Ok, so here it is. It’s taken me awhile to get this all written out for you, mainly because life has an annoying habit of not always giving us a choice about where to direct our time and attention. Now those decisions are back in my hands, here are the details on how I turned a run down neglected van into a modern camper van. A pretty cool one if I do say so myself.
First of all I decided to work on tidying up the cab. As you can see from the images, this wasn’t exactly optional, let’s face it, it looked like it had survived an apocalypse in there. This took a hell of a lot of scrubbing,and polishing. I bought some automotive carpet to cover the standard rubber flooring, and some suede material to make a new headliner – for those of you who don’t know, that’s the materiel bit that covers the inside of the roof over your heads. I also added some blue interior lights for effect. After looking into various options for what to do with the tatty, post apocalyptic seats I decided to have some custom seat covers made. This was by far the best option for the least money which would give satisfactory results. Lastly I finished off by adding some dash switches for the exterior spot lights, a new stereo, speakers, and a tracker.
All the scrubbing and effort was definitely worthwhile:
The first job in the rear, after a thorough clean and detox was to fit the side window. After a good search on the web and some YouTube videos I found the window I was after and declared myself a fully qualified window fitter. The area to be cut out was measured and then masking tape was added to draw the cut out line onto. Then, with some assistance from my brother-in-law it was time to fire up the jigsaw and cut the hole. This went pretty smoothly, I then filed the edges and followed the instructions with the bonding kit to fit the window. After a bit of lining up and some masking tape to hold it in place while the bonding dries, we ended up with this:
I repeated the cutting process in the roof and added a skylight, partly for ventilation, partly because I thought it would be cool. I purchased a specific motor caravan skylight and bonded in place with the same bonding used on the window, sealing it both sides with silicone sealant.
Wiring and Insulation
After drawing up some crude wiring diagrams I started adding the wiring to the van, lots of wiring. Lots and lots of wiring. Over 100 meters was used in a 3x2m box, and yes it took bloody ages. Once all the wiring was eventually in, it was time for the insulation. Celotex board was the insulation of choice. First the floor was battened out with wood and the 25mm insulation board was added in between the wooden battens. 50mm was added to the walls and 25mm to the ceiling. Expanding foam was used in all the other small gaps to completely seal the van (left image). After this the entire rear was covered in silver bubble foil for extra insulation and sealed with duct tape (right image). By this point it was looking a little like the inside of a spaceship and my inner 8 year old was a little excitable. Anyway, back to being a grown up…
The Wood Work
After the insulation was complete I added ply to the floor to make it nice and firm underfoot. I then built a full sized double bed frame using various sized timber and bolted it to the floor and walls to make sure it was totally solid. Next I cut more ply into strips and added it the walls to be used as a fixing surface for the wooden panelling I would be using. I also had to figure out how to mount the TV to the wall (right image), this was a surprisingly tricky and time consuming task. In the end I made a bracket and fixed it to the wall of the van,managing to keep it secure and also making sure it wouldn’t protrude past the panels I planned to install next to the bed.
This was the first stage of the build complete. The next step was to add the wood panelling, and build the kitchen area and bulkhead. You can see how I got on with this in The Build – Part 2.