This project started off somewhere in June 2014, when I saw the article on Howard Langley’s building of his own motor home. I had always had the urge to build my own camper, and when I saw Howard’s invitation to contact him for more information and advice, I did just that.
I also did some research and found that the vehicle Howard used, a Fiat Ducato, is equipped with a very reliable Iveco 2.3 Turbo diesel motor which is very economical with fuel. I bought a mediumsized high-roof version and started off with the project.
My wife and I decided to use the same layout as Howard had. We liked the idea of two separate beds with a passage in between, which allows movement without affecting the other person. Utilising the cab enlarged the living area, resulting in a nice sleeping room, comfortable kitchen area and separate toilet cubicle.
During daytime mode, the swivelled front seats allow for a cosy area for four, should we need to stay indoors due to bad weather. All of this is accommodated in a rather compact vehicle (5,5 metres) that can be utilised for ordinary around-town driving, as well.
I bought the roof vents and arranged for the windows and vents to be installed. The cab aircon and window tinting was also outsourced before the real build started. Some “heavy metal” work for the seat swivel mechanism was assisted by Stanley de Kok from Pengwen Steel Enterprises in Vereeniging. Apart from this, the rest of the build was all done by me, with my wife, Luana, assisting with the interior ‘software’ items.
Our kitchen at home was renovated a while ago and the old cupboard wooden framework came in quite handy during the construction. Formica sheets were glued to the 3mm Supawood ceiling, and 12mm Plywood was used for the floor. Isotherm was used for insulation under the floor, behind the panelling and on top of the ceiling. No holes were drilled in the floor; support strips were glued to it.
Pine strips were used for most of the construction – I used about 120 metres of these, and soon discovered that, instead of buying pre-cut strips, using Pine shelving (selected) cut into 25mm strips, saves a lot of money.
A critical component of this layout is to have the front seats swivel around to allow for the extension of the beds, or for enlarging the living area. Swivel mechanisms are not easily available in SA and had I to do these myself − another task that took much longer than planned. Fortunately, the husband of a colleague of mine helped out with the more heavier metal work on this in his engineering shop. Doing these swivels ourselves saved me about R6 000.
Fiat Ducato Motorhome Images
The motorhome has a 220V AC circuit which feeds 8 plugs as well as the Engel fridge (when not on 12V) and the microwave oven. It has a 120A/hr Lead Crystal battery feeding the 12V DC circuit. A National Luna intelligent solenoid links this battery to the vehicle’s own battery. A CTEK MSX10 charger is used to do the charging when 220V is available.
The 12V system also feeds the water pump which feeds the flush toilet and sink. Two LED reading lights were installed above each bed and have proved to be very handy. Six other LED lights are available elsewhere in the living area. A second car radio was installed at the back, feeding from the auxiliary battery when the vehicle is stationary.
The motorhome has a 55L water tank, located just above the right-rear wheelarch at the back of the cupboard. We decided not to install a geyser, as the plan is to stop over at caravan parks and make use of their facilities.
The kitchen has a work-top area of 1.7m x 0.7m, with a sink and a two-plate gas stove, seven drawers and two overhead lockers supported by gas-stays to keep the doors open.
A Fiamma F65S crank-out awning was installed to provide shade. A quick flip-out table-top is available behind the sliding door to be used when we are relaxing outside.
The floor was raised behind the cab area to facilitate storage space, but drops, with a step, to the kitchen area. More storage area is available under both of the bed bunks as well as under the toilet cubicle/cupboard and the kitchen cupboard. A cupboard with hanging space, as well as three drawers for clothing, is located between the toilet cubicle and the bed.
The satisfaction of having done it ourselves compensates many times over for the many hours spent on the project. The total amount of money spent on our motor home did not exceed R370 000; and keep in mind that it is a brand-new vehicle with brand-new contents. Nowhere in the world is there a double; this one is unique. Can’t wait for the next trip!