Touring Europe in a Campervan

View my Road Trip HERE

Well actually my Renault Master work van I am going to convert. I have now brought a ex Police mini bus, that I can also use for work at cycle events and use for visiting Cycle Tech UK Members across the UK. I have looked at buying a used campervan, but they are way too expensive and the layouts of campervans do not meet my needs. To save money I am going to do it myself, using recycled materials, second hand items and scrounging from friends. I am using the van for work and have started collecting items for kitting out the van. Start of home convert..............See more below, 


"ex police van" Renault master ready for campervan conversion


Rear storage for bicycles & tools 
European road trip; me, my bikes and anyone that wants to tag along.
A dream I have had for a while. So I am starting to put the plan together on this page. This will be my Latin America Travel adventure that will start in Europe; Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and wherever I end up. No plan to actually go to Latin America next year. But my adventure will start in Spain in my converted van.

Quality of life/Campervan Life
I want to take time out from a busy lifestyle, start enjoy life to the fullest and do what makes me happy. Those who know me know I enjoy eating and sharing good times with friends. Hope to make new friends with my cooking! I will be buying fresh local produce and cooking healthy local dishes as I travel. I will be using Amways iCook® cookware, as it is the healthiest way to cook with its unique Vitalok™ cooking method, which helps lock in nutrients and flavour, without adding fats, unnecessary water or salts. The iCook® also uses less gas to help save money, the Vitalok™ seal also stops the smell of cooking escaping and the pots are easy to clean which are both ideal for being in a camper van. I will add recipes and videos as I travel. For now you can view a video of the iCook® being used. 
First thing I will be doing in the van conversion is fitting a 12v - 230v inverter, so I can have a fridge and use my juicer to make healthy drinks and lemonade.  
I will be doing as much cycling and walking when I park-up and wiled camp as much as possible, taking photos of the beautiful landscapes, old towns, sunsets and sunrises. 


Start Of Convert
Being a ex police vehicle, there are vents and holes in the roof. I have removed the sealing and fixings to inspect and fix any leaks. I need to remove the roof light as it has been leaking, it will need to be cleaned before resealing with Geobond HM sealent, and for any drilled hols up to 45 mm I can use blacking grommets. 
The next step is to do a drawing of my preferred layout, measuring the van and scaling it 1 meter to 100 mm.

Click image to enlarge floor plan
Then I can mark the van floor out and workout where I need to put any fixings on the ceiling, sides and floor, to fit bed, cupboards etc. And I can workout where to run the electrics and light fittings. I haven't decided yet on a leisure battery and/or inverter, I am using Durite for electrical parts, as they have a large catalogue of parts, which helps to workout what is needed. For carpet lining and glue I used Mega Van Mates




Campervan Legal Information, Requirements & Rules DVLA
I need to have my van insured while I am converting, so I can drive on the road. The insurance company want to see photos regularly and must be registered as a Motor Caravan by 120 days. My van is over 3500kg, as it was a police van it had a heavy cage fitted and reinforced metal in the roof and sides, which I have removed plus the seats. So DVLA have now registered it as a Private HGV. For me to change it to PLG I would need to have the van weighed by VOSA. I have decided to leave it for now, as my licence covers me up to 7.5 tones and its £60 cheaper as DVLA are sending me a refund! Also I don't have time to resend of the V5 as I would like to get away soon.
I haven't set a date to travel yet, soon as my V5 comes back from Swansea I will book my channel crossing.

Letter from DVLA Jan 2013; Please provide photos of the completed conversion, showing both the inside and outside of the vehicle. The inside photos must, as a minimum requirement  show a fixed table, sleeping accommodation, cooking facilities and a storage area. The outside photos must show the vehicle from both sides and the registration number should be visible in at least one photo.

In addition to providing photos:
  • If you converted the vehicle a full breakdown of work carried out including  original receipts, where available  should be included.
A motor vehicle engineers report for a home converted motorhome, to confirm conversion will help with the process. Also a electrical & gas safety check, which your insurance may ask for.

Having your Body Type changed on V5 to an Motor Caravan will cut the cost of insurance & channel crossings also you can drive at the national speed limit.

Please check with DVLA as rules may change.

Self Build Campervan Conversion Insurance:

I have used Shield Total Insurance - Specialists in DIY, motorhome and campervan conversions.  They have a special policy that insures your vehicle during, and after your conversion.  See their rules here.

Where you can find other campervan insurance for the UK and Europe. Herts Walkabout Insurance, Downunder insurancehttp://www.campton.co.uk and more at  http://www.campervanlife.com/insurance


Home Conversion

Stage 1:


Ceiling, installation and seats removed. 
  
