Author Topic: Post-Apo VL Nomads  (Read 540 times)

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Post-Apo VL Nomads
« on: September 12, 2021, 08:24:43 AM »
Outback Nomad Campervan Conversions - A Post-Apoalypse Nomadic Existence

The current phenomenon of VanLife Campervan Nomads is only possible as a result of clever 'up-cycling' to better-suit vehicles for the realities of nomadic travel under post-apocalyptic conditions. Many 'outback nomad' van conversions were begun before 'The Great Fall'. And the new realities demand further concessions ... but mobile lifestyles which avoid the remnants of major metropolitan areas have proven very wise.

Invariably, outback nomad campervan conversions vary widely as a result of individualistic approaches to both gleaning materials and to construction/modification techniques. Many of the 'non-Road Warrior' conversions have focused on mods to motive power and running gears. The illustrated example is a case in point.

Beneath its exterior additions and interior living quarters installation, this Ford E350 shuttle bus has been heavily modified. The 5.4 litre V-8 was retained but its transmission deleted and the engine converted for multifuel operation. [1] The V-8 now makes up part of a genset to provide back-up power to the electric drive motors. Also deleted is the original live-axle rear suspension. This (and its leaf springs) have been replaced by tandem, beefed-up Tesla Smart Air Suspensions - each unit powered by twin Nissan E-4orce XL permanent-magnet electric motors. The entire drive system is powered by eight reclaimed GMG graphene aluminum-ion battery packs. [2]

The exterior of the E350 has been given a 'camo wrap' to reduce its visual footprint. This camouflage pattern extends to the rear windows which have a screened version of the 'outback vista' print. Normally, this vehicle would be topped with 'sky-tone' tarpaulins to cover rooftop stowage. (Here the heavy-duty streamlining tarp has been rolled away but the camo-tarps are yet to be deployed.) With the sun almost directly overhead, the 'hard', tilting photovoltaic panels are left lying flat. More power can be generated by the photovoltaic awning - but at great cost to camouflage.

Mounted on the left side, the large awning is made from a flexible PV material. Shown here still stowed, when unfurled - and  supported by its separate tent poles and guy-wires - this huge PV awning quickly satisfies most of the stationary vehicle's trickle-charging needs.

Note that among the rooftop stowage are extra spare tires. These are not yet mounted on rims. Rather, they support (and protect) inner tubes which act as methane reservoirs - from the galley digester, feeding the gas hob. Also visible is a chimney for the mini-stove. [3] Prior to mini-stove use, this chimney would be fitted with its removable cap. Other external changes are a hefty 'roo bar' up front and 'recce bike' rake on the rear - both fitted with easily-accessable spare tire mounts. Set at handy grabbing height along each side of the E350 are sand recovery boards - two on the left side, four on the right. The interior of the vehicle is outfitted as simple but comfortable campervan capable of sleeping up to four adults.

____________________________________

[1] The V-8 can run on various forms of CNG but is tailored for domestically-produced methane. Digester feedstock is provided by use of the head. Engine methane can be diverted from rooftop storage tanks - mainly intended to supply the galley's 2-burner gas hob. The latter methane supply is generated by a separate kitchen-waste digester.

[2] Brisbaine-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) produced pouch cell graphene aluminum-ion batteries for high-end electric vehicles. The battery pack clusters are arranged in three rows on either side of the vehicle frame with another two forward of the suspension units (in the former driveshaft space). The space between the frames aft of the suspension units is occupied by a supplementary grey-water tank, a methane digester, and a methane cell specifically for the V-8 engine.

[3] Under normal conditions, outback nighttime Winter temperatures drop to between 4-and-3°C. However, with climate changes, lows down to -7°C have been recorded. The mini-stove takes the chill off by producing heat as well as providing an auxiliary cooking surface for hot meals or a cuppa before bed.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2021, 12:42:17 AM by apophenia »
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2021, 05:53:59 PM »
Nice Aussie conversion! ;) :smiley:
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline apophenia

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2021, 12:39:26 AM »
Thanks OW. Except, I forgot to flop the image for RH drive! Fixed now  :-[ 
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But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline Buzzbomb

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2021, 06:23:48 AM »
Well put together.

Some of the outback camping setups I have seen around the place have all the cool gadgets, but this appears to have all those and more.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2021, 08:03:31 AM »
I've just about ready to post my next image but thought I should provide the backstory-to-the-backstory first ...

Cascadia - Life Out on the Edge

After 'The Great Fall', no-one really questioned the independence of Cascadia. Nor that this entity was more a loose affiliation of Cascadian regions and locales. But that independence was de facto rather than de jure. Some would argue that the Pacific Northwest had always been distinct ... separate even when not yet de facto independent.

Since the end of the last Ice Age, the Cascadian region had always been replete with natural resources. A notable exception was in access to fossil fuels. During 'The Transition', conventional oil refining would all but cease. USOR in Tacoma was the first refinery to shut down. Tesoro in Vancouver, WA, to the south followed. Across the Columbia in Oregon, the refinery network also began to collapse when both Kinder Morgan and NuStar Energy failed. Oregon Veggie Fuel in Beaverton was small enough to survive and even started to diversify its product line. Columbia Pacific Bio Refinery in Clatskanie shifted its focus exclusively to ethanol production.

