Movers and Makers: Kevin Fitzpatrick

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Movers and Makers: Kevin Fitzpatrick

going for a tour

powered by Movers & MakersFord is working with MAKE to profile owners of the Transit Connect, a vehicle that offers creative types a small, modifiable vehicle to suit their passions and personal pursuits. In this series, we’ll be profiling Transit Connect owners and looking at how they’ve customized their rides.

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Earlier this year MAKE met up with Kevin Fitzpatrick, a North Carolina-based maker and audio engineer-turned-photographer with a keen interest in conservation photography.

Kevin has also made his home in urban centers throughout the northeast, namely Boston and New York City. But he always returns to the landscape of Appalachia–specifically western North Carolina around Asheville. The Great Smoky Mountains lay just on the horizon and the abundance of biodiversity in the region constantly beckons him here.

As Kevin describes the roads as “arteries” that move through a greater ecosystem and then recites a host of insects or flora discovered in the area, it’s clear he understands the macro and micro operations of nature in the region. He studies the balance of time here and translates that study to images using photography. It’s his passion.

Turning that excitement into action, Kevin has been participating in bioblitz surveys for many years now. A bioblitz is basically a short, intense field study of a specific area that partners scientists with ordinary citizens to both identify a region’s existing species and potentially discover new ones.

Of course this requires travelling. A lot of travelling. In 2011, Kevin was on the road for nearly a quarter of the year, making short three-day trips to nearby locales and sometimes longer trips to neighboring states for the purpose of participating in bioblitz surveys and working as a nature photographer. This meant many hotels and a lot less camping than he desired.


Putting two and two together he figured he could convert a vehicle for travel, to transport his gear and make a temporary home on the road. That’s where the Transit Connect comes in. After looking around he settled on the vehicle for its size and features, but also for its potential to be modded to suit his needs. He enlisted the assistance of the Intrepid Declutterer to strategize the volume of gear to transport and how this would translate to interior storage and a general layout for living and working on the road. They sketched out the ideas together.

Kevin then needed someone to help mod the vehicle to make this idea a reality. Which is exactly what Asheville-based Morehead Design Lab does, modifying campers, vans, trailers, and vehicles of various design. And yet when Kevin approached them they had never heard of the Transit Connect. When they saw the interior they, too, realized the possibilities.

Here are some snaps of the build-out process:

While by no means comprehensive, below are some of the modifications to Kevin’s Transit Connect:

  • An exhaust fan installed on the roof expels hot air during summer nights and the interior is lined with a material that provide r-value insulation for winter nights.
  • A rail on the main cabinet allow cushions to quickly turn the couch into a bed.
  • A sink in the rear can draw water from both gray and potable water containers in a storage area below.
  • 110V AC plugs and sockets were installed, that draw from a separate battery so as not to drain the engine’s battery. Two female sockets are available inside the cab, and one male plug is installed outside on the vehicle’s rear bumper.
  • The primary countertop has a sliding tray below to quickly expand available working space.
  • Every possible available nook has been turned into a storage compartment. For example, the couch seats can be removed to reveal storage below.

In the video below Kevin walks us through his progression from photographer to citizen scientist to maker on the move and the necessity for a vehicle to serve as a temporary home and office. A few photos of some the details of modifications made to his Transit Connect follow:

YouTube player
Every nook and cranny provides storage.
Every nook and cranny provides storage.
A rubber lid protects this exterior plug installed on the vehicle's rear bumper.
A rubber lid protects this exterior plug installed on the vehicle’s rear bumper.
The gray and potable water tanks below the sink.
The gray and potable water tanks below the sink.
The sink proper. The faucet swivels so it easily stows away.
The sink proper. The faucet swivels so it easily stows away.
The refrigerator can hold enough food for three to four day trips.
The refrigerator can hold enough food for three- to four-day trips.

14 thoughts on “Movers and Makers: Kevin Fitzpatrick

  1. Shawn Hastwell says:

    Great mod I might have to consider a Transit Connect for the same purpose. I have wanted to build a van-based shop/home for working and travelling but traditional full size vans are fuel hogs. This and a small trailer may be the best option.

    Also, grey water is waste. You can see the bottle connected to the sink drain in one photo. So no ‘drawing from’ the grey tank.

  2. T says:

    Love the concept..when they make a diesel one I will be buying it ;)

    1. robert morehead morehead design lab says:

      the kicker is… when they released the preproduction brochure to us. it had a pic of the diesel on the cover! the full size transit will have an economy 3l diesel.

  3. robert says:

    kevins connect was the 3rd conversion for the lab. you can access 600+ photos and design of mine and other around the world via any link at the website or keep up to date with happenins in the lab at the facebook page.

  4. robert morehead morehead design lab says:

    my primary prefered insulation that i use is a ceramic insulated coating, in a water based acrylic binder. sprays on 20mil thick (credit card). it does not have an r-value. as it does not let heat across the barrier to be measured! it is the only insulation that can be effectively insulate a metal box. being sprayed on floor, ceiling, walls, and problem areas like window sills. all the areas that convect heat and cold into the vehicle.

    1. robert morehead morehead design lab says:
    2. Erik says:

      I went and looked up the properties for Mascoat Marine-DTM, which is sold in smaller quantities under the “Lizard Skin” brand. Thermal insulation for it is specified as .4381 BTU-in/ft^2 – hr – F (or, .0698 W/m/K for more civilised engineers) which works out to about R2.3. What is not specificaly clear is whether that’s the intrinsic R value for a 0.02″ film or for a solid inch of material. I assume it’s for the as-applied film, because otherwise its insulating ability would pale in comparison to a sheet of paper.

      So, it insulates some, but it’s hardly like it’s where heat goes to die. Less than R3. Still, I’ve got some experience insulating vans, and this certainly looks easier than spray foam. Roughly $100/gallon in small quanties, and almost that much for the special spray gun. Do you use their application tools, or are you using something like a marine-type HVLP rig? Their wet weight is quoted as being very roughly similar to anti-fouling bottom paint.

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I'm an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!

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