overdue update

Hit the weed plant too hard again, and lost some time. Back on it now.

Lots of developments. First among them is the fact that I’ve decided to renew the lease on this apartment for another year. The van’s not ready to be lived in, I’m not ready to move into an unfinished van, and I was bugging out a bit about it. I was finding it necessary to put a fair amount of work into controlling the rising panic I was feeling, and I relaxed considerably when I decided to keep the place. So I’ve a room with heat and water for another year.

I was OK with maxing out some credit for the build if it meant I got to move into the van and use the money I would have spent on rent to pay off that credit faster. Now I’m stuck with that debt and rent. I should have planned on it taking longer, and saved up instead of using credit. That was probably obvious to everyone but me.

Next major development: as I think I’ve written about, my friend and I had mounted the solar panels up top when she was visiting. Well, we’ve had some rain lately, so I got to check out how well we sealed everything up. I got in the van and checked the screws coming through the roof, and all looked good. But when I got up top, I could see (through the silicone that we’d used to try to seal things) that the screw heads were getting rusty. The silicone didn’t settle down like I’d hoped it would, and there were some channels in it that water could travel through. When I pulled the silicone off, I found some fairly extensive rust damage to the tops of the screws. There was even a rusty slurry being held against them by the silicone in the worst spots.

So…fuck. I thought about just cleaning up everything I could see and resealing with Dicor (which I should have used in the first place); I was worried about backing the self-taping screws out and then not being able to refix the brackets to the roof. I would have been easier that way, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it that way, with the risk of rust and moisture in contact with the van roof. So I picked a screw at the worst spot and backed it out a bit to have a look, and, yes, there was rust down the shaft of the screw.

So I pulled all the screws out, pried all the brackets off (that VHB tape is no joke), and started sanding the spots where the brackets had been. Had to get through residual VHB tape, silicone, rust, and paint. Got a drill attachment and a sanding block, and at each spot where a bracket was anchored, I’m sanding back to metal, repainting, and reattaching the brackets with some 14 gauge screws. Those self-taping screws seem to be about 10 gauge, so 14 gauge should be able to bite into the sheet metal, still; I’ve basically got some really big pilot holes drilled. I won’t be using VHB tape this time, because I need to line the bracket holes up with the existing holes in the roof. I’ll put some Dicor in each hole as I drop the screws in, then cover it all in Dicor. Dicor’s “self-leveling” thing makes more sense now, having seen silicone maintain the contours it was given during application, which resulted in pathways for water to seep in. The foaminess of Dicor is appealing to me now. Silicone is better for running a bead, not covering a surface.

Got almost 1/2 the spots sanded back today, despite multiple set-backs and errands I had to run. I’ll finish the sanding tomorrow (using 60 grit first, then 80, then 100, so I don’t leave any small channels cut into the roof), then paint. (1% chance of rain tomorrow.) The next day, I’ll clean the whole roof, and reinstall the mounting brackets to the roof, and seal with Dicor. I’ll reinstall the panels shortly thereafter.

I also noticed that a few of the nuts that secured the panels to the mounting brackets had loosened up a bit after some driving, so I’ll be using locking nuts and some thread tightener (the blue stuff, not the red, so it’s not permanent) when I actually reinstall the panels.

I’ve also begun installing the wood floor, but am focused on the roof and the panels now as I just noticed this rust, as since we’ve got a string of clear days right now.

I’m still taking video and pictures of my progress, and I really need to start posting that stuff daily. It’s hard to focus on documentation when there’s so much to do. But it is a part of the work.

I went out for lunch today, after getting my blood drawn at the doctor’s office (I may have a slightly under-active thyroid…doc asked if I’d been feeling fatigued and slightly depressed and I laughed and said I thought that was normal), so that was some superfluous money spent. Also bought some sanding tools, paint thinner, etc, for the project.

I’m still planning of taking some time off from weed smoking, as I still just smoke compulsively till it’s gone. I imagine I might cheat a bit when I’m out in California in the coming weeks (snorkeling in the kelp and a Rolling Stones concert coming up shortly…sounds like I’m doing something right with my life). Today was my second day back on that wagon, and it was a productive day. I’m stabilizing emotionally again, and getting shit done. I’m right at about 11 months off the hootch. It can be done.