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Mhairi, Technical Researcher

Mhairi (pronounced ‘marry’) is a Mechanical Engineer and has converted several off-grid campervans, including her current home-on-wheels, a VW Crafter called Torvi. She spends her time between Scotland and Europe, chasing fair weather forecasts and searching for waterside camping spots.

Mhairi grew up in a small Scottish village where she spent her time playing on bikes with her older brother and roaming the fields with the family dog. She had her first taste of van life during family caravan holidays around Scotland; the caravan was the perfect refuge to warm up and refuel after an adventure. 

Mhairi admits that she’s always been a little bit nerdy. She always enjoyed school because she loved the chance to learn something new and battle it out for the highest mark in a class test or project. This natural ambition served her well in her Mechanical Engineering degree where she earned herself a handful of awards for her hard work and high marks. She also had the chance to design and build an amazing variety of products and machines. She designed a customisable ice-climbing axe that could be 3D printed in metal, carried out kinematic calculations for the build of a robotic arm and worked with a team of students to design a magnetic bike pedal. Her favourite project involved the design and build of a water-based drone that used AI to search for rising gas bubbles, intended to be scaled up to identify gas leaks from underwater gas pipes or from Carbon Capture and Storage facilities. 

Mhairi has had an eclectic mix of jobs over the years (field worker, trampoline coach, painter, joiner…) but through an internship at a product design company in Edinburgh, she had her first taste of the 9 till 5 office job and knew that she needed a better work-life balance for herself.

When she graduated, Mhairi and her partner, Greg, decided to convert their first full-height van. Although it was a challenging process, they realised that their respective skill-sets were a great combination for designing, planning and building campervans. In the following years, they converted several off-grid campervans and helped out their van friends with diesel heater installations and electrical system upgrades. The couple take great care over their conversions, making sure every part of the build looks good, but is also reliable and designed to last. Mhairi loves being able to use her experience to create a customised home-on-wheels, perfect for each owner’s adventures – whether that’s weekend climbing trips, family holidays, or multi-week adventures through Europe. Through these conversions, Mhairi has gained a fair bit of experience in puzzling out power calculations, wrestling with 35mm2 cable and soldering tiny wires together in cramped spaces. She understands how designing and installing off-grid electrics can be daunting and has some valuable advice to share. 

Since finishing the conversion of their VW Crafter in 2020, Mhairi and Greg have been living in their van full-time and after a few alterations, they are now really happy with the final build. Since the pandemic put their travel plans on hold, they made the most of touring around Scotland until they finally managed to reach the French Alps for a winter season and had some great weather for snowboarding, ice-climbing and ski-touring. 

Two years of van life has given Mhairi some valuable insight into the important factors of a van build – they have tested their van out in low temps, high altitudes, and in some very wet, ‘minging’, Scottish weather! She loves living off-grid and marvels at how little water and fuel they use when they’re living in a small space and being conservative with their usage.

Mhairi and Greg share their van with two canine travel companions called Floki and Kida who love to fight for the best spot on the sofa and are constantly hiding shoes and chewing valuables! Looking after two big dogs adds a whole new challenge to their living situation but Mhairi loves the fact that, no matter what the weather, daily dog-walks force them to get outside and get some exercise.

Mhairi can’t pin down which sport she loves best, so chooses to cart all the gear around in her van, including snowboard, skis, windsurfer, slack-line, mountain-bike, road-bike, etc.! She and Greg had to think carefully about their garage lay-out to fit in all that kit!

Mhairi doesn’t shy away from a hard day’s work but also values the importance of a healthy work-life balance and loves to fit in ‘micro-adventures’ whenever she can.  As well as chasing the thrill of extreme sports, she also loves to take a breath in the simple, peaceful moments found when walking the dogs or washing the dishes. 

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