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-   -   10 Tonne truck as overland camper (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/other-4wd-overland-tech/10-tonne-truck-overland-camper-60655)

Toby2 9 Dec 2011 20:21

10 Tonne truck as overland camper

Aside from having to get a LGV license, are there any other constraints with running a 10 tonne truck as an overland camper (based in UK). Do you have to have a tacho, are you limited on driving hours, is insurance excessive compared with something just under 7.5 tonnes?

Appreciate any advice, easy to find people who know about driving trucks but not as campers and don't know whether rules are easier compared with operating a commercial truck.

Cheers Toby

tacr2man 10 Dec 2011 23:01

The big thing is it needs to be converted to a motorhome/camper , not sufficient to just have a box with camp beds in back . So if in Uk you need to have fixed cooking facilities , beds can be convertable from seating , it will need a wardrobe (hanging clothes) . Then you will have to get V5 changed to motorhome . If you dont do all this you will have lots of probs crossing borders , plus otrher things like having to pay MAUT in germany (truck road use charge) etc . There is a proper spec for conversion , have a look for selfbuild camper club for more advice. Another useful site is motorhomefun. HTSH

if converted no tacho not a goods/pcv so no drivers hours regs either insurance should not be much different , etc

m37charlie 11 Dec 2011 05:13

Things may be totally different in North America, HOWEVER......
If fully converted to motorhome (cooking facilities, bed, potty, fridge, sink) insurance is MUCH less. I know in Europe you still must obey the HGV speed signs and of course be mindful of dimensional warnings, especially weight and height. In N. America a HGV licence is not even required (mine is >12 ton with air brakes!!) although I did get one. I just renewed my registration for 2 years for $180, for a 12.5 ton truck. No inspection required, which is good since it is in Perth and I'm in Anchorage....
There are of course HGV speed limits in N. America but they are less severe than in Europe, and there are far fewer low overpasses and very old weak bridges.
Be sure to get a HGV or MGV licence more than appropriate for weight (up to 12 tons), and then an IDP (Iternational Drivers' Licence) with no weight limitation. You will probably have far few bureaucratic problems regarding the wieght of the truck outside the EC.
Getting the HGV licence involved:
1) going on a 90-120min "walkaround" with a former truck shcool teacher who works at a local freight company re the "walkaround" about the mechanical issues of the truck you plan to use in the test. Since it was my own Unimog, I of course knew everything.
2) Got to the Motor Vehicle Dept. and get the handbook for commercial vehicles and handbook for air brakes, take them home, read them cover to cover very carefully.
3) next day take the tests at the DMV and score well
4) Get in the queue to take the driving test at the local truck driver school, without taking the course. In my case the wait was about 3 weeks.
5) The lady said "you know your truck very well" - I had owned it for 4 years at that point in time!!
It is critical that you understand all the mecahnical systems of the truck you intend to take the test in, especially safety related: brakes, steering, tires, wheels.
I was able to use my own vehicle because I drove it under a private licence as a motorhome, but being over 26000 lb it qualified as a potential "heavy truck".


PanEuropean 12 Dec 2011 07:40


I'm not sure how the rules work in Europe, but here in North America, everything depends on what kind of licence plate the vehicle has on it, and what it is described as on the registration document (the paper that accompanies the licence plate).

By way of example, you could purchase a massive semi-trailer power unit (the truck portion of an articulated lorry) here in North America, and register it as a private passenger vehicle. If you did so, you would be treated as a private passenger vehicle in all respects, excepting only circumstances where road tolls are based on number of axles, and road restrictions are based on vehicle weight.

But, if you registered your gigantic Mack truck as a private passenger vehicle, you would not be allowed to operate it as a truck is normally used. You could only use it to carry as many passengers as it has seats and seat belts installed for.

