Category Archives: Camper Conversion News

Pirates in a Camper Van

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“I want a camper van but I’m not sure how to begin”. This is one of the most common phrases we hear and something we can help with.
We can offer a number of options depending on personal taste and budget constraints.
Most of our customers already have their own van and they know it really well. Now they want to upgrade it to be a full camper and they come to us to discuss colour and trim combinations.
However some of our customers don’t yet have a van and they ask for help in finding one. Of course we can’t guarentee that we can find the perfect base van for you, but with our contacts in the industry, we may be able to point you towards possibilities.
vw camper conversions
Then we have those who are looking for the ultimate. They plan to buy a brand new vehicle and seek our advice on the specifications they should opt for when they place their order with VW. They then have their new van delivered directly to us for conversion.
Whichever you choose, the idea is the same; we take a van and turn it into your dream camper.
But what is your dream camper?
Our standard conversion makes your van into a small ‘home from home’ to sleep 4 people. You get an Austops raising roof that we fit at their factory. This gives excellent headroom in its day mode and sleeps 2 at night in a cozy and weathertight area. The pop top comes with inbuilt mesh fly screens and a window, both of which can be zipped up for extra cozyness and privacy.
Downstairs the standard conversion includes the 8 Ball cupboard system with secure soft close doors and cleverly thought through design features. Then you have a proper compressor fridge, double burner hob and sink with powered tap operating from an in-built 22 litre tank. The walls are insulated and finished in a warm but hard wearing material and the hardwood ply floor is covered in hard wearing Altro.
With LED lighting and a leisure battery/mains system installed, there is plenty of power to keep things running for days on end and optional solar charging is available for those looking for wild camping away from the masses.
The RIB seat/bed folds down to make a fully flat and comfy bed at night and during the day it joins the swivel passenger seat to make a comfy place to sit and relax.
After that, the rest is up to you. Our conversions are bespoke, so please let us know what you are thinking of and we will see what we can do to help.
Of course there are those who want something quite different and a couple of weeks ago we worked on a van for a chap who loves surfing. He didn’t want a full conversion, but rather a day van in which he could keep his boards and perhaps rest for a while. He had the van fully trimmed out as is fairly usual and then we installed an internal surf board mounting and a couple of points from which to hang his hammock. So if you happen to see any pirates at the sea side this summer, at least one of them can find a place to sleep. But he may have to fight a duel with the owner first.

Camper Van Trimming

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One of the most basic elements of a conversion is the actual trim out. This involves removing any panelling that may be in the rear of the van, installing insulation within the bodywork and doors, fitting replacement ply panelling and then applying a final surface.

On the majority of the surfaces this is a speciality flexible carpet which has excellent soundproofing and thermal insulation properties; and of course it looks good too. On the door cards we use Santos Faux Suede which is manufactured for what they class as ‘severe contract use’, incorporating a stain repel finish. It looks great, is easy to clean and it’s very hard wearing; giving a tough but extremely up-market feeling to the panels. This material is continued on the roof lining (if there is no elevating roof) and on the underside of the upper bed (if a pop top is fitted).

When finished, the effect is great and not only do the vans look fantastic, they are also a lot quieter and warmer too.
Of course attention to detail is paramount when trimming out a van and we take time to ensure that great care and effort is taken to ensure a perfect fit. This week seems to have been ‘trim out week’, with 3 bookings being taken to trim out day vans in the near future. This seems to be a popular option with Kombi van owners in particular, who want to keep their second row of seats but have the added luxury and cosiness of a trimmed out rear cabin.

Powering Your Camper Van

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The hire van has been out on its first trip of the season with one of our regular customers. He races catamarans in various locations throughout the UK and he needs somewhere to stay that’s near his boat…in fact if his accommodation could actually tow the boat so much the better: hence the van has a towbar fitted!

camper van electrics

At the present time the snow seems to be falling even though it’s almost May and Colin is busy sorting out sets of electrical installation materials ready for the next 3 conversions.

The ability to have power in your camper must surely be one of the most important features of its conversion. It provides light and keeps the beer cool, it can charge your phone and power your laptop. And if you have an auxiliary heater fitted, it will run that too!

All our standard conversions come with a comprehensive mains and 12 volt system to give you the best of both worlds.

