UPDATED AND RE-WRITTEN JAN 2020
Trusty’s Build and humble beginnings
Below are some of the build pictures with descriptions. Not all. but it will give you a good idea of how we built her
We bought our old Transit van Mk 5 locally and named her
Bought Trusty in excellent condition for an old transit ..with a genuine 52 thousand miles on the clock.. She had been standing up for quite a while. Previous owner had dragged her out of storage and mot’d her. She is in excellent condition all round for an old transit..exceptional really!!
As we intended to do a fair bit of mileage in the coming months.. I gave her a good going over and , I decided to replace all the brakes inc cylinders. cam-belt. all other belts water-pump. Front shocks and ball joints and prop-shaft bearings, the rubber ones. main UJ’s were good and as they are pressed, I decided to leave them alone. The parts at the time were dirt cheap on ebay, seemed a no brainer not to..
So with all that done, we started the build….Guy we purchased her from ( we like to think rescued) had started a camper project and lost interest. Fortunately He had installed the windows all round, which saved me a job. It had an interior of sorts an old piece of thin ply fixed to one side,and the same on the ceiling. (in the Pictures). I ripped this out and the front partition which BT had originally installed
Then we set about re -converting her to a camper
I re- fitted the partition to the rear to give us a 2 foot space behind,and separate the van from the proposed toilet and gas bottles etc, Accessible from the rear doors.
Removing this partition from the front, opened up the van light wise
Lined the van with felt. I bought from E bay at £30 for the kit,inc 4 tins of high temp spray glue. Lined the roof and sides, . Then I discovered a local place selling the felt even cheaper, so finished it off with some from them. Total cost around £40 with a couple f meters left over, which I used in the rear later..
Insulation and boarding.
I then set about trolling eBay and Amazon for the right stuff. After seeing the prices I held back a little, popped off to my local caravan center. owned by a mate of mine. Richie..Took a look at the stuff they had, similar to eBay, And then it struck me. it’s almost the same as the duvet covers on your bed,except they have a cotton lining sewed to them.
We as it happened. had loads left over from the B&B we used to run. It took 4 king size to do it.. a good pair of scissors and some spray glue, (use the better Quality as it more heat proof) and hey presto our van is now 20 tog, Cost ?? Zero. I worked it out to £180 quid if you needed to buy materials from eBay to do it. and 4 king size quilts from Home Bargains were £40 if you had to buy them.
Once the roof and wall battens and insulation were in..I lined the ceiling and walls . ( I used 4 mm ply. light and easy to cut and mold) Bought it cheap from a re-claimed woodyard. £3 a sheet 8×4. After installing all electrics,cable etc underneath them first.
Cut all holes for LED light, and switches.As you can see from the picks fairly easy to construct, just one point though ?? Make sure when you fit the panels, you mark on the outside of the boards, where the batons are underneath. This saves a load of hassle when you come to fix things to the walls and ceiling.
Then I set about finishing the over cab and constructing side lockers . All these were fairly straightforward to do. I used a combination of 1×2 inch and 1×1 inch pine which I cut down from the bed slats from my Brother. The base of the blanket box over cab is made of 12 mm marine ply, which also came from my brothers. Good old Bro…The locker doors were salvage from the old caravan we bought. And I mean old. Some great interiors from salvage yards available..but very pricey.. I opted got the older caravan as it suited our needs. and as it turned out. was spot on.
Teresa wanted a full size bed, difficult to achieve in a narrow transit. I would have preferred a cross bed, but Trusty is around 6 inches too narrow to do this. so full length pull out bed made and installed .
Again I scoured about for materials, luckily for us My Brother used to buy container loads of furniture returns from ebay, and so happened to have a huge amount of pine bed slats hanging around, again that’s what we used. and again cost. Zero. Its floor mounted and 1st base is screwed down, with space under it for personal nick nacks you want to hide..the slider pulls out to full size bed..waxed all the slats for a smooth run. When all the bed base mattresses/seats are on top, it makes a nice long comfy set. at the correct height.
although not as convenient as a full cross bed..its very functional, and easy yo use.
Fridge, and Kitchen Area
As mentioned before. Sourced an old caravan of ebay £150 including the fuel to fetch it. Had a nice 3 way fridge in, plus I used some of the furniture and sink, plus the water heater as well. Made framework again from cut down pine bed slats.
Basically a box type frame (same basic construction as overhead/side lockers) which I mounted the fridge on and built a cupboard above. other cabinets in this area were constructed from modified parts from caravan. amd reclaimed wood. panels etc. Added a microwave. some table and cupboard areas to the side.all constructed from cut down pine, and re-used caravan parts.
Microwave oven/grill. is no longer in, as we hardly used it and it was heavy. I have replaced that with a lock in table. looks ok. and is more useful than a heavy microwave..
Underneath the sink Area
There is a lot of storage, and also This area, is where the 70 liter fiamma water tank and whale heavy duty pump, are located. This powers our portable shower as well. Intending to keep all sorts of stuff under there. but only lite stuff, except for the tank. Its over the back axle area, and I dont want to over load it any more than it is.
I have constructed a 90 liter waste water tank underneath the transit mounted between the prop shaft and inner sill. On the near side.This I had to make myself as I could not get one anywhere at the dimensions needed. Used an old tank from a scrapyard, cut it down and plastic welded it together..Its a technique that you can use on certain plastics..Butane torch and large copper soldering iron, did the trick.