I quite suspect that in Europe, the general gist of things is much the same - it doesn't matter what the vehicle looks like, and it doesn't matter what a reasonable person thinks the vehicle might be, what matters is how the vehicle is described on the registration certificate, and what the nature of the licence plate on the vehicle is.


tacr2man 12 Dec 2011 17:02

Yes thats pretty well it , whats on the papers , same in Uk and OZ , there is a still a d/licence requirement dependant on weight in Uk and EU , in UK the licence plate stays with the vehicle from first reg to when its scrapped

Martynbiker 12 Dec 2011 19:40

sounds awesome idea! why not convert to use WVO (waste veg oil) it aint hard and will save you a shedload on fuel costs, there are always someone somewhere frying something....... check out google for more info.
some systems with double filters etc allow you to strain the oil into a container, making sure no water in it.....ie clear not cloudy and then straight into WVO tank (separate from normal tank) you start on normal diesel, wait 10 15 mins till engine up to full working temp and oil heaters good n hot then swith from diesel to WVO, just remember to switch back to diesel about 10 mins before you stop.

the only downside i can see is if it aint 4WD your gonna need one hell of a winch!

tacr2man 15 Dec 2011 13:38

4wd is a plus but its surprising the mobility with a rear difflock and tyre chains fitted to a truck !

grizzly7 16 Dec 2011 18:06


There are minimum requirements for what is inside your camper for it to officially be classified as a Motor Caravan on the UK V5, taxed as a Private HGV, as tacr2man suggests, which is what you want, no tacho, cheaper tax, the 7.5 ton HGV no entry signs can be ignored etc, because you're not carrying goods. The link below seems to be what I remember them to be. You could also try the SBMCC forum

Legal Information, Requirements and Rules for Camper Vans DVLA | Campervan Life

Some people have a large external "garage" for the likes of a dirt bike, so it is a camper which they use at weekend race meetings for instance. The "rules" say if you are carrying something in such a garage not required for camping (a dirt bike, even push bikes), then it is not a Motor Caravan, and then you need a tacho and all that that involves. To me that seems a little vague, as in who would be checking, and what definitively is or isn't required to camp. A US RV in the UK in my opinion needs either a towed car or carried bike so you can camp in it, being too big itself to get where you want to go, so is I think essential in that scenario.

To prove it is a Motor Caravan once converted or imported too perhaps, the photos you send to the DVLA do not want to show a big empty garage space ready for "goods"! Lots of picnic table and chairs etc maybe!?

As far as I can gather the UK speed limits are the same wether a goods vehicle or a camper over 7,5 tons. The rest of Europe probably have their own limits, and especially no entries and road tolls. Adrian Flux seem a good insurers, mine I think is about £300. They have to date only given me a 90 day green card though. Other campervan specific insurers can give 365 day green cards, and cover perhaps Morocco and Turkey, but sometimes don't like something that isn't mainstream. The Motorhome Facts forum has its own insurance deal which is cheap and says self build is OK, but I've not asked yet, this and the SBMCC forum are £10 a year.

There are specific requirements for the Class C test vehicle which your truck probably won't fulfil, but the +/- £1000 one week course that most centres offer include everything. The DVLA took 3 months to issue my provisional licence though, so its not always a speedy process. Try to book directly with the people actually teaching you. I paid more through what turned out to be an agency, and an extra chunk for a kind of guaranteed pass scheme to try to hurry things up after waiting so long for the DVLA. The promises they made were not very truthful!

I also thought 1 to 1 tuition would be best. The first day driving was a nightmare, and made me wonder if I was wasting my time. The second morning I sat in with another trainee, and being able to watch what he was doing, right and wrong, made something click and I was fine from there on.

Happy travels


Toby2 16 Dec 2011 19:57

Thanks for all the advice.

Cheers Toby

Neil H 19 Dec 2011 09:23

Which vehicle are you looking at.

If Like me you are looking to import one from germany and convert it here, this creates a load of other problems.

For example the period it is in the UK prior to conversion it will be an HGV and you need all the appropriate testing etc.

I have yet to find the way around this and when you ring the DVLA you might as well be asking them if they like Kittens or Puppies. They are very poor with advice on anything over 7500 KG.

