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Lockdown Camper Van Build - not even slightly LR, but potentially useful bits!


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16 hours ago, landroversforever said:

Have you spent many nights in it yet Si? Much of a test-use you can do on the drive at home.

The Film I was on (Fantastic Beasts 3) restarted in October - so I spent, proably 8 weeks with typically 2 or 3 nights in the van.

I spent a week of that as 'technical support' while one of my daft ideas was being filmed - unfortunately it was freezing & lamping it down with rain.  Going back to a warm van with a hot shower and a place to dry my boots made the whole build seem worthwhile!  We were filming at night - and there was no way I was in any fit state to drive far.  It was good fun though!  Sadly, my daft idea didn't break, so I became just another pair of boots on the ground having to run up & down this damn hill carrying kit.  It was my first time as part of a filming unit rather than just observing.  It's a crazy job - but I absolutely love it!

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15 hours ago, Stellaghost said:

You said my lightweight vent panel build was impressive I feel like a snotty nosed kid starting his apprenticeship next to you , well done truly inspiring regards Stephen

Ah, the difference is the craft skill involved!  Your vent panel was a work of art - I could never do something as tidily.  However, like with the van, I would cheat!  Draw it in Solidworks, get the parts Laser / Plasma / CNC cut and weld / glue / screw them together.

I'm a much better designer than fabricator.  I lack the patience (and skill) to make a nice job of things.  It's why I've come to love CNC!

 

 

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11 hours ago, Daan said:

Simon, thanks for the write up, very interesting.

Must be a big advantage of it being disguised as a white van to not being disturbed by keepers of the law, or indeed by those who don't keep to the law.

Actually, it's not so much the Police, nor Criminals that are a problem - it's people who live nearby who seem to object.  I don't quite understand why, when you're not creating any noise or mess.
Before building my first van, I bought a (Tiny) Vito based camper to try out the idea.  I only had it for a couple of months - but it proved that it was a practical proposition.  Because it looked like a capmer, a couple of times the Police tapped on the window - but they were very nice!  After you explain that you are too tired to drive home because of your job and you're not planning on staying long term - they were fine about it.  I was working on Star Wars (Jast Jedi) at the time - which resulted in an hour long chat with two officers, more interested in that than the Van!

It's a lot like getting pulled over in a Land Rover - they are often more interested in (nerdy) chatting about Land Rovers than anything else you may or may not have been doing!  I guess, if you pass the initial 'Attitude test', they see that you're just another fellow loony enthusiast!

I had several 'local' people banging on the side of the van, 'politely' suggesting I go somewhere else!  That's when the idea of a plain white van came to me!

The reason I cannot generally stay on camp sites is we start work, generally between 06:30 & 07:30.  Most do not allow vehicle movements before 8am.  There are a few friendly pub car parks & the like though.

A white van, you can park anywhere!  I stayed in Windsor one night after visiting a friend - and parked right outside the Police Station!

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A very well thought out build and great ideas, top job sir 👍

I considered underfloor heating in the camper build but the floor space doesn't justify the amount of plumbing and whether it would be that effective over an airtop.

Have you considered a composting toilet?  We're getting an Airhead one, pricey but so worth it without the hassle of smell involved and they're pretty compact too.

The really intriging part is what do you do in the film industry exactly? 

I very nearly went into film prop building, but ended up designing and building restaurants, nighclubs, pubs and strip clubs instead :D

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Great work and brilliant ideas.

 

I have watched a lot of videos on a van life channel, and it seems they get a lot of abuse in some areas because they are conflated with the type of travellers who are mobile crime waves and leave mountains of rubbish and damage.  It’s unfortunate, as most of them appear to be quite mindful of where they camp, but having seen many of the bad sort, I can also understand the reaction of local residents and businesses.  Your solution is smart, and it makes the vehicle more efficient and secure while reducing build costs.  Like you said, how many places are you going to stay where you need the view from indoors.  It might be worth having some discrete external cameras, though, so you can see what is going on outside - those van dwellers have some worrying stories.

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1 hour ago, Badger110 said:

The really intriging part is what do you do in the film industry exactly?

Special Effects https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8034188/

The crew, which I'm a part of specialises in motion control - and really pushes the boundaries of what's possible technically.  Guess which bits I had a hand in!
https://phantasm.studio/
 

So far, pretty much every rig I've designed has had at least one Land Rover part in it!  I guess it's what I know best in off-the-shelf parts.

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Properly cool stuff Si. Guessing you can't, but I'd love to see more detail stuff of the things you've built. Watched one of the videos on the site, the 8x8 being slid round with the little skid block things to take the weight off the tyres is genius :D 

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1 hour ago, Badger110 said:

I considered underfloor heating in the camper build but the floor space doesn't justify the amount of plumbing and whether it would be that effective over an airtop.

Have you considered a composting toilet?  We're getting an Airhead one, pricey but so worth it without the hassle of smell involved and they're pretty compact too.

In my last van, I had a Propex gas heater (blown air) which is much quieter than an AirTop type.  The problem is, because it only heats the air, as soon as it switches off, you're freezing.  Hot-Cold-Hot-Cold......
The underfloor - or any other radiated heat source, heats everything which radiate back at you.  Over night, the heating switchs off at 10pm and ist's still warm at 5am when the heating switches back on just to boost it up to a nice temperature for getting out of bed!

