After Dad had dropped Erik from Mainstreet Trucks back at Hull to catch a ferry home, he sat down with Ian at Motorcraft Conversions and between them decided what the truck would look like with all sorts of adaptions to help me, I was really excited because Dad said he had a really good idea in that I could have one seat that would fit in the cab so I can see everything but I could use the same seat to eat my food and watch the TV in the campervan, he said I would probably go forwards and backwards on a rail, its sounds fun!!! I think as this bit will get technical, I am going to leave my Dad to explain everything about the building of our dream.
The Technical Bit:
The truck isn’t long enough to take the 7 metre body. The solution was to add a 1.7metre extension into the chassis. This needs tempered steel to be added. What a difference it made.
As you can see from above, the addition was made in the centre section. However, not only did there have to be an extension of the chassis, a requirement for a box at the back to house and to be able to charge various wheelchairs was needed. The problem was how to keep the box airtight and watertight, we are going to have a hydraulic ram sliding lift, up and down into a fixed box. Looking from the side it will just appear to be a continuation of the side panel.
This has added an extra 1.4m onto the overall length. Think we will be mounting the spare wheels on the back here as well.
The spare tyres are mounted on the hydraulic hoist to make for single handed removal when the hoist is lowered to the ground. Thank goodness for that.
The sub frame has had to be made more rigid than we wanted to cater for the rail system to get the disabled seat from the cab to living accommodation. This allows for occasions if we are parked on uneven terrain. As we are not planning to take part in the Paris- Dakar, we have decided to take the compromise. This project was always going be a series of compromises.
The second fuel tank has gone on today as well, I hope that will dramatically increase our range.
The living box is now on. Making sure that everything is big enough to cater for our specific needs is the next challenge.
The lockers have started to go in this week. Simple things require so much planning – can we open the lockers when our newly acquired KAMPA All seasons awning is fitted? It can now!!. We thought long and hard as to what type of awning would be suitable. Having previously had an American Motorhome with the pull down awning, we understood the limitations that this type had with wind etc. Many hours spent researching up to date awnings resulted in the decision to go with the KAMPA air all seasons as probably the best for our needs. This will give us a complete enclosed room for visitors and allow us to transfer James in any weather into his wheelcahir. I have to thank Steve at Norwich Camping & Leisure for all his help. www.norwichcamping.co.uk
The rear wheelchair storage with the hydraulic hoist is now installed. Ian tells me that whilst it works perfectly with the weight of the spare wheels on the back of the hoist, the ramp is starting to twist itself under the truck and lift up the truck!!!! Ian has a plan which involves adding some rails to transfer the forces in the correct direction -upwards only.
Having spent a lot of time thinking the project through until it is actually built, you can’t cater for every eventuality. James’ bed is far to high for me to be able to get him in to it. Luckily as its at the early stage of the build, Ian at Motorcraft Conversions has been able to lower the bed. As usual Motorcraft have bent over backwards to assist us.
We also realised that the door into the bathroom was far too small for me to be able to get James in to the shower easily. We have made the door larger and sliding to assist with access to the shower and made of glass to increase the light around the truck.
Off Grid Living
We decided very early on that in order to go completely off grid we would have to have some sort of water purification system. The research I conducted only served to confuse matters more with differing opinions as to whether reverse osmosis was a good thing or not. In any event, after getting some advice from those within the water industry, I settled on a reverse osmosis system with a UV lamp for drinking water.
Imagine my surprise when Ian showed me the size of the UV lamp. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I had imagined that this would sit under the sink but once again compromise is taking place and there will now be a small full length larder like cupboard to accomodate both the size and the ability to renew the bulb.
The filters and the reverse osmosis system has been sited in the outside locker. Whilst it takes away some storage space it has easy access for changing filters.
The idea is to attach a pump to the water inlet to allow us to suck water from a lake if necessary. This system, in conjunction with the solar panels for power, should hopefully help to make us self sufficient during our travels
The Home Bit
Again the advantage of being involved in all stages of the build has proved invaluable as we had initially lowered the height of the bed to allow me to be able to easily manoeuvre James. He suffers from pressure sores and as such has a therapeutic air mattress. When we placed this on the bed plinth, it was far to low and had to be raised back up. It should now be at the right height for easy transfer. I have to thank Mick for his patience. He had those screws in and out countless times.
Not much has happened for a while but James’s bed is quite complex and to allow easy access we have had to design a sliding door to get him in and out of bed. However that has created a challenge as the main bedroom door is to be normally hinged but what to butt it against when the wall it should be on slides – we have a plan!
Steps for the bedroom have been added at least I can go upstairs to bed! The wet room shower has been put in.
Time to start on the ceiling, not sure if this is a bit dark for the build -decisions – decisions!
Change of plan, the generator and all the electrics were to go into the rear garage, but when we added the storage box frame it all became a bit cramped.
Time to reroute all the wires- sorry Ian! We have decided to put it all in the side locker now and leave the rear garage just for storage. We have given some thought as to how hot the rear garage would have got with all that equipment and the generator within, we are now moving everything to the side locker.
Another decision today – Do we have a water dispenser on the top edge of the windows or not? The water disperser has the potential to stop the window hinges from rusting but will it make the side of the truck look like a row of very bushy eyebrows!!!!!!!!!!!! One for another day.
Either way, the windows will have covers over them to protect during travel and from stray branches eventually looking like this.
The first of the cabinets are going in. These are in the bedroom area and they also include the TV mounting position.
The build is interesting on many levels not least because we want it to look nice but it has to remain practical for use by a severely disabled person. This shower has a removable shower head, which allows for use with a dedicated seating system.
