Category Archives: Camper Conversion News
At 8 Ball Camper Conversions we only fit Austops roofs and over the years we have worked very closely with Austops during the continuous development of their roof design. Working closely together has benefited us both; Austops have received invaluable feedback and ideas from us and we’ve been able to ensure that we receive a top quality product that we can fit with confidence.
Apparently almost 14 million UK adults will go to a festival this summer. From T in the park up in Scotland, to the numerous festivals down south, there seems to be a festival to suit every taste. Reggae, Scar, Jazz, Folk, Classical; you name it, there must be at least one that appeals.
Camper vans seem to go hand in hand with festivals and our own hire van spent a week down in Glastonbury last month, somehow it came back very clean and tidy, despite the knee deep mud that we all saw on TV.
Upon it’s return, the customer mentioned 2 things that stood out with regards to VW campers.
Firstly its size. It took almost 13 hours to get from Hull onto the site, most of the time spent queuing at Glastonbury waiting to get on the site. It seems the delay was mostly caused by all the larger mobile home-type vans having to be dragged to their location through the mud, by a team of 12 tractors! When it came to our hire van, being smaller and more nimble, it managed to drive to its pitch with no problems. Sometimes smaller is better (I can’t believe I’m saying that…as I’m 6’4”!).
Of course, the size of a van is a major issue when deciding what type of camper to go for. Certainly large vans with wide caravan bodies have lots of space inside. But they are also lumbering great things that don’t fit in parking spaces and you’ll struggle to find a supermarket without a height restriction bar too. So your relaxing holiday ends up being a stressful string of anxious parking moments interspersed with long walks to the shops. And if you plan to drive across a muddy field, expect to get stuck!
VW T5s and T6s may be smaller, but through careful design, you’d be amazed at how much useful space our conversions possess. So you get to spend more time relaxing on your holiday, which after all is the whole point.
The other thing our customer said was how economical the van was. He left here with a quarter of a tank, filled it up in Hull and drove down to Glastonbury. Then he drove it back again and returned it with more fuel in the tank than when he left us. Being a Yorkshireman I understand how much this must have hurt.
Unlike large mobile homes that have the aerodynamic qualities of an industrial chest freezer, VW campers have almost the same drag coefficient as when they were originally designed by VW. This means that their engines are not over stressed, the gears are exactly right and they use far less fuel than a struggling great leviathan. It also means they are so much nicer to drive.
So you arrive at your destination earlier than perhaps you’d expect and less tired too. Then with the saving you’ve made on fuel, you can afford to buy an extra special bottle of wine and relax watching the sunset. Whilst you wait for the lumbering giants to arrive.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.