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Drop to sleep in seconds

- Peter Sharpe

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Peter Sharpe visits Young Conversions of Bletchley, near Milton Keynes, where the term 'bed down for the night' has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning.

BLETCHLEY is familiar to many as the wartime HQ of those code-breaking military boffins, but it is now also known as the manufacturing base of Young Conversions, the motorhome maestros and expert proponents of lateral thinking. I had heard that they had been producing drop- down roof beds for panel vans, but had never been in the right place at the right time to see one. Now, all of a sudden they had two available at the same time.

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Young Conversions have been around for over twenty years now, it is quite possible that you might not have heard of them. One of the reasons for this is that they trade largely by word of mouth and personal recommendation. When you buy a motorhome from Young Conversions, you don't simply walk into a showroom and pick out a named model with a designated layout. This is because everything they create is hand crafted and in some way unique. Customers seek out Young Conversions because they can offer them something that it is impossible to buy anywhere else.

The first van I was shown was a Renault Master 120 DCi. A customer had come in to see the Youngs with some ideas sketched out for the type of conversion he was thinking of. By sheer coincidence, it transpired that everything he wanted was already built and ready for sale in one of the demonstrators vehicle. This turned out to be one of the very few 'off-the-peg' sales that Youngs have made and I was lucky enough to get the chance to see it before the buyer collected it.

What really impressed me about this particular van was the quality of the rear passenger seats. Most rear seats in motorhomes are usually far too upright and uncomfortable for anything other than short journeys. Not in this Renault though. Youngs have fitted a complete set of seats from the French specialist seat manufacturer Scopema-RIB and you will have to believe me when I say that these are some of the mostcomfortable vehicle seats I have ever relaxed in. At Young Conversions' insistence, they meet the strictest crash test standards and are also versatile, sliding along a frame that enables them to be set on either side of the van or pushed together in a double. The seats are also purpose built for converting into beds, with either two singles or a double being available within minutes. They are also designed so that you sleep on the reverse side of the seats, which helps to even out the wear. Youngs are very strict about safety and always over-engineer all fixtures and fittings. As an example of this, all seats fitted throughout will be solidly anchored to strengthened struts and will all be equipped with three-point seat belts. As Commercial Director Robbie Young told me.

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So far, already impressive, but there is more to come; this van has a trick up its sleeve that a casual onlooker might initially be completely unaware of Tucked away above your head is a roof bed and we're not talking about campervan-style bed boards here, this is a full-blown, drop down bed, exclusively designed and engineered by Young Conversions and easily capable of accommodating two adults. Robbie and his family have toured in this van and he has found that with the children tucked away down below, he and his wife have room to sit up in bed and can put the lights on without it illuminating the lower floor area. As with the beds that you find in A-class motorhomes, there is sufficient clearance to leave the bed fully made up, so that it is literally available within seconds.

Now for the second vehicle; this one a Volkswagen and yet another one of Youngs' highly customised specials. This particular order was for a dual purpose vehicle to support the owner's passion for cycle racing, but also easily convertible back to load carrying mode. A rear passenger seat has been provided, that is fully swivelling to allow the occupant easy viewing of events beyond the open side doers. This can be easily removed when necessary, as can the extending cycle rack in the rear compartment. Of course, a roof bed is ideal in this situation, but this one isn't only like an A-class bed, it is an A-class bed. It is electrically operated and it is one that Youngs have re-engineered from a lateralbed to one that fits Lengthways within the Volkswagen's roof space.

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LED lighting is used throughout, greatly extending the running time of the leisure battery. Robbie told me that they have been watching all the latest developments with LEDs and they are now satisfied that the ones they use are acceptable replacements for conventional lighting. These are warm-light LED spotlight clusters and LED strip-lights, but LED units are available that are interchangeable with halogen spotlights if preferred.

Young Conversions have tackled special orders for vehicles to support activities from surfing to go-karting and have even converted estate cars and 4x4s. A typical full motorhome conversion (vehicle not included) will usually cost you in the region of £17,000, but with such a diverse range of projects undertaken, this is only a guide. Youngs have helped all kinds of customers over the years, from those who turn up with professional technical drawings, to others who those who arrive with the proverbial sketch on the back of a cigarette packet. The only limit is your imagination and the advice is provided free of charge.

Contact Details

YOUNG CONVERSIONS LTD Unit 47, Barton Road, Water Eaton, Bletchtey, Milton Keynes MK2 3HU Tel: 01908 639936 Web: www.youngconversions.com