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T1N can motovan

Sensing somewhat of a Taco theme in your post, I feel the need to throw this out there. It is widely understood that Thomaston residents love tacos. It is also widely understood that If you want to impress someone with your car (in this case van) you should tell them that it is a Taco Truck.. See where I'm going here??
Maybe next time you should stop at the taqueria ( not Taco Bell)on the way to the dam. Also for effect, May be Install one of those horns that plays La Cucaracha.
In return I will gladly teach you how to crash at the Dam. Level; Expert here.
It was good to see you, Enjoying your build!!
I’m going on real vacation for a week. Please don’t steal my van or break its windows while I’m gone. When last we left off we had vacuum!

After much fumbling and loud hissing as I messed up popping on the gauge, we still have vacuum! Slightly less but I think it’s likely because I didn’t put the gauge on very cleanly. At all. I’m only mentioning it because my mistakes must be memorialized and in case you care about how much vacuum there is.

That thing in the back in an inconvenient place is also getting replaced.

It’s an ax expansion valve. It connects the system to the evaporator and makes cold. It also wears a jaunty chapeau. I fucking love adorable things that have faces like this. LOOK AT IT

Cleanly installed.

Then the dryer which, disappointingly, has neither face nor hat.

Original though so probably good it’s getting replaced.

And replacing this sensor because the guy who sells the dryer recommends it. Mine works. You can tell by unplugging it and if that makes your fan go on it works. I still replaced it because I’d ordered them together.

So shiny.

While putting a vacuum on for 90 minutes (as long as folks recommend? Maybe not, but when your vacuum pump is attached to a converter hooked up to the battery you cut some corners on time.), I addressed another issue. See those little empty holes in the black bracket on top of the condenser?

Two of them get a couple of rivnuts.

Because the genuine Mercedes-Benz brand grill had been hanging from the single silver bolt and was starting to crack. Two more bolts on each side (washers to come! But at least they’re matching black) should hold it in place a lot better and stop it from snapping in half.


484 grams full.

184 grams empty. I switched tops because the brass colored one was for the old style cans and the silver one was for self sealing cans. You can tell the difference because the little punch that comes down to open the can up is a cylinder for self sealing and has a sharpened end for the old cans.

We have pressure going in!

And pressure on the high side too!

No pictures, but glorious cold air comes out of the vents now. Is it ice cold? Only if you’re talking about it in an ad. But it is great and a huge difference and should be enough to convince my family to use the van literally every when it’s hot out. I’ll check pressure again when I get back and hopefully it will still have plenty of coolant and blow cold and I can move on to the garage portion or maybe cleaning up some more rust.
Now you're an HVAC tech and I always need one in the brewery. Ready thyself!
Sensing somewhat of a Taco theme in your post, I feel the need to throw this out there. It is widely understood that Thomaston residents love tacos. It is also widely understood that If you want to impress someone with your car (in this case van) you should tell them that it is a Taco Truck.. See where I'm going here??
Maybe next time you should stop at the taqueria ( not Taco Bell)on the way to the dam. Also for effect, May be Install one of those horns that plays La Cucaracha.
In return I will gladly teach you how to crash at the Dam. Level; Expert here.
It was good to see you, Enjoying your build!!
Sorry, I read the word tacos and started daydreaming. What were you saying?
It's been a while... but I'm still at it.

This weekend I tried to install a diesel heater.

It goes underneath this seat.

The emergency toilet paper and fire extinguisher will have to go elsewhere. Probably on the floor because I am a disgusting person.

Perfect fit!

Use this gasket to mark where it's going to go.

Huh, the hole saw shouldn't do that.

Or that.

or... that.


Double-fuck because this is very easy to splice back together so what the fuck is going on with the crank position sensor? It's only $40 to replace it and not too difficult but... what the fuck?

Basically a lineman splice. More or less.

Some nice new files to make the edges smooth. And ream out the hole after I bought a hole saw that was ever so slightly too small. I'm sure it makes sense to spend forty five minutes with a file enlarging two holes instead of buying another five dollar hole saw, right? Right? Anyone? Obviously I broke the tip off one of these on my first try. But they are a beautiful tool.

