Tag Archives: van conversion

Catch up posts are becoming a bit of a theme!

Maybe it’s because nothing much newsworthy happens, but it has been far too long since I posted so I figured a catch up post was in order.

Obviously, since I last posted in February, it’s mostly been work and airsoft around here, but we did manage to go on holiday too, as a family of 4 (yes, that’s FOUR!) back to Portugal for 10 days.

Nik visited the MotoGP in Jerez while  we were there, and we all did some touristy things like waterparks (Nik and Eliot), theme parks (Zoomarine, all of us) and mini golf (various combinations!) as well as eating out and general Lagos-y wanderings.

Proof that even Jake enjoyed Zoomarine
Obligatory photo from “The Lighthouse”
The river from the Marina bridge

I won’t bore with more photos. You all get the general idea. Sunshine, holidays, touristy things etc. It was a great trip and probably both Jake’s and my last. Eliot will probably just move back one day and Nik, I am sure, will do many more trips for the Jerez MotoGP race.

It was almost certainly our last family holiday, so it was nice that it went well.

Since then,  (and after the mammoth job of catching up with 10 days away from work!) we’ve been trying to get away in the van for the odd weekends here and there.

We’re experimenting with local-ish smaller sites, just for Friday and Saturday nights, and without either of the boys (but usually with dog).

We’ve been to Wolds View Touring Park near Caistor which was really nice. Adults only, and on a quiet weekend at the end of half term (not that half term makes a difference at an adults only park, but that’s why we chose it) so only alternating pitches were occupied. The facilities were great and the owners were lovely. Cafe on site served a good breakfast and afternoon tea (although we didn’t try that). Bit of a walk into the town, and not really worth the effort unless you need anything from the Co-op. It’s about all that’s there.

We had a fab weekend though and will definitely go back.

It was a weekend we did without the dog too so it was truly a weekend of doing absolutely nothing whatsoever (except streaming MotoGP qualifying!) which was great! Although we did miss the dog!

Pitched up (and having a quick kip) at Wolds View Touring Park

A few weeks later, we had another trip, this time to a place near Harby, Lincoln run by a place that sells campervans and motorhomes (which, oddly, I hadn’t come across previously!)

It was a larger site but it was lovely to only have to drive 15 minutes down the road! We had a grass pitch, which we wouldn’t usually choose because they can be uneven and a bit damp, but it was fine with a lovely view of the fishing lake. We’d probably choose a grass pitch next time, although they are a little further away from the toilets/showers. It had plenty of space to walk the dog too (including a rally field)

We liked the site and its owners a lot and had a great weekend. Another definitely re-visit!

‘Vans across the other side of the fishing lake
I recognise that ‘van!
It was a lovely setting
Looking forwards to going back here!

We’ve also been away for a third time since the beginning of June! This time to somewhere a little further up, in Barton upon Stather. A (former?) award-winning Camping and Caravanning Club certified site at Acorn Wood.

Again, a lovely site. Small, with only 5 hardstanding pitches and perhaps room for 3 or 4 grass pitches, but with fabulous toilet and shower facilities and lovely owners. There wasn’t much of a rural area to walk to dog nearby (there’s a very small fishing pond with a walk around) but we took the short walk into the town (village?) itself and sat in the park for a bit, so we didn’t miss out. Definitely another gem of a site that we’d recommend and revisit.

Ducks on the pond bridge at Acorn Wood
Playing doggie bubbles in the awning

So many places, so little time!

There is another story I could tell about a site who decided they didn’t want me on their site in case I blogged bad things about it (this coming from a 10/10 rated site), but I’m done ranting and brewing on it now! Their loss!

Our next trip is to Tattershall Lakes, which is where we made our first real trip last year. There’s lots to do and Eliot is coming with us this time too. It’ll be fun. We hope!

Apart from being busy with work, Jake is out at work most days and Eliot is getting ready for starting school in September. We’ve had a trip up to school today for a(nother) tour around and to discuss his options. He’s chosen to do Music, Drama and Construction, leaving the 4th option slot open for additional support lessons for maths and English if required. He seems happier about going back now that he’s got some control over what he spends his time doing all day.

Nothing more disheartening that sitting in a class learning about stuff you’ll never need to know again. I remember it well (or, perhaps more pertinently, I don’t!)

I hated school. In fact, I hate schools in general, but these next 2 years will be good for Eliot. Unlike Jake, who was already advanced enough to teach himself, for the most part, to get through his English and Maths GCSEs at home, Eliot needs more help and support than I can give him. Hopefully, he’ll come out with some qualifications and some friends from being at school, and both of those are good things.

Maybe some of his mates will fancy campervan weekends away, or airsoft days out!

Oh, just one more thing. If anybody is into Forza or knows anybody who is into Forza, Jake does Youtube videos and regular(-ish, internet permitting) live streams with gameplay, giveaway and dev builds. His channel is here and support is always welcome!

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First trip a resounding success, more planned!

We christened our ‘van last weekend with two-night stay at Tattershall Lakes Country Park.

The weather forecast was good, and LOOK what arrived 2 days before we left!

