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Craig and Aimee’s Unorthodox Mercedes Vario 814 Van Conversion

I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve been caught up in the exhilaration of an eBay bidding war. But have you ever found yourself bidding thousands of pounds on a poorly listed bus that you’ve never seen in real life? Didn’t think so.

About Craig and Aimee

For years, Craig and Aimee dreamed about building a tiny home on wheels. One day, they thought “f**k it” and started browsing eBay. Here they found Custard, a 2001 Mercedes Vario 814. Without any additional research, they soon found themselves in an intense bidding war. Thankfully, Aimee came out on top, and the pair paid £3651 for the van.

They initially gave themselves 6 weeks to renovate the van. They knew it would be a monster task, but they wanted to travel through Europe before the end of summer. After 6 weeks of stress, tears, and hard graft, Custard v.1 was ready. The van wasn’t perfect, but it met their basic daily needs.

After 7 weeks of travelling around Europe, Craig and Aimee returned to Wales and decided it was time to continue with their conversion journey. They spent the following 10 months making the van everything they’ve ever wanted. By renovating the van over a long period of time, they were able to stagger their costs, making it a lot more financially feasible.

Specifications

  • 2001 Mercedes Vario 814

Kitchen and Appliances

  • Belfast sink

  • Grey tiles– Not only do the tiles look sleek, but they also serve as a splashback for their hob.

  • 2-burner hob– Initially, Craig and Aimee had the hob situated vertically, but one of their YouTube subscribers commented that it was too close to the wall, making it illegal. Therefore, they switched the orientation of the hob so that it sits horizontally, which they find works a lot better.

  • Dometic CRX 80 Fridge– This is 78 litres and holds enough food for around 1 or 2 weeks.

  • Thetford oven

  • Filtered water tap

  • Hot water tap

Sleeping

  • Fixed double bed– In their last van conversion, Craig and Aimee found that the height of their bed was blocking a lot of daylight. So they decided to drop the bed lower in this van. Their mattress is from Otty, and they find it extremely comfortable. The bed is also on gas struts, which allows them to use the space underneath for storage.

  • Sofa bed– Their living space features one large sofa and one smaller sofa. The large These join together to form a small sofa bed.

Bathroom

  • Shower– This uses a mixer tap, which means they can enjoy both hot and cold showers.

  • Custom epoxy resin floor– Craig and Aimee’s friend created a custom epoxy resin floor for their bathroom, which features the same damask green and white pattern as the outside of the van.

  • Thetford Porta Potty– The toilet is one aspect of the van that the pair are unhappy with. They find that it works well but it fills up quickly and leaks a lot of smell. In the future, they hope to get a compostable toilet that separates solids and liquids. That way they can easily throw the liquids out.

  • Ikea mirror

  • Plastic bathroom wall

  • Waterproof ceiling

Comfort

  • Buildable table– Located on the side of their bed base is a little white wooden box, which is used to make their dining table / work space. The tabletop has two runners, which click into the side of the bed frame.

Power and Electrical

  • Light switches– For convenience purposes, Craig and Aimee opted to have two sets of light switches at either end of the van. This means that they don’t have to get out of bed at night to turn the lights off.

  • 4 x Bluetooth speakers– These can be used in conjunction with phones, their stereo, or their mini projector.

  • Rio link security camera– In an effort to increase their van security, Craig and Aimee fitted a small security camera near their bed space. It connects to WiFi and will immediately alert them if an intruder enters their van.

  • Carbon monoxide detector

  • 3000w Phoenix smart inverter

  • 3 x 100-amp hours lithium deep cycle batteries by KS Energy UK

  • 310 watts of solar panels– On the roof of their van they have 1 x 210-watt panel and 2 x 110w Victron solar panels.

  • Victron smart shunt

  • PMS 3 controller

  • Isolator switch– This allows them to easily switch from their inverter to the 240 hookup.

Heating and Cooling

  • Fan

  • Fire blanket

  • Carver water heater– This holds 9 litres of hot water and takes around 20 minutes to heat up. Aimee says that it’s ‘older than her Nan’.

  • Diesel heater

  • Ring Blommer blinds– These are magnetic, which makes them super easy to open and close

  • Fiama turbo vent– Situated over the small sofa, this blows cold air into the van and sucks warm air out.

Water System

  • Yama water pump– This loads all of their pipes

  • 210 litre water tank– They find that this is more than enough for showering and washing dishes.

Cabinetry and Finishes

  • Wheat coloured upholstery

  • Hard wearing carpet– When you first enter the van there is a patch of hard wearing carpet. They wanted to create a warm, homely entrance.

  • Patterned wallpaper– Aimee got this design shipped from France.

  • Door latches– Throughout the van all of the cupboards have black metal latches, which prevent the doors from swinging open while the van is in motion.

  • Surfboard– This is strapped to the ceiling using thick wicker rope.

Storage

  • Shoe box– Underneath the passenger seat, Craig built a wooden box that the pair use to store their shoes.

  • Coat hooks

  • White wooden cupboards

Exterior

  • Gassette– This is a universal design that can be used all over Europe. It costs around £10 to fill up, and is used for their hob, oven, and hot water heater.

  • Accumulator– This cost around £30 and acts as a ground loop, preventing any feedback in their electrical system while the water is running.

  • Levelling ramps.

  • Diesel jerry can– In case of an emergency, it’s always a good idea to have spare fuel.

Special Features

  • Magnasonic mini projector– Attached to the ceiling over their bed space is a small projector, which can be used to watch TV and films.

  • Hidden safe– Somewhere in the van is a hidden safe, which is bolted to the floor.

  • Custom green wrap– One of the first upgrades they made to the van was the colour. They got rid of the outdated yellow paint and replaced it with a custom green wrap, which features glossy Versace-esque crowns.

To see the full tour of Craig and Aimee’s van, check out my YouTube channel:


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© 2019 Nate Murphy

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