I have removed the mini bus seats and sold on ebay, I have removed the ceiling panel, removed the roof light, cleaned and resealed.

Stage 2: Electrics 
Being a x Police van, it had a lot of electrics fitted, but the wiring has been cut and some of it removed, so I have had to rewire.
Having a 12 volt leisure battery installed so that it can be charged and used independently from the starter battery. Having a 230 volt hook up, for plugging in to mains at campsites or wild camping with a generator.
The hookup will run direct to a twin fuse box and then I will run a cable for lights and a cable for sockets. Making sure cables are secure and not able to short circuit to the van metal body and cause a fire! I will also carry a Martindale electrical tester, to plug in at campsites first before hooking up, as many foreign campsites are known for wiring up wrongly and this would cause a fire.

Cut hole in side of van to fit 240v hookup 

Next is the wiring 12v and 240v, re insulate and ply-line the ceiling :

Roof light fitted, celotex and ply to roof

Rear view of Durite 12 volt sensitive relay. 
Allows split charging of leisure battery and very easy to install.

Leisure Battery fitted into a battery box

Honda EU2.0i generator
When I pluged in the generator to test electrics, I also used a plug tester and it showed live - neutral reverse! I checked all my electrics, which was all wired up correctly. I tried the tester at the plugs fitted on the generator and this showed the same fault, I then called an independent Honda dealer and found out that you need to have a link wire from neutral and earth on the hook-up cable going on the 3 pin plug end going in to generator. I have marked this cable so not to plug in other than the generator. Retested all works fine.   
The generator is configured differently to the mains supply. The generator has a ‘floating earth’, whilst the mains has an earthed neutral. Whereas it is definitely recommended to use a personal powerbreaker (RCD) from the mains, for the majority of cases, it is not necessary to use one with a generator. The generators are safe as they are designed.
Personal power breakers are designed to operate from the mains. If one is to be used with a generator, then it is necessary to modify the generator so that it is configured in the same way as the mains. This is a relatively simple modification for a qualified electrician involving adding a link wire from the neutral terminal to the earth terminal. However, once the generator has been modified, it is necessary to then always use a personal power breaker and to also always use an earth spike, which connects between the generator frame and the ground. Since this is difficult to ensure, it is generally recommended not to modify the generator.

Stage 3: Gas & Ventilation 
For peace of mind, "encase of gas leak when sleeping". I have separately boxed in the gas bottle with; sealed storage, secured with strap, door opens 100mm above the floor level and permanently ventilated at the bottom to outside under van, with a minimum diameter hole of 60mm. Also fitted with new hose and regulator. I also have fitted a fresh air electric roof vent above the cooker. And will have ventilation in the rear storage area, as I will be carrying petrol. 

Twin gas ring and grill, with metal plate fitted under cooker.  

15 kg butane gas bottle.
Stage 4: Water

Sink fitted in to worktop, water waste piped to tank under work unit. 

Making a outdoor camping shower.
Reich or whale for pumps, non return valves and accessories 

Stage 5: Bed, Table and Fittings

Fitting bed with the top buck made collapsible. 
I have gone for a 3ft wide bed, for comfort and to leave setup as a bed with the choose of using the top mattress as a backrest on the bottom bed to turn into a settee when top bunk dismantled. 
I have gone for a futon mattress, so that it can fold up when not in use. From Sit & Sleep.

Seat with seat belt, box seat "with porter loo" secured to floor runners and folding table


3.5m F45 awning fitted

Stage 6: Rear Storage area

Large area to carry my bikes, tools and spare wheel. 

Just making final adjustments to the interior, electrics and rear storage area. I will also carry out a service and cambelt change. 

Getting Ready
There has been so much to do, in organizing such adventure. And a big thank you to my friends for their help in making this happen, from making cups of tea giving up their time. Also the very positive reply's and support from friends, family, work colleges and clients.  
     
Below is the start of my research
Links:
  • MIB Motor Insurance Bureau This section contains details about accidents abroad and accidents with foreign registered vehicles in the UK.

