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  • Lockdown issue camper van article
  • didnthurt
    Full Member

    Only just read the camper van article in the Lockdown issue. It was a good read and they both seemed to have loved building and living in the van. However I can’t help thinking they would have been better off buying a properly built second hand camper van with their £20k especially when you look at how they were having a shower 😲

    The only real advantages I could see with their van build over a proper camper was that the van was newer therefore should be more reliable and nicer to drive and the fact they could store their bikes more securely. But other than that I see any other advantages, am I missing something?

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    20k doesnt get you much factory camper.

    factory campers rarely optimised for taking bikes

    Factory campers rarely set up for outdoor pursuits – no where to dry wet wetsuits etc.

    Factory campers are not hugely customisable to suit.

    Factory campers often need a good deal more spend on to make “offgrid” especially older ones are set up for short day trips off grid looking to be on a site with hook up at night but not a week or 2 away from facilities.

    have hired a couple of full fat campers for events – they are bigger inside and they are nice for being a camper – but we put all the bikes in another van.(mainly as teh weight limit was even more limiting than the space) + had to run a generator at events to run the electrics inside , the batteries were not up to running the lights etc for any length of time. looked to be 60/70 k of vans

    We own a converted van.

    maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    The only real advantages I could see with their van build over a proper camper was that the van was newer therefore should be more reliable and nicer to drive and the fact they could store their bikes more securely. But other than that I see any other advantages, am I missing something?

    So you’re asking if they’d be wiser to spend £20k on not-what-they-want rather than exactly what they want? Given that is a cycling magazine…. proper bike storage seems to the whole point rather than fringe benefit.

    Marin
    Free Member

    As trail rat says 20k is nowt for factory built and few are suitable for outdoor life. More lump sum retirement look at the view. 50k for a factory T6? Small vans no bike store, paranoid about depreciation, damage. I haven’t seen the article though.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    Cheer’s for the input Trail-rat. It’s interesting to hear that proper campers aren’t much good at going off- grid, I’d have assumed that’s one thing they would have been good at.

    I think the couple in the article got a cracking van for under £20k, just seemed a bit rough around the edges and having to use a potty would be a tough sell to me. I’ve seen some nice looking camper vans for under £20k, over 10 years old though (or even older).

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    Seems you don’t need that much room for a shower/toilet 🤔

    http://www.theroadisourhome.com/2018/06/18/shower-toilet-build-how-to-van-conversion/

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    you dont , but its a very 1 use space.

    I have one in mine but i have a 7.2m van.

    Most folk try and get in under 6m for ferry costs skyrocketing and in a sub 6m van a dedicated toilet is a stretch.

    porta pottys still better than what most people in their ickle vans do …. shit on the verge beside their van or just over the wall at their scenic spot.

    phil5556
    Full Member

    I haven’t read the article but we have a nearly new van sitting on the drive, about to be converted.

    We could have spent the money on a pro built van that’s a few years old and saved an awful lot of work, but we looked at a LOT of vans, and unless you have £60k to spend on a “sport van” then as has been said they are just not set up for what we do. We are building something that will carry 2 bikes inside, kitesurf kit x2, walking boots etc.. and still allow us to sit inside comfortably, go to bed without having to build it first, have a shower inside and not have to visit a campsite (apart from for waste / water duties occasionally).

    At least that’s the plan!

    The closest we found in a proper one was us asking if there’s space for bikes.
    “Yes there’s loads of space”
    “Great, can we take a look?”
    “Here you go!”
    “Ah… where do we sleep?”
    “Well, you take the bikes out and then you can make the bed”
    “Oh….”

