Hi - PVC Questions

Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Location
Leamington Spa
#1
Hi all

Just joined up as we're looking at doing a PVC as a family project. It's already been called Mabel by my wife. No, I have no idea....

We currently enjoy camping, but with two kids, the tent is too big to pop away for a night.
The plan is to build a van to replace the tent, and then use it more regularly. The girls are 8 and 10, so will want to sleep inside for now. I'm sure it won't be long before the eldest decides she wants her own space, and she can use a small tent for sleeping in then.

I also have a race car, so the van must be able to tow so that I can use it for that, and also have a good nights rest before racing. As I'm selling the tow car to fund this, we'll need to make sure the towing is sorted first.

I need to understand what vehicles will be able to tow, and how that limits what we can fit in the van, and then we can decide what we do.

As we'd like to sleep all 4 of us in the van, we're looking at a LWB high roof. Sevel vans seem to be the most popular, but we'll consider anything.

Current make or break considerations are air con, towing, 4 berth, and that's about it.

I've looked at a few websites, but am only really in the beginning stages of this, so any pointers or advice will be gratefully received.
Ideally I'd like to put together a spreadsheet detailing as much as possible, so if anyone has one, or knows of one, please let me know.
I've found this one, and exported it to Excel as a starting point:
http://deepredmotorhome.com/costguide.php
If I can't find anything I prefer, I'll use that and modify once we know what we're going to fit.

I've also seen the videos using Sketchup to design the interior, which I'll definitely use.
This will drive the costs.

Our aim is to have it ready for the summer holidays next year. Any earlier will be a bonus. This means there's no pressure to get it all done now.

Looking forward to our family project.
 

time4t

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 2, 2016
#2
Hi Sparrow (bit game of thronesy) & welcome to the forum.

Loads of interior layouts on Pinterest!

Phill
 
Last edited:

david.c.hall

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Location
Irnham, South Lincolnshire
#3
One of the reasons the Sevel vans are popular is because they have the squarest widest box to fit it all in, (particularly at head height) also a low floor due to FWD
Our Ducato 150 XLWB Maxi (3500 Kg) can tow up to 3000 Kg Max with a GTW of 6500 Kg
Don't be too relaxed about time scale, unless you can work full time on it, it is amazing how long it all takes. Mine took 3 month full time 6 days a week, and you have a lot more complications to solve with 4 seats and beds!
My conversion, on top of van cost, with all new bits, 3 way Fridge, Cooker, Combi 4e, windows, and electrics which is fully self contained as we don't like camp sites was £12,000.
David
 
D

Deleted member

Guest
#4
Hi Sparrow and welcome to the forum. Sevel van is an excellent choice for what you want to achieve IMHO. My 2.3 Maxi 2008 L3H2 can tow 3500kg. Good luck with whatever you decide. Geoff.
 

VanNV

Active Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2017
#5
Hi Sparrow, and welcome from me too.

Whilst my NV400 (Renault Master) is obviously a better van than the Sevel vans :)evilsmile:) I will probably consider a Sevel next time - mainly because they are so commonly used that there are lots of pre-scribed panels and sized water tanks etc for them. And I gather that they are built to an acceptable quality (c;
 

Liberty hall

Active Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2016
Location
Nowhere but somewhere
#6
Afternoon Sparrow + posse
To get an idea for your layout search 4 bed campervans/motor homes, make a note of which model you think may work for you all, then find a dealer that has some near you. Then have a good look around taking pics of what you like so you remember.

We went for the vantage med layout 2 berth after visiting the motorhome show at the NEC. We also went down the salvage caravan (if you’ve the space) route which gives all you need down to the last screw.

All the best with your search and build
Ken
 
D

Deleted member 2

Guest
#7
Hello Sparrow and welcome to our (normally) oh so friendly place of diymotorhome intrigue!

I agree with the others about the Sevel vans being arguably the best vans to convert, most especially in your case if you could find an L4 H3..................... And yes they can tow a goodly weight............. HOWEVER

All the Sevel vans (from 2007 are fully galvanised) are front wheel drive and as an ex tugger of over 30 years experience, I for one don't like a heavy FWD vehicle towing a fully weighted race trailer, most especially across sloping paddocks! It is reliable traction that you need and most certainly not tyres scrabbling for grip and this can be as much as a problem on cross country roads at steep junctions when it is wet.

