Last Update: 5/23/2017

Install Marine Plugs on High Amp 12v Devices

Marinco 40A 2 prong plug and socket
Vanholio got some good advice. Changed out the cheap, standard 12v plug on his Max Burton Digital Stove to Go. Swapped it for a Marinco 40A 2-wire plug. Been tickled pink!

DISCLAIMER: Take what follows as a tip, not a how-to. I ain't providin' enough info to learn ya how to rewire your own plugs. But file this notion away for later. All the how-to ya need is out there on the internets when you're ready.

Marinco 40A plug on my Max Burton
Back to it … So, yeah, I installed a trollin' motor plug on my Max Burton Digital Stove to Go. Voided the warranty straight off, I'm sure. But dammit, works way better than all them spring plugs. Those fuckers kept overheatin' and breakin' on me!

See, your standard, legacy 12v plugs are an afterthought design for car cigarrette lighters (I'm pretty damn sure). They're fragile and can't handle much juice neither. But as they're "standard" and "legacy," they're everywhere. Fuck 'em. You can do better.

At top's a picture a what I swapped for – Marinco 40A 2-wire plug (also sold under the MinnKota brand, both brands available in 2 or 3 wire configurations). It's solid as shit, locks in with a twist, and can handle the juice. It's that 40A rating. Don't even get warm when I'm runnin' that 12v stove full blast.

'Course, ya need a matchin' socket for that plug. Duh! So I wired the female into my house battery with 12 AWG wire and a 20A fuse.

For those of you that don't speak electri-tech, that 12 AWG wire is a fatter kind that can handle more juice without overheatin'. The fuse is a fail-safe.

Now, why did I wire the plug into my house battery instead a just replacin' one a the 12v sockets in the van? The most important two reasons is 1) that the Marinco plug would stick up outta the dash funny, and 2) the van's sockets ain't wired to handle enough juice for cookin'.

The third reason I wired the plug to the house battery is that it's part of my solar setup. Vanholio's cookin' with the sun!

If swappin' out plugs and sockets has got your fancy, here's some videos and links with more how-to. And if that ain't enough info, hit up some techie types on the van life forums. (But don't ask Vanholio for no more advice. He knows just enough to get hisself in trouble.)

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

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Last Update: 5/11/2017

Review: 12v Max Burton Digital Stove to Go

Photo of max burton 12v digital stove to go with non-stick pot and steamer tray outside it.

Vanholio’s trusty old RoadPro Stove finally died after 2 years. But no worries! He’s love, love, lovin’ his new 12v Digital Stove to Go by Max Burton. It beats out the RoadPro by a mile! Here’s a review with 10 reasons why …

10 Reasons to Buy a Max Burton Digital Stove to Go

1. Adjustable Cookin’ Temps

The Max Burton has 2 modes: Heat and Temp. Heat mode just keeps pumpin’ juice till the temp gets to a roasty 350° F (177° C). Temp mode, though, lets you set the final temperature to one of 11 settings, from 100-350° F (38-177° C). And the digital display shows you the current temp inside. Meanwhile, the RoadPro just has one temp, 300° F (149° C), and their ain’t nothing to tell you how hot it is presently.

2. Better Shell

I’ll say it: The RoadPro Stove’s plastic lunchbox shell is a bit flimsy. Well, what do ya expect for about $35! And the Max Burton better be better at $70 – and it is. The plastic clamshell’s round edges and superior cover latch’ll hold up more over the long haul.

3. Vertical Design

The RoadPro is more flattish, which ain’t good for soupy things and cookin’ rice while drivin’, or even parked on an angle. Look at the non-stick pan in the photo at top. It’s mainly vertical, so shit won’t slosh around so much. Only thing vertical is worse for is bakin’ a pan a biscuits.

Buy at

4. Raised Feet

On bottom, the Max Burton’s got little feet that raise it half-inch or so. That helps keep from burnin’ your van floor, or wherever you got this thing stuck. The RoadPro is flat on bottom and tends to heat up where it sits.

5. Auto Safety Off

It don’t say nothin’ about this in the user manual, but I discovered it myself. Vanholio had his Max Burton in a tight spot. After startin’ to heat up a bit, it’d turn itself off. Then it worked in a more open spot. Obvious then, it turns itself off if the components get too hot. Better than startin’ a fire!

6. Non-Stick Pan

The Max Burton’s pan is removable for washin’ and non-stick inside. The RoadPro ain’t got no pan included, so you end up havin’ to buy tiny aluminum bread pans.

7. Large Volume

That non-stick pan is 1.5L in volume (a bit more than 6C). Vanholio’s made him enough stew at one go for 2 hefty meals!

