I wanted to beef up my step van’s roof. It had a pretty wimpy translucent fiberglass roof. And I decided I was going to add a layer of cork insulation and aluminum.
So after some searching I found a place a couple of hours away in VT that sold big wide rolls of .04 aluminum. It took a week or so of searching to find it. Most places places don’t sell rolls like that. Most places that sell metal sell it by the sheet like 4×8′ or so.
The light the translucent roof gave was nice, but it was very thin. When it rained it felt like I was in a tent. I encountered this while sleeping in the van for the first time after driving it home from Fargo.
I was just waiting for a leak to spring. So it wasn’t very reassuring and that thing in the summer would heat up like you wouldn’t believe. In fact one sunny day this past summer I touched the metal roof supports called roof bows and they were like burning hot. Kinda like stepping in beach sand on a hot summer day.
I had lot of doubts about doing this. I wasn’t sure how wide to cut it and was planning originally on cutting it wider that you see in the video thumbnail below and then trying to hammer bend it down on the sides to the little gutter there.
But fortunately I tried a test piece and bending a small piece over the roof side there where it rounds down to the gutter and it didn’t bend like I thought it might. Good thing to test when possible!
So I cut it to just fit on the flat top part of the roof.
I also feared that the roof would crack or something. It was extremely thin. Like thinner than a fiberglass canoe and all bubbly on top. Winter is coming and I also wanted insulation. If I put insulation on top of my van it would be a thermal break and a big score. It wouldn’t get so hot in the summer because the sun’s rays can’t pass through so easily any more and same with the cold!
So I taped 1/4 cork underlayment to the roof with butyl flashing tape. I first tried some other Robert’s underlayment tape recommended by home depot for cork but that sucked. Returned it and still had some butyl flashing tape that’s kinda waterproof that I thought I’d try.
That butyl tape stuff is real sticky and similar to the kilmat sound insulation. Sorry I got no pictures of that. I thought of taking a picture after doing the cork and was just in the moment and couldn’t be bothered at that time.
All I did was cut 3 pieces from the 4ft wide roll, put them on the roof covering the cargo area and taped them at the seems and along the sides with the butyl tape. I did add a little glue to the cork as well and sanded down the edges a bit so it would taper well down to the sides where I put the rivets in.
I still had some of that cork which i am going to use on the floor. And then I got this big roll of 12×9 or so feet of .04 aluminum.
That was like $430 or so. I also got some more roof bows to support the roof. The roof bows were 24 inches apart and then I added another inbetween. And then I riveted the aluminum to the roof. I used mostly solid rivets but also some sealed pop rivets.
Riveting an aluminum roof to my step van
1st I had to remove around 46 rivets holding the fiberglass in place to the roof bows. That’s not fun. Then chose the type of rivet. Ahh, another decision to make. So many decisions to make with this van.
Solid rivets are stronger but they are trickier and you need another person if you can’t access both sides. Pop rivets are easier and you can get one of these tools I got on Amazon. But they are not as strong or waterproof. I was going to use just sealed pop rivets which are more waterproof, but I just decided on solid rivets like used in the body of the van. The step van is held together by mostly rivets.
I didn’t cover the whole roof just the cargo area where I’d be staying. I am planning on adding a loft and raising part of the roof above the drivers area, but I wasn’t quite ready.
Jay Peak is a ski area in northern Vermont near the Canadian border. They claim that they get 347″ of annual snowfall a year and that’s more than any other ski area in the northeast and more than quite a few out west too. But is it true?
In this post I will explore why I think it’s a stretch.
Reason #1. Jay Peak claims to get more snow than Mount Washington
If you didn’t know Mt. Washington is the tallest mountain on the east coast which lies in New Hampshire. It’s 6,288 feet tall. So how tall is Jay peak? It’s 3,862 feet. So Mt Washington is 2,426 feet taller than Jay. That’s roughly the size of a good size ski area like Sweitzer, Idaho on top of Jay Peak.
So Mt. Washington observatory has been recording snowfall and weather for many years.
