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Thread: Project van begins - NomadicMissionary

  1. #1
    Chilling Out jonathanh1989's Avatar
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    Project van begins - NomadicMissionary

    A little introduction - I'm Jonathan, 27 years old, husband to a beautiful wife and papa to our little boy.
    In two years we plan to take a year out, traveling around the UK, before leaving and heading across Europe, through Pakistan, and then possibly on to China. A van seemed a good way to get us there so I'm taking driving lessons, have bought a van and now begin the somewhat daunting task of creating what will be our home for at least the next few years!

    I've trawled through thousands of posts the last few months, read almost every blog going on van conversion, and feel like I'm already part of the hippy family! Thanks to all who have taken the time to post and give advice here, the result is an incredible catalog of shared knowledge and ideas with plenty of banter to move things along.
    I tend to over research things which isn't always helpful, there is far too much choice! From how to treat/paint the chassis to what type of toilet to use, from insulation and heating to electricity and refrigeration, the list is somewhat exhausting!

    Here's a list of what I've planned so far:

    Insulation = Kingspan (or equivalent) 50mm walls & roof / 25mm floor. Ebay for seconds? Foil bubble layer over the top.
    Paneling = 5mm ply or 8mm T&G (I would love to try with pallet wood but it may weigh more?)
    Bed = Double over cab and a single underneath
    Heating = One of Julians stoves, please! thefireweaver.com
    Power = Solar and possibly a tinderbox
    Water = Waste tank underneath, fresh tank perhaps safer inside to prevent freezing (unless I can find a way to insulate it well?). Smaller drinking water tank inside.
    Shower = A bucket to keep things simple, water heated via the stove.
    Gas = Cylinder underneath, to power hob and oven.
    Toilet = A cassette toilet.
    Lighting = Led's from solar, plus some garden led lights stored on the roof to be brought in at night.
    Refrigeration = Cold bucket of water/wet towel. We will really miss our freezer! It looks like it's pretty hard to run a fridge let alone a freezer just off solar. Marine fridges would be possible but they cost a fortune.
    Chassis = Wire brush, rust eater. Then POR 15 stuff? Or red oxide and chassis black? Or engine oil?
    Roof = Rubberized paint.
    Exterior = Some nato desert colour paint.
    Piano = I'd like to squeeze one in, or at least a keyboard!





    We picked it up from Glasgow, it was sold as spotless but it's far from it! Had a mechanic look it over and he said it's fine, gears our very stiff but apparently that's usual with old vans.
    There's a few tears in the alloy I'll need to patch and rivet.





    I've taken all the battening down to clean the interior up. I need to get the floor up but the screws go right through into the chassis and I can't get them to budge. I tried with an impact screwdriver and hammer but it didn't touch them, any ideas? I may invest in an electric impact driver if it would do the job as it would come in useful for everything else I do.




  2. #2
    just me Colin M's Avatar
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    Looks like a good canvas to start your art work on!

    Great to do plenty of research, but always be willing to change your mind to us a lucky find or a new suggestion.

    Skips are your friends!

    Really looking forward to watching your home grow.

    Good luck - it's all part of the adventure!

    :-)

    And dont forget to keep your son involved all the way through - that way it will really feel like it is a special place to him!
    Smile - It'll make them nervous.
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  3. #3
    I am planning a longer trip too the year after next, heading overland down under.

    what did you find out about driving in China. I heard there were some major issues.

    Anyway, good luck with the build, and you can run a 12 volt fridge of solar, but you will need a few panels. With a family, a fridge is a lifesaver.
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  4. #4
    Ah found it! Moderator FriedOnion's Avatar
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    Don't paint it any military colours, in some places they shoot first & ask questions later.

  5. #5
    Chilling Out jonathanh1989's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Languid Virago View Post
    I am planning a longer trip too the year after next, heading overland down under.

    what did you find out about driving in China. I heard there were some major issues.