The skirt looks nice, but we need to make sure we can be tow or be towed. We got a solution for that!
James needs to keep his airway open when he gets a chest infection or when he gets pneumonia. A potentially simple solution has taken all day! Well done Motorcraft Conversions.
The bathroom is quite a challenge it needs to be disabled friendly and at the same time, we want to have a degree of elegance -functional and elegant.
This is the shower seat with a special moulded seat that can be added and removed as required.
Wet heating system has been pressure tested before being hidden.
James bedroom area is just about done, just need to hang his TV on the wall, love the pull out bedside table to put medical equipment on. This is our only wardrobe space on the vehicle, not planning to go to too many cocktail parties!! Ceiling is having multi coloured sensory lights installed in this cavity.
Need to get on with the Cab because its getting close to the time to install the bespoke central seating rail, tidying up the cab. Water tanks need to be installed here next week, before we can build the seating area.
Washing machine has been a challenge to secure! its in now and the Screwfix larder came with some parts missing, as it was purchased a year ago they say its our hard cheese. Teach me to buy too early! Well done Motorcraft Conversions bespoke coachbuilder can even engineer missing parts from an off the shelf larder!!!
Granite worksurface is being cut at the moment and should be delivered and installed next week. Truck is booked in for paint over christmas, so there is a lot to do before then.
Starting on the roof rack cant wait to see it painted.
Lots happening, 800 litre water tanks going in and here goes the plumbing.
Getting to the point where we can start to add some finishing touches we have added sensory lighting above James bed, they do everything apart from make the tea and the remote requires a degree!! We are also adding mood lighting around the main living area.
The tiles have now been fitted in the kitchen area and the protection bars along the top of the truck have been made before being removed again for paint.
More importantly storage for the sound system been made. Thanks to Dean for time spent making a template so that it wont move during travel.
Things are starting to move on this week. The truck has moved from the back of the workshop outside for the first time in over a year, moving across the yard to the paint shop. When it comes out in a few weeks time not only will it be a different colour but it will be on the final stages of build.
Ten years plus dreaming and just a few weeks left.
Still not got the toilet but we have a splash back!
The truck has been in the paint shop now for a week and the doors for the lockers have been added. It is starting to take shape now.
The truck has been in the paint shop now for over 6 weeks. Whilst preparing it for the primer there was a problem with the rear hoist which resulted in the truck having to come out of the paint shop and back into ther main workshop for repair.
However as always Ian has taken on the challenge and the truck has been rubbed down, filled, rubbed down again, primer, paint on and moved back into the workshop for the final push to completion.
There have been a number of discussions with Webasto who are supplying the electrical system for the truck as to which system would be best. There has been a change now as to the batteries we are going to be having. More details when I have them.
One of the main problems of this build was, as previously stated, how to get James in and out of the cab. The whole build has been constructed around this. It is afterall why we are doing this project. Ian has spent many hours developing a system which means his seat can be put onto rails to allow for it to move in and out of the cab into the living area. This has to then have the ability to turn around and be used as a seat for James to eat meals and watch TV.
Below is the result of many hours and many attempts. Thank you Ian and Chey.
Quick update on the build process
Its been just about 12 months now since the start of the build and I thought that I would give a quick overview of where we are. I will admit that I thought that we would be looking to collect the vehicle from Ian in the next couple of weeks but alas this build has not been a straight forward as we imagined.
The build was always going to be a series of compromises to cater for the adjustments that had be to be made with a disabled son. The seating for James to be able to be brought through from the cab area to the living area is definately a challenge for Ian. His seat needs to be on runners to allow for it to be brought into the living area and turned so that he can be put in it to get into the cab. This seat will also double as a seating area for him to have meals. However, it is a challenge that Ian has taken on with vigour and we await to see the end result.
Ian has decided to build the vehicle in a different way to what he would normally do and he is completing back to front. The main bedroom area is just about finished and added to the delay with further storage being constructed on the rear wall.
The outside lockers and skirts have now been made and everything for the inside bought. Its just a case now of it all coming together.
After much discussion and yes we will to no we won’t a final decision has been taken on the window surrounds. We are now not going to have the lips on the top of the window frames.
January 2019 Update
There have been a number of delays as would be expected with a build this complicated and the paint stage that we thought would be before Christmas has now happened. The truck moved for the first time in about 12 months to the paint shop where it will be stripped down and then re-built. Many hours were spent over the RAL paint board and we have decided to stick with smoke grey.
The majority of the inside build has now been completed. Meetings have taken place with Nick Ward who is making the seating (www.AutobahnCustoms.Com). I must thank Nick and Ian for their patience. The colour of the leather has been chosen and the thickness of the foam.
Sensory lighting has been installed for James and I am sure he will spend many an hour getting me to change the colours!!!!!. We have also put some LED lighting in around the underside of the work surface and seating area.
A logo for the trip has been designed and many thanks must go to Mary Masterson for her creativity in capturing what this adventure is all about.
We now need to wait for the truck to come out of paint hopefully the middle of February when the electrics can be installed Not long now.
NEARLY THERE BUT NOT QUITE!!
We were aiming to be ready and finished before the Stratford Adventure Overland show, sadly whilst we will be there with the truck it wont be finished and will need to go back for a few more weeks. Anyway it is looking stunning – amazing job Ian.
Spot lights and roof rack added dont think anybody will try and blind us with their headlights!
The interior is coming on as well we have a loo now!!
The upholsterer is getting on with the seating, nice job Nick.
James car seat and eating seat are installed but need some tweaking as with any bespoke fit.