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I know, right?

That pesky 5th sofa cushion finally turned up and made our seating area complete!

Please excuse the dried doggie pawprints on the black here!
Please excuse the dried doggie pawprints on the black here!
The clean version - just you can't quite see the cushion we'd been missing from this angle.
The clean version – just you can’t quite see the cushion we’d been missing from this angle.

After carting numerous crates of “stuff” out to fill the ‘van on Friday morning, Jake got home from work after lunch (because, yes, he came too!) and we arrived at Tattershall around 2pm.

Less than 30 minutes later, and we were all set up, awning, chairs ‘n’ all.

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I’m not sure why this photo looks so dark but I think perhaps it’s actually because the sky is rather bright!

We had a great weekend. We BBQ-ed twice (we’d planned to) and ate out at the resort restaurant on the Saturday evening. Nice food, if pricey, but that’s to be expected on a site like that, I think.

Sunday morning BBQ breakfast
Sunday morning BBQ breakfast at about 7.30/8am!

We weathered some rain on Friday night without incident. The awning held up fine, nothing broke down and we even trialled out the air con unit on the Saturday night because it was so hot overnight (even with the ‘van door half open)

Zac behaved impeccably the entire weekend. He wasn’t stressed out about being tethered (sometimes between van and awning, sometimes between awning and outdoors depending on what we were doing) and he was good as gold around the site on his lead.

"Is that my breakfast, Daddy?" (It was)
“Is that my breakfast, Daddy?”
(It was)

We had no idea how he’d be either on site or amongst the crowds (and, BOY, it was busy!) but we needn’t have worried. He was the best behaved a little doggie can be. Bless him.

The one thing that was noted as a problem was how uncomfortable the rear bunk mattresses are. They’re cheap sprung jobbies from eBay and they really are sloppy and horrid. Eliot found it so bad that he actually slept the second night on the floor of the van with the dog (who slept under the extended section of the sofa bed)

So this week I ordered some 6ft x 2ft sheets of medium density foam to replace the awful mattresses. The top one needs cutting down a few inches and perhaps across the corners to accommodate the angles at the outer side (the bottom bunk didn’t need these trimming, we just squashed it in, so it might not need it up top either) and then both will be wrapped in stockinette to protect the foam before the mattress protectors are put back on.

The 6ft length is a few inches too long for the top bunk
The 6ft length is a few inches too long for the top bunk
Cheap 5m of stockinette, often sold for cleaning cloths, is perfect for wrapping and protecting the foam of the two mattresses
Cheap 5m of stockinette, often sold for cleaning cloths, is perfect for wrapping and protecting the foam of the two mattresses
New mattress all covered and ready to roll.
New mattress all covered and ready to roll.

Eliot was so much happier with this so that’s good. More space for the dog on the floor for the next trip then, hopefully!

Speaking of next trips, Jake isn’t coming with us now so  there’s just 3 of us and the dog for the Lincoln Steam and Vintage Rally next weekend (an experiment in non-EHU trip which will test the 12v system and the solar charge more thoroughly) and then we’re away, again as 3 plus dog, for the bank holiday weekend at Wolverley Club Site. No idea what it’ll be like but reviews are good and it’s supposed to be great for dogs too, so we’ll see.

Jake, meanwhile, will be having wild parties (AKA sleeping in and playing Xbox all day).

Lucky him!

Or, he’ll be tinkering with his new toy.

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He’s not old enough to drive it on the road yet (not under December when he turns 17) but it needs work anyway right now (it was bought damaged to repair) and maybe that’ll give him something to do.

Or maybe it’ll just be sleep and the Xbox. (more likely!)

A few other things we noted while on our first trip:

  1. we need more rock pegs. We had just enough for the awning but not enough that we could have used the windbreak. Halfords had some decent ones reduced in price, of which we’d picked up a couple of packs before we went away, so we’ll see if they have any left.
  2. We ran out of water after 36 hours! An entire 66 litre tank! Probably because we weren’t policing it at all and we refilled water bottles and bowls and washed up from it regularly. We are going to purchase a large (10-15 litre) water bottle with pourer so we can decant from that for the dog’s bowl and, if required, use it to refill the underslung tank if we run out again.
  3. We need a splashguard of some sort between the sink and the beds. The water pressure is good and it did tend to splash up a little when turned up high. We’ve made a cover for the hob from the waterproof shower wall 3mm ply (to give more work space) which doubles as the splashguard for now.
  4. We have a slightly creaky sofa area. One specific half of one sofa. Typically the part my head and shoulders is on when I’m rolling from side to side at night so it’s annoying. For EVERYONE! Will find out what’s causing that and fix it.
  5. The seat velcro wasn’t quite positioned correctly and made pulling the bed out a bit tricky (although not impossible) so that needs relocating. Also, the smaller, infill cushion could do with some on it as it moved a bit when I got in and out of bed!
  6. More dog towels required! We took 2 large bath sheets for Zac which was just about OK for the tim we were there and the weather we had (scorchio!) but if it’d stayed wet overnight and still been so in the morning on Saturday, we’d have found ourselves lacking. Might need to pack 4 for bad weather!

