2020 has been a massive year of cultural changes, one of the biggest most obvious has been no oversea travel. It means we’re all looking at how we can enjoy our own backyard better. Campervan outfitters have been run off their feet with people spending their overseas travel fun dockets locally. Jack and Hannah…and their VW Crafter Locky the Van are prime examples; Hannah takes up the story…
Jack and I started loosely talking about owning a campervan so that we could explore our own backyard at the start of 2020. I’ve always loved the concept of having a bach that you can escape to and we thought a campervan had the potential to be a more affordable ‘bach on wheels’. Neither of us had really grown up camping. In recent years, Jack and I had done a few camping trips in the Bay of Islands and Queenstown which we really loved. Locky is our first campervan!
Locky is a VW Crafter, how’d you decide on a Crafter, were Ford Transits, Merc Sprinters and Fiat Ducatos considered?
When deciding on a van, we decided a non-negotiable for us was having a high roof so that we could stand up inside. We were seriously looking into Ford Transits, however, one night during lockdown Jack was scrolling Trade Me and came across this VW Crafter. I rung them the next morning and we went to check it out. The van had a good exterior but was very dinged up on the inside having been a delivery truck for a few years. I have to say, we both loved the exterior look of it in comparison to the Ford Transits and ended up making an offer on the spot. It was a good deal and one we didn’t think we would be offered again! Next thing we knew, we were driving home in our new vehicle!
The layout is beautiful, you’ve opted to close off the cab to the back, was this a debated plan?
Thank you! Choosing to close off the cab at the back was not our original plan but after many discussions, we decided that it was a logical decision. We could create a more functional kitchen and more storage by doing so. It also made it more aesthetically pleasing in the back because you couldn’t see the seats at the front. It was also decided that it would be warmer not having all those windows which would let in the cold. We knew that it would be ideal to be able to walk from the front seats straight into the van but for the other reasons listed above, this didn’t seem reason enough to keep it open.
Coming up with the floor plan was a process. We spent many nights with big sheets of paper playing around with the layout. Jack, being an Architectural Designer, was easily able to visualise the space and what would work best.
For me, having a reasonable sized kitchen was important so that it was actually a useable space. Having closed off the cab, we were able to create an L shaped kitchen which was much larger than our original plan.
We decided not to have a permanent bed because we didn’t feel this would create a sense of space and would likely look messy during the day.
We both wanted a decent-sized table which could be used to have dinner at but that we could also both work from comfortably.
Originally, we decided to have only bench seats on either side, however, during the process, we decided to put the extra part in the middle at the back which then created a U shape. This is a great spot to relax and look at the view and it has also created much more storage space.
In terms of storage, Brad decided to put storage above our heads in the cab which was a really good use of space as no one needs that much headroom when driving! Underneath all of the seats, there is storage which can also be accessed from the back. This storage opens right through so that Jack can fit his spearfishing gear and fishing rods etc. We had originally planned to put cupboards like what is above the kitchen the whole way along that wall but during the build process, we changed our mind and decided it would feel more spacious in the back without it. There is also obviously a reasonable amount of storage under the kitchen.
You’ve opted for ply construction aye, why was that?
Brad loves working with ply and it was a relatively cheap way to construct our project.
You’ve mentioned Brad Clark helped a lot, how did he help, like did he help with the whole design and build, or was he more like show you the techniques and a few hacks?
After purchasing our van, we rung Brad straight away and asked if he would be interested in doing the build. Brad is a highly meticulous builder and a friend of ours. Brad was really keen to work on a different project so he said yes! He had never converted a van before but truly did the most incredible job! His eye for detail is amazing and once you step inside the van you are able to really appreciate all of the finer details.
The reason Jack and I didn’t consider doing the build ourselves is that we both work full time and we knew that it would be a very long project if we only had the evenings and weekends to work on it. The reality was, we wanted to get our new van on the road as soon as possible.
What was the crappiest thing about the build?
Two design things that we would change are:
1. The gas cooker slides out from the kitchen to the outside (which we love) however, the wood gets quite hot so we probably could have made it slide out further so that the gas cooker has more space.
2. We should have put the fridge on rollers so that we don’t have to lift the seat and squabs to access the fridge.
What’s the plan; how are you going to use Locky?
We figured, with COVID sticking around, we aren’t going to be able to, or interested, in getting on a plane and travelling overseas for possibly a few years. Having Locky will enable us to explore the beautiful country we live in. With myself being a teacher, I have quite a long summer break and Jack can work from the van which is ideal. So this summer we are doing a big South Island road trip.
Check out more of the build on Locky The Van’s instagram page HERE