Converting to a camper

Here we will take you through the things we did (and sometimes, failed to do..), in order to make ‘The Beaut’ into a home for 4 people for months on end.

When we first bought the Beaut we didn’t really have a clue how we were going to convert her to a camper / overland vehicle. We were faced with the daunting prospect of making this big metal box our home. Our talents, it is fair to say, are limited in this department. Kat has an A-level in Resistant Materials, Jon has attempted to design and build stuff for work, Coby is a dab hand with a sewing machine, but that’s about it (other than a lot of enthusiasm!).

The back:

Our first thought was insulation – and lots of it. We are hoping that our vehicle choice helps us here, as the back of the ambulance is two sheets of aluminium panels, filled with about an inch of insulation – a good start! (EDIT: Proof in Mongolia that our heating system/insulation worked… -25 degrees outside, and 0 degrees inside. Not perfect, but not bad for an old Landy!)

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First stage: the floor! Two layers of 5mm insulation were added, with shiny bits for added warmth (See – travelling with two scientists has its uses…) and glued firmly down.

Next: The Frame.

Many, many hours were spent attempting to visualise how the joints would work, what joints to use, and which method to use to fix it all in place. Eventually we just got bored of arguing and cracked on. Progress was rapidly improved by the kind loan of a circular saw (Thanks Tony – we would probably still be making it without that!). Never before have tired brains worked so hard to try to visualise where 4 screws per joint would have to go in so that they didn’t just bounce off each other. I certainly don’t think we’d imagined we would end up using 146 of them in total.

Finally, the lids. 12mm hardwood ply, each cut individually to size, layered with two x 3mm foam insulation, and wrapped in a horrendous shade of polka-dot lino to make them water proof.

Things we learnt whilst converting the back:

1) Our brains don’t work well in 3D

2) Circular saws are useful and save HOURS!

3) Treating wood in a garage results in solvent headaches for all involved

4) Never assume the Land Rover will be build straight in the first place. Measure everything. At least twice.

5) Be gentle.



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