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. As we intended to do a few thousand miles in her.I decided to replace the running gear. There was nothing wrong with the old stuff. but all the Parts are dirt cheap on E bay, and im an ex mechanic, so no problems
I replaced 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. To date I have only had to replace one front wheel bearing. as it started to grumble. all that standing had dried the grease out..
Then we set about converting her to a camper.
I’st picture here is of Trusty two days after we bought her. Plain old Transit mk 5 High top lwb Van.
We then set about converting her into a camper van. The previous owner 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
The first pictures are as we got her with front partition in, the 4th is with it out.
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, which I later installed,
Accessible from the rear doors. this also opened up the van light wise,and allowed me to build an over locker above the cab. I then set about building the roof and side battens to hold the paneling. I used roofing batons these are dirt cheap, tannelised, and ideal for the job. Available at any good wood yard. cost £10
There was no insulation in the van as the previous owner had intended to build it without.
So I 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. Took a look at the stuff they had, similar to eBay, And then it struck me. it’s almost the same as the douve covers on your bed,except they have a cotton lining sewed to them.
We as it happened. had loads left over from the Flat 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 kingsize quilts from Home Bargains were £40 if you had to buy them.
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 for e bay, and so happened to have a huge amount of pine bed slats hanging around, again that’s what we used. and again cost. Zero.
After fitting the walls and ceiling panels, I used 3 mm ply. light and easy to cut and mold. Bought it cheap from a re-claimed wood yard.£3 a sheet 8×4.
The felt. I bought from E bay at £30 for the kit,inc 4 tins of high temp spray glue. Panels from eBay seller locally, cost me £30. Then I set about constructing the over cab and bed lockers. these were fairly straight forward 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…
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 yo come to fix things to the walls and ceiling.
Fridge, and Kitchen Area
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 which I mounted the fridge on and built a cupboard above. other cabinets in this area were constructed from modified parts from caravan. added a microwave. some table and cupboard areas to the side.all constructed from cut down pine, and re-used caravan parts.
The micro wave is no longer in now. as we never hardly used it and it was heavy. I have replaced that with a lock in table. underneath the sink is a lot of storage, and also the 70 liter fiamma water tank and whale heavy duty pump, this powers our portable shower as well.
I have 90 liter waste water tank underneath the transit mounted between the prop shaft and inner sill. This I had to make myself as I could not get one anywhere at the dimensions needed.
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 more about that in the refit section. the black formica tops are again from my bro’s place and free.
The Rear Compartment
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, this proved to be practically useless to us,as it leaked into the flooring and was too tight. So I opted for wood insulated paneling completely sealing off the toilet from the main van area, and a portable gas shower, which does the job nicely.
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. Works well. Not A class standards, but we are about functional and above all cheap.
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.
We are more or less,fully solar. with two main leisure batteries in tandem and the engine battery separate, or all can be used in tandem, via remote switches.
Motor Bike Rack
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.
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 man handling it around..No Fun in 40 degrees, or black of night.
So After our last trip I decided a small 125cc bike and a bike rack built by me..was the ticket. So below are the pics of what I did. And are now permanent mods to Trusty
I am not quite happy about the position of the light board, I will probably fit lights and a number plate at the top of rear doors. ongoing that one
Trusty with bike rack and nasty black windows turned to blue, by the magic Fairies
All in all it has done us nicely, I have definitely seen much better conversions than ours. but in 3 months and limited carpentry skills, at the time we were happy with it as it was, but as I write this, and after many miles and months of using Trusty, things need to be modified and altered a tad. Now I am refitting and altering some of the inside and out.
Trusty Changing Stages
I decided a 125 bike would be more suitable than a scooter, greater ground clearance, and more robust So We bought a 2nd hand 15 plate Lexmoto arrow 125. Its Chinese but the reviews say it’s the best of the bunch, seems ok now we have it, runs well. poor build quality, but what do you expect when its only 1100 quid new, and ours cost 700 quid
Fuel is around 150 to a gallon, but I doubt well achieve that with two up. Going to use it for the towns and cities we want to see, without hauling the transit around tight streets . Handy so we can go shopping without de-pitching as well.
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.