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Vanshite - sleeping in Trafic.


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2 hours ago, Mally said:

You, as me, seem to be over engineering things. Your bed is magic!  

This will never fall apart in a million years, which is good. You are dragging the weight around forever though.

Not in any way a criticism,  I'm exactly the same, but beware fuel consumption may suffer.

No I understand! Surprising as it may sound the metal bed is lighter than the timber one.  The material may be heavier but there's less of it needed to make it strong. The base is only 20mm angle and the top rail is 30mm. 

A steel crash tested bed with seatbelts is over 100kg which is mental.



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1 hour ago, Mally said:

You, as me, seem to be over engineering things. Your bed is magic!  

This will never fall apart in a million years, which is good. You are dragging the weight around forever though.

Not in any way a criticism,  I'm exactly the same, but beware fuel consumption may suffer.

On the other side of the fence I bet something like those bed hinges would be the one thing you'd notice you cheaper out in in short order if you had... Sods law etc

Just have an extra large poo before you set off to offset the weight! 

Awe inspiring stuff though! Bet your not going to be at home much when that's done... 

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13 minutes ago, 320touring said:

This is ace work - where did you get the angle? I need some for house based projects and wondered if you had got it locally?

I got a bulk order delivered from FH Brundle in Glasgow, they were the cheapest I found and good to deal with. 

Had to pay delivery but it was basically a lorry with a crane dropping stuff on my driveway the next day.

Comes in 5m lengths but you could always pick it up from them and take an angle grinder with you.

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Using the seat cushions as a guide, I made a panel using the router table that forms the lower base of the cupboard unit.


From here I could start forming the cabinets upwards.



What you can see here will all be storage; two large areas under the bed, and shelf above the wheel arch for long items. I think this is where the forward planning is paying off, as there is nothing getting in the way of large amounts of storage.


Shelf added.


With the frame built I could start on the compartments.


Some of the uprights were grooved using the router. These will be slots for the push-button catches on the doors.




End facing scribed to fit.



Then to the router table to make some panel doors.  This is one of my favourite jobs, so satisfying and I love the smell of pine.




Stained and painted, with catches and overlay hinges fitted. I found a supply of miniature soft-close overlay hinges online. I absolutely love them and they are much cheaper than full blown kitchen hinges. They don't have to support much weight I suppose.



Frame painted and the other halves of the hinges attached.


Some minor tweaking required but not too bad.



Stained the panel ends.


Trial fitted



Needs the wood finish sorted but I can live with that.

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Under bed storage

Bed frontage



If you remember, a lack of storage under the bed was one of the things that bothered me about professional conversions. In this case I decided to build a large drawer under almost the full width of the bed.

I started by building some panels in much the same way as with the panel doors, and dowelling them together to create sides.





I previously routed a slot down the lower edge of one of the panels to take a plywood base.



Under the bed.



I then created some more panels to use as fronts. On the left is the area where the water storage goes. On the right is just a small cupboard for shoes or whatever. It goes as far back as the wheel arch.



On the corner next to the door I made a sort of blanking panel just to finish off.



Fronted and painted



Catch installed.



Underneath the drawer there are some small wheels which allow it to roll out on the floor.



Trimmed and fit in place.



The panels on the left and right of the drawer are held in place with screw-in neodymium magnets, which are surprisingly strong.


Bar to stop the tank sliding.


More storage



Properly getting there now, the next job is to finalise the bed frame sections and connect the hinges, then the mattress.

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Finishing off the bed

This bit has been onging throughout the build so a lot of the photos I've posted previously.

Throughout the thread you can see the sliding bases, the mattress cushions, and the hinges being created.  At this point it was just putting it all together which involved nothing more than a couple of wooden frames and attaching the mattress.

You can see here how the bed hinges work.  The middle (seat back) frames are lifted up and out by the offset.









The only thing left to do is attach the cushions - which are now reinforced with plywood bases and screw right on to the frames.

The rearmost cushion is fixed in place and doesn't move. This is where pillows and bedding are stored in transit.



The middle two cushions form the seat back, and the front one the base.



When the front seat base is slid forwards, the seat backs lower and connect together, forming a flat base.





Another closeup of the hinges. The pivot pins are just 6mm bolts, nyloc nuts and some washers as spacers.



So how well does it work? Well it's comfy, really comfy. Sometimes when parked on a hill you can feel like you're sliding off the seat a wee bit so I might angle the base a bit more.

The overhang is solid. It doesn't move a millimetre when you sit on it. No creaking either.

It sits lower than any other camper bed I've seen. The mattress frame rests right on top of the wheel arch. This way it feels like a sofa, not a high chair.

A small finishing touch - a skirting board added to the front to hide the metal.



At some point, this happened.


It wasn't that long before the Doovla stopped issuing motorcaravan V5s, so I think I might frame that.

I think it's far enough along for a bit of a tour.















What's left to be done?

- ventilation

- Some of the wood needs tidied up or finished better.  I still haven't completely finished the stain on the drawer fronts and they could do with a bit more sanding and lacquer.

- The ceiling needs modified to match the rest of the conversion. I will probably stain it, and then I might change the brass light fittings for nickel ones.

- The worktop under the stove is fine, but the section over the gas locker has warped and will either need redoing, or replacing with some different type of worktop throughout.

- Bed base needs paint

- Need to add some wood trim to cover the bed metal at the back.

