And So It Begins…

I got a battery, then got a ride out to Derry, NH to pick up the van. (Thanks, Karen!) I installed the battery on site, started it up, and drove it home. It ran a little rough, even triggering a check engine light at one point, but after sitting for so long I’m sure things got gunked up a bit. The more I drive it, the smoother it runs. The check engine light shut off and hasn’t come back, so that’s one less thing I need to fix for state inspection. I finally have something to make videos about again, so I started shooting one on that drive home.

One thing I’m really liking about this van is how cheap the parts are. The new ignition switch and the resistor to fix the blower motor were both cheap and easy to replace. The front brakes started to grind, so pads were next on the list. While I had the front wheels off I noticed the inner edge of one tire was worn down to its metal cords. I knew it needed new tires when I bought it, so that became the Next Big Thing (TM). I’d ordered highway-terrain tires, but the tire store that will not be named installed chunkier, more expensive all-terrain tires for the same price by accident. Don’t tell anyone. After seeing the alignment settings chart I agreed with their recommendation to tweak that as well, which is how the original tires wore out so quickly.

Some research indicates that the brake warning light is directly connected to the anti-lock brake system, despite the fact that it has its own warning light. The ABS light doesn’t fail inspection by itself, but the main brake warning light will. I had to give up my ex-cop Ford Crown Victoria because of this, and the four figures worth of work it was going to take to replace the ABS computer just to have a chance of passing inspection. In this case, the shop I bought the van from diagnosed the problem as the front left ABS sensor, so I’ve ordered up a new one to see if that does the trick. While I was at it I bought a $3 parking brake cable instead of messing around with the old rusted one, which needs serious tightening in order to do anything. With these items, plus patching the rust hole under the front passenger door, hopefully the State of New Hampshire will declare the van roadworthy, at which point I can move on to the interior build.

I’ve already done a tiny bit of work here. I removed the bed from across the back of the van, which I’m too tall to fit on comfortably, and rotated it 90 degrees down the driver’s side wall. This works, and I don’t need a very wide bed to sleep on when I’m alone. I put a small folding table on the passenger side across from the bed, mocking up what my future setup might look like. I need to play with the heights of the table and bed/sofa, but I think it’ll work out fine. I also picked up a 4-pack of battery-operated LED lights for $10 and placed them around the back of the van. This gives me an insane amount of lighting, way more than the built-in “pimp lights” that only work when the ignition is on. Once I install a house electrical system I’ll probably replace them, but it’s a great solution for now to get started.

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