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   Self-Built Motorhome - Some Musings...

Since 2007, my main vehicles have been motorhomes.

I originally looked into buying a pre-built model, but an important requirement for me was that the vehicle had to be very reliable. In my world, that essentially meant getting something no more than a few years old, and with low mileage.

Once I’d spent some time recovering from seeing the ludicrously high prices of 2-3 year old pre-built motorhomes, I took the next best option and decided to look into building one myself.

A couple of months later, I was the very tired but very proud owner of my first self-built camper van…

The first generation seating/bed with a bench seat type arrangement was very impractical and made it difficult to use a table, which was an insurance requirement. So in the second interior build, I built two seats opposing each other, with an island table leg in between them. The table also made a bridge between the seat boxes to form the bed.

I had lots of great adventures in this van, becoming a huge van fan - hence the channel name ‘Rickvanman”

First Generation Interior…

The van gave me years of trouble-free motoring, and many of my adventures were documented on my YouTube channel.

Eventually I retired her around 2013 and began my search for a replacement.

After a brief but unhappy ownership of a smaller van ( Nissan NV200), which I found was too small, I eventually settled on a 4 year old Renault Trafic Dci LWB with a high top.

The best thing about it, apart from the air conditioning, airbags and peppy performance (compared to the canal boat speeds of the Renault Master), was the fact that I’d actually managed to find a van that wasn’t boring old white!

It took over a month of 8-10 hour days to make the conversion from a basic panel van to a motorhome, but it was worth every minute, and as my current vehicle, it is by far the best camper I’ve ever owned.

Vans v Cars - My First time….

I’ve always been a bit of a petrolhead (gearhead if you are American) and love cars. It’s ironic in some ways; I’ve owned some very luxurious and very well equipped cars during my driving life, most of which I absolutely loved to drive. I would often go off on spontaneous jaunts across the country just to satisfy my need to experience the open road, especially in a really nice vehicle, with all the mod cons.

However, the day I test drove my very first van, was the day I realised that it was unlikely I would  ever own a car again.

It’s hard to explain, but the beaming grin I couldn’t shift off my face, no matter how hard I tried, sort-of said it all.

I think it was the high-up driving position that ultimately did it.

I had suddenly been exposed to a whole new perspective, a completely new world that I never knew existed. I was besotted and mesmerised by this new world, and I instantly fell in love with it

Before, when driving in a car, all I saw was the road, and the back of the vehicle in front of me. In the van however, I saw above and beyond the cars in front of me. Not only that, I could also see above the hedgerows and into the previously hidden worlds that lay beyond them.

It was the best seat in the house, and the best view in the world. This world seemed a bit lighter, more open and airy, other cars seemed a little smaller and further away.

During that one test drive, my whole perspectives on driving changed. Suddenly, luxury and mod cons took a back seat, they no longer seemed that important. What mattered more than anything was this new world of views and open spaces that I had just accidentally discovered.

Since owning and living with a van, and more importantly, a camper van, the appeal of owning a car from both a practical and an emotive perspective, has pretty much lost most of its appeal. I mean, you couldn’t really make a brew and fry up a full English breakfast whilst relaxing and admiring a beautiful view, if you're in a Jag, could you?

The van is my current one, but every now and again I’m getting the itch to start thinking about the next build, so watch this space…

Continued in next column…

2nd Van Build

Anyway,I digress. Back to the van build.

Below is the video I made which outlined, step-by-step the process for building the Renault Trafic interior.  

The Renault Master SWB had a couple of different interiors during its lifetime and I re-arranged things based on my experiences of what worked and what didn’t

Second Generation Interior…

This is the van reveal video of the newer, metallic silver Renault Trafic…

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