Letting the Light In

It’s strange how all of my latest projects have something to do with shade, light, and so on. But here’s another one I’ve had in mind for a while, and have finally accomplished. I’ve turned the covers over the long side windows into shades that open and close.

There are times I’m hanging out in the back of the van. While I get plenty of light up front, the back is always dark, because the four-foot long window covers are unwieldy to remove and I have nowhere to store them. I’ve been wanting a way to partly slide them open and shut, to let in the natural light when I want to, but without giving up privacy or insulation when they’re closed.

There is a gap between the wallboard at the head and foot of the bed and the van wall itself, thanks to the insulation in between. That seemed to be a good lower track for pieces to slide back and forth in. I’ve already been struggling with keeping the tops of the covers up. I bought a simple stair tread carpet transition strip (I worked in a flooring store in a past life, so I know what these are), cut it into two correctly sized pieces, and screwed them into the fiberglass trim panels above the windows. They’re almost, but not quite, right up against the glass, leaving just enough room for a piece of Reflectix or two to squeeze in there.

On the passenger side, I simply cut the cover in half. I used black gaffers tape to make a sort of flange to overhang the small gap between pieces when they’re shut, as well as a tab I can grab to pull it open. Then I just stuffed it between the existing gap in the wall and the hardware I added up top. Boom — instant daylight, and with no storage hassles.

On the driver’s side I did the same thing, except I needed three pieces. One of them lives behind the pantry permanently. The other two work the same as the passenger side, with the center piece being the one intended to slide. It works great. Even better, I was able to modify my old pieces of Reflectix to work. I bought a new roll to replace them if needed, but I didn’t need to, so I can return it unopened. That makes this one of the least expensive modifications I’ve made to my home.

I’ve been told I’m solar powered. I’m much better, emotionally, when I get a lot of daylight. That’s one reason van life appeals to me so much and works well for me. Now that the days are shorter than nights, I’ll need all the daylight I can get, even if I do remain in warm temperatures. This simple tweak will help a lot. It also makes it easier to open and look out the windows at night if I want to.

There’s only one more significant modification I want to make before hitting the road again, and the parts for that arrive tomorrow. Stay tuned to see how I’m installing auxiliary tail lights that will be visible at all times and won’t be attached to the motorcycle carrier.

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