Campervan - The new "must have" piece of equipment ?

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883
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Jay
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especialli since Maddie arrived
I just wanted to thank you for coming into this thread and giving us additional information, its really appreciated. I really like your videos at
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsSKO5XGYpFSOX2OasZ1oiQ/videos?sort=dd&view=0&flow=grid
I hope you continue to post about your photography and your van for long time to come.



I'm pretty fond of my 4wd van for photography (I was photographing owls in an elevated nest)....
May I ask what the make and model of the van is? I have not seen one of those.



Yes, more technical details and info from people would be really interesting and helpful.
I am very interested in the

- internal layouts - good and bad
- insulation of vans
- how effective/expensive solar panel systems are.
 
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2,098
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Stu
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With regards to electrics we have the following:

2x 120ah Leisure batteries
3x 100w Solar Panels
CTEK 250 Dual charger
Waeco CRX110 fridge

We didn’t go for a split charge relay as they are ‘dumb’ chargers that can only charge batteries to around 80% full, the CTEK is a batttery to battery charger that is also a solar controller that is smart and can trickle charge batteries to 100% full, including the vehicle battery when the leisure ones are full. I know that all 3 batteries in the van are fully charged right now!

We have only ever used a campsite once to take the baby swimming and have ‘wild camped’ for 8 nights with ice creams at -18c!

Camera batteries charge perfectly fine in cheap USB chargers (£6 off eBay!) if you are worried, get an inverter (pure sine) and use your current mains ones.

We also have a 12v charger for a Macbook Pro that works fine.

Weirdly, none of our iOS devices will charge from any USB port on our 12v setup! We have many genuine cables and currently usb battery banks to charge them which charge fine from the same ports!. Bizarre!

From what I can work out, a habitation check is just an extra income stream for dealers!
Danny wicked post thank you,I'm such a philistine,had to look up ios devices:eek::D. Mate the post is really useful for me personally I hadn't got me head around inverters at all. I'm not there yet but getting there...thanks for also pointing out about the types of charger and also the pure sine wave aspect of invertors

. I hadn't really understood the different types of electrical installation,but your post has put me in a better place to read up

many thanks great stuff !!

stu
 
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2,098
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Stu
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Jay and anyone interested,there are a series of videos on youtube.dealing with interior layouts i've not watched, them all yet...................... this one deals with a range of conversions of a slightly different set up to the more normal t5 layout. sure they are all T5 but I guess applicable to other van designs .

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIUwrCRNj3M
sure this is a few years back,it's maximising that small space that I find so interesting and the little micro details in design that work or don't

stu
 
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289
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Ken
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@GreenNinja67 you going Terry?
your neck of the woods
Went there yesterday (on the bus), and got stuck in the traffic around it today. Busy, expensive, sore feet, and really rather annoying. For a T5 size van, anybody exhibiting there is going for a side conversion with a rock and roll bed, so not a great deal to learn about layouts. For those looking at a larger PVC with a bit of money to spend there is much to see, though. I would think a few hours on Autotrader.co.uk would be time better spent for buyers on a budget - you can select motorhomes which includes plenty of van conversions with lots of pictures.

When I was looking for my small camper, ten and a bit years ago, I was thinking T4 as they were current then, but they were stupidly expensive, and the T2.5s seemed potentially slow and unreliable. I got a (Wellhouse) Bongo and it was great. Ideal for a solo traveller, but with a side conversion in an already narrow van, not a lot of room for two to sleep. With hindsight I should have been thinking about a Nissan Elgrand before any VW. There were plenty of pro converters importing Japanese MPVs around then, but these will be for sale on Autotrader, not the NEC.

Romahomes are also cool.
 
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8,772
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Jeremy Moore
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Went there yesterday (on the bus), and got stuck in the traffic around it today. Busy, expensive, sore feet, and really rather annoying. For a T5 size van, anybody exhibiting there is going for a side conversion with a rock and roll bed, so not a great deal to learn about layouts. For those looking at a larger PVC with a bit of money to spend there is much to see, though. I would think a few hours on Autotrader.co.uk would be time better spent for buyers on a budget - you can select motorhomes which includes plenty of van conversions with lots of pictures.

When I was looking for my small camper, ten and a bit years ago, I was thinking T4 as they were current then, but they were stupidly expensive, and the T2.5s seemed potentially slow and unreliable. I got a (Wellhouse) Bongo and it was great. Ideal for a solo traveller, but with a side conversion in an already narrow van, not a lot of room for two to sleep. With hindsight I should have been thinking about a Nissan Elgrand before any VW. There were plenty of pro converters importing Japanese MPVs around then, but these will be for sale on Autotrader, not the NEC.

Romahomes are also cool.
When I was looking for something slightly bigger than my Romahome (10+ years ago) I thought about one of the Japanese imports like the Bongo. Although they were cheap to buy and IIRC all 4 wheel drive, the big disadvantage of this type of vehicle is the abysmal petrol /diesel? consumption. From what i recall one would be lucky to get 25 mpg from one. I get about 35 mpg in my T5 and I beleive the T6 would reach about 39.

