The story began with a train ride from Northampton to Lewes to pick up a 2002 Type 4 VW Transporter panel van.
The van was empty in the back and the plan was to convert into a full on camper.
The work began with insulation throughout. This was covered with a ply board. The ply board was then carpeted in a dark grey mouldable carpet. The floor was covered with a hard wearing dark grey vinyl.
The body work on the vehicle was poor so I prepped for spraying (lots of sanding and hard work), then a local paint shop gave it the once over in original Arctic White.
The next job was also for someone else. I wanted a side window putting in, and this involved cutting away the side panel and bonding in a nice tinted piece of glass.
Next came the furniture. I sourced a young carpenter and commissioned him to build a side unit, The unit would include work top, (to house cooker and sink) underneath storage to hold gas tank and water bottles and wardrobe are to hold clothes and electrics.
The unit was made in marine grade ply (Vohringer) to keep the weight down.
The bed frame came from Cannons Forge in Nottingham. It was a 3/4 Rock n Roll (so a bench seat that folds down into a double bed. I managed to source the original INCA fabric to cover the mattress so it all matched.
Next was the sound system (VERY important.) Decided to fit a DAB Digital radio and wired in 4 Harmon Kardon Speakers all round. Great Sound!
Next we fitted a two burner hob and sink with electric water pump. The pump would run off a second battery housed in the rear wardrobe. This ‘leisure’ battery would also power 4 LED spots I fitted in the roof for the lighting. The electrical work came next and lucky for me, my father is an electrician so he rigged up a full on 240v hook up unit and split relay to charge the second battery when on the go…..
Last job was the finishing touches, curtains, table, and fluffy dice hanging!
So, van ready in August 2012, 12 months after purchase, time for a road trip!
Booked the ferry from Dover to Calais and left very early to make the crossing. We decided once in France to stick to the coastal roads to avoid the fairly expensive toll charges, so saw some fabulous countryside and passed through some lovely villages. First stop was Dieppe for coffee.
Just a quick stop, then on down the coast to the first camping site “ Castel le Brevedent” in Le Brevedent, in the heart of Normandy. Fab for walking or cycling.
Three days here lots of nice walks around surrounding villages and coastal towns. Sampled the local Calvados, very nice!
After three days of lovely food, drink and walking we packed up and hit the road again. Next stop the City of Rouen. This was on ‘on route’ stop so had to park up in the centre and have a very quick scoot around as we still had some way to go….
Rouen was very nice, Mussels and frites were enjoyed in the main square and the sun was shining!
Anyway, that was a quick stop as we were keen to get to the next campsite in Versailles, next to Paris. We arrived later that evening and was quite spectacular driving around Verailles past the Palace and other stunning buildings. The campsite was again a hidden gem! 20 minutes from the centre of Paris, but a beautiful woodland camp! We got up early the following morning and walked for ten mins. And jumped on the Metro which took us to our favourite area of Paris, the MARAIS. This is a great area to meander and get lost and enjoy the shops/bars/ and people watch….plus it was my Birthday today so extra fun……
We had a couple of days in Paris which was just enough as any longer we a=may have been bankrupt!
On the following morning it was drive time once again, Paris to Calais……We arrived late in Calais and had a site booked ready for an early crossing the following morning. This turned out to be a good night as the site was full of the German Bedford camper van owners club, who made their own entertainment with an array of instruments…..
The crossing back to UK was fine, then another long drive from Dover to home (Northampton).
All together around 1400 miles.
Lots of fun.
The van performed GREAT, and was a great success.
Same again next year please…..
Chris Starmer – Rohan.co.uk