    Currently looks something like this on day 2….

    grum
    Free Member

    I can’t fathom why motorhome type campers are so expensive, even second hand. They generally feel a bit cheap/depressing inside too.

    chrismac
    Full Member

    I was surprised    by that as well. We didn’t spend much more than them to get our purpose built one that has the same base platform. Yes we have to have the bikes on the back which isn’t ideal but that compromise meant we got a factory built van with double glazing hot and cold water, a proper loo and shower and central heating.

    nickjb
    Free Member

    I’ve been watchinga few youTube videos of conversions and getting the bikes inside seems a popular priority and you won’t find that feature on a smaller coach built. I totally get it, the ability to go anywhere and park anywhere is a big part of van life. If you are camping in Supermarket carparks and in lay-bys its an issue, if you are driving from campsite to campsite then not so much. Also I’d much rather have an outdoor shower than squeeze into a tiny cupboard inside. The beauty of a self build is you can pick the bits that are important to you.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    I think if the front seats on a coach built camper could somehow be folded out of the way then you could slide in a couple of bikes with the front wheels off (store them in rear of the van or even on bike rack when driving or sitting in the back of the van). Wonder if there is something off the shelf out there you could buy 🤔

    timidwheeler
    Free Member

    For us bike/kayak and outdoor kit storage was the most important thing. And due to back issues we wanted a proper, supportive king size bed. A nice bathroom would also be good but then we wanted a van we could park in a supermarket carpark.
    As Nick says with a self build you pick your priorities and build to suit. And in our case, use it a few times and tweak it until you are completely happy.


    Mk1


    Mk2

    nickjb
    Free Member

    I think if the front seats on a coach built camper could somehow be folded out of the way then you could slide in a couple of bikes with the front wheels off (store them in rear of the van or even on bike rack when driving or sitting in the back of the van)

    That sounds like a right pain, especially as most coach build seem to have tiny doors and awkward entrance ways.

    Compare that to a sliding rack in the back:

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    i have a sliding rack under the bed for 3 bikes length ways and can get 2 other bikes across the back behind that and we got the bairns trailer in there as well.

    I can hang our wet suits up in the same space.

    It keeps the dirty/wet separate to the clean.

    showering outside for the same reason.

    The shower in both our hire vans were at the back of the van and i had to walk through the entire van covered in strathpuffer mud.

    llama
    Full Member

    As above, the nice thing about a DIY is that you get exactly what you want. It is because you do a bit, use it, do a bit more, use it again, change it, and so on. That way over time it aligns exactly with what you want. If you buy a factory van you don’t get this. If you go custom you might be lucky and get close, but probably not.

    On the other hand, it’s loads of work, there is always something not quite finished/working, and in my case, some bits are a little rough around the edges 🙂

    jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    Does anybody build a camper with a bike garage in it already?

    Tracey
    Full Member

    You can get coach built ones that have garages. We can get four 29er in ours with the wheels on.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    We occasionally talk about a camper van, but MrsMC doesn’t want a coach built one with a garage, and I’m not putting the bikes on the back of a small one, so we’ve reached an impasse and spending the money on Premier Inn rooms – decent loos and showers and somewhere to keep your bikes safe

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    You can get coach built ones that have garages. We can get four 29er in ours with the wheels on.

    Just be careful on weight. Most of the coach built 6 berth vans with garages are downplated 3850 vans and so once your 4 adults up inside the van @3500kg rating your remaining payload can be as little as c.250kg. That’s for onboard water , gas ,food drink clothes bikes and anything else you take with you.

    MIRO for a motorhome has a tank of fuel and a 75kg driver only.

    That said many folk build their self builds heavy and fall fowl of the same issue.

    blastit
    Free Member

    Not bad
    basic
    roomy

    Tracey
    Full Member

    Well aware of the regulations as should any one who owns a coach build or self build. Worth a visit to the local weigh bridge when loaded to double check.

    A friend of ours got stopped on the way to an EWS event in a converted Merc and ended up with a visit to the weigh bridge and a hefty fine. They wouldn’t even let him dump the water before it was weight.

    Had to pay the fine before they let him drive away

    db
    Full Member

    Various small conversion companies will now make you a biking van e.g. https://www.vanguard-conversions.co.uk/mtb-camper-van/

    I still put the bikes on the back of ours and touch wood had no issues so far but it does play on my mind when say shopping or wandering around a town.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    Why did I click on db’s link……

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    I’m sure you are but folk who are looking tend not to be especially when they see big rear mounted garages and assume the vans good for it.

