Camper Van Conversion

General chat topics, anything and everything you want or need to discuss
User avatar
GuzziPaul
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:45 pm
Location: Chelmsford
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 59 times

Camper Van Conversion

Post by GuzziPaul »

Thought I'd start this here rather than TRC as I think this may last a while and I'll need it for reference. I know at least two people on TRC converted vans to camper vans and hopefully they have come over here.
Son in law has decided he wants to convert a van to a camper van and I have been roped in to help as I have tools and a driveway,although his parents have a large barn they live a couple of hours away and no tools. I suggested it was done there as it might spend some time in bits and our house already looks like a car showroom with three cars out the front.
He reckons there are ready made kits available bolt/screw straight in to "vans" and we can do it in a couple of weekends :think: I think they would be better off hiring one first to see if they like it, or as and when they want to go away, they don't have a car, live in outer london, no driveway so its parked on the street and have a small baby. They are coming to ours this weekend so me and the SiL can drive round and look at a couple of vans
A couple of questions:

1. Would a propoer ready made campervan be the better choice?
2. A van maybe be a better choice, security wise, parked on the streets of London. Ifso what van should we be looking at LWB, high top I guess? I mentioned a VW T4 he found a T5
3. If he can't get a crewcab, whats the legal situation re. carrying people in the back and seating? I assumme it will need testing or re-regestering?
4. Any recommended websites? I've found one Youtube channel so far.

User avatar
Yorick
Posts: 508
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2020 8:20 pm
Location: Paradise
Has thanked: 245 times
Been thanked: 188 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Yorick »

Short answer. Bigger the better. It's horrible being cramped. Mine was jumbo Transit. High top.

User avatar
Yorick
Posts: 508
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2020 8:20 pm
Location: Paradise
Has thanked: 245 times
Been thanked: 188 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Yorick »

Motorhonefun is a great website. Very helpful and friendly.
I've been on 8 years.

Wossname
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:14 pm
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Wossname »

A few general comments (we have an old Talbot Express coachbuilt, but daughter had a Citroen Relay van conversion - good quality, done professionally):

1) London based - does that mean LEZ is an issue? Lots of campervans being sold because of that.
2) Anything VW has a silly premium esp T4, less so T5. You don't "get" anything more, just the badge.
3) Baby: daughter/s-i-l discovered very soon that baby needs a downstairs bed, they can't sleep in the roof. Sounds obvious, but as a tiny baby she could use a carrycot across the front seats, and they had the rock-and-roll bed, which is the most common arrangement in a van conversion. i.e. you need 3 downstairs beds, even if one is small. They changed for a lwb WildAx conversion.
4) Don't go near a pop-top - too many potential problems re leaks/cracks. You need a hi-top van. Daughter's conversion had had the original roof removed and a fibreglass hi-top put on. That's a skilled job and needs to be done very well.
5) I would spend a lot of time looking at existing layouts of campervans before I decided what I wanted - some are great, some have really silly, inefficient arrangements; and whether I really wanted to do a conversion from scratch. And do the sums - realistically!
6) Bear in mind that if it's longer than a standard car, you'll need 2 spaces in car parks and will have difficulty finding spaces on the street.
7) And yes - they'll need to get it inspected and registered after conversion, to carry passengers in the back.

There - I'll stop now. HTH.

User avatar
hilldweller
Posts: 241
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:09 pm
Location: Macclesfield
Has thanked: 75 times
Been thanked: 49 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by hilldweller »

As has been said....

www.motorhomefun.co.uk

Where you will find a few detailed conversions. One by a joiner took months. It is similar to building a house or a barn conversion. You might find that barn needed when cutting the windows and rooflights unless you are very lucky with the weather.

One trick some use to cut costs is buy a reasonable caravan and transfer all the fittings.

Plan B, look for an old van off ebay and put a bit of effort into it. But look out for damp wood, it's the big van killer.
Brian

User avatar
GuzziPaul
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:45 pm
Location: Chelmsford
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 59 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by GuzziPaul »

Thanks all, a bit of reading there for him and me. Like the idea of a Rock and roll bed as it will solve the need for seats in the back as well as a bed. For the baby (child) bed I was thinking of two metal tubes the width of the van with a flat hook at each end and sturdy canvas between. These would go into two slots in/on the driver and passenger doors to give a sort of stiff sided hammock. Does mean the doors couldn't be opened, but doubles as a security device.

