Former MM reporter Emma Davies is set to go off into the sunset travelling with a converted motorhome, known as 'Tron'. We're jealous. So we've roped her into writing a journal of her trip for MM...
The European motorhome conversion adventure of an amateur photographer and journalist is almost in sight.
I have just turned 26. Last year, after realising that settling down and working 9-5 for the rest of my life would drive me and my partner, Andy, crazy, we made a spur of the moment plan that I honestly did not believe would ever come true.
That is, until I got a call a week later from him. He said: “Guess what? We have a van.”
And that was it. We had a van. This was no longer a dream but the start of a journey that soon would be, with lots of hard work, the best thing we had ever done.
DOING HER BIT: Emma works on some panelling inside Tron
He went ahead and secretly bought a beautiful and full of character, LDV Convoy, which had been in a small accident and needed a bit of work, but after a few weeks at the local garage, Tron, was ready to come home.
This is when the conversion began.
I won’t lie, I’m a typical girl who has no idea whatsoever about electrics, solar power or insulation, so these were Andy’s departments.
I was head of cleaning, painting and décor, how predictable, but it works.
We bought the van back in June 2011 and since then it has been fitted with a roof rack, had a new coat of paint, insulation, a full electrical system, kitchen unit, an almost completed sofa/bed and a surprising amount of storage.
The original idea for the van was to create a stealth camper that would not look obviously like a motorhome and also be as self-sufficient as possible, so we ambitiously decided to use solar panels to source all our power.
In technical terms, we have a pair of 100W 12V Monocrystalline solar panels, feeding into a 230 amp hour, heavy duty leisure battery, which is regulated by a 30 amp charge controller to stop us blowing up.
Through the use of a 12V inverter, we can basically power any standard home electrical item with a plug, meaning that I will always have chilled wine and a hair dryer, what more could a girl need?
The techniques to complete all of this were mainly found on the internet and in motorhome conversion forums, where there is an abundance of enthusiasts, all showing off their masterpieces.
PLEASED WITH HIMSELF: Andy shows of his electrics
While Andy was busy doing the manual labour, occasionally electrocuting himself, I painted the dash board and floor, de rusted the wheels, made them shiny and tried my hand at carpentry.
So with our van, Tron, in the final few stages of its conversion into our new home, only missing a shower and the superficial needs, such as a carpet and general fettling, also known as girly finishes, we are now, if all goes to plan, four months from the start of our big adventure.
Emma's blog will continue later this month.