When you arrive at the campsite your high capacity leisure battery is likely to be fully charged from your journey. It’s a separate battery to that of the van, so even if you manage to completely flatten it (which is difficult), the van will still start and the engine will charge the leisure battery back up again.

So wherever you end up, you will be able to benefit from the vehicle’s on board electrical system. The gel battery has a massive capacity. I know this for certain, having accidentally left all the lights and electrics turned on last Saturday morning….and only realising in the early hours of Monday. The lights were still shining brightly and the fridge was lovely and cold.

If on the other hand you arrive at a more upmarket campsite there will be an electrical hook-up point. All our conversions include a mains hook-up, usually discreetly hidden under the rear bumper. This facilitates 240 volt 10 Amp mains electrics inside the van through standard UK sockets, so that you can use your hair-drier for example. At the same time the Sargent electrical unit silently maintains the charge status of the leisure battery that’s running your fridge, lights and auxiliary heater. So you can relax in the lap of luxury in your little home from home.

Hydro Dipping

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The joy of having a campervan made to order is that you can customise it to your own tastes. And this makes it special.

Some people who come to us choose a safe option and have their van built in fairly neutral colours. Certainly this will appeal to a broader range of potential customers when it comes time to sell it on; but perhaps you want something a little more ‘you’.

We certainly get customers who want their van to be a bold statement saying something about them and over the last few years we have undertaken some fairly bold conversions. From bright pink and purple, through electric blues to black with lime green, we have produced a rainbow of interiors. The owners have loved them and they can be certain that their vans are unique.

There is no doubt that whatever the interior, when it comes time to sell their 8 Ball Camper Conversions T5 or T6, they will have no trouble achieving a great resale price. However those with extremely distinctive interiors will have to accept that the number of people sharing their tastes exactly will be small, but once they find the right customer, they may well pay extra to possess such a vehicle.
So what if you want the best of both worlds; a funky van that at the same time can still appeal to a mass market?

How about a conversion that uses mainstream cupboards and flooring, but which has very distinctive cab trims? After all, if a new owner doesn’t like your style it’s a lot cheaper to replace the trims when you change your vehicle. And you could even swap them over to a new van if it’s the same model.

8 Ball Camper Conversions can make the cab of your van look as individual as you want, thanks to a process known as hydro dipping.
This is where a printed image is created on a special film that can be applied to almost any plastic surface. Once applied, it is then lacquered for longevity. To give you some idea of what can be done, here are some examples to get your imagination going.

Pack the wellies, here comes summer

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Summer is here. No honestly, it must be, as Colin has turned the garage heater off! The result is that it’s a bit chilly in there, so I’ve taken to sitting in a nice warm van out in the sunshine.

Mr Buchanan, I hope you love your van; from where I’m sitting it is lovely and as I look around as it nears completion, it looks and feels great.

The joy of a camper conversion is that you can be snuggly and warm whatever the weather and that’s a very good thing, as the British weather is somewhat unpredictable. Yesterday the weather forecast was for it to be warm and sunny, so I took the day off to do some work outside. It rained all day and I got nothing done. Today it was forecast for rain all day and I’m sitting at work in the sunshine.

People who own campers tend to love the outdoors, as do all of us who work at 8 Ball. The problem of course is that when it rains, people in tents get wet. My own tent seems to have a brilliant groundsheet, but a useless flysheet. So it leaks but then holds the water on top of the groundsheet, making a very effective but shallow swimming pool. You don’t get that in a camper van!

The pop top roof sleeps two in what amounts to a hard top tent. It’s light and airy, private and extremely weather proof, so no matter what the heavens are doing, you remain warm and dry but still feeling connected with the outdoors. If you have children, that’s where they will be and I’m afraid you may have to ‘suffer’ sleeping on the incredibly comfortable RIB bed instead. It’s a car seat, a reclining chair and a bed all in one. And even when it is set up as a bed, thanks to the careful design of our interiors you can still open the fridge to get the milk out for an early morning brew.

So whether we have a glorious summer of sunshine, or a dreary damp 3 months, you can be sure that an 8 Ball Campers Conversion will see you staying in the lap of luxury.

What’s in a name (or a number)?

