Category Archives: campervanculture.com

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Gathering Parts & Inspiration #3

The habitation box panels should be made during the end of July (this month as its July 2nd while I am typing) and this has given me the luxury of time to gather parts for and inspiration for the build.

Probably the biggest thing to push things along on the inspiration front was taking a week off to visit the Abenteuer Allrad Show in Bad Kissingen Germany, the biggest overland vehicle event in the world! We have a video of that floating around in the review section on the website but I will pop it on the end of this post for you to watch just incase you missed it.

Now I have an actual large part that will be fitted to The Managon here in the UK while the truck is still in The Netherlands (remember the roof chop from the last post in #2?) I got my head around what colour I wanted it to be and thought I had nailed it first time.. It was exactly what I had in my minds eye, not to military looking so it would be a problem when crossing boarders in North Africa etc and would blend in (if it is even possible to blend in a 7500kg truck) to wild camping environments.

I was feeling pretty dam please with myself until we reached The Abenteuer Allrad Show and this truck caught my eye and I really love the colour of it but am a bit concerned it is to green/military so might have to flip a coin now.

 

Anyway…. loads more to be actually be decided before I need to press the button on that one.

We did the very final habitation box drawing, it had to be adjusted as Dan and I forgot to leave 2500M of wall space at the back for one of our ARB awnings so things got shoved up a little. I had already submitted the OK for an entrance door to be custom made and this was not a problem until I found a really nice set of Aluminium steps on Ebay and bought them. I wanted to hang the steps upside down on the back of the door when not in use as the actual step parts will make some handy storage space or shelving for wet coats or wet boots. The door I ordered was going to be to narrow for this now so a new door is going to be made and the smaller door is going to be sent back to be cut into two doors. One for the habitation box and cab crawl through and the other for under the rear bed for the ARB chest fridge freezer.

And with the green Army paint removed..

With all of this happening I got down to ordering a few more of the items so I can look at what I am going to be making the furniture and units out of that will house things like the cooker.

We have never had an oven in a camper van before so this will be a luxury,

 

The sink I chose has a flip down lid so this will free up some extra food prep space. I also ordered in the windows and after a good think about it I went for sliding ones up at the front around the table seating area so we can drive with those open. The ones at the rear for in the back fixed sleeping area are top hinged and don’t need to be open when driving. The idea of the top openers in this area are so we can kick back in bed and admire the view with the windows open, even if it is raining. I went with the Seitz windows, mainly due to budget restrictions but the quality does seam good and I am really happy with the built in mozzy nets and thermal black out blinds.

The shower tray also got ordered so I could make sure this worked out with the bathroom lay out. I am going to be making the bathroom lay out the same as the Bliss truck featured in The Abenteuer Allrad film at the end of this post so to get the shower tray now makes sense so I can start to think about what toilet to get. If there is any room in the budget for a porcelain throne that would be good as the plastic ones have to many nooks and crannies and the flush on them is usually sub standard as it just spirals down the pan with one loop and doesn’t really rinse the bowl properly. The porcelain ones I have seen have loads of small holes around the top that water comes out of to flush and rinse the whole bowl so I would really like one of these as it is a fixed loo that is emptied from the outside. The portable ones that split in two are a bit a pain in one respect as you have to carry poo through your camper but good in another way because you can just take them out of the vehicle after every trip and power wash them.

 

So apart from all of the above I managed to score a 30L hot water tank/engine coolant heat exchanger from a boat on Ebay at a good price. Also I purchased one of the really early Webasto 24V engine coolant heaters from a member of one of the groups I follow. He was in Holland but with having the luxury of a really good UPS account getting it here to the UK was not a problem. The Webasto is pretty big but with being a very early one it won’t need to be re set electronically and won’t be as sensitive to altitude etc.. It will be mounted outside of the living and cab areas so I am not to worried about the safety sensors the new models have. Although I have had lots of hours of pleasure from Eberspacher heaters in the past my own view of them is that they can be a bit temperamental and if they are not working this can be the difference between a cosy time and a wet and cold miserable time. Due to this I am actually fitting two ways to heat the truck and the hot water. The first way is via the Webasto coolant heater, it heats the engine coolant when parked up (good in sub zero conditions too) and on the way back from the heated engine coolant heating the hot water via the 30L hot water tank/engine coolant heat exchanger, it passes through a couple of heater matrix units that have a small radiator and low draw electric fans. In fact when the trucks engine is running it will also heat the hot water tank so thats three ways of heating I guess. The second heater I am considering is one of the Planar diesel heaters  from Russia. They are the kalashnikov of the diesel heater world apparently and used extensively in Siberia where I guess they don’t have to be as sensitive as the Ebberspacer. Parts are still really available for them and I have read good things about them. Best of all they are much cheaper than the European heaters. I also bought the second (or is it third now) water heating method to go with the hot air heating. I did see Truma do a water heater heat exchanger tank that the hot air from the heater blows through and head up a small tank of water. They also have a 240V heating element on a thermostat on the inside too for the very rare times we may be plugged in so I guess that is a 4th way to heat the water now.

 

Anyway another pile of stuff is building up in the CVC unit,

 

I have personally been reading every travel blog I can find both online and in print over the last ten years and have the deepest admiration and respect for all of them. Pretty much most of them have decided to do a trip, set a date then go about finding then building a vehicle, sorting visas, container shipping etc with a strict dead line. The vehicle build and the issues that driving an old modified overland vehicle throw up always cause drama and time lines always lead to sleepless nights through worry and punishing work hours on the build. To try and do as much forward thinking now at the build stage while there is no rush and you have time to think, spend five days searching door handles and locks, a few evenings reading up on pluming and electrical instals, buying in small samples of light weigh board and most impotently grabbing things at a bargain price because you can wait for stuff as you don’t need it next day are all real bonuses. If you have the time you can save yourself a good bit of cash and make the vehicle as bullet proof as you can manage. I have to admit to being particularly turned on by one of the biggest reasoning why this build even started. To have a factory built vehicle with the most basic of 6 cylinder none turbo mechanical engines, a strong gear box and running gear with a huge load carrying capacity all from factory that is made to work together.

Oh and I nearly forgot.. I gave the replacement VW LT headlight grill a coat of paint and repair ready to bring the Managon back to the VW dark side.

Lots more to follow but as promised here is the Abenteuer Allrad film from Bad Kissingen just incase you missed it,

 

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Abenteuer Allrad Bad Kissingen 2017

OK so this isn’t so much a product review, more an event review but here goes..

Every year the biggest Overland Vehicle travel event in the world happens in Germany at Bad Kissingen. For the last four years we have been desperate to attend the event but with one thing and another it always crept up too soon and we missed it. This year we were adamant that we wouldn’t miss out so we closed the shop for a week and headed over to the event to see if it really was as good as everyone told us it was.

We were not disappointed that is for sure!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that came over or stopped us at the event to say hi. To be recognised and our work here to be praised so much by people at the event was something we were not expecting and we were genuinely taken back by this. All of your support is always very much appreciated and it is what keeps us doing what we do.

The CampervanCulture.com clothing range can be found by clicking HERE.

Awnings, tents & shelters can be found by clicking HERE.

Campfire Cooking gear click HERE.

Our full shop front HERE.

 

newBK from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Volksworld

August Opening Times

Please note that we will be closed from August 4 – August 20. Dan will be heading to Ireland and Jed will most likely be off to work on the Managon. You’ll be able to browse the website but no purchases will be able to be made.

 

Jed & Dan

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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:

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

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.

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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.

jusalulu-crash

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.