Having recently teamed up with TURAS, we agreed to take on a challenge,led by myself, a little like a Top Gear Challenge to build a vehicle, which can do some light offroading, carry a ton of gear, sleep a family of four and generally make an adventure pretty comfortable.Our project? The Ford Transit.
Not usually the first choice for Overlanders, or families, or anyone who isn’t a plumber. Online ads were scanned, phone calls made and occasional outings to used car dealers undertaken. Ultimately the effort resulted in locating a 15 passenger, 2017 mid-roof Transit in Los Angeles.
Pulling out 10 of the 15 seats (I needed to keep one bench seat in the rear (for the screaming offspring).
Install a bed. The mounting points for the seats and seat belts were now available (with seats gone), and those mounting points are rock solid. After a few days of blood, sweat and tears (that’s not a phrase, that’s what it really took), a basic bed was created from box iron and wood, topped off with a 6” memory foam mattress.
A basic bed was created from box iron and wood, topped off with a 6″memory foam mattress
Having at least 2 bikes inside the van is important, as parking overnight in a city, with expensive mountain bikes on an outside rack is just asking for trouble. Some aluminium lengths and 2 drawer slides were mashed together and somehow, a sliding DIY bike rack materialised.
We had a family trip planned for the van and with approximately 1 week to go, the entire result of about 6 weeks of work included a grand total of one bed and one bike rack, still no kitchen.
Thankfully the cavalry arrived in the form of Dave and Parker from Motive Design LLC, with a Pull Kitchen which absolutely elevated this van from a DIY melange of random metal and wood, to something that looked cool, professional and organised.
This awesome product is a fully contained kitchen unit complete with its own water supply, power, water pump, sink/tap, ample storage and lighting. Within a couple of hours we had a professional, fully functional kitchen in the van.
Introducing the Rinse Kit+. Simply fill it using a tap or hose. It ‘bottles up’ the pressure from the water supply and whenever you want a jet, shower or mist of water, pull the lever on the hose and a strong flow of water is instantly available. No need for a shower inside the van!. We also used the Rinse Kit to wash the larger pots and pans which wouldn’t fit into the sink … and we had warm water thanks to its clever in-built heating element.
The Maiden Voyage:
Evening time at the first campsite, I nonchalantly slid out 5 feet of gleaming pull kitchen (magically suspended by its heavy duty slides bolted to the Transit’s floor). The entire unit magically extends, revealing a Dometic sink and 2 burners. As the sun set, a panel mounted button turned on the lights – not only in the storage units or the work surfaces, but also underneath with the ground being illuminated. This is a cracking set up.
Our trip took us up the California Coast to Big Sur, one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve had the pleasure to drive. Not only is the Pacific Ocean there for swimming, but there are also hidden waterfalls and streams as well as some off-road only campsites. Unfortunately as our Transit does not yet have lifted suspension or off-road tyres,we couldn’t access the off-road sites. Next time!
On the van after 4 days of camping? Bed? Good. Though we might need some height adjustments as presently it is too close to the ceiling.
Pull Kitchen? Amazing, however, for our Adventure Van, we need something that can be easily lifted out and moved to a picnic table. The team at Pull Kitchen are presently developing a ‘van kit’ that will
So what have I spent so far?, well for a camper/adventure van that’s functional (but maybe not so pretty … yet): heres the breakdown.
|Servicing, alignment, repairs
|Bed rame materials
|Small interior cabinet
|Sliding bike rack Frame materials
|Sliding drawer rails for Bike Rack
|Rinse Kit +
So what was learned from the maiden voyage? First up storage and organisation is key and a solar/battery combo is definitely needed. When parked for a day or two, it’s annoying to have to start up the engine to get the fridge cold again.
Install a roof vent fan, figure out if solar is an affordable option and add a roof top tent for more sleeping options.
This van needs to look the part too, especially if it is joining the Funki Adventures fleet. A suspension lift and some good off road tyrese are likely in its future.
In summary … there’s still a lot of work to be done. If you learn by failing, then I’ve learnt a huge amount! So much work to do. On the bright side, the TURAS Magazine will keep you updated, step by painful step. Learn from my mistakes! Stay tuned for the Van Build Part 2.
Funki Adventures are an Overland 4×4 off-road adventure provider based in San Diego, California. We get you ‘off the beaten path’, in luxury, throughout California and neighboring states, by renting you a self-drive 4WD Jeep off-road camper. Each Jeep has a Roof Top Tent for Overlanding luxury. Whether you want to experience the desert, drive forest trails in the mountains or surf in the Pacific Ocean – we’ve got a tailored trip for you.
Funki Adventure’s goal is to send people to locations and trails they simply wouldn’t find on a regular road trip, so we offer custom designed trip plans which factor in time available and adventurer preference for what you want to see and do.