VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

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GGWW
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VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by GGWW » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:44 pm

Im looking at buying a second hand van and converting it into a camper for extended trips away and travelling for work.

I'v been considering things like the Renault Traffic (LWB or SWB), Transits or even smaller things like the Citroen dispatch.

Drive-ability and fuel economy are key concerns, but at the same time I need a comfortable space I can survive Scottish winter nights and potentially months away in the summer. I will need room for kit storage, and a half decent table and stove.

I would like to have the option to fit my Kayak (Zet Raptor) inside. I wouldn't mind too much if it would require a bit of arranging in order to get it to fit. I would like to put it inside when its just me or when doing long trips i.e. driving to and from the Alps, but the boats would have to go on the roof when its getting used regularly to keep the living space dry.

Anyone's experiences of vanlife or what boats you can fit in which vans would be helpfull.

Thanks

jimip
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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by jimip » Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:19 pm

Hi there
We have a VW T5 as our camper and paddle bus. Best decision we ever made!
Have a mate who, for many years, ran a Berlingo and had that set up so he was able to sleep in it. Bit of a squeeze and you have to be organised.
Great compromise, in my option, would be something like a VW Caddy. Big enough to live in, small enough for convienience and economy.
Happy hunting and I'm sure once you find the right one you'll wonder how you lasted so long without one!

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by jam bo » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:16 pm

Happy with my T5 but I'd get the LWB if I were buying again. That extra 18" would come in handy.

The Chuckster
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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by The Chuckster » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:57 am

I have driven T4's and T5s for years and think they are great! Definitely go for the LWB as it gives that bit extra room.

Do think about your setup carefully, as it can become a real hassle in the future should your circumstances change slightly. I know people with small vans that can only fit one boat in, with the passenger seat pushed forwards, which is no good when 2 people are in the van! Others have bought the kits (cupboards, beds,etc that are cool but not so good when you want to put 6 boats in the back!

I have gone for a simple homemade set up. I want to use my van as a boat carrier, bike carrier, and it takes 7ish boats. I have built simple storage trunks up each side of the van to support a bench type wall to wall bed, so everything dry is above, and then we can fit 2 creek boats underneath with all the wet kit. This works well as we aren't putting wet stuff on top of clothes or a sleeping bag. We can fit all our food and cooking stuff in boxes in front of the boats. It is also easy just to pull up at night and have no faffing to do in setting up a bed

We have an awning which we put up for storing wet kit at night when on campsites, but when we live in laybys it can be a little damp inside, but we only ever do this for a max of 2 nights so not too bad!

We generally find cooking outside the van easier, and allows us to spread out more, and if you cook inside then you end up with the smell! We have a tailgate boot, and I can put a 4x4m tarp over the back of it for shelter when cooking if need be as well.

Plenty of people buy traffics, Transits etc and are just as happy with them. When buying second hand it is hard to say what will be reliable or not. A lot comes down to the previous owner. Looking for things such as high wear on the seat should suggest lots of town driving, therefore more wear on the gearbox/clutch. For the length of time you seem to want to spend in your van, I would go with the bigger models!

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by DaveBland » Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:37 pm

I agree with the last post – as it sounds like you area total dirtbag paddler I'm assuming you won't be going to a dealer to buy new!

...so, go for the best buy van that's available and then the outfitting comes secondary. In terms of fuel efficiency, one repair will blow any fuel savings out the water, so go for the best van for your cash.
dave

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Jim » Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:40 pm

Pay enough, a Sprinter for 2k is not the bargain it appears :)

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by yabbadabba » Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:08 am

