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21 Years in a 1973 Dodge Van




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#1 TwoDogs

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Posted March 09 2008 - 04:08 PM

That's right. Actually a bit over 21 years. I also have a 75 pound and a 40 pound dog. I am very comfortable in such a small space because every inch of space is put to good usage.

When I was 13 and 14 my dream had always been to live in a van and travel around. I'm living my childhood dream. How cool is that?

I have a bed that is just about the size of a double bed. beneath the bed the front 2/3rds is used for storage of various items. That space is accessed by a hinged top. The rear 1/3rd is also storage but is for things like 5 gallon gas and water containers, tools, prospecting equipment and spare parts. That area is accessed by the rear doors.

I have a two battery system, starting and accessory battery, which utilizes an isolator to keep me from draining the starting battery. I have a roll-up solar panel which provides a little over an amp at 20 volts in direct sunlight to keep the whole set-up going when I'm sitting somewhere for a week or two. It unrolls and sits on my windshield at just about the perfect angle. This has saved me hundreds of gallons of gas which would have been burned charging batteries over the years.

There are SO many things that I've changed about the van or have stowed away in order to make life more comfortable that they are too numerous to mention. If you are thinking about the doing the same sort of thing that I'm doing and want some tips...feel free to ask here or by PM.
The internet allows me to meet every butthead in the world that I won't get to meet in person.

#2 soaringeagle

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Posted March 09 2008 - 04:26 PM

still livin in it? ya got net access?
21 years is a pretty good stretch
ya must got tons of stories
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TELL YOUR YOUTH THE TRUTH,
WE ARE ALL FROM ONE BLOOD,
WE ARE ALL FROM ONE MOTHER,
THEN THEY WILL LOVE EACHOTHER.
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#3 TwoDogs

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Posted March 09 2008 - 04:46 PM

still livin in it? ya got net access?
21 years is a pretty good stretch
ya must got tons of stories

I can hook up via cell phone but that's REALLY slow. I'm usually online if I'm at the welding shop where I work on occasional weekends. I'm at the shop playing security guard fairly often on weekends also.

Stories? Yeah...I guess I do. This old van and I have seen a lot of places and things.
The internet allows me to meet every butthead in the world that I won't get to meet in person.

#4 erizoe

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Posted March 13 2008 - 08:11 AM

Do you live with other people? I want to do something similar (not in a vehicle, but in the woods) but my worry is that no one will want to accompany me.

You sound like you have an amazing life, living the way you wanted to ever since you were a kid....it must be rewarding.

good call on the solar panels too! =p
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#5 TwoDogs

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Posted March 15 2008 - 02:50 AM

I live with my two dogs. They keep me entertained. We walk all the hills and washes looking for rabbits or gold or other cool stuff. Found a body once...that wasn't too cool.
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#6 JasperStone

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Posted March 15 2008 - 05:46 AM

Found a body once...that wasn't too cool.



:eek: that must of been scary

#7 TwoDogs

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Posted March 15 2008 - 10:22 AM

:eek: that must of been scary

What was scary was dealing with the cops. The County Mounties were pretty cool, but the Homicide Detective out of Prescott was a real butthead. First...it took him over two hours to make it out to the spot where I found the body. I commented to the County boys that if the detective couldn't even find the scene of the crime with directions, what were the chances that he'd be able to find the criminal if it was a murder?

He immediately started treating me like I was a suspect as opposed to a citizen that had done his civic duty. He fingerprinted me and wanted to look through my van. I told him pointblank that this was the last time I would ever try to be a good citizen and report something like this.
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#8 stalk

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Posted March 15 2008 - 11:01 AM

I'm moving into a van pretty soon.

I've never done it before. I Figured I'd just wing it.

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#9 TwoDogs

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Posted March 15 2008 - 11:58 PM

I'm moving into a van pretty soon.

I've never done it before. I Figured I'd just wing it.

I'm still "winging" it. I'm always making improvements when I can. I put a 4-speed truck transmission into my van. You don't see too many vans with a four on the floor. Granny gear is great though, it allows me to get furthur out into the boonies. It allows me to drive old washed out mining roads in search of gold. It was one of my best time and money investments, making that change.

Six months ago I finally figured out the wiring to utilize my isolator in my two battery system so that my stereo, TV, dremel, 12 volt soldering iron etc. don't drain my starting battery. Sometimes I use more juice than my solar panel can put back into the system and there's that sinking feeling when you go to start the van and the relay just clicks instead of the engine turning over. When you're 14 miles or more from the nearest paved road a jump start isn't likely to drive by. Fully isolated now, I don't have to worry about that.

Paneling, with styrofoam insulation between the metal ribs of the walls and even the roof, was also a good investment. Keeps out a lot of the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter. Yes, here in the high desert of AZ. we DO have winters. 10 to 14 degrees at night in Prescott Valley, AZ. at 5000 feet elevation is not uncommon. Even colder in Williams or Flagstaff. I have a cargo van rather than a windowed passenger van 'cause a window van is like a rolling solar oven here in the summer.

There's a LOT of things to take into consideration, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself just hitting the road in a bare bones van. It's just that if you're going to do it for the long haul like I have, and as you get older like I have, comforts become a must.

Good luck and enjoy! That's what life's all about.
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#10 JasperStone

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Posted March 16 2008 - 04:41 AM

sounds like the detective they sent out needed a brain,,,,:)




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