I think that’s it!

Nothing major and certainly nothing that can’t be sorted out.

Counting down to the next one now!

 

 

 

 

It’s all coming together nicely

Yes, you do see right. This is the second post in a week!

Now you’ve got over the shock…

We have a new water heater. Yay!

240v and gas for quicker heating times on dual fuel
240v and gas for quicker heating times on dual fuel

And with a new water heater, comes a new flue/exhaust.

See how nice, clean and white it looks now!
See how nice, clean and white it looks now! So much nicer than the secondhand one.

The swap-over was fairly simple. Once the old flue and heater were off (removing the sealing silicon was probably the trickiest bit!), the new heater fitted in place without much trouble. We just needed to move the supporting platform back slightly as the new insulation jacket was a slightly different shape, but it’s all in and working hunky dory!

Yay!

The "utilities"!
The “utilities”!

One thing we did have a minor problem with was the new control panel. You can’t use the Carver Cascade control panel with the new design Henry water heater so we had to fit the new Henry controls. That meant routing a new cable through the van (behind wall panels etc!) because the plugs are all different! (Apparently, you COULD use the old cable, removing the plugs off it and using the wires individually, but we had no intention of attempting that and do not recommend it.)

The trickiest part of routing the new cable was getting the old one to feed through the narrow feed hole in the metal chassis part of the van. The duct itself is quite spacious but the access hole is small and difficult to get to and, as we were using the old cable to pull through the new, the feed was tight. Very tight, but we managed it.

Also, we couldn’t quite accommodate the new control panel properly where the old one had been on the control fascia. Now, we COULD have re-done the whole fascia… but decided just to mount it sideways instead.

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I mean, really, who cares anyway?!

(Note to self/husband: must make sure additional screws are put into light switches and new, un-mucky, labels are made up!)

Much of what we’ve been doing on the van has been finishing touches now. Labelling, storing, kitting out and preparing for our first trip away over the summer.

The entrance cupboard is stocked with "first needs" essentials, such as dog tether, step, hook-up cables etc
The entrance cupboard is stocked with “first needs” essentials, such as dog tether, step, hook-up cables etc
A basic first aid kit and fire extinguisher have been fitted within easy reach of both indoors and outdoors (no easy task finding the ideal spot, in fact!)
A basic first aid kit and fire extinguisher have been fitted within easy reach of both indoors and outdoors (no easy task finding the ideal spot, in fact!)
Storage boxes are gradually being stocked and labelled, because, you know...boys and finding stuff!
Storage boxes are gradually being stocked and labelled, because, you know…boys and finding stuff!
The kitchen cupboard is crated out to a degree to prevent too much movement in transit, and for ease pf getting stuff in and out.
The kitchen cupboard is crated out to a degree to prevent too much movement in transit, and for ease of getting stuff in and out (apologies for poor iPhone flash photo)
We have a switched charging station (switched so it isn't lit up like Blackpool all night!) for phones and suchlike.
We have a switched charging station (switched so it isn’t lit up like Blackpool Illuminations all night!) for phones and 12v items like our air conditioning unit.
Curtain tie-backs on the rear windows mean that the curtains don't get trapped in the rear doors when closing. It's a real problem, people!
Curtain tie-backs on the rear windows mean that the curtains don’t get trapped in the rear doors when closing. It’s a real problem, people!
Shower curtain fitted into bathroom/wetroom to keep bathroom door clean and dry.
Shower curtain fitted into bathroom/wetroom to keep bathroom door clean and dry.
Bathroom mirror fitted; acrylic for safety.
Bathroom mirror fitted; acrylic for safety.

Let’s just talk a bit about this bathroom mirror!

I hunted for ages for a decent mirror to fit in the bathroom. I didn’t want a glass one, just in case we had a problem with it falling and breaking, so I wanted an acrylic one, but finding a wall-mount acrylic mirror that we could fully fix to the wall (as opposed to just hanging) took some research and eBay searching.

The first one I found was no good. It had a plastic frame that we struggled to fit to the wall, and as we couldn’t really use a wooden frame in a wetroom, I eventually plumped for a plain acrylic sheet, paid a little extra for rounded corners and pre-drilled holes with screws and mirror caps.

The only problem is, the wall of the van isn’t entirely flat. This means that the mirror has a slight curve in it.

Think Hall of Mirrors.

Fortunately, the curve is inwards so it gives a rather flattering “skinnify” effect rather than a “fattify” effect, so I’m good with that.

Maybe I’ll fit one in the house too!

It’s all trimming and stocking up of the van now really. I’ve started adding in food and supplies for our trip away soon, and the next job is to drain down the water and waste water tanks so they’ve been flushed out. The fresh water tank particularly needs a flush through as the water it is currently running has been sat in the tank a while. We’ll drain it down and then part-fill it and drain it again (thank goodness we’re not on a water meter!)

Being nearly done in the van means that we have done stuff other than van lately too.

Shocking, eh?!