And, perfect!

T1N sprinters have an option for a diesel heater that heats up the coolant in your van so it warms the engine up MUCH FASTER in the winter. It's not a block heater, mind you, but it does mean that there's an existing fuel line that's perfect to tap into so I don't need to worry about dropping the tank. Just tap into that, wire up the power and away we go! But because I'm an idiot and bad at life all of that will have to wait for another day. Fuck.
"What took you so long to post again?" I hear you ask.

Well, I'm glad you asked.

Several things. First, it is important to note that I am lazy and that is a primary driver. The van works OK as is to transport me and motorcycles to places to go riding. And now that that's true there's so much less drive to do things like "finish it" and "make it not look like a hideous eyesore" and "why isn't there a backup camera how can you expect anyone else to ever drive this?"

Second, been riding.

Third, this fucking thing.

For some reason, Honda used a different metal or finish or... something? On this coolant pipe in the 2010 CR-V. Previously, we'd been thinking about holding out until electric charging was a realistic option in NYC and then getting one of those but when I parked the car one day and came back out to find a huge pool of coolant underneath it my wife had had enough.

Even though I told the bad part it was no longer welcome (not pictured: blood, lots and lots of blood). Yeah, none of the other literally anything else in the engine bay or undercarriage looks like this.

Little bit of genuine Honda coolant (blue so you know it's authentic raspberry flavor) later and voila! The new car got to park in the garage and the CR-V got to sit on the street while I thought about selling it. Which is where I discovered the dumbest thieves in the entire world.

Someone had broken the window on the van and not taken any of the cash or other things. This time, they stole a tool kit. MSRP $145 but more importantly that was a gift you jackasses! A jump pack, some milwaukee M12 tools and my dewalt 20v inflator. But despite rifling through the car they did not open the envelope marked 'insurance' and thus did not discover the $60 in cash we kept in there. Or the free floating cash in the middle console which was admittedly a much less impressive $15 in change. Still... whoever you are, you are a fucking terrible thief and you should feel bad.

I had ordered glass to replace this when I discovered (because my wife told me) that we had glass coverage and this was covered and oh, it's someone else's problem! That was a good day. And then it was time to fix the thing I'd been ignoring for a while.

The blend door actuator was broken. There are two - one controls where the vents point and it lives on the passenger side to the left of the passenger's feet/leg. The other controls the mix of hot and cold air and lives in the same spot on the drivers side and is what was broken. It looks like this on the outside.

And like this on the inside.

Pop a new one in and now I just have to write up the ad. No blood involved in either of those, which was frankly a bit confusing although it did involve lying half in-half out of the car like a contortionist unbolting a tiny bolt an 1/8th of a turn at a time because I don't have a ratcheting m7 wrench. So at least that was something.
And with this we’ll be up to date.

2500 grit and a deoxidizer.

3000 grit and wet compared to 2500.

The problem is, it was mostly the “wet” that did it.

So I started over from scratch. This is a progression of 400-600-800-1000-1200-1500-2000-2500-3000-5000. ~5 minutes on each headlight at each grit. About two hours, all in.









But they looked good wet, I wonder if I just put this cerakote on them…

Yes! It works! This is coated and dried.
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Ok, almost up to date.

In NY you have to get diesels inspected every year. January for me. So I hopped in and started the van up and… remember that crankshaft position sensor error? Fuck. Ok, clear the check engine light and leave the van running and hope I get an inspector who doesn’t turn it off. While I’m waiting, the good luck charm of spending $40 extra dollars to overnight a replacement…

It worked!

Might as well fill it up while prices are low.

And now we’re present day. Still need to finish installing the diesel heater and replace the crankshaft position sensor now.
In NYC you have annual inspections for diesel vehicles.

I stopped to fill up for gas before I went over to the mechanic who does the inspection.

