A forum for van conversions, van living and travel

The vanlife => Common Room => Topic started by: David Evans on February 04, 2015, 10:14:47 AM

Title: Hi, my name is Dave..
Post by: David Evans on February 04, 2015, 10:14:47 AM
Hi everyone. Firstly a big well done to Mike for creating this forum. To me it looks like a technological achievement akin to splitting the atom.

I'm a 56 year old self-employed property maintenance bloke. My trade is plumbing, but I do anything in the field of home improvement. The job is great because I can scrimp and save, then scoot off on my travels for as long as funds allow, then come back home and do some more working and saving for the next jaunt. Or I can do a bit of work for people while I'm travelling, and thereby extend my trip.

I live part time in a house and part time in my van. The van is a silver Transit van that formerly was solely my work van. I bought it from new in 2004 and toured Europe in it before I decided to convert it. It's now done 135,000 miles, so I'm starting to get reliability problems and a lot of what I believe is called 'Ford tinworm'. I can't afford to replace it so I'll have to try to keep it going somehow.

Before I did the conversion I travelled a fair bit in the van, and lying on the floor on an airbed staring up at a blank canvas is a great way to plan your project.

After going bonkers with insulation I ply-boarded and covered the entire inside with fake tabby cat fur. I wouldn't recommend it due to its impracticality, and would use Mike's t,g&v if I was to do it over.
Then I put in a shower/toilet cubicle like Mike's, tv, hob and grill, 100l fresh water tank, catalytic heater, fridge, sink, cupboards, hot and cold water, two skylights, one small window (so as not to totally ruin the stealth aspect) and a lot of colourful led lighting. There's a 100w solar panel (and mppt regulator) on the roof charging the main 110ah battery, and a split-charge relay for the secondary 75ah battery, the spare.
I put a slide-out step under the side door, but it's too low so pointless really.
Also I fitted a reversing camera, with a screen in the cab. I switch it on when either reversing or just curious about what's behind. There are cameras on the roof and below the tow hitch.
The bed is permanent and made from a proper mattress as I'm getting creaky and need the comfort.

I still want to put in some tunes - I have the same speakers as Mike but haven't found a good head unit yet. That shows my age a bit eh? A few years ago the tunes would've gone in way before anything else! Now I quite like to enjoy total silence while I read, or the sounds of nature, the sea, the birds, sheep, foxes, owls etc.

I've travelled across east as far as the Ukraine - Kiev, Kharkiv, Donetsk etc (the people of Ukraine are amongst the nicest, and the women there are unsurpassed in their beauty and elegance), through Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and so on. I've also done the round Western Europe trips down as far as Italy and across to Spain.  Wherever I go the people are wonderful, kind, helpful and generous, in fact the less they possess the more generous they are.

Away from my van I've travelled extensively across America and Canada, and through the Far East down to Australia and New Zealand. 

The travel bug never leaves you and the thrill of waking up in a new location where you arrived last night will never go; there is a colossal world of new adventures, and there is one big one still beckoning: since the channel tunnel was built we can sit in the driving seat from home in the UK right across to Eastern China. Why not, unless you are planning to do it in the next shot you get at life?

I don't know how people suffer 'settling down', but to me it's as appealing as a life sentence in Wormwood Scrubs. Some of us are just not cut out for it, though I'm grateful that my dear parents were!
Title: Re: Hi, my name is Dave..
Post by: Mike on February 04, 2015, 06:48:56 PM
Nice! welcome to the forums Dave

Love that you travelled in your van before converting it haha. I remember seriously considering this when I was so desperate to go.

What are the problems with the van? It must have loads of life left in it, no?

Sounds like you've had a real good time travelling the world. Did you go to the Ukraine in the van?

Anyway, feel free to get some photos up of your van in the conversion section. I'm sure other's would like to see it as well
Title: Re: Hi, my name is Dave..
Post by: David Evans on February 05, 2015, 09:41:20 PM
Thank you kindly Mike.

I will give the old wagon a bit of a clean and put some photos up very soon.

On the Ukraine trip - which was to watch England games in the 2012 Euros - I vanned as far as Stuttgart, and from there two pals and I rented a brand new and fabulous motorhome.
Well, it was fabulous when we started out. The Ukrainian roads are internationally notorious for being a great lunar training ground, though the craters are far bigger in the Ukraine than on the moon, and far more frequent. For most of the time on their roads you are travelling at between 5mph and 20 mph - I am not exaggerating. They are utterly shocking, so if you go there please have two spares, tyre repair aerosols and anything else you can think of. I have never seen anything like it, thousands of miles, and all of it in horrific condition.
They warn you not to use their roads at night unless in a well-lit city, but of course we knew better. Until that is we hit a two foot deep pothole at around 20mph. It shook the van so violently that the engine stopped dead and we were marooned 60 miles from Donetsk in a village.
We stopped for the night and in the morning the people started arriving, a succession of the dearest, kindest people you ever met, all desperate to help these stranded foreigners. We had two TV crews turn up, and one, from Orbita TV, left me dizzied from the sight of their beautiful reporter, Evelina.  So many people tried to help but had never seen an engine like the one in this new fangled Fiat thing.
Eventually we had a tow truck come out and took us into Donetsk - a very beautiful city which I so hope survives the conflict. A giant statue of Lenin stands looking over Lenin Square and the city centre, and the English fans congregated in the lawns of a nice English pub by the square. It was a wonderful, steaming hot few days of good-natured revelry and staggeringly beautiful girls hoping to return home in English suitcases.

Anyway, as for the reliability of my 2004 Transit, it has suffered some fuel delivery problems, inexplicable 'jumping', the odd bit of the gearbox linkage coming off and leaving me stranded, and rainwater leaking in through a couple of very difficult to trace seams on the roof. It's showing many signs of age, but then to be fair so am I, and nobody goes on about me being rusty or unreliable. I should be more fair in my assessment of it's record.
Title: Re: Hi, my name is Dave..
Post by: Stephen Vernon on February 06, 2015, 12:35:40 PM
Hi Dave, sounds an interesting past!!
I too would love to see some photos of the conversion...i'll be sticking some up of my sprinter sometime soon, when she's finished - give me some inspiration!!!