Base van bought

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by LesleyC, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    So, after about 3 months of intensive looking, and not finding anything 'right' for us, we have decided to buy a van, and have something built into it. Its all come together in the last couple of days, and we've found a base (Renault Traffic, LWB, high top) and met with a converter that we like. Now, we have to tell the converter everything we want. Umm yes ... well ... this is our first camper, and we've never actually used one, and don't know what vital bits of gear we may be missing, or what work arounds the experienced have for potential problems we're racking our brains over. So ... I thought, if I post the info that I'm emailing to the converter guy here, any/all input from the experienced would be fantastic!!!

    Warning ... its long!!! It also makes reference to a long conversation we had with him when we met him, but I think the gist of that conversation is in the file.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzRTWPyr7UVhN1pWWWlOZ2M1OTQ/view?usp=sharing

    Giving 'birth' to this baby is soooo exciting! We'll be using it mostly for support on long distance cycle rides (husband is a bit of a lunatic in this area, and wants to tackle some seriously long events, so needs capacity for seriously long training rides).
     
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  2. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    Incidentally, reading tons of posts from many years back on this forum has helped us immensely in figuring out what we want/don't want in many areas!
     
  3. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    Great,,,,, Now come spend your £10 and join properly for all the FUN.. :)
    Sure you will certainly get your monies worth and it will be good to hear how your conversion goes..
     
  4. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    Did that while you were reading and typing ... except spent £19 :) I am sure it is money very well spent, and what we've learnt from this forum since I joining it a week ago is worth a hundred times (or more) the subs. fee!!
     
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  5. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    Welcome... SHH.... Dont say that to loud. the boss might be listening :rofl:
     
  6. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    :eek: My first forum faux pas *lol* Shall never mention it again unless barely whispering :lipssealed:
     
  7. Ethle the wondervan

    Ethle the wondervan

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    First essential piece of equipment is a good quality golf tee holder.
    You need something stable to rest your balls on while driving off.

    Oops sorry, I see that you may be a 'lady' and therefore may not play golf. :blusher:
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  8. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Funster

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    Why not hire a motorhome for a weekend and see what you like / dislike about that?

    The main consideration will be layout, get that wrong and you'll want a new van - again.
     
  9. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    I think you really need to do some sketches showing the layout then you can begin to imagine what it would be like to live in it.

    But from a quick look at your notes I would suggest 3 rooflights, one above the loo, one above the kitchen with a built in fan and one big one above the sitting/sleeping area.

    Solar I think most folk find really useful if not essential but you could have the wiring fitted during conversion so it wouldn't be so disruptive later when you come to fit it as I am sure you will.

    I would specify LED lighting from the outset.

    If you can stretch to a proper cassette toilet you won't regret it over a porta-potti.

    Fridge? Cooker? Oven?

    Here's a picture of our roof which might give you some ideas about roof lights and solar panels - of course this only works for the layout in our 'van. :) Top right is the loo, bottom right above kitchen and cooker, big one on the left is above the beds/seats.

    OI000037.jpg
     
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  10. Ralph-n-Bev

    Ralph-n-Bev Funster

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    Hello and welcome from us two too:cheers:
    Ralph's building our PVC. We too put lots of thought into it though we're doing a different layout to you. You might find the thread interesting .
    http://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/rb-panel-van-conversion-begins.100614/
    We decided to put the water tanks , waste and fresh, plus the gas tank under the van . That way saving lots of space inside under the UShape lounge.
    Think about the insulation too. If you plan on using it all year round. Make sure he does all the doors , floor and ceiling . Sounds daft , but some don't. And inside all the roof support ridges . You'll see what I mean on Ralph's thread.
    Some just use the one layer of sticky foam backed foil. That's it.
    He's also used a great battery. For the Hab power. It will be in there for the next 15 years on its side under the compressor Fridge. Freeing up more cupboard space.
    He's finished off the kitchen doors now and put the cooker in properly. Just got to box the cab seats and carpet that area. Then the insides finished.
    Oh yes, You Might already know , but just in case you don't.
    You can also get different quality wood board. For the furniture.
    So for the more expensive. ( voringer I think it's called ) it's laminated , very strong . The cheaper boards are A bit lighter , Not as many layers of wood inside, but just Varnished paper covered board. Try sticking your nail in them . You can test the quality. The dearer one doesn't dint. It will wear longer .
    Good luck with the build. Post the pictures as you go.
    Who's the converter you are using btw ?
    I too think it would be a good idea to rent one to see if that layout is right for you. Plus a proper toilet in the shower is not that space taking . We've done it.
     
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  11. yellabelly

    yellabelly

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    [QUOTE="LesleyC, post: 1504801, member: 37342"

    Giving 'birth' to this baby is soooo exciting! We'll be using it mostly for support on long distance cycle rides (husband is a bit of a lunatic in this area, and wants to tackle some seriously long events, so needs capacity for seriously long training rides).[/QUOTE]

    Hi Lesley; we had a Ducato converted about 5 years ago; and the layout still works for us.
    The most important thing is the layout. We made a balsawood model for the converter to follow (and criticise) and did a spec similar to what you've done.
    In light of how we've used the van over the last 5 years there are things I would do differently, and our needs are not the same as yours I'm sure, but you need to imagine how you will use it, do you have kids to accommodate , or is it just for the two of you and the bike(s)?
    Have you got a budget to work to?
    We chose a bespoke van because no van we saw had a layout that worked. Think it through very carefully and you'll have lots of fun achieving something special.
    Good Luck
    alan b
     
  12. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    Sketches ... been trying to avoid them so far, and if you seeing my drawing abilities you will totally understand why :) I shall make some attempts, and post them. They will have more amusement value than practical value *lol*

    Layout will be pretty much the standard side kitchen/furniture, with bed alongside. We're both tall, so with the bed in that position our feet can overhang, rather than having to sleep curled up.

