Bus building skills

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  • I'd love to convert my own vehicle one day but I'm completely new to it. How did you learn? I know nothing about mechanics. I'm starting my city and guilds in carpentry to get my wood work skills up plus a stained glass course so i can make custom windows! I'm a very creative/artistic person so i know that side of things won't be a problem. :)

  • I'd love to convert my own vehicle one day but I'm completely new to it. How did you learn? I know nothing about mechanics. I'm starting my city and guilds in carpentry to get my wood work skills up plus a stained glass course so i can make custom windows! I'm a very creative/artistic person so i know that side of things won't be a problem. :)


    It's like you say a creative individual thing, I would have thought a starting point would be a practical approach, such as, what you are going to need in it, to maximise the usable space and then get creative.

  • I'm probably not the best example: jack of all trades ... , self-taught in everything. I've built just about everything from a house, furniture, to a boat. I'm happy to mess around with electronics, hi-fi, and computers. With the internet nowadays, you can find information and DIY how-to's on just about everything.
    The most important thing is curiosity – to find out how things work. The second is a bit of imagination, so when you look at that empty, rusty old van, you see what it'll look like when you're finished. I suppose the third thing is perseverance: most projects will take a lot longer to finish and will cost more than you planned. But you just have to keep ploughing on (or put it on hold while you earn a bit more money). In the end it'll have been worth it.


    You already started well: The carpentry course is a great idea. Not only will you learn about planning, measuring up and cutting, but perhaps more importantly, the safe use of hand and power tools. And asking advice on these forums is also good. There are so many great people here, with similar dreams and aspirations, and willing to share their knowledge, help out and give encouragement.
    But the main thing is to dream, and then try to make your dreams a reality. I'm 61, and I don't regret anything that I did, even the things that didn't work out. I learnt so much trying. I do regret all the things I didn't try - but there is still time.
    Ah, and don't forget that we all have the chance to live so many lives. Don't worry that your plans might not work out. They almost always do change. Circumstances change; you meet new people; your priorities change. It's part of life. It doesn't mean you should drift. Keep making plans, and trying to make them work, but be prepared to change them along the way. It's part of the fun!


    Some practical advice to finish off: Making models is good, but it's even easier to draw and redraw ideas on your computer. The program paint.net is free and the learning curve isn't so steep for the basics you'll need to plan out your bus. Another good tool is www.tinkercad.com (there are others but this worked well enough for me). You can very easily do 3D mockups, view them from any angle and print them out. And all on-line, with no cost.

  • Making models is good, but it's even easier to draw and redraw ideas on your computer.

    I like to use the hands myself. But I will try the CAD programs which you recommend**.


    [OT]Tell us about the boat, even if it takes a new thread![/OT]


    **Hmm, TinkerCAD wants to know my date of birth, inside leg and hat size. I'll pass on that one.

  • I've converted lots of vans from a escort up to the 7.5 tonne removal lorry that I'm working on at the moment.


    I can't cut straight with a saw, and I have far too many thumbs whenever I am doing anything; but you learn by your mistakes, and you learn from watching, listening and reading what other people have done.


    I'm sure that all of us felt exactly the same when we looked at our first wagon, and thought 'WTF', however, you get on with it, and you learn.


    If anyone tells you that their first conversion was spot on perfect and exactly what they wanted, they are either a liar or very, very, very (etc.) lucky!


    Look through here, many times! See what you like and what you don't.


    As questions - builders are all, pretty much, willing to share their experiences, horror stories, successes, and pure luck results.


    Good luck, and don't get up set when something goes wrong - coz that's all part of learning.


    :-)

  • Could I just second what danbrogan wrote. It is my mentality too.


    I would also rather spend 50 quid to do something and feck it up than pay someone professional who would do it better for half the money, the day I don't have the ability learn something is the day I tie a large breeze block to my neck and go swimming.


    Nowadays everything is on google or YouTube, so you can learn a lot from other people before you start.


    My present van conversion wasn't planned at all, I had some ideas, but as I do the work they evolve or I have other ( to me) great ideas.


    I bought a few seconds ply sheets and got given mountains of off cuts, so a lot of the design was based not on a card model, but trying to make the best use of the bits I had. Other things I built in or found uses for because I had them, for example my chemical toilet is on a slide made out of a old aluminium small tv mount I found in a box. Almost all my eclectic cables are reclaimed from broken power tools from skips, and the underfed storage was designed around various cheap storage boxes gotten from boot sales.

  • As a retired stained glass 'artist', I can tell you that nothing will test your skills like a poxy bit of coloured glass! Everything else is a piece of piss in comparison. Best job I ever had - but the worst wage. Sometimes the bills come first...

  • Got to echo the others about google and youtube. Currently building my van home and everytime I get stuck I know that someone else will have found a way around the issue. I found UKhippy while researching van design options :) I guess Im lucky that I can pick up hands on work pretty quickly, its the creative side that I struggle on.


    Never feel bad about asking to many questions, there will always be someone on here that can help out.

  • Thanks guys. That's really helpful. I have my interview for the carpentry course tomorrow. I'm rather nervous though as I know I will probably be coming up against mostly chaps from a construction background. Hopefully they won't mind an artsy fartsy girly girl. It'll be the first big thing I've done since having my gorgeous girl 5 years ago apart from the odd art project. Very excited. Here's hoping.

  • For info for my conversion - search for ldv camper conversion on ukh - I mostly used this site, it really is the best if you're on a budget. If you have a bit of cash then join the self build motor caravan club (SBMCC) for around £20. I also found a Haynes manual 'build your own motor caravan' useful.

  • Result!


    Hope you really enjoy it.


    and when you've got the hang of it all, can you come and help me with Mavis............. :-)


    I think she could be your ideal woman Colin, Brighton is not far from you is it ;)