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Vanshite - sleeping in Trafic. Almost compleat.


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I'm enjoying this! I went for almost exactly the same approach with my van. It made it into a really good (slowish) motorway car and makes it so much nicer in the back, even if you're just putting stuff in it to carry around day to day. I got a bit carried away with that carpet and made a big mdf storage box/seat that I wrapped in the same stuff, then used leftover thin mdf to cut window shapes which I then wrapped with carpet on the inside and foil foam insulation on the outer, to use as blinds. I went for a light blue colour and it's like being inside a really cosy carpet roll at night. 

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2 hours ago, twosmoke300 said:

Cue rear wiring fault in 3,2,1

Way ahead of you! The only door that's likely to be a headache is the offside one as that's where the lock is, but in any case there's 6 screws under the carpet at the edges on both doors.  Peeling back a bit of carpet at the edge you can unscrew and take the whole ply board off as if it was a door card.  You'd just need a dab of carpet glue to put it back on.

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Roofing and Lighting

I had to decide whether or not I wanted a popup roof. I can see the attraction (ventilation in summer, extra headroom, potentially an extra bed).

After seeing a few in action and noticing how unwieldy they seemed when raised, I got a bit put off. I tend to park up in remote places that can get very stormy and I didn't want to be lying awake worrying about the top of the van ending up in the sea.  I also viewed a few older vans with popups and couldn't believe the damp smell on some of them, there's obviously a bit of maintenance required there (I'm getting lazy, remember).  The lack of useful lighting also annoyed me - to make way for the roof cutout they generally put LED strips lengthwise down the sides of the van right at eye height - and trying to read or do anything useful had you fighting with your own shadow constantly.  

I never had a problem with the headroom in my last van, and I did like that a standard height Vivaro / Trafic will fit under almost any height barrier including multistorey car parks. That kind of thing is quite useful when it's your only set of wheels. The popup roofs within my budget added a fair chunk of height to the van, enough to take away that advantage.

So saving the money by keeping the the low roof, I started on the bitumen treatment. It cuts down the rain noise  significantly.

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The next batch of PIR boards were put up (branded Xtratherm - It's all the same stuff really). The easiest way to put this up was with the carpet spray glue.

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Silver bubble wrap sealed with foil tape.

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There's a bonus to using it on the roof - there is actually a decent air gap between the wrap and the insulation boards in which case the wrap itself does give you extra insulation.

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I binned the OEM center and rear interior lights in the process.

The roof was battened using some self-drilling screws into the metal ribs.

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I wanted a cladding roof. At this point I wasn't sure on what look I was going for. I knew I wanted to use natural wood as much as possible but didn't want the orange 90's sauna look.

I bought some cheap pine cladding and treated it to reduce the yellowness and bring out the detail.

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At this point I also had to think about lighting and wiring.   I wanted to have lights evenly spaced along the ceiling attached to a dimmer. Campervan recessed LED lighting panels are expensive (around £15 a unit) and would have made the setup that I wanted cost too much. They usually aren't dimmable either. They're also sealed units so if the LEDs start to die, you have to take the ceiling down, pull the wiring and replace the unit. Sod that.

I used standard GU10 household downlight bezels.

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Lugs bent over to secure them. The connector is a G4 LED socket held in a P-clip.

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Warm-white G4 LED bulb in place.

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On the diffuser side a disc of frosted acrylic held in with the GU10 clip.

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I covered the backside of each light with foil tape to act as a reflector.

Wired up and tested in the living room.

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At this point each light was costing around £3 a unit so a big saving but also a huge increase in functionality. These are dimmable, plus the bulbs are easy to replace with cheap off-the-shelf parts that you can find in supermarkets if you're stuck. I think they also look less modern and cold.

Roof on its way in.  The final wiring was joined by soldering it together then covering in heatshrink wrap.

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The lights are offset in the rearto accomodate the side cupboards that I plan to put in.

 

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In the background Mrs J was busy working away on some curtains. We bought the fabric for the curtains and seat/bed cushions from an offcut so it came quite cheap, and she did all the sewing machine work. The curtains were made double sided and are completely light-proof.