Eliot and I paid a visit to the Japanese Gardens at North Clifton on Tuesday and spent a few hours wandering about and taking (many) photos.

El is quite obsessed with Japan so he’d been nagging to go here since I let slip of its existence. The weather was good on Tuesday so we went. We had a great morning and a lovely lunch of Japanese Rice Salad, freshly cooked to order by Buddha Maitreya.

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Along with the outdoor gardens, which were beautiful, there is also what is thought to be the world’s largest indoor crystal garden.

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This was only half of it, but photos absolutely do NOT do this place justice. It was breathtaking, and both Eliot and I “wow-ed” when we walked in.

Eliot loved the whole place, and it’s probably only a matter of time before he asks to go again. At £11 though (£7 adults, £4 children) it isn’t cheap and you need to ensure you’re going to “get” it before going, I think. I was a bit worried that it’d be anticlimactic for Eliot, but I was happy to be proved wrong and so didn’t mind paying the extra £6 a head for the rice salad (which was lovely also!)

Next time though, the £2 fresh scones and a pot of tea, I think. For the budget’s sake!

Right, I’d better get back to work now! Nik and Jake are off doing a job dismantling a spray bay in town so I’m womanning the fort today.

I’d better stop blogging procrastinating and get some work done!

But before I go, I’ll just leave this here: a little something Nik made to go in place of the Fiat badges on the van.

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Get it?

The longer you leave posting, the harder it is to get motivated to do it again!

It’s been far too long and every weekend that passes means so much more gets done on the van that the job of updating the blog becomes more and more of a mammoth task.

Enough excuses now though, I must update before I decide I hate blogging forever more!

It’s been a busy 3 weeks or so.

We’ve had a fair bit of weekend time spent on the van and some evenings while the weather has been reasonable.

And we’ve got LOTS done!

The bathroom/wet room is FINISHED!

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(trim wasn't added in this shot, and plughole not cut out, but floor was laid)
(trim wasn’t added in this shot, and plughole not fitted, but floor was laid)

The bathroom also now has a door! (and, actually, an internal shower curtain) Always nice to have a door on your bathroom, eh?

The back of the van, beneath the beds, has been lined, painted along the sill, and a drawer put in for access in the van

Storage for camping chairs, awning and other larger items
Storage for camping chairs, awning and other larger items
Drawer, above pull-out step storage, accessible from inside van.
Drawer, above pull-out step storage, accessible from inside van.

We fitted cab divider curtains for privacy and a bit more light cut-out during the evenings and nighttime.

Smooooooth
Smooooooth

We sorted out the table, fitting a siting hole in the floor and giving the table top and pole somewhere to store in the wardrobe.

In use...
In use…
...and in storage.
…and in storage.

And wait…what’s that? Are those SEAT CUSHIONS, you ask??

Why yes, yes they are!

Well, 4 out of 5 (long story, probably can’t explain without getting annoyed about it again!), but we have the important ones we need to make the main sofa and the bed!

Sofa!
Sofa!
Bed!!
Bed!!

Cool, huh?

Curtains have now been shortened too. More sewing for me. Not something I’m too fond of doing, but needs must.

Nearly half of the length needed cutting off!
Nearly half of the length needed cutting off!
But they do look much better (apart from I HATE my homemade tiebacks!)
But they do look much better (apart from I HATE my homemade tie-backs!)

Let me take a van-break for a moment to change the subject briefly (thank GOODness, you all say!)

Eliot turned 13 last week so we had a meal out to celebrate. El is currently obsessed (OBSESSED!!) with Japan and he’d asked if we could eat at the Japanese Steakhouse at Damon’s in Lincoln so, knowing nothing about what to expect, we braved it.

Well, it was fantastic! It was as much a show as a meal and, although expensive, we’d go again for a special occasion. Great food and great staff (just make sure you allow £25 a head!)

Yikes!

Anyway, back to the van!

With the arrival of the main seat cushions (again, let’s not mention that missing one, eh?), we were able to get the additional seatbelt in the rear sorted. It’s not actually illegal to carry rear passengers in a camper without seatbelts (CRAZY!), but we wanted to fit one for our (well, Eliot’s!) security and peace of mind. We’re not adding it to the logbook or anything so it doesn’t need inspecting, but we wanted, for ourselves, to make sure it was properly fitted so some careful planning was required.

Firstly, we worked out where we wanted to fit it and to what!

That meant the removal of the front bench seat for some welding!

It was proper disgusting down there! (For the record, it isn't any more!)
It was proper disgusting down there! (For the record, it isn’t any more!)
Weldy, weldy, weldy (not during this photo, obviously!)
Weldy, weldy, weldy (not during this photo, obviously!)
One of the 3 welded seatbelt points. The 4th point uses the existing mount between the 2 passenger seats in the front.
One of the 3 welded seatbelt points. The 4th point uses the existing mount between the 2 passenger seats in the front.
Seatbelt position in the rear. We'll also be adding an anchor point to which to secure the dog.
Seatbelt position in the rear. We’ll also be adding an anchor point to which to secure the dog.

