My DIY Motorhome Conversion Reviewed – After 13 Weeks Away and 25,000 Miles

Disclosure: This is a review of my own vehicle which I converted myself. Unless otherwise stated, I paid for all elements of the conversion myself and did not receive any discounts or freebies.

However, links marked with (eBay⇒) or (Amazon⇒) are affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.

It’s been 18 months now since I finished my Ford Transit-based DIY conversion and in that time my wife and I have been lucky enough to enjoy 4 long trips away, totalling 13 weeks. That’s enabled us to get a really good understanding of what works in the van and what we’d do differently in our conversion if we did it again.

I thought it might be interesting for anyway planning their own conversion to read about our experiences with ours. To keep things simple, I’ve divided this article up into a number of sections, reflecting the different elements of the conversion.

I’ve also written a guide to all of the parts used in the conversion, which you can find here.

  1. Furniture and Storage
  2. Windows, Carpet Lining and Insulation
  3. Seating and Bed
  4. Electrics
  5. Water, Toilet and Washing
  6. Cooking and Gas
  7. Base Vehicle
  8. Final Thoughts

Furniture & Storage

My van's side conversion furniture
Classic VW-style layout, but benefiting from the 10cm or so extra width of the Transit to make the cupboards deeper!

The basic design for our van was the classic VW side conversion – that is, furniture units down the offside of the van with a sofa that converts to a bed on the nearside and a demountable foldaway table.

The furniture was built for us by Scott at Convert Your Van (eBay⇒), who I’d recommend. He used high quality Vohringer board and Reimo trim to create a lightweight, smart and functional setup with a fair amount of storage. He has standard designs for common base vehicles but is also happy to build to custom designs.

After 25,000 miles (the van is our ‘car’, as well) and 18 months, everything is still working well and in one piece. The Vohringer board still looks smart and wipes clean easily, and the push-button catches work well and look good too. Storage wise, there is plenty of space, although the large rear cupboard is hard to use effectively. It has a shelf in it (at the same height as the counter top) but no other subdivision of space. This means that stuff at the back is hard to reach from inside the van, although we have improved this by buying eight small plastic storage boxes which stack on the shelf neatly, enabling us to fill the space completely without it becoming a complete mess (we tend to go away for weeks at a time, so clothes storage is important as often encounter a wide variety of weather conditions and cannot wash clothes too regularly).

The other change we would make is for the rear cupboard not to go right up to the roof of the van – instead, for it to be closed off a few inches below the roof, so the top of the cupboard would function as a large shelf, with a barrier around the edge. This would mean that small items, such as books, could be kept there when we’re away. This was actually suggested to us by Scott but we chose to have the cupboard built right up to the roof instead! Our mistake, but not a big deal.

In addition to the storage provided by the furniture, we have a considerable amount of space under the bed, where we keep food, spare kitchen/toilet rolls, walking boots and all sorts of other things in plastic crates (like wine purchased when in France!). This is indispensable for long trips away.

Additional storage for odd items is provided by a large cargo net type storage pocket that is fastened across the top half of the tailgate.

Windows, Carpet Lining & Insulation

Although it’s a fairly small van, I was determined to make it well insulated and ventilated, especially since we don’t have heating – so good insulation is the next best thing! Here’s a recap of what I did:

1. Used 2″x1″ wooden battens to raise the floor by an inch and filled the void with natural wool type loft insulation.
2. Filled the space behind the wall and ceiling panels with loft insulation.
3. Fitted Seitz S4 windows (eBay⇒) to both sides of the van. These are double glazed, with integral fly screens and heat-reflective blinds
4. Carpet lined the walls and ceiling, used lino to cover the floor.
5. Since I did the conversion, I’ve added a Dometic GY20 (eBay⇒) roof vent which works well, was cheap and doesn’t let insects in (except the occasional Scottish midge…). I might now choose the GY11, however, which is the same but has an electric fan in it. This would really be useful sometimes.

Overall, we are very happy with the way all of this works. We have slept comfortably without heating in fairly cold weather (down to low single digits ºC) without being too cold. Likewise in hot weather – the insulation and double-glazed windows mean that the temperature in the back of the van is far more stable than the temperature in the (uninsulated) cab section, which gets much hotter/colder, depending on external conditions. We have curtains to seperate the cab off but also have a set of insulated internal silver screens (eBay⇒) for the cab which help a lot and are recommended.