Good luck.


nickdisjunkt 20 Dec 2011 11:56


Originally Posted by Neil H (Post 359904)
For example the period it is in the UK prior to conversion it will be an HGV and you need all the appropriate testing etc.l

I don't know how others feel about this but even after reregistering the truck as a motor caravan I think you would do well to get it tested by VOSA as an HGV. There is just no way a regular garage could satisfactoraly test a large truck, and at 10t+ there is a lot of momentum, it is easy to cause a lot of damage in an accident. Testing a truck as a class IV IMO is just a way of avoiding the need to keep the vehicle in a good state of repair. If your truck is safe and relatively modern then you have nothing to fear from VOSA. In fact I always feel reassured comuing away from the VOSA test as they are so thorough that I know my truck is in good repair. Except perhaps the time they failed me for having the wrong type of bolts on the sideskirts and the marker boards 15cm too high!

If you have a non-EU truck, or a very old truck, testing as a Class IV is a good way of avoiding VOSA as in some cases it is impossible to get the vehicle through their test. Air over hydraulic brakes, or full time 6x6 can make it impossible to pass the HGV test.

My experience was very simple, although it may be different now. I spent 4 days on an Class C course and passed first time. I can now drive anything rigid (32t in the UK). I brought an 18t truck and when I went to change the tax class from good vehicle to Private good vehicle at the DVLA office, I asked if I could reregister the body type as a motor caravan. Two weeks later my V5c ame back with the body type ammended. It still doesn't meet all the requirements as the conversion is slow progress but I was never asked for proof.

nickdisjunkt 20 Dec 2011 12:00

With regard to the tacho, if the vehicle is taxed as Private HGV, you do not need to use the tacho but if you test it at VOSA the tacho will need to be present and calibrated to pass. My calbration cost £40 and lasts 6 years.

TBH the tacho is a pain in the arse as it is connected to my dash and warns me constantly that it is not being used correctly. I will probably have it disconnected when I leave thre UK and have it reinstated when I return.

My tacho is the analogue (paper) type with digital display and sensing.

grizzly7 20 Dec 2011 13:09


Originally Posted by nickdisjunkt (Post 360061)
I don't know how others feel about this but even after reregistering the truck as a motor caravan I think you would do well to get it tested by VOSA as an HGV.

Why would you want it tested as the wrong thing? What would that do with your insurance, since the MOT will be incorrect and so invalid?

Your comment about how a "normal" garage can't test it is entirely true, but why does that mean a different test? Just go to somewhere who can do the correct test surely?!

A campervan could be the 32tons you are licensed to and it would still be tested as a camper if thats what it is. Why is this unsafe??


Neil H 20 Dec 2011 23:45


I couldn't agree more.

Having it tested as something it isn,t, is madness.

Im not sure that you can even get an HGV test done if it isn't registered as an HGV.

I also think that If you had an accident and then produced the wrong type of test certificate, the insurance company would be delighted.

Having the vehicle tested as an HGV creates lots of problems for the continental imported vehicle.

For example the HGV test insist on new lenses on the lights whereas the class 4 test will accept stick on beam deflectors.

The HGV test insist on the speedo / Tacho being in MPH and the numbers must be illuminated whereas the class 4 test will accept a speedo in KMH with a stick on overlay.

And on it goes.

The HGV test is the wrong test and should be avoided.

If it was required then the ministry would insist on it


Big Yellow Tractor 21 Dec 2011 07:58

Re the "testing it as a wrong vehicle" issue.

I think some wires have got crossed. You can "down-plate" a vehicle in the uk; that is take a truck that was built as one weight class but run it in a lower class. This is often done for exibition vehicles. You save on road-tax and insurance and even MOT tests.

I know a courior who runs a monster great Sprinter/Crafter and he has it registered in a different class because he carries bulk, not weight. It means he gets a dirty great big van with a good sized engine but with fixed costs the same as a SWB tranny.

Obviously when he sells it, the new owner would want to reverse this because it can only legally carry 800kg at the moment.

You obviously can't take your 20 ton "car" to the local garage for an MOT though.

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