Back in May 2018 I bought a VW T5 GP, Geoffrey, and have been slowly chipping away at converting it ever since. In November I did a week-long road trip through Cornwall to test the van and it’s modifications. The journey saw me loading the van up with a range of adventure gear, before heading down to Dartmoor in torrential rains after work on a Friday, followed swiftly by a day of mountain biking on Dartmoor.
This was followed up with a weekend in Plymouth catching up with old friends — including a sunrise photo-mission — before heading down into Cornwall road-tripping for the week. Finally, I headed back to Plymouth for a quick mountain bike ride and to pickup a friend before heading into the Brecon Beacons for a weekend of on-foot adventures and then back home.
This totalled a lot of van miles, and also a lot of time spent in it during dark, cold, windy and wet evenings which gave me a good chance to review all of the choices I’ve made so far.
It’s quieter on the roads now; that’s without question. On smoother roads there’s little difference, I guess that’s due to less panel vibration, however on the rougher backcountry roads the difference is significant. It’s hard to explain how much of a difference it’s made, but it’s probably comparable to having had the window open a crack before verses closing it.
There’s still a significant amount of noise in the cab compared to some cars. This is most likely because I didn’t apply any sound deadening to the doors, instead choosing to put this off until I upgrade the speakers at a later date, allowing me to do it all in one go.
With one person in the van it takes a while, but it does warm up noticeably over the uninsulated van. With multiple people sat inside it gets plenty warm enough to sit comfortably fairly quickly as long as it’s a reasonable temperature outside — around the 6 degree mark. Below this, or on your own, a heater really would be a nice to have, and I may well look at adding a diesel heater in the future.
If I was planning to use the van mainly in the summer or later spring then I’d be plenty happy with the van just as-is. It’s only really because of the regularity in which I spend time in sub-zero conditions that I’m considering the heater, and even then I’m torn on if it’s worth spending the money on one.
The changes so far are making a massive different to the usability of Geoffrey on a day to day basis. It’s warmer, and a lot quieter with all of the sound deadening and insulation taking up a surprisingly large amount of the ambient noise when parked up as well as road noise on the move. This trip also highlighted once of the biggest areas of improving living standards on the road very quickly… the addition on lighting some real counter space.
Realistically, the electrics initial fir out has to happen first, so that will be coming up next while the rest of the build will likely progress in the late summer or early Autumn.