Designing and converting a day van for a fellow alpinist
Updated: Jun 12, 2018
This week sees Life Space conversions begin their first bespoke campervan conversion
For our first bespoke campervan conversion, I have been approached by a very like minded friend of mine to kit out his new van for his mountain adventures. Having recently lost his beloved T4 of many years due to an insurance write off Ian has caught wind of my latest venture and wasted no time in approaching me to do something cool with his new bus. Now I know its an ancient rule of business not to do work for friends, but personally in instances like this I like it as I already know what kind of thing he is after, my first van conversion was a similar size van with the classic day van layout.
So the brief was fairly simple, the van required fully insulating and lining out and the usual day van units with a bed for two, electrics to be kept to a minimum a leisure battery with split charger and some 12volt lighting. Means for cooking somewhere although no fixed stove or sink.
I set about drawing something up on the 3d software I use, I already had an idea in mind that I had been thinking about prior to this job. My design would feature units built with a mild steel box section frame with 18mm panels inset in the frame. And the reason for this? As Ian does a lot of mountain biking like myself and needs to fit 2 bikes in a small van I knew he could end up having the same problem I had on my first van. Metal mountain bikes, particularly pedals are not nice to those panels that are the main focus of attention in a campervan, so by putting a steel frame around the outside it offers a degree of protection from this. Also with a steel frame the units are going to be fully rigid, meaning no annoying creaking as you're driving along and the ability to attach seat belts to the rear bed. The units are also designed so that the panel inserts are attached via tabs welded to the frame, meaning should a panel get damaged it can simply be taken off and resprayed or replaced. This does also offer the possibility of a full colour change in the future if wanted. The panels themselves will be a hardwood ply with three coats of ac lacquer.
The bed would be orientated sideways and pull out to a 3/4 size (small double). Under which would be one drawer and another space in front of the wheel arch for the battery etc.
This design needed altering as the client wanted to be able to go right through the van from the back doors.
This new design features a counter top that folds down to bridge the walkway like a bar top and there is an extra tall unit to make up for the loss of the bottom unit.
The design also benefits from loads of storage accessible in different ways as certain things are always nice to be able to get to from the rear doors, especially outdoor kit, the design also allows the rear of the van to be used for cooking with the tailgate door up.