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If you have made the decision to up sticks and live in a van or car for a while, you are going to need some way to keep clean. If your vehicle is too small to fit a shower, you are quickly going to start smelling.
This is not as much of a problem if you are traveling alone, but if you are with a friend or partner you will not last long without some way to clean yourselves.
We are here to help you. An excellent way to get around this issue is to create a solar shower. These are space-saving, portable, and best of all, require very few pieces of equipment to produce.
They are primarily used by travelers or people that are camping for an extended period. Some people even choose to use a solar shower in their home, as a way to move away from relying on non-renewable resources.
What do you need?
In terms of tools, you will need a marker, a hacksaw, and a drill with ⅛ inch, ¾ inch, and ⅜ inch drill bits.
You will need a 10 foot long section of ABS pipe. This should be black in color and 4 inches in diameter. We suggest using a Schedule 40 pipe, the most common choice with a wall thickness of 0.375 inches.
You will also need two 4 inch ABS end caps, a 4 inch T-joint ABS fitting with a threaded top opening, and a 4 inch ABS cleanout cap for T-joints.
Additionally, you will require a ½ inch brass locknut, a flat rubber O-ring, a Schrader valve from an aluminum wheel, and 2 canoe foam blocks. Other materials required include tie-down straps, a Schrader bike pump, and a ¾ inch hose spigot.
Finally, you will need a hose with a nozzle, ABS primer, ABS cement, waterproof silicone sealant, sandpaper, and petroleum jelly.
Before you start
The steps you take next depend on the volume of water that you wish to use while showering. Be aware that this shower gets mounted on the top of your vehicle so you should take notice of the water weight.
Using the pipes mentioned above, a 6 foot long section of ABS pipe will hold roughly 4 ½ gallons of water. With the water under a standard PSI, this will allow you to have a roughly 15 minute shower session.
The foam canoe blocks are an optional inclusion. Their main purpose is to rest on the crossbars of your car or van. They help to secure the shower in place better and prevent the piping from resting directly on the roof.
How do you make a solar shower?
Grab your 10 foot length of pipe and make a mark roughly 5 foot 6 inches from one of the ends. Create a line around the circumference of the pipe and then cut along this using your hacksaw.
Grab the longer section of the pipe and do the same again, this time marking and cutting 6 foot in from one end. Once you have done this, you will have 3 sections of ABS pipe. These should measure 5 foot 6, 6 foot, and 4 inches respectively.
If you are using the foam canoe blocks, place the 4 inch pipe segment on one block. Align the edge of the foam down the center of the piping and draw a semicircle around it onto the foam.
Cut along the marker line to create a semicircle dip in the foam block. This should create a perfect dip for the piping to rest in. Do the same on the other foam block.
Grab one of the end caps and pop the lock nut inside. Place it as close to the edge as possible without touching it. Draw around the edge and begin to drill holes through the end cap.
Start with the smallest drill bit and work up to the ¾ inch bit. This should be just wide enough to fit the spigot through snugly.
Directly above the hole you have just made, mark a dot on the end cap, about ¾ inch from the edge. Drill a hole using a ⅜ inch drill bit, using the mark you just made as a guide. Insert the valve from the back of the end cap, so that it protrudes through the outer side.
Grab your washer and place the narrow side onto the front of the valve stem. Hold the valve and washer still with one hand. At the same time, you should apply a silicone sealant around the opening at the front.
Insert the rubber O-ring onto the spigot. Add another bead of silicone around the base of the O-ring and then push the spigot through the front face. This will create an airtight and waterproof seal.
Add the fastener to the spigot and screw it on using your fingers. Allow the silicone sealant to cure for as long as the manufacturer dictates.
Smooth the edges of the piping with sandpaper. Clean and prime the pipes, end caps, and T-joints to prepare them for gluing. Add the ABS cement to the interior of the end cap and outside of the pipe edge. Press together to secure.
The order of parts should go: end cap, 5 foot pipe, T-joint, 6 foot pipe, end cap with the spigot attached. The end cap valve and T-joint opening must be aligned with the spigot facing down. Allow the cement to cure.
Add the foam blocks to your crossbars and lay the piping on the top. The spigot should be near the trunk.
Open the cap on the T-joint and fill the shower with water. Do this once it is on your car as it is hard to lift when full. Do not fill completely. Add some petroleum jelly to the threads of the cap before closing.
Attach the hose and nozzle to the spigot. Loosen the Schrader valve cap and attach the bike pump. Pump until you have created sufficient pressure within the water, before re-screwing the valve cap.