Category Archives: Camper Conversion News

The ‘Comfort Dash’

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

For years I’ve thought that the dashboard on VW T5 and T6 Transporter vans let the side down. This was partly because I banged my knees on it as a passenger in a T5 (I am very tall and my legs make most trousers look like shorts), but mostly because it seemed to be an enormous waste of space. I know VW had to hide air bags, heater controls, wiring and all sorts of gubbins behind it; but why oh why were there so few places to store stuff? I think the T6 dash is better than the T5, but even so, there had to be more space available with a bit more thought.

Perhaps they’ve now cracked it, as at last VW have decided to improve the dash on the T6 and we recently took delivery of a brand new Acapulco blue T6 Combi with the fancy new ‘comfort dash’. The van was our test bed for a new design of interior which kept the versatility of the combi van, but with an Austops roof and removable storage units. We showed the van at the Lincoln Motorhome Show last month and it gained a lot of interest, as this particular conversion offers a camper that can still be a van too…clever eh

Then a customer came along last week looking for a new or almost new van but with a full conversion with a fixed cupboard system and RIB seat. As a result it’s being re-trimmed as I write and is due for delivery to its new owners in a few weeks’ time.  So if you own a Combi van and you are looking for a bolt in camper interior, give us a call, as we have one in stock.

Anyway, back to the dashboard! It isn’t a cheap option, not least as it is only available on the California itself (RRP of over £60,000 if you go for a decent one) and as an option on the Combi van. At the present time VW won’t sell you a standard T6 transporter with the comfort dash. So if you want a conversion with one, then the only option is to pay the premium for a Combi van and then work from there. Effectively making it a £4,000 upgrade!!

However, it is brilliant. Much more storage than before, cupholders in a sensible place and it is colour coded to the van, giving it a really smart modern look. The central storage compartment is even linked into the AC, so it will chill what is in there…great for the sandwiches, but sadly not big enough for a bottle of wine…but then the van is being converted and that means it will have a large 50 litre compressor fridge anyway.

Will the ‘Comfort Dash’ become an option on all T6s? I hope so, as it really is so much more useful. I guess the painted surfaces may be susceptible to scratching if builders put their muddy feet on the dashboard, but for most of us, that shouldn’t be a problem. As you can see from the photos, there are lots of openings for a conveyor belt of maps, pens, sandwiches, sweets, first aid kit, cuddly toy, his and hers matching bath robes, fondue set…..(Sorry I’m going off track as someone mentioned that the Generation Game may be coming back on TV).

Of course the problem with selling the blue Combi is that yet again we have no van of our own to convert and we’ve found ourselves looking for a replacement. Never fear though, we’ve come up trumps with a ‘67 plate T6 Transporter 204PS 4 Motion with DSG gearbox and Highline specification in Starlight blue metallic. It looks fantastic and is likely to be converted in the near future. So if you’re in the market for a really special van then give us a call.

The Modern Generation of Camper Vans

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

I love old things. VW T2s for example look brilliant, especially the early versions. Some people apparently love the look of T25’s too, although I’ve yet to meet one! To some people modern T5 and T6 vans somehow don’t compare. Well I urge you to think again.

I tend to hang on to old things in the belief they are better than the modern equivalent. A perfect example would be the window frames of my house. They were wooden and they once looked nice. The problem was that they needed painting yet again and a couple of them had become so rotten that it would take pots of wood filler to bodge them up for another year. So VERY reluctantly I bit the bullet and ordered uPVC replacements.

I’m now a convert. My new windows look better than the old ones and the difference in terms of insulation is amazing. Unlike the old ones, they need no maintenance, they won’t rot and I can throw my paint brushes away. Yippee.

This change of heart got me thinking about camper vans.

I know some people won’t be happy for me to say so, but old VW vans are like my old windows; the look nice, but modern versions are so much better. Old VW vans are noisy, slow, uncomfortable, unreliable, cramped and horrible to drive in comparison to their modern counterparts.

The T5 and T6 is as far removed from a T2 or T25 as you can get. They are smooth to drive, quiet, handle well, are economical, fast enough for any modern road and they will happily do 200,000 miles without blowing up. You can have air conditioning, heated seats, heated windscreen, cruise control, parking sensors and just about every other thing you’d expect in a modern vehicle.

Then there is the actual conversion into a campervan. In days gone by, conversions looked cheap and nasty because they were built using the materials available at the time. The result was that to be strong enough, everything needed to be heavy…which made the van handle like a lumbering walrus or to save weight, everything was made out of the flimsiest materials, which made the interior look cheap and the whole thing ended up squeaking more than an amorous rodent looking for love.