We really are pretty much onto finishing touches now, and Nik hadn’t been happy with the decals on the van for a while. They were put on months ago, just to make it not look like a “white van” and they’re just started to look a bit dull.

The original van stickering, even before toilet hatch went in!
The original van stickering, even before toilet hatch went in!
And then when the toilet hatch did go in, the design vanished!
And then when the toilet hatch did go in, the design vanished!

So we fired up the sticker plotted and printed off miles (well, ok, maybe not miles exactly) of red pinstripe and some silver and black extra pieces, and Nik diligently applied to the entire design.

The toilet door now has the design on it and the addition of a pinstripe makes it look so much better
The toilet door now has the design on it and the addition of a pinstripe makes it look so much better
Side 2 BEFORE...
Side 2 BEFORE…
... and side 2 AFTER
… and side 2 AFTER

And we are so, so close to finishing that look!!!

even my kitchen cupboards are beginning to get stocked up.
even my kitchen cupboards are beginning to get stocked up.

My shopping list now consists of things like “tea towel holders” and “washing up liquid”. If that doesn’t say “we’re nearly done”, I don’t know what does!

Our last major decision and purchase has been an awning.

Oh lordy, what a minefield that has been.

Obviously, we considered the Fiamma/Truma wind-out awnings but they’re extortionately expensive and don’t really provide what we need from an awning without investing in sides and a front to make a room.

Really, we wanted some extra living space so we decided (while wandering around the showroom at Brownhills in Newark on a 3m drive-away awning. It was 3m x 3m so we figured plenty big enough for our van.

Got the C channel/awning rail fitted to the van and test fitted it, only to find that, while the tent part of the awning might be 3m, the “tunnel” part that fits to the van was only not much over 2m and didn’t cover the sliding door. This meant it was impossible to open the door without snagging it on the awning and, inevitably in time, causing damage.

Brownhills customer service, it has to be noted, was EXCELLENT and they took the awning back for full refund (even though we’d got rid of the main awning box – dur!) but they couldn’t recommend an awning that would work for us.

We ruled out any drive-aways (which we didn’t need anyway) because they pretty much all have a too-narrow tunnel fixing for a sliding door (unless the awning itself was eye-wateringly expensive – like £800+!!), and started looking at a porch-like awnings. After emailing Outdoor Revolution themselves and asking them, they confirmed that their 3m wide canopy awnings would be 3m wide at the van also so I began hunting for one in our price range.

It came down to the Tech Canopy 300

Outdoor Revolution Tech Canopy 300
Outdoor Revolution Tech Canopy 300

or the Techlite Pro XL, which we decided on due to being able to enclose it if need be (ie it the Great British weather decides to rain, we can keep the van open and the awning closed, rather than shutting ourselves in the van which is, let’s face it, “cosy”!

The awning arrived today and we LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

It only just covers the sliding door, but cover it it does and it’s perfectly workable, a MUCH better quality awning (in our opinion) than the previous, drive-away one we had tried, and I can’t wait to be able to use it when we go away.

Awning up with temporary groundsheet until ours arrives
Awning up with temporary groundsheet until ours arrives

I have to say that, having been in communication quite considerably with Brownhills, who deal in motorhomes, including vans, that clearly there’s a huge gap in the market for this type of awning that will fit on a sliding door. Most awnings (except the huge/expensive ones) won’t, and this one (and presumably the canopy also as it has the same dimensions) DOES and it doesn’t break the bank (ours even less so because it had nearly 40% off for having been tried on a van previously!)

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It’s not fully pegged out here, but you can see that it fully covers the sliding door, offering protection against the elements. Good news for anyone who has a LWB, high roof Fiat Ducato, Citroen Relay or Peugeot Boxer!!

Gosh, I think we may actually be caught up on van shenanigans. Phewy!

In other news, Jake is working hard at the minute trying to save up enough wages for a 125cc motorcycle (he fancies a YZF R125) that he can use for college and work when he turns 17 in December. He’s so super-excited about having a proper bike. These next 5 months really won’t pass nearly quick enough for him, I’m sure.

Zac turned 2 a week or so ago. TWO! It’s hard to imagine life without him, for sure. He brings joy to us every hour of every day (even at 6.50am when I got up this morning!)

Please do excuse that carpet! It's the office floor and horribly neglected (it was a playroom when our tenants were in and has suffered for it!)
Please do excuse that carpet! It’s the office floor and horribly neglected (it was a playroom when our tenants were in and has suffered for it!)

I think that pretty much covers everything though. Next post might actually be a FINISHED van!

That’d be a thing, eh?

 

 

 

Yeh, so it’s pretty much work, van, sleep, work, van, sleep, repeat!

It’s sooooo close now that even I can see it (and, unlike Nik, I’ve been in denial about the proximity of completion for months!)It’s starts to feel real when the carpet goes down.
That’s right: carpet!But let’s backtrack a bit.

Last weekend was spent mostly trying to construct a bathroom. We had side walls but no front (hallway) wall so that needed building and installing, as well as the waterproof shower board which needed fixing up.

