“Aziz, Light!”

In The Fifth Element, Professor Pacoli regularly yells at his young assistant, Aziz, to wake up and shine the light on the hieroglyphics he’s trying to read. I no longer have that problem. The lighting for Smokey II arrived from Amazon yesterday, and it’s installed and functional today.

This time I used two different light systems. The first is the same LED strip lights I used in the previous van, where they were my primary light source. They worked great, so why mess with success? This time, though, instead of sticking them right to the ceiling, I stuck them under the shelf on the driver’s side, and a piece of wood I bolted to the passenger side. They shine straight down, and their light reflects off the white sides of the van. When I choose a color other than white, the walls seem to turn that color, which is pretty cool.

The other light system is a set of six LED puck lights. I did stick these directly to the ceiling. (When I install a nicer one someday, I’ll have to take them down and reinstall them on the new ceiling, but that’s okay.) I could’ve gotten these in multicolor as well, but I figured the strip lights cover that, so these are a warm white similar to an old-style incandescent bulb, which I find to be easier on the eyes than the more bluish color of pure white LEDs. I can dim these with a remote control, and there’s also a physical switch to turn them on and off. Since I kept and relocated the van’s original cargo area lights, those will still turn on automatically when I unlock the door. Then I can get in and turn on either of these lights before the standard dome lights turn themselves off.

I’d wanted puck lights in the previous van, but Trisha insisted that all interior lights had to be exactly the same type, even though strip lights are terrible for the internal cabinet lighting that was part of the original plan. I disagreed, but I lost that battle. I don’t have her input on this van, though, so this time I did it my way with a combination of both types of lights. I also put them on separate circuits, so that if one fails, the other will give me enough light to troubleshoot the problem.

I also moved my fresh and grey water jugs from the old van to the new one, and now I have running water. The only tricky bit was that the tube running from the faucet to the fresh water jug was badly curled and wouldn’t pull water from the bottom. So I got out my isobutane stove, lit it (with my handy new electric fire starter), then quickly and carefully ran the tubing through the flame until it softened up. That got the curls out, and I hooked it up immediately while it was still soft so that it would cool off and firm up in the proper shape.

Water tends to pool up on one side of the sink rather than flow down the drain because the bottom is so flat. I’ll have to pick up a squeegee so I can push water down the drain when I’m not parked perfectly level, which I never am. I also added a hose clamp I had kicking around the old van to the drain hose, just to make sure it won’t pop off.

Finally, I took my uncle’s grinder and trimmed part of the lip off my upper shelf where the microwave sits. Now it rests flat on the shelf, but is still wedged in there firmly enough to not fall off when I take a left turn.

All in all, it’s been a very productive day. The continuing lack of an inverter is slowing down some projects, but I have enough others to work on that I’m still making progress. Amazon is no longer updating the tracking info on it, but says if it doesn’t arrive by the end of tomorrow I can call for a refund on Tuesday. So that’s what I’ll do, then reorder it and start all over again.

Having lights inside the van now opens the option of working inside of it after dark, when the temperature cools off. It’ll depend on whether I still have energy to work by then, but it’s good to have the option.

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