Help with choosing length of van

#1
Hi guys, I need to buy a van to start converting very soon if I'm to keep to my timetable but I'm still having difficulty choosing whether to go swb, mwb or lwb.

The original plan was to get the shortest van I could find with standing height, with the idea that the smaller van would be a lot less stressful to drive and park and I would use it more as a result. But it seems you have to pay a premium of about £1000 for a swb van (less than 5metres) with a high roof over say a lwb (5.5+ metres) with similar miles and condition.

In terms of interior space I am really not too bothered because it's just me in it and as long as I can stand up I shouldn't feel too cramped.

If anyone has any random thoughts or opinions on this I'd be grateful to hear them. I am rubbish at making final decisions about things!
 

n brown

Full Member
#2
my last one was a lwb lt, latest is a mwb sprinter. i prefer the mwb . easy to park in street or car park, and enough room to have a fixed bed/ seating and still be able to have a shower and kitchen , which you can't have in a swb
 

colinmd

Free Member
#3
For driving the width makes most difference, for parking the length makes a difference.
A 5m van will fit just about any parking space, might be a tad tight side to side, a 5.4m van will fit many parking spaces although i've seen some carparks with 5.3m limit, 6m+ vans will not fit a lot of parking spaces and often you will have to look for a double space. Our 6.4m van can only fit in a couple of single spaces at our local Sainsbury's, usualy have to look for two end to end spaces and even then can be a pain to get square on to fit space. In some supermarket carparks with trees every two spaces have to take up 4 spaces!
 
#4
It's quite simple. You always want it 1.5m shorter on the outside and 1.5m longer on the inside!

The practical effect of this is that you should try to make a design that allows the cab area to be part of the living area. Using it as just storage when stopped becomes a hassle over time.
 

Darcar

Full Member
#5
Converting a van is quite a lot of work & expenses. so you MUST plan well.
First decided what you need, i.e. Fixed bed, shower, toilet, do you need full cooker with oven? What size sink,fridge, storage. Etc.
Then draw up some to scale plans of a swb & a lwb van. See what fits, & what you need.

the worst thing is to build in the wrong van... my last mwb transit was to small for us, only realised after trying to fit in the fixed bed, halfway through my build, so we had to settle for a rock & roll bed. We sold it almost as soon as I'd finished it.

So spend your time planning everything you can think off.

Good luck & have fun doing it...... Darren.
 
#6
For me the length depends on how you will use the van. Shorter vans are OK for frequent use around town and weekend trips. For longer trips more space and a fixed bed is more important . Being struck in a van for several days because of foul weather is no fun and a smaller van may induce cabin fever even quicker. Parking is not usually a problem when wild camping.

Mr B.
 
#7
It's all about the lengh mate,any female co-pilot will tell you that:hammer:
 

molly 2

Full Member
#8
Have you got to build to a budget ? I know of home builders that have spent 12 k on a conversation ,most good self builds start with good insulation including the Floor ,take every opportunity to look at other self builds .to be classed as a motorhome it must conform to specific spec ,
 
#9
Recently changed from a 6.6 mt C class to a 5.5 mt PVC. The 1.1 mt length reduction and slightly narrower body make a big difference.
Reasons for changing - fed up with not being able to visit small villages and park up, all wild camp poi's now accessible, easier and much quieter to drive, better mpg, stored at home up the side of the house so more secure, easier to wild camp with as much less conspicuous, build quality appears far superior and less chance of water ingress issues which I had with my crap build quality Swift. Finally it has seriously made me consider getting rid of my car which is basically stood gathering dust on the drive as I now use the PVC for my daily needs.
It has everything the C class had, same Truma combi, same large toilet tank, a shower which is smaller but still usable, same size fresh water tank.
Obviously there are downsides namely less internal space and storage, no fixed bed, but it suits my needs as I mainly travel on my own.
If in the future I needed a larger motorhome with a fixed bed I would just go for a lwb PVC rather than go back to a C class.
 

Grimola

#10
I converted LWB 2005 Peugeot boxer, this was my 1st van in 30+ years of driving and was worried that it might be too big but I find it a perfect size and easy to park. Its all down to personal choice and if it was going to be my only vehicle/daily driver then I would have gone for a MWB as it will be cheaper on fuel and easier to park etc. I have a car as well, so I decided to go for a LWB and must say I am glad I did, its perfect for me and the wife.

