Sun Juice, State Inspection, and a Desk

In the past several months, several BIG things have happened. The biggest is that the mobile studio is now POWERED BY THE SUN! The engine is still a gas engine, so motoring around town is still killing the planet, BUT all the work I do while the truck is parked (working in the truck on designs - using the computer, painting, planning OR working from the truck on a wall - mixing paint, washing brushes) will be using electricity coming from a 1000w solar system. See this post for specs. This will power all my lights, my computer, chargers for various devices, maybe even a small air conditioner and heater.

Click here for more Solar Process Pics and Info

Speaking of A/C, I've been working in the truck for several projects now even though it's got a long way to go before it's finished. I've learned a lot about how I can best use the space, and I'm really happy with what I've finished so far. One of the neatest things is that the insulation seems to be doing it's job really well. I've working in the truck all day in the middle of a sunny black asphalt parking lot in 90 degree heat, and with the front and back windows open (not even a fan!) it's entirely tolerable. This is a HUGE weight off my mind, because I've been told I could easily need TWO RV air conditioners to make my big metal box a comfortable work space. I may still invest in a small mini-split unit, but this means that can be a very low priority. 

The Baby also passed inspection, which was a huge ordeal for some very dumb reasons.

The windshield wipers were one of the very first things I took apart because of a fairly slight malfunction - one would jump the edge of the windshield on the down stroke. Not ideal, though probably passable when you get down to it. BUT I never got them put back together properly because it turns out the worn out part which needed replacing is absolutely not sold anywhere anymore, no way no how. I would procrastinate and search and get frustrated, then procrastinate some more and repeat.

All of a sudden, it was the last day for me to get my inspection completed, and I still had no wipers, AND I had totally forgotten how the whole assembly is supposed to go together in the first place (TAKE PICTURES when you take something apart. I know this now). I learned quickly that mechanics are loath to touch something that has already been dismantled, probably with good reason.  

Enter: Jeff Arritt, actual angel and Build, RVA's resident handyman. He rigged it back together, AND tweaked it so that the old part more or less did the job. I'll still need to replace the system entirely sooner or later, but now I can continue procrastinating happily for a while longer.  

Oh, also my previous mechanic (who has done ALL of the work on the truck up to this point) told me I needed thousands of dollars of work on the rear axle. When I got a second opinion, I was told that they couldn't find any evidence of the problem and they passed my inspection on the spot. I really don't know how to take this - I really thought I could trust these guys, but I guess not. I'm usually too impatient or too timid to get a second opinion, but I would definitely underscore that as one of my biggest lessons from this process - it is ALWAYS worth it to get a second opinion. 

Other mechanical problems: I finally ran out of gas on the road for the first time (broken gas gauge, probably not going to fix it). It was in a very fortunate place - a residential street with wide passing lanes. I learned that the truck starts sputtering while shifting gears when it's low on gas, and I learned how to use a gas can (the part where you have to push on the spout was news to me, and totally unintuitive).

Right after getting gas, Sarah and I also got the tires filled for the first time. My current understanding is that I pretty much have to go to a tire shop to do this, because the air pumps at gas stations don't go to 100psi. Also the tire shops don't charge for this service, but the attendants should be tipped for the time it takes them. Is any of this going to hold true the next time I need air?? No idea. 

Now, the Desk! This is the bulk of the rest of the building out - with this, the truck really becomes a functional studio - one that's still under construction, but functional nonetheless. 

 I added a 4-inch drop tray behind the desk to hold jars of pencils or other miscellaneous little items that I don't want to put away before I have to drive. 

I added a 4-inch drop tray behind the desk to hold jars of pencils or other miscellaneous little items that I don't want to put away before I have to drive. 

 Test-fit! The boards I bought are very coincidentally nearly the perfect length - all I had to do was shape the front edge and knock out a little bite for the lip of the paint cabinet back there. 

Test-fit! The boards I bought are very coincidentally nearly the perfect length - all I had to do was shape the front edge and knock out a little bite for the lip of the paint cabinet back there. 

 I wanted to use the full depth of the board, but it really needed to slide back to the depth of the paint cabinet. Hopefully this flows well. 

I wanted to use the full depth of the board, but it really needed to slide back to the depth of the paint cabinet. Hopefully this flows well. 

 Jeff-the-angel helped me cut the shape I decided on with a jigsaw, and then cleaned it up with a belt sander and palm sander. 

Jeff-the-angel helped me cut the shape I decided on with a jigsaw, and then cleaned it up with a belt sander and palm sander.