JOES BUG OUT VEHICLE
NOTE: This project is no longer active. The vehicle has been sold and a new one is being outfitted to replace it. To view the new vehicles data Click here
There are many things that must be taken into consideration when
choosing a bug out vehicle. The first and major consideration is
must this machine serve as the family transportation or can it
be a dedicated survival vehicle?
Obviously the more severe the terrain you are planning to cross
the more likely it is that you will need a vehicle fitted with a
winch and high lift jacks.
SELF BUILT CAMPERS AS BUG OUT VEHICLES
Currently growing in popularity in Europe, Australia and the USA
is the trend for people to build and fit out their own
campervans, not only is it far cheaper to do than buying a
factory built model (being as much as 70% cheaper in many cases)
but the builders can also tailor the specific design of the
vehicle to exactly match their own requirements. All this is
topped of with the fact that the self builders can also control
100% of the build quality of the vehicle. Of equal importance is
the fact that if you build the thing yourself you can do most of
the maintenance and repairs yourself as well.
In a Bug Out Vehicle that I may need to possibly live in for up
to six months I will need to carry more logistical support than
Joe Q Public does when he goes on vacation, So as a survivalist
I will need to plan far more storage capacity within my base
vehicle than a conventional camper would.
Although large fresh water tanks are usually desired and mounted under the floor between the chassis rails, I had to contend with two 5 gallon water containers. Even though I am not in an extreme northern climate I will insulate the tanks anyway.
I will need at least one dirty water receiving tank so as not to
foul the environment if I am stuck in one location. I will need
heating and hot water systems for cooking and hygiene. I will
need cooking facilities, In my case it will be bottled gas fed
I would highly recommend that your ancillary batter be wrapped in a tick layer of rubber to protect it from shock. Gel cell batters can actually be installed in just about any position even upside down should the need arise.
This isolator was purchased off of eBay for $30.00 which included shipping.
In keeping with my 12 volt philosophy I must admit that there will be occasional items that will require AC voltage. This is of no great problem for me as I freely use power inverters within the van. A power inverter is a device that changes the 12-volt power from your ancillary battery in the BOV to 110-volts AC, which is the same type of electricity which you would find in your home outlets. These useful power invertors are readily available in various power capacities. They are particularly useful for powering up items such as video games and computers or even a small microwave ovens. One of the converters which I have available in my van is shown below. Others are more conventional in shape and hidden inside cabinets.
.Those are the basics and can be adapted , omitted or altered to suit your own needs and budgets. When running the power converters off the battery be sure to use heavy gauge cabling as the larger converters of 1000 watts and up can consum consdierable power. The further distance that the cable must go from the battery to its determined location to the inverter then the heavier the cable should be. If the supply cable is too small the inverter could possibly be damaged.
MY BUG OUT VEHICLE
When dealing with your vehicle you should become as familiar with it as possible. In the event of an emergency it doers not hurt to know what parts from other vehicles are interchangeable with yours. These facts are just as important as knowing where to find the necessary repair parts. As an example it is good to know that Ford truck rims will fit Chevy trucks however the reverse is not necessarily true. I would highly recommend that you know everything you can about your vehicle such as who made your engine, what other types of vehicles came out with the same engine, etc. Imagine in your mind where the things are for your vehicle that you may need ahead of time. Make a detailed list so you do not get too far off track. Typical listing items may be who sells what within a ten mile radius. Being prepared and being ready is the name of the game.
The following information is based upon a dedicated BOV
maintained and used strictly for Bug Out purposes. My families
criteria for a Bug Out Vehicle have been dictated by various
considerations, they are
1990 Dodge Caravan Camper conversion
I started modifying our 1990 Dodge Caravan as a bug out vehicle in 2007 after running it for several months on the road. I thought I'd start documenting all the information and modifications as I did them in the event that someone else may want to duplicate my endeavors.