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Plumbing was debated quite a lot and it was decided that our corner sink, small as it was,  was too big for our little wet room so we bit the bullet and ordered a tip-up sink unit. We’d contemplated it earlier in the project but they don’t come cheap.

In a campervan, however, NO additional space comes cheap!

We also then had to re-think how and where to fit the new sink and the taps, which were originally fitted into the worktop with the corner sink.

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So a box was made in which to locate the taps outside of the fold-up sink so it could be used both to fill the sink or, with the sink folded away, to shower.

As it stands, the bathroom now only really needs a shower tray building and then fully sealing.

That’ll be fun!

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The front wall was added and silver boarded to match the rest of the van interior (silver for interior fittings/furniture, textured cream fleck for walls)

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Nik also built, from scratch, a very impressive unit to make up the last piece of additional furniture in the van. We had always planned to put storage here but didn’t make it or plan it at all until we’d been using the van entrance with the L-shaped seat/bed units in for a while. It helped because we then decided not to encroach on the entrance area at all and angle off the corner to open up the hallway area a bit.

He is clever my man!

There’s been a lot of trimming done this week too.

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The sink and hob both got their seals ordered and fitted. They’d both come (second hand) with their original trims but I couldn’t clean them up satisfactorily. The originals are cream but I could only get black as replacements. Fortunately, black works for us!

A start was made on the section above the main sliding door too. It’s a tricky area to cover and there’s been much discussion over felt vs board or a combination of the two. Nik decided he’d prefer board (he’s the one making it so it’s his decision!) and it’s still a work in progress (many templates later!)

TV bracket for our 12V television.
TV bracket for our 12V television.
The start of the section above the sliding door
The start of the section above the sliding door

We’ve also been 3D printing bits and pieces. We have a few doors in the van which don’t have space to accommodate handles so we (aka Nik) improvised and printed some finger hole handles which glue in to a drilled hole and have caps on the inside.

One of the doors which doesn't have space for a handle
One of the doors which doesn’t have space for a handle
3D printed handle in place
3D printed handle in place

There are a couple more places where we’re using these handles too. In the storage space under the beds, we made a pull-out step storage so the boys can climb up to the bunks.

The box snugly under the bed and still space for a drawer above it
The box snugly under the bed and still space for a drawer above it

This is the point at which we realised we really needed to fit carpet!

This box slides in and out, and we couldn’t begin to put in the drawer without having definite heights which would be dictated by the carpet. So, we headed into town and picked up an offcut!

£20. Bargain!

To avoid messing up, a full floor template was made first.
To avoid messing up, a full floor template was made first.
Then the template was drawn on to the reverse of the carpet
Then the template was drawn on to the reverse of the carpet
Ta-da! Carpet!
Ta-da! Carpet!

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Carpet was also added to the top of the box step…

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…which opens to reveal oodles of (probably) kitchen storage for larger items (cereals and suchlike)

So yeah. Apart from work and the van (and we most certainly will NOT talk about THAT referendum!), we’ve been kept pretty busy.

Even more so this Monday when not only did we have to take the car to the garage to fix a water leak (it was booked in for Wednesday but the problem had got significantly worse over the weekend) and then our main work laptop died. Fortunately, that’s under warranty still but it’s still a week without it (and using a backup laptop which is far from ideal) in the meantime.

The car however. That will be costly.

This year’s been a bit rubbish really.

But hey, there’s always the van…

And I did find 5p on the floor today so there’s that!

Quick trip away, new bike, no more exams and lots on the van!

Cor, busy, eh?

Since I last posted Jake has finished his GCSE exams. He thinks he did OK, and he seemed happy enough after each one, so fingers crossed he’ll have done what he needs to get the grades college are asking for. Time will tell, roll on August 25th!

Meantime, he’s hoping to get some extra hours in at work so he can start saving for his 125cc motorbike when he turns 17 in December.  He’ll be able to use a 125 to get to Lincoln at back (for college) and he much prefers this idea to the bus (personally, I’d rather he used the bus!)

Speaking of bikes, we’ve upgraded Jake’s! His original bike was great but a bit on the slow side to be riding on Lea Road (which is a 40 mph) so we upped it to a slightly nippier one which will allow him to ride WITH the traffic rather than holding it all up. It’s a nice looking thing now that Nik has done a custom sticker job on it!

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It’ll do him for work until he can up it to something suitable for his college run.
Nik, being Nik, managed to sell his old one within hours of listing it on eBay. Bonus!

I also had a quick weekend jolly to my sister’s last weekend. That was fun. She’s got herself a new job (after 6 months without one) so we had a bit of a celebration weekend. That and a belated birthday treat of afternoon tea in Folkingham which was lovely.

Yummy Yummy
Yummy Yummy (and yes, that’s my tea WITH milk!)

So, aside from afternoon teas, bikes and exams, about the only thing that’s been happening (aside from work being busy, but you really don’t want to read about that!) is, guess what? The van!

Nik got tons done while I was away last weekend. He made lots of lovely doors for overhead lockers and kitchen units; routing them with super curvy edges and knock-on trim.

