Author Archives: jed@CampervanCulture

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‘NomadsLife’ – documentary about nomadic tribes

Four friends embark on a 10,000km journey to find the nomadic tribes of Mongolia. They plan to honour their traditions, learn from their wisdom, and tell the world about their endangered way of living. But with four people in an old army truck, it’s not going to be easy.

The maker of this amazing bit of work gets the usual stick that you find from internet trolls that most probably will only venture out of the county they live in four times a year. Youtube creators quite often get this from people who have never actually contributed anything to the platform themselves. It gets a huge thumbs up from us and I am sure you all will find this short film very interesting.

 

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The Habitation Box #2

OK, this is the expensive part..

The thing is with trucks is that the chassis is made to flex, so if you bolted the box directly to the chassis it would basically be ripped apart the first time you drive off road, so a sub frame or three or four point mounting system has to be applied. A basic example of the twisting can be seen in the video clip below.

Dan and I make a point of having a long lunch break on a Wednesday and take in a pub lunch to keep work fun. We sat in our usual booth and made adjustments to the drawing before it was submitted for a final costing of its construction. I guess this is where things get a bit expensive and the biggest single most outlay for the whole build. Not our pub lunches (we do have a few) but the habitation box and the lay out of it drawn up in our booth on one of our Macs :wink:

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I am going to cut back on some weight by fitting the Seitz windows over the more meaty, more expensive ones, that to be quite honest I can not justify the cost of on this build. Same goes with the door a conventional door made for an overland truck has a retail price of nearly £2000 so I am going to have to look into some of the higher end motorhome doors. Some of the German companies have some options that will fit in and save a load of money.

Our list of requirements and the important things that make up the design of the habitation box  are as follows,

  • Permanent fixed double bed
  • Fold down double bed in the dining area
  • Hot shower
  • 78L+ fridge freezer
  • 250l Fresh water tank
  • 50l Waste water tank
  • Diesel powered hot air heating
  • Diesel powered water heating
  • Back up gas/LPG/GPL heating
  • Solar and large battery bank with other intelligent charging
  • Lots of storage space
  • Crawl through into drivers cab

 

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I already fitted the truck itself with a second auxiliary fuel tank with some help from Erik at Adventure trucks so will now be able to carry near on 400L of fuel. The theory behind this is that  we can fill up in fuel cost friendly countries like Morocco for example and be able to drive all the way back to the UK on cheap 65p a litre diesel. The same goes with driving north.. At the time of writing diesel in the UK is £1.18 a litre. We can do a slight detour and fill up in say Luxembourg for £0.81 a litre or Denmark at £0.96 a litre. It is also worth noting that when heading south Andorra has some really cheap diesel prices at £0.78 a litre and even mainland Spain is just £0.91 a litre. The engine will have a coolant heater fitted that will be plumbed directly to the habitation box’s hot water system and this will give us the added advantage when travelling in arctic conditions if we go back to the far north in the winter to check out the northern lights one winter.

The jury is still out on an air-conditioning system…

Because space is so tight in the CVC Westy and all small vehicles I guess we do have to rely on external storage in the form of wolf boxes, jerry can holders, roof racks to carry extra stuff etc..

 

 

We are pretty lucky in the VW T25/T3/Vanagon market that there is a wide range of options available to us, most through our very own web shop in fact but there is nothing for the Managon. That said because of the size of it we shouldn’t really need anything fixed to the outside of the vehicle such as storage boxes for personal items and supplies for example. I have seen most of the big overland trucks with a roof rack over the tilting drivers cab with aluminium storage boxes up top but these are still on the outside of the vehicle and slipping back into the habit of what we do with smaller Adventure Campers. Because the habitation box does stick up quite a way above the truck drivers cab (50-60cm) it does look kind of weird and I didn’t really want to angle the top of the habitation box to make it look nicer only to lose a load of high level storage space over the dining/fold down bed area. I had a bit of a brainwave and thought that if I took the front part of a fibreglass hightop from a VW LT1 and the back part and stuck them together and fitted them to the drivers cab on The Managon it would solve two things. Extra storage space inside the vehicle (or even an extra small self contained sleeping area) and filling that big gap over the cab with something that will protect the expensive habitation box from taking a whack and help with aerodynamics.