Mt. Washington gets an average of 281 inches of snow a year.
It’s also famous for Tuckerman’s ravine on the backside which is a place you can hike to and ski or ride often into June and they don’t make snow.
Jay peak claims it gets more snow than this mountain
Okay I imagine some local might say, well yeah dude Vermont gets more snow than New Hampshire and Mt. Washington is a 100 miles away and like all the snow blows off up there, duhhhhh.
Okay forget the fact that Mt. Washington is 2,400 feet taller and only 100 miles away let’s look at reason #2.
Reason #2. Jay peak claims they get more snow than Mt. Mansfield.
Mt Mansfield is only 40 miles from Jay Peak and it’s roughly 400ft taller than Jay. Between 2007 and 2017 it only received one season where it got more than 300 inches of snow, and 5 where it got less than 200″.
The snow depth has been measured at a stake at 3,900 feet on Mount Mansfield nearly continuously since 1954. – source
They both claim to get around 300 inches of snow. So how can it be that Stowe gets more snow than Mt Mansfield when Stowe ski area is on and below Mt. Mansfield????
IDK about you, but I’ll trust information about snowfall totals and weather if it’s coming from a weather station vs. a ski area that’s trying to sell me a lift ticket.
Reason #3. Nearby areas don’t get any more snow because they are near Jay and the so called “Jay Cloud”.
Have you heard about the so called Jay Cloud???
I can hear someone saying that Jay gets so much snow because of the clouds that sit around Jay since it’s a monadnock and gets precipitation from orthographic uplift which is probably true, but remember Mt. Washington has another 2,400 feet of orthographic uplift.
Now if you haven’t already check out this map. I will be referencing some towns and snowfall totals nearby and not so nearby Jay Peak below.
So if Jay gets so much snow then you’d think that the town Jay would get a little more too. And they do get a fair amount but not more than some other towns that you will soon see.
Here’s what bestplaces.net (which which gets some of it’s snowfall totals from the national weather service) says about Jay.
Jay, VT averages 94 inches of snow per year.
Here’s what it says about Montgomery which is to the west of Jay.
Montgomery, VT averages 92 inches of snow per year.
Here’s what it says about Underhill, VT which is to the west of Mt Mansfield and it gets a little more snow.
Underhill, VT averages 115 inches of snow per year.
Here’s what it says about Colebrook, NH which isn’t far from the defunct and hopefully to be revived Balsams Wilderness.
Colebrook, NH averages 103 inches of snow per year
And lastly the town I found in the northeast with the greatest annual snowfall was Rangeley, Maine.
Rangeley, Maine averages 125 inches of snow per year
If you find one with more than that let me know!
Northern ski areas…
We talked about Smuggs and Stowe but are there any other ski areas in that region? Well, Jay is as north as it gets in VT, but what about in Canada?
Mt. Sutton is about 27 miles from Jay peak and a 40 minute drive. They state that they average 354-472 cm a year. That’s about 139-185 inches of snow a year.
Jay peak states that they have 80% snowmaking coverage. Which may sound good, but if they get so much snow then whey do they need to make it?
I’ve spent most of my seasons out west snowboarding. I’ve ridden at 41 different ski areas and most of those out west at home mountains that had no snowmaking or very little snowmaking.
Here’s a few examples of places and there are many more ski areas out west that don’t make snow.
Brundage ski area, Idaho 300-350″ a year. Worked there last season and their snowmaking consists of 2 portable snow cannons only used on the baby slope in early season. There are no pipes on trails. They open on Thanksgiving or early December and close in April like other ski areas.
Lookout Pass ski area, Idaho, 350″-400″ a year. Worked there in 2022. There is no snowmaking. They will open as early as possible in November and close mid-April.
AZ snowbowl in Flagstaff, AZ 250″ a year. When I lived there in the mid-late 90’s for college there was no snowmaking. There is now, but they usually opened in Dec and closed in April.
