Author Topic: Campervan - DIY?  (Read 1019 times)

Ronin83

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Campervan - DIY?
« on: 12:17:17, 10/05/19 »
I need a new car and I'm thinking about getting either a van to convert into a camper or finding one that's already a camper van.


It will double as my every day vehicle/ commuter vehicle too, so don't want anything too big and needs to be reliable.


On the fence what to go for. Proper campers are more professional than what I could do and saves me the time and effort, but seem to be very expensive for what u get(age and mileage).


My eyes are on the Nissan nv200. It's small, but big enough and has reverse cameras. They come fairly cheap, but would require a lot of work and it's hard to find my ideal ... with removable/fold flat seats and windows.


Any experience with these things here?

gunwharfman

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #1 on: 13:20:39, 10/05/19 »
When my wife and I were younger and did silly things with our money, we decided to buy a 6 berth overhead bed motor caravan. Although we could often enjoy up to12 weeks holiday a year (the benefits of time off in lieu) we could still never use it enough to match the money outlay. When at work it was just a dead lump because we couldn't use it for anything else.

So we sold it and bought a Ford Transit sized motor caravan, which could be used as a 'car' if we needed too. That worked out much, much better. We no longer motor caravan, but if we did think of doing it again we would settle for a towing caravan. The downside of any motor caravan (as we experienced it) was that if you are on a site, want to stay there a few days and also want a vehicle to explore the area as well, it can become a 'tortoise' on wheels, you have to take everything with you when you go out. In a caravan, you just leave it where it is and can use your car as normal. We did this as well and then found out that the best thing was to leave it on a site for perhaps a season, or a couple of months or so and use the car to go back and forth to it. So many variations to consider!

We still know a bloke who used his own Ford Transit van as a Courier. He had windows fitted, did the floor and van walls and could turn his empty van into a motor caravan in a couple of hours. He bought a free-standing bed, a free standing kitchen, wardrobe, carpet, etc and when not in use he kept these items in his garage, He would then just bung them in his van and secure them to the van walls to ensure they never moved about and bingo, instant holiday mode! A clever man, his vehicle had two uses, saved him I'm sure loads of money.

rural roamer

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #2 on: 14:53:42, 10/05/19 »
No personal experience, but my son-in-law bought a VW T5 van and converted it. He did a lot of it himself, but got professionals to do the things he couldn’t manage, not sure exactly what that was but it did include fitting the windows. He put in electrics, cupboards, a popup top. He uses it as his main car for work etc.  He’s not a walker but snowboards and wakeboards. They’ve used it for several holidays. He has a blog but that’s mainly about experiences in it with their baby/now toddler, but there maybe a few useful tips. https://babiesandcampers.wordpress.com/

jimbob

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #3 on: 16:22:48, 10/05/19 »
Loads of van converters on youtube.Rickvanman would be a good place to start.I share the dream with you.  Sometimes dreams are best left as that, as their fulfillment may lead to dissapointment. I am always put off by GWMs tortoise analogy.
Too little, too late, too bad......

ninthace

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #4 on: 16:54:39, 10/05/19 »
Before I retired we bought a Winnebago with the intention of spending a few years touring before buying a house and settling down.  It didn't work out that way - we bought a house in France instead and the Winnie had to go because it is next to impossible to get French plates on an American RV.   However, we had a great few years weekending in UK and holidaying in Europe with it.  We overcame the usual mobility snag by towing a Ford Fiesta on a rigid coupling behind us.  This gave us a home from home and a runabout for trips.
The thing that always put me off small campers or van conversions was the cramped living.  Playing cushion jigsaws to build the bed each night and undoing it again in the morning, inadequate storage, condensation, the lack of adequate heating and cooling, the crude cooking arrangements and the toilet arrangements are all too unpleasant to contemplate! 
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Mel

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #5 on: 17:07:36, 10/05/19 »
This is something I've fancied doing (convert a van to a camper)... either that or win the lottery and get a classic VW camper.


The UK Campsite message forums have a section on campervans with info on conversions from folks that have done it and folks like you that want to do it.  One thing I do recall from reading advice on there is if you go down the conversion route there may be some VOSA and DVLA hoops you might have to jump through. 


Careful if you go down the already / part converted van route though... some have been stolen and modified to "hide" their true identity.  Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer and not off fleabay or the bloke down the pub!  Do your research  O0






 
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Ronin83

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #6 on: 17:17:29, 10/05/19 »
Hmm, some things to think about.


I will add...
We do go on weekends away in UK and want to do more, eg bank hols, with possible road trip to Europe somewhere.


Cooking is fine, we can do a decent meal with our camping stove or a fire. It's part of the fun, like camping but with a comfier bed.
The toilet situation is a concern. On campsites it's fine, but if moving around and kind of stealth(ish) parking you're kind of stuck.
Also what to do for a shower if you're going for a week? I don't mind a few days, but...


Neverless, having a small van would be handy for us anyway for camping gear, climbing gear(plan to get into that) and whatever else.
It could get expensive, but sometimes I think, "if not now then when?" And is it good to always be sensible?
The 'sensible' choice is scrap the whole idea and get a normal car

Mel

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #7 on: 17:38:37, 10/05/19 »
Toilet ... get a "Bog in a Bucket" (google it)


Showers ... boil some water and have a strip wash and/or use truck stop showers in service stations en route.


