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.





The VW LT this headlight and grill set came from was sat in a scrap yard near Oxford so I figured it would be a good idea to go and grab parts of the hightop from it while I couldn’t be sure if this opportunity would ever come up again to take just the parts from a hightop fibreglass roof that I needed with some of the factory internal supports. So I grabbed the trailer we use for doing trade events and drove a couple of hours north to Oxford and set to work removing the parts of the roof I needed for The Managon.



I expected removing the roof sections to be a total bitch of a job. I did read an article online on how to do this with some fancy power tools and lots of time and careful cutting and cleaning procedures. As I only had 3 hours to do this there wasn’t any time to mess around so I got to work quickly and used some brute force as this van was going to be crushed anyway once a few more LT owners had picked it dry..

First job is to get a Stanley Knife and a few new blades and just run it around the Sikaflex. Then grab some grips and bend the gutter back,



Once bent back I got a big hammer and bashed the gutters down and this splits the seal along the whole side of the roof. There are some clips under the Sikaflex that are exposed once the seal is split and are along the whole length of the roof about every 30cm. You can bend these back too with the grips or just whip through them with a small grinder.


With those off you just pop a masonry chisel or bolster between the fibreglass roof and the vans metal roof and bash it around the whole edge with a club hammer.



The roof now just lifts off…




With that now all done I have the material to make the front extended roof section to compliment the habitation box and when it is fitted I might look into doing a full hight walk through between the drivers cab and habitation box now or keep it as an inside storage area or extra independent sleeping area. Lets see…

2 thoughts on “The Habitation Box #2

  1. Nordkapp

    Hi Jed, if you type Man 4×4 into Youtube search you get a huge selection of videos of Man 4×4 expedition vehicles and layouts. I watched the habitation box on the Virgina Cojocaru channel there.
    While I like their design I question how durable the habitation box will be without some structural elements/bracing. I also thought it had an overly complex plumbing and wiring layout (too much!).
    I would consider though a roof rack over the cab area as most Man 4X4 expedition vehicles have. it gives so much flexiblity.
    I terms of solar I’d say you could plop 6 x 240 watt solar panels onto the roof of the habitation area. Here I would direct you to an install on the “The More We Explore” channel on Youtube. He covered the install of 6 panels on the Airstream and they are currently fitting out “Fred” the van with panels. He put an interest bank of lithium batteries into the Airstream.

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