Insurance and changes to my brief

In the meantime I have fully road tested the ‘bare’ van by taking it to the continent and Scotland and Wales. So far (touch wood) it’s been absolutely great. So I’m ready to start building the furniture for the van.

It took a while and some effort to get here however. This was because it was difficult to find insurance that suited me and my circumstances. Because I’m occasionally going to use the van to drive to work and then drive somewhere for the weekend straight after, I needed business insurance, as required by my employer. This excluded me making it into a fully fitted camper as business insurance for campers is almost like trying to find hen’s teeth.

I started by adding the van to my car insurance but they told me that they wouldn’t allow me to take the seats out of the van, so I had to find another solution. After a lot of research and questions I went to an insurance broker close to where I live, rather than online. I had a couple of options to follow up online but thought I’d try the personal approach first so I could talk to someone about what I was looking for. I visited A Plan, near where I live, and they were very helpful in finding me something workable. I can now take the seats out if and when I wish but I’m not allowed to make any further ‘adaptations’. So… this sort of defines how I can or should proceed: everything needs to be exchangeable as and when needed, which is fine by me. Besides having the flexibility of being able to use all or some of the original seats when needed (which is essential for my use) I need to design furniture that is modular and can easily be taken out as and when needed, which means pods.

All this suits me fine as I want to use the van for a number of different things. It does pose a challenge in that I have to throw away the plans I had so far and in that I have to design something that looks attractive which is also practical and be fully taken apart if I need to use the seats. I do mean fully, as in ‘flatpacked’. Ikea springs to mind using that word, so that’s the place to start. I have made a lot of furniture for the house using Ivar as a base so I think that would be a good basic setup to start with as well. If designed well, it can be fully taken apart and stored in my rather small house.

Issues are:

  • The wheel arches and how to make the most of the space above them while maintaining some aesthetic integrity.
    • After a lot of deliberation and trying out, I decided to use the 30sm deep Ivar parts instead of the 50cm deep ones. I noticed that the front of the wheel arch in the van corresponds with the edge of the floor trim at the sliding doors, which I need to keep, so that shouldn’t be a problem. It does mean I lose a lot of space (about 20cm) above the wheel arches but I’ll see what I can do to rectify this. An additional idea is to leave this as it is to be used for paddles for when I go kayaking, or other ‘long items’ I take with me.
    • I’ll probably end up adapting some shelves to take the extra depth.
    • I am going to extend the top of the cupboards to the back to make use of as much space as possible.
  • The fixed width of the Ivar system means that this is what I have to work with. On the one hand it offers me easy ‘modules’ to design but on the other hand, there is no flexibility and I have to be careful to allow enough space to get into the van using at least one of the two sliding doors.
    • For the cupboards I’m thinking of using three 40cm wide modules, separate, not connected together.
      • This is to allow full flexibility. Linking them together as on the Ikea website would mean that making modular worktops would be difficult. Equally, designing a door arrangement that would work in this case would be a challenge.
      • This will also allow an arrangement where you can take out a module if you want to, while on the road as it were.
  • Fixing all this to each other (removable on the fly), and to the van (easily removable when needed) will be another challenge. I have some ideas I want to work out and there are 4 fixing points in the floor of the van, plus possible additional ones when I remove the seats.
  • The unevenness of the floor when removing the seats doesn’t bother me too much. I think I can manage to find a solution for this once I get going.
  • I’m also trying to find an affordable way of attaching a table to the pods I’m planning. Something like the Reimo table rail looks really well made but having to buy at least 3 of those (one for each pod since they don’t sell the end bits separately) would turn out rather expensive. A table hinge strip, self made or bought, may be more economical and practical. I’m not keen on including anything ‘beige’ in my camper, though, and those seem to be the only ones I can find.
  • I’m also trying to get my head around how all the hinges work. Looking at the pictures online, and not being the best at ‘spacial awareness’, I’ll have to spend some time figuring this out I think.

In the meantime I have the cooker, a single burner Origo 1500. I tested this indoor with the doors in the house open, and there was a distinct annoying smell when heating up water. We’ll see how we get on, but if this stays I need to try some other fuel or after all buy a gas cooker for which I don’t need a fixed installation and that doesn’t create a lot of rubbish, which the ones with single use cannisters do IMO.

I also have the sink. A Smev Rectangular Sink (930) from Rainbow Conversions. They were very helpful and quick to deliver. The sink looks really good quality and sturdy. I’ll do a review when it’s finally installed and after I used it. I also bought a Whale V Pump MK6, with some reservations as I have found some reviews saying that they leak. Again, we’ll see how well it works once installed. The alternative is much more expensive, though. The 3rd thing I bought from Rainbow Conversions is the Fiamma Bi Pot 30 Portable Toilet which looks really well made and sturdy. Here too I’ll write up a review once I’ve installed and used it. I did test out the pumping/flushing system with clear water at home and it works really well. I’m not keen on using the chemicals you are supposed to use with it so I’ll see what I can do. I read about someone not using chemicals at all because they empty the waste compartment as soon as possible, so I’ll start with that and go from there.

Since I’m not planning on sleeping in the van any time soon, making some good cupboards will be my first priority.

Onwards and upwards with the conversion… which will now turn into a winter job, ready for next spring (ideally well before).


Disclaimer: I don’t have any links with any of the companies or products mentioned apart from ordering from them. I also don’t get any benefit, financial or otherwise, from mentioning products or companies on my blog. The opinions stated on my blog are personal and my opinions only.