The problem with Underfloor heating is the time it takes to heat the van. 3 to 4h from <10C to >20C typically.  So, I also have a blown-air radiator using the hot water when it comes out of the heating pipes.  If that's on, it reduces the heat-up time to less than 30 Mins.  The heating is controlled via an app on my phone - so at the end of the day, I'll switch it on, including the convection heater half an hour before I climb in to the van, then switch the convection off & leave the underfloor heating to keep it warm (almost siilently).

I did consider a composting toilet - and the ones that burn the waste.  I decided to go with a simple cartridge toilet - figuring I could swap it out later if it didn't work out (too smelly).  In practice, it's pretty good.  It's a Dometic CTLP 4110 unit & doesn't seem to smell at all!

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3 minutes ago, landroversforever said:

Properly cool stuff Si. Guessing you can't, but I'd love to see more detail stuff of the things you've built. Watched one of the videos on the site, the 8x8 being slid round with the little skid block things to take the weight off the tyres is genius :D 

That might have been one of mine!  It was sliding on 'Oilon' (Oil filled Nylon) blocks which worked well on a factory floor.  Stunts were not convinced they could get up enough speed to make it drift in such a confined space.  That's typically where SFX get involved, to give a little, hidden, helping hand.
image.png.68d5f45211ee1462269c0af5e19f2406.png

It was made to bolt on - so it didn't have to be permanently fitted to the truck.

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14 minutes ago, Badger110 said:

I bet you hate going to work every day:P

There was a day when I was driving to Pinewood - and felt so tired!  I realised that I was smiling and couldn't wait to get there!

On one hand, I wish I'd found it years ago - but on the other, it's the experience gained in Industry (and X-Eng) that makes me useful!

I think a lot of people here would fit in very well in SFX.  There are a lot of LR Enthusiasts there.  Always worth enquiring, any of you looking for a change of career!  It requires a certain kind of eccentricity and enthusiasm that I've only ever seen elsewhere in the LR Community.

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32 minutes ago, simonr said:

That might have been one of mine!  It was sliding on 'Oilon' (Oil filled Nylon) blocks which worked well on a factory floor.  Stunts were not convinced they could get up enough speed to make it drift in such a confined space.  That's typically where SFX get involved, to give a little, hidden, helping hand.
image.png.68d5f45211ee1462269c0af5e19f2406.png

It was made to bolt on - so it didn't have to be permanently fitted to the truck.

Funnily enough I wondered if it might be oilon! Used it at work on a few projects that needed guides. Nice stuff to machine too.

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21 hours ago, simonr said:

Then I came across a company on Etsy who were offering cushion sets for Wicker Chairs

Would you mind sharing the company name please ? 
 

I’m at the low tech end of the scale, and making a folding ply platform in the back of my 80”. What I can’t work out is what to put on that to sleep on.

I started off thinking SIMs - self inflating mattresses - but non are the right size for two adults and a child in a row !  So I looked at foam and things like memory foam mattress toppers (that roll up rather nicely) - but really I’ve no idea. 

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When you have the van sizes sorted and cnc templates you could produce x-eng self build camper an kits. There is a big market for self build camper vans at the moment, but appreciate your time is probably rather taken up by your other work already

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On 1/9/2021 at 12:45 PM, simonr said:

The crew, which I'm a part of specialises in motion control - and really pushes the boundaries of what's possible technically.  Guess which bits I had a hand in!

That just looks such fun! .... very jealous!

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What a build, this is awesome stuff. Wish we had under-floor heating in the ambulance as the floor is not insulated (yet).

What's the story with the LiFePo batteries, are they a straight-ish swap with regular lead-acids (no weird charging requirements)?

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1 hour ago, Snagger said:

Didn’t you do something like the x-Wing canopy opening, Si?

A-Wing, using RR Tailgate Actuators!

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2 hours ago, FridgeFreezer said:

What's the story with the LiFePo batteries, are they a straight-ish swap with regular lead-acids (no weird charging requirements)?

More or less.  They need a constant voltage, current limited charge.  They need protection from over-charge & discharge as well as low temperatures. 

I've used 123SmartBMS for the battery management.  It has two relays on board for OK to charge & OK to discharge.  The enable inputs of the chargers & loads were a bit variable (active high or low), & some needed isolating electrically - so I connected the relays on the BMS to 4 other relays and a few solid state relays to give me a good solution.

The BMS isn't expensive (compared to some) and seems to do a reasonable job!

I used Winston cells, bought 2nd hand at a decent price.  New they would have given 800Ah but the measured capacity was 780Ah - which was plenty and made them very good value!

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2 minutes ago, landroversforever said:

I'm sure plenty here would be interested to see your work stuff if you're allowed to post Si :)

I'm probably breaching the NDA even mentioning it!

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26 minutes ago, simonr said:

A-Wing, using RR Tailgate Actuators!

Close!  Pity it wasn’t the X-Wing, if just because of the X-Eng bit!  Very cool bragging rights, though.

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