Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Starting, planning, buying a van

We are planning to build a campervan so we can go on an adventure and thought we should keep a blog of what happens on the way. That way when things go wrong other people can learn from our mistakes! Also it will be good to have a record of our progress for us to look at.
At the moment we are right at the start of the project. We have a van, but haven't done anything yet.

We decided the van had to be an Iveco medium wheelbase, as it is wide enough to fit a bed sideways (just) and not too big to get into a supermarket car park (this has not been tested yet!). Also they are like a small truck, which seemed like fun.
Sprinters were struck off the list as all the ones I see are rotting, and VW LT35 don't seem to be as wide. Transits were never considered as we both have an irrational hatred of them. And LDV are a funny shape and the ones I have seen look like they are about to break down. So not an entirely rational though process! The budget started out at £2000 for the base van, then was raised to £3000 as this didn't seem realistic. We are hoping the conversion will be about £1000, but this is also probably unrealistic.

We have bought an Iveco daily 2002 35S11, 120k miles, Medium wheelbase. It drives like a tractor and I have to use 2 hands to get it into second gear when it is cold, but I hope I am going to get used to it. It cost £2500 from a motor dealer in Swindon who we part exchanged our old small van with. He was an old school mechanic type with oily hands and seemed to know what he was talking about. He agreed to fix the back doors, speedometer and get 12 months MOT, so we were happy with that.
We don't know much about its history (hence the slightly cheaper price), but it was owned by 2 big companies who hopefully looked after it. It has so far been fine (fingers crossed!).
Also we thought that rather than spend all our money straight away on a shiny newer van we would keep £500 back and get a full service and cambelt change and anything else that needs doing (hopefully not a new engine or back axle!).

We didn't buy the first van we saw. We looked at one near Cirencester from another motor dealer, but he obviously didn't know anything about vans and there was white smoke coming out of the exhaust, so we ran away quick! We don't know much about these things but I am fairly sure white smoke is bad.

I have joined the self build motor caravan forum and have spent hours (while supposed to be at work) reading about how to put in windows, insulate and plyline, do electrics and put in a stove. Actually I already know a bit about 12v electrics and solar panels and woodburning stoves as I lived in a caravan for a while, but it is good to see what other people have done.

So now we are busy measuring everything, arguing about the layout and ordering things from ebay while we wait for Dave the mechanic to hurry up and check the van to make sure it is going to be ok. I hope it is ok otherwise this is going to be a very short blog!