At the front of the cladding a curtain rail was put up on a closing bar, into which I put the main light switch and the dimmer knob.

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The negative for the lights conveniently goes into a bulkhead bolt hole under this bar.

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The dimmer is a chinese PWM controller that was taken out of its casing and butchered, with the standard black turny knob removed from the potentiometer and replaced with a brass version.

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Mega-shonky temporary test rig with a car battery, fusebox and a 240VAC MCB jammed under the passenger seat- avert thine eyes.


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Hallelujah!

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The dimmer is pretty cool, it's possible to go from a very low mood lighting to full-on sunburn to suit where you're parked / time of day.

You can't have a campervan and not add at least a tiny bit of tat, right?  The lanterns came from a junk shop in Turkey.

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Quite happy with the lights. Having them spread out makes the lighting nice and soft, and the warm white LEDs are cosy.

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15 hours ago, juular said:

The van is really quiet when driving, none of the usual noise of air rushing over the panels and hardly any road noise. If you've ever driven an empty van about with no bulkhead, it's deafening! The difference with the insulation is immense.

  It's pretty quiet inside when parked up too. You can watch a film on a laptop at a high volume and not hear it outside the van, so it's definitely an improvement in privacy as well.

https://www.megavanmats.com/lining-carpets/

Their kits have gone up in price a bit since I bought it but the carpet is heavier than the cheaper version you can find on eBay. It's nice stuff. 5m did all of what you see above.

To put it politely. I've never been in one that didn't whine constantly from the box. It's the worst part of them to be frank. Mine is about to tick over to 90k and sounds really knackered, which is a shame as the rest of the van is so good and feels like it just rolled out of the factory yesterday. The saving grace is that when rebuilt with uprated bearings they tend to go on indefinitely.

As you say, once rebuilt, they don't break. From the factory they are shimmed so tight they need a spanner to turn them over. Thereby putting constant strain on the bearings.

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Planning

This was a good point to stop and consider what I wanted to put into the final build. Some of this was dictated by the powerful men at Doovla in order to apply for the hallowed Motor Caravan status on the V5.

I also had a good think about what kind of finish I wanted.  I started as others might do by actually going and looking at vans or scrolling through pages of conversions and seeing what was out there.

Jings. It's quite mindblowing, and it can be a hard job walking the right line between hipster shonk made out of filthy pallets, and utterly soulless plastic prisons with purple strobing LEDs..

For example this lass is hiding the grimace that only comes from swarms of midges invading every crack in your body when you open a door. She is trying not to think about the mouldy chipboard festering under the bed.

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This bird has gone so overboard with the oiled cladding that she has to watch the wood burner like a hawk 24/ 7 in case the van burns down.  She'd like to do some yoga, but can't, because she's in a fucking van.

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This bloke is obviously quite pleased at his eco-friendly conversion complete with hessian sacks as insulation. (Sshh.. don't mention that the au-naturale interior is so heavy the van now does 3mpg in a tailwind and lays black slabs of diesel particulate behind it).

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I don't have anything smart to say about this couple. They're just wanks.

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The other end of the scale.. Professional conversions. I'm not really a big lover of laminated plywood. In fact, I kind of hate it. It looks like the inside of a McDonald's.

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I can see the appeal - it's hard wearing,  light and easy to join together using connector blocks.  Blood and guts just wipe off.  You don't need any tools except a screwdriver and a jigsaw to make stuff.

If you have learned anything by now it's that I'm tight. I'd rather spend a week in my shed making something than spend an extra fiver. Laminated ply is ridiculously expensive for what it is.

None of the pro conversions I saw made  good use of storage space nor did they really think about how the van and the space inside was going to be used when you're  living in it. For example, your standard bolt-in rock and roll bed has chunky legs with a support mechanism right down to the floor, so you can't really put stuff under it. There's most of your storage space gone in one swoop.

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Some of the really posh ones even have rails on the floor, so that you have to get all of your empty tinnies and jazz mags out of the way before you can put the bed down.