    Anyway, good luck with the build, and you can run a 12 volt fridge of solar, but you will need a few panels. With a family, a fridge is a lifesaver.
    Wow that will be some trip! Do you know what route you'll take yet?
    I don't have any info regarding China I'm afraid. There's so many variables and regs are always changing. The nitty gritty of visas and customs and local law we're just going to have to navigate one step at a time. My wife has family in Pakistan so that could well be our base. I'm not sure living in a UK plated in Pakistan would be the wisest of ideas, if nothing else finished us off the heat may well do! I'd like to at least get there in it though and have it there us an option.

    Friedonion they wouldn't see it in the desert! but yes your probably right. Could always get a paint job in Europe before we crossed into more troublesome lands.
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    Chilling Out jonathanh1989's Avatar
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    Going to invest in an electric impact driver as nothing else seems to budge those screws.

    I've been digging around getting all the dirt and old screws ect out between the floor and sides. They have started to corode the aluminum sides so that will need adressing. You wouldn't believe how much dirt and rusted out bits were down there, I've filled a bin bag full!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jonathanh1989 View Post
    Wow that will be some trip! Do you know what route you'll take yet?
    I don't have any info regarding China I'm afraid. There's so many variables and regs are always changing. The nitty gritty of visas and customs and local law we're just going to have to navigate one step at a time.
    I am in the early stages, still need to build my bus and convert it to 4 wheel drive first, and then start planning. But I am looking at heading to India, container it to Thailand and then head south. Why I have bought a containerable size vehicle. I hope to sell it in Australia for the cost of the trip. No way do I want to RoRo it with all my tatt abord.

    I think China the issue was they won't accept foreign reg or drivers licences, so you need to reregister it or pay a local guide to drive it for you. But as you say, things keep changing.

  8. #8
    Heavenly Creature greenvanman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathanh1989 View Post
    Going to invest in an electric impact driver as nothing else seems to budge those screws.

    I've been digging around getting all the dirt and old screws ect out between the floor and sides. They have started to corode the aluminum sides so that will need addressing. You wouldn't believe how much dirt and rusted out bits were down there, I've filled a bin bag full!
    Those screws will probably break off if you give them too much stick. Have you sprayed them underneath with WD40 or similar? Try tightening them up first before trying to undo them. Sometimes that little bit of movement in the wrong direction will start them moving
    ' When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place '
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  9. #9
    Chilling Out jonathanh1989's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenvanman View Post
    Those screws will probably break off if you give them too much stick. Have you sprayed them underneath with WD40 or similar? Try tightening them up first before trying to undo them. Sometimes that little bit of movement in the wrong direction will start them moving
    Yes tried both of those things. Tried hitting them with a hammer to and a manual impact driver and they won't budge. I don't really know what else to try. The van will already resemble a colander when they're all out so I'm reluctant to start trying to drill them out...

  10. #10
    Dirty Uncle Bertie... julianthegypsy's Avatar
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    Great to see another box luton at the start of its journey into being a home! I do like small Luton vans, they make such a great space when they're done, I'll look forward to hearing from you when you're ready to have its heart fitted!
    Yawn I'm so tired with this big bag of coal on my head...
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  11. #11
    exiled cornishman wandering gypsy's Avatar
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    a few points, wd is a lubricant not a penetrating oil and watch the weight you only have about one ton to play with
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  12. #12
    I had the same problem getting the floor out of my horsebox except the screw heads were disintegrating so there was no chance of a screwdriver removing them.
    I used a 1 inch flat drill bit and drilled all around each screw until I had room to grip them with a pair of molegrips
    It didn't take long and the molegrips removed them easily but the remains of the floor is only fit for the bonfire.
    It might have been quicker to drill the screws but I didn't have a good metal drill bit and the floor needed replacing.
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  13. #13
    Chilling Out jonathanh1989's Avatar
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    Thanks wanderinggypsy. Yes the weight is high up there on priorities, I should have added that in the opening post. It has no tail lift which should help. I'll only have a 3.5 ton license so won't be able to upgrade it to a higher weight either.

    Does anyone know what pallett wood weighs compared to thin t&g?

    Samjosh it's looking like I'll have to do the same, I wasn't planning on keeping the floor anyway.