    Even more so when you see the checker plate ones with big old toolboxes mounted in the back.

    TheBrick
    Free Member

    Anyone got a link to the article, I can’t find it.

    Everyone has covered most points about converted Vs coach built but another I don’t think I have seen is width and looks.

    Coach builts stand out in a car park so a bit more of a theft magnet. Narrow lanes are much easier in a conversion.

    ahsat
    Full Member

    Various small conversion companies will now make you a biking van e.g. https://www.vanguard-conversions.co.uk/mtb-camper-van/

    This was a good chunk of the inspiration for us. Getting up to Fort Bill to get them to do it (they like to see the van before is booked in) was just too much hassle, so we found a local converter who was happy to take our bespoke plans and make them real – getting all the main layout, electrics, windows, carpet etc done as part of it.

    We could have done it ourselves, but a significant amount of time at weekends, when we wanted to actually be riding, would be spent doing the van. Obviously during lockdown, a bit different. We will however do the second level fit (bed etc) largely ourselves, to allow us to keep adapting to our requirements.

    As said above, many supplied vans aren’t designed for our level of sport needs (as we discovered after several hours round the NEC).

    TroutWrestler
    Free Member

    We had a Chausson Flash 04.

    Van

    Sub 6m (by 1 cm!), fixed Double bed. 2 Dh and 2 trail bikes fitted in the garage, front wheels off. Could get 2 bikes in with wheels on. 240Ah of leisure batteries. Could have done solar. Toilet and shower. Perfect for a couple.

    EDIT: The double bed could be raised and lowered. It is in the lower position in that photo as it can be seen through the garage door. We generally raised it for loading/unloading, but lowered it once everything was in.

    phil5556
    Full Member

    @trail_rat

    i have a sliding rack under the bed

    Any pics or info on how you made it? It’s a job I need to tackle soonish.

    trifoster
    Free Member

    As others have mentioned weight is a major issue. More or less every coach built or 3.5t ‘race’ van on the road. When fully loaded will be over weight. A bare xlwb sprinter has a payload of just under a ton. When you look at the payload figures of coach-built vans it’s often 200-300kgs. A driver and 3 passengers and you’re over weight.

    It’s also not just overall weight. Axle weight is just as important. For every 1 metre back from the axle the weight doubles. The fines can be huge.

    It’s a bit of an oxymoron but the smaller the 3.5t van. The more weight you can carry. The industry is mainly geared towards 3.5t because things get more complicated when you go over that weight.

    Every coach-built van I’ve driven from new to well over 100k rattled like a bag of old spanners. That alone would stop me buying one. If you have the skills I’d advise self build everytime.

    But I think the first question should always be is it cost effective to own one? For the majority of owners I’ve seen it’s not. You have to use a van a lot to justify the cost over air b&b for example. This obviously depends on the amount of people in the van, how the van will be used, post covid19 pricing, cost to build, extra fuel costs etc.

    I worked in the industry for a short time and I’ve built my own van. Unless I was using the van ever 2nd or 3rd weekend or specifically wanted to be by the trail. I’d b&b.

    phil5556
    Full Member

    But I think the first question should always be is it cost effective to own one?

    No, it’s probably definitely not cost effective for us to own one 😆 We could have a lot of holidays or nights away for the money but it’s not just about the cost.

    spooky_b329
    Full Member

    having to use a potty would be a tough sell to me
    They are normally very easy to change for a new one, but unless its a beige, tired and well used one, why would you? Do you immediately change the toilets when you move house? 😉

    in a sub 6m van a dedicated toilet is a stretch.
    I managed it but only by ‘strealing’ bathroom space from behind the reclined back of the rear seats, stepping the wall over the fixed bed, and having a ‘small double’ bed. Shower, no chance without detracting from the overall space.