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For some reason a lot of campervans remind me of the horror of the hours spent contorted into funny angles in class 390s.

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And that's first class! Utter torture. All that plastic, stiff seats and harsh lighting.. I'm getting a headache just linking to that photo.

Many bed designs gift you nothing but a small postage slot under the bed for.. what exactly? A frozen chihuahua?

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Look how high the seat is as well, I bet you spend the time feeling like Dennis Waterman

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 I don't really understand the love of small flappy cupboards and gigantic roller shutters. Does an alarm go off every time you try to break in to your belongings? I can also imagine trying to angle individual tins of beans into those tiny cupboards one by one.

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I suppose with a moniker like 'Denby Balmoral' - like this one has - it'll probably be designed for tins of Fois Gras aye?

Then there's access to things like gas and water.  Why have the gas bottle at the back door of the van?  Every time you want to switch it on or off (which I do frequently for the safety of elves) you have to actually get out, walk round and open the back doors letting in clouds of midges to rape your virgin flesh.

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Here are a few photos I quite like.

This one is quite pretty and has proper sized cupboard doors.

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The walnut finish here is very nice.

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I don't like oak that much, but this has been finished well.

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This is beautiful, but I bet this chap gets negative MPGs

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This classic van is lovely too, with a yacht-y feel to it.

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Maybe you can see where I'm going with this - I like real wood, but I like nicely finished things. I like it when some thought has been put into where things are located so that you aren't constantly moving stuff around to get into other things.

With all that in mind, here is a list of what will be going in.

- A metal framed roll out bed with full width /length storage space underneath.

- The bed must overhang when out, not run on the floor.

- Comfortable bed / seat cushions

- Full height side cupboards with doors and shelves

- Permanent 2-ring gas hob and sink with running water

- Heating  

- Forced air ventilation

- Space for a 3.9kg or 6kg calor gas bottle (as I wasn't sure whether to put in gas or diesel heating).

- Solar power

- 100AH leisure battery, slung under the van and charged from the alternator and solar

- Water and waste tanks under the van, plumbed into the sink

- 12V compressor fridge

- USB and 12V sockets

 

Let's crack on then.

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^its like reading the thoughts inside my head written down! Made me laugh and also even more interested in what you do next! 

For me the critical question is do you have a bog on board, and if so where do you put it, as often you’re either shitting next to your long suffering partners head as they lie in bed, or you can multi task and fry the morning bacon as you sit there.... neither has much appeal!! 

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My mate took a couple of years to complete his VW T5 conversion. Mainly because he researched and planned everything he did with the thought that he will have it for years to come. 

I loved my 2.5 Vivaro despite the occasional electrical glitch. The grand height of my conversion was an inflatable mattress on the floor with a pop up tent popped up on it.

 

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Prototyping / testing shite out

I've probably made a rod for my own back by going and having a rant at other people's conversions (and I apologise if I offended anyone) and I feel a bit guilty now,  but you'll all get to point and laugh at my efforts in due course.

At this point in the build the Easter holidays were coming up and I had two weeks off. I wanted to spend that time using the van.

Everything that follows is a few days worth of throwing stuff together to test ideas. It's all temporary and gets ripped out again, but the purpose was see how well the insulation worked in practice before I started building anything else.

I plonked the floor back in.

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A bit of wrongly listed eBay item bingo got me this OEM Trafic minibus step for much cheapness. It didn't fit very well at first as it's designed to lay on top of the minibus rubber flooring.

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Choppity chop.

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I found some leftover 7mm laminate flooring in my loft. That got jigsawed up and plopped in place. I was going to fit laminate anyway, but I thought it worth testing it out to see how well it worked.

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I could park that in London and rent it out as a studio flat.

The side step fit nicely once trimmed.  It was bolted down into M8 inserts embedded in the plywood floor. I had no M8 bolts lying around so I used the silver ones that came off the old bulkhead. It's fugly but it worked for the time being.

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I had a play with sketchup.

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Then a bit of hammering and sawing some scrap timber in the shed.

