How would you winter proof a Ford Escort 55 (1995-2002) van?

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  • Hi everyone,


    So I've been thinking about the type of van I would like to convert and I think I'm going to go for a Ford Escort 55, probably around the 2000-2002 age mark. They are very small compared to other campers but I really only need it for night time sleeping on my own (no cooking really... perhaps a one ring gas stove if anything... but that would be for outside use anyway) and I know they're long enough to fit a single bed sorta size mattress in so I'm happy with that.


    I'm going to be sleeping in the van every night from early October through until mid December, and then again from late January until early March. I'm thinking about winter proofing. Average low temperatures for my area hover around 1-7°C throughout those months, although I guess it would drop more on occasion with our weird UK weather and wind etc. I going to be buying a decent sleeping bag and will wear appropriate night time clothing for extra warmth, but do you guys think I need to do anything in particular to the van? A lot of people are talking about insulation and heaters and whatnot on these forums but I'm wondering if that would be suitable for my use. I really don't intend to be spending much time in there aside from when I'm asleep (I work long hours in the day and spend the early mornings/late evenings in the gym).


    Some Escort campers have insulation between the metal shell and the ply lining. Would there be any damp issues or anything there?


    Looking forward to hearing what you guys think! Hope everyone is well.


    Raffi ☮

  • Get the holes welded would be a good start, kingspan or double bubble foil wrap is the way ahead. Remember to do the floor as well. If tou can use the foil underthe carpets in the cab as well as under the bonnet, make up window insulation boards out of foil stiff cardboard

  • That's a really good idea; I'd forgotten about that stuff! I had a 1976 VW camper a few years ago and made window boards out of bubble foil. Really made a difference. Thanks!

  • Was thinking of getting a little skylight/vent fitted for that. I've seen one in an Escort before and they're pretty effective in terms of the light they let in... hoping their ventilation would be good too.

  • The ventilation thing is certainly something I'll have to think about. In terms of actual temperature though I can't imagine it will be that bad... anyone got any experience of these sorts of temperatures in simple conversions and not motorhome or fully kitted out campers?

  • I spend a lot of nights in a Picasso, just enough room to sleep diagonaly. I'd recommend a 12 volt cup heater for morning brew if weather is too windy for a lit burner of any kind but only use it with the engine running (10 mins for a hot cup full of water).
    Condensation can be kept at bay by good ventilation (winding window down an inch on the sheltered side)
    If you can fit extra battery with relay for split charge.
    Get it up on ramps and really get to know the condition of brake and fuel lines, exhaust, suspension, etc. Try to sort any issues before ice arrives (I've got a broken heater blower to fix).
    I'd recommend painting underside with waxoil.
    Also change the cam belt - better safe than sorry.
    I'm developing an overnight charcoal heater to fend off damp, so far its looking promising... but that's for another thread in near future.

  • Will you have access to mains electricity?


    Try and get a leisure battery, charge it on the mains, carry it out to the van to use for the cup heater, radio, small light.


    Totally separate from the van electrics so much simpler to set up and maintain.
    Plus you will never be in a position of flat battery, cant start the van.


    Depending upon your physical strength - I carry a leisure battery in each hand, and walk slowly - you may want to invest in a sack trolley to wheel your battery to its charging point.


    If you have the finance, you could invest in a portable solar panel for battery charging. There is one which looks like a briefcase. Opens up and will charge a battery, eventually.


    Money - Time - Effort


    These are the legs upon which you can build, but only you know how they can be balanced.
    :beard:

  • I spent 5 years in a transit van with minimal insulation. It was very cold some mornings, I always have a mug of water to sip if I wake in the night, and it was sometimes frozen in the morning. Not easy to get out of bed when it's really cold :D You'll get condensation whatever you do but I didn't find it a great problem.

    ' When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place '

  • Hello , dont want to sound Negative ,{but if ive looked at the rite picture on ebay} Escort 55 , and the things you want to do with/in it , i think its completely not the type of vehicle to have ,
    Its not much bigger than a Rucksack and would eventually feel like you were in one .


    Maybe something a little bigger would be better .


    Best of luck though .:thumbup:

  • Hello , dont want to sound Negative ,{but if ive looked at the rite picture on ebay} Escort 55 , and the things you want to do with/in it , i think its completely not the type of vehicle to have ,
    Its not much bigger than a Rucksack and would eventually feel like you were in one .

    I kinda agree.


    Great for a casual camper, not too dissimilar to my old Berlingo, but I think that full time living in this is gonna end up being quite tough ... you need to think about washing, cooking, storage, relaxing, entertainment, privacy and security. Bear in mind that the photo you posted was probably shot with a wide-angle lens making everything look bigger than the reality.


    However, if you're insistent then I'd consider the following:


    1. Leisure battery (split relay type) - you're gonna need entertainment, and running full time off the main battery will see you in trouble.
    2. Security - these are builders' vans, and as such prone to tool thefts.
    3. Soundproofing / Light proofing - For privacy really - I'd take the curtain right around the front screen and preferably go for something that blacks out the light.
    4. Hot water / Heating - Yeah you can use gas rings, but without ventilation you could end up with carbon monoxide poisoning.
    5. All round visibility - you need to be able to check what those odd noises are coming from the outside.

  • Hello , dont want to sound Negative ,{but if ive looked at the rite picture on ebay} Escort 55 , and the things you want to do with/in it , i think its completely not the type of vehicle to have ,
    Its not much bigger than a Rucksack and would eventually feel like you were in one .


    Maybe something a little bigger would be better .


    Best of luck though .:thumbup:



    Thanks for your comments! :) I certainly agree that full time with several hours spent there would be tough but I'm going to be in it just for sleeping and transporting myself back and forth to work. My days are pretty packed and I'd be out of the van from 6am-10pm every day. I reckon it should be OK for eight weeks at a time (I do eight weeks at work then eight weeks off and on my 'off' weeks I go to the US). Maybe I'll give it a little trial run for the first eight week session and get something bigger in the New Year if it is unbearable!


    Security and seeing outside is a good point. I've seen some little porthole windows being put into vans but I'm trying to keep it as stealthy as possible so might have to think about something else. I can be pretty tech savvy when I want to be so I might even rig up a spy camera to a monitor inside ;)

  • Thanks for your comments! :) I certainly agree that full time with several hours spent there would be tough but I'm going to be in it just for sleeping and transporting myself back and forth to work. My days are pretty packed and I'd be out of the van from 6am-10pm every day. I reckon it should be OK for eight weeks at a time (I do eight weeks at work then eight weeks off and on my 'off' weeks I go to the US). Maybe I'll give it a little trial run for the first eight week session and get something bigger in the New Year if it is unbearable!


    Security and seeing outside is a good point. I've seen some little porthole windows being put into vans but I'm trying to keep it as stealthy as possible so might have to think about something else. I can be pretty tech savvy when I want to be so I might even rig up a spy camera to a monitor inside ;)



    I think the key here is living *out* of a small vehicle, not *in* it.
    One reason my lifestyle is expensive is because I move at least once a day if the weather is poor, but I'm on my feet most of the day in good weather.

  • I think the key here is living *out* of a small vehicle, not *in* it.
    One reason my lifestyle is expensive is because I move at least once a day if the weather is poor, but I'm on my feet most of the day in good weather.


    You are exactly on point. I am sleeping there because it makes more sense and I would rather wake up to the birds singing than an alarm clock. I won't live 'in' it. If I did, I would get a bigger camper!