw out almost a garbage can full of stuff, and basically cleaned and organized.

 The "Middle", after vacuuming.
The Front would be the front seats and the area between them.

You can see rust peeking out from under the floor thing. It's getting rusty. The jack stands should stay in our garage, but we use them for the trailer at Bethel. The heater in the back is one of two we have, crucial for cold weather tent stuff. There are tent sides on the single bench seat I leave in the van (the white fabric type things to the left of the picture).

The single bench is kind of important to me - it prevents radical load shifts under braking. I put heavy stuff in the Middle and lighter, bulkier stuff in the Back.

While I was doing all this I did some miscellaneous stuff. I put a vent back into the ceiling - it fell out a long time ago and I couldn't figure out how to get it back in place. You have to push two sides together but one side is inside the ceiling. I used an L shaped hook to pull the backing towards me and voila, hole in ceiling is now a vent.

I also polished up the headlights - they're plastic and yellowing due to sun.

I replaced one windshield wiper (I had one extra in the garage). I also Rain-Xed the windshield, driver and passenger door windows, and the side view mirrors. The stuff helps a lot when it rains.

I checked, briefly, for loose electrical connections but couldn't find any. I'll have to explore further at some later point.

I also did a rust health check, kind of like a doctor tapping on your chest while listening to you breath. The rust is getting worse, that's all I'll say. Eventually I'll want to replace this with a garageable vehicle, probably a minivan.

 The Back, before the vacuum. Note USCF sticker (not USAC).

The pallets are there for muddy races so that we can put a "floor" down on the ground. You can see where the "second floor" (described below) sits, on the left side. There are wood stakes to the right. These were meant to be used to direct traffic from parking lots and such but I haven't utilized them yet.

The Van, with stuff from the Back unpacked.
It's huge. I figure I could live in that thing.

The gleaming white podiums should jump out at you. You can see, if you look carefully, a can of Zinsser primer near the middle podium.

Leaf blower sits next to a pile of shovels and brooms. The blue microwave box has a microwave in it. For cold weather races nothing beats being able to heat up food. It's small enough that the 2000w generator can handle it. White buckets are for tent weights. The big wood thing leaned up against the door is a second floor for the van - easier to slide things on that because the floor of the van has little bumps and such all over it.

Then, with the van about as good as it gets, I put stuff back in.

I had two goals at the beginning of the day.
1. Get the cold weather stuff into storage for Bethel 2013.
2. Get the rest of the promoting stuff ready to go in the van for the White Plains Crit on September 16th of this year.

Towards the end of my long day I put the cold weather stuff in storage. This meant stuff like shovels, shovels, and more shovels. The heaters I didn't move, the propane tanks for the heaters sit on our open deck.

The rest of it - tents, grate covers, stakes, rope, tie downs, radios, printer, cones, brooms, leaf blower, Echo pavement sweepers, drawer for pre-reg, and the newly painted podiums stayed either at the house or in the van.

The final bit - the actual registration stuff, the computers, and the finish line camera stuff - will find its way into the van September 14th so that I can drive down on the 15th (to my dad's) and then to the race on the 16th. I keep that stuff indoors because of the electronics and the value.

A final bit of trouble shooting with the van, some freshening up of some of the stuff we already have, and we should be good to go for White Plains.


1 comment:

Craig T said...

Aki, looking forward to seeing you (and the van!) on the 16th. Thanks for everything (and a great blog - I've been an anonymous fan for a long time).

-- Craig.