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I came across these industrial drawer slides. They were rated to something like 180kg. Light bulb!

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And there is an almost-free but extremely shite rock and roll bed. The base section slides out on the drawer slides and overhangs the floor, rather than needing any extra support. You have to give some credit as that's quite cool and not even the £500+ 'real' beds do that - they normally need rails, castors, or extra legs to support them when out flat. I like the idea of A) not having to clear the floor of shoes / various junk when the bed goes down, and B ) not marking and scratching the floor with continual movement of bed supports being dragged over it.

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It was held in the van with a pair of ratchet straps. Yes, it's rough as a badger's arse but remember this all gets pulled out!

I measured this to be around the size that I wanted the finished bed to be, so that I could crack on with making seat/bed cushions and not have to worry about re-making them in the future.

Take one IKEA full double memory foam mattress, found in the bargain section near the exit for £60.

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Hack it to bits with a bread knife.

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Get someone who knows what they're doing to operate the sewing machine.

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Done. (These also get tidied / tightened up later)

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Attach them to the bed using velcro straps, and call it a 'motorhome omg #vanlife #vandawg #escapetheratrace' and sell it on eBay for 1000% profit. Only £15k m9, live the dreeeeam!

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Giddy with excitement, we loaded up the van with beer and crisps and drove as far north as possible. On the first night, this happened.

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And to be fair, it was alright. Neither of us felt particuarly cold, and just firing up the portable gas cooker to make a brew or cook a meal was enough to make the van toasty warm for a good long time. A massive win on the insulation front, I feel!

These blinds also helped. They were made out of some leftover foil bubble wrap, some black fabric, and neodymium magnets that were pinched out of some old smashed PC hard drives. They were brilliant, and in fact when you took them off you felt a proper slab of cold air hitting you in the face.  They also made the van very dark at night so it was quite easy to sleep on in the morning.

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The weather didn't improve for a while.

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So we headed to the high seas.

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Eventually ending up on Jura, and a whole ferry to ourselves.

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A full two weeks was spent exploring the north and then the isles of Islay and Jura. Much whisky was consumed. Neither of us felt particularly cold at any point (again, whisky) and the worst part was when it was all over and we had to go back to work.

For a lot of people this setup might actually be all they need, especially if they intend to use the van as a van sometimes. A few storage crates slid under the bed will hold a surprising amount. The bed could be taken out of the van in minutes. Since the bed is just 'goods in transit' and not bolted down you wouldn't need to declare the van as a camper to anyone and could use normal insurance.

Findings:

    - The IKEA foam is really comfy. Luxurious in fact. It's around 15cm thick and I slept better on this than I did at home. You just sink into it. Proper bliss.
    
    - We were really cosy at night despite the weather.
    
    - The van was quiet. The laminate flooring despite being only 7mm thick added enough weight that there were no rattles or creaks and there's almost no road noise from the back.
    
    - The overhanging slide-out bed design worked really well. There was a bit of creaking in the slides when you put weight right on the end of the overhang, but that's to be expected when attached to timber.  The final bed is going to be made out of steel.

 

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Marking out

The next bit involved a lot of measuring, head scratching, and then wiping it all out and starting again. Having to make everything fit but also make way for other all the other things that needed to open / move / dispense water / blow heat out / keep cool can be a headache. The other thing is that I wanted to minimise dead space, that is: space that contains nothing but you can't actually access in any meaningful way.  That, coupled with being able to access everything that you need to whilst inside the van was important to me and posed a fairly difficult challenge.

My way of doing it was to work out where all the utilities (gas, electricity, water, heating) were going to go and try to hide them in dead space as much as possible. The rest can then be accessible storage.

First up, gas.

Many conversions use these campingaz refillable butane bottles.

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They're quite compact, but my issue is that they are astoundingly expensive (do you see a pattern?) and contain comparatively little gas so you have to resupply more often. I didn't like the idea of being stranded abroad without gas and having to work out compatibility issues with the myriad of LPG suppliers and their different fittings whilst not being able to speak the language very well.