8. Steamer/Warmer Tray

Wanna steam your veggies? Maybe warm some tortillas while your beans finish up? Easy. The Digital Stove to Go comes with a fitted steamer/warmer tray, as shown in the photo at top.

9. On-Off Button

Done cookin’ and can’t reach to pull out the 12v plug while drivin’? No problem. Just hit the handy on-off button.

10. 2 Spare Fuses Included

Higher-Amp 12v devices like these are known to pop a fuse now and then. No problem! The Max Burton Digital Stove to Go comes with 2 extra 20A glass fuses. Replacin’ them is easy, too: Just unscrew the 12v plug.

Downside to Max Burton Digital Stove to Go

The one downside to the Max Burton (hell, even the RoadPro Stove) is that it pulls a lot of Amps. Up to 12 or more at times! In some vehicles, that overwhelms the 12v socket's wires and fuses. You'll see that's the No. 1 complaint in the reviews. Or at least, the cause of it.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

Install Marine Plugs on High Amp 12v Devices
Choke Your Chicken in a RoadPro Stove
12 Volt Cooking (website)
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Last Update: 5/05/2017

Van Life Tax Free Income, Courtesy USFS

Altered US Forest Service sign says "Smokey is Very High Today."
Only YOU can get paid for volunteer work with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Corps of Engineers. It ain't much, but for van life down by the river, you don't really need much neither.

Vanholio's been tappin' this resource for months. It's a good gig for rubber tramps. Mind you, it ain't been enough to save. But it's been coverin' my expenses. Been makin' over $500 a month as a park host – tax free! – plus other benefits good as cash.

If you're thinkin' about workin' for better pay with a concessionaire, these volunteer positions is good experience. It ain't just camp host and park host jobs neither. You can do landscaping, trail maintenance, tree planting, visitor info booths – all kinds a shit.

Most a the volunteer positions just give ya an RV spot, true. Worth it if ya need hookups, but useless for true van life. But the payin' ones is hidden around LOOK! Check state sites, too.

I done wrote up all the details in an article on Check it out.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

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Last Update: 4/24/2017

#Vanlife Still Good After Two Years?

Man crammed among belongings falling out of back of van. Van life! #Vanlife!
Question van life noobs and wannabes ask: Does anyone still do van life after a couple years? How long does anyone wanna live in a van down by the river?

First off, there’s tons a van lifers out there who’ve been doin’ this for decades. Most a them aren’t social media sensations. That’s why ya didn’t know about ‘em.

But Vanholio can only speak for Vanholio. I been doin’ this for two years now, give’r take. And I’m sure as hell set to keep on rollin’!

What’s Still Great About Van Life

My chief hope for van life turned out real good. That’s livin’ in the peace an’ quiet of nature. Still love that. As a tyke, I never did wanna come home from campin’. No I don’t ever need to.

The lifestyle is also sustainable cheap. Base expenses are around $500 a month (of course I spend more than that with luxuries.) That means less workin’ for Vanholio, and more time in nature

And while I ain’t travelin’ as much as Year 1, I still get to see lotsa cool shit.

What I Didn’t Expect About Van Life

I kinda wish I’d gotten a 4WD. Vanholio likes boondockin’ way back there, and he’s scraped up the bottom of the van more than a few times. Expensive repairs, too.

Learned, too, that I don’t need near as much shit as I bought. Just like backpackin’, less is more.

Another thing I learned is I like havin’ a job. Last couple months, Vanholio’s been workin’ as a US Forest Service volunteer. It’s nice havin’ meaningful work and relatin’ to coworkers and the public. Miss home a bit, too, from time to time.

All in all, van life is the life for me. Even if most of it ain’t all that more excitin’ than any other life.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

Top 10 Questions About Living in a Van
#Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement (New Yorker)
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Last Update: 4/10/2017

Bad Luck Comes in 3’s – No Joke!

Bad Luck Comes in Three’s. Break a Match!

There’s an old sayin’: Bad luck comes in three’s. Well, last Friday, Vanholio done found out that's true for hisself. And sweet van life is no protection. Dammit.

First thing …

… in the mornin’, I went to get a pill from the new bottle of my prescription. But I couldn’t damn well find the bottle! Musta thrown the fucker out. Gettin’ a replacement prescription sorted out between the doctor and pharmacy took nearly all day. Not to mention a 50 mile drive into Walmart.

Second thing …

... a fellow asked Vanholio for change to a $20. Went for my billfold, and it turned out I’d dropped my wad a cash somewhere. That wad was somewhere between $50 and $60! Fuck me!

Third thing …

… was losin’ my MiFi somewhere. I think at the Walmart when a bundle of shit fell outta the van in the dark. But oddly enough, discoverin’ that a bit later didn’t even make me mad none. I just sighed and went to bed. Day over.

