Martha: A Van Conversion Timeline
Highlights of the journey to convert an ex-appliance delivery van into my own rolling home, workspace retreat and idyllic hotel to go. The ‘Martha’ van is at the heart of what Vansformation is: the joy of working through the highs and lows of self-building to sculpt a unique campervan you love.
The Van Conversion
Vansformation Podcast LaunchVansformation podcast takes off with 3 episodes:
- A intro and chat about finding time for a van conversion
- Interview with Quirky Campers on campervan building for hiring
- Top tips from the owner of Roadpro, including an in-depth conversation about Lithium batteries
Vansformation Website launches 🚀Launch day! 🌟Hope you like the new website, I've worked hard to put it together and am looking forward to growing it daily. Vansformation will become the home of the podcast (launching on Boxing Day this year) as well as articles and other resources for those taking on van conversion projects. Welcome in, Vansformation warriors.
Top Locker Sides, Hammock added to Martha Van ConversionAfter Womad Festival, Martha got the addition of a hammock before her last outing of the summer, extensive testing ensued.
Martha the van has her first outingThe Womad festival arrived and Martha hit the road to do her campervan duty for the first time. Plenty of items still to finish but all the major systems were ready: Solar, USB/12v system, running water, composting loo, folding sofa bed and storage.
Just in Time, The Lights Go UpI had set mid-July as the deadline for getting Martha to 'fully functioning' (if still a bit rough) . We had overseas' friends coming to visit for several days only a day before taking Martha to her first festival. Literally the day before collecting our friends from Heathrow airport all the electrics were full hooked up: solar, split charge, leisure batteries, 12v outlets, usb charge points and powering various bits in the cabin. I hit a switch and the lights came on! Sorry neighbours, I may have lost my dignity a little in the excitement.
Bones of the Kitchen VisibleFrames of the kitchen are now finished. This was the first chance to put them together in 3-D to see them, an exciting day. Note the fresh water tank and Cobb BBQ performing an integral role to hold the frames up, otherwise held together with tape for the mock up.
First fire up of the woodburnerBefore the wardrobe was in one of the best rewards of the builds was firing this up for the first time. I used guidelines from woodburner installation on narrowboats, as well as manufacturer recommendations for clearances. The burner is bolted into a stand (made by a local metal fabricator) that is then bolted into the chassis. A aluminium fire shield with air gap protects the surfaces on all sides.
Insulation, insulation, insulationVan conversion insulation is a long process, but critical if you want to sleep in a comfortable place. 4 types went into the Martha campervan build:
- closed cell foam with reflective surface for most places, fixed with high temp adhesive (2 layers on the roof)
- recycled plastic, for stuffing in weird areas
- spray foam, in the structural beams of the ceiling and walls
- a teeny bit of Rockwool non-combustible insulation around the chimney
Windows and Skylight InstallationIn total I installed 3 Seitz windows: 2 large side ones and a skylight for fresh air and light. Later in January I took on the installation of a round safety glass 'porthole' style with gasket, a much trickier job - the first time thehole was too big 2.5 mm all around, so had to get another glass section cut.
Floor first fixI removed the old ply, including several mini archaeological digs through layers of floor dust for screws deformed by years of corrosion. The Metal van floor was then cleaned, rust treated and painted. Battens went down with very strong grab adhesive and a few self-tapping screws [NB: Be very sure of location of spare tyre under van before using self-tappers...] Old ply floor was used as a template for cutting a new one out of 12mm marine plywood. Soon after these 'test fit' photos a coat of varnish went onto the ply and insulation was put between the battens before fixing in place for good.
Martha Comes Home!Found her, on the way back from purchasing a secondhand motorhome hob. The hob was in Blackpool, 175 miles away. The van was only about 5 miles from my house parked with a 'For Sale' sign.
Early design stagesI set about developing the initial plans based on dimensions online during 2 months of hunting for a base van which was both affordable and not completely clapped out. The goal was to find Sevel x250 (Boxer, Ducato and Relay) models in either MWB or LWB version.
In the BeginningA lover of van conversions since childhood, my pre-Martha history:
- Actually learned to drive as a teenager on a full sized van.
- Had a short wheelbase American school bus when living in the United States in 1999, not practical to bring it with me. See 90's-tastic photo below.
- Next up, an LDV ex-postal van in 2006, came with a bed and a woodburner but died of rust before could I get started on it.
ばつ×[batsu]x-mark (used to indicate an incorrect answer in a test, etc.); impossibility; futility; uselessness
ぺけ×[peke]x-mark (used to indicate an incorrect answer in a test, etc.); impossibility; futility; uselessness
ペケ×[peke]x-mark (used to indicate an incorrect answer in a test, etc.); impossibility; futility; uselessness