Buying alloy wheels for your van.

IMG_3484I recently changed my factory fitted steel rims to vw alloy wheels. One thing to note is that if you go with factory branded alloy wheels they will cost a lot more than non factory branded alloy wheels.

When purchasing any alloys you need to ensure that they are from a reputable company and that they have the certification that states how much load can be put onto the tyres. So depending on what you are carrying in the back ask these questions with the dealer.

In my case I emailed a local camper van conversion company who advertised that they sold alloy wheels. Luckily they had a set of four VW second hand alloys that were taken off another conversion. The company was also located next to a tyre fitting company so could all be done in one trip.

I did a deal just over a £100.00 for all four. They might have had a few scratches but this didn’t bother me for where they were going to be used. This was perfect as I was trying avoid paying for brand new alloys and they were vw as well.

Connecting your campervan to mains electricity.

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I was staying at my parents for Christmas. It was was going to be a full house so wanted to have a small heater running during the night in the van as it’s winter time in the U.K.

When I had purchased the van I was aware that the van had an outside cable to attach to electricity. What I was not aware of is the person who I had purchased the van from had put the female connector on the van. I purchased another male connector off the next and changed them over. See picture this should have been the male.

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As for the cable that would run from the van to the house this was a 2.5mm this is usually the required standard for most campsites in the U.K. Europe may take a less stringent view and allow 1.5mm. The core size is stamped on the cable. See below.

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One thing to be aware is a number of companies describe the cables they are selling as 2.5mm but in actual fact are 1.5mm. I had this happen to me they described at 2.5mm but the cable when it arrived stamped on the cable 1.5mm. I think they are just hoping people won’t just return the wrong cables so read the reviews and if you see more than one as I suggest going onto another retailer or take a chance.  I ended up purchasing my cable from a physical retailer for similar cost that other companies were offering on the net for 2.5mm cable.

If you now wish to connect the cable to your house electricity you will need a special adaptor which can be purchased off the net or any camping shop. See below.

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Finally depending on the individual campsite the amount of amps that are supplied varies and this will affect the type of heater or kettle that you can run. Check under the item that you want to use and add up how many watts each of the items use to total up the amps for the power you are connecting with. If want to be safe to use the items individually especially kettles and hairdryers.

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How much does it cost to fit out the interior and exterior ?

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The first thing to say is their are so many answers to the question.I am currently looking to upgrade my current van and move to one vehicle from a practicle and cost of running one vehicle that is used more often.

My current VW van I purchased with a very basic layout firstly to see if I would like using a campervan before spending more money. This is the approach that I took and I am glad I did this as helped me think about what I do and don’t need in the van with my upgrade.

If you look at your  home anything can be brought into your van at a price. This is why I would look at how I approached the refurb of my van.

I have spent many years looking at hundreds of different types of conversion interiors and exteriors add on’s.  It’s almost like dating you want to find the interior that suits firstly your budget and also your lifestyle of what you intend to use the van for.

The suggestion I am making is write down exactly what you are going to be using the van for. I wrote down the following which could be similar to yours.

The van will also be used as an office when on the road. (Key requirements good quality led lighting, sturdy table to work, windows that open both sides for air circulation.

I am going to be using it for taking my mountain bike on trips (Key requirements need to look at whether having a built on bike rack or a removable rack for my trips)

I want to take longer trips in my van (key requirements would be a functional layout this would mean water, fridge/freezer and gas hob and storage cupboards that are flexible and easy to access when the bed is down.)

I am going to want to have more standing room and have my kids stay in the van when I don’t want to put the tent up. (Key requirement will be a pop roof to increase air circulation and kids can sleep or an adult up in the roof. Also when cooking and the unable to cook outside been able to stand up will also make the van more roomier.)

Will be used in the winter(Their are a number of systems out their propax, connected to engine and as of late I have found an electric version which I am still investigating how much battery drain this will have on the leisure battery. I will discuss this in further blogs.)

I have discounted a shower and oven to be installed at this stage as wont be going into areas where I won’t be far from local amenities and will take up space. I will most likely be staying in campsites or not far from a leisure centre to catch a quick shower or pub if not cooking in the van.