Furthermore I was considering fitting a gas powered heater and read that these small cylinders can last as little as a week in a cold climate. On the subject of cold climates I also wanted the option of using propane which lights easier when the temperature drops.

For that reason I decided to stick with Calor gas bottles, as per Kg of gas they work out less than a third of the price, sometimes less, and their increased capacity meant that I wouldn't have to refill.

I wanted the gas bottle to be stored inside and accessible from the van living area, to be avoid being mauled by the midges. I worked out that when the bed is in seating mode there is a large bit of dead space between the seat base and the wheel arch.  

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Knowing this I could then prototype the location of the kitchen and main storage cupboards using some timber scraps.

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The next challenge is that (if you're following the regulations - you don't have to, but I will) the bottle needs to be housed in a metal locker like this, with a drop-out hole to the outside world (LPG is heavier than air and sinks in the event of a leak).

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It's a chunky thing, especially in calor gas size, and if you opt for a side opening locker like this, you're essentially taking up an enormous cupboard space. In my chosen location a top opening gas locker here would be perfect and the lid would form a very handy extension to the kitchen work surface.  Top opening is actually safer and preferable, due to gas sinking as mentioned.

With the location known I created a dropout hole.

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Onto the gas locker.. nobody actually seems to make them in this size. Solution? Tickle stick! At this point I'd not welded a single thing in my life, but it seemed a good project to learn on.

Improvised metal bender.

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Zappity.

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That is going to be sealed to the floor above the gas dropout vent, then lined at the lid with a rubber seal.

I tested my welds by shining a bright light through them, and then trying to run water down the beads to see if they leaked. Nevertheless a quick bead of seam sealant was shoved on to make sure it was 100% gas tight.

Feeling quite chuffed with that I went on and made the TonyBMW metal bending clamp from what is arguably the single best thread on the blue forum.

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It looks ok here, but I had to reweld it a few times due to being a rank amateur and fucking up quite a few of the welds. It was a good learning experience though (biggest lesson - remember to turn the gas on).

Those gas lockers scrape £200 new and this is around £5 worth of steel.  Tight fisted Scotsman : 1 - Vanlife cash cow : 0

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Initial woodworking

Since I now had fixed measurements I could order timber and parts and make things.

I started by creating a worktop. Instead of buying a premade timber board or a kitchen worktop I thought I'd try my luck at edge-gluing strips of timber. It seemed to make more sense than starting with a full board and chopping most of it away to fit the hob and sink into.

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The hob and sink arrived. Fitting was a challenge as no instructions or template was supplied, so I flipped it over and drew round it.

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The surface needs cut with a router halfway through so that the metal fits, but the screws have material to bite into.

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Lots of swearing and angry words got it flush.

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A lid for the gas box made in the same manner.

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Test fit in place.

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I'd also started a shite paint lab in my shed, trying to find the colours and finishes I wanted. This took me ages and it soon occured to me how difficult it can be to make pine look less, well, pine-y. With the majority of stains it has a tendency to just go a bit stripy, a bit orange, pink or some other random variations in-between.

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With the worktop height finalised I scribed and cut some finishing trim to cover the ugly remnants of the bulkhead.

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I tested out a concoction that darkened and aged the wood and finished up with a sort of mild rosewood / dark walnut colour that I was quite happy with.  I bought some simple brass screw caps that covered the ugly self tappers that held it all in place. Will probably have to restain the roof to match.

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I then celebrated by ripping everything out of the van!

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Next job while the floor is out - welding some more things.

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Power - Part 1 of 2

The 100Ah leisure battery arrived. The battery was being slung underneath the van for a number of reasons. Safety - batteries give off hydrogen fumes whilst charging, not to mention are a particularly large weight to be coming at you from behind should they break free in an accident.  It would also free up a lot of space not having the battery and associated gubbins kept inside. Finally it would save on cable runs, as the only place I could fit it inside the van would be right at the back under the bed. I don't fancy sleeping with my head over a big battery.

Underfloor battery mounts are again one of those things that are surprisingly difficult to buy in the UK, and if sourced from the US - incredibly expensive. We're talking in the region of £500 for the size that I need. Fortunately I had some angle iron and a plan.