Showdown, Montana 200-240″ a year. Talked to them earlier this year and they say if they can they will open on Thanksgiving and close in April. And they don’t make snow.
So those are just a few examples of mountains that get more or less snow than Jay Peak and either don’t make snow at all or very little. There are lots of mountains out west that don’t make snow. You just got to search.
Some of the other mountains I worked at are Timberline and Mt Hood Meadows in OR and Sante fe ski area in NM. Only Sante fe had limited snowmaking on the bottom of the mountain.
350″ of snow a year is a good amount. It’s not in the highest groups of mountains for snow but it’s somewhere above medium. And if you really get that much snow you can live without snowmaking.
If you get 300+ inches of snow a year you are going to have a base. For the last 3 seasons I will from time to time look at Jay’s snow report and by the end of the season they still claim to get over 300″ of snow, but one thing doesn’t measure up.
I would look at their base depth. On the bottom of the mountain the base would be like 20 inches or so. What???? No way man, if you get 300+ a year you’re going to have a good base and 20 inches at the base of the mountain is like east coast stuff. I’ve ridden mountains out west that claimed they got like 250″ a year and when they did they would have a base depth at the base of the mountain of like 60 inches and like over a 100 on top.
And like when you drive up to these mountains there is like snow on the side of the road.
Yeah so maybe Jay Peak has a snow cannon pointed at their snowfall stake… “Huh, ticket sales are down, point the cannon at the stake and see if that helps… Yeah it worked lets keep doing that. And let’s talk to the marketing team for more ideas…””
Or maybe the weather reporter there is wearing rose snow colored glasses or maybe his head is in the “cloud”.
Of course I can hear that skeptical troll again saying, “Well it heats up and melts and then snows again dude and that’s why they have no base dumb$@!. Yeah you should really check your facts before spouting this nonsense”.
Yeah those events can happen anywhere and are common in New England, but if that was true then Jay Peak wouldn’t have much powder that it brags about either.
Reason # 69 dude. What does the national weather service say?
I love this pic.
I keep coming back to it. Staring at it out hoping to find something or IDK. It’s really cool.
Average annual snowfall in the northeast 1981-2010
If you check this map out it will show that Jay sits in a region that gets around 150-200 inches of snow annually. The only area marked here that gets more than 200 inches of snow in VT, NH or Maine is Mt. Washington.
Then if you look to the west in New York in the Tug Hill region you will see an area that is much larger than Mt. Washington’s little pink dot that gets over 200 inches of snow and that’s low elevation too. This is due to lake effect snow. Unfortunately there are no big mountains in that area.
Of course someone might say, “well, yeah dude Jay gets lake effect snow too”. Compare it to lake Ontario.
On Lake Champlain, wind direction and lake width are limiting factors for lake-effect snows. Since Lake Champlain is a north-south oriented lake that is 120 miles long, northerly winds are the only winds that stay in contact with the lake long enough to generate lake-effect snow. The lake’s greatest east-west distance, 12 miles between Port Kent, NY and Burlington, VT, is too short for this weather phenomenon to generate snow. – source
This past winter when I drove from New England to Idaho through Canada the place I saw the most snow was in Michigan near Lake Superior. And the same when I drove back in May. There was still 4 inches of snow on the ground in some parts of Michigan.
The data I found not only makes Jay Peak look like a liar, but it also makes many of it’s competitors in Vermont like Smuggler’s notch, Stowe, Killington, Sugarbush, etc. all out to be a bunch of liars.
Oh here’s another pic that’s more updated than above.
Average annual snowfall in the northeast 1991-2020
It doesn’t look like much at first glance although the area around Rangeley looks like it might be getting less snow and it looks like they added a new range total for 175-200. And after zooming in it looks like Jay probably lies in this zone. Mt. Mansfield looks like it is in the over 200″ zone.
Annual snowfall at Vermont ski areas is probably more like this
Popular belief about annual snowfall at VT ski areas can be found here. I used the more recent NOAA maps to come up with perhaps less “cloudy” data than the data provided by the ski areas themselves.