And when I went to start the van, it just cranked and wouldn't start. And then cranked some more. Finally it started with a check engine light on. Fuck, that's some timing, eh? The code was for the crankshaft position sensor.

Fortunately, diesel inspection doesn't check lights and so I cleared the light and left the van running and luckily enough, the guy only turned it back on once and it was fine. My secret? I overnighted the replacement sensor and because there were two possibilities I overnighted both of them. Can I explain it? No, but that's how the world works. If I hadn't spent the extra money to get both of them there the next day, I would have failed.

And then, it was on to replace the sensor. Where does that sensor live? On the top of the transmission, of course! So you're stuck with lying on the ground kind of working your arm around the transmission to get at the sensor to undo it. Oh, and if you're in the NE it generally rusts into place and is completely and utterly stuck. But someone at MB in their infinite wisdom decided that they would put an access panel into the van. That's how I ended up taking out my passenger seat, pulling up my carpeting and sound deadening and... voila! There it is!

I parked it for a couple of weeks, stopping by every few days to douse it with penetrating oil and then Friday night before going riding, I got to work. Of course, MB doesn't give a shit about your shade tree ass mechanic proclivities and the internet is awful for information so nobody told me this thing was welded down. I ended up chiseling it up and creating some very sharp edges that I then spent the next few hours working with. The blood dripping onto the transmission definitely helped though. You have to kind of wiggle it around and around and then pry up at it.

Now because you're not an idiot like me, you haven't spent hours of your life reading about and watching videos of people who try to solve for the problem of breaking off this sensor in the transmission. In fact, with the exception of some guy whose van looked WAY to clean and from the southwest, I didn't see a single person posting or taking a video where their sensor came out. Certainly nobody who had to spend hours wiggling it like me. But, thanks to the combined sacrifices of blood and money, here we are.

Didn't even squish the top in.

New sensor vs. old. Funny, it doesn't look broken. And at the moment of truth (remember to start it before you button everything back up BUT DON'T FUCKING RUN IT FOR TOO LONG OR SHIT WILL GET HOT AND YOU WILL BURN YOURSELF) it started right up. That'll do, tin can, that'll do.

And then it was time to go riding! OK, maybe a little fetch first. But... oh, ok, maybe actually literally two hours of fetch first.

Then riding! I swear this is the top of a hill.

And then a nap on the way home. You can see the paper backing trash next to her from where I put in a bunch of sound deadening in the rear of the van. She didn't like how it squeaked and boomed when we went over bumps. Did I fix it for me? No. Did I fix it for my wife? No. Did I fix it for my kid? No. But the dog didn't like it so... time to do something about it. That sounds a lot worse having typed it out but there you have it. Yup, that's my milwaukee heated hoodie she's sleeping on.
I had a Mercedes CLK 500 with that sensor bad. What a PITA. Worse, after I swapped it with one from Amazon, it failed almost immediately again, but took me forever, and a tow, before I came to that realization. I ordered another from Rock Auto and did it again. Fixed.
I had a Mercedes CLK 500 with that sensor bad. What a PITA. Worse, after I swapped it with one from Amazon, it failed almost immediately again, but took me forever, and a tow, before I came to that realization. I ordered another from Rock Auto and did it again. Fixed.
You utter rube. How could you not have realized that you had to replace the mercedes sensor with a genuine Rock Auto brand sensor instead of that amazon crap? :lol3 Seriously though, the more wrenching I do on this, the more I get an understanding of the MB engineers. I really do think it's very much "our way or the highway" with them and their way involves genuine MB (bosch?) parts and is setup to be maintained by a pro garage. Not that amateurs can't ever weld, but you're definitely supposed to chop open that access hatch and then weld it back shut (I bent it down and that seems fine but need to take the cupholder back up and put some sound dampener back over it because the road noise is so much louder without it). And if something goes wrong? Just drop the transmission. You do have a team of fleet mechanics, right? So it should only be a half day of work and then you're back in action!
Sometimes the only thing keeping you working on a project is that you posted about it. Other times it’s the god damned mountain of mess that has invaded your van. Like a sentient magma flow of junk. So, time to clean things up a bit.

