The road to street food nirvana is paved with temptation. At every turn you could just sod it all and buy a gazebo. You could accept that trading from ground-level is less likely to break down and easier to replace. But I tell you stand fast! Be strong in your resolve and everlasting glory will be your reward. Or not. Experiences differ.

We are now much of the way through our first conversion, and it’s time I laid down some Truth on the subject of converting a campervan to a food van. Obviously something we have all considered at one time or another.

The Truth about Converting Campervans

As is tradition the Bedford has already been rescued once by the AA, and has therefore now been initiated into the collective of Jabberwocky vehicles. Before we had even converted it – something of a personal best for us. This is our first Truth: old vans, even ones that are new to you and which you are literally just taking away one tiny little holiday before the birth of your first child, break down. Luckily anyone who reads the blog already knows this. Onwards.

I’m unsure why, but back in the 80’s they had this wizzy idea of making campervan boxes entirely out of partially rotten wood. It’s an odd design decision, but there we go. The 80’s were full of odd design decisions.  Barny painstakingly replaced all of it with fresh timber and clad the wafer-thin walls in wipe-clean bonded aluminium. Truth two: ancient campervans are not known for their structural integrity. Until you have taken the above steps. We’re now hurricane proof. Provided the hurricane is not in the same place as the Bedford.

rotten bedford walls

campervan conversion - old walls to new

Truth number three is a little vague and related to plug sockets. Which in turn is related to smart phones and their incessant need for electricity. Sure, there are other things that will need power inside your new van, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a spare socket? The Beast has a total of 5 plug sockets. The Bedford, when completed, will have 9.

Then there is the hatch. This is what makes a regular campervan into a bona fide food truck. Traditionally this is a solid single panel which is then moved up and down on gas struts – the technical name for those things that keep the boot of your car open. This solid panel then functions as a shelter for customers and stops some of the rain getting in. We didn’t do it like that. After much thinking we have opted for outward opening hatch doors, which can then double as menu boards. Odds are we may still learn a truth or two about that one with regards to weather, but right now it’s different, and I like that.

converted food van interior

In it’s current state. Hatch, walls and plug sockets all in.

At this stage the Bedford could function as a shell serving unit: add some tables and a hand wash sink and away you go. It’s been a long time in the making, and the learning curve is a steep one, but with the end in sight it’s looking promising. You are cordially invited to come and try the first taste from the new van as soon as it is live, where you will find us, looking supremely pleased with ourselves. Or on the phone to the AA. You know how it is.

Betty the Bedford will have her first outing on 13/3/16 at Digbeth Dining Club’s St Patrick’s Day Event. Yümlaut can be found on twitter here. The website is coming soon. 

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