For this reason, I would only go for a RWD van and in so saying that opens a bloody great can of rusty old worms!! There is of course the very rare Renault Master (and Vauxhall equivalents) that does come in RWD format in L4 format but I don't know if they do the H3 version in this model. I suggest this model as they have had a fully galvernised body ever since 2004.
And then there are the mechanically amazing Merc. Sprinters, but and it's a big BUT, ever since the 2000 model year their bodies have been known to dissolve into an expensive rusty pile almost before your very eyes. There are of course all of the Ford Transit ranges, all of which have very good mechanical components, but they too have a well known problem with the dreaded tin worm.
Then, last but not least are the truly amazing IVECO vans, all built on separate girder chassis and all with exceptionally strong mechanical components, but they do have a problem with the old tin worm, but possibly not to the same extent as the two mentioned above.

With regards to your girls and I have never thought about it as an option before, but how about having a pop up roof tent accessed via an internal ladder. If it could be done, it would be a very safe place for them to sleep.

All the best

Phil
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Location
Leamington Spa
#8
Hi Sparrow (bit game of thronesy) & welcome to the forum.

Loads of interior layouts on Pinterest!

Phill
GoT fan, but not related. :)

We now have 3 Pinterest boards (I think they're called), one for my wife and each of the girls.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Location
Leamington Spa
#9
Afternoon Sparrow + posse
To get an idea for your layout search 4 bed campervans/motor homes, make a note of which model you think may work for you all, then find a dealer that has some near you. Then have a good look around taking pics of what you like so you remember.

We went for the vantage med layout 2 berth after visiting the motorhome show at the NEC. We also went down the salvage caravan (if you’ve the space) route which gives all you need down to the last screw.

All the best with your search and build
Ken
Thanks Ken. We're definitely going to visit a few local dealers and see what's available.
I hadn't thought about a salvage caravan, that's good to know.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Location
Leamington Spa
#10
Hello Sparrow and welcome to our (normally) oh so friendly place of diymotorhome intrigue!

I agree with the others about the Sevel vans being arguably the best vans to convert, most especially in your case if you could find an L4 H3..................... And yes they can tow a goodly weight............. HOWEVER

All the Sevel vans (from 2007 are fully galvanised) are front wheel drive and as an ex tugger of over 30 years experience, I for one don't like a heavy FWD vehicle towing a fully weighted race trailer, most especially across sloping paddocks! It is reliable traction that you need and most certainly not tyres scrabbling for grip and this can be as much as a problem on cross country roads at steep junctions when it is wet.

For this reason, I would only go for a RWD van and in so saying that opens a bloody great can of rusty old worms!! There is of course the very rare Renault Master (and Vauxhall equivalents) that does come in RWD format in L4 format but I don't know if they do the H3 version in this model. I suggest this model as they have had a fully galvernised body ever since 2004.
And then there are the mechanically amazing Merc. Sprinters, but and it's a big BUT, ever since the 2000 model year their bodies have been known to dissolve into an expensive rusty pile almost before your very eyes. There are of course all of the Ford Transit ranges, all of which have very good mechanical components, but they too have a well known problem with the dreaded tin worm.
Then, last but not least are the truly amazing IVECO vans, all built on separate girder chassis and all with exceptionally strong mechanical components, but they do have a problem with the old tin worm, but possibly not to the same extent as the two mentioned above.

With regards to your girls and I have never thought about it as an option before, but how about having a pop up roof tent accessed via an internal ladder. If it could be done, it would be a very safe place for them to sleep.

All the best

Phil
Hi Phil

All valid points, thanks. RWD would be ideal but I've not seen any come up in my searches except the Ivecos, but none of them had air con.
Welding isn't the end of the world, but I think I'd prefer a galvanised body if we can.
While the girls would love the idea of sleeping on the roof, I think we're going to go with solar panels, so that space would need to be reserved for them.

