Frames and Structures

The view from the back of my van

Layout

As you can see from the above photo, I opted for a raised platform and a front kitchen/sink. Many van builds that are similar in size to my van tends to have the kitchen where the book shelf is and have a retractable bed that can be  stowed away during the day to become a more compact sofa and allow a walk way/access. Being Japanese, I feel more at home sitting on a floor so a raised floor system that could store more items underneath and keep the centre of gravity low seemed like the logical way forward. Living all year-round too with plenty of outdoor gear meant that I usually store rarer access items below the bed and clothes and frequent access items under the board where the juggling balls are. 

The width of the van wasn’t big enough for me to set my bed sideways, but it was long enough for me to just about lie stretched and still fit a kitchen in. It took a lot of ingenuity trying to squeeze out the last few centimetres by removing the bulk head and angling the wall. I prefer to have open access to the driving area and I did seriously consider replacing the current fixed seats with revolving ones that could vastly increase the living space. However, prohibitive costs, technical challenges of installing it, lower insulation levels plus being really terrible for stealth camping put me off. I have retained a small viewing window through to the front which is easy to shut off during the night – highly stealthy and having an insulated wall makes the sleeping cabin efficient to warm up.

Structures

As soon as the floors were in, I began building various bits and bobs that built on top of another. First were the boxes to place over the wheel arches.

Then the bed/floor frames and the bookshelf could be built. These were bolted in places to the metal frame for strength. A piece of cardboard was cut to shape to reflect the curvature of the wall and the bookshelf was cut and adjusted more finely later. Another silly consequence of trying to save a few centimetres. Definitely not worth the time.

Once the back end was looking better, and solar installed, I could wire the cables at this point to the USB ports and lights. Which then allowed me to start working on the kitchen. It was a mission of a Tetris to work out how each section fitted, how much I can shave off and still be structurally sound. This is an area I would probably do quite differently if I was to do it again. The two 25 litre tanks, for example, was meant to be one for fresh water and the other for grey water but you can’t fill these big things in normal sinks, they’re heavy as fuck when it’s full and take up so much space when empty. Ease of access is another big one that I’ll probably think more next time. Certain areas require several steps to reach and it can get rather annoying.

Using whatever is available, often breaking down existing furniture and using wood from it, I constructed most of the storage which, after 2 years of use, still functions pretty well.

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