The story of the conversion of Vauxhall Vivaro Camper from Sylvester
Sylvester is a beautifully built Vauxhall Vivaro motorhome. Lovingly designed and well thought through, we had to talk to the owner of Jon – Sylvester to learn a little more about the conversion, his experience and which tips and advice he would give to those who were on their way with their first van delivery conversion . This is what he said …
Did you have a conversion plan when you first used Sylvester? Why did you decide to convert Sylvester?
I had a very simple plan. I used Adobe Illustrator, just a flat map. When I got Sylvester, he was partially called in by his previous owner. He came with completely black walls with carpet and a black carpet with white spots. Quite a gloomy feeling, also had a few Mazda Bongo chairs that folded flat. They were fine, but they did not allow furniture at full width, so they had to go.
Because we came from a VW T2 Late Bay, we decided that we wanted something more modern this time. With heating AND air conditioning! So it was not so much a reason why I wanted to convert Sylvester, I had looked around a lot and set me up on the Vivaro or Renault Trafic so big enough to meet our needs without becoming too big.
Did you have any experience with doing motor acceleration?
My very first vehicle was an Austin A35 Van. Tiny according to modern standards, but it was very nice because I just got my driving test of 18 years. I painted it in a wild Lime Green color and covered the back with faux fur. That worked well and I was able to camp in the summer months. I suspect the seed had already been sown at that time. My next campervan was a 42 year old VW Late Bay, a beautiful looking vehicle. It was partially converted with a rock-and-roll bed and a “back” roof of Paris. I had a crazy idea to rent it out and maybe get another two.
I have done the conversion to a high standard, in which I have mounted the gas and the electricity myself. It was not quirky, but pretty smart and looked new inside. And I finished it by placing a pop-top. By that time I had fallen in love because the pop-top was of poor quality. It still cost me £ 2500! Still, it popped in the middle after a few weeks. Anyway, I have offered it for sale and it has been sold! I did not think I would get my money back after I spent £ 8,000 on it, but actually made a profit. That went in the direction of Sylvester’s purchase.
What three important things did you have in mind when converting Sylvester, b. make optimal use of space, extras, etc.
Fortunately, the previous owner had front seats mounted on the turntable, so that made a big difference for the space we have there.
I was very wary of buying a new pop-top in less than a year, but this time I had more to choose from and did a lot of research. Looking at recommendations on forums, feedback, etc. I settled on an “Austops” roof and I must say that it is great! It is so well equipped and has beautiful details, such as fully paneled and carpeted sloping sides to the edges of the roof. Upholstered roof panel with LED spots. I had not expected anything from it and was so happy when I recorded it. It gives us great height, ventilation and light.
3. OFF GRID
The second thing that came in very early was the Propex heating system, so you can accumulate everywhere, without a connection and still warm. To this end, I have mounted a 150w solar panel on the roof with a high spec controller for optimum solar conversion. To point out that someone fits a Propex, it comes with a standard vent pipe, aluminum lined and outer card. These are very noisy and hissing while running. I then heard about an acoustic snake that sells Propex and that has made the world a difference!
Example here: https://soundcloud.com/jon-shepherd-6/propex-before-and-after
For those who are starting a do-it-yourself campervan conversion project, which 5 types of advice would you give them?
Plans, plans, plans, plans, plans
- Think about what you convert the van to
Think about what you want the vehicle to do for you. Are you a daytripper?
Weekend holidaymaker? Do you enjoy long journeys? Do you need to go off the beaten path (so maybe a four wheel drive) or do you want to live in it all the time? Should it be able to carry things on the back – bicycles, a trailer or a roof rack? How tall are you? Is a pop-up sufficient? This allows you to park in more places than the larger vans. Or are you happy to abandon the ease of parking for more living and storage space, etc.
2. Size of the van
Depending on the size of the van, you have to see how the layout can work for you. Should it have room for a shower or toilet? With ours we felt that it would be good to have a crash-tested rock and roll 3/4 bed. So that dictated where everything else could go. In retrospect, I may not have bought it (more than £ 1,000) and I just went looking for a handmade folding bed solution …
3. Computer CAD design
I did not use it, but I hear that Sketchup is a good program to use. I would be tempted to simply start masking pasted areas on the floor and then proceed to CAD design (Cardboard Aided Design). So make the van layout completely out of cardboard boxes, see what space you have and how the light falls, where windows should be etc.
4. Extra & # 39; s
Think about which extras you want to include. Do you want heating such as wood stove, diesel espacher, propex gas? What about a refrigerator or is a cool box sufficient? Is it important to take a shower or toilet for you? Is the bed repaired or pulled out? What about storage including solar energy or is a 240v connection the route you take?
5. Insulation / wiring
When you have mocked the layout, you can then think of where lighting, 12v and 240v should go. I did not do it, but plastic trunking is a great idea. You can also add extra wiring without removing everything.
TOP TIP: A good tip is to have one, two or three trunking tubes run across the width of the floor BEFORE laying the floor. In this way, if it is necessary to get extra electricity from one side to the other, then it is so simple. I wish I had heard that tip before I went to work and laid a floor.
After having done all that preparatory work, you can start by isolating and fitting moisture barriers and then tiling. There are so many different opinions about isolating vans. Solid foam with back of foil. Rockwool. Sheep’s wool. Optical fiber. Etc. Personally, if I did it from the beginning, I would probably go for Celotex foam with spray foam and top it off with a bubble foil vapor barrier.
You can rent Sylvester for your own adventure from Nottingham
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