Full remodel - 1991 "The Nautilus"

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Nautilus
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:02 pm
B190 Year: 1991
Location: Seattle, Wa

Full remodel - 1991 "The Nautilus"

Post by Nautilus »

Hey everyone who reads this!

I'm Ryon, I'm almost 30 living in the PNW. I recently bought a pretty mint van I've named her The Nautilus: Roaming Land Submarine, "Nauty," for short. She's a 1991 Airstream B190 the van was manufactured Dec ’89 she's got a strong 460ci with 39k miles. The original silver exterior was painted by the previous-previous owner (I couldn't think of how to say that... I'm tired) the new color is a Gunmetal Grey done for $3k by a Maaco out of Utah. I keep forgetting to grab the VIN every time I'm working on it! (I'll try to remember). Long story short I let it sit over the winter and had a hidden leak that was pooling under the bed in the bunk. Every time I checked everything was dry so I didn't worry about the windows too much. Mistake. Waterfall of water the first time I drove her in a while. Investigated and found rot and mold and mildew. I grabbed ahold of that string and pulled. Now we're here, today as I write this with a completely gutted camper van.

The only things left in it are the front seats and carpet, 12v wiring harness, generator box, house battery, stereo, grey and black water tanks... and the windows are taped on. Every single other thing has come out. I just kept chasing the water damage and found old rot. 30 years of slow leak rot. So I decided to start from scratch. The plan is to basically redesign the entire van with a few exceptions. The coach frame is going to be used--it's getting reupholstered. Also the stove that I'm pretty sure was recently replace is being used, because it looks brand new and I love the idea of having a 4 burner stove and oven. I think I'm going to keep the grey and black water tanks but have just the sink go into the grey water and the shower/mud room/gear storage drain into the black water.

I've got a fairly good picture of what I want to do in my head. I bought a microsoft surface pro 7 with the cool stylus that I'm gonna play around with and see if I can figure out how to do some drawings. However rudimentary.

I'm sorta just figuring it all out as I go, I'll start posting on here a bit more. I've been posting on my Instagram account @nauty4nature I've been trying to remember to document as much as possible. Sometimes I get into a groove and forget to stop and take pictures but there are some good ones there. I haven't figured out how to post pictures here from my phone yet.

I think that's a good first post. Excited to be here, it's awesome to have all of this knowledge here, and excitement for these awesome vans!
Last edited by Nautilus on Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ryon Downs
@Nauty4Nature on IG
The Nautilus: Roaming Land Submarine
1991 B190, 39k miles, gunmetal grey
2007 Yamaha WR250F
2008 Lifted Subaru Legacy GT
Nautilus
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:02 pm
B190 Year: 1991
Location: Seattle, Wa

Re: Full remodel - 1991 "The Nautilus"

Post by Nautilus »

I guess this will be my first build post. I'm trying to get the essential stuff that's going to be needed to wire in everything ordered so that it doesn't hold me up. Here's the story so far: I've done probably 30 hours of research into "solar" at this point. What a rabbit hole.. I'm not even going to begin to try and get into it. It was a long journey but I've decided what I'm going to do. And now I just need to figure out how I'm going to do it.

Here's the list, I am about to put 2x210w newpowa solar panels on top with a completely Victron management system and BattleBorn batteries. Starts with a 100/30 MPPT SmartSolar CC, a 2000w Multiplus inverter/charger, a dc/dc-30a alternator charger, 30a shorepower plug and 2x100ah LiFePo4 batteries. Completely removing the existing 120V wiring which was all solid core and replacing it with all new marine grade triplex. Also replacing the breaker box with a new one without the converter. Also installing dimmable LED puck lights. And some 12v and 120v plugs. Probably some other things I can't think of right now. I plan on using the existing 12v wire harness but using it a little differently than OEM, I've traced everything at this point so I know where everything goes.

I was thinking about what to do with my old house battery now that I've pulled the old breaker box and generator (generator is for sale btw and some other stuff too). I figure I'll just leave it up there. Currently there are 2 yellow accessory wires hooked to what looks like a starter solenoid that I think switches over to connect it to the starter battery when the engine is running. I think one of them is the break controller and I'm not sure what the other is yet. Oddly if the heat is switch on and the van is off and I push on the break the blower motor for the air turns on. Even without the ignition on. I think it's shorted somehow into the break controller wiring. Or someone messed up an install somehow. Not looking forward to figuring that one out.

The Victron parts and BB batteries come out to a ~$4200 after WA sales tax.

All of the other components which includes but is not limited to the following, wire, blk/red 12awg, 10awg, 6awg, 0/2awg and some other wires, some ferrules, lugs, heat shrink, and various things to connect the different wires. Also breakers, and switches, various different fuses of different types and sizes. All sorts of things. I will also have to buy some specialty tools, different crimpers and things. All that adds up to ~$1500 after tax. (This also includes the price of the solar panels that are $195 a piece).

After quite a bit of time and research into different companies and different systems I came across Explorist.life and all Nate's excellent content on DIY solar and van builds. I spec'd out a few different systems and priced out a few different options. Even getting a quote to have a guy I know do the system for me. Ended up deciding to go with Nate's 2000w diagram running the 2x210w panels and 2x100ah batteries to start. In the future if I find I need more juice I can add more batteries to the system and put another solar CC and run a few portable panels away from the van. That's kinda the goal eventually! I decided to give it a go and do it myself. I haven't ever done solar before but I have a few weeks of training on car electrical systems and a little bit of hobby experience as well as some small home renovations. Shouldn't be to difficult with a good wiring diagram ($10 for the high-def pdf from Nate).

I emailed Battleborn to clarify a few questions and see if there were any discounts I could get. I've got a phone call scheduled this week. He said he could get me $50 off per battery and some other discounts. Almost everything else I'm getting off of Amazon. Which is a little bit of a bummer. I'd prefer to get it from somewhere local but it just costs to much for a kit (which are popping up all other the place. I'm so targeted by their advertising now) and all they're doing is sourcing from the same places. And it's so much cheaper just to spend 10 hours going through 45 different items about 12 times to make sure I got every thing I needed and read all the reviews and picked all the best options.

I've struggled quite a bit with deciding to go with a top of the line Victron system instead of a more budget friendly system like Renogy or putting together my own with cheaper components. I decided reliability and performance were important to me and a couple thousand extra was a good investment in the rig to be able to say it's got the best stuff.

So that's been my battery journey so far! Getting everything ordered this week. Hopefully it goes smoothly and I don't electrocute myself! I'm sure I'll post more about it! And let me know if you have any questions.
Ryon Downs
@Nauty4Nature on IG
The Nautilus: Roaming Land Submarine
1991 B190, 39k miles, gunmetal grey
2007 Yamaha WR250F
2008 Lifted Subaru Legacy GT
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skater
Site Admin
Posts: 2325
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
WBCCI: 13270
Location: Annapolis, MD

Re: Full remodel - 1991 "The Nautilus"

Post by skater »

Good luck! Keep us posted.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit
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