Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

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Bussy
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:18 am

NSG – Many years ago I renovated our kitchen by smashing it right back to the wall frames and started from scratch. I had previously purchased all the tools to do the job and one of them was this cabinet making router bit. Unfortunately my wife over-ruled me and she decided on commercially made vinyl wrap cupboards and drawer fronts which have since proven to look quite shabby after many years of use/abuse and she has regretted her decision. Anyway I will get my way next time for sure.

So hence made my own for the van and finally got to use that router bit. I have a router table so no need to pack up the material as they show in the picture; just adjust the router up or down to suit. I also used a rounding over bit with about 5 mm radius for all the other edges so it gave them a nice smooth edge, easy to sand, stain or paint.

Hope that helps you out.

Cheers - ALLAN
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Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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Bussy
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Location: Croydon VIC

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:15 pm

Making the ensuite door:
My plan was to have a swing out door rather than a sliding one. I almost changed my mind due to pressure from others but when I purchased the sliding door hardware it just wasted so much space and would have made the toilet area just feel too cramped (no pun intended).

With the swing out design it opened up a greater area to be able to stand and dry/dress yourself after a shower and not have to do this in the shower cubicle. The swing out door also gives privacy from the van entrance door window and even if someone opens the entrance door still cannot see into the ensuite area.

The frame for the door was made out of 1.6mm aluminium with bracing tig welded together. Lightweight ply was fixed across each section where each towel rail was going to be mounted and also where the standard SS privacy handle would go. Once this was done, ply was glued to the inside of the door and the void filled with polystyrene sheet to pack out the 25mm and then ply sheet glued to the outside.
Stainless steel hinges where fitted to the outside as one mistake I made here was to forget to deduct 5mm from the overall door width to allow for the hinges. Some corner trims still need to be fitted to the door edges. There is a door holder mounted so the door can be held back in the fully open position.

Cheers - ALLAN
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Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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Bussy
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Location: Croydon VIC

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Sun May 13, 2018 12:27 pm

Trying to finish this build tread off before the final reveal photos get posted.

Making the dinette / couch.

I pondered the use of just 2 reclining chairs for this area but when everything was looked into, the loss of storage space, loss of the best spot for the diesel heater, water tank suction selector and wiring runs a dinette was most logical way to go. Plus my wife likes to virtually lay down when she is relaxing in front of the television and takes over the whole area, I get to live outside. So I designed my dinette so that it becomes a couch after meals as the table un-clips from the wall and gets stored under the bed.

The seat base foam was made from premium high density foam the furniture manufactures’ use and has a 10 year warranty against crushing. The seats felt a bit firm to start with as we had a few trips away with different foam set-ups to see what was the most comfortable, but once the foam was wrapped in Dacron and covered with leather we are very happy with it. The rolls (back pieces) are commercially made foam cylinders and were cut to shape using an electric kitchen knife, again wrapped in Dacron and covered with leather.

The two pieces (rolls on back centre) go under the bed when the table is attached. The table can also rotate around to go north – south so 4 people can eat. The couch also becomes a spare bed in emergency, mainly for grand kids to flake out there or it can take 1 adult in the case when I am sent to the dog house.

Cheers - ALLAN
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Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

jailbar joe
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Location: york western australia

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by jailbar joe » Sun May 13, 2018 9:08 pm

lots and lots of clever stuff there allan......i'm not that far of being up to this stage,so it is particularly helpful :D
cheers
joe


getting old is inevitable.....growing up is optional

ThePursuit
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by ThePursuit » Tue May 15, 2018 9:47 pm

G'day Allan,

Have now read start to finish your thread over the last week and I must say you are a man of many talents. I came looking for chassis ideas and got hooked on caravan builds, even became a forum member to check out all the photos, definitely doing your bit for the cause.

I'm interested in your opinion of the simplicity suspension setup. I have only recently started looking seriously at building a heavy duty chassis/toy hauler setup ( Think Patriot Campers TH610 style) and figured a full independent setup might be going too far for what I need. My parents got there first van 6 months ago, a Masterpiece Optimum, so there opinion on suspension for a chassis this big can only relate to airbagged independent. Any of your opinions on this would be great as you seem to have done the research.

I am now going to go check out some of these other builds. I long for the time and space to be able to embark on projects of such grand scale. The time will come one day, at the moment it's family commitments consistent with two young boys.

I am excited about the grand reveal. Well done on persisting with your dream. It's looks to have been worth it.

Cheers - Sean

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Bussy
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Sun May 27, 2018 6:24 am

Hi Sean and welcome to the forum. Gee, read this from start to finish – you poor thing hope it was worth it as that’s what it was all about.

Yes I looked into the various suspension set-ups and finally went for the simplicity over the VC independent for a few reasons.
1. Was price – for 3.5 tonne set-up, simplicity was $3,400, VC was about $13,400 and that was without airbags.
2. Brother in law’s Bushtracker had simplicity; he was on his second Bushtracker and was happy with the robustness of the axle. Also my cousin has a 2.8 tonne van with simplicity and was happy with how it towed and in his words “stuck, nice and straight” behind his tug no matter where he took it.
3. Simplicity was local, easy to talk to and deal with and their emails full and comprehensive. VC on the other hand would answer your questions but found them to be short/blunt and they come over as a bit arrogant.

Enjoy the family while you can as they grow up fast. Keep your dream alive as it will happen sooner than you think.
Cheers - ALLAN
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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Legendts
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Location: South West Vic

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Legendts » Sun May 27, 2018 9:56 pm

One other thing about Simplicity is their after sales service. I did a spring pack near Kimba SA (on our way to WA) one phone call to them with the serial number (they told me who built it and when) and spring packs freighted to me for around $600 from memory. Great people to deal with and a good suspension system. As an aside the van had been overloaded on a previous trip but that’s another very personal story.
You only have one shot at life so make it an enjoyable one.
Jeff & Me Darlin'
2009 Landcruiser TTD
2003 Evernew caravan

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Bussy
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Location: Croydon VIC

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:03 pm

The Grand Reveal

Here you go; finally got the time to upload some photo’s to show the finished product.
Hope it has been interesting and helps someone with the same idea in the future.

I have left the dinette table edge raw and have not painted it to match rest of trim as it slides into holders under the bed and this would mark the paint and show undercoat etc. This way if it gets scuffed, just a light sand and re-coat with some clear stain.

Don’t forget to sign off with a visitors “look and comment” here and make sure you come and say G’day if you see us out on the road somewhere.

Probably is the end of this thread as I don’t think I have any more to offer this forum except for maybe some “build bloopers” but will see how we go.

Cheers - ALLAN
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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Bussy
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Posts: 831
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:02 pm
Location: Croydon VIC

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:06 pm

The Grand Reveal

More photos.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

User avatar
Bussy
An old hand
Posts: 831
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:02 pm
Location: Croydon VIC

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:07 pm

The Grand Reveal

More photos.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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