  14. #14
    3 peoples tatt for a long voyage like that, plus the conversion weight, you need to be OCD about every single gram.

    lightest would be to cut a sheet of overly thin aluminium or marine ply to size to fit your floor joists, bond kingspan to it to make it more rigid, then when laid out bond clic clack flooring to it so create a rigid sandwich. no good for being abused carrying goods, but great for a liveaboard, it will weigh less than the origial floor.

    Oh, have a care about painting it military colours, some countries wont even let you over the border if it is.

    I know pallet wood is free, and can look great if you put the time in, but have a care as it is often treated with harmful chemicals. it is also really really labour intensive.
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  15. #15
    just me Colin M's Avatar
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    Pallet wood is a lot heavier than 5mm ply.

    I have used some of both, and some T&G, but weight isn't anywhere near as much of a problem to me.

    :-)
    Smile - It'll make them nervous.
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  16. #16
    Chilling Out jonathanh1989's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Languid Virago View Post
    lightest would be to cut a sheet of overly thin aluminium or marine ply to size to fit your floor joists, bond kingspan to it to make it more rigid, then when laid out bond clic clack flooring to it so create a rigid sandwich. no good for being abused carrying goods, but great for a liveaboard, it will weigh less than the origial floor.
    My concern would be the kingspan compressing and the floor starting to sag in places. I'd planned to put kingspan between the joists, then a vapor layer and then 5mm ply with a lightweight laminate on top. If I varnish the ply to seal it, or use marine ply, I could just laminate the areas that will be on show and build any fixtures/furniture straight on to the ply to save weight.

    It was the character in pallet wood that appealed to me. (I love the mix of colouration and weathering that you don't get with T&G.) I think weight will rule it out as a wall option for me though.

  17. #17
    I find people that go overland in 4x2 Luton vans with an ECU brave.
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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Subgenre View Post
    I find people that go overland in 4x2 Luton vans with an ECU brave.
    Braver than me for sure.
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  19. #19
    Braver than me as well. I'd get a heavier and more basic truck to start with.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Subgenre View Post
    Braver than me as well. I'd get a heavier and more basic truck to start with.
    why my overland bus has a tractor like 4.2 liter non ecu landcruiser engine, and the axles will be Dana 60s with NP 205 transfer box. all chosen for being bullet proof and easy to repair with basic low tech tools that i can bring with me. then standardise all the parts, same brake discs front and back, same wheel bearings, same brake pads and calipers, that way I can carry one pair of pads, one set of wheel bearings, one brake disc, one UJ etc. a book with contacts for people who have all the parts I can't carry in stock.

    Way more hassle, way more cost initially, but airfreighting in a brand new ECU in the middle of Mongolia will cost a fortune even if you can find somone to work on it.
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  21. #21
    Chilling Out jonathanh1989's Avatar
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    Ok.... who wants to buy a Luton van or trade it for a 4x4 bus?

    Give me some hope please! My license prevents me driving anything heavier and I also want to be able to park it fairly easily. I needed the extra room a luton provides for a family or I'd have gone for a panel van. I have zero mechanical skills or knowledge which would have made buying an older vehicle needing restoration beyond my reach. At least it's windows/doors/mirrors are not electric and it has a chain rather than a cam belt.
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  22. #22
    this could be downrated to 3.5 tonne for example.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/IVECO-40-1...kAAOSwq7dXFlac

    No ecu, diff locks and 4WD, but slightly shorter, box body could be added easily or you could make one from scratch.
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  23. #23
    Not Quite a Noobie
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    I run a 1986 fiat ducato 2.0 petrol coachbuilt motorhome...its simple to work on and bullet proof, but costs more to travel in than a diesel. but then 80's diesels are usually slow noisy beasts anyway :-) might be something worth looking at for you? we love ours and it has all the creature comforts needed... i have added solar panels and will do an lpg conversion this year to lower fuel bills...

    we are just back from a 4 month trip around europe and my little skilpad averaged 21.5mpg at a cost of 25p per mile ...we did 7500 miles with no mechanical failures at all, so oldskool is the way in my opinion. my vehicle of choice would be a merc 709 or similar but like you i dont have a c1 licence yet as apparently us saffas cant drive trucks safely :-)
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  24. #24
    Chilling Out
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    Or I have a nice Mercedes Unimog I might be persuaded to part with , just needs a lick of paint

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