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One of the problems with a classic VW-style side conversion that is used in most VW campers and other short wheelbase van conversions is that there isn’t a dedicated bathroom or wash area – and there is nowhere for a toilet cubicle.
Most converters seem to get around this problem in one of two ways:
- Don’t include a toilet – basically tying you in to using campsites
- Include a very small, low capacity Porta Potti (eBay⇒) in a cupboard. In this case, you have to move the toilet to use it and the low capacity means that it will become full rapidly…
I wasn’t happy with either of these two solutions when I converted my van. While thinking about a solution, I remembered seeing something called ‘buddy seats’ in old VW campers. A buddy seat is a cushioned storage box behind the front passenger seat that still leaves enough room for the bed to be pulled out.
It seemed to me that this would be about the right size to contain a larger Porta Potti (eBay⇒) and some quick measurements proved that it might be so. In fact, The Camper Shak actually makes such an item, the Porta Buddy, but it was too small and expensive for my liking!
- Generous 21l waste capacity and 15l flush capacity – will last 2 adults about 3 days with full time use
- Manual flush – less to go wrong and no need for wiring
- Comfortable height to sit on
All I needed now was a suitable box – enter my father-in-law, who lives close to a branch of Ikea. He found that they made a suitable storage box, called Hol (eBay⇒), that was exactly the right size to fit both the toilet and the gap left when the bed folded out (50cm x 50cm). Better still, he reinforced the base to take the weight of the toilet and a person. (You can actually pick these boxes up off eBay quite cheaply – click here for current ones(eBay⇒)). My mother-in-law was kind enough to make a cushion using the same fabric as the seat cover – and this was the result:
The toilet (eBay⇒) is fairly heavy once the flush tank has been filled with water (15l = 15kg). Obviously it’s even heavier when the waste tank starts to fill… To ensure it doesn’t move in any normal circumstances, I put rubber pads on the feet and pushed the toilet box hard up against the step up into the cab area. This is visible in the first photo – and in more than 5,000 miles, it hasn’t moved an inch, even when empty.
Obviously the toilet box isn’t fastened down to the floor, so if the worst happened and the van rolled over, it could be a hazard.
Disclaimer: All material is provided for information purposes and is my opinion only. I can take no responsibility for the accuracy, suitability, reliability or safety of the information in this guide.