The Week I Was Still In Acton Renovating My Van

This Week:

  • Starting the finishing touches on my van renovation!
  • How it feels to through your old stuff.
  • Biking in the ‘burbs.

May 2024

Su M T W Th F S

Where In The World Was I?

  • 🇺🇸 Acton, Massachusetts

Metrics From The Week

Still can’t figure out why my metrics are still shot, but it definitely doesn’t help that my sleep time has continued to inch later and later. That one’s on me. Many evenings I’ve stayed up going through boxes of stuff, but more on that later. I don’t really feel like I have any control over it anymore. I’m just waiting to get back on the road to get everything back in order.

I’ve also been really slacking with working out lately and I think I’m starting to notice it mentally. The priority has been working on the van.

Business Progress Update

No updates since last week.

Van Renovation Update

Last Sunday I thought it’d be done Monday, maybe Tuesday. Then it turned to Wednesday, then Thursday.

But it was the same story the Sunday before that.

Every time I’ve estimated when I’ll be done with this project to get back on the road, I’ve been wrong.

So, I’ve just given up estimating when I’ll be done 😂 I’ll leave when I leave 🤷‍♂️

I clearly have no experience with how long construction renovations take.

Anyways, on to the progress!

The new table mount design I mentioned last week was a French cleat, a 45º angle cut on a single piece of wood (I’m using a pine 1×3).

I tested using a circular saw, then tested with a jigsaw before deciding to go with the jigsaw on the final piece. However, the jigsaw started to drift and I couldn’t get control of it again. My dad tried the circular saw and it ended being WAY better, but I ended up with a little divot I had to fill with wood filler.

Then I cut the sleeve for the table (see finished picture later).

And we (“we” as in mostly my mom 😄) started staining all the wood! We went with 2 coats of stain, then put a layer of polyurethane on top.

For the table top, I routed the edges to give it a smoother edge.

Then since we dropped the bed, I cut and installed some new wood paneling to fill up the gap.

And got to painting! I did a primer over everything, then 2 coats of White Dove (with a “Satin” sheen).

To bridge the gap for the electrical wires and water pipes across the new hallway, I created this little electrical “raceway.”

This was the compromise I was talking about when I started this build. Speaking of blowing past timelines, I imagined that rewiring the electrical (either along the floor, below the floor, or through the ceiling) would significantly add time and complexity to the project, so this was the compromise: Not ideal, but balancing the line of making the big mover improvement (adding a table), but not taking forever to get back on the road.

I only ended up cutting two wires (for a single switch) and the 2 PVC water pipes. Everything had enough slack to get down from where it was (maybe 3ft high, under the old raised bed) down to about 12″. I also cut and re-clamped the PVC pipes.

Then dropped in my house battery (Renogy 170ah), threw some water in the tank and gave it all a whirl! Success! Power and water again ✅

Then we installed the table sleeve, trim piece, and the wall-mounted cleat.

Testing the table height and where to put the table leg(s):

It’s all really coming together! The finishes (staining and painting) have really made a huge difference.

What’s Next

So in poly’ing the table top, we had some dribbles of poly run down the underside of the table while drying, which just so happened to be the top of the table. I didn’t get any photos of it, but it was very clearly visible and not ideal, so we tried sanding it down. The theory was to sand down the dribbles, then just restain that section and boom, good to go.

But the problem is, the table didn’t take the new stain. My theory is that the layer poly soaked in deep enough (and we didn’t sand deep enough) that the poly is blocking the new stain.

So we have to get creative in how to fix this since it’s plywood. I bought some paint & varnish stripper that we’re gonna try. The other ideas are to sand down the whole table top so that it’s all equal before restaining and repolying, flip the table over so that this is the bottom, or just get a new plywood table and start over 😅

The other problem that came up in testing the table height and table leg was that the plywood (1/2″ maple) had a bit more flex than I was imagining. I only had enough wood (and planned for) a single table leg in the middle, but it didn’t feel like it’d be enough.

So anyways, as always, things come up and derail the plans. There’s still a tiny bit of engineering left to do, but (as I said last week, and the week before that), I feel like I’m so close to being finished!

Life Organization

My life the past couple weeks has really been: renovating the van, consolidating and backing up all my old hard drives of data, and going through the boxes of stuff I have (recent and childhood) to trash/donate/keep.

It feels really good to consolidate all the data spread across all my external hard drives. I was reliving some old photos and videos of me which was a great feeling as well.

On the other (physical) side, taking out all the boxes of stuff from my closet and spreading it across my room to go through felt… stressful. I could literally feel the heightened anxiety. Everywhere you look is another thing to go through, another bag, another TODO item.

It’s overwhelming.

And what makes it even more difficult is that almost everything you open, there’s a story or some kind of value to that item. It’s like “oh but this was the wrist band that I wore to my 3rd grade graduation” 😄. Seeing that brings back memories, then at that moment your brain decides it’s now more important that it was 5 seconds before you saw it, and thus throwing away the wrist band is now painful because you’re throwing away that memory forever.

That process has been mentally tough because there’s no right or wrong answer. So, my goal has been just going for the bottom of the barrel right now, the things I look at and immediately go, “why do I even have this?”

And it was actually fascinating, as I started boxing the “keepers” back up and putting it back in the closet, it was literally as if there was weight lifted off of my shoulders.

I don’t know how many other people have this, but there’s a physical response I have to having an organized space (both digitally and physically). It frees up my mind for the more important things.

One step at a time 💪

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Biking The Rail Trail

Saturday was absolutely gorgeous. I went riding with my dad down the rail trail which was spectacular and we got lunch from this Italian/Greek subs place on the way back.

The temperature was perfect, sun was shining, trees were lit up green, everyone was out and about. THAT was a good feeling. Having a rail trail is such a game changer. It reminds me of the Gyeongui Line trail through Seoul (The Week I Experienced Japan For The First Time, April 21st, 2024).

What’s Next?

Look I’m not even gonna suggest anymore that I’ll be done this week because who even knows 😂


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