The Seitz windows are worthy of individual mention – they are easy to fit (click here for my fitting guide) and are infinitely superior to single-glazed glass vehicle windows (e.g. bonded windows), although with hindsight I would try to fit slightly larger ones.

Seitz windows, open, closed and with blinds down
Seitz S4 window, from L-R: Closed, open with fly screen down and closed with blind up (on the outside these blinds are silver so are heat reflective).

I cannot understand why supposedly upmarket converters like Auto-Sleepers sell panel van conversions with single-glazed glass windows all round rather than proper double-glazed caravan/motorhome windows like our Seitz units. Single-glazed windows don’t help to insulate the van, they suffer badly from condensation and are generally not suited for accommodation use (our last van had a single-glazed window in the rear, so I speak from experience).

Seating and Bed

Rock and roll bed in seating position with table
The seat in seating mode with the table setup (it mounts on a rail above the cupboard and unhooks and folds away when not in use)

The van’s layout meant that our only option was a pull-out sofa/bed, of the type known as a rock and roll bed (eBay⇒). If you are looking at buying one of these, they fall into two main categories:

1. Sophisticated items that convert to a bed very easily and are suitable for use as travel seats (when correctly installed with seat belts). The best examples of these are made by RIB (eBay⇒) and they are amazingly expensive (£2,000+). They are excellent, however.

2. Cheap welded constructions (eBay⇒) that concertina to make a sofa and then slide out to make a bed. These generally cost upwards of £200 and vary considerably in easy of use and quality. Better ones have special hinges that make it easier to fold up the bed. They are NOT always suitable for use as travel seats.

Ours is not very easy to use and wasn’t especially well made.

Rock and roll bed in bed mode
In bed mode – it occupies all the length of the van except for around 50cm, which provides space for the toilet box and allows the toilet to be used when the bed’s out

When we tried to fit it, we discovered that one leg was in the wrong place. Luckily, my brother-in-law had a welder and was able to rectify this. Earlier this year, we found that one of the (welded-on) hinges had broken. Looking at it, I don’t think it was fitted quite straight when made. I’ve replaced it with a new hinge that I’ve bolted on. So far, so good.

The other problem with our design is that while it pulls out into bed mode easily, folding it up into sofa mode requires considerable strength. I’ve improved this by fitting a strap that enables me to lift up the back to start the process more easily, but it still is awkward to do.

One final complication for us was that this type of bed is generally made to fit in VW Transporter vans. When fitted, it sits against the nearside of the van and straddles the nearside rear wheel arch. It turns out that the rear wheel arches of a front-wheel drive Transit are much higher than those of a VW Transporter – so our bed had to be made with longer legs in order to fit over the wheel arch. This has made it slightly too high to sit on comfortably, but it is our fault really for not researching/planning this more carefully. (Rear-wheel drive Transits have lower arches, due to the higher floor necessitated by the drive shaft.)

Overall, the bed was a cost-effective budget solution but seriously lacks sophistication or ease of use. If I did it again, I wouldn’t buy one of these cheap units, I’d make something myself from wood, even though it would take longer.

For cushions, we bought a foam futon mattress from Ikea and trimmed some of the foam off the edge to make it the right width. My mother-in-law was then kind enough to re-sew the covers so they fitted properly. It’s very comfy indeed and didn’t cost much more than buying the foam on its own (eBay⇒) – recommended!

Electrics

Our aim when away in this van was to mostly use aires and wild camp for overnight accommodation – not to use campsites. I therefore wanted a solution that would keep the leisure battery (eBay⇒) charged without using electric hookup regularly.

At this point, I have to confess that I was a bit too clever for my own good… Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

First of all, the good points:

1. Good quality 12V LED lights (eBay⇒) throughout – expensive, but worth it. They hardly use any power (ours are 2W each) and never make a dent on the battery. You can use them as much as you like on dark evenings without worrying about power consumption.

12V LED lighting in motorhome

2. Sterling 600W inverter (eBay⇒). Good quality piece of kit that charges almost everything without a problem. We keep it switched off when not in use as it has a quiescent (idle) current of 0.4A.

