Road Read – Skinning the Lizard – Lizard Skin and UPR Catch Can Info 3-23/16

Skinning the Lizard

On the van page titled appropriately enough, “The Van”, I have put a spreadsheet down at the bottom. It is basically a list to help me remember all the different things that I thought about at some point over the last couple of months. I think of something, like maybe…. a bed.  And then I research it. As much as I can. What are other people using? Could I be happy with that? Is it even a good idea? Lightweight? Multi-function? Cost? Availability? Durability? You get my point.

I have included a link to the product and some additional information like estimated cost, some short notes and the vendor. However, I think one of the most important columns at this point is the Ranking column. This is basically where in the process I think I am going to need some of this stuff.

I want to write about a few things with a ‘1’ ranking. Specifically, the Oil Catch Can and the Lizard Skin because these are two things that I found while investigating that were news to me.

Oil Catch Can – First this is not necessary for every vehicle by any means. The way I understand it (and I am by no means a mechanic) is that in high performance turbo charged engines, there is some naturally occurring blow by of fuel vapors and air past the piston rings and this can and often does create an increase of pressure in the crankcase. A PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) valve should release this pressure. This air and fuel and some oil mist are routed back into the intake to be burned off. Over  time, however, this mixture can settle along the intake valve and collect. The sludge can keep the engine from performing to standards. It can interfere with valves and airflow.  Enter the Catch Can. With this installed, the air, fuel and oil mist are routed through a can with a perforated cylinder or screen and the mixture condenses. The cleaner air is returned to the engine and the collected oil mist is captured in the can. You simply empty the can every once in a while.

UPR Catch Can

This is totally preventative maintenance and there is certainly some debate if the Catch Can is even necessary. There are lots of videos on YouTube and thousands of articles on the web with a multitude of opinions. I chose to play it safe and install it when I get the van. After the degradation in performance has occurred, it is very expensive to get the intake valves cleaned.

I looked at a couple of different manufactures and chose to go with a company call UPR. I like there product and it required no permanent modifications. I had several questions for them and they were extremely helpful. Even when I told them that it was not going on a Mustang of F150, they were enthusiastic about me using the product on a van platform. They install them on the Ford Transists on a regular basis.

After the van finally gets here, I will post some pics, vids and podcasts regarding the instillation as well as the follow up info about how well it works and collecting the sludge.

Check it out here.

Next up, Lizard Skin. I have to admit, I am pretty excited about this one. And that is significant considering that this is just insulation. Yep. Spray on insulation for sound and temp. And holy crap this stuff is expensive. If my calculations are even close, this is going to be at least a 2700 buck hit to the bottom line. But I really think it is going to be worth it. Think of this as a really great way to get a quieter more heat resistant interior on what is essentially a big barrel on wheels.

There will be a total of 4 layers of Lizard Skin. 2 layers of the sound insulation and then followed by the layers of ceramic heat barrier. The total depth of the 4 layers is around 40 thousandths of an inch or basically the equivalent of the thickness of 2 dimes. They claim a solar heat transfer reduction of 30°F or more and sound transfer by 12 decibels or more.

The great thing about this is that is before I add the regular insulation (3M Thinsulate ™ SM600L noise/thermal insulation). And the Lizard Skin is applied with shop air. You do need to buy the proprietary sprayer since the mixture is very thick. Again, there are several YouTube vids of before and after results with this stuff. More info can be found at


I figured this would cost a fortune to ship. It is hard to explain how pleased I was when I found out that there location was here in Houston. Great people on the phone as well. They answered several questions and advice to get the best results possible. Pretty good online calculator to help you get an idea of how deep your wallet needs to be.

There will be a lot of product choice articles and reviews coming up. Let me know your thoughts on this.

Keep the course,



Road Read – Updates on Timing of the Van Delivery


Van status – Ordered a Transit Van on February 16th of 2016. And she’s a beaut, Clark.  A real Family Truckster. More specs on the future home in a bit but for now, more on the status.

So, as mentioned, I ordered on the 16th. This was after significant investigation, not only into which van to buy but also which dealership to get it from. I visited several dealers and talked to quite a few sales guys and drove several of each. A couple of Dodge Promaster 2500s, 2 different Mercedes Sprinters and 3 different Ford Transits.

I’ll spend some time on what I liked and disliked about each as well.

So when I chose to get the van from the dealer I did, I chose them primarily because it was close to my house and since I was using a benefit from my company called the (insert sinister laugh here) X-PLAN the pricing was basically the same anywhere I went. These guys seemed slightly interested and willing to look at the configuration that I thought would provide me with a good starting point for a serious house on wheels.

I laid down my check for 500 bucks on the 16th and was told to expect the van to be built around the 18th of April. So you probably already picked up on the being built on 4/18. Not delivered. Yeah…. Well sometimes I hear what I want to hear. On 3/16, I called Ford customer service and provided them with a VIN that I had been supplied when my order was accepted by the factory.  You can look at the progress  of your build on a couple of websites online but they can be flakey and I really couldn’t find any updates on mine. A super nice lady let me know that while production was expected to occur around 4/18, delivery was scheduled for the end of May!

While this gives me some extra time to plan, I would rather be doing. With the job uncertainty that is going on, this may prove to be problematic timing as well. Regardless of the timing, I am going to continue to wait it out. If I get laid off, I may be spending a lot more time focusing on selling my house and the majority of my tools and furnishings.

Interesting times ahead for me.