A forum for van conversions, van living and travel

The vanlife => Common Room => Topic started by: Danp83 on June 14, 2017, 09:35:06 PM

Title: Newbie & Choosing a van
Post by: Danp83 on June 14, 2017, 09:35:06 PM
Hi all,

I've been interested in doing a van conversion for a while even more so when I stumbled across Mike's story.

I'm starting to look at van's but would appreciate some advice. I'm in the UK, what would you recommend from experience? What would you avoid?

I know Mike's conversion is using a LDV convoy, I've read quite a few bad reviews about them and it's put me off them a little. I've been looking at a Iveco Daily LWB as they seem to be quite reasonable, but there might be a reason for that.

Is having a shower a sensible idea? You'd have to carry alot of water to run it.. plus it would take up quite a bit of space. But I like the idea of not being reliant on finding a shower.

Any advice would be appreciated!
Title: Re: Newbie & Choosing a van
Post by: Camper_Dan on June 18, 2017, 10:52:04 AM
Passenger window vans make much better campers than cargo vans.  They can frequently be found cheaper, in better shape, and with already finished interiors, so you can just remove the seats and move your camping furniture in.

I would not be happy without my own toilet & shower.  I shower every day, yet rarely use over a gallon of water a day for everything including my shower.  I carry 2 seven gallon jugs of water, enough for 2 weeks.  You can learn to be very frugal with your water usage, without compromising your comfort or convenience.

Title: Re: Newbie & Choosing a van
Post by: Danp83 on June 27, 2017, 09:48:00 PM
Thanks for the reply.

I went to look at a van yesterday, LDV convoy LWB,  high roof, Very low mileage, 12 months MOT... Very cheap. What a heap!

So I'm still looking.. I think I need to look at spending more on a van! I know the cost of the conversion depends greatly on what you want to do. How much did you guys spend on your conversion? I've decided I do want a shower and toilet, Solar panels etc what sort of ball park figure would I be looking at?

Thank you!
Title: Re: Newbie & Choosing a van
Post by: Camper_Dan on June 28, 2017, 10:49:06 AM
Just guessing, I'm going to say I have $300-$400 in my conversion, but this time I kept it simple and deleted all of my past mistakes.  My current camper van is the best I've ever had, and also the cheapest build.

My current window van, I simply removed the rear seats, and kept the rest of the interior intact.  This step saved me about $2k from tearing everything out and starting over, only to have an inferior result.  I deleted the solar panels, charge controller, and expensive batteries, and went with a single cheap battery from a junkyard, that I charge while driving by plugging it into my dash cigarette lighter outlet.  Much more reliable power option, and this saved me an additional $2-3k, PLUS I can park in the shade during the summer.  I deleted the expensive roof vents with fans, and opted for a <$20 12v 10" fan to put in a window.  MUCH better ventilation than the roof vents, and I can leave my windows open in the rain unlike the roof vents.  Next I deleted the $600+ powered fridge, and went back to a good old reliable ice chest.

This time around, I literally moved everything in rather than building anything in.  I put in a house style futon sofa/bed that I extended the legs on to raise it up over the wheel well.  My kitchen is a repurposed household kitchen cabinet with a clear counter top so it can be used both as a kitchen, and as a work bench.  I use plastic dishpans for sinks with spray bottles for the water.  A portable camp stove for cooking.  All of this fits nicely on my kitchen counter, but as a bonus it can be used outdoors as well.  A simple plastic bag lined bucket toilet is now my preferred choice.  My shower consists of a hula hoop suspended from a luggage bar for the shower curtain rod, and regular shower curtains and hooks attached to it.  I use the ice chest that is also for my 12v air conditioner to stand in and catch my shower water.  For the water I have a weed sprayer that I swapped out the wand for, in favor of a kitchen style sink sprayer.  Simple, easy, and requires no power.  My complete toilet/shower can also be used outside if I wish.

I no longer have any plumbing in my van to freeze or break from the vibrations of driving.  I simply empty my used water outdoors.  It can be stored in my shower ice chest until it's convenient to be dumped if necessary.

I learned the hard and expensive way that insulating a vehicle is a joke.  You simply don't have enough room to add enough insulation to make it work the way you think it should.  Sun in the winter, and shade in the summer works far better.

Hope this helps, holler if you need more.