By way of an intro to our year on the road, here is a run down of the process of getting our very own bijou, personal world on wheels.
We opted for what we believed to be the best and cheapest route to creating the van we wanted. We purchased a new base van; a Peugeot Boxer L3, H2. This means it is a long wheel base and the 3rd longest in the range at 5700 mm, with a semi high top height of 1932 mm. One of the most exciting things was we got it in Ruby Red metallic paint, and we had the bumpers painted to match. We were starting to fall in love with our van. Next to find a converters.
We met Iain at Dalesman Conversions (based near Grassington at Winterburn) and liked the way he was open minded to something a bit different in the style and design of the interior. I designed the van interior from scratch producing a set of drawings that proved useful throughout to show to the upholsterers, or just to keep us and Iain on track with the original vision. With a relatively small amount of design work, I quickly got to the fun bit of choosing the finishes and bringing the look of it together along with some nice lighting.
There is a lot of info out there about van conversions and we spent a fair bit of time talking to people about their experiences, reading books and magazines and trailing around Motorhome lots, and comparing the cost of everything. By the time we had the van we had a good idea of what we wanted. Our requirements were a lot of storage for climbing, cycling and hiking gear with a small kitchen area and fixed double bed above the storage garage. A small shower and WC, and as much seating area as possible opposite the big sliding door was important. The van also needed to be fully winterised as we expect to spend the winter months in mountainous regions in minus temperatures. The interior of the van is just 8 square metres by a roof height of 1.8m. John at 6ft can just about stand up.
Another detail was at the back, we sealed off the interior with a panel across the opening rear doors. This meant that winter draughts were excluded and it gave us an additional vertical storage area useful for hanging up damp jackets and keeping smelly running shoes out of the the main cabin. We also gained a useful bedroom shelf on the inside for that all important morning cup of tea.
There has been hitches along the way and almost all of these are due to supplies taking much longer to arrive, and the installation experts for the underslung gas tanks being booked up weeks in advance.
We are expecting to receive the van in 2 weeks (total build time, 10 weeks). The van is nearly here!