And it looks like the Presidentials and Mt. Washington are all in the over 200″ zone. Mt. Washington is reporting a slight increase in temperature and an increase in snow particularly late season snow.
Jay Peak might get the most snow in the Northeast, but there is no data that supports their claims or Smuggs or Stowe, etc. The data supplied by the national weather service shows that New Hampshire ski areas are actually more honest with their snowfall totals.
Cannon for example claims around 16o inches of snow. And Loon a little less. And Bretton Woods and Wildcat closer to Mt. Washington claim around 200″.
I worked at Cannon for a season and start of another. I remember seeing pictures on the Cannon site with some dude in deep powder (not the one above) thinking to myself it often doesn’t look like this. Cannon crust is much more common.
One season wasn’t too bad until the heat up and cool down which lead to boiler plate until warm spring rolled around to soften up and melt the snow. That season I might have gotten 6 or 7 powder days. Anyways…
If we were to go by that map above then pretty much all ski areas in Northern New England are in the 150-200 inch zone. Then look at the data supplied by Mt. Mansfield and Mt. Washington if you still have your doubts.
Believe in the “cloud”if you want, but remember these ski areas want to sell you a lift ticket.
So there you have it. Any info you’d like to share?
I started off making it with a jigsaw, but that didn’t work so well. It was far from perfect. Then I tried using a jig-like compass for the saw that would keep it in alignment but it would bend the blade and go off course.
I was stressed and frustrated and then I posted some question on Reddit and someone recommended a scorp. Something like an awl for scratching but I didn’t take it serious but then he said there’s a video and I saw it and thought I would give it a try.
I had some scrap pieces of aluminum lying around and put something together using that, a draw handle and self-tapping screws. It’s kinda like a compass.
The first circle took me about 3 hours (if I remember right) of going round and round. But I ended up with a perfect circle. You can see the metal dust on my gloves.
The 2nd one took maybe around an hour. What I did was sharpen the end of the scratching screw. I made it real sharp. The first one I left as is. It was much faster and I was excited I got two perfect circles. I thought for sure my round windows would be all crooked!
There is one screw near the wood handle that cuts and a longer screw that goes through 3 layers of aluminum.
They do have hole saws but you are going to pay for a big one. Maybe $50+. The advantage of doing it this way is you can choose the size. You can choose many sizes if you want.
This is my dream rig. I was looking for a few years for a step van and there were a few I was considering and all were usually old USPS trucks. I was looking at 1987 Chevy P30’s (6.2 diesel), the 2002 Freightliner MT 45 (24 valve Cummins), the 2003 Workhorse P42, the 2004 M Line (Mercedes 4 cylinder) and a few other Chevy P30’s in the late 90’s.
I wanted a diesel and I preferred the look of the P42, but also looked at all the above models and test drove an ’87 and that one I also liked. I think I preferred the dually’s and the 2002 and 2004 models were single back wheels. I had to search high and low to find this. None were anywhere close to where I live. I spent a good year and a half looking.
There were some close calls, like one time I flew all the way out to Bellingham, Washington to buy one and then I had some difficulty getting all the money out of the ATM in the same day to buy it which apparently annoyed the seller. He said he had to go back to Seattle for school since it was a Sunday and then he suddenly ghosted me. Totally stopped answering emails and calls.
To get this one I had to travel 2000 miles all the way to North Dakota from New Hampshire to get it and this was the first vehicle I ever bought.
Where do you get these?
All these old USPS vans start at auction sites like Govdeals, Govplanet and other auction sites and this is the first place to look. Then some people get them and resell them so you can also look on Craigslist and Marketplace. I found mine on Marketplace who got it from someone who bought it from someone who bought from someone who got it through an auction. The USPS won’t sell directly to consumers.
Things I’ve done on it:
No experience fixing cars, trucks etc up. Just want to learn how to do basic maintenance.
