Polar Bear Soon To Be Gutted

Since my last Polar Bear post (think I might start them all this way) , I haven’t spent much time or money on Polar Bear. I did have an adventure with the radiator blowing up. I wanted to replace it myself but time did not work to my advantage and I had to pay a shop. Otherwise, I’ve just been using Polar Bear as my daily driver. The most significant adventure I took PB on was a trip to Steamboat with Nino for a wedding and some boarding. On the way, we spotted another local 4×4 Ford van along side the road. They waved and I honked as we splashed by. Since then, I spotted the same van perched on top of Loveland pass. If I see them again, I’ll have to stop and say hello.

During the drive, we collected a lot of ice on the van. As the road muck spalshed up on Polar Bear and started to drain off, it froze into interesting patterns. The most interesting, by far, was the sea urchin like spikes on the center caps. I’ve never seen anything like it before and it drew a fair amount of attention when we would stop for gas or coffee along the way.

While I haven’t been working on the van a lot, I have been collecting bits and pieces. I snagged some weatherproof plastic cases from the office. They were originally used to transport HP Blackbird computers to trade shows. My intention is to mount them somewhere on top of the van. Unfortunately, I have yet to come up with the best way to mount them. They’re tall enough to be a real air flow issue. They’re also big enough that they cover the entire width of the roof making it challenging to leave a walkway on the roof basket. I’m considering building a platform on the rear and placing them behind the van, but I’m also having trouble making that work just right. I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

I snagged a few other odds and ends along the way. I’ve got a CB radio ready to install. I’m on the lookout for a worn out camper with some basic parts (water, gas, electric). I have some replacement seats and a replacement steering wheel in the garage. This weekend I’m flying back to Texas to borrow my parents spare car. Once I have a backup car, I plan to gut the inside of Polar Bear and start work. I plan to rip out the entire dash, clean everything, and maybe repaint the molding. I also plan to pain the interior of the van before I do the insulation and main buildout.

I’ve long been searching for a pop-up top solution and have only found very expensive options. Meanwhile, I ran into a closeout sale on the aware winning Technitop Roof Top Tent. The price was about $400 less than retail so I snatched it up while I could. The idea is to mount the tent on the roof with one door open to the roof basket and the other door having a ladder to the ground. It won’t give me the headspace of a popup top, but it will give me a place for 2 people to sleep in the summer. I still have the tent in the box. If a good popup top option comes along, I might try to sell it for what I paid.

I can’t wait to actually get started on some modifications. It seems like I spend considerably more time thinking about what I want to do rather than doing it. It will feel good to make some progress. Meanwhile, I’m still haunted by the horsepower of my engine. I’m scared that the build will be too heavy and will turn my van into a slug. Here’s hoping.

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