The Van with a Plan

The Van

I bought this van from a dealer who sells old police vans. It has windows in the back and structural tracking in the floor for extra seats. It’s got a roof vent with fan for ventilation. It’s short wheelbase so fits in a std size car parking space but medium height so I can uncomfortably stand and more importantly I can get a bike in the back easily. It’s front wheel drive so I keep max headroom in the back and also really powerful because it’s ex-plod and I refuse to be the slow camper crawling up a hill in wales.

Lastly but most importantly, it was the newest and best looked after van I could find. I didn’t want something a builder had thrashed with scrapes and dents all over it. Yes a disgruntled bobby might rev it a bit high getting to a scene but at least you know it will have been looked after properly by their mechanics.

I plan to keep this baby for a few years so it has to be in good nick. I also wanted something modern for two reasons. It gives the van less time to have rusted in places I won’t be able to get to after the conversion is completed. And also it passes the emissions regs for entering central London. This is not something I plan to do regularly but if London is the first city, you can bet that others will do something similar in the future.

Quirks of my Van

After I bought it and started to convert it, I discovered a few downsides. The roof used to have a big pod of flashing lights, aerials, cameras and other electrical doohickeys all which required cables to enter the cabin through a myriad of holes. When decommissioned, these were expertly bodge filled with some sort of black filler, that leaks. So I need to get that sorted.

The radio and consol is a bit rough around the edges because it is not original to that van. It came from a transit but this one had its consol changed for police scanners etc so has been put back in its place.

The roof vent, while being very useful when complete, currently has no cover because it was stolen/liberated/fell off. So at present I have a sky pointing hole for water to pour into only covered by some bungee and a bin liner.

The Loose Plan

  • I’m going to insulate the van Properly™ so that it is warm and prevent damp and rust forming.
  • I will keep the floor tracks because they will be useful for bolting a spare seat if required or the motorbike wheel clamp.
  • I will put down cheap replaceable floor so if the bike spills oil it’s not the end of the world.
  • I want to keep all the electrical additions I make on the surface so if something goes wrong (highly likely) or I want to take something out later (not likely) I have easy access to it all.
  • I will add some lighting and power points inside the van and re-enable the zombie lights outside the van.
  • I’m still debating adding a leisure battery and split charger but we will see how it goes for now.
  • I will build a bed storage unit to fit the back of the van so it doesn’t slide around, but it won’t be fixed down.
  • This is so if I need to move some Really Big Things™ I can just whip it out and use it like a normal van.
  • I will also need some sort of cooking and washing equipment but in the spirit of keeping things simple and minimal, I will cross that bridge later.