TURNING MY 4x4 into a FULL-TIME HOME
I'm Eva, and I've spent the last three years of my life traveling solo to some of the world's most remote and off-beat places. From horse trekking alone in Mongolia, to living in Pakistan for a year, and spending the first three months of the pandemic stuck on a remote island off the coast of Yemen before making my way back home on a cargo ship it's been one hell of an adventure but recently I decided it's time for a change. I've been dreaming of being completely free and independent with a little nest of my own.
So I bought my dream truck, a Land Rover Defender, and now the plan is to convert the Defender into a mini camper because I want to be able to live in it. Now, there's only one small problem, I know nothing about camper conversions, vehicles, mechanics. Luckily I've got some help. Meet my uncle Andrzej who is a professional carpenter, and my brother Tomek who offered to help. Over the next few days we'll be converting my car into a mini camper that I'll live in full-time, but first, we need to do some demolition work.
The first stage, which is getting out the current interior, is proving to be a little bit more difficult than expected because there's so much rust, and some of the fittings and nails are so old that we simply cannot get them out, which means that we've got a little bit more extra work at the beginning than we expected. Definitively did not expect this. We've one last stubborn nail. Feels so rewarding to get it out. The old interior is finally completely gone.
Now it's time to start cleaning this baby. Pure white spirit, petroleum basically, that's what we're going to use to clean the inside. This is going to decrease it and leave it nice and beautiful, probably smelling a little bit rough. Don't do that, don't ever do that.
This space may only be four square meters, but it's been a while since this car has seen any cleaning products, so it took a while to prep it for the build. Now that the car is clean and empty, I can finally begin to measure it out, which is one of the most exciting parts of the whole conversion process because it will allow me to see what exactly I can fit in this space, and honestly, it's massive, it's huge. I can actually do this. I can just lay down like this if I want to.
Let's do this. Oh my god, you're not gonna believe this. This boot is two meters long. That is definitely more than enough space to build a tiny house. It's time to set the foundation and work on one of the most important elements of the Defender build, the insulation. This insulating layer underneath the furniture will keep the car cooler inside when it's hot out and warm inside when it's cold out, win-win, but only if you do it right.
I got really lucky with this stuff, it's basically top-notch industrial-grade insulation with like glue on it already and everything. I got it from our neighbor who happened to have a whole bunch in his garage but it's really tricky to cut it down to size and get it just right because the place where it goes which is on the ceiling is curved, irregular, so I've been cutting it down and trimming it down for the last 20 minutes, hopefully this is the one. Let's see if this thing fits. It's way too long here. It's too big. Oh my god, I'm cutting this thing down to size and trimming it for like the fourth time.
I can't seem to get it right. I can't get it right. Let's do this.
This must be one of the most fiddly things you'll ever do. For now, the most important thing is to lay on the insulation, so it covers all surfaces in the back and of course, trim it down to size. Next up, cut out some of the smaller bits to fill in all the smaller spots. Oh god.
What are you guys doing there, huh? May, what are you doing there, huh? That's not your spot. These two have been diligently guarding me throughout the process. You love me, yes you love me.
Oh, you are the best production assistant. You are the best production assistant. Next up were sizing down these metal bars. These will serve as a support frame for the floor, which is coming up next.
Finally, I think this is well deserved. It really is this giant. It's not photoshopped. So the first pizza in the truck and definitely not the last. So good! Doesn't this look like the inside of like a NASA spaceship? Super cool, thinking about leaving it this way, nah. So I'm really, really proud of myself. I know it doesn't really look like much yet, but this is like the foundation of absolutely everything and I'm super excited to have it done.
It took a little while, but we are here. The next stage is gonna be much more challenging because it involves cutting plywood, shaping plywood, nailing plywood, oiling it, painting it. I don't know, creating an actual interior out of this mess, and for that I will definitely need a lot of help from my family members, so let's see how it goes.
Anyway, for now, I'm just gonna celebrate this little win, finish the rest of my pizza, and get some sleep, so... All right, it's time to pick out the plywood for the interior. This is a pretty big moment because this, this material is going to define how we build the interior, how it all looks, and of course, how it stays, hopefully.
Lesson number one thousand and five hundred of car conversions and builds there's a million different types of plywood, and you need to be able to choose just the right one for your car. After a while, we left the shop equipped with eight square meters of 12-millimeter waterproof plywood, if that means anything to you guys. Today is a really big day because today we are putting in the floor, which is going to make everything look really complete and beautiful even though we're nowhere near finished. One hundred and nine three centimeters. Let's get to work.
The floor almost fits but not quite. It's just a little bit too big in some places, so we need to find a way to trim it and cut it so that we can hopefully attach it to the actual floor of the car sometime today. And the floor is ready, now on to the rest of the build. Our plan is to build a functional space with a place to sleep, a place to work, a place to cook, and a place to chill, all within under four square meters because that's how much space I've got got inside the Defender. So what do you think about my car, Tomek? It gives a very light Top Gear vibe.