Just a few thoughts.
For the money you save on mpg by going for the smaller van like the dispatch isn't worth it.
My favorite van is the Ivecos, built like a lorry underneath, good mpg for the size, drive well.
If possible buy a van that's wide enough to have the bed going across the van, makes the living space huge.
If you opt for a high top you have enough room for a false floor so all of your kayaking and wet gear goes underneath.
On the conversion look for under chassis water tanks, means you can carry enough water to rinse kayaking gear which helps keep the van smelling fresh. Another good tip is caravan gas heaters that are externally flued under the van, ideal for hanging your kit up to dry and for removing damp from the van when needed.
Curtains, use shower curtains where needed, don't hold moisture or smell.
Bed, cover with a decent throw, this absorbs any moisture and smell and keeps the duvet underneath smelling fresh.
Battery's, go for a dual charging setup linked from a live when the ignition is on, that way you can't accidentally leave the batters hooked up when the ignition is turned off. Also a decent leisure battert can jump start the engine battery if needed.
Solar panel, go for a decent solar panel, 40watt panel or more is needed to maintain charge on both battery's and run a car alarm.
Hook up all interior lights to the leisure battery including cabin lights.
Hook the alarm system to the leisure battery also.
If possible have access to the front of the van from the rear area, if harassed at night you have the option of climbing through and driving off rather than deal with muppets or worse.
Fit both smoke detectors and CO2 detectors, I have 2 of each for extra piece of mind.
Fit plent of lights all round inside to prevent shadowing, especially when cooking.
Have light switches at both ends of the van.
Fit lights to the back doors so when they are open you can illuminate the area around the back of the van, ideal for that late night BBQ etc.
Any questions feel free to ask :)

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by AlexC » Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:27 pm

Got a LWB T5. We definitely appreciate the extra room. It does mean that you search for specific parking spaces in car parks etc, but not too much problem.
Bear in mind insurance costs, I pay around £250 fully comp. If you do a self coversion then getting insurance is very expensive/tricky. The rules they chuck at you are daft.

Had some excellent trips in ours. Skiing weekends to Tignes, Cairngorm, Glencoe at short notice (admittedly Tignes was a long weekend). Cairngorm was memorable because the temp inside was -5C and outside -9C. The two kids (4 and 6 years old) were upstairs in the poptop in toasty warm sleeping bags.

Amazing day in GlenCoe last year when we slept in the carpark on Friday night. Saturday the road got blocked so almost nobody got in to the carpark till much later. We had almost 5 hours lapping the dark side carpark run in perfect powder with hardly anyone else there. Without the van we'd have been stuck with everyone else.

But boy do they costs shitload to buy, and to put diesel in....

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by DaveBland » Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:49 am

One thing I forgot to mention...
I've seen a bunch of converted vans – especially over here they are pretty common and by far the best set ups are the flexible ones.

A raised floor to cover the wheel arches and stick all sorts of crap under. A memory foam mattress in top. Then loads of sturdy plastic tubs and lids [that make great seats and storage and table-tops] that can be shuffled around and secured to straps on the sides. As said above all cooking outside under awning. This set-up gives you max flexibility and loses none of the function, is super cheap and lightweight and doesn't duff up the van if you wanna sell it later.

Good luck!
dave

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Dave Manby » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:18 pm

If insulting don't use fibre glass or celotex as it causes rust. Use spray foam insulation http://www.icynene.com/en-us I know the site is US but they have UK sprayers. Stops warm moist air hitting cold steel and condensing behind all you boarding out.

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by DaveBland » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:19 pm

Dave Manby wrote:If insulting don't use fibre glass...
Does this mean we can't have a go at you for paddling old boats Dave?
dave

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Dave Manby » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:32 pm

DaveBland wrote:
Dave Manby wrote:If insulting don't use fibre glass...
Does this mean we can't have a go at you for paddling old boats Dave?
Spell check failure!!!!!!

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:16 am

Dave, got any leads for spray foam in the UK?
That site claims they have dealers worldwide and when you click on the link to find one it is US only.
American self-convertors seem to swear by using spray foam - it bonds directly to the paintwork so there is nowhere water can get against the body even as vapour or by capillary action, also it follows the shape of the panel which is impossible with celotex or kingspan.

Also if your van sills extend below the chassis (sprinter ones do) - get underneath and look for platic plugs covering holes into the sill cavity (which is probably common with the side cavities above - it is in the sprinter, any condensation ends up down in the sills) pry them out and spray chassis wax liberally inside the sill cavity (you may to cover any gap into the main body of the van, to stop the spray coming up through). You can get aerosol cans of waxoyl, but if you have a compressor you have much more choice - underseal guns are inexpensive and generally have a chassis wax applicator extension too, then you can use something like Dinitrol (they have several different waxes). And if the underside isn't undersealed, that is well worth doing as soon as you get it too - don't wait for the rust to start before undersealing and waxing cavities! Obviously wax inside the chassis tubes too.

