/ Living in a van?

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CharlieMack - on 09 Jan 2013
So i'm thinking about buying a van and converting it to live in for a while, to go touring round Europe on a climbing mission.

What is the best van do do this to? And why (cheapest/ easiest to convert)?

Any top tips? Wood-burning stove? Don't use boulder mat as bed? Etc.
Croakinglizard - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack: Transit is always good. I have a VW T4 and I love it but if I was going to actually live in it I'd want a high top so i could stand up.
Being a Ford you'll be able to get parts easy and cheaper than for a VW.
The conversion options are endless. Mine is very simple so it can be used and abused. You make it all pretty and bespoke are you gonna want to dump wet and dirty gear in the back?
The most important thing to worry about is the engine n gear box. Make sure what ever you get is mechanically sound n it doesn't really matter what interior you have
TheDrunkenBakers - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Croakinglizard:
> (In reply to CharlieMack) Transit is always good. I have a VW T4 and I love it but if I was going to actually live in it I'd want a high top so i could stand up.
> Being a Ford you'll be able to get parts easy and cheaper than for a VW.
> The conversion options are endless. Mine is very simple so it can be used and abused. You make it all pretty and bespoke are you gonna want to dump wet and dirty gear in the back?
> The most important thing to worry about is the engine n gear box. Make sure what ever you get is mechanically sound n it doesn't really matter what interior you have

Agreed. Tranny is probably the best and cheapest option. I assume you have camped and therefore all you need is your normal camping gear minus the tent. Dont worry about standing up either, that's what outside is for. Dont forget the insect repellent.

CharlieMack - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

Being only wee (5'6) I'm not too bothered about standing up space. And i'm not too bothered about it looking glitz and glam. Its going to get used and abused. So i'll be putting in lino floor etc for easy wipe down.
Transit sounds like the way forward, big enough to live in without being absolutely huge and inefficient on fuel.

Does anyone know any good places to look up good pre-converted vans circa 3000?

Out of interest, how does insurance work if you're planning on living in and moving about work. Do you go through special companies, or do you state it somewhere in the options.
Skip - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:
I lived in vans for a good few years. My first was a semi high top, long wheel base transit. Reasonable on fuel and easy enough to find "park-ups". I really advise getting something you can stand up, it gets really annoying/uncomfortable very quickly if you can't stand. I then moved onto a Mercedes 408 (i think), much better on room, but worse on fuel.

It's worth looking at a Ford Iveco, plenty of space and not too bad on fuel.
I advise installing a wood-burning stove, i had one in all 3 vans i lived in.

I currently live in a caravan.
gethin_allen on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:
My top tip is buy a CO monitor and a smoke alarm.
Otherwise, make sure it's secure, possibly add a small safe store box hidden somewhere for your important stuff like passports just in case someone breaks in (it does happen unfortunately).
Insurance wise, unless it has a set selection of campervan type items in it (cooker, sink etc etc. can't remember the list) you will be stuck with commercial vehicle insurance. Most standard european cover on insurance is limited to 30 days abroad in the year, so you'll have to get something special sorted, try camping and caravaning club or if you have ever been a civil service worker (even if it was only for 5 min) look at the CSMA civil service motoring association.
Bobling - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:
> (In reply to Croakinglizard)
> [...]
>
> Dont worry about standing up either, that's what outside is for.

Absolutely right, so you can get cold/rained on and bitten by insects when you are cooking your dinner, on the ground by the light of your head torch, oh - you get dust in it when its windy too. Nice.

@TheDrunkenBakers I'm not having a dig , just using sarcasm to make my point!

TheDrunkenBakers - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Bobling:
> (In reply to TheDrunkenBakers)
> [...]
>
> Absolutely right, so you can get cold/rained on and bitten by insects when you are cooking your dinner, on the ground by the light of your head torch, oh - you get dust in it when its windy too. Nice.
>
> @TheDrunkenBakers I'm not having a dig , just using sarcasm to make my point!

So no different to camping then.

Just trying to save cash and hassle.

Cú Chullain - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

There is a great book by a bloke called Chris Scott called: The Overlanders Handbook

I used it extensively when kitting out my motor for my Africa trip. There is a huge section on how to do self build conversions. Now there is a bias towards 4x4 vehicles and trucks but there is still lots of sound advice that can be applied to vans. Especially when it comes to electronics, water, cooking, storage, bed systems etc etc.
gethin_allen on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:
> (In reply to Bobling)
> [...]
>
> So no different to camping then.
>
> Just trying to save cash and hassle.

