/ Van conversion: 17 days, step-by-step process video

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natetan - on 20 Sep 2016
Thought this might be of interest to people looking to convert a van for trips.. it is a day-by-day process for converting a builders van in to a (fairly pimped) off-grid camper.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wksm1xI1Ms0

Happy to answer any questions on the build!
Fraser on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:

Good effort! I only had a quick scan through the video but was impressed. (will watch the full thing later when I have more time.) One minor point was the small toggle switch on the roof, which looked like it could potentially do some damage to the old napper, if you're not careful!
natetan - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Fraser:

Thanks!

Yea, that bit is OK actually - it is positioned directly above the gas/cooking unit - so it is out of the way of your head.
La benya - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:

I really enjoyed that. Well done! Looks like a really nice place to be, instead of just somewhere that you can sleep if needed.
knighty - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:

Great video. Not only informative, but interesting to watch! I've just bought an older converted van, but if I use it enough, I'll be looking to do a top conversion like this.

A couple of questions:

Do you have a breakdown of the cost of the conversion?
What was the reason behind using LPG over calor type propane?
Would you do anything differently if you were to do it all again?

Cheers,
Knighty

johnwright - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:
I hope when your mate did the gas work, did you / he put in some floor vents below any gas appliances, it is very important, if you have any gas leaks, being heavier that air the gas will dissapear down the floor vents.
It's also very important that he checked the gas system for leaks using a U tube manometer or an electronic manometer.
The van looks great, hope have lots of fun using it.
regards John
Post edited at 22:58
johnwright - on 20 Sep 2016

> What was the reason behind using LPG over calor type propane?

Calor propane and butane are LPG, Using the Gaslow system means you can fill up with gas at most large garages and supermarkets in Europe. Calor do not sell gas outside of the UK.
Timmd on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to johnwright:

I guess having some extra ventilation is a good thing anywhere if you're cooking with gas.
johnwright - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Timmd:

> I guess having some extra ventilation is a good thing anywhere if you're cooking with gas.

Not only floor ventilation but roof ventilation aswell. Smoke alarms and CO alarms and a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket should be installed, if only for personal safety.
Timmd on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to johnwright:

Would a vent at the top and bottom of the door to the side be good enough?
Cheese Monkey - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Timmd:

I just open the door if I'm cooking. If it's raining then I only open it a little bit
teh_mark - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:

Fantastic video, and looks like a great conversion. I wish I had the patience to attempt one myself.
johnwright - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Timmd:

> Would a vent at the top and bottom of the door to the side be good enough?

Opening a door should be OK, but a vent in the roof would be best for CO2, but floor vents must be below any gas appliance and gas bottle. The vent need to be at least 50mm in diameter. The vents in my camper gas cupboard are 2 x 50mm. The van is a Autosleeper so they should have got the requirements right. If you need any more info I will look in the gas regs book.
natetan - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to teh_mark:

I don't have the patience hence doing it as fast as possible :D
In reply to natetan:

Superb video. I need a new van, now I'm inspired...
natetan - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to knighty:

Gas:
As with what JW said - plus the LPG is super cheap. To fill the 11kg canister cost 11 - I think in the past 2 months of using the van (1 month by myself, 1 month with two people) I reckon it has cost about 1.50 in gas.

On that basis my gas costs will be about 24/year - although that will depend on how much I use the heater in winter. That could easily double it..

Conversion costs:
I do, it was about 4k all-in for the conversion. Obviously spending that money means you need to spend a bit more on a decent base van.

My theory is that, by doing a good job (and use good materials that last), I can use it for 2-3 years and then sell it - and I will essentially get my money back despite the added millage. And, if it is essentially going to be free to own it, you might as well be as comfortable as possible!

I will put together a long blog post for the conversion; in this I will include the process, reasons for a lot of the decisions and my 'parts' spreadsheet as a download with supplier details and precise component costs/specs. My blog is at njmurphy.com - i think you can subscribe and get an email update when I push it live (might be a few weeks).
natetan - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to johnwright:

Thanks!

Yes! I put a vent in the floor and had it checked for gas leaks. I have been living in it for 2 months now and so far, no dying!
johnwright - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:

> Yes! I put a vent in the floor and had it checked for gas leaks. I have been living in it for 2 months now and so far, no dying!

That's great. The cost of LPG is good, much better than bottle gas especially that very expensive French stuff in the blue bottles. Can't bring myself to type the name in. Lol.
Regards John
teh_mark - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:

My patience when it comes to DIY, woodwork and anything involving any form of fabrication or crafting is pretty much zero. Electrics I can deal with, but cutting and assembling things...
Duncan Campbell - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to natetan:

Brilliant vid - I only scanned through, but it looks really useful! I am going to potentially be buying a van to spend time living in in the near future and would like to convert it myself so this will be really useful!

Thanks for sharing!
natetan - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to teh_mark:

haha fair enough.. the wood work does go on a bit!
gethin_allen on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to johnwright:

If using gaslow be aware there are different "standards" for filler fitting. The adapters are available but it's no good if you haven't got one.
natetan - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Duncan Campbell:

Cool, glad it might be useful!
johnwright - on 19:38 Wed
In reply to gethin_allen:

> If using gaslow be aware there are different "standards" for filler fitting. The adapters are available but it's no good if you haven't got one.

Good point, just been looking at the Gaslow site, very informative.

regards John
natetan - on 20:07 Wed
In reply to johnwright:

I got a set of continental adaptors (from eBay I think) for about 15
Tomtom - on 01:29 Thu
In reply to natetan:

Awesome, video and great channel. Love your estate car build too. Have a handful of praise and a dash of jealousy.
natetan - on 18:17 Fri
In reply to Tomtom:

hehe thanks!
Ben Sharp - on 11:26 Sat
In reply to natetan:

Great conversion, really enjoyed the video thanks.
kathrync - on 13:10 Sat
In reply to natetan:

Thanks for the video. We are (very slowly) converting a small van too - ours will be much less pimped, but you have given us some great ideas (and solved the problems we were having insulating the roof!)
Scott Anderson - on 21:47 Sat
In reply to natetan: Thoroughly enjoyed watching that! Have been thinking for a while about doing a stealth conversion.
You've given me some cracking ideas, excellent job!

philpdr - on 20:17 Sun
In reply to natetan:
Just a point on the use of the twin and earth cable .
From my experience as it's just a single core cable then it's not as flexible. When your van is chugging about the vibration it endures will potentially weaken the single core cable at connection points (like socket terminations etc).
Multi-strand cables are stronger which is why they are used in such applications like cars, vans & planes etc.........
Nice job though.
Post edited at 20:18
gethin_allen on 22:39 Sun
In reply to philpdr:

I was wondering why t+e was used rather than cheap flex.
My consideration would as much be that it could rattle around in the conduit when driving.
My parents have had vans for about 30 years and did a comprehensive conversion on the first one including gas fridge, cooker, heating, installing windows, roof vents, sinks, water tanks, chemical toilet.
In this case it was for a family of four so the focus was more one flexible seating and bedding systems that could be packed away neatly for driving and daytime use.
In this van everything was run on 12 v with a simple leisure battery and split charger setup so most cables in the living quarters were tiny.
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SteveM - on 13:15 Mon
In reply to natetan:
Great van and video, I'm very impressed! Interested to see the detail on your blog and the bill of materials/suppliers

Cheers
Steve M

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