Making A Van Into A Home
The first thing you need to convert a van, is well a van.
This sounds like the easy bit, but trust me on this its not. Many hours of research will be needed to ensure you decide on the right van, cash will be a major factor and how you intend to use it.
For us the van had to be our home as we rented the house out, returned too early from our foreign adventures, and were therefore unexpectedly homeless.
Once we had decided on our van a Mercedes Sprinter MWB we then began the long process of visiting garages and test driving them. Jac wanted a MWB sprinter van with the bulk head out, I wanted a LWB sprinter van with the bulk head in, we nearly bought a MWB van, but then the test drive lasted approximately 95 seconds at which point the van suddenly went into limp mode and it took 15 minutes to get back. Turns out MWB Sprinters are like rocking horse poo to find, so we ended up with a LWB in the end as time was ticking on.
The next essential for van conversion, is somewhere to park so you can work on it, preferable off road and if possible flat. Converting a van on a slope will not be fun, you will lose a lot of screws as they roll out of the back doors. You will also need tools, an ability to perform some DIY, a large sense of humour and a high pain and cold threshold, if you are converting in the depths of winter as we were.
However if you are completely inept at DIY, and have lost your sense of humour in a hospital in Kathmandu, then you better have someone else to make it happen, you will need a Jac.
Fortunately for me, Jac’s folks also have an off road parking spot that came with an ensuite house, that they let us stay in for many weeks, and take over with our multitude of parcels from Amazon.
Other essentials to build a camper van will be.
A Master craftsman (AKA Tony the wonder dad) with a garage full of tools, that I was not allowed to touch, (see inept DIY comment).
Luckily for me Jac has inherited some of the Master craftsman skills and she is a dab hand with a circular saw, though waving it around in my general direction on occasions was a bit harsh!
Her brother is also very good with gas … fitting not pumping, though saying that, I have heard him let out some spectacular farts (must have got that from Carol.. :D)
Superb catering facilities are also essential to keep morale and energy up, and theses were always provided with a smile from catering services (AKA Carol the wonder cook) she provided breakfast, lunch and tea, plus coffee at 10.30 am and tea and cake at 3.30 pm.
A word of caution DO NOT even think about messing with these timings as they are critical to the smooth operation of the Master craftsman, he can’t function without a coffee and two biscuits at 10.30am on the dot.
I on the other hand am not related to the Brown clan, so have none of these skills. I am, and have been called on a number of occasions a scrubber, so I scrubbed and when there was nothing left to scrub, clean, or tidy, I went on numerous trips to B&Q, Screw fix, Tool station, the wood shop and Ikea, I went that often I was on first name terms with all the staff.
Things I have learnt ;
Opening up the bonnet of your van and peering inside at the engine, gives the impression that you know what your looking for, the reality is that you do not have a Scooby doo, However it will help immensely if your brother is a motor mechanic and you have an iphone, as you can send him pics and let him listen to the engine ticking over. If anything is wrong with the van you have just bought you can then blame it on your brother.