How about a new chassis cab and shell?
Yet another approach is to start with a new ‘chassis-cab’ vehicle although this presents a bigger challenge than fitting out a van. That’s because you’ve got to build the body in the first place. However, the GRP shells used for large Telecom vans can be purchased complete from a specialist near Wroxham in Norfolk. Alternatively, some self builders go one step further and purchase complete ex-Telecom vans. After the industrial trappings are removed from inside, this leaves the builder to insulate and line-out the GRP (‘fibre-glass’) ‘shell’ before fitting it out inside. There’s still a lot of work involved and that’s why these projects are not as popular as conversions of ‘panel vans’ or ‘window vans’.
Irrespective of the preferred build-strategy, a finished vehicle must comply with issues of health/safety and be legal to drive on the road. That’s why one of the first “essentials” is to get your base vehicle checked on a weighbridge before commencing its conversion. This involves getting: a) a total weight check, and b) a back axle weight check. It’s best to do this with a full tank of fuel and no-one on board. Also note down if items like emergency tools were on board at the time of the check.
Public weighbridges can usually be found by contacting the Weights and Measures section in your local council’s Trading Standards Department. My nearest weighbridge owner charges £8.00 for every weight check and issues a dated certificate giving the vehicle’s registration number and the results. This document is important to keep.
Having obtained this information, you should then compare the confirmed weights with the limits shown on the vehicle’s data plate. Subtracting the weights obtained at the weighbridge from the maximum figures shown on the plate reveals how much “spare” remains for: a) all your conversion work, b) the extra accessories you might fit, and c) the weight of occupants and all their possessions. To exceed this is illegal and it might make a vehicle extremely unsafe.