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Van Story - "JJ"

JJ is a much loved, older T5 that was brought to us by its owner after having served his business faithfully from new. There's a lot to be said for keeping hold of a vehicle that you know and trust. This goes a long way to explaining why it's being given a whole new lease of life as a luxury campervan designed to take its owners on long adventures across the Continent.

I'll admit that we at VanHux really enjoy starting with a blank canvas. Although equipped with the 4Motion system, JJ was otherwise a plain old panel van, just the way we like them. The satisfaction we get from the eventual transformation is all the greater.

JJ's owners opted for a little more sleeping space, so selected a 120cm RIB bed. This is a good compromise between bed and storage space. For their furniture, our preferred supplier Majestic Wood Designs created just the right pieces to optimise space for the bed and twin single front seat layout.

To keep the interior space bright, we specified a "cashmere" gloss finish topped off with solid oak, echoed by an oak effect vinyl floor. Here it is in the early stages of being brought carefully together:

You can see a big splash of colour provided by the orange tent selected as part of the elevating roof system. The fun continues into the rear cab space with the addition of "flame" window pods by Vanshades. Because much of the touring in JJ will be on the Continent, we added a mesh fly screen option for the blinds. No doubt these will be appreciated when keeping the van cool but mosquitos out.

As with most "switched on" customers, agreement was reached to avoid 240v as part of the permanent electrical installation. Modern 12v appliances (LED lights, compressor fridges etc) are so efficient and effective that the need for electrical hook up is reduced.

Instead, JJ is fitted with a 160W solar panel and a large capacity, deep cycle AGM leisure battery. This is managed by an intelligent battery charging system that can even top up the main vehicle battery when needed.

The days of old fashioned, caravan style electrical installations are happily behind us. At VanHux, we focus on the experience first, so our 12v designs are incredibly simple and robust, requiring no user intervention at all. The only parts of the system on show are the fuses and solar circuit breaker, everything else, including the battery, is hidden away safely.

Here's the 12v system in the early stages of being hand wired. The CTEK battery management unit will be hidden below a removable panel. The fuse box above remains more easily accessible in the cupboard above.

We take the trouble to run all earths in the system back to a common bus rather than saving on wire and earthing locally. This is much better practice and makes (unlikely) fault diagnosis much easier.

The super-simple control panel is all the customer needs to monitor battery health, arm the water pump, switch on the under shelf lights and power up the auxilliary sockets (USB and cigar lighter).

The neat little cubby holes are ideal for tea and coffe items and are illuminated using LED strips. The lift up hatch below is accessible when the bed is down so can house those items you might need to get to in night time mode.

Below the main panel, you can see the controller for the Planar 2kW diesel heater. This can be set to run on various modes including "Temperature" when it behaves much like your central heating.

RIB beds, although amongst the most expensive options, have at least 2 benefits: they provide a decent "boot" space behind and can also be reclined facing forward or back, if you prefer to be admiring the view through the tailgate.

Unlike traditional "rock n roll" beds, these are more versatile and more comfortable as driving seats, as they are sculpted on the seat side, flat on the sleep side.

However, they aren't cheap and the better rock n roll beds offer more rail mounting options and somewhat simpler operation.

The kitchen pod houses the 50l, 12v compressor fridge, the gas hob and sink. Behind this lives a 20l fresh water can with the waste pipe discharging through the floor where it can be collected in a collapsible bucket and disposed of responsibly. This arrangement maximises fresh water capacity.

The gas supply is fed from the rear via copper pipe, an isolator and regulator, where the bottle is housed for easy access when changing out.

We fit LPG systems in line with the relevant regulations and will take customers through the implications of this as required.

The finished interior:

JJ has also had side bars fitted and a lovely wind out canopy fitted to further open up the options for enjoying life on the road. We complete the final prep for handover soon so will post some exterior pictures on the main page once we have it nice and shiny!

If you have any questions about any of this build and what we could do for you, don't hesitate to get in touch.

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