My Check List:
  • Service, cam-belt and check over of van, before setting off.
  • Fitting of left hand drive light lens covers
  • Tow rope. In case of a breakdown, someone helpful might just tow you to the next garage.
  • Campervan Insurance. Originals and copies; Driving Licence, M.O.T Log Book (V5), Road Tax.
  • Spare parts. Fan belt, light bulbs, Wipers, Air filter.
  • Warning triangle, first Aid kit, fluorescent jacket and breath testers. 
  • Tool kit/socket set, Bottle jack, Jerry can, jump leads, foot pump, block of wood for choking the wheels and to stand jack on when ground is soft.
  • Maps and List of camp sites.
  • Mountain bikes.
  • Generator
Extra tools I will take:
Being a x motor technician for 20 years, I will carry a few extra tools
  • Multimeter; to test and check battery charging and starting and all electrical faults. 
  • Coolant pressure tester
Full service carried out at 53384 miles 
Including cam-belt, v-belt, engine oil & filter, air filter, fuel filter and top up of levels. Being a x Police vehicle, it has been well serviced and on inspection, it has new brake pads, discs fitted and tyres all round.    

Saving fuel:
This is going to be one of the biggest expenses. I have not worked out the MPG yet!
My Camper has a 2.5 engine with 120bhp and has a 6 speed gearbox.

A guess of 30 MPG for average driving, (I am thinking worst case) with diesel cost of £145.9 is going to give me 21.5p per mile or 4.7 miles per £1. So to drive from London to Seville Spain will cost around £325.00 in diesel for a drive of 1500 miles or 2415 km. Added with a week pound is going to make driving across Europe very expensive.
  • Check tyre's for even wear. Any sign of uneven wear will indicate that a ball joint, suspension bush is worn and/or wheel alignment needs adjusting. 
  • Check tyre pressures regularly. Running your campervan with the correct tyre pressure will save you fuel. Front 55 psi. Rear 65psi
  • A regularly service campervan will run better and use less fuel
  • Diving at the speed limits and no erratic acceleration and stopping 
  • Don't buy fuel on or near the motorway, it's much cheaper in small towns
  • Take someone with you to share the cost of the fuel.
  • Take roads labelled A-7, A-5, etc. rather than roads labelled AP-7, AP-5, and so on.
    Toll taxes in Spain are very high. It can work out to almost 1 Euro per 10 kms! Very expensive! 
    The AP stands for Autopista and that means that it is a toll road. The A stands for Autovia and these roads are free to use (and happen to be excellent as well!). 

    And don't forget to carry enough cash to pay the tolls.

ROAD TRIP TIPS FOR SPAIN/Europe


Map to show places of interest, wild camping, campsites, day trips, and links to posts. 
View Touring Europe in a Campervan in a larger map.


Beaches http://www.motorhomeroadtrip.com/spain/beautiful-spanish-beaches/

looking for wild camping spots then check out CamperStar

Morocco travel facts http://www.motorhomefacts.com/blog-display-jid-672.html

Camping In France

In French, shows all Municipal campsites www.camping-municipal.org are run by local authorities.

Campervan Parks Spain

Camping in Spain requires a bit more research than camping in France Links:

Camping Spain www.camping-spain.net

http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/results.asp?county=spain

http://www.campervanlife.com/locations/europe/spain 




WWOOF/Eco projects;

Other info

GPS: I have taken a Garmin which has been very helpful; Apart from not getting lost, has found campsites, noted me of speed cameras, dangers road segments, can set for non toll roads and good to see what is ahead like fuel stops. 

Keys: Spare set

Safe: Don't have

Health Insurance 

Saving money

Save before you go

Days out Pack a cooler with drinks sandwiches and fruit

See recipes

Cycle, take a bike

Next Adventure 2014
Now I have the bug for travelling in a converted camper, I am now looking for my next Spanish adventure and weekender, this time in a smaller van with a roof tent. I need a vehicle I can use everyday, but can easily be converted, for weekend trips and for a long tour back across Spain. This time I plan to travel with someone to share the adventurer. 
I am looking at a Peugeot Expert, I can kit the back out, insulation & ply lined. With a bed that can be single or double, that folds away, a area to cook from the rear, that can be removed when not in use and 12 volt split charger with leisure battery and lighting.     

Start of research:

My Way Roof Tents Light weight sold in the UK

Auto Home  Maggiolina range and Over land models Italian Made

Eazi Awn Africa, sold in the UK via Footlose 4x4 

Roof Tents UK

Hannibal Roof Tents  Devon UK

Tents On Top and well made roof racks

Also looking on ebay for used

Will need to be fitted on good roof bars or rack,

More soon.............................


4 comments:

  1. Hey, saw your post about travelling Europe in a campervan - check out our blog @ www.europebycamper.com - lots of useful links on our links page might help you on your way! Will keep a watch on your blog and hope to share your journey! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Martin,

    Your plan sounds great!!! Hope you have a great journey! I will be in Spain next September (hopefully) for Camino de Santiago. Give me a shout if you visit Indonesia someday!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lots of good tips quite useful for planning Road Trips. Thanks a ton.

    ReplyDelete
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