Van Blanc

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Chris Waite Chris Waite
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Van Blanc

Now, this will no more about floating your boat than Jeremy’s house

And it is nothing like as ecologically sound either, but the time has come for a new vehicle to go with my imminent status as a senior citizen.  As my Ruthie has the runabout, I get the big bad buggy by default.  The Great White Galloper has done a magnificent job of hauling boats to Bosham, bricks from Bognor, dirt to the dump and going camping at Cobnor, but the fact is that my Honey can no longer climb up onto the sleeping platform aft, and certainly not guarantee to get safely down and back for midnight calls of nature either; she needs something a little more supportive.

All I needed was the excuse

I have been quietly planning for some years anyway and eventually settled on a Ford Transit based camper van.  Lo and behold someone parked one in front of the house, just yesterday; meet ‘Bianca’, she’s not really turning her back on you, but having arrived that way, she doesn’t have a lot of room to put about and face the audience:

 

While this may not be a surfer’s ideal, being neither a ‘splitty’ or a ‘bay’ and not even a VW to boot, it is the possessor of certain useful parameters:

1.  I didn’t want a big one as it has to go in the courtyard here and it’s much more flexible if you can park it in a standard supermarket parking space for instance.  So a Short Wheel Base.

2.  Fitting a bed fore-and-aft in a light van leaves a meagre L shaped space that ensures the living ain’t easy, so it has to be wide enough to lie out athwartships:



3.  No getting dressed, or cooking at half-mast these days.  Transits come in low, medium and high roof versions and along with rear, also have front wheel drive models, which allows the floor in the load area to be lower.  This not only makes climbing aboard easier on the arthritis, the combination of FWD and a medium roof provides standing headroom for small to standard British Canadians:



For better or worse, she was first registered in March this year; has done a tad less than ten thou. and came from ‘Motorpoint’ in Derby:

http://www.motorpoint.co.uk/?gclid=CLa6nvvMqLsCFWzHtAodOicAiw

So I am now the proud owner of my own ‘Little Big Van’ and will share the conversion to camper process with you right here, if you’ll permit?

I’m hoping she’ll turn out to be the vehicle

That put the ‘gala’ in ‘gala-van-ting’

Campylodoctor
Timmo Timmo
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Re: Van Blanc

Wot larks.

You are going to a) enjoy converting her and b) seriously enjoy that extra notch of comfort on site! Get the shower room and portaloo installed and midnight trips are so much easier.

I know I roll up these days in an obscene commercially converted gin palace but I was responding to pressure when choosing the ready made route, I'm jealous of the scope doing your own conversion creates. I always thought that, if you make some bits removable, you can convert it 75% back to van and still haul 8x4 sheets back from the timber merchant in the rain without them getting wet.

Having said that, no way i'd either be fitting quite so neatly cross ways or vertically.

And white... think about all those other drivers who will cower and concede right of way as you, White Van Driver, carve your way through traffic!

Tim.


On 11 Dec 2013, at 16:42, Chris Waite [via UK HBBR Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have been quietly planning for some years anyway and eventually settled on a Ford Transit based camper van.

Port-Na-Storm Port-Na-Storm
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Re: Van Blanc

When he said he wanted an old Ford to convert, I had something like this in mind.



But he'll have it looking like this in no time



What ever you do, don't google old white tranny.


Paul (admin) Paul (admin)
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Re: Van Blanc

Ah-ha. Now I know what CW stands for:

Chris White-van-man  
Say NO to Brexit. Kick it into the long grass
David Bewick David Bewick
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Re: Van Blanc

Cee Dubs,

Welcome to the enlightened ones.  I have absolutely no doubt that a modest sized boat towed behind a camper van is a much better bet for most people (and, more importantly, for most couples) than a big boat ever can be, irrespective of how much gin the latter can accommodate.

I am intrigued by your proposed sleeping arrangements, though.  I thought you would be going for some sort of excruciatingly painful hammock arrangement?

Have fun.

David.
Alan Alan
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Re: Van Blanc

Looks like one for George Clarke's Amazing Spaces.
If you are going to insulate it may I suggest "Non-Itch" which used to be called Ecowool. It's polyester fibre wadding made from fizzy drink bottles and is absolutely clean and easy to work with - so clean that you can stick your face in it and breath deeply.
Paul (admin) Paul (admin)
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Alan wrote
If you are going to insulate it may I suggest "Non-Itch" which used to be called Ecowool. It's polyester fibre wadding made from fizzy drink bottles and is absolutely clean and easy to work with - so clean that you can stick your face in it and breath deeply.
Chris,

Wifey will definitely approve of the non-itch insulation. I bought some from B&Q to add extra insulation to our hot water cylinder - I wrapped several layers around the cylinder and boxed it in with 4mm plywood.
It got the thumbs up from Dilys and the girls - and they really hate the yellow rockwool.

