From Airplane to RV, He Builds Custom Campers
A former technician for the Royal Air Force turned stay-at-home dad, Steve Jones of Lancashire, England has been renovating RVs for over a decade. He has recently found a way to combine his love of planes and restoration hobby with two custom RVs.
Last year, Jones transformed a jet engine into a travel trailer for family road trips. Now he is in the process of converting a decommissioned Boeing 737 into an RV vacation rental for others to enjoy.
Jet Engine Custom RV Project
Jones obtained the jet engine from an acquaintance that owned a scrapyard. The part was from a 1967 Vickers VC10 airliner. It had a total of 38,383 flight hours logged in 45 years.
Jones admitted that despite his years of RV renovations, the jet engine conversion, which he refers to as the “VC10 Caravan Pod,” was much trickier. The entire build took 1,000 hours in 3 months, from January to March 2020.
“I’ve converted lots of camper vans and caravans over the years and used all that experience in designing and building the pod,” Jones said. “The whole job was extremely difficult. This part was never designed for this purpose. The fabrication was the longest job.”
Jones laid out the steps he followed to create this one-of-a-kind trailer. First, he completely hollowed out the engine, removing all of the wires, clips, and pipework. Next, Jones flattened the bottom to create a base that would fit snug on a chassis. He added windows to either end of the 13-foot structure and prepared the doors.
The Biggest Challenge of Remodeling an Airplane Cabin
Perhaps the most challenging part of the process was lining the curved interior of the engine shell with plywood. Carpet lining was put over the plywood.
Jones built a galley with a sink, two burners, cabinets, and lots of counter space. He also installed a dinette that doubles as a sleeping area for four people. The benches create a double bed, and the seatbacks flip-up making two twin beds.
The two doors have unique opening mechanisms. The entrance is a type of two-part hatch door, and the larger door opens up the dining area to the outdoors. There is a skylight over the dinette/bedroom area. Jones will call the project complete once he paints the exterior to look like the original jet engine: white on the top, gray on the bottom, and a blue line through the center.
The entire renovation cost $5,025 (£4,000). Jones has received quite a bit of press for his VC10 Pod, even appearing on a British home improvement TV show, “George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.” His popularity has attracted many offers, some over $31,000 (£25,000).
Jones is not ready to sell, however. He plans to take his wife and two sons on many road trips before considering any offers. “This is for myself and family to enjoy over the next few years,” Jones said.
Jones showed off his custom creation in the video below.
Boeing 737 Custom RV Project
Jones calls his current conversion his “craziest project to date.” He is turning a 27-year-old scrapped Boeing 747 into a two-level RV for vacationers to enjoy. The plane initially belonged to the UK airline BMI Baby. Like the VC10 jet engine, Jones purchased it through industry contacts.
Although Jones wanted to utilize as much of the plane as possible to for his conversion, transporting such a massive vehicle would be quite the undertaking. Instead, he decided to cut off a section just before the wings and hired a company to transport the 32-foot long and 13-foot tall behemoth some 130 miles to his home.
Jones did a few things to prep the plane for project mode. He pressure washed the outside and built a steel frame for the plane to rest on.
The floorplan will include a walk-in shower, a kitchenette, a double bed that can be lowered from the ceiling, a cargo deck bedroom, and French doors with a glass balcony. He plans to fully restore the cockpit as well. Jones has set aside $21,800 (£16,000) for the entire project.
Unlike the VC10 Pod, Jones wants to share this custom RV with others. He has made arrangements to keep the unit at a friend’s RV park and rent it out to campers as a unique glamping experience.
“What better way than to go into a flight deck, sit down with your partner, get yourself a gin and tonic, and sit down and have a laugh and a joke,” Jones said.
You can view the progress of his custom RV on Facebook at The Boeing 737 static caravan build.
How to make custom RVs on a budget
You don’t have to convert aircrafts into RVs to call yourself an RV renovator. Most fixer-upper enthusiasts work on a much smaller scale, making tweaks that result in significant upgrades to an RV. However, the price of renovations can get pricey rather quickly. Customizing RVs is one thing. Customizing RVs on a budget is another.
In the video below, Christina Dennis of The DIY Mommy describes how she renovated her RV from start to finish with a budget of only $1600. Dennis admits she is a self-taught DIYer and not a trained professional. Even so, her nine steps to renovating an RV and customizing it to your preferences is a comprehensive step-by-step guide, especially for beginners.
Looking for ideas on ways you can customize your RV, or want to share your custom RVs with other like-minded hobbyists? Log onto iRV2 forums for all of your RV renovation queries and comments.
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