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Anyone who knows me, knows I am into motorbike racing, MotoGP being my favourite, so much so that we named our two boys after racers, Marco was named after the late Marco Simoncelli and Dani after Dani Pedrosa.

We liked the idea of getting a couple of cartoon images of the two racers on each side of the Van, so I knocked up a rough image of what we wanted and started looking for quotes, the first started coming in at £800 per bike, two each side would be very expensive.

After a lot of searching I came across this company https://www.stephssketches.co.uk

They gave me a very reasonable quote for the work, less than £100 for both drawings, as one was to be a mirror image the numbers and the logos had to be mirrored. They sent me out a jpeg for approval and after a couple of minor tweaks I received the vector files I would need for printing.

This task was done by http://www.store.ratmally.com who was recommended to me, the size i went for was approx 500 cm long by 260 cm high, these were printed and posted for less than £40.00.

I read up a lot on how to apply graphics, watched a few videos and finally plucked up the courage to have a go, firstly I washed the van and then used panel wipe to make sure the area was clean, then roughly affixed the graphics using small pieces of masking tape. img_9523

It was then a case of moving them about until I was happy with the position, and going from one side of the van to the other to check they were roughly equal in position. Then you use a long piece of masking tape at the top, this will then act as a hinge.


You then lift the graphics up and start to peel away the backing paper from the top as you lower it down, this is kind of what happened, you will need a soft squeegee on hand to iron out any wrinkles.

This was the end result, which I am quite pleased with.



Pop Top

As promised while we were away we had our Pop Top fitted, I researched quite a few variants, but settled on the HiLo, as It doesn’t spoil the lines of the T5, it has the lowest profile and the highest lift and provided a bed that both the boys could comfortably sleep on for many a year to come.

I was a bit disappointed when I found out that they were no longer fitting them at the factory in Preston, you now had to go to a reseller, so I started looking at ones local and not so local. I rang five fitters, only three rang me back one of those being Matt at Blackberry Conversions.

He invited me up to see a conversion in progress and examine the HiLo he had fitted to his own Van, after speaking to him for about half an hour, it was obvious that Matt was a very conscientious and skilled fitter and we made the desicion on the way home to ask him to fit our roof.

I would highly recommend Matt to anyone who is looking for someone to fit their HiLo roof, here is a link to his Facebook page


We had the roof painted black as I like the look of a white van with a black roof, as you can see you can hardly tell there is a roof fitted.


The roof is held shut with four pull down bolts, two at the front and two at the rear.


This is one of the front ones, these pull the roof down to ensure there are no wind noises or vibrations when driving, there is a sliding hatch that covers the tent, this is slid back to access the tee handle which also hold the roof down.


When you slide this hatch back the tent sides hang down into the cab area.


You can now access the tee handle and applying slight pressure to the roof it pops up, you will need to have at least two doors open for this to go up smoothly to avoid the vacuum.


This is how it looks with the roof up:

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The front window has a zip out blackout blind, the two side windows, you can unzip the blackout part, then unzip the plastic window so there is just a mesh, or that can be unzipped too, for ventilation.

But if you want ventilation you can unzip the entire canvas and roll it up.


I wouldn’t suggest you let your kids slip up here like this though, it does however let you see how well the roof is made, there is a 5mm galvanised steel frame that is bonded and riveted into the roof, there is a drain hole in each corner, with a hose going down and exiting in the wheel arch, its quite a large hose, here you can see it running down the back pillar.


The bed can be folded up out of the way, given you six foot six headroom, along the length of the roof, more than enough for most people, you can see the bed folded up here. The bed comes with an optional mattress, that is designed to fit exactly in the gap between the bed and the roof.


The finish I think is very neat, and I would recommend the HiLo roof and Blackberry Conversions to anyone.