Hello - looking to DIY convert

eccles291

New Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Hello all,

I’ve just found the forum as we’re looking to do our own conversion pretty soon as buying pre-built is just too expensive!

Depending on what the new conversion regs ACTUALLY mean will determine whether we start with a 7.5T horse box or a standard 7.5T box lorry (or maybe neither?!). We have two teenage daughters (14 & 15 yrs old) so essentially we need room for 4 adults. It would be nice to go bigger than 7.5T but purchase and running costs would be the stumbling block to that, even though my wife and I both have Class 2 HGV licenses as we are ex-lorry drivers. Obviously that means we wouldn’t have any restrictions from that perspective but maybe that’s for some time in the future.

Purchase budget is going to be sub-£5000 (the more ‘sub’ the better in my opinion! :closedeyesmile: ) and we’ll be doing all the work ourselves. The missus is great at the interiors side of things and, as a seamstress, is perfectly capable of doing all the soft furnishings and I’ll do all the construction work.

The next thing is to find a decent base vehicle and get started. My first question is whether the new DVLA regs actually permit standard 7.5T lorries to be converted to motor home classification any more?

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I’m off for a trawl through some threads.

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BigStevie

Active Member
Joined
May 17, 2017
Location
Highlands
Hi and welcome to the forum. There are a couple of folk doing exactly what you’re suggesting on the forum. The cost of your build, besides the base vehicle, will to a great extent depend on what you want to achieve. Obviously, with a large vehicle you have the option of using standard domestic fittings, like kitchen units etc. You’ll use loads of materials, so again depending on the finish you want this will greatly affect the cost. I’ve seen a van interior mostly made from old pallet wood and I have to say it looked great and cost very little. Finding used windows and roof vents cuts costs, a scrap caravan can also be a source of many expensive items such as a bathroom, toilet, cooker, fridge, electrics, foam etc etc.
It can be dine on the cheap and with imagination great results can be had.

Good luck, Stevie
 

Dunslow

Member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Hi and welcome to the conundrum that is diymotorhome. Conundrum in that there really isn't one size fits all or even one size fits one. You have an advantage with both of you holding licenses and experience of larger vehicles. My other half will probably never drive ours even though she has old skool license. There are some very nice 7.5t vehicles available at sensible cost, more than can be said of 3.5t. If I was in the market I'd certainly be watching out for low mileage ex-mod gear. 4x4 would be icing but prices hike and do I/ you really need it.
I agree with Stevie, with the bigger space and payload your internal options become greater. Watch your weight still, and don't rule out 10t as your license allows it AND less people chasing them due to old license rules allowing 7.5t on a car license.
Provided you're all kitted out as a camper you "should" come under class 4 mot still. Better still if DVLA re-classify it. The knowledge base on here is quite phenomenal. Best of luck, and keep us updated.
 

Iain Simmonds

New Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Location
East Yorkshire
Hi Eccles
I am mid way through converting a 7.5t box lorry with 23 foot x 9 foot box. Bought it at protruck auction for £3800 including VAT its a Eurocargo 75E18 2012 with 140k miles one owner DFS. Protruck and CVA auctions have a steady supply 7.5t box lorries usually with 20 foot boxes.
 

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eccles291

New Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Hi all,

Thanks for your replies. :)

I've been trying to reply for a couple of days but the website has been paying silly buggers and I've been unable to reply to this or anyone else's threads!

[EDIT] It's still causing problems and this is the old version of my reply, there are bits missing that I had originally typed. What is going on with this forum?! [/EDIT]


We've thought that going for the horse box option - providing we can find one with decent enough living space we like - it will only leave us the horse area to convert. We've been marking out rough layouts on the back lawn with wood & rope to give us a better idea of what the physical space is like and we're beginning to think the idea of installing four single bunks (rather than two single bunks and a double bed) will be a better use of the space.

The irony of this lockdown situation is that we have all this time on our hands that we could be using to work on the conversion, but we can't get out to go and buy anything. Sod's Law!

My query regarding the new regs of 7.5T vehicles is: does a 7.5T lorry come under the "Goods" classification when looking at the following from the DVLA? I thought it was classed as 'HGV', so would this prevent it from being reclassified?
DVLA will only consider changing the body type to motor caravan if the body type shown on your V5C registration certificate (log book) is currently one of the following:

  • ambulance
  • box van
  • goods
  • insulated van
  • light goods
  • light van
  • livestock carrier
  • Luton van
  • minibus
  • MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)
  • panel van
  • specially fitted van
  • special mobile unit
  • van with side windows
For that matter does anything more than 7.5T come under the "Goods" classification?

I'm beginning to think that the cost of 7.5T horse boxes that aren't dog-rough, perhaps we're better off going for a 7.5T box lorry and fully convert it.
 
