September, 2013

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VivaLaVida: interior

Here is a presentation of my “Wheel house”. πŸ˜€

The space where I usually live is in the middle. There is a large sofa transforming in bed for the night. Uper bed is in three elements which fold during the day to let space above the sofa.

Day config:


Night config:


Cabinets, sink and fridge take place on driver side. The two front seats can swivel to open a convenient space. A table can be installed in front of the front seats or the sofa. The sink contains a basin, a cutting board and a draining rack, nice to save space. πŸ˜‰

Front passenger seat with table and fridge

Sofa with table

Sink closed and opened


The diesel stove is installed on the rear lateral door. It transforms as an outside kitchen and the cabinet door makes then a small outside table.


Ready to use

Outside kitchen

The back offers a lot of space to carry my stuff and my mountain bike. The bed plateform has hinges in front, so it can tilt up to easier access under where I carry cases and travel bags. At rear of floor, there is a large underfloor storage where I carry Tools, winch stuff, ski boots, etc.


Backpacks, heater air intake

Bracket for front bike Wheel is on the right door

Underfloor storage

I can also intall my outside shower, a real pleasure already tested this weekend… πŸ˜‰

You know almost all on my interior but I answer any quastion you would like to ask. πŸ˜€

VivaLaVida: outside equipments

Here are some information and detailed images from the outside:

At the front, the OEM bumper was replaced by an aluminum bumper with protection bars. I did it modified to be able to move the winch back if needed. It features two long-beam Xenon (HID) lights. I also changed the original grille to maximize cooling as the big 6-liter diesel engine is a little cramped in the van. Finally, above the windshield takes place a directional Xenon headlight controlled from the dashboard, handy to find a place to sleep when it’s already dark (I missed it on previous trips!).

Front view

Movable winch (opened)


Light Force lights

On driver side…


LED courtesy light, main tank filler and shore power plug (110/220 V)

Custom aluminum ladder and auxiliary tank filler

The rear also gets an aluminum bumper incorporating two reverse lights, a storage compartment, spare wheel on which sits a Trasharoo Bag (bag to transport garbage, avoiding odor in the van) and a storage box where will take place in a small emergency generator, my custom grill . There is also the High Lift jack already presented. Top of the roof, wide flood LED light and rearview camera complete equipment.


Rear bumper storage

Aluminum box

Hi-lift jack


On passenger side, there is water tank filler, a courtesy LED light similar than other side, air intake and exaust of diesel stove, and a sliding foldable step made of stainless steel.

Water filler


Step folded

That’s all for outside presentation. Inside will come soon. πŸ˜€

Offroad weekend

Chris asked me if I would participate in a report of a journalist from a Californian offroad magazine about his business. Of course, I accepted because it was a great opportunity to test the capabilities of VivalaVida.

The bad weather has somewhat changed the program. while we were riding on Saturday, a heavy rain made ​​us postpone our departure in the middle of the afternoon (it was still raining a downpour). Once there, the rain stopped around 18:30 with a beautiful rainbow, giving way to a cool but dry evening. Perfect for Spare Ribs with mustard and sugar cane around the campfire with some buddies! πŸ˜‰

Ben’s barbecue trailer


Shoes drying,,,

Great ambiance till late in the night…

Next morinig, the sun was back for a gorgeous day, perfect for the photo shooting of three vehicles:

V4, Chris’s showroom vehicule with impressive rock crawling capabilities




“Ambulance, an 4×4 converted ambulance transformed as a camper, weighting 13’000 pounds. She unfortunately breaked a Wheel shaft..


And VivaLaVida… πŸ˜‰


Group shot with avec V5 (next to VivaLaVida), a brand new converted Customer van and Jake’s RV…

Thanks to Chris leting me participate to this great weekend! πŸ˜‰

Introducing VivaLaVida!

Well, the day of the baptism arrived: it is time for me to introduce VivalaVida! Almost completed on Friday around 22:30, I have driven it this weekend on an offroad terrain during a photo shoot for an offroad magazine.

Here is my home for the next few years in principle! πŸ˜‰

VivaLaVida takes the pose:

Presentation of tilting solar panels for a better performance in the high latitudes:

Some action shoots:

In next articles, I will show you details of the exterior, the interior presentation and the story of the very nice camping weekend !

Have a great week start everyone!

Recovery stuff…

… which will likely serve on some trails :

1) Hi Lift Jack with 48 inches capacity
2) the 12’000 lbs winch which I will be able to move form front (normal position) to rear if necessary.
The reassembly of the engine is still in progress, but it is not completely lost to achieve end tomorrow… πŸ˜‰

Roof rack on work

While the replacement of the 4 injectors of right cylinders bench is in progress, the roof rack is ready to be welded. It will provide a framework on hinges allowing three solar panels to flip for a better performance in the countries at high latitudes and also a roller for easy loading of a canoe.

The front bumper came from powdrer coating late afternoon. I will show it soon. πŸ˜‰

VivaLaVida puts her nose out!

The day has come to leave Robert’s workshop to get to Chris’s one. It’s the opportunity to make a couple of images of VivaLaVida under the sun …
Mechanical work will start tomorrow: the diagnosis is clear: bad third injector. Since there are 10 hours of work to replace it – must get the engine down to access it! – I will replace 4 injectors of the right cylinder row, just to put all the chances on my side to not have to start again in a couple of months. The roof rack will also be made soon, as modified front bumper and various other small jobs to finish …

Have a nice week-end! πŸ˜‰


Custom front bumper

In parallel with finishes of interior, the front bumper “special VivalaVida” is under construction : aluminum bumper to save weight, winch attached to front hitch making possible to move it to rear hitch and thus to winch from the back if needed… Not bad, isn’t it? πŸ˜‰

Kitchen is ready !

Small update during this finishing period where it seems not to advance, as there are so many not spectacular things to do… The kitchen is ready now !

Microwave installed :

Ditto for the diesel stove that I present below: 1) closed, 2) protection and door-table opened, 3) the stove. (Sorry for the picture quality but the iPhone’s camera is still not one..!)



You may have noticed it, the stove cabinet is installed on one of the side doors, so I have two kitchens, one inside and the other outside for good weather! πŸ˜€

With that, I’ll have all I need to cook like a chef..! πŸ˜‰

Labor Day weekend

Last weekend was off but I worked on Saturday and Monday. As I had Robert’s camper for the weekend, I took the opportunity to take a short break Saturday night and Sunday in the beautiful Pisgah National Forest, discovering southern Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains. Her are some pictures to illustrate this region that owes its name to the permanent hazy atmosphere due to the high moisture generated by these huge and beautiful forests …

1. Stormy end of day…


2. twice


3. Suny sunrise, Pisgah National Forest


4. Graveyards Lower Falls


5. “Forest Road” near Cataloochee (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)


6. Great Smoky Mountains before thunderstorm…