Some days it just don’t pay ta get outta bed. Seriously.

PS – Sorry for slackin’ on the posts lately. Vanholio’s been workin’ a van life seasonal job that’s got him plumb wore out most days. But that’ll be over end a the month. Thank God!!!

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

Buying a Van First Was a Huge Fucking Mistake
Digging Myself Into a Hole – Literally
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Last Update: 3/31/2017

10 Worst Things About Van Life

Van upside down in Chinese restaurant store front. Van life!

Look at van life Instagrams, and you’d think it’s all a rolling bed a fuckin’ roses! Well, down by the river’s got it’s bullshit, too …

10 Ways Van Life Can Suck Bigly

  1. Gas – And by “gas,” I mean flatulence. Even a full-size hightop is a small space when ya been hittin’ the garlic.

  2. Indie Hipster Girls – According ta redditor Tired_Thumb, hot hippie chicks in Portland and such places’ll hook up with ya just for a #vanlife selfie. Terrible! :-P

  3. Sex Killers – “If the van is a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’.” Well, in Vanholio’s experience, a van telegraphin’ sex is a turnoff for most gals.

  4. Noisy Neighbors – Unless you’re boondockin’,, traffic, people walkin’ by, and the like are loud and fuckin’ annoying. That’s why Vanholio don’t like Walmart campin’ all that much.

  5. Wet Weather – First off, when ya get into the van all wet, ya get water over everythin’. And nothin’ sucks big donkey balls like steppin’ out into a thunderstorm or blizzard ta take a pee at 3 am.

  6. Breakdowns – Most folks think vandwellers are homeless. But when your van’s in the shop, ya really feel that way.

  7. Honey-Do’s – Got all kinds a little custom features in your build? That’s all fuckin’ great until they break. Then it’s up ta you ta get around ta fixin’ ‘em. That includes trackin’ down parts.

  8. Gift Gaffs – What do family and friends buy for the van life nomad who ain’t got room for nothin’ nohow? Consternation abounds.

  9. The Man – Bureaucrats make dealin’ with feds, states, and even private businesses a pain in the ass when ya ain’t got no fixed address. But there are shady workarounds ...

  10. Idle Hands – When you’re livin’ van life cheap and ain’t workin’ too hard, ya get lots a free time. But what then? Leisurely livin’ ain’t as easy as it sounds.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

Shit in Woods Goes Gross to Nightmare
How I Got REAL ID With No Fixed Address
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Last Update: 3/24/2017

Buying a Van First Was a Huge Fucking Mistake

Old VW van in wrecking yard. So much for van life!

When Vanholio started van life, he blew a wad on customizin' the "perfect" van rig. That was a fuckin’ mistake! Shoulda saved my money and bided my time.

Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Stupidity

"I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes." — Henry David Thoreau

Shoulda heeded them words. But nooooo, Vanholio wanted ta be like the cool van life kids, the ones on YouTube an' such. He saw it in his mind’s eye: that ideal van that’d drive him ta Utopia in comfort an’ style.

I tell you what, Vanholio spent near $35k cash ta build his dream van! For once in my life, I had the money'n time ta do a project just like I wanted, no compromises. An' by golly, sound thinkin’ weren’t gonna stop me!

Now, I’m happy enough with Buttermilk, she does alright. But as I’ve been out on the road, I discovered I way overspent on solar an' other crap. An’ buyin’ a new van off the lot? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Dammit, if I had that $35k still an' invested, that’d be another $2,000-3,000 yearly income. Or ta translate, I’d have near 4-6 months base expenses covered.

Hit the Road in What You Own Already

I shoulda left town in my old Honda Civic. It ran good. An’ my buddy’s’n I coulda converted her in a weekend for $200 or so. Shit, all ya really need is comfortable-enough bed’n ta keep the weather off ya!

Or hell, I coulda bought a used Prius an' been done with it. Them little cars’d do Vanholio, minimal as he lives. An' cheap as he is, the mileage is fuckin’ attractive!

Or maybe I shoulda gone the other way! I’ve pushed Buttermilk into 4WD-only situations. Learned I really like goin’ way back in the boonies. On do-over, maybe Vanholio’d get an SUV or a pickup with a camper top. Used, a course.

Don’t Buy Till You KNOW What Works for You

Ya sure as hell don’t need the perfect fuckin’ van life rig. Just get the fuck out there in whatever ya got! Save your money. Figure out what you really need. An’ if your old car don’t cut it, then get your dream van life rig. Whatever the fuck that may be, van or not.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

Also See ...

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Van Life Rig
Can I live in a ____________ ? (Rolling Steel Tent)
Traveling in a Prius (Cheap RV Living)

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