Chillin’ on the RETROpad

This week was a hot one. So hot, that I can’t really work in the RETROvan in the afternoon once the temperature tops about 95° and my iMac is running at 110°. So I broke down and ordered a portable air conditioner:

This stylish 10,000 BTU Honeywell unit sells for about $350 on It will sit up in front, on top of the dashboard platform near the entry door. The unit also doubles as a dehumidifier, so it could be useful year-round. It weighs only 60 pounds so it’ll be easy to take out when not needed. It draws about 1100 watts at 6 amps, so I’ll have to keep an eye on my circuits. Fortunately Home Depot has a good return policy if it doesn’t work out.

You may recall my original plan was to install a traditional Dometic RV air conditioner on the roof. But that posed two problems: I would lose some precious headroom where the interior vent console hangs down, and it would crowd or even displace my solar panels on the roof due to its large footprint (30 x 40″). So I think going portable is not only more ergonomic, it’s a lot cheaper and requires less work to install.At worse, it’ll require a 4″ vent hole to blow warm air out of the cabin. But I already have two such vent holes in the front cabin firewall that I may be able to use. If not, I can cut a new hole and use this cool stainless steel exterior vent cover.

This is the 15-gallon holding tank that will connect to my galley sink drain for grey water. It just sits under the RETROvan and can be rolled out for emptying and cleaning. The galley’s fresh water tank holds 11 gallons, so this is a good match considering you might dump additional fluids down the sink. Fill the fresh water tank? Dump the gray water tank. Easy.

Here’s how the glass tile finished out on the RETROpad. I’m very happy with it. It gleams in the sunshine, lending more of a resort-like feel to the patio where we hang out on a lot in the summertime.

And here’s a shot of my new galvanized steel steps, which replaced my cantilevered timber steps — which kept splitting. I reused the timber stringers, but I’m struggling to de-warp them (with water and brick counterweights) and will likely end up replacing them with denser wood or maybe some custom metalwork. Each step is fastened with 3/8″ x 2-1/2″ hex bolts, so that part is good. They look great, but don’t try to climb them while wearing high heels. 🙂

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