Routing roundy corners
Routing roundy corners
Routing grooves for knock-on trim
Routing grooves for knock-on trim
Knocking in trim
Knocking in trim
Vinyl-covered door-y goodness
Vinyl-covered door-y goodness
The under-oven cupboard and the drawer above the fridge (as well as the fridge door itself) will all be covered/re-covered with silver. We're not liking the black vinyl here.
The under-oven cupboard and the drawer above the fridge (as well as the fridge door itself) will all be covered/re-covered with silver. We’re not liking the black vinyl here.

The fridge electrics were finished (12v and 240v) and the gas lines were fitted properly so we could, when we’re feeling brave enough, actually put some gas in the tank and try them all out.

Like I said, when we’re feeling brave enough!

Fridge connected to 12v, 240v and gas!
Fridge connected to 12v, 240v and gas!

There’s a slide out shelf, above the fridge, which can be removed (along with the drawer) for fridge maintenance.

Slidey outy shelfy thingie
Slidey outy shelfy thingie
Slidey outy drawer thingie
Slidey outy drawer thingie

While I was away (Nik gets a lot done when I’m not about because he has no one getting in his way. Apparently, at times it is like trying to “do plumbing with an orangutan”! His exact words which he is NOT allowed to forget he said!), Nik also sussed out fitting our kitchen taps which were proving to be a bit of a challenge because our worktop was deeper than the stem.

Oops. That's not gonna work!
Oops. That’s not gonna work!
Template time
Template time
More routing to make space underneath for the tightening nuts
More routing to make space underneath for the tightening nuts
Ta-da! Isn't he a clever sort?
Ta-da! Isn’t he a clever sort?

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Since coming back from my sister’s, we’ve not spent much time in the van until yesterday (Friday).

I did manage to paint the inside of the wardrobe walls though during the afternoons. We’ve just used a satin paint to take the wood edge off it and make it a bit lighter, brighter and more inviting for storage  – because, you know, storage needs to feel welcome!

First panel (the wardrobe/bathroom wall) was painted out of the van...
First panel (the wardrobe/bathroom wall) was painted out of the van…
... the second (wardrobe/bed) panel was done in the van. A much splatterier job!
… the second (wardrobe/bed) panel was done in the van. A much splatterier job!

While I was painting outside, Nik was tidying up electrics inside. It’s al much neater in the overhead locker “control panel” section now and, apart from the kitchen light which still has to be wired up to the switch, almost done and ready for trimming and fitting.

Additionally, he finished felt-lining the overhead lockers fully (I cut all the felts to size while Nik was in the van, and he glued it all in)

Felt-lined lockers and an almost-finished control panel
Felt-lined lockers and an almost-finished control panel

I also became re-acquainted with my sewing machine! We have 3 sets of curtains to hang and they all need modifying in some way or another.

Curtain cut in half and pinned ready for sewing
Curtain cut in half and pinned ready for sewing
Been a while since I've used this old girl
Been a while since I’ve used this old girl

Firstly, The ones for the rear doors. The 2 rear windows were going to use one pair of curtains: one curtain on each door, but we discovered that it wasn’t possible to open them fully to one side because a full curtain width took up too much space across the small window still. So, I halved each single curtain and hemmed the insides. The look pretty good now and will hopefully open better each side of the windows. We just have rails to make for the back doors first (we only have one “demo rail” at present)

Then, we figured out what sort of pole to use for the main living area window and test hung those. The length will be adjusted once the seating cushions are here because we’ll be better able to gauge how long we want them then.

Loving the colours though!
Loving the colours though!

Hanging a set on the sliding door is going to be more of a challenge and will probably involve 2 taut net curtain wires, one top and one bottom, to keep the curtain from flapping when the door is opened or closed.

Also, today, we’ve started on the dreaded bathroom! All walls have been built, including the passageway wall which we hadn’t previously constructed, at we’ve begun lining them with the waterproof shower/wet room wall finish. It’s a tricky process and everything will need silicon sealant around it to make it watertight enough to shower in, but it’s going OK so far.

The shower/wet room wall finish
The shower/wet room wall finish

Tomorrow will be a super-busy day, lining the rest of the walls as well as lining the hall/passageway side of the wardrobe and bathroom with the silver finish…and routing out door holes.

Full, person-size door holes.

That’ll be fun.

Any messy!

Yay!

 

 

Kitchens, worktop, beds, bikes, birthdays and doggie grooming!

Busy week!Of course, the Bank Holiday weekend meant that the week was already destined to be busier than usual, and the week was packed with “stuff” apart from work!

I had (clearly without realising it was a post-bank-holiday Tuesday) booked Zac in to be groomed on Tuesday afternoon so it was super-hectic what with work and orders and then having to fit in two additional trips to town to drop off and fetch back Zac from the groomers.

It was the first time he’d ever been done (apart from the odd times we trim around his docked tail and feathery back end!) so we had no idea how he’d look, but we took recommendation and got booked in to Tybellas and we are thrilled with the result.

