The First Major Mishap (And Hopefully the Last)

Good news: I’m two (three, tops) cans of spray insulation away from being completely done with insulation. Hooray!

Bad news: I should have my spray insulation license revoked.

A couple days ago,I filled the B pillar (the one where the seatbelt lives, just learned that today) with some spray foam insulation. Then I panicked, because I thought I might have buried my seatbelt. But I pulled it all the way out, and it was clean of foam, so I thought everything was good.

Until this morning, when my dad tugged on the seatbelt and it refused to budge.

We tugged, and yanked, and pulled, and wiggled, and pled. It was completely anchored down, not moving an inch, and I realized I’d made a massive mistake. I’ve been close to tears from frustration before, but this was the first time this project has made me cry. We couldn’t figure out how to get the B pillar trim off, and Dad went inside to look up YouTube videos, and I sat there reading the manual and feeling like the rashest idiot in the whole world. If I’d paid attention and realized the seatbelt went into that column to begin with, I probably would have decided it was too risky and skipped the spray foam, or only have put dried spray foam in, like insulation packing peanuts. Instead, I’d just made it impossible for anyone to join me on the road unless I took it in to be fixed, which would probably cost a ridiculous amount of dough and not be covered by the warranty. 

To me, this was a glaring neon sign that I was in over my head, that I should hire someone to finish the whole project for me, that there was no way I could do this.

And we spent an hour poking it and prodding it, and finally I found a YouTube video about removing the A pillar trim, and I stuck a screwdriver in there and popped one of the clips off. Dad and I got the rest off together, and despite our firm assumption that the foam had gotten into the seatbelt mechanism and the whole thing would need replacing, it hadn’t. I was able to cut the foam away from the seatbelt, and it moved normally again. It’s got a funky-looking stain on it, but it works as intended. 

I was really proud that I was the one who found the YouTube video that helped us figure it out, and that I was the one who unhooked the first clip and cut away the foam. It reassured me that I’m not completely in over my head, and I can do this. I just need to be more cautious. And not give up too soon.

The seatbelt after we’d freed it. Note giant pile of foam behind it, even coming out of the blurry hole in the foreground.

The seatbelt after we’d freed it. Note giant pile of foam behind it, even coming out of the blurry hole in the foreground.

Honestly, though, I probably would have sat there and cried into my steering wheel most of the day if it hadn’t been for SuperDad. He stayed calm, kept my spirits up, and kept us moving. He wouldn’t give up, and he kept pushing new ideas. He really was my hero today.

I’ll be glad when I can say “goodbye and good riddance” to spray foam. It’s really handy stuff, but it’s also a total pain in the tushy.

My recommendation for spray foam use: if you can’t see where it’s going, spray it out in lines, wait for it to dry, then tear it up and use it dry. It’s time-consuming and tedious, but a lot less risky.

Luckily, I really am almost done with it. We got the remaining foam board panels in place (except for two that we’re purposefully leaving down until we figure out how to do the area where the ceiling will meet the bulkhead), and I’m almost done insulating the columns in the living area of my van. So I just need to line those panels with spray foam and fill those last two columns (I’m leaving the driver’s side B column alone), and then the insulation is basically complete.

We started cutting the subfloor today, but we did end up running into a question about the step. We think that if the subfloor is only sitting on top of the foam board insulation, that the pressure of people stepping up into the van will break the insulation board down and cause the step to sag after some time. So we’ve worked out a solution, and fixing that is next on the To Do List. Then we’ll finish the subfloor, frame out the platform that my dinette/bed will sit on, frame in the electrical compartment, install the batteries, and finally hook up the solar. Think I can get all that done by May? I’ve also got to prep for a garage sale this weekend, I’m going to a bachelorette party on Friday, and I need to polish my submission for the Writer’s Digest annual contest by the end of the month. And sleep, probably?

But I’m not stressed at allJust ignore the hyperventilating girl behind the curtain.