Sterling 600W 12V inverter

3. 110Ah leisure battery (eBay⇒). Good battery life once we took the fridge out of the equation (read on…)

Bad points:

Having followed the extensive debates in the SBMCC forums over whether a small 240V domestic fridge could be used, with an inverter, to provide a cheaper alternative to a 12V compressor fridge, I decided to give it a try with my single 110Ah battery. To keep it all optimally charged, I fitted a Sterling Battery to Battery Charger (eBay⇒).

This was a mistake. I’m sure that B2B charger is a great bit of kit but I would have needed at least twice the battery capacity for this setup to work, I think. The charger was always working overtime and I fried one inverter (a cheaper, 350W unit), due to the power surge required when the 240V compressor in the fridge started up.

After some trial and error and collateral damage (the van battery also failed, I think because of the B2B charger constantly running at maximum load), I gave up. We now only switch the fridge on when we have mains hookup. I have also sold the B2B charger and replaced it with a simple voltage-sensing relay (eBay⇒), which seems to work very well. I’d recommend this.

The battery is now only used for lights, water pump and laptop/phone charging and the whole setup is kept adequately charged by daily driving. We have no fridge (surprisingly manageable) but have achieved our goal of not needing electric hookup. If money was no object, I’d now buy a Waeco 12V compressor fridge (eBay⇒), but at £400-£500 each, money is an objection!

Lesson learned: Motorhome fridges (whether 12V compressor or 3-way 12V/gas/240V models) are expensive for a reason – they are actually suitable for continuous use in a motorhome. We’d be better off with a 12V coolbox (eBay⇒) than our 240V fridge, as at least we could run that easily when we are driving each day, just switching it off at night.

Water, Toilet and Washing

Since we wanted to be self sufficient and use aires/wild camp extensively, we needed basic washing facilities and a toilet. I’ve written about our toilet solution here and it remains an excellent setup that can even be used when the bed is out. Although privacy is minimal, capacity is excellent (our Porta Potti 365 (eBay⇒) has the maximum size 21l waste tank) and so far, quality and durability has been excellent, too. Housing the toilet in a large box provides an extra seat and looks much more attractive, too.

25l fresh water and waste water tanks below the sink
The downside of having the tanks like this is that they do take a lot of cupboard space and the water is more awkward to fill than with an external filler. On the other hand, the waste water can be carried to an emptying point where necessary.

I decided against fitting underbody fresh or waste water tanks to the van and went for internal, removable water containers. It could be argued that this wastes internal storage space but it did make installing the water simpler. In the cupboard under the sink, we have a 25l fresh water container (eBay⇒), into which a standard caravan-style 12v submersible pump (eBay⇒) goes. We also have a 25l waste water container, into which the sink drains. Naturally the sink (eBay⇒) (with cold tap only (eBay⇒)) serves for both personal washing and culinary washing up – there ain’t room for two sinks!

The fresh water can be filled in situ, thanks to a funnel/pipe arrangement, and the waste water can be unstrapped and lifted out in a few seconds for emptying. This does mean you can be a bit more flexible with emptying – you don’t need to be able to drive over a drain.

We also carry two 10l water carriers (eBay⇒) under the bed at the rear of the van which we use to store additional fresh water and to collect fresh water when filling the main water container. All of this works quite well and is reasonably satisfactory – although perhaps I should have fitted a proper grey or fresh water tank (eBay⇒), if only to free up more cupboard space.

Cooking and Gas

Single burner Camping Gaz stove installed in van
Screwed down through the base, this isn’t bad for £10 and doesn’t require bottled gas

We didn’t want to have a full gas installation in our van so had a fairly narrow choice of cooking setups. Having considered the fantastically expensive, marine-style Origo sprit-burning stoves (eBay⇒), we decided that we could manage with a single burner and got a Camping Gaz stove (eBay⇒) of the type that uses aerosol-sized disposable gas canisters. By putting a screw through each of the feet of this ‘portable’ stove, it was permanently fixed to the worktop! This is a cheap and cheerful setup but we find it adequate – and we self cater almost all the time, so do give it a fair amount of use.

Obviously this setup can also provide hot water for washing, when we need it.

Base vehicle

Last, but by no means least, is the vehicle itself – our 2001 short wheelbase Ford Transit (eBay⇒) 100T280. I’ve been very happy with this. It’s good to drive and averages 35mpg (with the 2.0TDDI engine – update 2016: in my opinion, based on eight years of ownership, this is a really great engine).

