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Living In A Vauxhall Combo Micro Camper (For A Few Days)

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    Living In A Vauxhall Combo Micro Camper (For A Few Days)

    As most of you know I (we) have spent almost the whole of the last two months (February and March) building a little 2003 registered Vauxhall Combo Micro Camper.
    From the words "go" it was always my intention to build something which was slightly unorthodox and a break from the normal, almost blinkered designs that govern most, even the very basic, camper vans.
    Having built the van and having acquired all the necessary trimmings and having spent one nights dummy run on a local campsite there really was only one thing left to do.......

    #2
    We packed the van on Tuesday with enough clothing and provisions for three to four nights and we set off from our home in Leeds early on Wednesday morning with a view to spending some time on the East coast of Yorkshire. Destination Filey.
    This part of the journey, for a little under half the distance, is covered by a duel carriageway. Having owned the vehicle for two months this was the first time I had actually been able to put my foot down and test the van at speed! (Within the boundaries of the law). I am pleased to say that I am very happy with the results. In fact the whole time we were out, a total of 264 miles, I grew increasingly happier with the van. I have owned and driven much larger Motorhomes and camper vans over the years and I can honestly say that I wouldn't have been able to see and do many of the things we saw and did in anything much bigger than the van we've got. I am definitely now very PRO micro camper.

    Here's a view of Staithes harbour. A view which is challenging on foot due to the very very steep hills and almost impossible in anything a little larger than a small van or car.

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      #3
      We learnt from our dummy run that the leisure battery wasn't capable of holding a charge (due largely to me fitting a second hand battery) so before we left I took the plunge and purchased and fitted a new battery (gulp).
      Power management is super critical, especially in our case as I haven't included any mains power in the conversion. It is our intention to entirely "wild camp" and so I have zero allowance for hook up and all the benefits/costs/pitfalls that come with it. This of course means we have to be very careful with what power we use having only the alternator and a 50 watt monocrystalline solar panel to supplement our power consumption. The main drain on our leisure battery is of course the fridge. To compensate for the energy loss during the night we simply switched it off and kept the door closed. We also froze a two pinter of milk before we set off and that in itself helped to keep the fridge cold. There wasn't a great deal in there that could spoil anyway and at this time of year the cab (where the fridge lives during the night) was cold enough in itself.

      Here's a view of our over night stops.
      Firstly Burniston Nr Scarborough.
      Secondly Staithes.
      Finally Robin Hoods Bay.

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        #4
        This is why we had chosen these spots to camp.
        Burniston .......

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          #5
          Staithes.......

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            #6
            I totally agree Staithes harbour is a test. Wider longer vehicles might make it but with greater chances of chaos for other road users.
            Welcome to the micro camper users group

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              #7
              Robin Hoods Bay

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                #8
                Total spend on accommodation for three nights and four days in North Yorkshire £0.
                Total spend on additional parking fees £1

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                  #9
                  The nights were particularly cold. I insulated the van during the initial stages of the build and if it wasn't for this and the triple layered cab curtain my wife made I think it would have been uncomfortable. At one stage, on the cliff top in Staithes the overnight temperature fell to minus four! I will at some stage during the coming year fit a diesel heater to the van as I don't want the weather/month/season to be a factor in deciding whether to camp out or not. Whilst the van is very well insulated and equally well ventilated I did find condensation, particularly in the cab and on the glass, a bit of a problem. I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to fully resolve this problem, especially at this time of the year but one thing I do think contributed to the problem was the wet dish cloth I got into the habit of hanging up on the washing line (a long elasticated bungee looped between the upper door entry handles). Otherwise the chairbeds were very comfortable and were very easy to make/brake and the 10 tog camping duvet we purchased did the job (not to mention the knitted woollen socks and base layer of long johns and thermal t-shirt) and each other!

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                    #10

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                      #11
                      Cooking was made very easy by the purchase and timely arrival of my second hand Swedish Trangia stove. I have built the two burner Pandora into the van and this did get used however it was the little Trangia that provided us both with our greatest realization.
                      The secret of the success of most panel van conversions, not least in the success and popularity of the leading German manufacturer, lies in the side sliding door. I knew this was important, in fact I purchased the van based on the fact that it has one but I had not, up and until this point, felt that connection.
                      The Swedish stove changed all that.
                      It's very easy to go all Zen and I don't have to look too hard for my inner hippie but, thanks to the little alcohol burning stove, the sense of that connection between the outside and the inside, between space and time, between the yin and the yang, between the shelter and the storm, in this sense the line was now formed. Its maybe a bit daft I know but it really is the single most important aspect to our happiness within this space.
                      Its that defining.

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                        #12

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                          #13
                          I must discuss the toilet. Strangely enough I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked of my wife squatting over the folding potty during the night but here's a snapshot of the old girl in action...........

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                            #14
                            As you can tell I was only kidding about her being old!!!!

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                              #15
                              The toilet. One very thoughtful member of the forum pointed me in the direction of Vernagel. A powder in sachets form that, when added to liquid, turns the liquid into a jelly type mass. Excellent purchase. Highly recommend this product if you intend peeing in a bin liner during the night. I was also pleasantly surprised at just how many public conveniences were available during our little trip too. I thought, like the phone box, public toilets died out very soon after George Michael stopped using them. This doesn't seem to be the case.

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