Tiny house expertise put to use in Mercedes Sprinter campervan conversion
After spending a lot of time in their much-loved converted Post Office van, campervan and tiny house enthusiast Jack Richens from Oxford, England, and his girlfriend Lucy Hedges had their sights set on converting a larger van that would provide more comfort. They settled on a second-hand 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and after 600 hours of work had created a stunning motorhome.
"Havingdriven a few different vans we wanted something that was going to bebig enough to accommodate a family, but with enough grunt andreliability to make the investment in the workload worthwhile,"Jack Richens tells New Atlas. "Both of us agreed on the Sprinterand then we argued about the color for ages."
Thecouple adopted boat building techniques to create the van's unique 14-sq m(151-sq ft) interior, which includes two sleeping quartersthat can accommodate a family of four; a kitchencomplete with a two-gas-burner stove top, Belfast sink and hiddenfridge; rotating captain seats that swivel 180 degrees to becomepart of the four-person dining area; and lots of hidden storage spaceand user-friendly features.
"Insidethe van you'll find two delinquent infants who adore going on campingadventures and couple of very lucky parents," says Richens. "Themain feature of the van is freedom to go where you want, whenever youwant and live in luxury."
The couple says a family of four can happily spend an entire week staying in the van whenthe weather isn't so great outside and still have a good time.However, the van isn't equipped with a toilet orshower, so it would need to be parked close to such amenities. Converting the van themselves allowed the couple to add plenty of custom touches.
"It'sbigger than some flats I've seen in London," says Richens. "Ican stand up with plenty of head room to spare, which makes wrestlinginto a wet-suit a breeze ... Lucy struck upon the idea of the stackedbunks and things really just escalated from there. Various elementsof the layout are borrowed from inland watercraft design, which workedreally well."
In addition to 5-, 12- and 240-V electrics, there are removable passenger seats, storage space for surfboards, a large collection of buckets and spades, giant-bubble making equipment, skateboards, a decent pair of binoculars and even a catapult, believe it or not.
"We like to set up targets in the woods or on the beaches and and shoot stuff with [the catapult]," adds Richens. "It Passes the time. Catapults have got me into all sorts of trouble before, I wouldn't want my daughters to miss out on that."
Theprocess of converting the motorhome saw the pair overcome severaldifficulties, which included finding ways to make the interior spacefunctional; working productively together in such a tight space; andmaking sure each bespoke element was precisely designed, measured andcut correctly.
"Thewhole conversion was one massive difficulty after another," saysRichens. "[It] involved a great deal of experimentation, headscratching and swearing. We also argued a lot about the best way tosolve the various problems we encountered. Getting a few millimetersout in one part of the build really does make the difference betweensuccess and failure later down the line. We had to unpick a lot ofwork, wasting days, weeks even, to get things corrected. Undoingweeks of work is very disheartening, but we know where those gotchasare now. They are lessons worth learning the hard way."
Thewhole conversion took the couple approximately 600 hours to complete,setting them back close to £18,000 (US$23,200). While the endeavorwasn't exactly cheap, according to couple it was worth every penny.Since being completed, the van has been all over the UK to countless festivals,surf trips, parties, weddings, mountains, forests and sandy beaches.
"Italso gets used to move bags of cement and sheets of plywood around.It is a van after all," jokes Richens.
Jackand Lucy are currently working on a similar van conversion with a fewtweaks and alterations to their previous design. Having learnt a lotfrom this project, the two are applying lessons learnt to improve ontheir conversion skills and ideas.
"Thereare loads of great ideas on the drawing board too, [including] a five-berth design, another with a shower room, and quite a few otherexciting plans we're keeping under wraps," says Richens. "Smallspaces offer enormous potential. They present a lot of problems andthere is a lot of fun to be had trying to solve them effectively.There is a lot of fun to be had."