Update: Catastrophic MOT failure, new vehicle plans.

For the last 2 years I have been stuck in one location due to an engine fail to start problem and in April the van failed it’s MOT on corrosion around the front subframe mount. This was beyond my ability to repair and the cost and time required to get someone else to repair it was too much.

I had planned on building a 7.5T truck conversion but this had to be abandoned as a couple of the places I like to go regularly have said they would not be happy allowing me back in such a vehicle.

9 years ago when I did the current conversion, it was designed and built on the basis that I would be following the sun and spending most of my time outside. I didn’t require a lot of living space, so wasn’t too bothered about it being so small. As I am now having to stay close to my mum’s location in case she needs me I have decided to rejig my plans.

I need to stay for most of the time within 2-4 hours drive of her location, with occasional forays further afield. But I also may be restricted to being closer to her on other occasions depending on her condition.

This means there is no point to me staying small any more, however I don’t really want to give up on the agility and flexibility of having a small vehicle.

It was suggested to me that I get a large caravan and a small van conversion. This would mean I have a really comfortable living situation for the bulk of my time but would also have the advantages of a small van for going on short breaks away.

The other advantages to this set up is that if the vehicle ever has an issue I can leave it at the garage without losing my accommodation. Or if the caravan needs work I can still live in the van for short periods.

I have found a storage yard that I can leave the caravan at that works out at £1 a day.

So onto the vehicle and caravan. I bought the van 2 months ago. It is a Vivaro LWB and is in decent nick. I got it very cheap because it has a lazy syncro in 3rd gear. I either have to let the revs drops to match and double clutch on the way down the gears, or just skip 3rd gear. At a later date I will be getting a recon gear box. But other than that the van body and chassis are in excellent condition. I couldn’t have bought a van of this age in this condition within my budget and this allows me to stage the costs of having a decent vehicle.

The caravan will be coming towards the end of November when I have the funds saved up. I will be looking for a 4+ berth with a 2 seater dinette, fixed bed and separate shower. The dinette will become my permanent office, and having a fixed bed means no making up beds every night which would become old very quickly.

I plan to perform some upgrades on the caravan such as diesel heater as calor gas is too expensive and towing the caravan to fill up with LPG becomes onerous. The cheap chinese diesel heaters are excellent and will give me a great deal of independence. I also plan to add an inboard water tank if one is not already fitted as having external water hogs during winter would be problematic. I may also look at a very small insulated under slung grey tank so that when I am moving pitches I don’t leak grey waste on the road and minimise the risk freezing in the winter. Both these onboard tanks would be empty when travelling.

The van conversion will be done next summer. The plan here is to have a single fixed bed/bench seat and a small kitchen for cooking/washing. It will have a camping toilet. For heating I will have another chinese heater. It will have small internal fresh and grey tanks under the sink. It will have a Lithium battery and solar panel along with a B2B charger meaning that during the summer I can be totally self sufficient for 4 days at a time minimum. I will also fit a maxxfan vent on the roof.

For security reasons I won’t be installing windows and will be leaving the steel bulkhead in place. I will also be doing my usual security routine of fitting deadlocks, a GPS tracker/immobiliser and a custom disable system.

I am not a fan of caravans, but as with everything when you live life on the road you have to compromise. The compromises I am making in this set up are ones I can live with for a year or two. If I find I don’t like it I will have the time to save up for a new large van and do the conversion, and go back to my current style of living which I am happy with.

More news to come shortly. I will be documenting my caravan upgrades and my van conversion as they happen both on here and youtube.

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