B&Q don't stock it any more, but Screwfix do:
http://www.screwfix.com/p/non-itch-loft-insulation-8-10m-x-150mm/92627

There are also thin high-tech silver foil insulation products that "reflect" radiated heat. However to be effective they need a 25mm air-gap each side, which is a bugger to organise in a van:
http://www.free-instruction-manuals.com/pdf/p47111656.pdf

-Paul
Say NO to Brexit. Kick it into the long grass
Chris Waite Chris Waite
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Re: Van Blanc

Hallo Sailors; thanks for the encouraging responses

I salute in your general direction

So firstly TimmO –  The shower room is requiring some thought in one so small, but it’s coming.  However a Portaloo, yes; actually Elsan do the most basic “bucket and chuck it”.  That caravan we had at Cobnor one year had a very fancy fixed potty and to empty it you had to go round the back, open a hatch, fiddle some and remove a diminutive and rather complicated cartridge, which you then carried to the poop pit in the woods to empty.  Peeing straight into the pail then proceeding down the same path, which cuts out all the hatches and latches to achieve the same despatches seems eminently sensible to me; simpler and cheaper too.

And that’s how it’sa gonna be

I also agree about the removable ‘furniture’ to provide a useful space to carry things in.  I set my insomnia to thinking about it and it took a while, but I’ve worked out some folding benches with an elevating table that form a ‘double-dinette’, also a moveable galley unit

And Voom-van-back!

I further concede that this is for stumpy little sailors only; properly fed people with good DNA deserve something more expansive.  White-van-man; I don’t think so.  Having managed to get it into the courtyard face first, I’m currently having a dither as to whether I have the expertise to extract it in reverse, so it hasn’t moved again yet.  I may just have to holiday in it right where it is, for ever.

David – no simple practicality here, it has to have approval of the Minister of the Interior and she doesn’t hold with my “overbuild and a lick of paint” attitude.  You have no idea how much trouble I’ve been in.

And Alan – I have written to George Clarke’s ‘Amazing Spaces’; the silence of the interest shown has thus far been deafening.  The ‘Ecowool’ sounds good; thanks for the source Paulie - I don't have any extra inches to spare for the mores of sniffy silver foil.  I was also wondering about some foam panels as being better behaved and not collapsing into a corner under duress.  If you follow Chris Partridge’s ‘Rowing for Pleasure’ you may have seen a guy who built a boat http://rowingforpleasure.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-open-boat.html out of ‘Plastazote’ http://www.zotefoams.com/pages/en/plastazote.asp I have started following this option and also wondering if there was anything else similar such as Jeremy’s pink foam sheets used for his duck punt; Jeremy?

Jeremy?  Are you there Jeremy, not accidentally hermetically taped behind some wonder-wadding?

Speak to us, say something….

CW
Paul (admin) Paul (admin)
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Re: Van Blanc

Chris,

For insulation Jeremy will concur that all those tiny little air pockets trapped inside the curvy van shell have to be filled. That's a task that large flat panels don't do well - even pretty pink ones.

Canal boat hulls are often sprayed with 2-part urethane foam which sticks like the proverbial. Two or three inches of that inside the van will keep the heat in and the sun out. Messy but it works:



Looks like a stretched van to me....

-Paul
Say NO to Brexit. Kick it into the long grass
Jeremy Jeremy
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Re: Van Blanc

In reply to this post by Chris Waite
Sounds a great and interesting project, CW, something I've thought of (but got no further than thinking of) for years.

When it comes to insulation, then the metallised foil stuff is snake oil, pure and simple.  If fails all normal hot-box insulation test methods and is sold with some very dubious advertising claims, many of which are sailing very close to the wind with Trading Standards.

What you're after is the thinnest (and most affordable) insulation that will give you what you're after in terms of keeping the van relatively cool in summer and warm in winter/spring/autumn.

There are three products that fit the bill, although one may well be too expensive.  Starting with the expensive one, aerogel is without a doubt the most effective insulation in terms of thickness versus insulating ability at about 0.013 W/m.K (lower is better).  

Next down the scale is the best PIR (polyisocyanurate) foam will have a thermal conductivity of around 0.021 W/m.K.  The final contender is PU (polyurethane) foam, with a thermal conductivity of around 0.025 W/m.K.

If you're really on a budget, then EPS (polystyrene) sheet has a thermal conductivity of around  0.033 W/m.K, so a fair bit worse than either PIR or PU.

If it were me, then I'd  remove the plywood liner you have in there at the moment and get the inner metal skin sprayed with PU foam.  This is a good option for filling all the little nooks and crannies, isn't too expensive (you can buy a DIY spray kit) and has the advantage of providing good soundproofing too.

EDITED to add:  Cross posted with Paul!
Port-Na-Storm Port-Na-Storm
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Re: Van Blanc

Jeremy wrote
 (you can buy a DIY spray kit)
That's the bit we wanted to see, game on!

Is it any good for buoyancy?
Alan Alan
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In reply to this post by Jeremy
When I insulated my garage roof I initially rejected spray foam on grounds of cost and used 50mm PU. It took so many many days to fit between the twisted joists that I really regretted not using spray foam which would have been finished in one day. I reckon Van Blanc would take half a day; then you could just sit in it for the other half enjoying the toasty quietness.
alopenboat alopenboat
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In reply to this post by Jeremy
On 17 Dec 2013 at 13:45, Jeremy [via UK HBBR Forum] wrote:

> If it were me, then I'd  remove the plywood liner you have in there at
> the moment and get the inner metal skin sprayed with PU foam.  This is
> a good option for filling all the little nooks and crannies, isn't too
> expensive (you can buy a DIY spray kit) and has the advantage of
> providing good soundproofing too.

