/ Panel van conversion tips

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lewiz - on 25 Jul 2014
Good evening

I'm looking for a van to drive 2 people around Europe for 2-3 months to climb. When not on trips I need to use it for weekend trips in the UK so it needs to transport 3 people minimum.

I've ruled out large vans so I'm thinking something the size of a SWB or MWB transit.

Budget for conversion (e.g. after buying a van) is £2000-£3000 to include bed, fridge, porta potti, shelves, etc. I'm thinking of a 'standard side layout' (e.g. )
The standard layouts look great but seem lacking in terms of storage space. I'd want large bouldering pad, 2 60l rucksacks, tent, sleeping bag, etc. This lot will obviously all go in but it seems it will be pretty horrible at the same time as living.

What's everybody's experience with MWB-sized Transit campers? Should I be worried about storage space?

cheers, Lewis
Iwan - on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to lewiz:
I'm currently converting a swb medium roof Tranny for one person use. I've prolly spent £600 on insulation, £300 on carpet and spray glue, £500 on vents and roof lights, £1000 on heating, £300 on leisure batteries, £300 on wiring and the list just goes on... I'm starting to understand why camper vans are so expensive!
chris687 - on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to lewiz:

I have a Vauxhall Movano and I have lived in it in the Alps in Summer and Winter for up to 3 months at a time. It is ideal for storing kit as it is built in a Motocross van style with a garage area beneath the bed, now climbing kit and mountain bikes. This means that the kit stays separate from living space which is quite important for long spells, especially if there is more than one person staying in the van. Insulating it doesn't need to cost much I think I spent around £100.
Alasdair Fulton - on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to lewiz:

Fridges are expensive - so make sure you budget well for that.

If you get a MWB Transit you should have enough space to make a small "garage" in the rear. This could easily store boulder mates and ropes.

Transporting 3 is easy - buy on with 3 front seats. 4 is more difficult as you'd need proper rear seats which are heavy and expensive.

I can send you some photos of our conversion if you want isnpiration. It's very much non standard layout...
Denni on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to lewiz:

Don't bother with a fridge. We went round Europe in our old Bay window with one of these:

Charges up quickly either in the house or in the cigarette socket and when we were wild camping, it has a battery mode which kept our stuff cold for 3 days.

We take it everywhere, down the beach, camping and it has been dropped and had heavy loads left on it for days but still works perfectly and of course benefits from being mobile.

Hope this helps, Den
MaranaF - on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to Denni:

What did you power it with?

My "proper" 12v fridge runs off a 80w solar panel mounted on the roof of the van when we are in the Alpes.
Denni on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to MaranaF:

Cigarette lighter socket when driving, normal 3 pin socket with campsite hook and we also had a solar panel set up to charge it (an electrician made us up the correct cablefor a tenner) but never used it as we were only away from campsites max 3 days at a time and if the cooler was plugged into electricity for a day, the inbuilt battery would keep, and still does, our stuff cool for 3 days.

We only bought it because our 3 way fridge packed in 2 days before we left for our trip. In the long run it was one of the best camping purchases we have made!
MaranaF - on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to Denni:

OK, that would work, we rarely had plug in power available, usually parked up at the crag in the mountains for a few days at a time.
gethin_allen on 26 Jul 2014
In reply to lewiz:

fitting elasticated nets on the roof can be useful for storing light objects like bouldering mats and when you are set up somewhere more long term put them outside under the van.

If you have the storage space at home for the bits when not in use you could rig a setup where the bed/sofa unit is removable and can be replaced with a standard seating unit from a ford tourneo of whatever the official minibus equivalent of the base unit you buy is. These come with all the seatbelts and safety stuff required to be legal and can usually be fitted and removed easily enough. Also, these seats are usually much more comfortable for long journeys than campervan convertible seats.
Kenny Stocker - on 31 Jul 2014
In reply to lewiz:

I am part way through converting my Vivaro. Haven't gone for the full camper conversion as i wanted to be able to easily switch it back to a basic van. I created a gear garage in the back based around this concept here:

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