Changed the oil/oil filter
Changed the fuel filter
Changed the air filter
Changed the transmission fluid/filter (it has a 4L80E trans)
Fixed the door lock
Fixed the sliding window lock
Removed a ton of rust especially from the rear end painted and then did an oil/wax coating
I recently bought Tom’s of Maine deodorant and it’s pretty weak. I wasn’t surprised as I tried it before and I’ve tried other natural deodorants which mostly don’t work well.
Like I like the idea of using a more natural deodorant, but one that works would be good.
Now last year I made a sunscreen out of natural stuff as I did a bit of research and learned there is a lot of toxic stuff you can’t pronounce in many sunscreens.
Zinc oxide is used in a lot of sunscreens and so I got some along with some shea butter. Shea butter is also supposed to have some SPF. I also added olive oil, and a little carob and cocao powder.
Shea butter is one of those oils that hardens so it’s good for making kinda of like a buttery like lotion. I put a lot of zinc oxide in it so I am uncertain of the SPF, but I think it is pretty high.
How does it work?
Good as long as I don’t miss a spot. It’s thicker so it doesn’t rub on like a lotion. You have to rub it in quite a bit and it has a whitening effect that’s hard to get rid of if you want to look normal. But if you rub it in good it won’t be so noticeable.
Works good as a deodorant.
I was impressed. It doesn’t take much.
Zinc oxide has some benefits/uses:
Paint (add it to oil and you have zinc white)
Skin whitening (if you want to whiten your skin people do that in Korea)
The only bad thing is that it makes your skin white and you can’t always rub it in.
This is a review of the Ride Fuse snowboard boot. I bought this boot in 2023 to hopefully be the solution to my old Thirtytwo TM-3 boots.
I first got the 8.5 Ride Fuse boot which was the same size as my previous boots, but after wearing it around my work I figured it was going to pack out and get more spacious. It definetly felt and looked bigger than the same size in my Thirtytwo boots.
So I looked a little longer and eventually found a size 8 and got them. I didn’t really like the color way much so I ordered some other blue laces that thought would go better than the white ones that came with it.
Ride Fuse boots are pretty stiff (8-10) out of the box for a freestyle boot.
They felt awkward and so I would wear them for an hour or two and then go back to my old 32 boots.
I think the Ride Fuse boots could get better, but as they were breaking in I found my self trying to customize them more by getting additional insoles to take up space. My feet are weird and my ankles are skinny which leads to some boot fitting issues.
With the Ride Fuse I noticed my foot was starting to move around in the boot so I got the insoles then they kinda still moved and there were pressure points on the widest side of my foot where I developed bunions near my pinky toe probably from wearing my TM-3’s daily working 8-10 hours in the park.
So I already went throughlike two seasons of ongoing boot modifications with my TM-3’s so I started to think I would sell them on ebay.
What I liked about the Ride Fuse and it’s features
It’s got an articulating cuff so when you flex the boot it doesn’t distort.
It’s mostly lace and has a boa for the tongue and inner liner.
The inner liner is different as it doesn’t have the traditional central tongue. It kinda wraps and is called the Mobile Trap Wrap Liner .
The rubber sole is pretty good for traction – Michelin® Hybrid Fiberlite Sole. Sometimes I thought the gripped my board better 1 footing than the TM-3’s but then others I thought maybe the TM-3’s got better traction walking in snow. But still good.
I like the exterior tongue on it – called Slime tongue which is supposed to provide dampening.
It’s a low volume boot. It has much less volume especially in the heel area of the boot compared to the TM-3.
It’s a fairly lightweight boot. It felt about half the weight as my TM-3’s.
It’s not as heavy duty as my TM-3’s so I wondered how well they will hold up after a 100 day season or if they would get there.
They are part BOA. Which is fine for some but they give me anxiety that they will break. I mean the cables are so thin.
The liners are kinda lightweight and wimpy, well probably pretty typical of snowboard boot liners although they have the wrap instead of traditional tongue which I liked.
I wonder if these would give cold toes in cold weather. I had a coworker with Ride Insano boots who was always going in to warm up his toes during the season.