And it will stop the drumming every time you drive over a bump.

--
Hoping for calm nights

Alastair Law
Yeovil, England.
<http://www.little.jim.freeuk.com>

Paul (admin) Paul (admin)
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Re: Van Blanc

In reply to this post by Port-Na-Storm
Port-Na-Storm wrote
Jeremy wrote
 (you can buy a DIY spray kit)
That's the bit we wanted to see, game on!

Is it any good for buoyancy?
If it is closed cell foam yes........but open cell foam soaks up water like a sponge. Polystyrene packaging is an example of closed cell foam.

Paul Fisher steers his builders well away from open cell foam.

-Paul
Say NO to Brexit. Kick it into the long grass
Chris Waite Chris Waite
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Re: Van Blanc

I think she'll look lovely in Polyurethane foam negligee

However I am concerned that it should be 'closed cell' as any water finding its way in (and we sailors know what water is like), could end up getting all unnecessary with the bodywork.

And it had better be seriously negligee as well.  None of this 'three inches' business, or my six foot wide buggy will end up only five foot six inches across the inside and I shall have to go to bed without benefit of feet.

Or some similar alternative

My head, for instance?

CW
Jeremy Jeremy
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Re: Van Blanc

Spray PU foam is closed cell, except for any edges you cut.  You can vary the thickness to suit the variation in panel thickness when spraying the stuff from one of the DIY kits and put a bit less where you need more room and bit more where you have a bit of space to spare.  Don't forget the floor, as that will need insulating too.  Nothing worse than cold feet - funny how warm feet seem to be more important as one gets older.
Chris Waite Chris Waite
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Re: Van Blanc

Next question then

Once I've foamed the inside of the van, does anyone have any suggestions for a suitably erudite finish as I don't think the Minister of the Interior is going to approve of a slightly lumpy texture with a vaguely bilious yellow hue.

I'd thought of seriously slimline ply, (how would you get it to snuggle up to the foam), which would then have to be painted, or covered in material of some sort.  However this is all getting extremely multifactorial; are there any simpler ways of going about it?

I suppose this is why wise virgins* get it done professionally

And who said Hugh has jaundice anyway

CW

(*Read the Bible; Matthew 25??)
Port-Na-Storm Port-Na-Storm
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Re: Van Blanc

CW, I'm not sure how this particular foam works but I'm wondering whether it would be possible to line the van with thin bendy ply first and then fill the cavity with foam through some strategically placed access holes. Possibly with the help of some tubing.

 A quick google around seems to indicate that 4 way stretchy carpet is the converters preferred finish. There are a number of people supplying this stuff by the yard. search on "4 way stretch van carpet".

Grum.
Timmo Timmo
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In reply to this post by Chris Waite
First thing will be a vapour barrier. The foam needs to be complete airtight layer on the inside surface. There must be no chance of air leaking through gaps or channels in the bodywork from warm interior to cold exterior surface. If it can and you get condensation trapped against the metal there'll be trouble. Might need to seal some areas with aluminium foil tape to be sure.

You can buy the predecorated boards they use in caravans. http://www.halesowencaravancentre.com/caravanshop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=94_563 is a supplier, no idea if they're good value. Not so convenient for you to collect from either! Think it's basically thin MDF with sticky backed plastic on it. A nice 4mm cherry faced ply could be nicer, though it might feel like sleeping in a cigar box.

Trick is to keep it lightweight. If it's light it will flex and stick up with normal no-nails type builder's adhesive as well as saving fuel. Classic two stick bracing from one side of the van to the other to hold it in place while it sets. Get yoiur cable runs sorted first though. Also keep it light in hue/colour, saves battery power lighting it.

Tim


On 23 Dec 2013, at 10:23, Chris Waite [via UK HBBR Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I'd thought of seriously slimline ply, (how would you get it to snuggle up to the foam), which would then have to be painted, or covered in material of some sort.  However this is all getting extremely multifactorial; are there any simpler ways of going about it?


Paul (admin) Paul (admin)
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Re: Van Blanc

Tim,

Surely adequate ventilation is more important?  Moisture creeps in everywhere - so the unknown unknown areas of bare metal are at risk. They are the areas you did not know that you did not protect - where are they?

Cars develop condensation on the windows and only a run up the motorway on full heat (mmmm lovely warm feet) seems to clear it.

Ditto our single glazed conservatory developed condensation however hard we try to keep it dry over the years, often after a heavy frost the roof condensation literally rains down.
The only improvement we have seen is the recent introduction of Oscar, our house cat. We leave the conservatory door open a few inches so he can wander and terrorise the neighborhood at will. The net result? zero condensation in the conservatory for the first time in years.

So how about a thin layer of sprayed foam on the metal, followed by wooden framework filled with the white insulation (which can slowly dry) and then plywood with suitable ventilation slots.

-Paul

Say NO to Brexit. Kick it into the long grass
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