The Metamorphosis of Monty The Merc (Part One)

The Metamorphosis of Monty The Merc (Part One)

So at this point I’m not sure if I’m going through a mid-life crisis, or whether I’ve finally come to my senses and realised exactly what it is that I should be doing with my life.  Either way, about 18 months ago I bought an elderly Mercedes 814 horsebox in order to convert it into a housebox.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those moments where you suddenly get the feeling that if you don’t do “the thing” now, you’re probably never going to do it.  Could be anything: skydiving; yoga teacher training; getting a tattoo; buying a plane ticket and travelling across the world…  That’s kind of where I was at back in September 2016.  Y’know how it is – a bunch of stuff happens that makes you re-evaluate what you want from life, and all of a sudden you’re on eBay searching for trucks and vans that look handy for conversion!

Monty the Merc - Horse Box Camper House Conversion

Having worked with horses for a bunch of years, I did have a bit of clue with regard to what to look for in a decent horsebox but it was more luck than judgement that made me choose Monty.  I originally wanted a wooden Bedford TK but they are few and far between, and are either pristine or a bit of a shed.  Didn’t really have the time or knowledge to rebuild one from scratch so that put paid to that idea.  So then I had to find the next best thing, which turned out to be an aluminium bodied truck with struts at intervals down the sides (I’m not sure what the technical term for this is!) – similar aesthetic to a wooden horsebox but a lot less hassle (or at least I hope so!).

Going to pick Monty up from his owner was a bit of a mission.  Turned out that he lived on the Isle of Wight, so a family road trip was organised and we zoomed across on the ferry – who doesn’t love a jolly on a ferry?!  I’m not going to lie, bringing Monty back through the country lanes across the Isle of Wight to the ferry port, getting him onto the ferry and parked properly, and then off the ferry and to the nearest petrol station was really quite daunting.  I think it had been maybe 12 or 15 years since I last drove a horsebox, so I’ll admit I was pretty terrified!  It didn’t take long to get the hang of it again through, and then I remembered how much I enjoy driving big vehicles – the bigger the better really.

Once we got him home, we then had to figure out what to do with him.  I had absolutely no plan of action, this being possibly the biggest spur of the moment purchase I’d ever made in my life!  Pinterest and Facebook came to my rescue at that point, and they’ve been massively useful resources ever since.  I will never cease to be amazed by the topics people feel the need to make videos and posts of, but I am sooooo glad that they do!  The first thing to do, obviously, was to rip all of the horse related paraphernalia out.

This was actually a lot of fun.  We had to ditch a lot of the panelling and boards because the roof had leaked in the past which had caused damp and rot to set in.  The previous owners had replaced the roof (very much a bonus) so it didn’t leak any more, but the water damage was quite extensive.  Most of the boards didn’t take a lot of persuasion to come off the walls and ceiling, and those that put up a fight quickly succumbed to a well-placed crowbar!  As you can imagine, the floor was pretty grim having carried horses for 20 years so we took great pleasure in taking it all up and replacing it.

Now that we had no floor, we sort of needed to make a decision on what to put down instead – a floor is fairly fundamental, after all!  Again, Facebook and Pinterest produced the goods and we went with two layers of marine ply – 12mm first (screwed to the chassis), then a layer of the silver space foil bubble insulation stuff, and then a layer of 9mm.  It’s finished up being the same thickness as the original floor (i.e. thick and strong enough to hold the weight of three horses) but now it doesn’t smell of horse wee – bonus!!

Monty the Merc - Horse Box Camper House Conversion

I guess it took the best part of a year to strip all of the old, rotten or just unnecessary stuff out of the horsebox – we put the new floor down in August 2017 having bought Monty in September 2016.  I wasn’t really working to a schedule then and, due to work commitments, could only really spend time playing with the truck at the weekends.  That hasn’t really changed, but I have now booked tickets for a festival in June this year so I need Monty to be ready for that – I’ll definitely be booking some strategic holiday so that I can spend as much time as possible on the build!

So that’s pretty much the first year condensed into a few paragraphs, I’ll put together a few more posts in the future going into a bit more detail about the reconstruction and remodelling of the inside – if anyone’s interested!  Monty also has his own Facebook page – – with a bunch of photos and vids of progress should you wish to have a look.  Thanks for reading!

Submitted and written by: Nicky Gardner

Ford Transit Family Camper Conversion

Ford Transit Family Camper Conversion

Pete Busbys Ford Transit Self Build Conversion

After building lots of different vans as day vans and campers, including the normal a VW T4. I wanted to do something a little different to everyone one else. Something that would stand out, but be cheap and affordable to buy and maintain. But the main thing I wanted, was to be able to stand up in it.

So £500 later, I was the owner of a builders Hi Top SWB mk6 Transit.
Work started straight away on the conversion in to a camper. As per usual things got a little bit carried away! I decided that like all my other camper van builds, I wanted it low with some really nice wheels! Thats not that easy on a Ford Transit though unfortunately, theres nothing available to lower them and the choice of wheels is nonexistent, so what was I to do.

Ford Transit Camper SWB High Roof Camper

I had to use my imagination and get creative with it! Now it’s massively lowered on fully height adjustable suspension and custom one off wheels all fabricated and made by myself!

Ford Transit Camper Lowered With Alloys

The interior was built on a very tight budget, using scrap wood from work, along with anything else I could find that would be of use.

Ford Transit Camper Scrap Wood Interior Build

Windows fitted were second hand, and even the Recaro front seats were taken in payment for a day’s welding on a mates van!

Ford Transit Camper Recaro Seats

Myself and the family have used the van for camping over the last 2 years as it’s evolved, and loved it.

Ford Transit Camper on Family Holidays

Over the winter I finally found the time to repaint it. So found a unit big enough to get it in. Prepped, and painted myself over a weekend. Hard going on your own! It looks a hundred times better for it and is a real head turner where ever we go.

Ford Transit Camper New Paint Job

Looking forward to getting out in it again this year, and try and get some shows in to.
Hopefully people find my rather unique Transit van interesting and maybe give them the inspiration to build something similar themselves.


Building a Slide-out Bike Rack in a Camper Van

When converting our van in a camper van, we decided we wanted the mountain bikes to be stored inside the van for thief and climate protection. We also knew that loading and unloading the bikes would be a repetitive task and simplifying it would be much appreciated! We looked around and found that Traipsing About’s design was exactly what we were looking for! Here is our adaptation of the slide-out bike rack to our camper van.

Source: How to Build a Slide-out Bike Rack in a Camper Van Conversion: 8 Steps (with Pictures)

Kristins Guide to Camper Conversions

Kristins Guide to Camper Conversions

If you’re dreaming about a camper van conversion, there’s a lot to think about before jumping in and buying a van. Camper van conversions can really run the gamut, from a luxury Sprinter van conversion done by a company that could cost you up to $150,000, to a simple DIY cargo van conversion that will only be $1,000. The type of conversion you pick will largely have to do with budget and what type of camper van you want, so I decided to look into both types of conversions, from a fancy Sprinter van conversion one to a budget cargo

Source: How to do an awesome camper van conversion, DIY or custom-build

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