Also, if you get a Mercedes van go for a colour other than Arctic White - it appears that all other colours, especially metallics/pearlescent, get a clear coat over the top, Arctic White doesn't, and always seems to rust more quickly than other colours. This may or may not be fact, and maybe you can order white with a clear coat? Maybe there are just so many more white Mercedes vans that everyone has seen rusty white ones?

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Dave Manby » Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:34 pm

I used it when I renovated my Nesscliffe house http://www.airtighthousetesting.co.uk/a ... gatehouse/. Try 0800 4334833 somewhere I have a number for one of their operatives who told me that a lot of people were using it on narrow boats and van conversions. If I come across the card I let you know.

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by lds1973 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:10 pm

I had an old Peugeot expert for MX and it was brilliant, got a nice dark blue one so no white van man. Drives like a car, 1.9 diesel (no turbo, but 2.0 HDI available) was slow but sat at 80mph on motorways. When not getting used as a van it was car like, takes up a normal car parking space. Very practical, fancy having another for kayaking. Roof wont be that high too. 3 good seats in the front if you need to do the school run. You can get a cracking one for 2K and they'll run forever if looked after.

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Dave Manby » Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:38 pm


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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Jim » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:42 am

Cheers Dave - bookmarked for when I finish welding my van back together (or when I give up on it and buy another one).

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by yabbadabba » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:10 am

Finally got round to uploading some random pics of my beast.

Insurance - £280 fully comp as a self build camper.

Insulation, personal opinions.

Spray - Dont use because it can absorb moisture, sticks to everything which will be a problem if you ever have to remove it for working on the van (Think welding or crash damage etc).
Fibre insulation - Absorbs smell, absorbs and holds water, horrible to fit.

After lots of thought I went for big bubble wrap. Does not absorb moisture, no smell, easy to fill cavitys, no need for glue, easy to remove in the future. Oh and cheap, 100m roll for about £15. I have had the van nice and toasty inside using the gas heating and the snow has not melted off the roof so it works well.
On the thought of insulation, window covers are good. Cardboard shaped to the size of the windows, wrapped in bubble wrap then tin foil. Keeps heat in, cold out and stops condensation.

Well below you have a few pics of my rough self build camper. Its been with me for nearly 5 years now, lots of memorys and fun.

I couldnt add images to the post hence the links.

Any questions feel free to ask.

http://img908.imageshack.us/img908/9765/bQMMBC.jpg
http://img905.imageshack.us/img905/7441/jv7hVF.jpg
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http://img910.imageshack.us/img910/7342/YM5xXX.jpg
http://img910.imageshack.us/img910/8379/vSNsBw.jpg

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by Dave Manby » Thu Jan 21, 2016 7:54 am

yabbadabba wrote:Finally got round to uploading some random pics of my beast.

Insurance - £280 fully comp as a self build camper.

Insulation, personal opinions.

Spray - Dont use because it can absorb moisture, sticks to everything which will be a problem if you ever have to remove it for working on the van (Think welding or crash damage etc).
Fibre insulation - Absorbs smell, absorbs and holds water, horrible to fit.
Icynene is a water propelled expanding foam. There are two types one sticks like shit the other sticks but you can remove it fairly easily (from brickwork is my only experience). It's huge advantage is that moisture does not pass through it because any moisture will condense on the cold steel of the van and then cyou have built a rust bucket!

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Re: VANS- discussion, advise, experiences ect.

Post by chrissloan » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:56 pm

I have a Nissan Primastar (same as a Renault Traffic). It's great, cheaper than a VW so I could afford one with less miles on. I got a LWB and built a kitchen unit across the back so that you can cook from inside or outside. I then put a bed along the side opposite the door with storage space underneath. It's long enough for most creekboats, a short wheelbase one might not be.

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