Outdoors

Tiny house expertise put to use in Mercedes Sprinter campervan conversion

Jack Richens and his girlfriend Lucy have successfully converted a second-hand2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a stunning campervan in under 600hours
Jack Richens and his girlfriend Lucy have successfully converted a second-hand2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a stunning campervan in under 600hours
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Campervanand tiny house enthusiast Jack Richens from Oxford, England and his girlfriend Lucy have successfully converted a second-hand 2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a stunning motorhome
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Campervanand tiny house enthusiast Jack Richens from Oxford, England and his girlfriend Lucy have successfully converted a second-hand 2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a stunning motorhome
The pair chose a used 2012 Mercedes Sprinter van for the conversion
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The pair chose a used 2012 Mercedes Sprinter van for the conversion
A look at the van's ample storage space
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A look at the van's ample storage space
Hidden storage for shoes
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Hidden storage for shoes
These clever stacked beds were designed by Lucy, saving space and offering comfy sleeping for four
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These clever stacked beds were designed by Lucy, saving space and offering comfy sleeping for four
The kitchen comes complete a two-burner stove
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The kitchen comes complete a two-burner stove
Lucy and Jack had their sights on converting a larger andmore comfortable van, which would give them more freedom totravel for longer periods
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Lucy and Jack had their sights on converting a larger andmore comfortable van, which would give them more freedom totravel for longer periods
Afterspending a lot of time in their previously loved and converted PostOffice van, the pair chose to create e new van with a morecomfortable and luxurious interior
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Afterspending a lot of time in their previously loved and converted PostOffice van, the pair chose to create e new van with a morecomfortable and luxurious interior
There's lots of room to eat, play and sleep
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There's lots of room to eat, play and sleep
The front chairs swivel around to join the dining table
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The front chairs swivel around to join the dining table
The rotatingcaptain seats swivel 180 degrees to become part of the diningarea for four
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The rotatingcaptain seats swivel 180 degrees to become part of the diningarea for four
The van features ample space and standing height
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The van features ample space and standing height
A look inside the van's comfortable and luxury interior
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A look inside the van's comfortable and luxury interior
We love the bed design and boat-inspired carpentry
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We love the bed design and boat-inspired carpentry
A look inside the cute little kitchen
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A look inside the cute little kitchen
The kitchen comes complete with a two-gas-burner stove top, Belfast sink and hidden fridge
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The kitchen comes complete with a two-gas-burner stove top, Belfast sink and hidden fridge
The lower bed doubles as a comfy day sofa
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The lower bed doubles as a comfy day sofa
The van features gorgeous wooden floors
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The van features gorgeous wooden floors
Jack Richens and his girlfriend Lucy have successfully converted a second-hand2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a stunning campervan in under 600hours
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Jack Richens and his girlfriend Lucy have successfully converted a second-hand2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter into a stunning campervan in under 600hours
A few steps lead to the kid's sleeping zone
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A few steps lead to the kid's sleeping zone
Making of the motorhome interior
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Making of the motorhome interior
The stacked bunks get built
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The stacked bunks get built
The workshop where all the action took place
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The workshop where all the action took place
Jack tests out the back bed 
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Jack tests out the back bed 
Jack Richens at work
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Jack Richens at work
Richens makes sure each bespoke element was precisely designed, measured and cutcorrectly
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Richens makes sure each bespoke element was precisely designed, measured and cutcorrectly
The conversion was a team effort
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The conversion was a team effort
Getting the design right
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Getting the design right
The kitchen features a hidden fridge
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The kitchen features a hidden fridge
Jackand Lucy are currently working on a similar van conversion with a fewtweaks and alterations to their previous design
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Jackand Lucy are currently working on a similar van conversion with a fewtweaks and alterations to their previous design
Special touch
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Special touch

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."

The pair chose a used 2012 Mercedes Sprinter van for the conversion
The pair chose a used 2012 Mercedes Sprinter van for the conversion

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 lower bed doubles as a comfy day sofa
The lower bed doubles as a comfy day sofa

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."

There's lots of room to eat, play and sleep
There's lots of room to eat, play and sleep

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."

Source: This Moving House via Tiny House Talk

4 comments
Nik
No Loo? You could always carry a porta-potty for occasional emergencies, and maybe a beach screen, for outside use. Also a bucket, and a small saucepan can be used to 'shower' with in an emergency. Otherwise, it looks well organised and well completed. I wonder what the all-up weight is, and the roll performance when cornering.
ElHoward
Venerable trailer manufacturer Airstream charges about $100K to convert a Sprinter into a camper. It would be interesting to know if I could do it myself for a lot less.
GregKeith
The Sprinter is a great base vehicle for camper van builds, whether you buy a full-blown RV conversion or build one yourself. Gallery of inspiring DIY Sprinter camper van builds here: http://www.sprinter-rv.com/diy-gallery/
EUbrainwashing
Rather than muck-about with the tiny stuff I like a nice big powerful motor, a descent restaurant for lunch and a proper hotel every night. Fantastic system that I am sure will catch-on.