We are not building a van, we are creating an MVP
We are not building the full van. We are building a minimal viable product (MVP). This is the bare minimum of what a camper van should be.
There are three reasons for this.
Three reasons to do a minimal camper van conversion
Reason one is laws
If you want to a to do a van conversion in the Netherlands you have to obey a few rules to make it roadworthy. The rules become even stricter if you want the IRS (belastingdienst) to deem your bus a camper van. If it is marked as a camper van road tax goes down. The RDW is the governmental agency testing this.
Reason two is the holiday
We have a holiday coming up and would love to use the van, which basically means we have 3 weeks for the basic conversion.
Reason three, our first try won't be our best
The third reason is that you never get it right on your first try. And we want something that can support a one year journey which means we want it right. To get is right we need testing. And testing with the bare minimum gives loads of opportunities to learn and try again. It's what we call build, measure and learn.
The basic van build
Our goal is to do a basic van build that passes the test (RDW keuring). Then we do a four week holiday and on return, we take everything out of the van and start again.
The rules of the RDW keuring are as follows. You have to have:
- a bed
- a kitchen (incl drain, water, fixed cooking area)
- enough fixed camper seats for the number of people using the van (so if you want a 6 person van, you need 6 seats).
- enough space in the van (no issues here)
- a table
- storage space.
And all these things need to be fixed to the van, but a table may be removable. We started with the 3D sketches. Now it was time to bring these to life.
The bed for the kids
The first thing we decided to do was put in the bed for the kids. The bed consist of a frame with three slatted bases on top of it. The frame measures 165cm wide and 165cm deep and is about 70cm high because this is the place where the van is widest thus supporting a 180cm bed width. The frame goes around the wheel arch
and is fixated with a wedge to the sides which makes the construction very sturdy.
The slatted bases each measure 180x55 which gives us room for three kids. Each slatted base is removable, and since the first crossbar is in the middle of the frame converting the base into a couch creates not only a couch but also a bigger living area.
We ordered one 180x55 mattress for testing purposes and our daughter Robin took apart here pink bed couch which can be converted into a mattress to create a 180x165 bed.
Eise playing in his new bed
Bye bye wall, hello swivel seat
Next, we removed the wall separating the cabin from the drivers' area and we converted the passenger seat into a swivel van seat. Unfortunately, this was not possible for the driver seat because both the handbrake and steering wheel get in the way. This also means we have to build a 4 person couch into the van.
Finally, we removed the plastic frame above the cabin to create more space. This should be high enough for me and Yvanka to sleep in.
8 unreachable screws, 2h of work
This part of the project took about two days. Next up is the kitchen.