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Bobby Bolton

Adventures don’t get much bigger than this. One man (and his dog) built an epic overlander to quest from the UK all the way to Australia! Bobby’s truck needs to provide guaranteed power in the most extreme conditions.

Tell us about yourself and your incredible journey

Hailing from Wigan, I’ve spent a fair few years up North. But in 2023 I’ll be starting a journey that takes me pretty far from home! I will be driving to Australia (yes, you heard that right!), in my converted truck ( on Instagram). Don’t worry – I won’t get lonely – I’ll be taking Red with me. That’s my labrador and the official second in command on the adventure, for anyone who didn’t know.

I don’t have any time frame associated with my trip and am really big on taking any pressure off myself. I don’t want to feel that I need to be in particular places at particular times. My goal is to follow a route that piques my curiosity, rather than taking orders from a sat nav. So with that in mind, I have 90% of the countries I’ll be visiting planned… but I don’t know my exact route!

Once I get to Australia, I’m very open to seeing where I feel like going next. I could stay there for a while, or I might have discovered a hidden gem on my journey. What I do know is that I’m ready for an adventure that takes me off the beaten track. Everything else is a bit of a (very exciting) mystery!

Tell us a bit more about your conversion

My conversion is a little larger than your standard van, a MAN 18-tonne HGV 4-wheel drive truck, to be precise. In a former life, it was a water bowser, carrying a huge tank on its back and working on construction projects across a number of different sites. Although the water tank is no more, the truck will now be carrying my home on wheels, complete with a king-size bed, a bathroom, air-con, a fridge/freezer and even an outdoor BBQ.

I haven’t given it a proper nickname just yet, but the number plate looks like it reads ‘Le Bob’, so that’s the front-runner at the moment.

Watch Bobby’s customer story 🎥

Powered by Nohma

See inside Bobby’s epic overlander and hear his incredible plans drive from the UK to Australia via 40+ countries.

Tell us why you decided to build your own van and what you plan to use it for?

So, I decided to build my own van because, well, life threw me a bit of a curveball. I recently split from my partner of 11 years, and it really shook things up for me. I figured it was time for a major change, you know? Kind of like hitting the reset button on life.

I was ready to clear out everything from where I was living and what I was doing. The goal? To find my true purpose and just soak in as many experiences as I could. So, I took this as a sign to take a break from the usual and do a full reset. That led me to moving into a truck. Yep, sold all my stuff, and now I don’t have a fixed base in the UK anymore.

The plan with the van is pretty exciting. After I spend some time in Australia, I’m shipping off to South America. It’s all about embracing that nomadic life and seeing where the road takes me. A bit of adventure, a touch of soul-searching – that’s the dream!

Bobby's electrical system (for illustration purposes only)

Describe your perfect day

Imagine this: I’m cruising along and suddenly, I find this spot that feels like nobody else has ever discovered it. Could be the top of a mountain, a peaceful river, or even a hidden beachside.

I park my truck right there, in the heart of nature’s beauty. First thing I do? Crank up some tunes. There’s nothing like good music to set the vibe. And of course, it’s playtime with my dog. We’re talking fetch, a bit of running around – just enjoying the freedom and the fresh air.

As the day turns into evening, it’s BBQ time. Grilling under the open sky, maybe the smell of the sea or the forest around me, just adds to the whole experience. It’s simple, laid-back, and totally perfect. Just me, my dog, and the open road. Can’t get better than that!

On location with Bobby, bashing through the bracken in the Lake District, UK

What inspired the design of your truck? Were there any particular design features, materials, or appliances that you wanted to include?

Alright, so when it came to designing my van, a vision I had in mind was having a BBQ on the side of the truck. I wanted something super practical and easy to use. Since I’ve spent time in Indonesia and Australia, taking a surfboard along was also a no-brainer. But I didn’t want to compromise on space, especially for those all-important solar panels. Being able to go off-grid for longer periods was a big priority for me.

Electrics, though, that was a learning curve. I converted a Sprinter van before and tried to do the electrics myself, but it was only just fit for purpose. This time around, I wanted to go to someone I could really trust, where electrics were their bread and butter. I needed a full system that was totally reliable, especially for powering things like the fridge. I needed to have full confidence that I could head into the mountains and my fridge would keep running!

As for the interior, I went for an internal slat roof with LED lights and a big comfy bed. In my previous sprinter, the space was too cramped, and there wasn’t enough headroom. So, this time, I made sure the bed was positioned right at window level, so I could enjoy the view from both sides while lying down. The paint choice was a bit of a rollercoaster. I thought I was going for grey, but it turned out to be more navy. Initially, I panicked, but in the end, I committed to it and it turned out great!

Describe any challenges you faced when building the van

First off, my best advice for anyone diving into this is pretty straightforward: don’t overthink it and definitely don’t overspend. Remember, you’re building something that’s meant to be a facilitator of adventure and exploration. It doesn’t need to be the Ferrari of vans; what matters most is where it can take you. If you sink too much cash into it, you might end up holding back on the actual adventures. My truck’s got its fair share of tree scratches and flaking paint, but that’s all part of the journey.

When it comes to where you should spend your money, focus on the essentials like electrical setup and insulation. Don’t get too caught up in the flashy stuff, like fancy-looking alloy wheels, snazzy paint jobs, or an over-the-top roof rack. It’s more about what you need the van to do. For me, it was about making sure I had reliable power and keeping the van warm and cozy. The looks? They’re secondary to the functionality and the freedom the van brings. Keep it practical, and you won’t go wrong! 

What was the best part about using Nohma?

The best part was the design and diagram they provided – totally idiot-proof, super easy to follow. Even though I got an electrician to do the actual installation, having that diagram was a game changer. It’s great for anyone to have, even for pros. It helps prevent any struggles or confusion during the setup.

And hey, having a point of contact like Paul [one of our engineers]? That was the cherry on top. It’s always reassuring to have someone you can reach out to, especially when you’re dealing with something as crucial as your van’s electrical system. Paul was super helpful, and having that kind of support made the whole experience smooth and hassle-free.

I also used The Van Conversion Bible to plan and build my truck and found Nohma’s website super comprehensive. It’s like a goldmine of information, especially if you’re just dipping your toes into the whole van life thing. Definitely a go-to resource for anyone thinking about or actually doing a van conversion.

The best part was the design and diagram they provided – totally idiot-proof, super easy to follow. Even though I got an electrician to do the actual installation, having that diagram was a game changer.

Bobby Bolton,

Components used in Bobby’s electrical system ⚡

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