It’s small enough to use as a car in day-to-day life, but the extra width (compared to a VW Transporter (eBay⇒)) makes a big difference in terms of space in the accommodation section. Being a Ford, it’s been pretty reliable and is cheap enough to service and repair when necessary.

Although I lust after a Mercedes Sprinter (eBay⇒), I’d be happy to have another Transit (this one is my second, anyway!).

Final Thoughts

Our conversion was done on a budget and overall, I’m very happy with it. While there are a few things I’d change, none of them are show-stoppers and we’ve already had a lot of use out of the van, which enables us to travel to all sorts of places independently and quite cheaply. It’s also great fun.

Although it isn’t a typical motorhome, it is self-contained and does everything it needs to do – in a vehicle that’s hardly any bigger than a large 4×4.

If you’re working on a conversion (or you’ve already completed one), I’d love to hear about it and to see a photo of the end result – if you’re happy for me to do so, I’ll publish pictures and details of your vans on this site for others to learn from, too!

As always, leave a comment below if you’ve got any questions or would like to comment on my simple van conversion!

26 thoughts on “My DIY Motorhome Conversion Reviewed – After 13 Weeks Away and 25,000 Miles

  • July 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm
    Permalink

    Roland,

    What can I say. This page is even better than the others!! Amazing, your a life saver. I want to meet you and buy you a pint! Surprised mostly by the windows, I was going to pay someone to fit bonded windows in for me as I am worried about ruining my van, but I will now consider buying an angle grinder and putting the cash I would have paid on labour on buying the windows you suggest (an issues with thieves? that was my other reason for going bonded window).
    I have sourced a second hand 2 way fridge Electrolux RM122f for £100, lets see how long it lasts!! apparently it gets super cold on 12v not so much on gas, so I will have 12v while driving then switch if I need it.
    I will defo take pics and give you updates on my progress, it might take a while as cash is an issue (I spent it all on the van).

    One little question I have been reading about pure Vs modified sine wave inverters. Apparently you can only use pure for LED lights, but they obviously cost loads more, did you buy a pure sine wave inverter?

    cheers Benny

    Reply
    • July 27, 2010 at 6:46 am
      Permalink

      Hi Benny,

      Glad you liked the review – there’s nothing like hindsight! Regarding windows, It’s true that darked-tinted bonded windows look pretty good, but it’s a bit like having double-glazed windows in your home – who’d go back to single glazed windows? In terms of security, I suppose that plastic motorhome windows might be slightly easier to lever open (the catches are plastic) but they close tightly and seem reasonably strong. With bonded windows I guess they could just be smashed, instead. (Despite my opinions, I’m sure that plenty of people do manage happily with glass windows).

      Good luck with the fridge, it will have to be better than my choice!

      Finally, the LED lights you should be buying for motorhome use are designed for this purpose and run directly on a 12V supply. There’s lots around on eBay and from companies like O’Learys (http://www.olearymotorhomes.co.uk/). Don’t buy domestic type units that are designed to run on mains electricity. The light you get from LEDs does vary a bit, too. Our long strip lights (from O’Learys) provide a nice white light that isn’t too cold. We have a couple of other LED lights that give off a much bluer, colder light. The difference is quite surprising, so it can be a good idea to buy LED lights from a shop where you can see them in action.

      Cheers, Roland

      Reply
  • August 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm
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    I’m a third of the way through a van conversion. I bought my VX Movano LWB high roof from a guy who had started the conversion and had fitted 2 roof vents, lined the ceiling, fitted two solar panels, 2 side windows and constructed a rear garage with double bed above.
    Since buying the van we have constructed and fitted lockers for both sides of the van, felt lined these along with the ceiling, rear panels and panel above the cab. We have fitted 12v downlighters and also have small switched led reading lights for under the lockers.
    The electrics seemed scary but after reading a few articles I have gone for a domestic consumer unit to manage the 230v input with an inteligent 12v charger/power source for the 12v system. All the 12v items run through an automotive fuse box and I have a natty little battery level indicator.
    We will only have a cold water supply and we are not fitting a bathroom (I feel water in a van is a recipe for damp) and we prefer to use on-site facilities. We will use a pota poti for emergencies!
    We are fitting domestic kitchen units because we have the space but they are heavy and bulky so wont suit every application. We have matching sink and 2 ring hob, both with matching smoked glasss lids (should look good on the granit effect worktop). I’m going to use a combination microwave with grill rather than fitting a full oven. We have purchased a rather neat Beko 12v/230v absorbtion fridge, nice and compact and runs completely silently! We also will construct a parallel reatind/dining are that will also convert into a double bed.
    We have fitted speakers front and back connected to a car CD/DVD player which will inturn supply a 19″ LCD TV, sound quality is excellent. Ebay is a marvelous place, also Maplin come highly recomended!
    Plenty of work still to do but it’s looking good so far and it allows use to build the spec that suits our needs.

