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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Tillie gets a makeover

I have had Tillie for four years now, and have put off changing the interior, as it was all very nice and desirable being the original specification.

After my last trip out, when the fridge door fell off, and Tarq fell through the middle of the bed into a heap on the floor, I decided to bite the bullet and change her.

The original cooker barely worked, the fridge was a plastic shelf only, I never used the sink (I do wash tho, honest) and the bed being three quarter size, accommodated the fat labrador fine, but left me no room whatsoever.

The buddy seat was always empty (I have no buddies)

And so with gritted teeth, I dived in and started to remove the entire inside.  After 3 minutes 20 seconds I hit a problem.  The second bolt wouldn't come out.  Wanting to go female and turn into howling foetal position, and squealing 'why are my blokes all shit at man stuff'.  I put my testicles back on, and drilled the bloody thing out

Eventually Tillie was bare and exposed.  Everything appeared to be fairly solid under her clothing.  Apart from 2 rather large holes where the seat belts were fixed. Or not fixed as was the case.

Ventilation wasn't an issue

A trip to the welder and a request to fix the two holes and a small check of the front bumper (as advised by Mr MOT).
It was quite amusing to see the comments on facebook the next day, from the welder.

Oblivious to the fact I may actually read his facebook page, it appears perhaps the small hole in the bumper wasnt so small....

And so I had my blank canvas....and no idea what next.

Having never had a working fridge, and not really keen on sticking portaloos in it to make it a portable toilet, I went with my basic requirements:

I needed a full width bed, a decent kitchen, and that was about it.  Sleep and food, and I'm happy.

And so the planning began...bits of paper thrown everywhere, scribbles, doodles, my own brand of shorthand, that is so quick and efficient, but even I cant understand it.  Google was my friend, along with facebook groups 'camper conversion', ' self build vans' , 'I'm not right in the head, taking this on', and 'how the fk do i mend my bodge job', I also got round to creating my own pinterest board, Tillies conversion.

Luxurious covers off
I started with the first power tool I know how to handle...the sewing machine...

So the old green covers came off (I was a bit heart broken about this, and still had regrets about what I was doing, until i looked at them, battered and sun bleached, and realised they weren't actually made from fabric that was hand dyed, stamped and woven from a gossomer flies testicles)

New covers finished
And so after a bit of a tussle the newly made chenille patchwork covers and curtains were in pride of place.  Feeling rather proud, I stuck them on facebook.

Not so proud when some Aussie commented 'It looks like a clown has exploded' :(

If ever you are short of a trestle, get a labrador
So flying along, using my usual method of measurements, I started on fitting the shelves along the sides and making the slat bed...

....'so that's 30cm, by 2ft, by 1m, by 18 inch, plus just over the length of my hand, then'...

Before...Help me, Teddy

And the bed frame is made!
Next job was repair the panels, and re-carpet everywhere, lay the vinyl flooring

Girly stuff, added

Onto the cupboard that I actually ordered after careful measuring, ended up 2cm too long, and I couldn't get to the rear door handle.  Resulting in me cutting the whole thing down and screwing it back together again.  Using a few bodged carpentry skills, a ton of wax in varying
shades (from a vile yellow orange, to a more stripped back basic finish), my pallet cupboard was taking shape

Perfect, apart from the extra 2cm

Marking it down for sawing 

Arghhhh, its orange now

From the basic core.....

Starting to take shape finally! Trimmed, waxed, cooker inserted, and random tiles added

Electrics were next.  Not having a whole shed load of confidence, and not wanting to get fried, I took a whole album of gorgeous pre-wired rcd unit pictures.  When dementia kicks in, I will look at these wistfully, and think 'what the hell are these for?'

Sockets & Lights fitted

Testing, testing

12v was the next task, after 3 years I finally have a radio, usb ports, all mod cons (apart from power steering and brakes)

A bit more carpentry (a circular saw is very similar to a sewing machine, after a few weeks) and the top quality wood (offcuts of shite pallet) were transformed into a bed end

A few removable hinges, and it was finished

On the home run now, so finally time to do the girly stuff, adding curtains & cushions

Home sweet home
Finally, a full size bed.
Adding a map for the travels...and to replace the peeling vinyl

Where to, next?

A few last additions - Making an extension for the table

And an awning

.......Don't Forget meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!




A couple of last minute additions of wire cages for the lamps (bumpy roads were knocking the bulbs about a bit)

And a last minute storage holder, so I don't sleep on top of my phone...

And still not think there's nothing else and then...ooh perhaps a cover for the cooker, to protect it

That must be it...definitely finished...nothing else...oooooh, how about a fly screen curtain...

