Sprintervan Build(s)- Wiring
Making sure everything behind the walls is just as pretty (and safe) as those visible... We're at that phase of the build where we spend long hours feeding wires through the walls and nursing the bloody knuckles that come along with it.
These two parralel builds are quite the learning experience on all levels. We thought that having two or three vans to build at one time would be far easier because you can do two of everything at once. Turns out it's hard or impossible to juggle keeping them at the same stage for that prefect scenario to actually turn out as expected. Shave off some time...probably. Two for the price of one (or in the timespan of one)- not even close
But...even with our uber-compressed timeline of less than 3 months to build both out to completion, we also feel like we have both the time and the need to do these right. Our projected sales price for these vans is over 150k based upon the market and the components/systems we're adding to them, and at that price point we'd better be doing this thing right! I also never planned on building an "average" van. These are designed and engineered to be absolutely the top of the line, best on the market, 4 season adventure rig...and that's what we're working towards!
That means no quick, shoddy wire pulling that leaves wires exposed to vibration around sharp edges inside the van. No ugly wire nuts and electrical tape wiring "nests" hidden behind panels. We designed this system to allow everything to be removable, so that means the wiring that is typically hidden behind the walls better be as rugged/durable (and as presentable) as what's on top of/in front of if! It also means starting with well laid plans and mapped out wiring paths.
Sadly, despite taking the time (after hours, in the middle of the night) to map everything out, we still find ourselves pulling/repulling conduit and wires 2 and 3 times over as we learn something gets in the way of another, or as a last minute voltage calculation proves we need a bigger gauge of wire for a certain run.
The result is several days of work in routing conduit. In this case we used pex pipe... as it happens to the right combination of flexible and durable yet also fits in the small gap between the van's ribs and roof panels to allow for an easy (enough) install between wall cavities and ceiling cavities. At the end of each run of conduit we use electrical boxes, just as you would in building your house (we are, likely, building someone's house after all), which allows for safe junctions but also an easier ability to trace problems and/or pull more wires in the future as needed by us or the van's future owner.
It's not exactly gratifying work, but it certainly gets faster on the second build (or would if you had time to wait long enough for your knuckles to heal), and at the end of the day we have what we feel like is a solid plan for our wiring map and something were proud to show off to the world, or at least to any prospective client or buyer that asks.After that... comes pulling the actual wire. Somehow despite all the prep work, this seems even harder. Maybe because of the aforementioned bloody knuckles and mostly-broken-will, or maybe its just the hard work...who knows. It is, also overlaid with all the other work we're still trying to do in tandem... the continued insulation/prep, the prototyping of new components that we will (eventually, hopefully) get to, and oh, of course... the things we do before/after/in between shop work in terms of building websites, marketing, returning emails and calls, etc).
Every climb has its crux. It's most difficult point where things get really hard and you're almost convinced you'll fail or give up... I think it's fair to say we're entering the crux of this project/business. Our bodies are sore and exhausted, our minds and emotions are fragile, and despite having multiple meetings with our friends/partners to make sure we're all on the same page we seem to keep having "creative differences" that all seem to be caused by stress/anxiety on their part.
We are in the shop all day every day and then working all night online and it's difficult to not feel some resentment as they go to other jobs during the day (which almost begin to feel/look like vacations away from the build to us, especially since they weren't part of the plan going in). It's not that they aren't working on the vans...it's just that they still have other obligations that take most of their time/priority and the business gets whatever is left of their time and energy afterword. That's proving hard on them, and also hard on the business.
When we have meetings and ask for more from them they are stressed/anxious about the money and the fact that we haven't sold anything - and we find ourselves not asking for what we need/want but trying to protect them and/or help save them from stress. I assume this is the scenario people warn you about when starting businesses with friends. The delicate line that finds you putting others before yourselves or even before the business.