Needs Must - New Fuels for New Times

In the Puget Sound area, both the Anacortes Refinery and Cherry Point facility near Bellingham created plastic pyrolysis plants - turning waste plastics, tires, etc., into refinable biocrude feedstocks. This propped up 'conventional' fuel supplies in the region temporarily. However, as the money economy withered, the raison d'être for these refineries went with it. Pyrolysis of plastic waste into diesel increasingly became a more local, DIY activity within the new barter economy. Eventually, for quality oil-based fuels, there were no real alternatives. But these local purveyors of diesel had lower-priced competition.

Almost everywhere you look in Cascadia, you see wood. If not surrounded by forest, you'll be standing in wood waste. In the immediate aftermath of 'The Great Fall', previously out-of-date wood-fired kitchen cook stoves were suddenly worth their weight in, well, wood. Air quality suffered but, where ever 'air-tight' heater stoves could be installed, people found ways of staying warm. It was only a matter of time before more folks re-discovered wood gasification to produce syngas fuel. Even more than DIY pyrolysis plants, wood gas generators encouraged decentralization. Large operators had difficulty securing sufficient woody raw materials through the unfamiliar barter system. DIY wood gas producers often exploited their own woodlots, recovered woody debris off beaches, or found other local sources of feedstock. [1] This provided a perfect fit with growing social mobility. A people migrated away from failed cities and suburbs into the backcountry, they found a network of fuel suppliers already in place.

"Dying embers of a campfire ..."

Syngas from wood had obvious disadvantages. The stored energy in wood-based syngas was must lower than in refined petroleum products. Producing the wood gas was also a smelly, smoky, sooty affair. The upside was that wood or wood wastes were everywhere. Where once there were fears of being swamped with plastic garbage, landfills were now being mined for plastic detritus. Old tires had become the closest thing to a currency - worn tires being suitable for all sorts of repurposing beyond simple pyrolysis.

Other than availability, there were other benefits of using wood-based syngas in a vehicle. [2] First, compressed wood gas could be burned in almost any vehicle previously set up to run on CNG or propane. Secondly, the exhaust plume from such a vehicle smelled just like a campfire. In the backwoods of Cascadia, a well-hidden vehicle made no emissions which could readily be distinguished from any close-by campfire or wood stove. By nature, a well-camouflaged campervan was 'stealthy' since trying to track a campfire smell in post-Fall Cascadia was to chase a will-o'-wisp. [3]

By contrast, even very remote wood gas producers could be easily traced by following their plumes of smoke. Most wood gas producers mark their property line access points with syngas symbols to exhibit their willingness to trade. The well-recognized death's head symbol was a clear sign to travellers that they should look elsewhere for their next refuelling opportunity ...

___________________________________

[1] A byproduct of wood gasification is biochar - a form of charcoal produced in a low-oxygen environment. In the acidic soil of Cascadia, biochar is an essential ingredient in 'slash-and-char' agriculture - the biochar providing soil amendment with its high carbon content, increased pH, water-retaining porosity, etc.

[2] Syngas, as with plastic pyrolysis, was also widely used to power local, small-scale electric power generating stations.

[3] Indeed, it has been argued that the independence ensured by wood gasification hastened outside acceptance of Cascadia's separateness. It wasn't that syngas was in any way distinct to the region. Rather the ubiquitousness of wood gas helped to make moot the demise of the former central authorities. (Ironically, most of the DIY wood gasification plants were based upon a detailed how-to manual on at-home syngas production which had been made available by FEMA - an agency of one of those former central authorities.)
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline Gingie

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2021, 04:29:59 AM »
Did you used to write for CASR?

I like your style and it reminds of that page.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2021, 05:15:07 AM »
Nailed! Thanks Graeme (Logan twigged to that connection as well)  ;D
_______________________________________________________

Cascadian Camo Camper

This former shuttle bus, like most Cascadian vehicles after 'The Great Fall', runs on syngas derived from wood gasification. Compressing that wood gas is the only practical route for vehicle conversions. Here we see twin backup containers - former 100 lb propane bottles - mounted on the rear of the vehicle. The main fuel tanks are strapped up under the vehicle. [1] When needed, braided fuel hoses would be connected to the backup bottles on the rear rack.

To better suit Cascadian backroads, this camper has been fitted with 35-inch offroad tires. To clear those big tires and provide additional ground-clearance, an old lift-kit by Ujoint Offroad intended for 4x4 conversions has been fitted. [2] Lightweight Aluminess cargo carriers and spotlight racks have been fitted. A camper 'pop top' roof has also been added - offering both a look-out vantage point along with a well-ventilated sleeping space.

