Monday, May 10, 2010

I Stand Corrected.

I really do.  After all that whining I did last week about missed connections with step vans, I almost tripped over an opportunity.  No sooner did I post about all of the hurdles I've had to overcome during my vehicle search than I saw the best van drop from the sky --  thanks to craigslist.  It's a 1998 "Utilimaster," a name I just adore, by the way.  It sounds like the second level of the fourth degree in the discipline of functional observation, as taught only by the secret society of medievel Runic followers.  Yes, I've made it to the coveted level of...Utilimaster.

 At only 58,000 miles, the turbo diesel motor is practically brand new.  The body is 21' long with a 12' cargo bay. That means I have the minimal interior length I need and the overall length of a vehicle that can squeeze snugly into a public parking space in virtually any town in America. And, the best thing about it is that it's 6'8" tall and 7'6" wide. Basically, it's a monster. Or, as the tag line for the ill-fated Ford Pacer read, "It's the wide small car."

Yes, I actually saw it, walked through it, sat in the driver's seat and even heard the motor purr with delight.  She's certainly not quiet, but I picked up some sound dampening pointers from a discovery channel episode about the Rolls Royce factory.  More from that, later.  Perhaps I'll get a couple of those headsets the firemen wear.  You know, they're voice activated and have an automatic volume adjuster for the stereo signal when you start to talk.  Wouldn't that be crazy?  

In a nutshell, I have found exactly the kind of vehicle I need.  This is the one.  The big white Freightliner from my last post had some nicer lines in the front end, as this one is a bit boxy.  However,  I later found out that the Freightliner has a cargo bay of only 11 feet.  That would have been a bummer, indeed.   I'm still holding out for the perfect one.  I can definitely rest assured that it will present itself before summer ends.  

A little frustration to spice up the mix.

I purchased these 12 volt receptacles to use for my 12 volt appliances (i.e. blender, coffee maker, cell phone charger, girlfriend's hairblower).    They're super streamlined, flush mounted, protrude with a low profile and they're cheap, at only $6.00 a piece. 


Now for the hilarious part...not!  They're "din" sockets, basically the size of a candelabra-base at the end of light bulb.  Silly me, I didn't scroll down on the website far enough to see the "12 volt lighter" socket.  Basically, trying to stick a cigarette lighter into that thing is like trying to stuff a basketball into a tuna can.

I have been corresponding with the company from Great Britain for about a month now, getting updates on the back-ordered part.  Finally, the 7 pieces arrived in my mailbox, at which point I briskly tore into the packaging for a glimpse at my long awaited incorrectly ordered items.  At this point, I have to download a form, fill it out and repackage the sockets for their trip home to Great Britain. 

I bought a new set of sockets from a boating supplies vendor, but the receptacles probably won't sit flush in my metal mounting plate like I want.  They're a totally different design.  And, there must be a warehouse loaded with pallates of these things, because my order has already shipped out, according to Amazon.  The Chinese manufacturer probably can't get rid of them fast enough. 


They'll work, but they won't have a nice finished look.  Perhaps if I mount them from behind the plate, they'll look cooler.  I'll have to play with them when they get here.   

I also received a wall sconce that I dug up from the bowels of a lighting website.  The specifications for the bathroom application are very precise and compact. 


I think this will look really nice with the LED strip lights wrapped tightly around a central core.  I can easily fasten it to the base with some hardware.  Or, if I can find a G9 12 volt lightbulb I'll be set, because that's the receptacle size that's already in the fixture.  There's a store here in L.A. that carries a crazy lightbulb selection for architectural, scientific, medical and entertainment applications.  I'll have to check them out and see.  Luckily, they're right in Hollywood, so I won't have to travel far. 

The metal base is a bit heavier than I anticpated, but my electrical box will be mounted to the wooden studs, as in a house, so I think I'll do alright.  The top part is real glass.  If the thing falls off while driving around then I guess I'll have to change it.  But I love the style and I'm going to run with it.  "Adapting to change," is the operative mantra one must utter while negotiating the treacherous road that leads to The Roving Home.    



  1. Wait - didja buy it?! What's the status of the Utilimaster?

  2. I respectfully declined. Since the Utilimaster is the first I've seen with this body style, I now have a focus for my search. Up until this point, I'd been looking at machines with a different style, largely due to my price cap. Since coming to terms with my new higher range, the heavens have opened up and new discoveries are being realized. There are a few different companies and models of vehicle that share these dimensions, so now I must narrow it down to exactly which one I will grab.

  3. Hello!

    I'm really looking forward to reading your blog. Most of what you do is way over my head, but I think it's fantastic to "build it yourself!"

    Living near Santa Cruz CA, and going there several times a week, I'm very familiar with alternative homes on wheels.

    Oh, and welcome to my blog!

  4. Hey Merikay,

    Thanks for the note. Yes, I've seen all of those whacky homebuilds that people do. Many of them are true works of art with amazing craftsmanship and attention to detail. I hope mine is as worthy.