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Yes this bit of wood goes on fire a lot. It's sacrificial.

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Welded both sides to be 100% sure.

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The battery is held down at its base by stops inside the frame, and then held in place by a bolt that tightens a plate into the ridges on the battery.

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Despite being a van, there's not a lot of free space under a Trafic that's of much use. There's cable looms, fuel lines, brake lines, spare wheel and a 90 litre fuel tank under there that takes up most of the underside.  The starter battery is also slung under there in a gigantic box.

There's really only one spare location where it will fit; under the passenger seat floor right next to the starter battery.

There is a big grommet in the way, but we can deal with that.

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At this point while I still had room I attached the negative cable to the chassis, and the positive (blue) one through a rubber grommet into the van.

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Stripped the mill scale and gave it a coat of Bilt Hamber's finest.

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Plenty of good quality bolts with nyloc nuts, just to be safe.

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At this point before fitting the battery I installed the Altec 140A split charge VSR relay.  This relay automatically closes and makes a connection between the starter and leisure battery at somewhere above 13 Volts, ie: when the alternator is supplying charge. That way, the engine keeps the leisure battery charged, but the connection is dropped when the engine is off so that the starter battery is not drained.

I installed the relay into the starter's battery box. From there it's a short hop to the leisure battery, which then supplies the living area with power.

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It's not a great photo, but the VSR is the box in the top middle there.  It then feeds into a breaker switch to the right of it. Both batteries are fused at their positive terminals by 100A link fuses in waterproof holders.

The breaker switch is utter shite and kept cutting power without actually tripping. It would actually break the connection if you sneezed near it. It was soon replaced with a fixed inline fuse. When I dissected the breaker switch, I realised that inside the terminals were loose and had been arcing in several places. I should have read the reviews, it's not the first one I've since dumped from the build. Total shite.

At the leisure battery end, the VSR is connected to the positive terminal via a quick release clamp. The reason I chose this is that it's completely insulated so there's a far reduced chance of any nasty things happening up there.

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Easy does it.

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It's solid. I've kicked it, shook it, taken it down some of the worst roads imaginable. I asked the MOT guy to give it his worst. It's not going anywhere.

Next up : Solar Power

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Power :  Part 2 of 2

Since I was occasionally planning a trip to warmer parts of the world I thought solar power would be a good idea. This is one area where I tried not to be too tight fisted.

I went for an 80W semi flexible panel in a kit with a MPPT controler. These have a an advantage over cheaper PWM controllers on dull days so I thought it would be worth the extra. With the 80W panel dimensions I have space for a second panel on the roof if I ever decide I need it, whereas I couldn't fit two 120W ones on if you catch my drift.

First step was to give the roof a good clean, which I'd never done before so it was a bit of a shock scraping off all that green crap!

I marked out the space.

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I decided to sikaflex the panel on rather than bolt through the roof. Partly to avoid future leakage, but also because lazy.

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Plop

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Next up is to make a hole for the cable grommet.

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Cables fed through.

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Had to take a bit of the ceiling away temporarily.

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The cables come through just behind the driver's seat, which is where I'd planned to fit the fuse box anyway.

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Junction box glued on. In retrospect I should have put on a lower profile one or at least painted this silver. Meh.

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A quick test.  On a sunny mid-morning in Scotland with the battery already at full charge, I'm led to believe 1.9 amps is quite good.

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I've since seen up to 4 amps on a low battery and a high sun, which is really pretty good.  I also recently found out that the split charge relay is dual sensing, and so the solar panel will charge both the leisure battery and the starter battery should there be spare electrical faeries without a job to do.

Next : water

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Water and waste

While the floor is up it's a good time to be drilling holes for bolts and pipes.

I initially intended for both the waste and clean water to be stored underneath the van in tanks.  After a bit of research I found that bacteria is a common problem in the water supply of campers, especially when used in a warmer climate. The tank itself can get lined with bacteria, but also the supply and filler lines, connectors etc.  The only solution is to boil any water used for drinking, regularly disinfect the lines and tank or to remove them and clean them manually.  Neither was going to be much fun with an external tank, and so I started turning away from the idea.