I will take that as a compliment. We spend a whole eternity measuring this thing out but still it doesn't fit, we need to cut it and trim it a little bit more. This is attempt number two. Let's see how it goes. Look, is looking better than before. Still doesn't fit.
You know, when you look at a lot of sort of van life videos, some people just make it look so easy, but it's not, it's a lot of work, a lot of like measuring things out, you know, just being super, super precise and that's just not something that YouTube can prepare you for, I don't think. Oh my god, look. It fits. This is going to be my bed. Tomek, what do you think? Yeah, I'm surprised it went in.
- Would you sleep in it? - No. It's a hundred ninety-three centimeters long. - I'm a hundred ninety-three centimeters tall. - All right, fair. And then a few days went by, and nothing much happened. Everyone got really busy. I lost access to the working tools, I had to give the car to the mechanic, and the conversion was simply on hold.
It was still all I could think about, but there was not much I could do to restart the process. I just wasn't independent enough in using carpentry tools to pick them up and do everything myself, and I started to beat myself up over it. Oh my god, this must be one of the most infuriating and frustrating processes in the entire world. It's been a week, a whole week, and all that I've managed to do is insulate the car and put in a floor. A week, you know what, I just feel like the spirit is willing, but the hands are useless. I wish I had learned how to cut wood in school because I don't know any of these things, and I can't be making constant demands on everybody else's time to teach me and show me how machines work and all of this stuff.
I know I'm so lucky to have people helping me I guess I just wish that I didn't have to rely on them so much. It just makes me feel really useless and like I have really bitten off more than I can chew. It's not looking good. The next day I came to the workshop with a new resolve to learn, but I found something else. Hey guys, you're not gonna believe this.
I can barely believe it myself, but look at this, this is the main piece of my interior. This is the thing that we would have worked on for like a day or two, and I guess Andrzej, my uncle, must have made it last night for me without telling me. It's beautiful.
It's really nice. It's really nice, I'm so lucky. And things kind of picked up from there. This is my first time ever using a sewing machine. I've never done this before. This machine right here creates a nice and even white rim around my curtains.
Now I didn't do a very good job at cutting out the fabric as you can see, this is not very straight, but apparently, this machine will fix it all, so I'm just gonna sit here and see what happens. This is so exciting to see, like it's actually coming out really nicely, and ten minutes ago, I didn't know how to use this machine, now I do. Learning skills is totally, totally underrated. All right, this is my first curtain, the very first curtain I've ever made in my life. Now I need to make five more. Right, this thing is done, and I say thing because I don't know if I can call it a curtain.
What is this? How do I even do that? I was sewing it on a machine. It's like the wonkiest thing in the world. All right, let's see if it fits on the window. First of all, I sewed it on two opposite sides by accident. This was not intentional, pure unintentional.
All right, does it fit, does it fit, does it fit? Oh, look, oh my god! Yes, it's even longer than I needed it to be. Oh my god. I haven't figured out a way to attach it yet, but oh my god, look, it fits.
I have curtains, yay, yay. After a long week, we were finally getting somewhere from an empty shell, to what looked something like a spaceship, to all the plywood drama. Let me show you how far we've come.
Right, I want to show you guys the state of the build right now because, honestly, it looks awesome. It's not even finished yet. We are definitely not done, but let's go inside because this is super exciting. Probably need a step right here to make it more comfortable to go inside the car but welcome to my new home.
First of all, I want to show you where I'm going to be sleeping. So here is the bed, here we go, so it folds out like this. I have two mattresses, one which goes here, one which goes here, these are boxes for storage, there's three of these, and they're really cool, super pretty. All right, we fold the bed once again.
This is pretty tight squeeze, I know that, but I knew that going in. This is my little corridor. I don't really know what I'm gonna do with the rest of the space over there just yet, but here we've got my workspace. This is my office, so we lifted this part up like this, take this bit out, there's another one like it just here.
This is going to be my new workstation, super cool. Imagine my laptop here, all my working stuff, it's actually much bigger than any desk I've ever had before in my life. It's also going to be a kitchen, of course, in a car like this, in a truck like this, you got to make sure that everything has more than just one function and then over here we've got space for a cool box, probably not enough but could be just about enough, we will see and here we got more space, more storage, this is incredible and here is a tray for like small stuff, and this is my home. And it's not done, obviously the ceiling is not done, there's no electricity here, there's no heating here just yet, there's still a lot of work to do but I can actually leave tomorrow, I can actually take this car for a test ride for a week and live in it which is insanely exciting, and I really have my uncle Andrzej to thank for most of this work he really spent a lot of time helping me out and cutting out all the plywood and helping me design the whole thing. In the next episode, I'll be taking the truck on a test drive for a couple of days for the very first time. If you don't want to miss it, make sure you subscribe to my channel.
Keep exploring, and I'll see you on the next adventure.