Getting a cheap motorhome - my thoughts and ideas
My hubby and I do a lot of tent camping in Scotland, so we've decided to buy an inexpensive bus and adapt it for short or long trips. We were already thinking about this year, but due to our adventures with the pandemic, our budget has become a bit tight, so we will aim for next year.
I know that converting a bus to a camper costs so much that it's better to buy a decent camper, but the thing is that I can't afford a decent camper, and instead of saving for it for the next 10 years, I prefer to explore the world - even in an old junker.
At around 3000 pounds there are already reasonable cars on the market. For campers, at this price, you can find either a 20 Romahome with a Citroen C15 or a Daihatsu Hijet, or a 30-year-old Talbot.
Financially I will rather go for vans because if for the same money I can have a 30-year-old vehicle with high mileage and a 10-year-old vehicle with high mileage, it is probably better to avoid those old campers. And now it is known that at this price and age, these cars from transport companies will have mileage like from here to the moon. Therefore, I have to look for something unusual.
There are some interesting options on the market for buses to transport people with disabilities, which have the advantage of being insulated and with a night heater and usually come from the NHS, which is known for caring about the technical condition of vehicles. More and more on the market, there are also so-called Welfare vans, or buses, whose only function is to serve as a canteen for road workers. These buses are actually an interesting option because they have a kitchen, table, chairs, heating, electrical system with an additional battery and behind the back door is a toilet and often a shower.
The disadvantage is that there are no beds in them, but if the length between the back of the driver's seat and the wall dividing the interior from the toilet is 200 cm, maybe it would be possible to replace the set of chairs and table with e.g. a set of seats and table took out from some old caravan which could be converted into a bed or even an American folding couch and a folding table?
Also "mobile banking" vehicles look interesting - that is, touring bank branches that drive around beautiful natural settings. Their disadvantage, however, is that they are armored, so converting such a thing would be a nightmare, and I have neither the money nor the conditions (and skills) to do it myself.
Therefore, if I would not be able to take out something from the above, I will just aim at some vans.
And if I manage to take out such a bus, then you know, it will cost a bit.
That's why I was thinking not to go crazy just:
- replace the sliding door with one with a window
- To meet the legal requirements for a camper van, apart from a minimum of one window, there must be a bed, a place to sit, a table (all of the above can be folded and unfolded, of course), a two-burner stove or microwave and water. At a minimum, I would see there a folding bed + folding table set (maybe even some cheap home furniture from Ikea found on Gumtree) and at the back on some cupboard or chest providing space for luggage even an ordinary tourist stove and a small sink with water flowing by gravity from a can under the ceiling. You can sometimes find such a cupboard with a sink and a used stove from some camper.
And this would meet the legal requirements for recognition by the DVLA of a car as a camper. There is still the question of lighting - and since I don't want to mess around with cables or anything, I would just settle for battery-powered LED lights.
Then there is the question of heating. I must admit that here I have a bit of a dilemma if there is any cheap and safe option. Webasto, even used is a few hundred pounds minimum with the installation. Gas stoves are a risk. Electric heating - even if I had a leisure battery would that be enough to last all night?
Many people in Scotland have such small wood stoves in their buses and caravans - it is surprising how people do not pay attention to such things until they become interested. Now, every time we go on a trip somewhere, I see that there is smoke coming from some parked camper. There is a big market for such small stoves in the UK because they are standard equipment on canal barges, and I like the idea more and more.