We bought a van – Vinnie!

Our grand plan. Convert a van into a full-time liveable, self sufficient off-the-grid campervan. It’s requirements are simple, it should be comfortable for 2 adults plus 2 dogs and contain all the usual house luxuries. We’re leaving in 6 months for Europe.

The Van

Our journey has begun. We purchased a Ford Transit Cub Hightop. Over the next 6 months we’re going to convert this into a elegant home on 4 wheels.

The first shot.

Why a Ford Transit?

The main reason we choose this van is for the extra space compared to a standard Transit. Vinnie was the tallest roofed van we could locate that was suitable and within our budget. The extra panel attached to the body hence Cub makes a real difference and adds about 3 foot in length to the overall size.


It seems to be in a great condition too. Vinnie the van was given a MOT a day before we purchased it. The previous owner has also just recently added a large window on the sliding door, something we planned to do ourselves so we have saved a good few hundred quid from our budget for the full van conversion.

Step one. Rip everything out so we have a clean, empty shell so building can commence.

Come back soon to our blog. We’ll be posting regular updates to document the conversion process ­čÖé

Discuss The Post - 2 Comments

Van Dweller Says:
5th July 2017, 02:25 PM

Don’t dump too much money into it, because nobody keeps cargo vans for very long before they upgrade to a window van, unless they’re looking to make money off promoting all the expensive stuff needed to convert a cargo van. This cargo van to camper van stuff is all a scam. I fell for it too, and wasted thousands of $$$ to be miserable. Switched to a window van and spent like $200-$300 total for the conversion, and am now totally happy.

Windows, and the view are what make your journeys enjoyable, and provide safer driving. Window vans are both easier and cheaper to heat or cool too. The sun provides free heat in the winter, and shade combined with lots of opening windows, and a cheap 12v window fan is all the cooling power most people need.

Also be careful of what you build in. Almost everybody discovers that they did it wrong once they start actually using it. I got around this on my current van by keeping everything modular and more or less portable, so everything can be rearranged fairly easily. Everything including my house power supply is portable so it can be used outside or in a tent if I’m wilderness camping. The advantages are huge. I carry a 10′ x 20′ EZ-Up canopy with all the windowed side walls. It’s like moving into a mansion in the woods. It can also be used to keep my van totally in the shade if there are no trees. The importance of shade in the summer can not be over emphasized.

If you’re ever going to encounter below freezing temperatures, skip any plumbing, because it will freeze and turn into a nightmare. Careful long term planning can save your sanity later. Fancy looks mean nothing if it isn’t comfortably functional in any situation. My current system is fully functional with or without any power, and in any temperature. Since I switched away from solar panels, I have never been without power, but the ability to live comfortably without it, provides me with a lot of peace of mind.

James › Van Dweller Says:
6th July 2017, 12:11 PM

Hi Van Dweller! Thanks for the advice, We’ll certainly take it onboard. Due to our preferred discreetness, a cargo van with fewer windows is our best bet. On cargo vans though, they aren’t as easily picked up here in the UK compared to the US or it’ll cost a pretty penny.

Electric’s is one thing we haven’t figured out 100% yet, but we’ll be going for solar to meet our power requirements. I’m certainly with you in regards to building all van contents in a modular fashion,


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