Tropical Leaves
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van build

in November 2021 I bought a van to self convert and travel the world in

watch how I turned her from an empty metal box into a travelling haven

products linked below

Ford Transit Named Tide

 Van Build in 10 mins 

it took me a total of ?? months to finish my build with a total of ??h

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The Build Timeline

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The Van

The Body

Final

Touches

Van Tour

My Design

The

Bedroom

The

Bathroom

The

Kitchen

The

Plumbing

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The Electrics

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Staying Safe

The Van

 

Ford Transit

I went for a 2014 Ford Transit panel van, with a medium wheelbase and high roof.

I chose Ford for their reliability and their fast & cheap part & labour.

The medium wheelbase will provide me plenty of space to live & work,

whilst still fitting comfortably into UK parking spaces.

The high roof allows me to stand inside the van when cooking and working,

plus the ample headroom is great for upper storage and bunk beds.

The Ford also has straighter walls which makes a great shape for building

and the wider van allows me to sleep width ways.

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The Design

 

Colour Story

Moodboard

for the tone of the van I shall be going for a neutral earthy palette

brightening up the space with light sand toned walls & counter top

then a complementary ash toned wood for the lower cabinets and flooring

adding rich earthy shades with a copper sink & lots of leafy greens

then pulling in darker tones with a matt black faucet & exposed metal features

I shall also using lots of natural textures & fibres like linen, wood & ceramics

Colour Story
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The Body

 
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For ventilation and as an extractor fan when cooking, I installed the 40x40cm maxxair deluxe roof vent fan in clear tint. It not only has 10 speed settings, which can be controlled from a remote control, which can switched it between intake and expel. It can also be used in the rain and when driving, which is very convenient when travelling in England as you can never rely on the weather. Plus it has a bug screen already fitted to stop bugs entering your home.

I knew from the start I wanted a skylight in my van, being able to watch the stars at night from the warm and comfort of my bed, it was a no brainer. So when I found the maxxair roof-light which wasn't only reasonably priced, but also came in a 50x70cm model I couldn't resist. It comes with a preinstalled bug screen and blind, plus ventilation even when closed to keep airflow in your van at all times.

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For panoramic views in bed, I went for two vent windows with privacy glass and build in bug screens. I chose the larger model which is 101.6x38.1cm, so I could see more when lounging. I wanted lots of windows to allow a tonnes of natural light into the van and also allow me to be surrounded by nature, even when it's raining.

To dull the rattle of the van and the exterior sounds of rain or rowdy neighbours, I chose to sound deaden my van, also since I have two dogs who bark at everything. For the first layer I went for 'Dodo Mat Deaden Hex Roll' which is placed over 50% of each panel to stop the vibration. Then on top as a second layer I went for "Dodo Super Liner 6mm" which is a thermal and acoustic liner which not only dulls the sound but also keeps the van cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I decided to add this layers to make sure all the exterior panels were covered with something to prevent condensation.

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Rust Protection Paint

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When buying a secondhand vehicle, it will no doubtably come with a little or a lot of rust. This is very bad for your van, rust is a disease and will spread, deteriorating the metal of your van. So this must be the first thing you deal with. To remove it, simply sand or grind down any areas till there is no more rust, just shiny metal. If it is penetrated the surface and formed a hole, remove all the infection and seal it up. To treat the area and prevent future rust, clean the surface of debris and grease with vinegar. First apply some rust convertor to stabilise the surface, then for interior use apply some direct-to-rust paint. For the exterior apply some galvanised zinc paint then a matching exterior paint. 

The Electrics

 

Solar Set Up

with Alternator & Shore Power

one of the big draws to van life for me was the freedom to live off grid

and power my home with my own renewable sources.

my primary source of energy is solar, for which I have 2x175W solar panels on my roof,

this is plenty enough for me to power my lights, fridge, electronics and much more.

I also installed a split charger to allow excess energy created from driving to charge my batteries,

this was important since I live in England where our winters are very grey.

I also decided to install an inverter and shore power hook up as a back up third option.

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Electrical Diagram

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The Plumbing

 

Water Set Up

with Whale Foot Pump

since I wanted to spend time off grid I made sure to have enough water to last me

I went for a 60L fresh water tank and 32L grey water tank

which I placed under the sink in the corner to use up that awkward space.

I also went for a whale foot pump instead of an electric pump or hot water heater

as I felt it would conserve more water and energy.