Pay no attention to the pile behind the seats. Focus on the fact you can see the seats at all! A little hammock does a great job holding all the various elbow and knee pads, chest protectors and gloves. This will probably move to the back when I put plywood on the other side of the wall.

Helmet in the back and most importantly - I’m going to need another one of these racks for cans. At least now every time I open the door I don’t get a little cascade of brake clean.

More helmets, goggles, gloves and a little fold out shelf on the other side. I think the shelf may move to one of the rear doors.

Last but not least, finally taking the suspension off my bike to get it resprung and revalved.
Wow, been a while since the new suspension. That’s weird.

I wonder what happened?

First things first. Time to go for a ride! Oh, well. Fuck you too.

One harbor freight dent repair kit later….

Perfect. Off to go ride!

Well, it turns out new suspension ain’t the same as talent. Riding ~5mph uphill a little off-camber on a rainy day through some rocks like this and my rear tire slipped right, my left foot caught on one of the rocks while the rest of me went with the bike and pop, there went my MCL. Fortunately no surgery but I’m still two weeks away from being able to ride again.

I was out of commission for a while. When my knee was finally feeling better enough to do anything I tried to reorganize the van a bit. That was a problem because I had some tires and mousses I bought last year and had just thrown behind the seat. They were structural for my pile of junk. But don’t let that discourage anyone. In fact, putting mousses on is easy peasy lemon squeezie. I only bent three of these tire spoons, was drenched in sweat, bled on the wheel and got a few nice bruises doing it. But, uh, really bent.

Probably would have helped to do it with a tire stand instead of in the dirt. Who can really say? With that done, time for an easy job. New rotor, calipers and pads up front.

The caliper bracket bolts had other ideas. Even with heat (just a little propane torch because, please remember, all this is done on the street in NYC), soaking with penetrating oil and some serious effort with a breaker bar. Just… nothing. I gave up and put this on the “send it to a pro to suffer” category.

In the meantime I tackled something a little more my speed. My kid crashed and broke his arm and some bike parts and I’d fixed all of them except the front fender. Well, job done.

He was riding the ttr125 because he grew. And he has a CRF125 coming. But he has a friend who hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet and fits the KLX110 really well. The only option? Keep them both and make room for another bike.

I had finally put the carpet on the wall in the front so it looks all fancy. There wasn’t enough because I’d used some to cover the rear window, intended at the time to buy more and forgot about it so I need to pile junk against the bottom for aesthetic reasons. Toolboxes come up front, all the fluids get piled next to them and a huge pile of mostly garbage sits on the seat.

In the back you can see the beginning of some lights being wired up. And space! So much space for another bike!
The new bike I bought was a 2014 Ducati monster 796 ABS. ABS because I’m old and it seems safer. The rest of it because it’s prettier than an SV650 (fight me suzuki fans) and I clearly enjoy stupid engineering (this will be my second Italian bike - the first was a beta that had some incredibly catastrophic failures that were my fault and also their fault and then it was stolen. I still love it.) and the 796 is the last of the air cooled monsters.

Anyway, I’m cheap and pathologically unable to not scout classifieds for the best deal so I drove out to PA for a bike that was relatively very cheap. It had a few issues. Like the display didn’t work. Because some moron smashed it. Not me this time.

He said it had 6k miles on it and that’s what he wrote on the title and got notarized. But €100 later (say it with me ducatista. Good, now we’re both pretentious), and one of the easiest repairs I’ve ever done - it’s just like ten screws and a trip to Home Depot for a T6 torx bit - and voila!

The bike only has 2100 miles on it. Huh. Well, that’s better but a little awkward for the title where I said it had 6k miles on it because that’s what the PO said. I’m sure it will never be an issue as long as I don’t sell it before I ride a mere four thousand miles.

I took it for a little ride around the block to celebrate and then parked it outside the warm embrace of the van. Remember, there’s another bike coming so I actually need the space. How many vehicles is too many if you live in New York City and is the answer seven? We’ll find out!
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