Beginning to look like a finished bar

It’s great when a plan comes together.

The bench top is complete and the lines are run. So how did this come about? Basically, we’ve got to protect the beautiful bench top as best as possible so we have it a good sand down and then have it a coat of satin bench varnish to protect it. Then we can put the batters around the edge of the bar to neaten it up. This time Cuzzie Drew makes an appearance to give his woodwork skills a crack. The floor is painted with a concrete paint so it can handle the heavy foot traffic of our busy staff and the final touches of stain put onto the cupboards. 

Now this is what you can finally call a bar! 

Drew hard at work

Drew hard at work


Fitting out the inside

There's nothing better than a getting a box beers and a couple good mates coming to help build a master piece. 

It's safe to say the fit out design was a combination of scribbles on paper and ambitious ideas.

Walls and roof - Nik came up with a great idea to line the walls with Shadow clad which worked perfectly. Compared to old pallets which was the original idea, shadow clad is lighter, takes up less space, and looks great. You can get pick up shadow clad from almost any hardware store, we got ours from Collies. We used insulation in between the van shell and the shadow clad which makes a huge difference in the hot Perth weather!! 

Bar bench - so the challenge here was how to maximise the space available to still ensure there is plenty of room for people to work in, and ensure it's easy to get around. We built the cabinets in sections so they can be removed easily if required or if the design of the van changes in the future. Everything is easy to access and each cabinet has 3 separate compartments so the contents can be segregated easily. Then the bench top which is ultimately one of the most important features of a bar was bought straight from Bunnings - they look great, and they're very well priced! 

Electrics - This is the area where you really need an expert, the dangers of electricity can't be taken lightly and it was very important to me that this was done correctly and to Australian standards. Greg was the man for the task, a qualified electrician, and perfectionist. He had a huge challenge on his hands, how to create a electrical circuit that offers the ability to be changed and built on if required. We ran the cables, all going back the a switch board that has a main income circuit breaker and breakers for each all the lights. A number of power points placed within the cabinets for any appliances that we're going to require. Then of course how to power the beast? We place a male socket under the wheel arch that can a generator can be plugged into easily.  

Work bench set up and action happening

Work bench set up and action happening

Shadow clad on the roof with the insulation under it.  

Shadow clad on the roof with the insulation under it.  

Electrics going into position  

Electrics going into position  

Design and inspiration

So the vision was alive, but actually choreographing the vision into reality is a different beast. Obviously Pinterest has played a huge part in providing ideas and different ways of doing things. There are so many vans, bars, vintage designs out there so we're lucky we can look at so many different options to come up with solutions. Instagram has been a brilliant source to find other similar businesses, and so many people are happy to offer advice and experiences that they could have improved on. 

 I certainly believe that asking question, being humble, and to be completely open to advise will put you in a great position to make sound decisions. 

Most importantly for me, there were so many great ideas coming my way from lots of friends. Nikki the architect was able to help design the inside, maximising space and keeping the asthetics on point (making up for my colourblindness...). Kate who had great ideas about how best to market the van, and how the design had to suit the intended operation. Nik who had amazing ideas about the cabinet designs and build, importantly what materials to use. Finding the right materials is so important, Nik was influential in this decision making, suggesting the shadow clad for the walls and roof has really sculpted the look and feel of the van. Gregs electical expertise to completely design the electrical blueprint and execution has set this van above and apart from the rest. He's offered so many different options and kept everything subtle and hidden should the direction of the van change or the industry adjust to suit new needs. All to meet Australian electrical standards, whilst being descrete and hidden ensures so much confidence in essentially what could be the biggest risk to personel. 

For the materials, almost everything was able to be purchased from Bunnings, from wood, paint. Electrical parts from an electrical wholesaler. The shadow clad was picked up from Collies.  

Having Niks cabinet shop available has made a huge difference. Big thanks to Accent holdings, and Nik for the support. 

Having Niks cabinet shop available has made a huge difference. Big thanks to Accent holdings, and Nik for the support. 

Shadow clad follows the shape of the van.  

Shadow clad follows the shape of the van.  

Staining the shadow clad with a teak stain 

Staining the shadow clad with a teak stain 

Creating a brand

Well, it's safe to say I'm a bit alien to the modern social brand marketing! I've certainly stumbled my way through it with a lot of help and advise from friends. My vision for the little brass van brand is for it to have its own personality, an almost human touch. I ask people to jump on board and follow the van on its journey - it's true. We're all on a journey to somewhere new and different, and often unknown, it's always going to better shared.

A few ways I have tried to do this... well, first up was the name which kinda just came out of nowhere, its little, brass looking, and a van... the name found the van!

Next was the logo, I am so grateful to Michal for helping out with this, he did a great job and ticked the boxes - simple and to the point!

I wanted to get the name out as quick as possible so what better way than an instagram page and a website... Although there wasn't really a product to sell, it didn't matter. I thought to get the character out there and when the product is ready, the fans will be itching to see her... Hopefully that's still the case!!



Beginning of the renovation

Ok, so where to start? I must admit, it was going to be a bit of a trial and error project, with a rough plan and a bit of a vision. The Little Brass Van has a new home for the next few months, the new home couldn't be better suited - a yard with a vintage car restorer and a cabinet shop... 

The team at Farrace auto rust were brilliant, and Carl set to work to chop up the sides and fabricate the bar front and remove the windows from the right hand side. 

This little Citroen is finally going under the knife for the first time in 55 years, the first steps to becoming the highlight of weddings and events are underway.      


First blog post - how to ship a van from Europe to Australia

Ok, so we've just worked this function and what better way to understand it than to give it a go.

As you'll already be aware the journey of the Little Brass Van started in Europe, it took about 7 weeks to get over to Perth. A bit of advice on shipping things - use a customs broker. We used McLintock International, they were brilliant. They made the whole process very simple, and certainly a lot easier than doing it myself.

When it arrived to Fremantle, I must say it was very exciting! I hired a trailer and picked it up from the dock and took it around to the customs yard where it was ready for cleaning... This was not a great experience.... Thanks to McLintock it was very well organised, however, until customs release it, there nothing that anyone can do. They pressure washed the entire van, inside and out. Not a great start to the little brass vans first experience on Australian soil.

Anyway, a couple days later, we got the call to go and pick her up. What a treat. Finally, a van with a personality. We put her back on the trailer and towed her to Malaga which is going to be her home for a few months whilst she gets a bit of a face lift. Driving through Fremantle, Cottesloe, Scarborough, she certianly got plenty of attention.

The adventure can now begin.