LDV Convoy camper conversion

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    Hi all,

    After a couple of years of thinking about getting a camper van I've finally took the plunge and got this swb Convoy for conversion. I chose this vehicle because it's bog basic, hasn't even got independent front suspension, yet has Transit running gear which ought to be easily got hold of.

    After looking at the usual rotboxes, including a "converted motorhome" which consisted of household kitchen units loosely screwed to the sides (complete with glass doors - instant haircut in an accident!) I found this one in Stourbridge. A bit rusty but weldable, so that's what I'm doing at the moment as it's a lot easier welding the floor from the top down than from underneath. There's other work I want to do before getting creative with the interior but most jobs are fairly trivial e.g. fixing the horn bracket.

    I'll keep the thread updated as I progress, I see a couple of others are doing something similar so I'll poach ideas as I go!

  • Storage always seems a problem, well that and keeping stored things where you last put them and not finding them strewn about the floor when you arrive.
    so its either catches, magnetic/sprung loaded or cargo net type stuff to hold things in place.
    I'm always looking out for best use of space

  • Does it have plenty of MOT ? ,you can look up a few years pass/fail history online to see what has been done already. I have been running our landrover on bio diesel for the last 3 years with no problems -is your bus diesel? If you line cubord shelfs with something like thin foamrubber it stops things sliding about :)

  • I'll keep the thread updated as I progress, I see a couple of others are doing something similar so I'll poach ideas as I go!

    Poach away or ask for suggestions the others may not have thought of it or someone may have an alternative they have tried/seen elsewhere.


  • DSCF3455.JPG

    This is the result of my first week's work on the van. The pale patches are new metal I've welded into the floor after cutting out rusty bits. The brown stuff at the back is the carpet underlay which was underneath the ply floor lining. All of the rust holes were directly over the chassis rails, so they weren't visible when I went underneath with my torch and probing forefinger. They only came to light when I took up the ply floor lining. I can't see any way of checking for rust completely while looking round a prospective buy, the owner is hardly likely to let you pull up fitted ply or carpets before he sells it.

    The work was fairly time consuming, however I'm reasonable at welding and metal bashing and have a good supply of scavenged industrial shelving of the right thickness steel for patches, so it isn't costing me much. I tried fully welding the new plates with my arc welder and 1.6mm rods and made a bit of a mess, so I'm only tacking them now and will hire a MIG welder to see if that makes a tidier job. Still one bit to do to the left of the image.

    Got a few of the smaller jobs done as well, and have sent off for a workshop manual - actually a CD - in order to check out the oily bits.

  • The next stage once I've got the base vehicle sorted is to find an old caravan as a donor for windows, seat cushions, sink, hob etc. It needs one additional window each side plus a skylight as the back door windows are factory tinted and don't let that much light through.

  • What would you do ideally in terms of layout,
    are they wide enough inside for a bed 'east-west'
    might give you the option for almost a bunk bed type set up with either storage or seating (couch) beneath,

    could still do it North-south of course, I know Northstar offer the kettle within reach of person in bed

    which is actually a real consideration first thing


  • Convoy's aren't quite wide enough for beds across the width, I'm 5' 9" (1.75m)and won't quite fit. I think I've read somewhere that beds have to be 2m long to satisfy tax or insurance requirements anyway.

    I'm thinking of having a locker the full width, accessible only via the back doors in which will go leisure battery, gas bottle, spare wheel, tools and assorted grubby bits. Height will be just below the inside door handle so I can get out in an emergency, so a bed could go there, diagonally to get the 2m.

    My original interior plans were for a Pilot, so am having a re-think now I have more room.

  • Personally I am not so sure about the need for a 6ft bed from the DVSA (new agency merged from DVLA and VOSA). Some manufactured campers do not meet this requirement.

    Although I have seen this on many company websites with the DVLA logo slapped all over it, the only thing I can find actually from the Government is below, and only 4 years old, it mentions no sizes just that it is permanent (even if made up from seating). Yet I have seen this so called 6 foot rule on websites older than that. I think the companies are only trying to scare you into using them and getting their hands on your well earned cash.


    My advice is to phone DVSA and try to get a link to their policy document, I would not accept someone on the phone telling me "yeah that's right" either way just to make their call stats.


  • Are you sure you won't fit width ways? I'm 6ft2, and although I can't quite stretch out fully, I can get a very comfortable nights sleep in mine! I have a standard length small double mattress- I had to squeeze it in, but it does fit! My bed is also quite high because I wanted storage underneath. If you went for storage over the bed instead, with the bed a bit lower, then I'm sure you would fit width ways very comfortably, and easily fit a standard mattress.


  • I'm keeping an eye on progress with that LDV, hope no intellectual property rights are involved! I see they have the bed widthways, but I've just measured mine between the inner struts and made it 1.8m. Insulation is going between the struts and either ply or T&G board over them, which will slightly reduce the width further still. There only has to be one bed for camper status, so by making it a double I could always tell the powers that be a single bed would go diagonally.

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    This fellah was sitting behind the empty house next to my mum-in-laws. A quick phone call to the owner revealed that yes, he wanted rid of it, so I now have a source of windows and assorted furnishings for the van!

    It looks worse than it is, the inside is only slightly damp and everything seems to be there and in working order. Does anyone know if caravans have an inverter to convert the 12v from the leisure battery to mains voltage, or is the mains voltage only available when hooked up at a camp site?

