Van building – The beginning

Hello there! It’s been a while. Besides relaxing, some running, falling ill and resting we have recently been pretty busy. The fall colours are invading the trees as we hide indoors to start our next chapter: vanlife.

The idea of vanlife probably came while scrolling through instagram photos of people enjoying outdoors in their own built vans. And the whole nomadic concept of vanlife sort of goes together with what we love the most – being outdoors. Mobile home, obviously, makes you mobile so you can drive from one amazing place to another without much planning and if you like the place you can then just stay there and enjoy it until you are sick of it.

While in Central America we met a few cool people who had transformed their vans into campers and were having the adventure of their lifetime and we wanted some of it as well. After talking to them it didn’t sound that difficult; in fact it sounded amazing and our hearts were convinced that that’s what we should do after finishing the PCT, which we hadn’t even started yet.

So before starting our PCT hike in March we had to iron some things out. For example: should we acquire our future vehicle at home right now or after we are back home and done with the PCT. After considering all of the pros and cons we decided that the wisest would be to buy the van as soon as possible, especially from the financial point of view, and also once we have it there is no way back, the commitment will be put in place and we would just have to stick with it.

Our plan was to buy and build our van in Europe and do all the necessary field tests in our back yard before going anywhere crazy, Nepal let’s say. In order to buy a van in a place that is some 10.000 km away we had to delegate the task to someone. And as always we were lucky to have good people who had the right expertise and were absolutely willing to help us with that – Stiina’s dad Peep. Besides building rally cars in his spare time he is also an engineer at a custom truck/trailer building company. In other words: the guy knows stuff about cars and building them. So we were more than confident in his ability to help us find the right van and do the necessary visit and on-site inspection before the purchase. We had a budget of 4000 Euros and our only requirement was that it’d need to be tall enough for us to stand in. After a few weeks and e-mails about the potential candidate we all agreed that an orange 2008 Ford Transit was the one and only. Peep was quick with nicknaming it The Carrot.

However, one thing we knew already from the beginning: we won’t keep the color. We told Peep that we’d like the van to be painted in a matte dark gray colour if possible and it sure was. As Stiina’s dad works in a truck construction company it was easy to get it painted by a specialist. The van had seen some rough times as it had many dents all over it so Peep stripped it of all the unnecessary parts and prepared it for painting by fixing the dents and other cosmetic issues. He also got started on the insulation, cabling, flooring and general planning which we didn’t mind, even though it was our project we knew we wiuld still get to do the majority of it ourselves.

We also wanted to build it fairly quickly so his help was much appreciated and after all he enjoyed doing it, can’t take that away from anyone. By the time we finally arrived in Estonia in mid-September, this was the state of things:

It was still standing in the painting room as it was only painted the day earlier. Stiina’s dad showed us around and how far he had gotten with our van: half of the floor was in place with a few centimeters of rigid polystyrene insulation under it and some of it was already put in place on the walls and the necessary cable outlets were also designated in each corner of the van. We could start on the van right away and the task was clear: we had to continue insulating the walls.

We hope that You enjoyed the beginning of our new blog series and will return to continue reading about how it goes. We plan to post a weekly van building update.

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