Modern technology has provided us with lightweight materials that are immensely strong, removing unnecessary weight but retaining or even increasing strength.  Design has improved too and the result is that a bespoke 8 Ball Camper Conversion is relatively lightweight, is rattle free and it’s finished in a way that exudes quality, craftsmanship and individuality.

Even electrics have improved. Gone are the days when you would sit in the dark to save the battery. Modern gel leisure batteries are many times more long lasting, and coupled to the use of LED lighting, split charge systems and solar panels, you can have the lights on for hours knowing that the van will still start in the morning.

So if like me, you’re a bit of a Luddite, who at times thinks that modern is worse, think again when it comes to camper conversions. As you can see in the picture below, I was particularly struck by this VW camper I was offered for the night 20 years ago. Oh how things have moved on….

Camper Jam 2017

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

Recently I spent a day at Camper Jam 2017 and I’ve never seen so many VW Transporters and conversions in my life. There were plenty of T5 and T6s, as well as T2s, T25s and T4s as well.

The contrast in vans was astonishing. There were some that looked like they were ready for the scrap heap, lovingly held together with gaffer tape and pieces of baling twine.  And there were some that looked immaculate.

I watched a couple pull up next to a water point and fill up their water tank before proceeding to fill their buckets with water, bring out a couple of sponges and a step ladder and wash their van from top to bottom. I passed 2 hours later and they were still at it, using baby wipes to clean the door hinges! Not once did they talk to each other, not apparently because they’d fallen out, but rather they were so intently working away. I was told that there is something called’ show and shine’ and I think they were preparing for that…albeit on Friday for the judging two days later!

The vast range of vans was mirrored by a vast range of owners. Some were bohemian types who would have looked at home at Woodstock back in the 60s. Some were traditional families, dragging bored looking children around and some were rivet counters (you know the sort… they look under your bonnet and point out that the thread on your jubilee clips is incorrect). The number of dog owners was so great, I briefly wondered if there was a dog show running in parallel somewhere.

It was fascinating just watching people and soaking up the atmosphere. The one thing everyone had in common was a love for VW campervans. For some, it was clearly an obsession and the number of people who kept referring to ‘him’ or ‘her’ when apparently talking about their van made me smile. Most of the vehicles I’ve ever owned have been nameless, but one or two got named. ‘Ermintrude’ for example was an old cow of a thing and ‘Maurice’ was named after my late grandfather who left me £500 in his will which I used to buy it. 29 years on and Maurice is parked down my drive, my most treasured possession.

At Camper jam there were a number of conversion companies showing their work; some of the conversions were bizarre in my eyes. A bright orange T6 with a roof tent bolted to it, rather than a poptop for example. It had chunky off road tyres on it and looked very cool and rugged, but I’m not convinced that it was a good idea. You couldn’t stand up in it and you’d have to get out of the vehicle to go to bed in the tent.

Then there was a van that was lowered so much that I’m unsure how they even got it on to the site without ripping the front spoiler off. It was clipping the grass that had just been cut. It just looked like it had broken suspension to me, but there again spotty teenagers have pointed out that I’m notoriously uncool.

Certainly these vans made you take an interest, but practicality and longevity were not priorities to their owners.
At 8 Ball Camper Conversions we’ll try to give you the best of all worlds; a conversion that is practical and well thought through, at the same time as being stylish and elegant  (even a touch edgy if you’d like), but one that actually works as a camper should. A home away from home, useable every day as your main vehicle, but one that opens up the possibility to get off the beaten track.

We’ve just been sent this photo by one of our customers using his van in the Outer Hebrides. It says it all…….

The 8 Ball Hire Camper Van

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

Summer is here and it’s campervan heaven. Over recent weeks 8 Ball Camper Conversions have seen a steady stream of happy customers collecting their bespoke VW T5 and T6 campervans all keenly planning their summer trips away.

For some people, owning a campervan is a dream; one that will take time to achieve, as they save up the pennies. But there’s a way to enjoy the campervan life this summer without the expense of actually buying. What about hiring one?

