The Build: The Sink

I could have opted for a bucket or basin and a few gallon jugs of water, but to make the van really feel more like a tiny home on wheels rather than an extended camping trip I thought I should add a sink and ‘running’ water. Originally I decided to use a foot pump based on some online reviews, sites, and YouTube videos which mentioned that this system offered better control over the stream and volume of water, but once I’d ordered it and finalized the layout of the other furniture and stuff I realized that there really wasn’t any floor space available to have the pump, aside from maybe inside the cabinet, so that was kind of a bust. Oops.

So, plan B: install a hand pump to water tanks instead. I got three narrow water tanks that would fit inside my Ikea cabinet, one fresh water tank with tubing leading to the pump faucet, one tank to collect the drain yuckiness aka grey water, and one spare fresh water tank. I may add another in the future but for now going to try this set up.

I looked at a lot of sinks online and in stores, but almost all were too large for the 14″ square cabinet surface. The only option I could find online was a kind of dinky round RV sink that looked like someone took a cheap mixing bowl, drilled a drain hole in the middle, and charded $50 for it. Not my favorite. Again, online van people FTW. I found a video of some people who made an awesome sink setup using a wash basin which is the perfect size for the cabinet, but I hadn’t really considered because I didn’t think it would work, but lo and behold I followed the steps these people did and it worked perfectly (I mean, thus far, hope it holds up). I bonded a flexible drain to the underside of a wash basin really intended for dish washing in a sink using some great epoxy stuff, which felt like a badass science experiment I don’t understand.

Bonding drain to sink basin

Jane and I worked on a few sink plans, and figured we’d have to cut a rounded square for the basin to fit into leaving about an inch above the surface level, but that didn’t leave quite enough room for the faucet to fit fully and be attached down. My first though was that we could cut a small section of the basin away in that inch sticking up over the top to allow the faucet to fit in, but that didn’t quite work because the hose and intake below needed room, too. We cut it out further to see if we could make it work but the cut was too deep in order to fit the sink mechanism to really function while washing dishes. Womp womp. We ordered another basin and started again after Jane had an epiphany and added a backing to extend the sink counter surface. Obvious, so of course it never occured to me. Thanks Jane’s design mind!

Getting the sink cut just right

Jane did the cuts for the sink basin, faucet, and hose, and my dad helped me attach the intake hose and drilled the right size holes for the drain and the intake into the lids of two of the water tanks to attach everything, and screw down the hand pump. My mom cleaned the tanks for me, we filled them up, and it works! The first time I tried it the force of the water flow was surprisingly string and sprayed all over me out of the sink, but with a little practice all was well. As long as I can find refill stations occasionally I hope it all functions properly and I’ll be able to roll over in bed, brush my teeth, get a drink, or whatever without leaving the van.

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