  • Does anyone know if caravans have an inverter to convert the 12v from the leisure battery to mains voltage, or is the mains voltage only available when hooked up at a camp site?

    You can fit an inverter to convert battery to mains but to be honest you need a large bank of batteries to power the domestic stuff and heavy use does tend to reduce battery life. Not to mention super heavy cabling to deal with the current. For example a 600W microwave will draw a minimum of 50 Amps from the battery, in fact it will be more more due to losses in conversion and voltage drops . That's more than a domestic cooker going full blast and the cable and would need 16sqmm cable for an insulated wall such as in a caravan.


    Also note some stuff does not work as well because of the way some inverters convert DC to AC. DC is a continuous current and AC is a sine wave ~. Unfortunately it is difficult to convert DC into true AC without a lot of expense so most inverters compromise somewhere and as a result the domestic stuff might not work as well as if plugged into mains depending upon how the appliance actually works.

    Better off 1) to get used to only using what you need 2) to invest money in things that run of 12V or 3) buy some solar panels to keep batteries charged cheaply. For most mobile stuff gas is the best option as it is easier to run and get decent heat outputs for cooking and heating, or fit a wood burner :).

    If you really want them get a generator it is probably simpler, cheaper and safer than kitting out a massive battery bank, energy management/charging system and inverter.

    Obviously if you are hooked up you can get mains but most hook ups regulate the current to 10 amps max so you have to plug and unplug heavy stuff like microwaves, heaters kettles etc which will max out the current so that only one heavy thing is working at any one time.

    I can understand people wanting to have access to all mod cons but the reality is to get them in a "mobile" environment costs an arm and a leg in proper installation costs. But if you have the money it is your life so live like you want to.


  • Interesting on the inverter information, I only have a cheap small one I bought off maplins and that 'might' run a small device TV/laptop/phone charger so as Ian, gas for all else where possible

    though following another poisoning death (this time on a cruiser in East coast harbour recently)
    don't use hob as a space heater in closed environment,

    or as worrying perhaps don't make the mistake of mounting the fridge front mirror
    directly opposite this naked flame, and introduce hair spray into the mix

  • I've just missed a 300w inverter from Lidl for about 30 euro, I thought I'd get one with the caravan. I only need it for phone charging and the like, had caravans for years with only gas for heating and lighting and never thought about mains voltage. I quite like the hiss and warm glow from gas lamps, but the mantles were getting hard to find even in the '90's, may be unobtainable now.
    I also had a small gas heater which worked well, may get another.

    As this will only be a basic conversion to start with, I may not bother with an inverter unless I actually need it. Start off simple and add stuff as required will be my aim.

  • Why do you need an invertor to charge your fone? Is it not easier with a car charger thqn waisting all that leccy going from 12v to 240v back to 12v

    point taken, that didn't really read right did it,
    so small TV, and........ well no actually now I think of it, I bought a 12v lead for the laptop as well recently so thats it,

    (well maybe recharge the razor then)

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    Most of the work up till now has been getting the vehicle in some sort of order, tempting though it was to go straight into the motorhome conversion work. I've replaced the timing belt, front crank seal, a lot of brake parts and various smaller jobs ..... and lots of welding. A quick measurement of how much welding showed that I put down about 10 metres. Thinking about it, I should have replaced the floor entirely as welding round the perimeter would have taken less than that. OK, the new floor would have needed stitching to the chassis members the same way as the old one was spot welded in order to keep the integrity of the structure, but I would have ended up with a brand new floor instead of a patched one. Something to think about if anyone else has had the tinworm run amok.

    The sides have been insulated with 50mm foam slabs which were cut to fit between the ribs. Awkward bits such as round the fuel filler pipe were stuffed with mineral wool insulation taken from the caravan, and the edges of the ribs had strips of wood floor underlay 3mm foam stuck to them so that the insulation isn't bridged. I'm now waiting for the varnish to dry on the 5mm ply sides so I can fit them.

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    The ply sides are now fitted over the insulation, and also a 3mm ply ceiling. The look I've aimed for is first class railway compartment, circa 1920's. I haven't put any windows in yet until I've used it a bit, to get the feel of where they need to go, if indeed additional windows are needed at all.


    More or less finished the interior now, here's a few images from the multitude I mailed off to an insurance broker. Current job is making curtains to divide the uninsulated cab area from the living area. I'd prefer a solid partition with a gap between the seats, but the seats intrude too far back for that to be possible. The side door would be obstructed too much.

  • Can I ask if you are planning on sound proofing in the front cab there? Im currently building mine and its a noisy place to be up front, have purchased some sound deadening to try to help.

    Interior looks well made and functional, is there any insulation under the floor?

  • When I got the van the original rubber soundproofing was in place, and was quite effective. I hadn't seen it in any of the other vans I looked at, probably because it gets permanently damp from the inevitable water leaks, and is removed. I took it up and will replace it if I ever locate the source of the leak.

    The floor has the following layers, starting from the bottom:

    Polyethylene foam approx 10mm thick
    Approx 3mm foam sheet left over from what you put under wooden flooring when laying onto concrete floor.
    Carpet underlay
    Half inch ply
    Vinyl foam backed floor covering