The 8 Ball hire van has a number of dates available over the coming months, so if you’re looking for a summer break option, why not consider campervaning?
Our hire van is a fully kitted out VW T5 8Ball Camper Conversion with almost everything you need on board. It sleeps up to 4, with 2 in the poptop roof and 2 more on the crash tested RIB seat/bed.
Open the cupboards and you’ll find all the pots and pans, plates and cutlery you need for everyday living. And there is a Loc8 Table System in the sliding door, so you have a camping table available that you can use both inside and outside the van too. Clever eh?
The fridge will keep your food chilled and make ice for your cocktails, whilst the double burner hob will boil the kettle for the morning cuppa and cook up the bacon and eggs.
With the mains electrical hookup connected, you will have a couple of mains sockets in the van to power your gadgets and at the same time the high capacity leisure battery will be seamlessly charged whilst you sleep.
So for a great time away, all you really need to add is fuel, your bedding, some food and a bottle or two of wine. Then relaxation is assured once you arrive at your destination.
The hire van is available for a number of dates over the summer months and we’ve frozen prices to the same level as last year too.
So whether it’s a surprise weekend away to celebrate your anniversary, a few days away with the kids at the seaside, or just the fact that you want to get off the beaten track; hiring our campervan may be the answer.
We offer 3 hire options as follows:
  1. Weekly hire (collection Saturday, returning the following Friday) during June to August is £650 inc vat.
  2. Short breaks are available with either collection on Friday with return on Monday,
  3. Or collection on Monday with return on Friday at a cost of £400 inc vat.

For more information and details of availability, contact us at info@8ballcamperconversions.co.uk or 01482 848236 and we’ll do all we can to help.

A modern Apprentice in a T6

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

8 Ball Camper Conversions continues to grow, such is the demand for VW T5 and T6 Campervans. This has led to us taking on our newest member of staff who goes by the name of Pud. No honestly that’s his name, I’m sure it’s even written on his birth certificate.

Pud is our apprentice and he’s been with us since last summer, becoming ever more useful as he learns new skills and shares what he knows too. As with all apprentices he started off by learning the most important skill; how to make a good cup of tea. After all, life is a lot easier after a good brew. He has mastered Yorkshire tea and Earl Grey with or without milk; after all we’re a cosmopolitan bunch at 8 Ball Camper Conversions.

Pud has now progressed to more complex things and he’s mastered the art of constructing gas lockers, building up drawers, routering, edging and doing the fiddly bits. Neil (who’s very tall) is particularly impressed because Pud is somewhat diminutive and this means he can fit into small places when Neil drops his screwdriver behind a cupboard for example. Being small he also doesn’t take up much room when we all meet in the tiny office.

Modern apprenticeships are so much more than they used to be and Pud is studying hard whilst working with us. He goes to college each week where he’s working towards his NVQ Level 3 in Multiskilled Engineering with fabrication and welding. He’s so far gained certificates in Health and Safety, Business and he even has his 10 metre breast stroke badge So he’s a multi-skilled chap.

There are down sides for the rest of us. His taste in music can be a little suspect and he insists on singing along to the radio in a key that bears no resemblance to the original tune. He’s also never heard of most of the people the rest of us talk about (as most of them died before he was born).

On the positive side, he understands Facetwittergram or whatever it’s called and he seems to have a magical ability to post things without the need for a stamp. Although why he keeps tweeting when he doesn’t have feathers, defeats me.

It’s great to have him with us and apart from the fact that he makes us all feel old (OK Colin has the mind of a 12 year old but that doesn’t count), he’s a great help to the team. Helping us to build you the perfect Campervan.

He does take things a bit literally however and he seems to have misunderstood my request for a mugshot. Bless….

Hire a VW Camper Van

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments
It’s coming up to that time of year when people think about their holidays and in recent weeks people have started contacting us to ask about our VW T5 hire van.
The van is currently on its first outing of the year, in the French Alps with Mike and Colin on a snowboarding trip.
It’s good for them to use the van first, as they give it a good shake down and any potential issues can then be rectified before the main season starts. But perhaps the best bit this year is that thanks to their trip, it’s been upgraded. New headlights and upgraded bumper give it the look of a brand new van. The Loc8 Table System in the sliding door adds the functionality of a free standing table stored well out of the way when not in use. And the best upgrade?…..a diesel central heating unit; good for Alpine snow and the British summer too!
It’s been odd for hire van bookings this year…we have some bookings before summer and some after summer, but so far none actually during the school summer holidays. So if you fancy a week on the open road travelling wherever you please and staying wherever takes your fancy, give us a call to check availability.
The van is kitted out with just about everything you need from mugs and plates, to salt and pepper pots and power leads. In fact all you really need to add is some bedding, your clothes and whatever you want to eat.
So in this season that’s halfway between the drizzle of winter and the drizzle of summer, maybe now is the time to plan your get away.
We hire the van out for short breaks of either a long weekends (Friday to Monday) or short mid-week breaks (Monday to Friday), as well as full week hires (Saturday to Friday).
Prices for the season are as follows;
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Weekly Rate £480 £550 £650 £650 £650 £550 £550
Short break £320 £360 £400 £400 £400 £360 £360

READ MORE ABOUT OUR VW CAMPER VAN HIRE

Is 2017 the year for LWB T6 Campers?