Sink Tap came from the caravan as did a lot of the water pipe hot and cold. as mentioned I fitted the water heater, which at the time worked well. but it never held enough water for a decent shower. and took up too much space. On the refit I have removed it and replaced the whole system with an LPG heater/boiler
The Rear Compartment (update)
As I mentioned before, I left a two foot space behind the rear partition for toilet and gas bottles/storage etc, At an early stage I decided. that we did not want the toilet in the living sleeping area, a little inconvenience getting out of Trusty to go in the back doors, proved to be no problem.
Originally I fitted waterproof panels to the insides and made a wet room, I didn’t think this one out properly. It was practically useless to us,as it leaked into the flooring and was too tight. So I opted for a portable gas shower, which does the job nicely. Ebay price, £90
The shower is used outside of the compartment , we have a fold shower tent for privacy. or we can draw over shower curtains on a rodding system we made up.between the back doors. Works well. Not A class standards, but we are about functional and above all cheap. and where we go its always sunny.
In the left pictures above..you can see the Gas low Self fill bottle system. which I stole off eBay..no one else bid on it and I got it for a song. This I installed and its been worth its weight in gold..on gas prices alone..works out less than a third of the cost of filled bottles, which are a rip off in any place. At the same time I installed an outlet valve for The gas BBQ, Third picture below the EHU hook up. Cost of that from ebay £20 at the time.
We are more or less,fully solar. with A 150 watt solar panel, and two main 125 amp hour leisure batteries in tandem and the engine battery separate. All can be used in tandem, via remote switches. So far 5 years on, and a few small mods..it all works well.
New Mod… Motor Bike Rack May 2018
this is a new mod. We used to tow my Honda around on a bike Trailer, which to be fair was great when we were using it, but at 1133 cc and weighing 243 kilos was a pain. Plus the trailer
I dislike towing Trailers of any kind, they are a nuisance. and restrict you from visiting many beautiful villages. If you make a wrong turn down a tight road or Track, ( BELIEVE ME !! WE MADE LOADS ) or even some Aires. you often have a hard job to turn. It always invariable means unhitching the trailer with the bike on and manhandling it around..No Fun in 40 degrees, or black of night.
So After our last trip in 2018. I decided a small 125cc bike and a removable bike rack would be just the ticket. So, I set about making one.. below are the pics of what I did. And are now permanent mods to Trusty
Trusty with bike rack and nasty black windows, bumpers and wavy lines down the side, turned to blue by the magic Fairies. a bit of hand paint never hurts an old Transit.
All in all it has done us nicely, I have definitely seen much better conversions than ours. but in 3 months time limit, to build and get gone from the B&B (boy we were glad to get shot of that ) and limited carpentry skills, (at the time)
We were happy with her as she was, She has served us well over the last 40 thousand miles, the bike rack and 125 cc bike (Lex) were a very good move. We have covered 2500 extra miles in France /Spain/and Portugal , and England, leaving Trusty parked up..Taken us to all sorts of places. inaccessible coves, beaches, narrow cobbled streets in beautiful white villages..places where Trusty would find it difficult.and of course shopping trips…AHHH!!GRRRR !!! .
As I write this, and after many miles and months of using Trusty, some things still need to be modified and altered a tad. Now I am refitting and altering some of the inside and out.
Trusty Changing Stages
2018.. Back in UK Teresa recovered the Seats and made new Curtains all round.
This time round back in the UK we not only added the bike and rack, but reupholstered the seats. added new curtains, and added two single Memory foam extra mattress toppers. All Made by Teresa.
Except the memory foam of course. If we could make that. then this Blog would not exist. and we would be swanning it up in a mansion somewhere in the Caribbean
Trusty’s improvements are always ongoing, as we think of things we need to add or take away. Please feel free to message us if you have any questions, related to self build. always happy to help if I can.
Footnote Written 14/01/2020
Trusty Has now clocked 94.000 miles. and 42.000 or so, with us..Bullet proof, as I mentioned, some knocks and scrapes, minor mechanical improvements. but still going strong.. going to fettle her up completely on return to UK. this year..we now have a narrowboat base..so so its going to be easy to take her off the road for a few months and do it..when we get back in April..
Fitted a cambelt and tensioner to Trusty today.. Last one fitted at 52.000 (belt only) Now 94.000miles and 6 years ago.So a year over its recommended date, and 10 thousand miles under it. Old belt was in good order though. tensioner starting to wear.
Did it outside the house, in Portugal..who needs a workshop ??
Belt Changes at 52.000 miles, and now 94.132 thousand miles. respectively.
Well ! no return in April 2020 possible, so going to stay here till this covid panic abates..
Jobs done to date…Fitted o/s rear shocker, bushes gone at the top..N/s needs doing as well. so looking for a shock for that job, next.. Tightened up Exhaust bracket..stopped the rattle. Replaced Bonnet front Grill and rad, due to crash in Dieppe last year on the way here. Oil and filter change, inc diesel filter. Nn/s headlight needs replacing, Cracked in the bump. I will do that in UK, as here they are for the left not the right.
Stripped out the other rear shock this morning..Shot to pieces, top and bottom rubbers knackered, I will pop off to local motor factors tomorrow (Mon) and get a new one..the other one I used was second hand but like new..but to far to go to retrieve the other. So a few more bucks and it will be sorted.