Adventurous Couple Meanders Down the Pan-American Highway in a Solar-Powered 1967 VW Van
The Dangerz started by pulling out the wet, rotten and moldy foam and shag that was on every inch of the bus. This huge task revealed a sticky yellow glue residue that had to be removed as well (and proved even nastier). Having all of that ick out of the bus was much better for breathing, but hard on the ears. The empty van was basically a tin can on wheels. They installed a layer of foil-backed butyl (RAAM’s BXTII) on almost every surface to reduce vibration and provide the perfect thump testing grounds, and then covered that with closed cell foam (ensolite) to stop ambient noise bouncing around inside the bus.
Then it was time to imagine an interior that could double as a home while on the road. The Dangerz eventually decided on a variation of the traditional “Westy” van interior design, and set about installing the needed bed, seats, cabinets and kitchen equipment themselves. A few months later, they had a popup table attached to the rear cargo door; perfect for holding the tunes and happy hour beverage of choice. To the right is the propane cooktop with kitchen storage above and a space for a water tank below. The fridge lives on the left, right next to the lounge/couch that has spare tire storage underneath. The slats that make up the couch pull out to form the bed. At the front the slats simply latch onto the cooktop cabinet. By the fridge, the two low cabinet doors open to form a base for the bed. No, the material on the cabinet doors and fridge face isn’t bamboo. It’s Kirei, another eco-material, made of 100 percent recycled sorghum root. “We found it absolutely beautiful and thought the contrast and texture were perfect for the camper,” write the Dangerz.
Because they wanted to stay off the beaten path as much as possible, the Dangerz also decided they needed a way to have at least some power even when posted up in remote areas. They installed a Kyocera 135W solar panel on the van’s roof, and use it to power two 12 volt batteries that are stored under the van’s seats. “For the solar controller we went with a Sunsaver Duo, which seems to be the controller of choice with the added bonus of being very affordable and easy to use,” explain the couple. “The handy panel tells us how much energy we are pulling off the sun, how much we are drawing at any given time and how much power we have left to draw. We also hooked everything up to the starter battery so that we can track its power level and recharge it from the sun as needed. An isolator ensures that the starter battery wont draw down and leave us stranded simply because we stay up late and leave the lights on like motel 6.”