Embarking on a cargo van conversion
At the end of February I bought a brand new 2016 Ford Transit 150 cargo van. More specifically it's a regular wheel base (130"), low roof with 60/40 side cargo doors. Extra options include cruise control (essential for any sort of long distance driving) and an upgraded 6-speaker stereo with Ford SYNC. Of course it's in a classy "builder's white".
This has been a long time coming, having first considered the idea of converting a VW T5 three years ago back when I was living in London. All of the reasons I had not to do this have now gone: driving and parking a larger vehicle is much easier in the US, distances are greater (and the opportunity to drive long distances and stop off on the way at rest stops is appealing), more of my trips will be road trips (no point in owning a van only to end up flying to destinations in Europe) plus I had a little more cash available for the purchase.
Prior to the purchase I'd never driven such a large vehicle for more than a day at a time. My previous experience was with small cars (Fiat Punto) and medium sized estate cars on work trips to the US. Initial impressions are good: it's easy to drive, has a great view of the road, is exceptionally comfortable for longer distances and people seem to be more respectful of the van. Plus its cargo carrying capacity has already come in handy while getting settled in California.
Over the coming months I'm going to be going through the process of converting this standard panel van into a stealth camper, which I will do my best to document here. Prior to receiving the van I'd done very little planning and I've quickly come to realise just how much more work is involved than I realised. An overwhelming amount of work.
The aim for my conversion is a simple, practical camper, without all of the bells and whistles. There'll be no toilet, no shower and (at leas to begin with) no leisure battery, although I do plan to run wires so this is a straightforward option in the future. For now I'm focusing on building out the back with a solid foundation: noise isolation, insulation (although relatively light since it's primary destination is in California), decent floor and nicely finished walls.
In a future blog post I'll outline the major steps (as I understand them now) as well as put down my plans for how the interior will be laid out.