    Reply
    • August 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm
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      Sounds great, Rob, I’d love to see a photo of the finished result. Although I’m happy with my conversion, there’s a part of me that would like the opportunity to start again from scratch and see whether I could do better, especially with a slightly larger van.

      Reply
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  • August 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm
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    Can anyone help me – I have just bought a 1998 fiat ducato, it was an old ambulance, with a view to transform it to something I can stay in as well as using it at community events as storage for and distribution of craft type workshops – not much to ask ehh? And to top that it’s only got a drivers seat. Does have Tax and MOT though.
    Can anybody help me in where/how do I start!

    Reply
    • August 30, 2010 at 9:33 am
      Permalink

      Hi Mazz,

      Completing a conversion is quite a big job but I’d start with the following:

      1. Measure the inside of the van and draw out a scale floorplan
      2. Decide what you need to include in the van – e.g. beds, seats, toilet, kitchen area, storage, workspace and so on
      3. Once you have a list of furniture and fittings, draw them out to scale on paper, so that you have a ‘footprint’ for each of them
      4. Experiment with different layouts using your scale floorplan

      You may have to try several different layouts and seating/bed arrangements before finding the right one.

      Once you’re sure of your planned layout, start working out how you are going to construct it and what materials you will need. The best way to construct furniture in a larger van like yours is probably by constructing a timber framework for the cupboards, etc, then panelling them with plywood and fitting doors.

      Regarding electrics, water and gas – you’ll have to work out your requirements and may need to seek professional help, especially as regards a proper gas installation. As your van was an ambulance, it may already have an auxiliary battery that was used to power blue lights, tail lift and so on – if so, you may be able to reuse this setup for your leisure battery, which might be useful as it will already be wired into the alternator correctly for charging while driving.

      Once you’re finished, don’t forget that you should probably re-register the van as a motor caravan with the DVLA. This requires a change of registered body type (see here for more info). As it has been an ambulance, I’m not sure what the body type will be currently.

      Hope this is of some help to get you started – it’s a long process but very rewarding when you finish it.

      Cheers,

      Roland

      Reply
  • September 9, 2010 at 9:48 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Roland,

    Just a quick one, I now have electrics in but still haven’t found a shop where I can see 12v led lights in action, which was the specific one you got form O’Learys that had a soft lighting, as I also know from experience about harsh blue lighting!
    Cheers
    I am taking photos and will upload when I am finished

    Reply
    • September 10, 2010 at 10:03 am
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      Hi Benny,

      Sounds good, look forward to seeing your photos.

      The LED strip lights we bought from O’Leary’s are order number DLEDS on the LED lighting page in O’Leary’s online shop (click here)

      The lighting strip pictured on this page is one of the actual lights in our van:
      http://www.motorhomeplanet.co.uk/archives/2986#electrics

      I should think you can get them elsewhere – looking on eBay, this one looks like a longer version and this one looks like a shorter version, but obviously I can’t guarantee they are the same.

      We were lucky in that we live close enough to O’Leary’s to visit and they have all the lights wired up for demo purposes and will wire up any others that aren’t on display if you ask.

      Cheers, Roland

      Reply
  • September 26, 2010 at 3:06 am
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    Thanks for you’re great ingenuity! I’ve just bought a Chevy Cargo van and feel intimidated with the thought of insulating it. But now I want to get started! What you’ve done with yours is just what I want! Thanks for your helpful articles.
    All the best!
    Kathy

    Reply
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  • May 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm
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    Hi, I have recently purchased a Renault Traffic 2003 swb van. I plan to convert it myself if I can! I’m 46, female and ok …ish at DIY!! I love your website its been so inspiring and helpful. I am concerned about how the carpet fits over the awkward bits of metal not covered with the ply though? did you just carpet it over? Was it as relatively easy to do the carpet as you imply? : )
    Many thanks,
    Becky

    Reply
    • May 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm
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      Hi Becky,

      Thanks for your comment, glad you have found the site useful.