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So you want a T5 conversion or perhaps a T6, the latest version of the VW transporter?

Logic suggests that the first VW van must have been a T1 and the next type will be a T7. Well almost…..

The Type 1 or T1 was actually the VW Beetle, the funny little car designed by Mr. Porche in the 1930s. The first VW van was initially designated the Type 29 for some

reason, but by the time it was produced it was officially known as the Type 2 or T2. It shared the same layout as the beetle but with the extra space provided, people almost immediately started converting them into camper vans.

When they redesigned the early T2 (with a new single piece windscreen being the obvious change) it continued to be called the T2 by the factory, but the public started to refer to the old split screen versions as being T1’s…which they never were…all very confusing.

The T3 came along in 1979, but for some reason it was sold in the UK as the T25. It was a square thing that still had the engine at the back; which made it a little odd to drive and bad for tradesmen who struggled to lift things onto the high load bed.

The VW van revolution came in 1990 when the T4 was released. Front engined, more curvaceous than its predecessor and a lot nicer to drive, it became an increasingly popular van and a natural choice for camper van conversions.

The T5 arrived in 2003 and ensured that the VW van was light years ahead of the competition. It felt like you were driving a car rather than a van and this made an immediate impression with camper van enthusiasts. The fact that it was economical and reliable too, only helped its great reputation. As the T5 has evolved, options like cruise control, air conditioning, DSG gearboxes and 4 wheel drive have made them even more car-like and they form the backbone of 8 Ball’s business; bespoke campervans that are a joy to drive.

The T6 is the latest version offered by VW and 8 Ball have just completed a conversion on a brand new van that was collected yesterday by a very happy owner. Today a T5 conversion is being collected too; it’s a very busy time!

Whatever you choose in your conversion, by utilising a T5 or T6 you can be certain that it’s going to be a joy to own and that the journey will be as much fun as reaching your final destination.

2016 Hire Van

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Over the last few years 8 Ball have built a camper which they hire out during the summer season. The only problem with this is that each year someone decides they want to buy the van and so we have to build a new one each spring. This year is no exception and the 2016 hire van is well under way.

It’s become known as the ‘Heinz’ van, simply because it appears to have 57 varieties of finish in it.

camper van hire

The idea was simple; make a van that shows as many types of finish as possible. This way customers can get an idea of the extraordinary variety of trim combinations and textures we can produce…and it looks funky too. After all, the last thing we want to create is a forgettable van!

So here are a couple of pictures showing the van’s progress and hopefully it will be finished within a week or so (it needs to be as it’s already booked out with a few customers).

If you are unsure whether you’d like to own a T5 Camper, hiring our van may help you decide. And if you hire it for a short break and subsequently decide to purchase a conversion from us, we’ll discount the hire charge from the cost of the conversion. How cool is that?

2016 Camper Van hire prices range from £320 -£400 for short breaks and £480- £650 for a full week.

Click To View Hire Details

VW T5 Mobile Office

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Last week saw a return customer pick up his mobile office. Not quite the usual conversion for us; but having built him a T5 mobile office a couple of years ago, he decided it was time for a change to a brand new 65 plate T5.  Of course being daft, we forgot to take any photos of the new van! But if you see a bright orange T5 with LED headlights whizz past you, it may well be sporting an office in the back, complete with 4 fully adjustable leather conference seats and an adjustable, if small, conference table. Oh and if you’d like one yourself, we can always sell you the customer’s first van which is on the forecourt at the moment priced at £19,000.

This week (and we’ve remembered to take some photos this time) we are really excited about seats. Finding quality bespoke leather can be a hit and miss affair, as the material is nowhere near as flexible as fabric. This means that even more care is needed to ensure that leather seat coverings offer a perfect fit. We’ve now teamed up with Trimtechnik (www.trimtechnik.net) who are unfortunately based on the other side of the country in Merseyside, but their work is well worth it.

Here’s our latest T5 sporting bespoke original front seats and rear RIB seat, each with embroidered VW logo on contrasting grey and charcoal leather.

We think they look great and the Trimtechik lads who came to install the new covers did such a great job we’ve already got them working on another van.

8 BALL CAMPER CONVERSIONS RANGE CLICK HERE TO VIEW