    All the space to the rear of the bed will be taken up by plastic crates of bike parts and tools, which means we don't really have room to put a permanent toilet in, hence the porta potty. We're hoping to only have to use it lightly, because we will be travelling min 200km, up to about 450km per day, so should easily be able to make use of services etc for toilet stops. In a few years, if the insane cycling stops, we can look at rejigging and fitting a permanent toilet, but I reckon that will come at the expense of one of the cab seats no longer swivelling. We need to use the van for a 8.25 day ride before the conversion happens - planning on slinging our camping gear in the back for that trip, but we will need a potty for that, which will go on to be housed in the conversion. I shall chat with the converter guy about making it a permanent, and when I've put up the sketches maybe I will get suggestions as to where it could go too. Love the idea of a fan about the toilet!!! Haven't seen (or noticed) that in the vans we've looked at, but it really should be that way in all vans I think!

    Loving the large roof light over the bed/seating. That will provide brilliant natural light over the bike workshp at the rear (well outside by enclosed by an awning I still have to design and make). Oooh ... must request some strip lights or little spot lights or something for the back for bike work after dark!!!

    Smallest 2 ring hob, and smallest sink we can get away with that is big enough to hold a pair of soggy cycling shoes. They had to go somewhere to dry out in wet weather. Most of our cooking will get done on a gas bbq outside (yes, even in rain/snow). I'm from S.Africa, so BBQ (or should I say a braai) is a way of life for me, and I can pretty much cook anything/everything on the gas set up I have. I'm also a bit nervous of cooking splatters inside the van. Over time I expect I'll learn to deal with those things better, and our 'retirement van' will be configured differently (by then the cycling will probably have dropped off a bit too).

    Fridge ... initially wanted as big as possible (I only drink cold beverages, no hot - and they have to be properly cold, not room temp), but now thinking that instead of chilling large bottles, to rather chill more smaller bottles.

    I've updated my sheet for the converter with your suggestions. Thank you!
     
  13. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    Our shower will be 'outside' in the bike workshop, so it can clean the cyclist and the bike simultaneously ;) I reckon if he can cycle in winter rain ...

    I've read your conversion post from beginning to end, a few days ago :) Lovely!

    Updated my list to specify thorough, good insulation :) I poked around all the vehicles that were part converted in their workshop, and it all looked good (to me).
     
  14. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    Incidentally, the more people poke holes in my logic/reasoning, the happier I am. Anything that makes me think more, and think differently is good!
     
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  15. nomadic

    nomadic Funster

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    Some friends of ours recently had a Renault converted, and the converter was able to fit a 30ltr LPG tank, under-slung, which removed the need for the gas locker (above floor), and they were able to retain the spare wheel. Tank came complete with filler point in body, and digital fill gauge routed to dashboard, which registers fill level when ignition is turned on.

    There is a narrow combination sink and hob made for VW conversions, look at www.rainbowconversions.co.uk

    I would suggest gas in favour of diesel for heating, although it is fairly low at the moment. Another advantage of the under-slung LPG tank is the price at the pump compared to exchange cylinders, or did you say refillable gas tank, can't remember.

    The Truma combi unit will give you gas/electric heating and hot water, all from one unit.

    If you can, I would suggest you have the solar panel (100w) and two leisure batteries fitted at conversion, ours has a Cetek D250 (I think) controller, works a treat.

    It may be worth talking to John Cross, advertises on this site, re Fiamma products, his teem are very helpfull and he gives funster's a discount on purchases.

    We have had both types of screen blackouts, and yes condensation can be a problem in the cab area, with the internal ones you refer to. Currently we have the internal Remis blinds fitted, good light reduction, but not totally blackout, and depending on the time of year/location/ventilation, almost condensation free. A curtain hanging behind the cab seats, we found always got in the way!!

    As said, a sketch plan would be helpful.

    Good luck with your project.

     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  16. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    What would you differently compared to what you have now?

    no kids, just us two and the bikes.

    We've chosen to get one made, because nothing we've seen is 'just right' either. There always seems to be a couple of things we wouldn't want to put up with.

    At the moment, we're running about £8k under budget, compared to buying the 'best we've seen' ready to go used camper. That will buy us a lot of fuel and campsite fees, and possibly some toys along the way too as we feel we need them.
     
  17. ambulancekidd

    ambulancekidd Funster

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    Its exciting designing a layout from scratch. Can we look forward to photo's of the finished article?

    Whatever you decide to do, here's wishing you good luck & good health to use your motorhome.

    Robert & Hazel.
     
  18. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    Added a request for external gas. We had asked for a gaslow type of gas, for the cost benefit of refilling. If the tanks move 'outside' we may be able to squeeze in a 'proper' toilet by shuffling the storage around as well.

    And yes, if we have refillable gas, it makes sense to use a gas heater too. Do any gas heating systems operate similar to a combi boiler in a house with instant hot water, or will I always be estimating what time a ride will finish and switching on the hot water in advance?

    Blinds that aren't completely blackout are fine for us ... can sleep outside in full sunlight, and have actually, quite literally slept through a bomb.
     
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  19. LesleyC

    LesleyC Funster

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    I shall be worse than proud new grandparents ;)
     
  20. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    at one point you mention not fitting a solar panel and at another you say you will rarely have hook ups available that being the case i would prioritise the solar panels
     
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