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

I’m not sure why, but this year’s order book has a lot more LWB T6 conversions than we’ve ever seen before. Historically SWB VW T5s and T6s have been the most popular, but change is afoot. In fact I’ve just checked and out of the next 12 conversions, 7 are LWB and only 5 are SWB. That’s weird.

I’ve written before about the pros and cons of LWB vs SWB camper vans and having slept in both during the same weekend last year, I was able to really compare them. I’m now a convert to LWB vans. Yes they are a bit longer, so people unused to driving larger vehicles find it a bit odd at first: some cut the corners and scuff the back wheel on the kerb, whereas others take corners so wide, they seem to think that they are at the helm of the QE2!

The reality is that LWB vans are only a bit longer than a SWB, but the extra length is really useful if you use the van as a camper. In fact I’ve just been and measured the difference it makes and by choosing a LWB conversion you get 26% more length in the living area. And that feels like a lot.

I have to agree that SWB vans look cooler and yes they are a tiny bit easier to manoeuvre. But as a camper, LWB vans make a lot of sense. They still fit under supermarket car park barriers and so long as you park nose in first, they fit in parking bays and you can still open the backs. They have almost identical fuel economy as their shorter brothers and the performance seems to be the same too.

But you get extra cupboard space, more floor space and you can even have a longer RIB bed as an option too.

So, if you’ll pardon the pun, I’m converted.

Whichever wheelbase you choose, we’ll do all we can to give you as much usable space as we can and it’s amazing the nooks and crannies that can be used to store something.

So as the days get longer and our thoughts turn towards heading out on the open road in our campers, spare a thought for the others. You know them; those unlucky souls squashed into an overloaded estate car. Or at the other extreme the people manoeuvring what looks like a wheeled bungalow down a country lane as they meet a herd of cows. I know it’s mean, but I do feel a bit smug when that happens.

Camper conversions on the Radio

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

It seems that interest in camper conversions continues unabated. Certainly the number of enquiries we are currently receiving about T5 and T6 work suggests that people are seeing the benefit of a bespoke conversion; whether as an everyday vehicle or the special holiday wagon.

I woke up last week to hear a chap on Radio 2 talking about camper vans. If I’d not known better, I’d have thought he worked for us. Mike and Colin swear blind that they are too young to listen to Radio 2, so they missed it.

The man did a great job of explaining the pros and cons of large motor homes versus small campervans. He talked about the fact that he had a friend with a 6 tonne mobile home which they loved, but that there were parts of the country they simply couldn’t visit, as it didn’t fit down the roads. They got round this by having 2 motorbikes onboard!

Next he talked about small campervans such as his own and how much easier they are to live with on a day to day basis. The fact that you can access almost anywhere a car can go came first. Then he went on to talk about the fact that you didn’t need to plan where you were going next. He hardly ever stays at ‘proper’ campsites apparently; by the sounds of it he just sets off and follows the best weather forecast. That sounds brilliant to me.

Finally he talked about the fact that good camper conversion specialists are in high demand, with the best being booked up until at least next spring. Certainly this is something we are keenly aware of, as our order book is very healthy and we’re trying to work out how to reduce our waiting list at the same time as maintaining the highest possible quality. All too often you hear of conversion companies suddenly expanding at an unsustainable rate. We won’t be doing that, but rest assured we are quietly working away behind the scenes to see what we can do, as our next available build slot is months away at the movement.

The best thing for me though was his praise of small conversion companies such as ours. He noted that there are some very good conversion companies out there (that’s us) and some of them offer a hire van (that’s us too) with some offering prospective customers the chance to hire a van for a weekend and if they subsequently buy a conversion, the cost of the hire will be deducted from the cost of the work (and that’s us as well).
I mentioned the broadcast to Mike later that day. “That’s really odd” he said. “I had a chap phone up only yesterday who asked all those questions in exactly that order. Do you think he was someone doing research because he was booked to appear on the BBC?”

Who knows? All I know for certain is that what he said is very much in line with our own thoughts. And with that I’d better get back to work. There are 2 vans on the ramps at the moment and the phone is ringing….

What’s on your wish list from Santa then?

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

You’d be amazed what VW T5 and T6 enthusiasts ask Santa for at Christmas. Perhaps against expected stereotypes, it seems that ladies often want to embellish their VW vans more than men.

Dear Santa,
I’ve been a very good girl and I’d really like a full conversion by 8 Ball Camper Conversions please. Their work looks great and I’m told they will make me a van just the way I want it.