      A Trafic should be a good base vehicle for a conversion and they are decent to drive, too. As for the carpet, the curved metal bits of the van’s body can be awkward to do without either creases or joins. A second pair of hands can be useful, as is plenty of patience and dry runs 😉 Make sure you get an even coating of glue, too.

      Good luck with your conversion,

      Roland

      Reply
  • January 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm
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    Estimada gente, me gustaron los comentarios incluidos en éste sitio, estoy pensando transformar mi Ford Transit 190L en un motorhome. Todas son buenas ideas y seguro he de aplicar en mi proyecto. Sin lugar a dudas el refrigerador y el baño son dos temas críticos. Mis saludos desde Argentina.

    Reply
  • January 4, 2014 at 10:35 pm
    Permalink

    I have just purchased an 07 Plate Vivaro van, I’v got a basic layout in my head for a camper conversion,
    I really like the idea of a stove fixed to the top the work adjacent to an inset washing bowl. I’m looking at Coleman double ring stove with small disposable gas bottles.Is anyone running a system similar to this? Is this type heavy on gas bottles ? the ones i’m looking at are about the size of a generous drinking mug.
    And does this type of stove generate any condensation ? will keeping a window ajar be good enough or should be installing some type of vent, or even a powered system??

    Many thanks.

    Steve Duckett.

    Reply
    • January 6, 2014 at 7:57 am
      Permalink

      Hi Steve,

      I can’t comment specifically on the gas bottles you’re suggesting, except to say that cooking is generally quite efficient on gas, although these do sound like small bottles. What about using something like the Camping Gaz 907 instead?

      Re. condensation, this is a pet hate of mine and is definitely a problem when cooking in a smaller van, in my experience. Realistically, you need to have one or more windows or a door open to avoid it, although a powered vent might also do the trick — this is definitely on my ‘must fit’ list for my next van, as we only have a passive vent in the current van (which doesn’t prevent condensation). Just keeping a window ajar will not prevent condensation.

      Cheers,

      Roland
      (MotorhomePlanet.co.uk)

      Reply
  • March 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm
    Permalink

    Hi all
    I have found your conversion of the Ford van, and have to say, very interesting. As I have finished (almost) my conversion of a 2010 Vivaro LWB last year. Have to agree, you have to get your priorities in order regards to storage space, need of a proper fridge, toilet or electric. The LWB gives you an extra 40cm space inside, handy to have.
    We have decided to use also a 110Ah leisure battery, only charged from the alternator / main battery with a split charger relay in the van, as I am using the van also almost every day and at camping trips to also discover the aria. We also stay occasionally independent, but also on small campsites with hock up. The Leisure 12V is only used for the LED strip lights, the pump for the cold water tap (a marina tap with a manual switch) and charging phone and tablet pc. We use a normal 12l cool box, we can lift out if needed in the awning and also runs on 240 if we are on a campsite. This is perfectly fitted in a compartment on top of the leisure battery compartment and can also be used at travelling if needed. We fitted a similar design as the VW, but use only a sunken in and removable bowl, rather a proper sink with drain, as the gray water container is a bit of space waist. You can dump the bit of water in the bowel easily. For cooking, we decided also this single burner camping stove and sore it under the bowel (in his original plastic transport container) in the cupboard. Our prta potty (also 21 l) is stored under this Bowel and cooker, in the cupboard and can be pulled out in the time of need. Our fresh water container (30l) is in the lower end compartment, together with the drive away tent, the 240v extension cable, road travel kit (you need this for the continent).In the very small top section , with a spate flap , I am hiding my consumer unit for the 240 v. For the 12v , I am using a marina fused switch board wit 4 separate fused switches, 1 for LED light Wight, 1 for LED night light blue, 1 for the sockets 12v and 1 for the water pump. The Led are fitted with a remote, to switch or dim when you are in bed. We also decided to insulate the driver cabin, for soundproof and warmth with 3cm armaflex (professional duct insulation, mould an assed resistant form with aluminium backing to one inside). This armaflex we used also for the roof in the van bud with 4 cm thickness. All of course covered with van grade 2 mm felt lining on top of 1.5mm ply wood. For sleeping we went for a complete space saver rock n roll bed with ready mad upholstery and belts (made for the Vivaro type of van, no hassle, and bolts to the raised floor , for £600) and is a dream to sleep on, as we use the van, except camping and day drive, only once or twice a year to pick up the kids from the airport, with more than the front seats used. We have no extra windows fitted at the moment, bud going for the (one only on the sliding door) normal (with opening) Vivaro windows, as the van is top insulated. For winter use, we have fitted a 240 v plinth heater ( 3 settings 800w/1200w and 2000w) under the cupboards, we can use on campsites, as in winter we need a warm shower every day for comfort.
    Kind regards, Mario