    I can’t fathom why motorhome type campers are so expensive, even second hand
    New – basically add the price of a caravan to a chassis cab van. Secondhand…entirely demand driven by buyers. Although I have to admit, the ability to resist depreciation is remarkable. Leisure stuff is expensive, £450 will get you a decent fridge, a cooker-oven, one double glazed window with blinds, a refillable gas tank, or a Propex gas heater. Oh, you want ALL of those and TWO windows? Ouch…

    Well aware of the regulations as should any one who owns a coach build or self build. Worth a visit to the local weigh bridge when loaded to double check.
    I would recommend this when buying a van, or before and during conversion. You’d have to be off your rocker to spend a year or two converting a van and not be certain of the weight. Mine has a few hundred kg spare when laden for a trip, but with 4 people and a horse trailer weighting the hitch, I’m fairly certain I would be overweight without removing tools and compromising on a full water tank.

    It’s also not just overall weight. Axle weight is just as important. For every 1 metre back from the axle the weight doubles. The fines can be huge.
    Its a ratio of wheelbase but yes, on mine with a 2 metre overhand, 250kg on the towball is more like 400kg on the rear axle so that means I built my van with practically no weight behind the axle, its all over or in front of it to ensure its got plenty of reserve.

    But I think the first question should always be is it cost effective to own one?
    Mine wasn’t £20k but with a two year old van as the base, its probably about £16k. But its my ‘car’ and if we didn’t have it, we would need to run a large 4×4 which would have similar running and fuel costs, and wouldn’t hold its value like the camper. Or a big horsebox and that would be even more more expensive, no good for holidays or Sainsburys.

    surfer
    Free Member

    I can’t fathom why motorhome type campers are so expensive, even second hand. They generally feel a bit cheap/depressing inside too.

    I bought a LWB T6 commercial van that I am converting myself. I have deliberately avoided putting in a pop top but converted everything else, Bed, kitchen, electrics etc.
    For me it allows me the freedom to sleep in places I would have to leave to go home from at the end of the day. I agree they are a little claustrophobic and although it is an almost self sufficient living space (for a couple+ days) they are not “nice” places to be and for me just serve a purpose of being able to sleep comfortably.

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    Phil I assume your phil Walden on Instagram ?

    To make the slider is.a wooden frames *tray* with a length of 25/25 box section steel on each side screwed to the wood with tech screws.

    A second Wooden frame with bearings on bolts with a nut either side of the wooden frame spaced above and below where the metal rail sits.

    A higher concentration of bearings at the full extension to account for cantilever.

    At the far end of the frame I braced it against the under side of the bed.

    Whole things removable in 5 minutes if required.

    phil5556
    Full Member

    Not quite Walden although I think I have found your instagram. I searched and found your set up I think. Looks good.

    Cheers for the info 👍

    I’ve found runners, they’re £250 😳

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    O yes half asleep when i read it this morning reading again clearly not walden. but yeah you liked the photo of the set up.

    I’ve found runners, they’re £250

    Yeah exactly – which is a significant portion of my van total cost to be spending on some runners.

    I bought a half sheet of 6mm ply , 4 lengths of 4x inch planed soft wood , 2 tubes of skateboard wheel bearings, Some bolts and nylocs , some tech screws and a length of box

    total cost ill be surprised if 50 quid.

    For mounting the bikes i tried roof racks but was a pain , Ive gone to a piece of fence post cut to fit between the axles and drilled them for QR /15mm/20mm and shaped the blocks to the various axle widths. seemed to be the best compromise vs cost.

    tthew
    Full Member

    @phil5556 this thread has photo’s of my slide out rack and trail rats.

    I read the van build article, and would love to know where they got those loooong drawer sliders for that rack for a few quid, when I priced them up they were knocking on the door of 200 quid!

    trifoster
    Free Member

    Re the high parts prices. I was told by somebody who works for one of the big players that they have an unwritten agreement not to encroach on each others territory. Therefore keeping prices artificially high.

    Take the Thetford fitted toilets. All they basically are is injection moulded pieces, a few wires, pump and circuit board. It can’t cost them £20-£40 to build. Yet they retail for £300-£400. If a similar product was sold in another industry. Say for example the housing market where competition is high. They would be a fraction of the price.

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