I tried on a lot of boots before buying these online. And I actually never tried the Fuse on in a shop before ordering online. But I tried the K2 Maysis, other K2 boots, the Ride Lasso, Ride Lasso Pro, Ride Deadbolt, some Northwave boots, Deeluxe boots, Team ID and others, Burton Tourist, Salomon Echo, Salomon Launch, Salomon Dialogue, Rome boots (no articulating cuff) and more.
None of them really stood out however I tended to think the ski company boots (surprisingly) like Ride, K2 and Salomon fit better.
I read about the Fuse and heard good reviews on them and I remember a rep for Mervin boards saying to try on a lot of boots and find a company that has a mold that fits your foot better.
So it seemed like all the ski companies were fitting better and I can tell you to at least size down a half size for these boots and maybe all of Ride boots and for K2 boots too as they are made by the same company. In my experience all the K2 and Ride boots ran about a half size large.
I spent about 10 hours in the Ride Fuse boots and will probably sell them as they loosened up and I even wonder what a size 7.5 would feel like after the pack out or if I could even get into them. I mean in Thirtytwo boots my toes were crammed in the front and hurting but there was empty space around the rest of the foot that was hard to keep tight.
Measure with the Brannock device if you haven’t.
That’s a good starting point. I got one foot that is a 27mm (size 9) and another a 26.5 (size 8.5) and was told my volume is a 7.5 (skinny lower ankle heal area) so it’s complex fitting a boot.
I mean my toe space was good with the Fuse but they were loosening up and getting more spacious and my foot was moving around as mentioned before.
Overall I met other people that were pretty happy with this boot and on their 2nd or 3rd pair. So if it works for you it works. Definitely size down a half-size or go to a shop to try some on or buy multiple pairs online.
It’s a lightweight and low volume boot which is a plus. They are pretty stiff feeling which can take some getting used to. They are not a high-end boot but maybe med-high range and still pretty stiff. Like most boots do they will packout and loosen up with time.
You probably want to get a pair sooner than later because your size can quickly disappear. I spent a good month or two looking for these in my size online.
Back in 2009 I was living in Busan, Korea and I took a trip down to Hawaii for a few weeks to escape Korea, buy a computer (actually the one I am using right now to write this in 2023), and skydive.
To do something scary and I was thinking then of starting my site ESLinsider.
Anyways this was in Oahu. I believe we flew up to around 12,000 feet in that little plane and jumped out. It’s a tandem dive so I don’t think I liked the guy I jumped with so much as he was a little uptight compared to the other coaches or whatever you call the guy you are strapped to…
But the jump was pretty cool. It’s like a free fall for a minute maybe until he pulls the chute. Cool to see the clouds coming and going through them. There’s some anticipation and a little bit of fear/excitement before the jump, but I think the scariest part was when he pulled the cord and then just hanging there in the air attached to him floating down to earth.
When you are free falling it’s going so fast, but I felt pretty vulnerable there all attached by my back to this guy and slowly coming down to earth.
I got this Bern helmet for snowboarding because my other helmet seemed a little big. That was a Giro Emerge helmet.
I think I liked the Giro but it looked a little big and it got looser with time so keep that in mind when you get a helmet. It might loosen and then consider if you will wear a balaclava or beanie or not.
So I liked the look of this Bern helmet and it is lower profile than the Emerge. But the MIPS system doesn’t look as sophisticated as the Giro. The Giro has a “spherical MIPS”system which is more than a thin piece of yellow plastic.
The only thing I didn’t like about the Bern macon 2.0 was the thing in the back is hard plastic and I went a little smaller and got a small vs. the med in the Giro.
It’s hard plastic and has no padding over it. If I unbutton one of the snaps where it attaches it will loosen and the pain goes away however it’s a little less tight and more wobbly.
I made this video comparing the two.
Bern Macon 2.0 vs. Giro Emerge
There were pluses and minuses to both.
The Giro Emerge also has PPE foam which is a little more capable of repeatable impact vs. the PPP foam in the Bern. However the PPP foam is lighter.