And I thought my Romahome was probabaly about the most uncool van in the world!:LOL:
 
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Ken
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When I was looking for something slightly bigger than my Romahome (10+ years ago) I thought about one of the Japanese imports like the Bongo. Although they were cheap to buy and IIRC all 4 wheel drive, the big disadvantage of this type of vehicle is the abysmal petrol /diesel? consumption. From what i recall one would be lucky to get 25 mpg from one. I get about 35 mpg in my T5 and I beleive the T6 would reach about 39.

And I thought my Romahome was probabaly about the most uncool van in the world!:LOL:
The diesels were mostly if not all 4WD. The petrol ones were RWD. I had the 2.5 V6 petrol and it went like stink and gave about 30mpg, about the same as I get in the 3500kg Ducato. Some owners of the diesels run them on cooking oil. MPG isn't much of an issue for those of us using them purely as recreational vehicles, as even with a couple of trips to south of France and multiple trips to Scotland and other places I struggle to do 6000 miles a year. Commuting in one woiuld be a different story.
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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Blimey I'm really sorry to have caused such a commotion but it looks like its been a thread worth posting and its always good to hear a few "contrasting" views lol

On the plus side my wife seems to have gotten more used to me talking about camper vans (6 weeks ago she was absolutely dead set against it) but is trying to talk me in to cutting my days down at work to 2 (currently do 4) as soon as we can afford it so that is a cosmic leap !! Her reasoning is even better in that she says if I bought a van I would need at least a couple of days a week out in it to justify buying one - result !!

I was watching one of Lynne's ( @blondie606 ) youtube vlogs earlier (Hi Lynne) when she was up at Ribblehead and it has motivated me more to get one as it just looked so cosy to be in the van ready and waiting for sunrise in case it was a cracker and if not it just gives you the facility to put the kettle on and make another brew which is never a bad thing.
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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When I was looking for something slightly bigger than my Romahome (10+ years ago) I thought about one of the Japanese imports like the Bongo. Although they were cheap to buy and IIRC all 4 wheel drive, the big disadvantage of this type of vehicle is the abysmal petrol /diesel? consumption. From what i recall one would be lucky to get 25 mpg from one. I get about 35 mpg in my T5 and I beleive the T6 would reach about 39.

And I thought my Romahome was probabaly about the most uncool van in the world!:LOL:
I have been looking at the Mazda Bongo too as it has a fanatical following and network on par with the VW one (albeit on a much smaller scale) but I have come to the same conclusion with regard to the fuel consumption and it looks like 25 is about the average.

Our MPV Peugeot 5008 7 seater eases past 50mpg and to halve that would be a big pill to swallow.
 
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Ken
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Our MPV Peugeot 5008 7 seater eases past 50mpg and to halve that would be a big pill to swallow.
My normal car does 70mpg if I take it easy, or 60mpg if I don't. Do I take it on holiday with me? Nope. It sits at home getting rusty brake disks, since I can't sleep it in, can't cook in it, and can't do the toilet in it. If you are trying to win the wife over, start showing her pictures of tents. A Bongo may only get 25mpg around town, but out in the open 30mpg should be attainable, which is about as much as you could expect to get in a coachbuilt or A-class motorhome. Your avatar suggests you have an MGB - nice car, but I bet you would rather have a big Healey or an E-Type and wouldn't be worried about the consumption of either of those. Same story, the Bongo, or whatever if usesd as a recreational vehicle, will always be a second or third vehicle doing a fairly low millage, so no real reason to get worked up about mpg.
 
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tonybassplayer
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Tony
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My normal car does 70mpg if I take it easy, or 60mpg if I don't. Do I take it on holiday with me? Nope. It sits at home getting rusty brake disks, since I can't sleep it in, can't cook in it, and can't do the toilet in it. If you are trying to win the wife over, start showing her pictures of tents. A Bongo may only get 25mpg around town, but out in the open 30mpg should be attainable, which is about as much as you could expect to get in a coachbuilt or A-class motorhome. Your avatar suggests you have an MGB - nice car, but I bet you would rather have a big Healey or an E-Type and wouldn't be worried about the consumption of either of those. Same story, the Bongo, or whatever if usesd as a recreational vehicle, will always be a second or third vehicle doing a fairly low millage, so no real reason to get worked up about mpg.

Yes, I understand what you are saying #kenm but the difference is that I am selling my MGB and then later my daily driver and want to use a van as my combined daily and fun car so fuel consumption is quite important.

My intention is to use it for leisure very frequently too so it’s not going to be a vehicle that only gets used a few times a year.

That’s the theory anyway lol
 
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Fraser White
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Yes, I understand what you are saying #kenm but the difference is that I am selling my MGB and then later my daily driver and want to use a van as my combined daily and fun car so fuel consumption is quite important.

My intention is to use it for leisure very frequently too so it’s not going to be a vehicle that only gets used a few times a year.