I made the decision that I would use an external waste tank but keep the clean supply inside in a removable container that could be easily cleaned.  This also helped cut a little bit of cost as I wouldn't then have to mess around with a filler neck in the side of the van and building tank mounts.  The downside is that it would take up a bit of internal space.

For the waste, there is a great space right under the kitchen area next to the offside sill that will hold a waste tank of around 18 litres. There are premade 20L Vivaro/Trafic plastic tanks for this area but you are talking hundreds of pounds plus £30-£50 postage.  You'll have noted the common theme in this thread - prebuilt stuff is very expensive and I'm a cheap bastard. I will be making the waste tank myself for a tiny fraction of that cost - less than the postage.

Roughly a fiver's worth of steel.

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Finished and primed

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Leak testing

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Checked for fit, with a drain pipe and valve tested for clearance.

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Paint.

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I'm using household solvent weld tank fittings for which cost is measured in pennies. A bit of solar panel sikaflex was also pushed around the fittings for good measure.

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Drain fitting through the floor, sikaflexed in.

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I made up a pair of support brackets for the drain pipe and valve.

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I only needed one.

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Finished result

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With that being the last hole needing made, the new flooring went in.

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I left the bolt holes for the tank exposed, just in case it needed dropped at any point.

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Here you can see the gas dropout as well.

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The fresh water tank will come much later in the build.

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The kitchen

With all the dirty bits done it's time to actually build the interior.

The previous prototyping with scrap wood really paid off here as it meant I had fixed sizes I could use for ordering bits that fit.  The fridge was a little bit of a challenge as the majority of camper fridges have the compressor mounted at the back of the fridge, making them very deep.  It seemed such a waste of space and comfort to have a narrow bed and deep side cabinets just to accommodate a fridge.

I found this 12v remote compressor fridge, a Vitrifrigo C42L.  It's the single most expensive item in the entire build but with all the money saved elsewhere, this felt like a priority. It fits the space exactly to the last millimetre.

You can see here how the compressor is piped seperately and can be placed up to 1.5M away.

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As you can see I also started building up the drain pipe and have swapped the old gas box template for the new metal box.

This is all going to work out nicely, as I planned to have the electrical cupboard behind the driver's seat. This way I can hide the compressor, fuse box and solar controller in there and have all the ugly bits neatly hidden in once place behind a door.

Next I formed up carcassing of sorts to make up the structure of the unit. This is plywood finished with a strip of pine (as the front will be visible).

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Wobbly test fitting of it all balanced together.

 

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The gas box was given a coat of paint in the shade I was using for all cupboard interiors.

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Gas will be piped through a brass bulkhead compression fitting in the side.

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This was all done by the rules, which state you need to have the gas bottle connected via flexi hose to a fixed bulkhead gas regulator, then solid copper piping to all appliances.  I also added some brackets to attach to the floor/van side/furniture, all sealed with rubber washers.

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8mm copper gas pipe installed. A pipe bending spring makes this job about ten thousand times easier, otherwise you just kink and destroy the pipe.

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Bottle in place. This is a 3.9kg bottle, but there's room for a 6kg one.  

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The strange thing about the fridge is that there's nothing on it to hold it down. It has no screw holes, brackets or feet. I had to improvise a bit by taking some screws out of the top and fitting brackets under.

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Before making anything permanent this is a good time to run the wiring.

I might be a bit mad because I like messing about with wiring. It always feels so satisfying to see a neat bundle of cables go where you need them to, and to finish off with shrink wrap and tie it away.  Seeing things light up and actually start working is never a bad moment either.

All fun things are a total mess.

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I started by creating a panel for the fusebox and solar controller to attach to. It was a good time to wire up and test the fridge before it got buried in the conversion.

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The big blue cable is from the battery positive and gets significantly shortened - it's a bit heavy gauge for the job but it's well insulated and fused. I may replace this at some point with a lighter gauge one in the future although I'm not really that concerned about it.

