Archive for May, 2019

Baby Beluga: The Ultimate Family Camper Van

Posted in Beluga Sprinter with tags , , , on May 23, 2019 by theseep
The Beluga in the early phases in Zion.

We have the opportunity to take a big (9 week!) roadtrip and decided to do it up and build the ultimate campervan to make it happen! After having converted a Westfalia Syncro to run on biodiesel and veggie oil in the past, then upgraded a 1967 Aljo Sportsman 13′ camper with solar/hot water/etc, we had had issues along the way and needed a reliable vessel for our voyage.

Camping is one of those personal experiences that doesn’t have a “right answer” for everyone, from backpacking, to car tent camping, roof-top tents, pop-ups, towed campers of all sizes, 5th wheels, full-on-home-on-wheels RVs, and the current trend, #vanlife. We loved the Vegfalia, but it was unreliable, tent camping wasn’t fun with small children, and we did love our little 13′ camper that had bunks for the boys and could fit into a double-length spot in parking lots, but the boys were outgrowing the back seat of our 2014 F150, which was also starting to have mechanical issues. So, that’s a long way to say “you do you”, but after going back to the Fresno Sportsmobile factory twice, we decided that a van build was going to be the best fit for our family. However awesome Sportsmobiles are, they had a 12+ month waiting list and they couldn’t build what we wanted, which was based on the James Cook Sprinter Westfalia layout, of which only about 250 were imported in 2005 (I think).

We wanted full insulation, the ability to stealth camp, and the added storage of a high roof (no pop-top), but still able to sleep 4 in a short body that we could park anywhere. We found Fiberine in Long Beach, CA, that made a bubble top that allowed for an upper bunk with a full fiberglass enclosure and had to search European markets to find RIB second-row seats that folded to a bed but also had shoulder belts for all passengers (Sportsmobile can only install one shoulder belt, so do you pick the kid you like more that day?) . ADF in San Fernando were amazing for installing the opening side windows and advising on installing the seat – they also will do amazing custom builds if you’re not a DIYer.

So, here we are, 1.5 years later, embarking on our amazing trip! We will continue to post updates and I’ll post descriptions of parts of “BB’s” build along the way!