Habitation Box Design

We knew from our previous vehicles those features that we wanted, and those we didn’t. Here’s how it stacked up:

  • Overall size to be as small as possible - big motorhomes just don't fit in small spaces
  • (Very) separate beds
  • Good showering facilities
  • Full cooking facilities, including grill and oven
  • Garage for two push bikes
  • Feet-up lounging seats
  • Separate ‘quiet’ seat
  • Plenty of windows to allow light and ventilation
  • High capacity life-support systems (batteries / water / LPG)
    • Fitting this layout into the first point on the list wasn’t ever going to be easy, especially considering that I was reluctant to build any floor section beyond the length of the truck’s bed; a mere 4.3 metres (14 feet).

The Penny Drops

After scrapping many thought processes the layout solution just popped into my head quite unexpectedly. By doing away with a conventional entrance door the pieces of the puzzle fitted into place. Moving the entrance to the rear 'overhang' freed up much interior space and allowed all the fixtures and features we wanted – or at least it did in my head. I realised I needed scale plans and having never worked with CAD packages I was about to reach for the pencil sharpener when a friend told me about a couple of design software downloads that he’d found useful. I did a bit of research and was pretty quickly underway with the Google-developed SketchUp product. The software was free, surprisingly easy to use and more than adequate for our purposes.

The hard part of the design process was factoring in the actual size of dozens of fixtures. As I found to my frustration, millimetres matter, and things like panel thickness and even leaving an adequate gap for Sikaflex to bond properly all play havoc with the design process. Eventually I got it all to fit - in theory - which freed me up to address the small mattter of how to make it real.

What's on the Doorstep

Most unexpactedly I found two really awesome local firms that could help enormously: CVR, and Transport WIndows. Both companies were very welcoming and patiently allowed me to explain my intentions and drawings. Both firms happily showed me round their respective factories and their finished work - and both were equally happy to answer what were very probably, on reflection, stupid questions. Both firms were basically happy to make me panels and doors to exact dimensions in my materials of choice.

I basically knew what I wanted specification wise for the panels, which was a 5 element laminate comprising an outer skin of gpr / 6mm ply / 40mm insulating foam / 6mm ply / inner grp skin, all to be strengthened by inlaid cross-bearers and battens in selected areas. CVR had absolutely no problem with this and took my order without batting a corporate eyelid, they were even happy to cut all the apertures I’d specified on their CNC machines. To ensure strength, I also specified heavy duty peripheral frames and rebates in each panel; a construction method CVR advise is similar to that used for panels on trucks that carry enormous fridge units on their bulkheads. Better a few hundred pounds extra at this stage than the whole thing cracking apart in the middle of Iran.

Transport Windows were equally accommodating and made me three heavy duty self-contained doors complete with deadlocks ready to be simply bonded into the panel apertures. Though these were perfectly adequate for our garage and small rear aperture, they would ideally need extra work in terms of insulation and weather / dust proofing if used as a full-sized dedicated habitation box door (see subsequent pages). All told, top stuff all round. Quality products and not a German factory in sight.

Box Design (6)
Box Design (5)
Box Design (1)
Box Design (2)
Box Design (3)
Box Design (4)

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