I ran the cables and clean water pipe behind the fridge and gas box to where they needed to go.

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Painted the carcassing and wood facing in the process.

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In terms of wiring I have run positive wires to the fridge, water pump (via the tap switch),  USB /12V sockets above the fridge, ceiling lights, and one to the back of the van to supply power for fans, cupboard lighting and another USB socket.

All of that returns as black wires to the common negative bolt on top of the fusebox, which is in turn bolted into the chassis behind.

That leaves me with one free terminal left on the fusebox for the heater, whenever I decide to fit it.

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I have another one of those crap breaker switches on there, but this one seems to be behaving itself.  The round black switch is a manual cutoff for the fridge as it's a heavy power drain and I don't want it left on all the time.

 

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1 hour ago, task said:

Aren't there small trim clips that can be removed on the inside of the fridge that allow screws to be fitted? There were on my CRX50 but I had to drill through the outer casing to use them.

Not that I could find, and the manual was of little use. I've seen other people with this fridge just tap into the outer case. I wasn't ready to man up to that on such an expensive item. 

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Wood facing, drawers, doors.

Now to hide away all the wiring and pipes.  Underneath the sink I planned to have a couple of drawers, and above the fridge some USB / 12V sockets.

Drawer fronts were made from single slabs of wood run through the table router with a curved cutter.

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The same was done to create a door for the electrical cupboard.

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These were treated with the pine-hiding walnut stain formula.

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A wood panel was made, edges finished in the router, and then glued to the front of the gas box and stained.

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Drawer sides were fitted.

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Power sockets were fitted above the fridge. It's a real pain but it's difficult/impossible to find these units in anything but black plastic. A chrome or brass finish would be nice.

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The worktop I made earlier also got put through the table router and stained.

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If this looks wonky it's because I replaced the camera module in my phone and for some reason this caused epic pincushion distortion on all my photos.

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Drawer fronts on.

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Push button toggle catches were sourced from China. These are quite expensive for what they are, but they work really well and are worth the money. Unfortunately I could only source them in Nickel rather than brass, which doesn't go with some of the other fittings.

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Drawers and electrical cupboard door fitted.

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Snap hinges were fitted to this, so it stays open/shut without a catch.

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The stained wood could do with a little bit of refining. I'm thinking a bit of further sanding with wet and dry followed by a couple of spray coats of matte varnish. I will leave all that to the very end however, as there's no point finishing that off while I'm working near it with sharp tools and bits of metal.

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This is a good time for a wee bit of filler.

I'll now say something that will curse me. The Trafic has been with us 3 years and has been our most dependable motor.  While our various chod / modern fleet has thrown strops, the van just quietly carries on acing MOTs and doing 20 thousand miles a year. I love it. 

It has only required one job done to it when the fuel gauge started being very random, then died. 

Tame mechanic did something he didn't normally do and sucked air through his teeth.

I thought, fuck it, how hard can it be?

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The tank is a pain in the arse as it's 90litres but it's not that difficult to remove when empty. The hardest part is opening the locking ring to get the sender out which needed the world's biggest G clamp.

As suspected, the wiring would make even the Chinese laugh to themselves. And the world's tiniest, weakest crimp holding it on.

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Replaced with some proper solder and a more serious crimp.

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I like free repairs.

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More filler. 

Drivers are idiots round here and I've got tired of being pulled out on or goaded into reaction. 

I did something I thought I wouldn't and fitted a dash cam.

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I hardwired it by tapping into the back of the cigarette lighter socket which is live on ignition only.

Behind the Speedo clocks I fitted a 12v -5v Stepdown.

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I then fed it up through trim to the camera. 

Works well, and as a bonus is a good way of recording some stunning scenery.

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How about now? 

I did have to fix the side door roller as it stopped being rolly. Some absolute plonker (me) got it covered in oil and it started sliding instead, then wore a flat in the wheel.

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Check it out!

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The replacement needs the old pivot drilled out and a new one peened in.

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  • juular changed the title to Vanshite - sleeping in Trafic. Almost compleat.

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