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Master plan 3

Renault Master service van

Our Bobby is planning a retro coffee truck and cycle club service van in a 1990 Renault Master T35 van. This is to be a replica of cycle team service vans of that era, the van will be used in Toronto Canada, which is where Bobby lives. The project is well on its way,

detailed in part1 and part2. We're now in part3 where the van is fitted out inside.

renault master catering

Bobby's van completed at Wilkinsons.

renault master t35

Gas bottle compartment

t35 master on tow

With the van interior catering conversion finished, I took our Hilux and A frame over to Wilkinson's and collected the van. A couple of issues needed sorting out, the fitting had been done to a tight budget, so compromises

did have to be made.

It rains a lot over Manchester way, and this day

was no exception.

I hooked the big van to our A frame and headed home carefully, downhill corners needed caution with the Master wanting to keep going straight on!


By a lucky quirk of UK legislation, anything towed becomes part of the towing vehicle. Over the years our strong old

A frame has pulled vehicles all over the country.  

Renault Master 3

With the van back at base I needed to complete a good few jobs. The van required interior lights and a roof mounted extractor fan.

I bought two nice long 12v led tube lamps, and a 12v extractor fan for the roof. All to be connected to the van's battery with switches on the dash, and line fuses on the battery feeds. All purchased on ebay, the items worked well, the switch panel from China arrived quickly. Careful fitting meant all was tidy, and turned on and off as planned. It'll be out of my hands soon, so the installations must be safe to operate.

renault master interior
renault master vent hole

The fan is a low profile unit, with a nicely styled roof top hood.

The suppliers website has a wonderful display of commercial body builder requisites, I'd like to do more body work just to use all the interesting catches and fittings.

The fan went in nicely, I used a good quality mastic sealer and secured the fan with 8mm stainless bolts.

From the van's camper days, it had two 80s style pop-top glass sunroofs. These were cracked and leaking, and sealed up with tape. So I removed them and fitted sheets of clear Perspex cut to size. These were sealed with mastic and bolted down with stainless bolts and Nylok nuts.

As we were now in the winter and the van was too tall for our lock-up, the interior work was done outside. To fit the extractor I needed to cut a hole in the roof,

but first I had to melt the ice up there

with my hot air gun!

I cut the hole with a jig saw, after making sure there were no obstacles inside the van

renault master vent

Neat streamlined fan cover, front to right of photo

renault master roof light

80s throwback pop top sunroof, two replaced in van roof

Next job was to build a workbench in the front compartment. We'd measured how long a bike was, and installed the partition to fit. We looked at ready made metal workbenches, but they were too expensive, and probably a bit heavy too.

So I made one from timber, it's a simple fabrication, with a lower shelf, a large drawer, and a varnished wooden worktop.

I painted it all grey to look steel-like, and bolted it to the van's framework, so it's solid. Bobby can fit a vice to the

top if he wishes.

The van's front compartment will be used for bike transport and repairs, but will also be used for promotions or a pop-up shop, so if it needs to be de-bicycled a vice might get in the way.

stage 21 workbench


renault master interior bike

The interior was tidied up and

declared finished.

Because the Master will be used in Toronto, the catering equipment will be bought and

fitted in Canada.

It all needs to comply with Toronto city catering rules, so local equipment and a local fitter will complete the job.

smokey renault master

The Renault had been to Fuel Injection Services in Burscough, where Steve and his boys had done a great job on the fuel system. Steve enjoyed working on an old style diesel, with no computers or turbo. The old girl now starts easily with some heat,

and runs sweetly with no smoke.

Smokey cold start up,

visit to Burscough fixed it!

Click photo for site.

renault master motor

The van then went to the paint shop. It's not far away so I drove it down there, then to save cash I stripped it down before the painting myself.

The paint lads did the preparation, with the windows out some rust was exposed, cut out and repaired.

