Thursday, 12 July 2007

Ready for the off

Well we are out of the house now, the van has had the last finishing touches added and we are sort of on the road. We are infact dashing about visiting family before the trip proper and it doesn't really feel like the journey has commenced yet.
For anyone thinking of doing the van conversion thing i'd say the following. If you intend doing anything half decent it is far from inexpensive or straightforward. The whole business is costly and time consuming, both in terms of labour and research/ searching for decent cheap materials. I was lucky in that I could get stuff via work, including good power tools which are a must, you are not going to get far without a good battery drill and a jigsaw. All things considered if you include consider the value of your own labour it is fairly finely balances whether for most people a home conversion is cost effective. I would certainly not recommend it to anyone who does not have a lot of time and energy to put into the project or someone who doesn't already have a good set of tools and plenty of houshold storage. That said I have enjoyed the build enourmously and learn a a hell of a lot. A few months back I knew a whole lot less about gas fitting, auto-electrics (I didn't even know the difference between AC and DC), joinery, using ebay and many other things. Doing your own van your own way means you know the thing inside out and should (touch wood) be able to sort out any problems without resorting to the garage. It means you have exactly what you want where you want it. For example I have have a huge battery bank, a box of tricks which means the alternator charges the batterys five times faster and 20% fuller, low energy 12V only fittings and a very good solar panel, all of which make for an energy independant home which can be parked up for long periods whithout need of mains hook-up. Commercial motorhomes/campervans just aren't made this way, they are all geared up for mains hook-up on campsites and only very short periods without. The insulation I have added is way over what most motorhomes have so we should stay cool in summer and warm in winter with little need of heating or air con (both of which we have). Here's some pics:

We've got one more family engagement, a weekend camping with the huge Fullwood clan in Birchover and then off down south to Dover, a SpeedFerry to Bologne and Frankenjura....