Not all campsites allow a "normal" van without a tent (not an issue if you're stealth camping mindst).  A workaround for that would be to buy any old cheapy pop-up tent and put it up next to your van or a tarp and poles as a dry space to cook under.


If it was me, I'd get a small van and have a decent fold-out framed camp bed to put up in the back and a rack of those plastic storage drawers for bits and bobs/clothes/kitchen stuff, a bucket, a fold out table/chairs bin liners and wood pellet cat litter for a loo, a tarp for dry outdoor space.  I'd just add a cheap tent "for show" if I was going to a campsite.


Anyway, I'll shurrup now  ;D







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gunwharfman

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #8 on: 17:59:22, 10/05/19 »
I agree with Ninthace, small vans do have obvious drawbacks but we were young then and didn't mind. A bit like buying a one-man tent to a two-man maybe?

Two of our friends wanted a Winnebago but he didn't realise he needed a special licence in the UK and in a rush to solve his problem he bought a 5th-wheeler caravan and a 'Bruce Willis' type truck to tow it. They wanted to 'tour' Europe but this 'slab of a thing' proved to be so unwieldy he just towed it to a Spanish site, parked it and its never been moved since. That was about seven years ago. They now spend the winter in Spain and the summer in the UK. They seem to like it but it would drive me to madness!

I carry a Lifeventure showerhead (£10) in my rucksack, a really neat little thing, just pushes into any water bottle, just it from a branch and have a shower.

I don't know if they are still made but there used to be a Scottish firm which made a tent extension that fitted any vehicle with rear opening doors. The extension could be then used as a dining area, etc and you could leave it permanently erected to keep your spot if you drove off for the day.

One of my neighbours, he works outside (to do with electricity pylons) and has his accommodation (a folding tent) on the roof of his Land Rover. It secures to his roof bars and folds down flat when not in use. Its an Italian make and to get into it the company supplies an aluminium ladder.

Before I forget, if you buy a Ford Transit type van make sure you get one with a side opening door, makes a huge difference in terms of comfort and ease of use.

ninthace

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #9 on: 18:20:19, 10/05/19 »
Two of our friends wanted a Winnebago but he didn't realise he needed a special licence in the UK


I didn't.  I got my licence in 1968. My licence entitles me to drive and tow things that the younger folk can't drive without an extension to a basic car licence.  My Winnie was placarded at 7 tons so I could drive it on my car licence.  The towing of a car on all 4 wheels with a rigid coupling was a greyer area but the view was while on tow it was not a Fiesta - it was a multi axle braked trailer.
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Gadabout Bounder

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #10 on: 19:23:47, 10/05/19 »
I've had a Merc Sprinter that was converted badly, then converted a Transit & Vauxhall Movano.


Currently got a Luton box van with a self made 'sleeper' over works equipment & a horse trailer (Lambourn) from the 60's that is just about to go into a garage for a full brakes, lights, hitch replacement, some welding and then a build off the chassis to a kingsized bed conversion with a 5 foot fibreglass slide-out.


Solar power is a piece of cake, electrics are pretty straightforward, 12 v & 240 volt (get them checked over if you aren't qualified), running pumped water is easy & a strip wash never killed anyone.


Fitting a van out is a great experience, a frustrating learning curve but if you get it half right it is well worth the effort.


Good luck



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sussamb

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #11 on: 19:47:42, 10/05/19 »
- we bought a house in France instead and the Winnie had to go

We bought ours a couple of years ago intending to spend more time there once daughter leaves college next July.  Whereabouts are you, we're near Chinon.
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Owen

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #12 on: 20:26:05, 10/05/19 »

  The towing of a car on all 4 wheels with a rigid coupling was a greyer area but the view was while on tow it was not a Fiesta - it was a multi axle braked trailer.


Not anymore, it would now be classed as an arctic for which you need a C+E licence. That's what was an HGV. Not sure whether you'd also need a CPC but their around £300 per module, you need five modules every five years.

ninthace

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #13 on: 20:27:49, 10/05/19 »
We bought ours a couple of years ago intending to spend more time there once daughter leaves college next July.  Whereabouts are you, we're near Chinon.
Were were in a village in the foothills of the Pyrenees between St Gaudens and Bagneres de Luchon.  After five and half years our daughter started to breed so grandma insisted we sold up and returned to the UK.  We had a great time - skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, snowshoeing in the close season.  We fed ourselves out of the garden all the year round too.  The ground was that good I had to put the broom away at night so it did not sprout overnight.
The good news was that house prices in our area boomed and the exchange rate went in our favour so we could afford a house up north in Cumbria.  While I really miss it and, although we had qualified for residency, I'm  not sure I would want it to be my sole residence in the face of the B word,  It would have been a stressful 3 years.
I tried really hard to get the Winnebago over there but the French bureaucracy is impossible.  I even rang up the maker in the USA to see how they managed to export their campers to France - they said they couldn't do it either.  :(
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ninthace

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Re: Campervan - DIY?
« Reply #14 on: 20:29:39, 10/05/19 »

Not anymore, it would now be classed as an arctic for which you need a C+E licence. That's what was an HGV. Not sure whether you'd also need a CPC but their around £300 per module, you need five modules every five years.
  I think you are thinking of a fifth wheeler - ours was A Class camper.
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