The Renault Master's body is designed in such a way that it invites its protrusions to be caught by hard objects. This had happened to Bob's van, the boys at the paint shop fixed all the dings. They then painted it in Renault ice white, this is a nice bright white, not the creamy original colour.

When it was painted, I built the van back up again and proudly drove it home. Next to do was the sign work.

paintshop 1

Strip down

paintshop 2


renault master painted

Built up again

Back at our yard there were many little jobs to be done, like replacement locks and door handle linkages. One important job was painting the wheels, I used Tyremask and smoke grey metallic spray to do it neatly.


Tyremask is a useful product which is now difficult to find,

it's good for painting classic car or van wheels without removing the tyre, but it's not so good on more modern wheels which have an anti-kerbing raised edge tyre.


There's a video of it here.

using tyremask
tyremask wheel

The lighting needed sorting out, headlight bulbs were randomly different, and the other lights all had some kind of weed growing in the light unit's water

renault master winker weeds

Headlight bulbs were different, and the lense reflectors were different. New bulbs fitted with creative nome made fixings.

Bobby's trading name is Stage 21, this being the final stage on the Tour de France. The livery design was handed over to bro John and Sabine, they created the cheerful modern livery and the wheel spoke logotype.

I cut the vinyl lettering out on my Roland plotter, and we applied it at the yard. I also built Bob a painted plywood 

A board, with a blackboard panel.


Me and John stickered the van up. That's cutting a long story short, but it's all in a day's work for us sign men.


Vinyl letters on my bench

renault master door

A circle not to be wasted!

renault signs 2
renault master stage 21
Renault signs 1

Building up the vinyl lettering, we had to be careful to follow the pattern accurately

Renault master leaving yard

It was time to leave the yard.

We were ahead of schedule, so we could easily make Bobby's long-booked shipping slot.


The Renault was leaving from Liverpool docks, which is only 30 mins from home, so me and the Master headed into the big city.


Below, we paused before the dock gates, I was sad to see the old girl go. The van was getting ready to mix it with the big boys! 

liverpool dock entrance

The Renault was booked on the Atlantic Star, this vessel is part of a fleet of transatlantic con-ro ships.

These modern ships are combined roll on-roll off vehicle carriers and container ships, they are run

by ACL, which is part of the giant Grimaldi shipping line.

There are five of these large vessels, each sails a circular route from Europe to Canada,  

then USA and back to Europe. The boats berth at Liverpool, which is an easy run from our yard.

I drove the van to Liverpool (still on French plates!), passed through the Liverpool docks security and was directed to a Portakabin, there I got a sticker, then drove the van on to the quayside and parked it with hundreds of Range Rovers going to USA.

It's a smooth operation, not too expensive and very well run, with the Renault arriving at Halifax Nova Scotia about a week later.

Renault on dockside

The supervisor kindly gave me a lift back to the dock gates, then it was a lonely train ride home again. Life will be much emptier without our French guest!

The loneliness of the long distance Renault!

Bobby's old girl makes a lonely sight waiting on the quayside,

"Leave the key in" the man said, I did, and hoped it started for him! 

There are several used vehicles around which haven't started and are stranded in a lonely no mans land.

renault master at docks

Canada Post is not known for its speed! I posted the Master's documents to Bobby in Toronto several weeks before he would need them, but he only got the fat registered envelope on the morning of his departure to collect the van.

It was very last minute! 

Bob and his friend caught the plane and collected the van at Halifax docks on time, with customs clearance, and a fresh pair of Ontario plates under his arm.

The two lads bravely set off across Eastern Canada's lonely highways, well catch up with them next report.

We'll leave it here as the van gets worked on in Bacup, we'll return in the next episode with

the van interior completed and the exterior's turn to be worked on.


A footnote from Toronto.....


The view of Canada from the Renault's wheel,

running down a dream. Each town they stopped in the van was opened up and the

A board chalked up!

Click on the driving picture to hear the late great Tom Petty singing a suitable song

Stage 21 a board
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