Ultra light homemade van now just light but I'm very happy

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 16:33
ThreadID: 131441 Views:1647 Replies:7 FollowUps:6
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Well, in my initial quest I wanted a van less than 200kg in tare weight. I know now this would mean a van the size of a teardrop camper with the same materials as I used.
I got my van weighed yesterday...450kg tare. It's black and white that anything over 200kg is not ideal to be towed by my custom trike. There are consequences for doing so like the risk of frame damage etc. Add to this 160kg load including the solar system installed this morning and you have around 620kg hauling around. The van has a final loaded tongue weight of 18kg. The friction type anti sway bar is yet to be installed.

But its ideal for our Hyundai i30, well within its towing capacity with max towball weight of 70kg. It's a diesel. Not towing sees an economy figure of 5.2-5.7 L/100kms. We towed our Detour camper trailer to Qld return to get 45mpg or 6.3 L/100km...the camper weighed 330kg gross. With more wind drag it will be worse but still very economical for a holiday. Our around Oz trip will see us driving 18,000kms meaning a fuel cost in the vicinity of $1800. Not bad eh.

At the end of any build I do if I have no regrets then I'm happy. The frame mainly made from 13x13x1.8mm tube steel and angle (20x20x2mm tube ripped to make angle) proved a strong and light frame. I recall lifting the tongue and walking it around. Clearly the weight was in the cladding and fit out not the frame.

Heavier than expected items include the new rear door, a last minute inclusion upgrade (18kg) from the 8kg s/h Robin door we purchased (1420mm high= to low), the shower wall is acrylic and needed its own 3 ply wall backing glued to it to keep it flat without buckles and the cladding overall was a lot of area to cover. The cladding was light to lift per length but combined it added a lot to the result. Finally silicone (25 tubes? maybe more) and mig welding drums (10) nuts bolts rivets all combine.

The van doesn't have brakes. Towing it from the weigh station yesterday I carried out a number of tests. I'm doubting the benefit of brakes on the van. I was alone so, if I was to have 4 hefty people as passengers and not towing the brakes would be just as effective. Remember folks, this van is not your common unit. In fact the van is so stable no momentum gets up for it to fishtail even though I gave it a try with up and down with my steering wheel. You might disagree. What I'm saying is, sometimes things are outside the "box" to need a rethink. The anti sway unit will be an insurance though.

The solar unit installed now is 120W panel and 100 A/H battery. Based on the examples posted here in previous posts on the topic it should be enough to power our needs. We have CPAP 2 A/H, Teac 280mm TV and booster 3 A/H, cooling fan 2 A/H, LED lights (6 in total ) and 2 water pumps with little use. Hot water by solar camping bag.

Cheers Tony











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Reply By: ian.g - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 17:34

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 17:34
This little van is a credit to your ability to think outside the box and is a credit to your workmanship. I wish you safe travels and sometime I hope to cut your tracks somewhere during your ultimate round Australia trip. I'm sure your trike will handle the job without a complaint as will your i30. Well done and happy travels. Regards Ian
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Follow Up By: Member - Rob 49 - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:05

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:05
Ditto, a great post.
Rob
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:06

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:06
Tony!
What a great job, fantastic really, my only concern when you first posted a while back was the low weight you were trying to achieve. Being the heigth of a standard van almost and chasing only 200kg, the chance of a moderate to high side wind may have pushed it onto its side at highway speed. Its good in a way that the weight is considerably more and lessens the chances of that happening. Did you tally the man hours you spent on your wonderful project? regards, Michael
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Follow Up By: eaglefree - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 19:05

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 19:05
Thanks Michael, We started mid November I think...say 9 weeks. My wife did a lot of the behind scenes work like curtains, kitchen drawers, painting the frame. As for man hours lets say it was more than 8 hours a day and less than 20 with the odd half day off. Estimate is 500-600 hours
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:14

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:14
Great to see the project finished and out on the road. Any significance in the i30 and the van being parked outside a church? :-)

I bought some of those nylon/plastic solar panel mounts and was surprised at the weight of them so used 50mm aluminium angle and alloy rivets. Doesn't look as neat though.

All good,
Bob

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:18

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:18
"Any significance in the i30 and the van being parked outside a church? :-) ..."

Bob - Inside, praying for regular strong tailwinds, perhaps?? LOL

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: eaglefree - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 19:12

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 19:12
Hi Bob, thankyou. the plastic mounts have a large seating are for the sika 11FC glue. No rivets and no leaks. Yes they are surprisingly heavy. Realising this little van was going to be overweight thus for car use, the weight of such items became less of a concern for me.

Note: The panel location. Read somewhere that vents can leak water in heavy rain at highway speeds. This was taken into account with the solar panel's location. Wind and penetrating rain should flow over the vent to help it stop rain entering. That's the theory.

oh and the church.....I was praying for my welds....ha
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 09:21

Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 09:21
Yeah, thought you might have been in there, asking Him to come on the initial trip. :-)

Bob

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Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:16

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 18:16
Tony, I've rarely seen any fabricated item come within 5% of the supposed tare - and a lot I've seen and owned, were well over the initially indicated tare. It's amazing where the weight comes from.

One of my original vans was a late 1950's, 30 foot, single axle (Landrover axle) steel-and-wooden-framed van that weighed nearly 3 tonnes!
I towed it with a 4 cylinder, 2.25L LWB petrol Landrover!

On a farm I once purchased, I discovered an old caravan made from the chassis of a 1935 Ford truck (complete with front axle moved to the centre, and with the steering stubs welded solid!).
This van was wooden framed - but the frame was made from 3 x 2 jarrah, with clinker-style weatherboard cladding!
To complete the tank-like weight, it was fully equipped with a No.2 Metters wood stove in the rear!
I have no idea what the previous owner towed it with! - but a 5 or 6 ton truck, comes to mind!

A lot of weight in 'vans comes just from cutlery, crockery, cookware and the dozens of items we just NEED to carry with us!

So does this mean you're now going to start on another van? - a carbon-fibre/kevlar, super-lightweight tare van, just exclusively for the trike? [;-)

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: eaglefree - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 19:26

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 19:26
Haha Ron. Wont be building another van any time soon. As for the trike I'm amazed at the weight of teardrop campers. minimum is around 320kg. As I said a while back most of these campers are overweight as per manufacturers specs. They might see the consequences of this with their insurance company in the event of an accident.

Some time ago I made a fold down carry rack for my trike made with two over the counter items, a bike rack that clamps solid to the towball and a step used by 4X4 owners that is placed over the top of the wheel to get to roof top items. Anyway it will carry a large sports bag for overnight or two nights camping, tent and blow up mattress. This is what we'll do for short trips to the Great Ocean road, Gippsland and the like. The trike has a capsule for our mini foxy and she's our effective "shu-roo" tool.

Your stories about old vans are interesting. In Essendon up to a few years ago my friends parents owned (from new) a caravan ordered by them in 1952. It was 24 foot, bunks for 4 kids and a house type shower base. It was towed by their Ford Ranch Wagon which I think was 17 feet long. It was quite a sight. Like a scene out of "I love Lucy" and her towing a caravan episode which was hilarious.
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Reply By: Member - backtracks - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 22:24

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 22:24
Great effort ! I remember your first posts and I'm glad to see the finished result. Have a great time with it .
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Reply By: Life Member - Fred B (ex-NT) - Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 06:09

Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 06:09
Absolutely Awesome. Well done, and all the best on your trip.
regards
Fred B
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Reply By: baznpud (tassie) - Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 09:20

Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 09:20
I have been following your build with interest, well done, I'm sure you will get many enjoyable trips in it.
Safe travels.
baz
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