To extract the grey water I installed a motorised ball valve, so I could avoid the mess.

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Plumbing Diagram

tester

The Kitchen

 
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As a foodie I knew I wanted a decent sized front opening fridge with freezer. So I went for the Dometic Waeco CRE80 12v compressor fridge, which is a 78L fridge plus 7.5L freezer. Its a compressions fridge so runs solely off electricity and is low energy consuming. This size will allow me to do fewer food shops and stay off grid for longer, also host more guest for trips.

Food composting is extremely important, food scraps that are sent to landfill wont biodegrade effectively, but instead release more harmful C02 into the atmosphere. To solve this problem I purchased a LOMI Kitchen Composter, which can turn food scraps into nutrient rich compost within 20h. Which I can then use to feed my plants.

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To filter my water I first use the Camco Taste Pure RV Filter which is attached to the hose when filling up and removes Bad Taste, Chlorine, Odours & Sediment, this makes sure that all the water entering my van is clean. For drinking water I chose to go for the 5.7L Travel Berkey as they are the most highly regarded water filter and removes 99,999% of Chlorine, Viruses, Harmful pathogenic Bacteria, Cysts, Heavy Metal, parasites and hazardous chemical contaminants and other impurities while leaving undisturbed the essential minerals your body needs.

I managed to thrift my copper bowl which I converted it into a sink basin by adding a drain, however I found a link to one online if your interested. I wanted to make a feature out of my sink and loved the rustic look of antique copper with matt black features.

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I loved the modern look of matt black plumbing so looked for a faucet in that style. As I'm having a foot pump, I wont be needing tap, so I looked at bath faucets with just a single spout.

I decided to go for a foot pump instead of an electric, as it will allow me to be more conscious of my water consumption. It also removes the need for a tap, which I find gets very grotty with messy fingers and can be difficult to manage water levels when juggling crockery.

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I went for tower water tanks as they take up less floor space and make it so I could situate them under the sink, making use of the awkward corner cupboard. I went for a 60L fresh water and 32L grey water tank, which should last me a decent two weeks off grid.

The Bedroom

 

Lorem Ipsum

for the colour story of the van I shall be going for a neutral earthy palette

brightening up the space with light sand toned walls & counter top

then a complementary ash toned wood for the lower cabinets and flooring

adding rich earthy shades with a copper sink & lots of leafy greens

then pulling in darker tones with a matt black faucet & exposed metal features

I shall also using lots of natural textures & fibres like linen, wood & ceramics

The Bathroom

 
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Compostable Toilet

I knew immediately that I wanted a toilet on board,

not just for myself, but also for the comfort of my passengers.

I decided to DIY my own composting toilet that was hidden in a draw.

Find the full project on my blog.

I knew from the start I wanted a skylight in my van, being able to watch the stars at night from the warm and comfort of my bed, it was a no brainer. So when I found the maxxair roof-light which wasn't only reasonably priced, but also came in a 50x70cm model I couldn't resist. It comes with a preinstalled bug screen and blind, plus ventilation even when closed to keep airflow in your van at all times.

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Staying Safe

 
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I chose to include a security system with monitoring in my build as I will be solo traveling, so this will give me and my family piece of mind. It means that if I am in the van and someone breaks in and attacks me, the security team can view this live and ring the police for me. To my system I added a motion sensor, glass break sensor, entry sensors on all the windows & doors, key fob, temperature sensor, water sensor, carbon monoxide sensor, fire detector, key fob and extra camera.

As a deterrent primarily, I chose to add a steering lock, mine was secondhand, but if I was to buy a new one I would go with the disklock which covers the whole wheel and is much more difficult to remove. A steering lock jars the steering wheel enabling the van from moving.

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I decided to install a carlock tracker to my van, this allows me to track my vehicle if stolen, on a ferry or at the garage, giving me piece of mind. It alters me straight to my phone if my van moves, the engine starts or the device is removed, so I am aware my van is being tampered with and can immediately respond. It does however cost 6.95 per month for the app.

Final Touches

 

Lorem Ipsum

for the colour story of the van I shall be going for a neutral earthy palette

brightening up the space with light sand toned walls & counter top

then a complementary ash toned wood for the lower cabinets and flooring

adding rich earthy shades with a copper sink & lots of leafy greens

then pulling in darker tones with a matt black faucet & exposed metal features

I shall also using lots of natural textures & fibres like linen, wood & ceramics

Van Tour

 

 van tour