The shuttle bus body (and the roof of the 'pop top') have been covered with a vinyl wrap displaying a typical Cascadian forest scene at ground level. Additional camouflage is supplied by a similarly-printed roll-up side awning and camouflage netting rolls, front and aft. When parked, this camo nets drap down. At the rear, the netting camouflages both the backup bottles and stowage bins. Up front, the netting flaps rearward to cover the light rack while most unfurls forward over the mirror framework to help break up the outline of the van's nose. For longer stays, spare netting would also be draped over the tires and bunched up in the wheel wells.

A single photo-voltaic panel is mounted on the forward roof - power generated from direct sunlight having somewhat marginal potential in the PNW temperate rainforest. Portable PV panels can be set to provide extra power on those rare occasions of full Cascadian sunshine. A Renogy Ultra-Battery battery bank - which combines a lithium-ion battery and a supercapacitor within the same cell - provide onboard 6v electrical power. Beyond personal device charging, low-draw LED interior lights are the main users of stored electrical power. There is no electric heating or cooktop in this camper.

The interior of the rig is spartan, sleeping two comfortably but can accommodate up to six. Interior heat is provided by a Cubic CB-1008 Mini Cub stove/wood burner. Galley cooking can also be done with a small syngas burner. However, most cooking is done outdoors with a compact, portable wood stove set up under a fire-resistant awning. 'Ready rounds' of kindling and fire wood are carried in the rear stowage bins. 'Greener' firewood is stacked alongside the backup syngas tanks for 'forced-air' drying while underway (a section of recycled aluminum roofing protecting it from precipitation).

___________________________________

[1] Also under-mounted are fresh- and grey-water tanks. The former are pre-filtered with mesh screens and biochar (replacement filters for the original Berkey water system having long been unavailable).

[2] An unmodified E-series van will accommodate 30- to 31-inch tires without a lift kit. A 6-inch lift kit is needed to squeeze 35-inch offroad tires under the shuttle bus.
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline Buzzbomb

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2021, 07:34:30 AM »
Well, I don't think you need a Post Apoc scenario. Put these together on sale today and they may probably sell well.

Offline Gingie

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2021, 04:48:19 AM »
Lots of wealthy "overlanders" out there with deep pockets! 4x4 SAS conversion for the E series vans!

I liked the 6x6 conversion!

Offline apophenia

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2021, 10:38:42 AM »
Yup. There's even a move towards RV conversions of surplus Stewart & Stevenson FMTV variants. Apparently, surplus and low-mileage M1079 LMTV vans can be had for relatively low prices. Operating costs as an RV are another matter, of course, but they will go almost anywhere  :D

My favourite extreme rich-guy conversion, so far,  is an HEMMT with a rear-mounted toy-hauler converted into living quarters. The attached HEMMT image isn't that exact vehicle but gives the ideal.

We see a lot of Sprinter van conversions around that are supposed to be 'stealthy' but actually stick out like sore thumbs. I'm surprised that van-lifers haven't really twigged to the potential of vinyl wraps as camouflage (urban, back country, or whatever). Best example I've seen thus far ... a house truck wrapped as a cottage  ;D

The most bonkers thing I've seen is a mirrored school bus - one on top of another  :-\
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline Gingie

  • The LAV sausage-maker…goes nice with a home made beer I understand
  • Has been to Tatooine...
Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2021, 02:30:19 AM »
I'm on the FMTV camper group! :-) A friend of mine wants to convert a Steyr 96 (HLVW) to an overlander.

There is a F450 superduty 4x4 quad cab for govt auction, only 36,000km. Tempted to build my overlander on that, instead of the Xterra I'm currently working on.

The HEMMT is insane! Hahah! You'd need a couple motorbikes for scouts.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2021, 04:40:08 AM »
I'm on the FMTV camper group! :-) A friend of mine wants to convert a Steyr 96 (HLVW) to an overlander...

Interesting! I remember Mac Mackay at Truckfax mentioning surplused HLVWs a few years back. IIRC, the first HLVWs to go were the 25T wreckers (which couldn't suspend-tow the LAV III, HESV, MSVS, etc.).

I note that GC Surplus listings all specify "HLVW - Sold for Scrap Metal". Minimum bids start at $500 but winning bids average about $3k.

The listing are odd. A complete beater (wrecker?) just sold for #3,200. While another Petawawa sale in August (of what looked like a pristine cargo HLVW) went for $2,750. Go figure.

...The HEMMT is insane! Hahah! You'd need a couple motorbikes for scouts.

Yep! I'm imagining a bike on either side hoist-mounted between the wheel pairs  :smiley:
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2021, 06:01:25 PM »
Had to come one of the long ways home tonight due to a fatal MVA on the freeway & saw a beautiful ex-Army 'Mog sitting at the front of a property ... If only I'd had the cash when they were auctioning them off! :-*

Now, there's a basis for a survival camper/motorhome! :D
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline apophenia

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2021, 03:03:53 AM »
Sure, but why trust one German-made vehicle and not another?

Hmmm, what to do with that surplus Unimog 416 and a trashed Westfalia ...  ;D
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

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Re: Post-Apo VL Nomads
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2021, 02:13:34 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.