A forum for van conversions, van living and travel

Author Topic: First Conversion Project.  (Read 4241 times)

Funkleton

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
First Conversion Project.
« on: January 22, 2017, 02:18:59 PM »
Hi - first post and it's a long one :-)

I've been a biker for most of my motoring life, but I'm starting to get sick of the lack of shelter and the inability to haul any gear when I want to go diving / fishing / camping etc.

At this stage I don't feel like I need a full camper conversion - just a cosy space to have a cuppa when I've been rained off, a dry private place to get changed, or somewhere I can grab a few hours kip so that I'm fresh for the drive home after an all night fishing session.

I also want to start small - partly because I rarely drive more than a few hundred miles a year at the mo so I want to get used to driving a vehicle with double the correct number of wheels again - and partly so that I can learn the basics of converting a vehicle without biting off more than I can chew all in one go.

Having done some research I've narrowed down a few choices and would appreciate some feedback and advice.

Vehicle Selection.

I want the biggest small van I can get - car-derived or similar.
I'm not intending on long stays in the van, 2 nights would be exceptional, but I'll still need to throw down a camping mat and stretch out full length from time to time - so I'll need a 6ft load length and as much headroom as poss.
I also want a side door so I'm not always climbing in and out of the back.
In terms of budget I could spend up to around 4.5k on the basic van - but I'd rather not spend much more than about 2k and looking at whats available in that price range I don't think I'll need to.
The van that seems to tick all these boxes is the Transit Connect (LWB High Roof variant).
Has anyone had any experience converting one of these?
Any snags or pitfalls I want to look out for?
Are there any other similar vans I might want to look at?

I'm not going to go into what I have in mind for insulation - that's a huge post in its own right and a topic that attracts a million different opinions.
Suffice it to say I'm confident that I've specced a method and materials I'm confident with.
So we'll move straight to:

Paneling the Interior.

It seems to me that precut ply lining kits are the way forward.
They're only a few quid more than buying the materials and cutting them myself but will save a whole lot of time and effort.
Again, are there any snags or pitfalls associated with these kits ?
Any suppliers that warrant particular praise or avoidance?

Interior finish.

I'm a little bewildered by the options for the finish.
The simplest and cheapest option would be to buy some super cheap exhibition carpet and glue/tack it directly to the ply.
It doesnt seem like  a terrible idea as I'm likely to be wet and dirty getting in and out - so a super-plush interior might just get ruined.
But with a view to looking ahead to future projects, I would like to stretch my skills a little and give it a touch of class and comfort.

Because the ply lining kits don't cover the ceiling  ( at least I've not seen one with that option) I'm considering using some nice hardwood panelling to cover this.
It's pretty expensive stuff though so if anyone has any recommendations for where to get the best prices, or any tips for installing it, I would really appreciate it.
For the rest of the van I'd like to try some of the "ultra stretchy van lining fabric" they sell at West Country Campervans - they claim it's really easy to fit - but I have heard from some that it can be a bit of a bugger - are there any instructions, tips or tutorials for fitting this stuff?

Ventilation.

Given that this will be more of a day van and will only see occasional overnight use, I'm wondering if I should even bother with ventilation at all.
There isn't a great deal of additional expense involved for say a simple vented skylight, but it will complicate the conversion, particularly when it comes to fitting the ceiling.
Then again, if i do add some ventilation it does mean that when it comes to resale I could sell the van as a shell-scheme - ready for further conversion into a mini-camper proper if the new owner wishes.
Another alternative might be to fit a simple latch window into the side door  that I can pop open to create some airflow.
It'll cost a little more but it will be simpler to install, less prone to leak, and ticks one of the boxes required for getting the vehicle reclassified as a camper if a future owner decides to go down that route.
Once again - thoughts, tips, advice would be welcomed.

Electrics.

I won't need much more than somewhere to charge a phone - run a laptop for an hour or three, light the interior  - and maybe boil a kettle if I've left my Jetboil behind.
So I reckon a 85ah leisure battery that will charge off the alternator will be plenty - I'd probably add an inverter and a standard 240 socket or two - partly just for the practice and partly with resale in mind.
Any recommendations on these lines?

Bulkhead?
Having spent more than a few cold  nights sheltering from a winter storm in the passenger seat of a car parked next to Chesil Beach -  while the condensation dripped on me and my mate - it seems to me that it would be a good idea to keep the wonderful source of cold and damp that is the front cab separated from the rear - then again  in a van this size, you'll need every inch of space you can get.
What are the pros and cons of keeping / removing the Bulkhead that separates the front and rear?

I think that's pretty much it ...... for now :-)

kryten

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 79
  • Karma: +3/-0
    • View Profile
Re: First Conversion Project.
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2017, 06:08:05 PM »
Welcome to the forum. You haven't stated your location and your budget. A budget will help in suggestions for a van. I ask for a location, the country where you are will do, because I know of a small already converted van that will be for sale very soon. The van is in the UK and it doesn't belong to me. It might also help if your state your height, due to area available in small vans.

Funkleton

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: First Conversion Project.
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2017, 07:03:02 PM »
Welcome to the forum. You haven't stated your location and your budget. A budget will help in suggestions for a van. I ask for a location, the country where you are will do, because I know of a small already converted van that will be for sale very soon. The van is in the UK and it doesn't belong to me. It might also help if your state your height, due to area available in small vans.

Hi Kryten and thanks for the reply.

I'm based in South West UK (Dorset) and I'm 6ft tall.

I'm looking for a van with under 100k on the clock, no insurance history, and at least a partial service history - that puts the price for the basic van from between 1800 and 2,500.
I can go to a bit more, but checking prices online I know I don't have to.

Working off the published dimensions that gives me around 15 square meters that need insulating and lining. 400 - 600 depending on what quality of finish I go for.

Electrics I reckon around 200 - 250

So the top end of the budget is going to be in the region of 3.5k - I can go to a bit more, but like I said - I know I don't have to

kryten

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 79
  • Karma: +3/-0
    • View Profile
Re: First Conversion Project.
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2017, 08:31:36 PM »
I have contacted the van owner and waiting for a reply. As soon as I get something I will let you know.

Funkleton

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: First Conversion Project.
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 09:27:03 PM »
I have contacted the van owner and waiting for a reply. As soon as I get something I will let you know.

I'm happy to look, but I'm really set on doing my own conversion

V_Pip

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: First Conversion Project.
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2017, 08:39:34 AM »
I cant answer a lot of your questions as I am currently doing up my first van so not a whole lot of experience and I am also based in NZ.

My van didn't come with a bulk head so I am going to create a thick curtain to separate the rear from the front when staying over night, I am hoping this will be suffice for my needs/environment.