Thanks for all the replies, it looks like we're on the right track at least.

We're starting to look at layouts in existing vehicles now. There are a couple of L4H3 vans on Autotrader at the moment that tick all the boxes.
Mainly two at the same dealer that have done 250k miles in 4 years, but it can only have been motorway miles, so I don't mind that too much. They look in good condition otherwise.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Location
Leamington Spa
#11
Some random questions I've come up with already.

Is not having 240V power going to affect resale value?
Apart from powering a microwave (which my wife isn't keen on) and possibly charging a laptop, I don't see any need for one. We can charge all mobile devices off 12v, the fridge can be 12v/gas, the cooker can be gas. Anything I've missed?

With an H3 van, we'll have space for bunk beds. Ideally these would fold away during the day. Does anyone have any experience doing this?

Any issues with a solid bulkhead at the rear of the van, providing a small storage area for tools/chairs/tables/external stuff that is only accessed from the rear doors?

Are there any issues fitting seat belts on a rear bench?
It would give far more space if we did this. The other option is folding seats that become beds but they won't be as comfortable to sleep on.

Does anyone have a SketchUp for an L4H3 van? Just external would be fine.
 

david.c.hall

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Location
Irnham, South Lincolnshire
#12
As Phil says, there can be towing problems with FWD.
However even the XLWB has a very short rear overhang compared to the wheelbase. (unlike many Coachbuilts )
Also, the biggest problems towing are caused by drivers who don't understand how to set up when towing. How many times have you seen caravanners with their front wheels hardly touching the ground? (due to excess tow bar weight) Or those with the the wrong tow ball height!!
Mind you I nagged a friend of mine about excess weight on his towbar because he had a bike rack on there and didn't believe that that and the bikes made up part of his maximum tow hitch weight. But he eventually gave in and got a roof bike rack on his tow car. Then forgot they were there and went under a low bridge:teary: Oops!:(
David
 
S

squiffy

Guest
#13
As for 230volt connection, I can honestly say no, it's not nesecceryy, But, on many sites you pay a standard fee including the use of 230/240 volt hookup, and yes we have a microwave on board, we vary rarely use it but on occasions where we pay for Lecy anyway we will make an exception and use it. Plus there are occasions where we have been to sites where the battery has been on it's last legs ( Before I fitted a 120w solar panel ) and have been able to charge it up over night, so all in all I would rcomend a 230/240v interface. Phil
 

Darcar

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 12, 2016
Location
East Devon
#14
Hi and welcome to the fourm.
Phil’s explanation of van choice was very good...... however he missed the best option for you ( in my opinion)

The Mercedes vario van.
I’d think you must have seen loads, at the racing tracks.
These vans are very heavily built and have bulletproof running gear. Loads of space inside, RWD : easily fit 4 seating and sleeping.

Whatever you choose have fun with it and enjoy your build.
Darcar.
 
D

Deleted member 2

Guest
#15
Hi and welcome to the fourm.
Phil’s explanation of van choice was very good...... however he missed the best option for you ( in my opinion)
The Mercedes vario van.
Oooops and what is more, built like a brick built kharsie, but a tad slow!!
 
S

squiffy

Guest
#17
Yes, go to your original post and tap thread tools a drop down box will show up edit title. Phil
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
#18
Hello mate, great to see you on this place also. Lots of really useful advice and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Regarding towing I found sevel (ducato, boxer, relay lay) can generally do over 2000 kg depending on chassis length (L3, L4) Renault masters were 2000+ depending if RWD and engine size.
Sprinters were normally upto 2000kg, there was a manufacturer option to uprate, yo 3.5t but never seen one for sale.
Transits vary the most generally under 2t and even as low as 1100kg.
Ivecos can generally tow a small nation even the small ones.
 
D

Deleted member

Guest
#19
Ducato maxi are rated at 3500kg - at least my 2008 is. Geoff.
 
D

Deleted member

Guest
#20
Yes, go to your original post and tap thread tools a drop down box will show up edit title. Phil
Phil what is with the new avatar? I would have thought you should have made general at the very least. Geoff.
 
Top