User avatar
Druid
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:45 pm
Has thanked: 24 times
Been thanked: 57 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Druid »

I converted a Mercedes Vito about 5 years ago, I did a build thread on TRC

https://www.therevcounter.co.uk/threads ... conversion

Image

A Vito is about the same size as a VW Transporter, but about half the price. It was small enough to use as everyday transport and it fits down narrow country lanes and what the Scots laughingly call roads. I completed the conversion in 3 months working weekends - it was winter so too dark to work evenings, and it was all done on the drive. Any half competent handyman will have no trouble building a camper themselves. Lots of places sell flat pack furniture units, make sure they're made from lightweight ply not MDF. You can get pull tested and certified rock'n'roll beds with seat belts and children's beds that fit between the doors across the front seats. A pop top is about £1500 - £2000 and will have a larger bed in it.

The main benefit for self building is cost, I paid £3000 for the van and another £2k to convert. A similar age/mileage ready built Vito camper would have been £7-8k, and a VW Transporter £10-12k. In 4 years it did 40000 miles, took us on holidays from Cornwall to Scotland, and Wales to Germany. I sold it for £5k

Used vans are frequently high mileage and may not have been particularly well looked after. Bodywork, steering, suspension and transmission may have had a hard life.
DVLA have made it much more difficult to re classify as a campervan. This affects the vehicle's speed limit, but not the tax class or insurance.
Fit a heater, nights can get cold in spring and autumn.
Fit a roof vent, it can get really hot and stuffy overnight in the summer

SBMCC is a good website, there are quite a few self build camper groups on Facebook and hundreds of YouTube channels

I'm currently converting a VW Crafter because my wife wants more room.

User avatar
GuzziPaul
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:45 pm
Location: Chelmsford
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 59 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by GuzziPaul »

Druid wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:16 pm
I converted a Mercedes Vito about 5 years ago, I did a build thread on TRC
Thanks. I knew someone on TRC had done one. I read it at the time but couldnt find it with a search. Wanted to get something on here so I've got it as reference. I've been to several websites and watched several Youtube vids now, it seems possible for me to do, just not in the timescales the SiL is expecting. He was thinking of going away in it this summer.
Good think is I reckon we can borrow it to as a charge for my labour.

User avatar
1888
Posts: 223
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:25 pm
Location: Jockland
Has thanked: 17 times
Been thanked: 74 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by 1888 »

Just sold my self build today and next week start making this into a camper


Image

User avatar
hilldweller
Posts: 241
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:09 pm
Location: Macclesfield
Has thanked: 75 times
Been thanked: 49 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by hilldweller »

1888 wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:09 pm
Just sold my self build today and next week start making this into a camper
You should be OK for electricity, is that 200W ?

Windows done, roof vent - piece of cake.
Brian

Rockburner
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 11:06 am
Has thanked: 232 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Rockburner »

Usage just in the UK? If so then you're pretty much on camp sites 99% of the time and you can do a 'day-van' easily enough. (no bathroom).

If he's thinking of going abroad then you can avoid the cost of camp sites completely if you have a bathroom/loo and enough room inside to "live".

I'd highly recommend he hires one first though. Preferably on a piss wet weekend.
non quod, sed quomodo

User avatar
GuzziPaul
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:45 pm
Location: Chelmsford
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 59 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by GuzziPaul »

I think it will be going into Europe now and again, his family have a house in Switerland, so there may be a few trips there and we go to Europe most years and may borrow it. Talking with my daughter today she is also keen to do it so its not just the SiL wanting to do it.

User avatar
1888
Posts: 223
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:25 pm
Location: Jockland
Has thanked: 17 times
Been thanked: 74 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by 1888 »

hilldweller wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:56 pm


You should be OK for electricity, is that 200W ?

Windows done, roof vent - piece of cake.
300. The rear roof vent was missing when i got it. Just put the perspex over hole as it was to get removed anyway as i want the solar facing front to back in that area.

Taipan
Posts: 246
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:48 pm
Location: Essex innit!
Has thanked: 419 times
Been thanked: 117 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Taipan »

Get a van big enough to fit a bathroom in. Nothing worse than having to nip to the campsite toilets in the middle of the night in the pouring rain. Plus if you're fully self contained you can wild camp in some beautiful places. If you don't have a bathroom you'll need a shovel...