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He looks even teenie tinier now (he’s actually nearly 2!) but he’s completely adorable and we found lots of yummy spots under all those feathers and fluff.

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We did also manage to find a bit of time to celebrate my birthday this week. I feel I ought to mention that because it was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed my free meal out at Damon’s in Lincoln (Steak, please!)

Apart from work, of course, the rest of the time has been spent on, you guessed it, van!

We’ve been super busy though. We sneaked an hour or so earlier in the week to have a wee play with overhead locker doors. The overhead lockers, as I’ve mentioned before, have been one of those things (along with the upcoming “bathroom build”) that have been a dread, and even once the lockers were up and looking good, we still have the doors to decide on.

I ordered a variety of hinges from Magnum Motorhomes and we headed down the back to work out what we could use where and what worked best.

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We settled on 2 mini 90 degree snap hinges and a strut to hold it open. It works rather well.

We also had no real clue about what to actually use AS doors. We’d like black conti board but nowhere sells it locally (and buying it online means extortionate postage because, well, it’s BIG!) so we decided we’d use white and cover it with black vinyl.

Before covering
Before covering
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After rough covering. Red pencil for effect as we’d having red handles.

Obviously, the edges will be trimmed off and we have a couple of types of knock on edging to experiment with to finish off the look. It’s still a work in progress, of course. There’s so much else to do!

We also fitted another silver end panel and experimented with the silver bead trim which will also go along the front bottom edge of the overheads.

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Worktop is neither fitted or trimmed in this pic, obviously.

The bead edging works quite well so it’ll be handy stuff.

Also, randomly, we now have one mattress for the bunks. They’re an odd size and have corners cut off where the van back corners are, so I wasn’t sure what size to get. The top bunk is 2ft x 5ft9 and the bottom is 2ft x 6ft. I ordered one 5’9 mattress to see if we could either squash it into the top bunk (despite the corners) or, if not, use it on the bottom and pad out the narrower ends.

As it was, it fitted perfectly into the 5’9 top so I’ve ordered a 2×6 for the bottom now.

Eliot approved
Eliot approved.

Today, we’ve been super-busy doing a ton of stuff to mark off the to-do list.

Around watching the MotoGP practises and qualifying, the kitchen unit was fitted with a shelf in the far end and all the water pipes we routed where the sink will be.

Then ALL the gas pipework was measured and routed behind the kitchen unit and up for the 3-way fridge, the cooker and the hob.

3 gas lines for appliances.
3 gas lines for appliances.
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One full gas rail! (they’re only loosely run, not fitted yet)

We also fitted the heat shield barrier, behind where the cooker sits, to protect the van and wiring in the cavities.

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After this was fitted, it became apparent that we really needed to look at the drawer, which sits above the fridge, and the kitchen worktop itself.  We’d been saving drawer runners from the lots of furniture we’ve dismantled over the past 6 months or so, but when it came to it, we still didn’t have a full usable set! Quite how that happened, I’ve no idea. We had loads, but not a full useful set!

Anyway, a trip to B&Q later and we decided we’d probably have to buy a drawer pack which has runners, sides, bottom and base, and trim or extend to fit our oddly-sized cavity (which we couldn’t buy until we’d come home and actually measured said oddly-sized hole!)

As it happened, in conversation with our neighbour, it turned out he has several of these drawer packs just in his shed, unused and unneeded, so we didn’t even have to buy them, and it came out really well (pic will follow after I’ve waffled about the worktop!)

So, worktop: nightmare!

As we have second-hand appliances and fittings (hob and sink/drainer) we have no templates to cut anything out so we had to measure everything quite meticulously to avoid making an expensive mistake.

The sink itself is just a large oblong so no real challenge beyond ensuring the inner batons that make up the unit’s frame don’t interfere with the fit of the drainer, but the hob presented a whole other challenge. In the end, for the hob, we made an estimated template and worked with a piece of scrap 3mm ply as a demo/practice sheet (so we could then use THAT piece as a template)

The initial cut was OK and after a few tweaks to it, we laid it on the worktop and pencilled out the cut shape we needed.

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Scary. SCARY! And an expensive mistake if it went wrong!

It didn’t go wrong though, and despite the, quite honestly, horrific jigsaw blades we had (bought new and supposedly “for the job”!), the holes were cut.

Can we have a sigh of relief, please?
Can we have a sigh of relief, please?
Can we have an even bigger sigh of relief, please?!
Can we have an even bigger sigh of relief, please?!

Awesome!!

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And with the drawer in (front to be added when doors are done), it’s even MORE awesome!

It’s a huge step in the right direction and quite a weight off my mind. There’s still so much to do.

Wardrobe, bathroom (*shudder*), cupboard doors aplenty and the seat boxes to trim (and measure for seating/bed cushions!) as well as curtain rails to make, curtains to sort, the list goes on and on and on.

Here’s to another busy day tomorrow… around the Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP races!

Meanwhile, I’ll just leave this here and a poignant reminder to the hazards that motorbike racers deal with on a daily basis. Such a tragic loss of someone so young and with so much to live for.

Ride free, Luis.

Luis Salom Moto2