Since the van began life as a normal van and not a camper the modifications listed are divided into two distinct types – those relating to the van and those relating to the camper. You'll note some of the modifications/additions to our van come from some campers/modules (i.e., 110v outside receptacle, reading lights etc.). The van really needs to be comfortable enough for some of your party to stretch out in the back to gain some sleep without having to unload the vehicle, thus the conversion fits this requirement well.
Our Dodge Caravan was the smallest of the Caravan series. We originally purchased the van for $600.00, which considering its condition may have been too much. The big plus I was looking at was the 4 cylinder engine. With the price of gas raising the 4 cylinder engine looked very attractive. The unleaded gasoline engine was the default choice.
11/16/06 – We purchased the van in November of 2006. Pictures are shown below of the van before we began any retrofit. As you can clearly see this van needed a lot of work to make it a Bug Out Vehicle.
11/16/06 - The initial work began by getting rid of the nasty blue color. It was replaced with a forest green which is merely a temporary color until the necessary body work is completed and the cammo colors can be applied.
11/16/06 - This wasn't the exact Bug Out Vehicle I was looking for however I feel one has to take the ball and run with it and this is what I ended up with.
08/13/07 – Had to replace a broken rear tail light lens so that the Van would pass the state inspection. Also replaced tail light bulbs on drivers side rear.
08/13/07 – I tried putting tape on the bad spot of the rear passenger lens but the inspection station failed it anyway, and I had to get a used one from the wrecking yard.
08/18/07 – Began sanding and spraying the Olive Drab flat paint on the van. Taking my time to make it look good. The pictures below show what I got done today.
08/18/07 – This van is starting to look mean already.
12/20/07 - A good coat of Olive drab paint has been placed on the vehicle at this time. We could not find a good oil base paint since our government has outlawed oil base paint. According to the Sherwin Williams paint dealer if anyone is caught selling oil base paint it is now a prison term and hefty fine. I ended up using boat paint purchased from Gander Mountain Store. It worked great.
02/12/08 - Rear shocks replaced. We did not use the factory specified shocks but rather we installed the better quality ones.
03/01/08 - There are several classes of trailer hitches available ranging from the lightest designated as a class "1" all the way to a class "3" which has the greatest capacity. Our hitch has the square socket or receiver and not the single ball type. We installed the tow hitch package on this date. It is suppose to be a class 1 hitch so it was not designed to tow heavy nor large items. The rated tow capacity for the hitch that we installed is 5000 pounds due to it being securely bolted to the frame however our purpose in the hitch is merely to tow a small doghouse type trailer containing a generator and a few supplies.
Our trailer electrical connector is a 4 pin flat connector which is the most common in use today. These connectors are found on the majority of the light trailers. This connector has taillights, stoplight and blinker functions.. Below you will find the connector and the wiring guide for it.
03/12/08 There simply is no arguing that adding a grill guard not only looks good but also adds some protection to the front of the van. Purchased a Westin Brush guard grill for the front of the BOV. This item was originally made for a Ford ranger but we will modify it to work on the caravan.
03/29/2008 - Replaced the fuel pump on this date.
03/31/2008 - Here we have the camouflaged body. it needs additional coats of paint put on it but it is starting to come out looking pretty good. The roof is not completed as of yet for I want o put a coat of mom-slip truck bed paint on it. Then paint it olive drab.
03/31/2008 - Here are some pictures of the kitchen unit installed. This unit was removed from a popup camper and installed in the rear of the van. The sink and stove are readily accessible by lifting up the rear hatch area. I haven't decided yet whether to paint the unit or not. Perhaps it will be painted olive drab. The choice is still up in the air. I still need to take and build around the sink/stove unit to give it a more complete look. There will be wood on each of the sides as well as on the top to continue to to each side of the van.
03/31/2008 If you look closely you can see the sink drain plug on the rear side of the van just behind the rear tire. It currently has the capabilities of free flow or to connect a hose and run the grey water off to the side somewhere.
Maintenance Expenses, etc
The following items represent the maintenance expenses encountered in the daily use of the vehicle. This list can also be used for replacement part numbers.
September 1, 2007 – Replaced both rear shocks with Gabriel Pro-guards.