Regarding self build it will be a lot cheaper to buy a pre-converted van, but doing your own gives a sense of pride plus you can make it your own and personal. Regarding budget, create a budget and then double it - that will be your final spend!!! I didn't budget in van repairs (mechanical) , wiring, screws and fittings and other small bits which are not cheap.

All in all I am glad I self built despite the enormous cost!
 
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Private

#11
Lwb

Long wheel base, then any spare room at the back can be made into a garage.
Not enough PVC MH's with a garage. We consider it the most useful feature on our MH & the reason we struggle to find any potential alternatives to the one we own.
 
#12
Im running a 6.5 bus which has its probs parking but would not like to go much smaller with 2 kids ,forget about the shower as any les centre will have them but a fixed loo and hot hand wash is a must and i went this route as a sponge down each day will do .
12v hand wash units can be bought from van breakers £25.
If you are going to use as first vh around towns etc then a med vh will do if only 2 or less but hight is a must inside.
 

mark61

Full Member
#13
Don't forget to check GVW's. SWB vans are more often likely to have a lower GVW, you'll need to check model numbers to tell.
 
#14
I went for a Transit Jumbo (4m long) to give us as much space as possible for the two of us and the dogs/room for a permanent fixed double (fed up with foldy uppy/blow up shizzle)
Have plenty of storage and room for a 'dog pod' for when they are minging wet until they have dried off....
we deliberately avoided a kitchen as such (inverter runs microwave/kettle/slow cooker/toaster) and paper plates avoid needing a sink.... and didn't bother with a toilet compartment either.











Next one will probs be a Iveco with a 4.6m back so I can sneak a loo compartment in with no loss of inside space but same basic layout.

I'm quite happy driving the longer vans as, my work one is a 4m crafter so pretty used to parking/turning etc.
 
#15
When choosing the base vehicle, make sure it isn't a worn out old heap.

You are adding a lot of time and money in the conversion, so something that will rust away in a year or two is a bad choice. And welding patches in will be a harder job with the habitation stuff installed than in a van shell.

Reliability will matter too, as it isn't just your vehicle when it breaks down, it's also your home and holds your posessions.

Reliability is an issue for motorhomes because they tend to stand idle for long periods then get driven long distances.

Corrosion is an issue because most converters (both DIY and professional) put insulation in without installing an effective vapour barrier on the warm side, so the bodywork rots away from hidden condensation.
 
#16
When choosing the base vehicle, make sure it isn't a worn out old heap.

You are adding a lot of time and money in the conversion, so something that will rust away in a year or two is a bad choice. And welding patches in will be a harder job with the habitation stuff installed than in a van shell.

Reliability will matter too, as it isn't just your vehicle when it breaks down, it's also your home and holds your posessions.

Reliability is an issue for motorhomes because they tend to stand idle for long periods then get driven long distances.

Corrosion is an issue because most converters (both DIY and professional) put insulation in without installing an effective vapour barrier on the warm side, so the bodywork rots away from hidden condensation.
I was well chuffed when after buying my Renault Master based Devon conversion I found out they are fully galvanised. I now look at every Renault van I see on the roads and the majority show little sign of rust unlike most sprinters which are usually rot boxes once they are 4 / 5 years old.
 
#17
I was well chuffed when after buying my Renault Master based Devon conversion I found out they are fully galvanised. I now look at every Renault van I see on the roads and the majority show little sign of rust unlike most sprinters which are usually rot boxes once they are 4 / 5 years old.
I bought a 2010 Renault Master 2.5L 100CDi MM (medium roof, MWB) a few years ago and thought it a great drive. If I were buying a panel van bigger then the VW T5 to convert, the Master would be high on the list and the benchmark to beat for me :dog:
 

kernowprickles

#18
I was well chuffed when after buying my Renault Master based Devon conversion I found out they are fully galvanised. I now look at every Renault van I see on the roads and the majority show little sign of rust unlike most sprinters which are usually rot boxes once they are 4 / 5 years old.
I didn't know that! Now I feel even happier about our choice, as it will be our sole vehicle in about 15 months time, and it's good to know it will last. Hope you are still enjoying yours!
 

Deleted member 951

#19
Very pleased with my 2012 Renault Master. Lovely to drive and economical too.
 

Deleted member 951

#20
I was well chuffed when after buying my Renault Master based Devon conversion I found out they are fully galvanised. I now look at every Renault van I see on the roads and the majority show little sign of rust unlike most sprinters which are usually rot boxes once they are 4 / 5 years old.
I think Sprinters are galvanised these days, but I could be wrong.
 

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