That’s the theory anyway lol
Hi Tony,

I would really encourage you to drive different vans before conversion so you can see how they drive. I use vans daily and IMO opinion the transit Custom drives far better than anything else and has all the 'gadgets'. They are also far more reliable than a VW but don't have the 'cult' following although this means they are quite a bit cheaper.

They drive pretty similar to a Ford Focus TBH.
 
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Peter
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I agree with Fraser.
We had a camper (sold last year) and it felt quite heavy to drive. There is usually lots of kit added to the base van.
The less kit, the easier they are to drive.
 
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Ken
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Hi Tony,

I would really encourage you to drive different vans before conversion so you can see how they drive.
Very true, but one could also argue that you ought to live in different vans after conversion to see how you get on with the layout. Sadly, this is not possible without spending a load of money hiring one. The Transit Custom based vans don't seem that much different from my old Bongo, which was also great to drive, 30mpg notwithstanding. However, tiny fridge, annoying toilet, having to make the bed up every night, no hot water in the morning, filling the hab area with stuff and throwing into the roof once parked up... Making the bed up every night was the worst aspect, quickly followed by no hot water at the turn of a tap in the morning.

The Transit based coachbuilt I replaced the Bongo with was great, except that it was a dog to drive - leaf springs on the back of a tall narrow vehicle resulted in a terrifying experience in high winds. Oh, and even though the bed was fixed so didn't need making up every night, it gave me cramp and nightmares. The current Ducato on an Al-Ko chassis is perfectly nice to drive, if not thrilling, has a nice comfortable, permanent, bed, big fridge-freezer, toilet, hot water, and plenty of space for all my stuff without having to use up the habitation area.

The point is, with the tent and the Bongo I'd have a great couple of weeks away at a time then look forward to getting home. With a biggish coachbuilt I can go off for several months and not want to go home, but have to for insurance purposes.

This doesn't really help Tony, but maybe others are reading this who think a small van is an answer to a problem that is better answered with a bigger van fully equiped. I've spent well over £100k over the past 15 years or so on motorhomes and am happy now. Granted I have got a lot of that back in trade ins, but it would be wrong of me not to mention that this camper stuff can be a slipperly slope to financial disaster.
 
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Terry
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To all those advocating a Transit based conversion. Be aware they are being stolen very easily. eBay apparently sell a device to unlock them. I’m on a campervan page on Facebook and you’d be amazed at the amount reported stolen lately. I wouldn’t go near one.
 
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When I had a van there was much talk of spare wheels being stolen. Especially at Legoland.
An extra lock for this is wise (assuming it is stored underneath whichever van you choose).
 
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Andrew Cliffe
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When I first considered a campervan I looked at Bongos. You had the option of a side kitchenette or a end kitchen. The side kitchen makes the bed space narrow for two people and the end kitchen made it too short for me (6 foot). The Bongo is a narrow van compared to European models.
The Bongo can suffer from rust and head gasket problems.

In the end decided against a Bongo style van which would be a main vehicle used daily and bought a 24' motorhome instead. It does about 25mpg.

The space is useful. We don't have to unmake the bed each day to make seats, and if its tipping down with rain all day there is space for occupants without them being on top of each other, plus room for damp clothes to dry. Two people cooped up in a Bongo in pouring rain with soggy clothing wouldn't be fun.
 
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Jeremy Moore
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Hi Tony,

I would really encourage you to drive different vans before conversion so you can see how they drive. I use vans daily and IMO opinion the transit Custom drives far better than anything else and has all the 'gadgets'. They are also far more reliable than a VW but don't have the 'cult' following although this means they are quite a bit cheaper.

They drive pretty similar to a Ford Focus TBH.

The van converter near me still swears by Vw's. He reckons he has seen Transits with rust problems at only three years old.

But I have read that the Transit is an excellent van.
 
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1,257
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Peter
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If buying a used California check out the aluminium roof rust problem.
This is where the aluminium and steel meet and it’s called bimetallic corrosion.
It is something that has been known about for over 100 years but doesn’t seem to have reached VW design team.
 
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Peter
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They extended the roof warranty to 6 years on T5's, but not on T6.
All owners forums have their share of moans as no vehicle is perfect.
This one was so obvious (mine started to show signs of rust after 5 months from new) that the weight of evidence was so much and so frequent they had to hold their hands up and agree to a fix.
 
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2,952
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stuart
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The van converter near me still swears by Vw's. He reckons he has seen Transits with rust problems at only three years old.

But I have read that the Transit is an excellent van.
I was in the market for a van very recently . I didn't have a massive budget so was looking for something around 5 year old . Every Ford I viewed and the vast majority of reviews confirmed they were indeed rust buckets . A shame as I really wanted the transit .
 
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Fraser White
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Trevor
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Sorry to side track a little, we bought a camper a few months ago and we are now looking at fitting a cat 6 tracker and wanted to ask if anyone had any recommendations.

The wife gets a bit paranoid when I’m away so she would want to live track my position from home Is this possible?
 
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