It was hard to visualise so I did a quick Etch A Sketch style drawing just for fun and to get my head around if this would work (the blue and purple colour isn’t the the colour the truck is going to be). At this point it is also worth noting that the plan is to get this truck looking as VW LT as possible so the VW LT headlights and grill are going to be fitted at high level but only wired up as spot lights to keep things road legal.

 

With the VW LT headlights and grill, I couldn’t make my mind up for a while if to go square or round but the decision was made for me when I had a member of the VW LT Owners (VOLT) Facebook group put up a set of squares for sale at a decent price so I grabbed them.

 

 

 

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How This Project Started #1

On the way back from our Arctic Circle Trip we called in to see our good friend Jason who lives in Denmark. Part of the tour he gave us of the town he lives in was drop in to a massive army surplus store and that is when we got inspired. Across the road from the store were a bunch of trucks that were basically a MAN 4×4 Chassis with a VW LT cab that were a collaboration effort by the two motor companies to replace the Unimog for military and utility usage. This is something that we could go far as it dent take us away from pretty much what we are doing right now anyway.

We had seen people driving the bigger overland trucks when we had done our Morocco Overland trip and liked the idea of more room but didn’t have much interest in them back then as we loved to be nimble in the VW Syncro. Now we have done the far north and now that Isaac is getting a bit older we could do with a bit more room and be able to carry more cargo to be fair. This build is not to make a vehicle to replace the CVC Syncro Westy but to have something for longer trips where we don’t have to be so agile. On the Arctic Circle trip we had to make the difficult decision, shall we take the bikes? Or shall we take the Kayak? We don’t really want to have to make a choice we want to take both as there were times that the Kayak would have been a good choice over the decision to bring the bikes. That said taking the bikes was the best decision on that trip and we wouldn’t change that if we had to do it all again in the Syncro but in a 4×4 lorry we could take both.. Hell we could even take some motor bikes too!

Via Facebook my friend Erik at Adventure Trucks in The Netherlands gave me the heads up that he had a base truck that was exactly what would suit us squirrelled away in a barn at his place. After a bit of flapping around I eventually went over to see him and here is how that one went..

 

The Managon Project 1 from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Arctic Circle Trip Map And The Locations Of Our Free Camp Spots

We would like to credit our friends at Vanagon.org for this excellent way-out map.

The map itself shows the free camp GPS locations we found on the trip. Grand total, we traveled  is roughly 5,083 miles (8,180 km) and we stayed at 30 different campsites. If you’re interested in a particular campsite, just click on the icon (using the Campsites layer) and it will show you the GPS coordinates, the video it’s located in, and a timestamp of where it’s located.

The route shown on the map that joins all of the camp spots together is a rough guide to the route we took. The exact route we took does differ slightly, especially around the south west of Norway as we took a couple of ferries so we didn’t have to back track in fyordland but in the most part the route is fairly spot on. It is enough to get you going and get you into some out standing areas for sure and from there you can find your own feet.

 

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Recovery kits and what we use and supply

When searching for a recovery kit that included everything we consider to be essential for a Syncro or 2wd Adventure Camper we couldnt find anything that fitted the bill. So back when we first set up CampervanCulture.com we put this kit together to not only cover the Syncro, but any vehicle or 4×4 of a similar weight (2.5T). It has been one of our top sellers ever since and with good reason. We use our own gear and you have been able to see us put our kit through it’s paces and it has stood the test of time.

Colour coded straps to avoid confusion in recovery conditions. The red and black 4m straps can be connected WITHOUT THE USE OF A SHACKLE using the method in the attached photo to give the option of an 8m tow strap.
Use the 1 ton safety straps around the towing strap and fix to a second safety point in case of tow point failure.
The 4.75 ton shackle is for heavy recovery,
Use the 3.75 for light weight and towing recovery as the towing loops on a 2wd car are to small to take a 4.75 ton shackle,
The 2 ton is for recovering any light weight items such as quad bikes etc or can be utilised in tree strap combinations and more involved recovery techniques.
Gloves are to be worn at all times.

Full recovery kits include:

1 x Black 4m 5 ton tow strap
1 x Red 4m 5 ton tow strap
2 x Purple 2m 1 ton safety straps
2 x 4.75 ton Shackles
1 x 3.25 ton Shackle
1 x 2 ton Shackle
1 x Dry bag
1 x Safety Gloves

Get equipped.. The Product link is right here, http://campervanculture.com/shop/full-vehicle-recovery-kit/

 

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First Weekend Trip Out of 2017 WoWo & Rolling Slow

With the first sprinkling of snow dusting the ground it was time to get out for a spot of weekend camping and the first camp of 2017.