Rockburner
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 11:06 am
Has thanked: 232 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Rockburner »

GuzziPaul wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:55 pm
I think it will be going into Europe now and again, his family have a house in Switerland, so there may be a few trips there and we go to Europe most years and may borrow it. Talking with my daughter today she is also keen to do it so its not just the SiL wanting to do it.
Park4Night.com was the best thing I found for travelling in Europe in the van. (it's a global service).
non quod, sed quomodo

Rockburner
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 11:06 am
Has thanked: 232 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Rockburner »

Taipan wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:45 am
Get a van big enough to fit a bathroom in. Nothing worse than having to nip to the campsite toilets in the middle of the night in the pouring rain. Plus if you're fully self contained you can wild camp in some beautiful places. If you don't have a bathroom you'll need a shovel...
Changes the experience totally.



(make sure it's got a window or a fan though. ;) )
non quod, sed quomodo

User avatar
hilldweller
Posts: 241
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:09 pm
Location: Macclesfield
Has thanked: 75 times
Been thanked: 49 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by hilldweller »

1888 wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:37 pm
300. The rear roof vent was missing when i got it. Just put the perspex over hole as it was to get removed anyway as i want the solar facing front to back in that area.
That's a lot. Our first van I fitted 100W and just managed in decent weather. Second I fitted 200W and just about never needed hook up with just one 100Ah battery,

300W and a couple of 100Ah and you should be well away.

The killer for us was e-bikes. Two flat e-bikes represent a big chunk out of 100Ah.

Our last van had one of those Truma gas fires, just like to old fashioned house gas fires. It was brilliant because it took almost zero electricity so could left on all night in cold weather with little impact on the battery.

Moving it is good thing, it looks terrible and unsafe as it is.
Brian

User avatar
1888
Posts: 223
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:25 pm
Location: Jockland
Has thanked: 17 times
Been thanked: 74 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by 1888 »

hilldweller wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:23 pm


That's a lot. Our first van I fitted 100W and just managed in decent weather. Second I fitted 200W and just about never needed hook up with just one 100Ah battery,

300W and a couple of 100Ah and you should be well away.

The killer for us was e-bikes. Two flat e-bikes represent a big chunk out of 100Ah.

Our last van had one of those Truma gas fires, just like to old fashioned house gas fires. It was brilliant because it took almost zero electricity so could left on all night in cold weather with little impact on the battery.

Moving it is good thing, it looks terrible and unsafe as it is.
Minimum 330Ah. Making the loo larger in this one so i can add a shower at a later date. See them black lines over the roof? Previous owner was a turd, he has a 2nd panel there but lost it to a tree. The black lines are a tube of Sikaflex what he used to stick them down with. Got feet for the front one so allow air flow when i move it. Just now it just has a shitty £10 controller attached what is keeping my buggered starter battery alive.

User avatar
GuzziPaul
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:45 pm
Location: Chelmsford
Has thanked: 31 times
Been thanked: 59 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by GuzziPaul »

Went out with the SiL yesterday to have a look at a VW T28 HiLine 2017. Not LWB or high roof, so will need a pop top and to stand upright in and any bed will need to be moveble, possibly a rock and roll bed.
It has only done just over 18K miles but looking at the wear on the gear lever and steering wheel I suspect its all been round town. Yellow engine warning light was on which I suspect is the DPF filter from miles chugging around town. Price is £18,000 +vat. I suspect making an offer won't be entertained. Two other ones we were going to see, had sold before we even had chance to view them.

User avatar
Yorick
Posts: 508
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2020 8:20 pm
Location: Paradise
Has thanked: 245 times
Been thanked: 188 times

Re: Camper Van Conversion

Post by Yorick »

GuzziPaul wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 7:55 pm
Went out with the SiL yesterday to have a look at a VW T28 HiLine 2017. Not LWB or high roof, so will need a pop top and to stand upright in and any bed will need to be moveble, possibly a rock and roll bed.
It has only done just over 18K miles but looking at the wear on the gear lever and steering wheel I suspect its all been round town. Yellow engine warning light was on which I suspect is the DPF filter from miles chugging around town. Price is £18,000 +vat. I suspect making an offer won't be entertained. Two other ones we were going to see, had sold before we even had chance to view them.
You and the wife go live in the bathroom for a week. Then you'll see what a tiny van is like.