In fact, I’ve been so good can I have some extras too please?

I wonder if they could make all the seats leather and with VW embossed in them? Do you think I could choose the colour of the stitching too, as I really like red?

Some under worktop lighting would be good. Is it possible to have something that makes it look cosy and romantic for us grownups but at the same time the kids can have it multicoloured as though it was their own private disco?

A nice warm Webasto diesel heater would be great, so that we can be snugly and warm even in the depths of winter when we’re in the Scottish Highlands.

I think a Loc8 Table System would be a handy option so that we can have picnic lunches outside the van when it’s warm again and have a place to store the table when we’re not using it.

Some speakers in the back connected to a Bluetooth receiver would be fantastic. Then I can play my Steps and Boyzone albums from my phone when the boys are out walking.

I guess solar panels on the roof would be good to help keep the leisure battery topped up if we don’t use the van for a while.

A Reimo rail on the side would be helpful too; then we could attach a tent or an awning (and maybe get the kids to sleep in there some nights )

Thinking ahead, I think a safe would be handy so that we can lock things away out of sight if we leave the van unattended.

Oh and knowing how clumsy the kids are, I think a rear bumper protector would be a good idea too. That way they won’t end up scratching the paintwork when they put all their gear in the back.

And finally some pretty coloured scatter cushions would make it feel like home from home.

Lots of love
Emily
(aged 37 and a quarter)

Dear Santa,
Please can you give my wife whatever she wants, so long as I can choose the van in the first place?

Thanks
Dave
(The long suffering husband)

From all of us at 8 Ball Camper Conversions (Colin, Mike, Neil and Pud), we hope you have a great Christmas and a fantastic 2017 full of exciting adventures made possible by your campervan.

The Loc8 Table System

By | Camper Conversion News | No Comments

The Loc8 Table System: A solution for everyone with a VW T5 or T6 who wants a table without the hassle of finding a place to store it.

People the world over seem to have one question when it comes to campervans. “What about a table?”

Some conversions have really obtrusive permanent tables on swing away brackets that always seem to be in the way. Some conversions do away with a table altogether and others (like ourselves) use a fold up table that can be removed when not in use.

I hate to admit it, but none of the solutions seem to be perfect. We think ours is the best approach of course, but it does have its drawbacks; most notably what to do with the table when it’s not in use? We store it in the rear section of the RIB seat when travelling, but when you make the bed, you can be left with the table and limited options as to where to put it overnight.

What is needed is an innovative camper solution. You know the sort of thing, a logical and useful way to solve the problem.

At last it looks like a solution is at hand.

How about a standalone table that can be used in or out of your VW T5 or T6 and which is stored neatly out of the way in a space that is simply wasted?

The Loc8 Table System seems to be the answer. This ingenious system has 2 parts to it; a sliding door panel (the Loc8Trim) that acts as the storage unit and the table itself (the Loc8Table). We’ve been using a pre production version for the last few weeks and it works really well (if you look back to a blog entitled ‘Scouting for a T5’ you’ll see the Neil making good use of the table at in the North Yorkshire Moors.

The prototype trim panel supplied to us was in bare form, but the production version will be finished more closely to match existing VW panels in both colour and texture.

Fitting the Loc8Trim panel into the door is a doddle, using the standard VW clips. The door itself needs no modification and it takes only a few minutes to have the new trim in place. From experience it seems to take longer removing the standard hardboard VW trim than it does to fit the new ABS plastic trim; which requires little more than using your thumbs to push the clips back in again.

One major positive is that once secured in place the panel looks like it belongs there, rather than being an obtrusive add on, so common with many aftermarket products.

The table itself stands on 4 aluminium legs, each with adjusters at the end, should the table be placed on a slightly uneven surface. The legs fold down and lock in place easily and the whole thing works well.

But the cleverest part comes when you fold the table up and want to put it away. It simply slots into the door panel and that’s it. No clumsy locking tabs, no complicated mechanisms to go wrong and nothing to rattle.

It’s the answer to a campervan builder’s dream and the fact that it will fit any right hand drive T5 or T6 means that it will work for everyone. So whether you’re a builder who needs a table on which to lay out plans, a day van user who wants a picnic table or full-on campervan enthusiast who wants a table to use both inside and out, it will work for you.

And the company who makes the Loc8Table System? Innovative Camper Solutions Ltd; an apt name if ever there was one.

A pre-production Loc8Table System in our van

A production version now fitted in our hire van

8 BALL CAMPER CONVERSIONS RANGE CLICK HERE TO VIEW