The cost for a basic purchase without installation for a the standard VW Campervans layout can start from 500.00 to 2000.00 purchased off the eBay or specialist conversion companies. I have also found some companies wanting to charge up to 18k yes you read right for a basic layout saying they are building from scratch and doesn’t have some of the items I could have included for far less monies.  I find this difficult to justify whilst this would be nice to know for what I intend to use the van for I could put this into the van purchase.

Okay so now you have your design how are you going to get this fitted out in your van. A number of options do it yourself if you have the time. Have a friend who can give you a hand takes a little longer or search for a number of conversion specialists and speak with them about how much it would cost. It’s important to be clear exactly what you are wanting as like a house it costs money to change things if a major change.

I collected all my ideas and put in on Evernote so that I can refer back to them when it comes to the build. I want to keep focused on what is going to be adding value and not just a nice accessory.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Camping

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In the UK the rules around wild camping is that it’s generally not something that is actively encouraged and their are local bylaws in different towns where you can or can’t park overnight.

Their are numerous websites dedicated to wild camping which are worth a read.

The important thing to consider is if you do want to wild camp need to look at where you are going to do this and who it could potentially upset.

If you are parking in a built up suburb of town try to park along side a wall not directly opposite a house. All it takes is a quick phone call from the homeowner to have a knock on your van door.

The other consideration is to park up late in the evening get your bed ready and sorted out in another place so all you need to do is arrive and pull the curtains and not have the lights on for an extended period of time.

Need to remember you are just sleeping at the chosen location don’t go their and start cooking and having all the lights on. This will draw attention to you and your van and have a knock on the door maybe by a local or the police.

Their are other types of wild camping that you can consider for example some pubs advertise park ups some charge a small fee or if you have dinner with them as payment. It’s cheaper than going to a campsite and if you planning to go at the last minute.

 

Camping with kids

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One of reasons I bought my van was for going away with my two girls for weekends. The reduced costs of not paying for hotel accommodation and having a comfortable place to sleep.

My girls were 5 and 7 when I bought the van and they were able to sleep on the floor.The girls treat going away in the van like a big adventure. I have now inherited a small awning which has two individual bedrooms which connects to the Campervan as the girls have got bigger.

Initially I thought that I would not require to bring so much stuff as having removed the camping equipment element. The reality is that like camping you have to be organised and have the equipment for still staying away.

After trial and error I have now settled with the following approach. I have plastic boxes which hold the dry food goods all my utensils and herbs and spices my version of a mobile kitchen. This then allows me to  let it sit outside in the tent awning without  any issues of dampness or insects getting into the sealed units. The boxes slide underneath the benches and sit in my garage ready to go. When I want to cook outside all I do is grab the box and it can sit on the grass or my folding table without getting damp.

I also got an idea from the person I bought the camper from instead of having a knife and fork draw he had bought a picnic bag which had all the utensils, plates and I could put all my bits in the main storage area. By doing the above I don’t spend time going in and out of the Campervan to collect items.

The clothing for the girls and myself I used to use a big duffle bag which works well but when you are trying to find clothing it all can get a bit into a mix. I have also purchased these cotton zip bags that allow you to separate the different items so each of my girls have a bag with their clothes for the weekend and not mixing used clothes. I am now purchasing a box for the clothes and for their toys when I am using the Campervan.

In terms of the girls and myself needing the toilet at night. The last thing I wanted to do is having to walk up to the facilities and getting damp and having to walk up their with them. I purchased what they call a Kazi which is essentially a toilet with a bucket which is only allowed to be used for wee’s. This is not a chemical toilet which for what I was needing it for allowed me to put it down regular toilets and not required a campsite that had chemical dumping facilities.

The most important thing to remember is that the kids all they want to do is run around the campsite and play. So been organised all you need to do is focus on getting the tent or awning up and the kids can then play especially when you don’t have another adult.

I am now researching blow up tents that don’t have poles. The benefits of this is for a standard 4 to 6 person tent this can now take ten minutes to put up. When you are the only adult the kids can help using the pump and you can start camping more quickly. I will write about these air tents in more detail as currently looking at the different models available and what to consider.