So some coffee sacks, random picture cut out of fabric, and a few hours applique!

Don't look too closely at the owl....

From the interior, looking out

Mum, this is so boring....

REVIEW: Boutique Camping 4m Pro Bell Tent

Boutique Camping 4m Pro Tent

I was offered the option of testing a 285g standard bell, which Boutique have been selling for a while.
However, they had new stocks of the 'Fireproof Pro' -fire resistant heavier weight canvas in, so I opted to test one of these instead.

Initial reaction was that all seemed good.  Thicker guy ropes in purple with personalised sliders.

Pole thickness was fairly standard on both centre pole and a frame.  Nice top opening bag (easier to get the tent back in)

The canvas was thicker, however it does have a plastic finish feel coated onto it.  I prefer the softer treated canvas, but had no issues with condensation, so it wasn't a major problem.

There is a flue hole already incorporated in the roof, I didn't think was a particularly good placement.   Its quite far back into the tent, and renders using an inner useless, unless you could somehow angle the inner right into the door frame at the front.  If using a side stove, then you have no option other than to make another flue exit anyway.

I'm never a fan of pre-fitted flue holes in tents for these reasons 1.) It's invariable positioned badly.  2.) It will be rendered useless dependent on whether you get a roof or side exit stove

Groundsheet was the heavier weight 540g and was fine.  Pegs are fairly standard.  Stitching quality was good, with no obvious shortcuts on seams etc.  Zips good quality and glided well

Mesh doors are always a bonus, and it was nice to have these

So overall it appeared to be a nice little tent.  Until it rained.

No torrential downpour, but some showers, and it resulted in puddles pretty much everywhere.  It appeared to come from the lower zips, the a frame and even dripping from the seams and further into the tent as well.

The tent hadn't been weathered prior to this use, so I thought it would be only fair to retry the tent a second time.  So after drying off, I pitched again at home to test the waterproofing.

It has been outside for about 5 days, and there are no points where it could wick etc (fairly empty tent), but unfortunately the waterproofing was just as bad as before, if not worse.  Not just a few drips which is quite acceptable, but over an inch of water pooling around the main A frame, running in the back of the groundsheet, and just drips and puddles everywhere.

As a new product, perhaps revisions have been made, as the item wasn't for sale at the time of me testing it, or it may have just been a one off rogue tent in the batch

However, it is hard for me to recommend it with any confidence, as its let down purely on the waterproofing

Although Boutique do some really nice accessories, and are brave enough to develop a wide range of coloured tents (standard 285g, which generally seem to get better reviews)...

Manufacturers Website Spec:-

  • Our first fireproof bell tent!
  • British Safety Standards: BS EN ISO 5912 and BS 7837
  • Heavy duty 385g per sqm 100% natural cotton canvas
  • 100mm pre-cut flue hole for stoves 
  • Includes integrated canvas flap with velcro, to cover the hole when it's not in use
  • Available with single door only
  • Luxury bell tent with heavy duty zipped in ground sheet (540g per sqm)
  • New secondary mosquito door, with thicker guy ropes and extra strong pegs
  • Thickness of pegs: 6mm and 8mm

Our exclusive Bell Tents by Boutique Camping aims to provide you with prominent luxury and comfort away from your home. There is a 4 and 5m tent, both with heavy duty zipped in ground sheet, which gives you the option to unzip and roll up the sides whilst you lounge and enjoy the surroundings around you. Available in an array of colours and patterns, our bell tent also come with 4 zipped windows and air vents at the top to allow more airflow.
The 4m tent is perfect for couples however can sleep 4 adults comfortably, luxuriating in an open-plan bedroom whilst the 5m tent is perfect for larger families and groups.
All our Bell tents are made from 100% natural breathable cotton canvas that drapes down from the centre pole and is held tight by ropes to create that distinctive vintage shape outside and to compliment the wonderful soft ambience within.
We are keen to give our customers the best and build upmost comfort combined with luxury; following feedback, we have introduced a secondary mosquito netting door, as well as a thicker 32mm centre pole, thicker guy ropes and durable pegs that will not bed and change shape once they are hammered into the ground.
With added branded zippers and metal guy ropes, to add that exclusive Boutique Camping touch And finally, all our Bell Tents Canvas’s are treated with mould, rot and water repellent. We recommend that you re-proof the canvas after approximately a year; this of course is dependant on how frequently it is used however we generally recommend reproofing after 52-60 weeks.

REVIEW: 'Camping under the Stars' 5m Bell Tent

Camping Under The Stars 12 months ago, Tommy approached me and asked if I would like to review one of his bell tents. No problem.. ...