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david.c.hall

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Location
Irnham, South Lincolnshire
It's not really going to be a drama if it's not reclassified as a Motor Caravan.
DVLA are regularly refusing to do so to vans that are very obviously Motor caravans.
An MOT station will test 'AS Presented' which I think means that the tester decides what he is testing. Not the DVLA.
Insurance companies are already used to the vagaries of the DVLA and insure as they see fit.
The possibly higher speed limits will only drink a lot more fuel particularly on a bigger vehicle.
The basic horse box that fit your budget will still have had to be built with very heavy floors and sides to cater for unhappy horses, so I would think that there will be more scope with a box lorry.
David
 

Iain Simmonds

New Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Location
East Yorkshire
Watch out with old horse boxes at the rear floor would have spent years soaking up horse piss and will either be rotten or stink and you will be paying a premium for the pleasure. starting with a blank canvas means you can get exactly what you want. I have raised the floor in mine to allow for all tanks to be fitted internally and dropping the rear chassis down to form the dropwell for the garage this will give me 1.8m headroom in the garage and still have 1.2m above the superking bed. This was why i went for the 9 foot high body so the wife cant complain that i look after the Track bike better than her:):):)
 

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Dunslow

Member
Joined
May 22, 2019
You'll also be paying equestrian rates for something that will, as Iain says, been used for horses, and horse waste. From experience, you'll pay about 100% hike because it's "horse", and over-heavy construction from a weight/ fuel point of view. Your classification would be PRIVATE HGV so no taco required. MOT regardless of DVLA classification will be Class 4 if converted/ meets criteria of camper for your insurance company.
I don't know where you are in the country, but I'm off to my place of work shortly, where there are two direct from ex-mod white 7.5t's. They're approx 45-05 plate, one an Iveco, one DAF. At least one has a tail-lift.(useful for motorbike/ scooter)
Thats as much as I currently know about them but will have a squint at them later. Their age may be against them a little, but mileage/ wear and tear might be in favour. I don't think either is above 3.5k+vat.
 

tacr2man

Active Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2017
Location
Near J10 M40
Second that about forget about horse boxes , for mainly reasons already given , also they are usually totally neglected by their owners ,who spend a fortune on the horses , but begrudge every penny on the truck . You need to be very wary of carrying a motorcycle etc in a "motor caravan" as it may well cause it to technically classed as a "living van" , which is subject to HGV MOT . not class 4 . as @Dunslow mentions ex MOD is source of very good vehicles FMHE . .
 

eccles291

New Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Thanks chaps, that’s all very interesting. Some salient points that I hadn’t thought of. The missus really wants a cut through from the cab to the living area and is worried about the join not being sealed against the elements. I’m sure it’s doable it’ll just mean a bit of research.

Perhaps a blank canvas would be a better option, especially as there seem to be vehicles available without the usual spaceship mileage that lorries tend to have.
 

tacr2man

Active Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2017
Location
Near J10 M40
Access thru to cab is fairly easy using side curtain material as the bellows. easy to find how to on youtube. Truck mileages are not as critical as cars , they are designed to cover 500,000 relatively reliably . The 150,000 miles that on a car is not good is just well run in on a HGV :) . Ex MOD you can find with very low miles , my Duro only had 2400 KM when I bought it :)
 

eccles291

New Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Dunslow - thanks for that. We're in the Cotswolds but happy to travel if needs be (when we're allowed out again!).

Iain - that looks like a decent site. Definitely worth exploring those options. Thanks for the link.

tacr2man - I've had a look at cut throughs and I think it's not as bad as my wife fears. We both understand the mileage thing with lorries. :)
 

Dunslow

Member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Just to clarify my above post, and tacr4man's note, I have seen, and if went down the hgv route, use, the tail-lift half-depth, with motorcycle/ scooter outside living accommodation. The one I saw in Spain had a box around the 'bike to keep it clean/ dry made of Ali sheet. I thought it would work well with the tail-light itself as a fold down platform, (terrace?), but bike still carried on a platform at 90 degrees to main tail-lift that would fold down and would cover lights/ under-run. Would make the tail-lift dual purpose then (?) to justify the hydraulics weight.
Apologies eccles, I ran out of time on Wednesday due to a customer running late. I'll try again shortly.
I'm trying to establish whether I WAS a lert before all this covid isolation/ stay at home to be able to STAY a lert. (and if I was, do I want to remain one?). I think I'll stay home.
 
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Dunslow

Member
Joined
May 22, 2019
Eccles, cut-through would/ should be a no-brainer really BUT!!! Ask any mechanic who has worked on horse boxes without tilting cabs and you'll probably hear several expletives in the response. MAKE SURE YOU CAN TILT THE CAB. With the minimum over standard. A split water hose, broken wire, head gasket can become a VERY costly affair, especially at the side of the road if the breakdown mechanic can't access the simplest of repairs, and requires recovery. There are many good systems out there that work. I have found that the "tunnel" (only 6-10") should be really well worked out to be airtight and sound proofed as it's generally right above the engine ;-)
 

tacr2man

Active Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2017
Location
Near J10 M40
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