The Luton is improved!

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Whilst sitting in Portugal, I came up with some new ideas for the Luton. Of course, that soon meant I’d be on the road and heading back to get stuck in.

Oops, no brakes!

I was a little surprised to find my first task was replacing the brake pads, but this became apparent when I had to pull over because of smoke bellowing from my front wheel and a severe lack of braking ability! It seems a brake pad was that low, the piston got stuck. No problem, half hour later I’d fitted a new set of pads and we were rolling happily once more, as well as stopping, more to the point!

A side door!

When parked up in a beautiful location, a side door on the van means you get to enjoy your van and appreciate your surroundings. One thing I hadn’t got on the Luton was a side door. So I cut a hole.

I’m so used to building and modifying vans that even this big hole was no sweating moment. Though this is my biggest hole to date. I dread to think of the comments that statement will bring! Once the doorway was cut out, the sides were rather bouncy. This called for a heavy duty door frame to be built… This was all done in one day.

The next day, I made a door and treated the timber with the only wood stain I had to hand.

I decided on a stable type door to match the back door.

My plans to finish the interior were cut short by waking up to sunshine and blue skies… That could mean only one thing… Time to paint my house… Nato green! Once I removed all the graphics!

The weather was very kind to me over the few days I spent painting. A total of three days pretty much saw the Luton all painted.

I made new graphics for the sides too.

The map of Europe with “Hello” in many languages now includes… Welsh! Thanks to Marc and Jo who are now the proud owners of the Pilot for the translation!

The Pilot also has a new name… “Hapus” – Welsh for Happy. Updated graphics are en route for Hapus!

A few rainy days gave me the opportunity to finish the inside…

I couldn’t resist this mat…

My Mum very kindly made me a pair of curtains for the new door window! Thanks Mum!


A good night sleep!

One awesome feature of a Luton home is the fixed, full sized double bed. However, I made the mistake of buying a memory foam mattress originally and not only is that asking to roast in bed, but after a while it loses it’s memory and you find yourself sleeping in a crater.

Kirsty and I headed off to Ikea where, upon her recommendation, I bought a nice new mattress the same as she has in her house. Getting the original mattress out was a struggle, but well worth it. The new one is fantastic – I found this out 72 hours later when I was able to sleep on it. Though it is a little taller than the original so I really am in close proximity to the ceiling now! Glad I’m not claustrophobic!!

No more bottled water!

Spending money on bottled water isn’t my idea of money well spent, however drinking chlorine isn’t a good plan either. I ordered myself a water filter which connects to the tap and gives me (better than) bottle quality water, on tap. The filter I chose was based on personal experience of this make and model (my Mum and Dad used to sell these filters when I was a child) so I went for an NSA model 50c.

NSA do a wide range of granular activated carbon water filters and back in the 90s they were brilliant – I can confirm they are still as good now.

All that was left to do now was come up with a way of having a step up into the Luton via my new door. I decided to make a single folding step. Out came the grinder and welder.

Finished off with some pallet timber and Nato Green paint, the step looked the part!

I have a few other things to make and modify before real travels commence, but that’s the big work all done.

A few days in Snowdonia was just the ticket to try out the new door! Bala Lake…

It even stopped raining for a couple of days!

What’s the difference between Wales and Portugal? The weather.

But at least we have a great view of the rain now!!

Where next?

So, where to in September…? No idea yet… Any thoughts more than welcome in the comments! There will be an adventure somewhere in Europe though, that’s for sure..!

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30 comments on “The Luton is improved!
  1. ian says:

    This van looks fantastic inside and really comfortable. But what is the reason to paint everything in NATO green?` Camouflage?

    • BeyondTheVan says:

      Thank you!! Nato green… just different and I like it. Blends in nicely when parked in nice places 🙂

      • ian says:

        I saw that you also did it to your other van – it looks great. We had been thinking of doing similar for a while but have been putoff by the temperature factor. Do you find that it makes the inside of the van too hot or is it OK in hot climates? Regards Ian
        PS Keep up your great blog!

  2. Simon F says:

    Nato looks good and great job on the side door.
    I still use an NSA 50C every day 🙂 it`s been going for over 20 years and still gives lovely clear filtered water,i started selling them for about 5 minutes when they came out back in the 90`s.

    • BeyondTheVan says:

      The NSA stuff is superb. Unfortunately, their marketing methods in the 90s were such a con for the people involved. We were done by them. Can’t fault their products though!!

  3. What side of the lake were you? I live about a 2 hour drive away and need to take my new van there for a shake down.

  4. Alf says:

    Really nice job done colour looks good ,Enjoy your travels ,regards Alf and Marianne.

  5. Martin Roberts says:

    The van looks fantastic , I really like the side door addition . If you need any more welsh translations , I’d be happy to help . Native welsh speaker reporting for duty . Dwi yn hapus iawn dy fod wedi dewis gair cymraeg fel enw i dy gartra .

  6. Dodgy Bird says:

    Lookin’ awesome Rich! love the new door (even if the view at the moment is the lovely British rain!! which even Ted looks reluctant to come out into in one of your pics hahaha XD ). New colour and decals looking good too! well done! I envy your ability to modify whenever you feel like it.
    You asked for ideas on where to visit next? here with me n hubby of course 😉 with your DIY skills. Motorhome is waiting. Mine unfortunately is named Job… ATM. You’ll know why when you see it *grins* . Great blog as always!

  7. Sue George says:

    Great job. You are so industrious!

  8. ian says:

    Hello Richard, Keep up the great blog! How do you find the temperatures in the NATO green vans when in a hot climate such as Spain or Portugal?

  9. geoff says:

    Looking good! 🙂

  10. Lars says:

    You could try the balkans.

  11. Doug Talbot says:

    Love the interior as well as the improvements. Such a homely home. Happy travels mate.

  12. Stephen says:

    Nice door!!
    Is that your 90 in the background ?

  13. Laars says:

    You could try heading out to the Balkans. Good weather and interesting scenery.

  14. Jenny Kittos says:

    Hello, our luton is beginning his journey from workhorse to home-on-the-move and I want a side door. You post very briefly about what you have done but can I have more details please.
    In ‘stablising’ (prior to ‘stable’ door) the frame you simply say “the sides were rather bouncy. This called for a heavy duty door frame to be built… This was all done in one day.” What was your heavy duty door frame made from and how was its water-proofing ensured? All wood or did it require rubber/silicone or equiv to ensure it could survive British weather?

    • BeyondTheVan says:

      Hey Jenny, I used CLS timber to make the frame as well as gorilla glue! Everything was then fitted tightly and screwed in. Silicone is always used, I don’t think I own any clothes that don’t have silicone on them!!! Hope your Luton is going well – such a great project! Very best wishes, Rich.

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