    Reply
  • April 22, 2014 at 9:45 pm
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    Hello

    This is the kind of setup iwant to do with a transit when i get it,soon, have you got any detailed info on the cabling from car battery to leisure battery ie where the cable goes and how it all connects as electricity knowledge is very weak for me, i think ill be ok with the rest

    Thanks

    Reply
    • April 23, 2014 at 7:28 am
      Permalink

      Hello John,

      Thanks for your comment. There’s a lot of automotive/motorhome electrical information on the internet, but in all honesty, if you don’t have much understanding of this area, it might be worth getting help from someone who does, as getting it wrong could cause problems for your base vehicle and/or be dangerous.

      Understanding current and sizing your cabling correctly is especially important – 12V electrics means very high currents, so very chunky cables are required in some places, such as between the two batteries and for connections to inverters, fridges and other powerful devices. Cables that are too small for the job in hand will heat up when in use and could catch fire. On a similar note, ensuring your leisure electrics are grounded properly is also vital.

      As regards connecting the leisure battery, the general idea is that you want the van battery to be connected to the leisure battery when the engine is running (so they both get charged) but you wan the leisure battery to be disconnected from the van battery when the engine is off, so that you can use your motorhome electricals (lights, water pump, etc) without draining the vehicle battery.

      The simplest way to achieve this is with a voltage-sensing relay. A popular choice is the Smartcom model that’s widely available from motorhome shops/eBay. I used a Victron Cyrix-i Battery Combiner instead because it didn’t need to be connected to the ignition wiring, making it much easier to install. It’s been trouble-free for years and I’m very pleased with it.

      I hope this is of some help.

      Regards,

      Roland

      Reply
  • April 26, 2015 at 6:45 pm
    Permalink

    Hi, just came across your site, lots of great links. Re insulation, I saw another DIY conversion that used a sandwich of Mylar insulation, closed cell foam, Mylar. What struck me about this method is that the Mylar layer can be tape sealed to create a vapour barrier, it’s also reflective and that has to help with heat retention and also direct sunlight transferring heat to the interior. I have also looked into kerosine stoves. Pros: safe fuel, generally available, high BTU’s Cons: bit messy, best built in, can be smelly (but odour free full is available) When I spotted the Ikea mattress, I did wonder if you had looked at using their sofa bed base that goes with the mattress? It could be too wide and it could interfere with the wheel arches….

    Reply
    • April 27, 2015 at 12:59 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Rob, I didn’t use an Ikea sofa bed base — as you say, this wouldn’t fit. The one we have is a campervan type bed base adjusted with longer legs to fit the Transit (from memory, th ewheel arches are higher than in a VW Transporter).

      The Mylar insulation sounds interesting, what I did definitely wasn’t the most sophisticated solution possible — it was simple and cheap and has worked well, though, although a vapour barrier might be useful, especially for cold weather use.

      Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 2:27 pm
    Permalink

    Hey, Great page.
    Quick question – where did you get the yellow straps for the water tanks?
    Mine keep banging against the cupboard door!
    Thanks

    Reply
    • September 7, 2018 at 3:48 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Neil,

      The yellow straps were just cheap load restraint/tie down straps of the kind designed for use in cars and vans. I then screwed them to the side of the cupboard using big washers to prevent the screw heads going through the strap.

      I think Wilkos do some cheap ones that would be suitable, otherwise eBay is probably a good bet. Make sure you don’t end up with the large kind used on lorries!

      Cheers, Roland

      Reply

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