Since we launched the Arctic Overland Film Series our feet haven’t touched the ground and although being flat out is a good thing we are solidly keeping things in check and focused on why we do this. Dan turned around at work and announced out of the blue that he had booked us onto WoWo campsite for a night so we could get away from CVC HQ and out in the great outdoors. We packed the vans, filled up with food, drinks and fire wood and headed off.

Although WoWo campsite may not be the kind of place that we would head to in the summer months it is a perfect stop over in the winter when you pretty much have the entire place to yourself. It gets really full in the warmer months and probably for good reason as it is an amazing venue but ‘Glamping’ isn’t really our thing so are more than happy to pitch up in the colder time of year. The cold weather isn’t so much of a problem and van camping doesn’t have to be just a summer pursuit if you get equipped with our Deluxe thermal window mat set here and pop top thermal wrap here.

The two vans headed their separate ways on Saturday but we met up again on the Sunday at Shoreham Airport for the RollingSlow (VW T25ers around Brighton area) meet. What a nice bunch of people they were.

 

First Weekend Trip Out of 2017 WoWo & Rolling Slow from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

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Walkabout Worldtrack

It was a good few years back when I first stumbled across this video series.

Quite often when on a trip you find yourself in a situation that feels like a show stopper.  Some how these times when they happen feel the worst they could be but later on reflection these times turn out to be the highlight of ones adventure and the story you quite often tell people about the most.

OK so not many of us end up on the roads of Zaire but for those of us that have know how treacherous they are and how quickly things can go pear shaped. In the Walkabout Worldtrack series a big show stopper happened when a ferry got washed away leaving the travellers stranded, how they felt within it is very impressive. Old videos like these are always full of inspiration for anyone in this ever changing world we live in we say.

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JUSALULU – A two year trip across two continents

JUSALULU is a story of an amazing family on a journey to find their roots. I remember following their blog and amazing video productions as the trip was happening a few years back. Some of the videos have been removed from public view, quite a shame I thought as they were amazing to watch and really inspiring.

Luca, Sameena, 4 year old Lusira and 2 year old Giulio travelled a big chunk of the world in an old 4×4 IVECO cam 80 that they picked up in a junk yard and converted to a home on wheels. To read about their whole trip you must check out their website to read more about this family and the amazing trip they did and the situations they got themselves into. It is such an interesting read.

As a teaser of what to expect on the JUSALULU website there are some showcase short films below to get you in the mood before you click on their page that can be found by clicking here.

 

JUSALULU TEASER from jusalulu on Vimeo.

a Taste of Tunisia from jusalulu on Vimeo.

Ethiopia close up from jusalulu on Vimeo.

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African Dust Hopper

It is hard to imagine that the world wide web only became publicly available on August 6, 1991. Before that people who wanted to research long journeys to far away places (before the word “overlanding” itself was ever even given as a name to this pursuit) and have half a chance of knowing what was to lay ahead over the following weeks months or years was to read travel books. They were a bit thin on the ground and hard to find with the info given in them usually being out of date at the time of reading. To receive messages from family back home before email was done by a method called Poste Restante. When travelling in Africa this involved you letting the person you wanted to message you the name of a big city you would be in at a given date and get them to wright you a letter on paper and send it a month before you were due to arrive. They would send it to the post office in that city and you could go along and pick it up and have a read. In theory this should work but the stamps on the letters would often be stolen enroute and more often than not you would never receive your mail. We used to find back then that the only way of getting real time up to date information on boarder crossings, scams and corruption was to talk to other ‘travellers’  heading in the opposite direction than you were.  In a nutshell you never really did know what you had let yourself in for and what you were to expect until you actually set off and met people on the road and the folks back home had no idea where in the world you were for weeks or months at a time.

Back in 1987 three people with a tiny budget set off from Europe and travelled across 21 countries over 14 months and covered 36,000KM on some of the toughest road conditions ever seen by the trio. They did all of this in an old (even for back then) front wheel drive Peugeot J7 diesel van and had no idea what to expect of the road that lay in front of them.

People like these are the pioneers of what internet users call ‘Overlanding’ these days.

Luckily for us they filmed this trip on film using cameras and we would like to share the African Dusthopper experience with you.