I always though that the whole point of getting a van was to move one up from camping. sleeping in a tent is fine, it's the other stuff like standing up and cooking in the dry that is where you gain with a van.
jezb1 - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack: I spend at least a few nights a week in the van from nov - march, and lots more over the rest of the year.

Get one you can stand up in. I can't in mine and after a while it becomes depressing.
marmot hunter - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to jezb1
Thinking about height: I think the auotoroutes etc charge more for vehicles over a certain hieght.
jezb1 - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter: You're right, they do. Still worth it in my mind though thinking long term.
butteredfrog - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

Think insulation, a well insulsated van reduces the condensation issues a lot.
CharlieMack - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

Cheers for the info folks. I'll look into that about the higher prices for height on auto routes, see if i can make it just under, but still be able to stand in it. As i'm only wee, that should be achievable!
Bobling - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

Pop-top?
stroppygob - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack: Why bother with all the fuss, why not buy a ready converted campervan?
IanC - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:
> (In reply to CharlieMack)
> My top tip is buy a CO monitor and a smoke alarm.

Seconded, especially the CO (carbon monoxide) alarm.
gethin_allen on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
I thought that the peage (sp) charges depend a lot on if they consider the vehicle to be a campervan or a commercial van, but it's been a while since I went through a toll in anything that could be confused between the two.
marmot hunter - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:
Don't know but we met a couple with a high top van who had been stung for pretty much double prices(I seem to remember) thanks to their higher roofed van.
Theeni - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

Having the space to stand up in when it is shitty outside is a massive bonus (having camped in both types) if you are planning to go to Europe though would it be safe to assume you are going for a fair weather summer trip so you will probably be okay with standing outside. If you want the height to stand up in a pop-top is the way forward. If it is windy park to avoid getting dust inside.

The most important thing is that it is roadworthy, invest on something that has been looked after else you will constantly be in the garage. On VW/Ford I am VW biased but would say that their spares wuold be reasonably easy to acquire in Europe what with Germany being pretty large and influential. Make sure it is well insulated and you definitely want a window so you can see what is going on outside when you are in the back if it has a bulkhead.
goosebump - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:
Ive owned a T4 and now have a scudo. My top tips are;

Self Build Motor Caravan Club website for endless self build ideas and forums.

Adrian Flux for insurance. They cover all kinds of oddities and arent expensive. If you fit any kind of burner (hob or stove), or admit to lighting fires within your vehicle, ordinary insurance will not cover you.

Ive never gone high top since its limits what car parks you can get into. Most in the UK are 2.1m, though some multi-storeys are scarily tight at that. Im short too, and never missed the full standing up experience, though I never spent more than a week in the van.

Take a small tent. If using campsites, pitch the tent and throw all your crap in it. Assuming the van isnt massive you *should* only be charged for one vehicle and one tent (ie same as ordinary camping). The van is then a luxurious sleeping den, with less stuff rolling around in the back when you are zooming to the crag, and without the smell of festering clothes and damp cheese etc. It also saves you a pitch at the campsite.

Oh, one last one, I got ex-MOD foam mattresses for the back and they are FAB. Cant for life of me remember the website, but they shifted all kinds of ex military stuff mainly from barracks, lots of tables and desks as I recall.

Good luck and have a good time!
cuppatea on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

I've previously had some very good prices and very good service from Frank Pickles Insurance.

http://www.frankpickles.co.uk/

Real people who you can talk to, not some call centre where the salesmen read from scripts and tick boxes.

Gudrun - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to CharlieMack:

Couldnay be arsed to raed the therad but my BF lived in a van for a couple a years.Duno wot it woz but he dreams of me and him livin in some camoflaged ex-Nato friggin merc thingy but i insisted that i'd *only* travel and live in it if it had a soviet Red Star on the side.

Up the fckuin workers!
nniff - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to goosebump:
> (In reply to CharlieMack)
>
> Oh, one last one, I got ex-MOD foam mattresses for the back and they are FAB.
>

Euww! Each one with it's own wee map of Europe!

Still, I suppose it made navigation easy! ;o)

ads.ukclimbing.com
goosebump - on 13 Jan 2013
In reply to nniff:

hahahahha - they were surplus stock, new and unused! Just the thought of sweaty squaddy bollocks, <shudders> urgh!

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