Next job is installing the heater.

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


I originally wanted to install gas heating in the form of a Propex HS2211 underbody heater but at £600 plus pipe and fittings I thought it would be worth first trying out a cheap Chinese diesel heater to see how it went.  At £90 including delivery it's not a massive gamble, and it's more powerful than the gas one (on paper).



There's loads of info on tinterwebs about these units now and it's not as scary and daunting as it once was to go down the Chinese route. There's lots of information on replacing the common parts, and you can even find a guide on how to build your own controller using a Raspberry PI and code the interface yourself.

Anyway here goes.

I'm mounting this under the van as I don't really want to use up more space. This means I either need to buy a mount or create my own. You know where this is going.

Another bit of steel procured, this time from Wickes which blew my mind how expensive/small it was. However, it was lockdown and needs must.



The base plate provides a useful template for cutting holes for the inlet, exhaust and fuel line ports.



Bending to shape



A bit of test fitting meant it had to get adjusted.












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Heating #2

The next job is to drop the fuel tank to install the fuel line.

It's possible on some older vans to tap directly into the engine fuel supply line, but on these vans the fuel pressure involved means it's not recommended.

The heater is also supplied with a 10 litre tank (which would probably last ages), but that means mounting yet another big object under the van, plus trying to remember to keep it topped up.

Becoming an expert at taking this beast out.





This is the fuel pipe. It needs shortened to fit, plus shortened a bit more so that it never fully empties the tank and strands you.



Around 130mm does it.





The fuel line is fitted to this and tank put back up.




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Heating #3

First the fuel filter is installed.



Then the pump, at a 30 degree angle.



Heater ready to go in.



It will be installed under the driver's seat floor, with the hot air duct and wiring passing through here.







Heater hung. There's not a lot of space left on the van and this isn't helped by the fact this one has a DPF.


I thought twice about hanging this next to a potentially very hot DPF. However this is an old passive regen design and it relies on engine temperature and post-injection to get the exhaust gases hot. According to the specs it shouldn't get that hot on the outside, plus it will never regen at a standstill so there's always a good flow of air over it.  There's a fair bit of heat shielding, and to be fair, the OEM fuel lines and wiring run pretty close to it as well and none of the factory installed plastics like cable ties or clamps seem to have been affected by heat at all.

I'm actually more concerned about the temperature of the heater exhaust and it's proximity to the fuel line. The heater exhaust gets much hotter than you'd expect and they have been known to glow red. However, it's been designed like this so it must be OK!

Hot air duct sealed to the floor. It's messy as there's heat shielding preventing access, so my 'shaping tool' was a finger!



The exhaust pokes out under the driver's door.



Finally the heater is wired into the remaining terminal on the fusebox, and the controller plugged in.



On the first run the heater needs primed a couple of times to bring fuel all the way from the tank. On first actual start it lays a thick smokescreen which is quite alarming, and you can see the black stain left on the driveway above.

After that it runs quite clean with only a faint whiff of diesel at startup.

How well does it work? Well 5kW is way too much for this small space really, but it does get the place absolutely roasting within about 10 minutes of startup. It can be noisy until that point, then it settles down into a very quiet whirr.

The supplied exhaust pipe is a bit too short for my liking, and with the wind in the wrong direction there is a possibility that diesel fumes could be sucked into the fresh air inlet. I'm probably going to get a longer section and pipe it out of the back of the van.

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You can suffer some some van holiday photos now.

We don't stay on campsites - they're full of noisy children (and adults). There's always somewhere nice and quiet to park up.




Attacked by Caenis flies on Orkney



Some random UK chod that had been abandoned in Dunkirk, inbetweeners style paint job.



Canal fishing in Aisne, France



German tat



French roads



Lyon tunnel



A surprisingly peaceful night at the docks in Hamburg.



Where we stayed over so we could see the mad genius Devin Townsend!





I wonder if the owner of this is on here?



On the Austrian border



Somewhere in Germany



Bavarian central heating



Very lost in a very large random Belgian forest.. there were boar wandering about.






Cairn O' Mount





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26 minutes ago, davehedgehog31 said:

Fantastic work, the whole setup looks great. 

Those little diesel heaters seem really good. I want one for in the house, but venting diesel fumes out a window of a first floor flat is probably frowned upon sadly. 

Trying to think if that would actually be breaking any laws..?

A gas flue is probably more toxic!

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I'm well happy with my 2kw Chinese heater in a bigger van, so yours must get toasty! I've gone down the route of an Afterburner controller, which allows the heater to turn off and restart when the temperature climbs too high. It also makes it easier to change pump settings, which in my case was handy as I've used a Planar silent pump, to avoid the ticking!

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4 hours ago, juular said:

I wonder if the owner of this is on here?


I've seen that done with VW buses, but never a Barkas! Great find.

This thread is great btw. I would deffo love to have a small-ish van that had enough creature comforts in the back for me to just bugger off somewhere for a weekend without worrying about somewhere to stay, or just rock up somewhere nice for a fresh cup of tea and a bacon roll whenever I wanted. Sadly I don't have the skills (as if) or the budget to ever do it, unless I can find a really cheap van that's already been converted. Or a Sherpa.

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14 minutes ago, barrett said:

but never a Barkas!

Well spotted, my mind skipped a lot of detail and I just assumed this was a VW bus.

14 minutes ago, barrett said:

Sadly I don't have the skills

When I started the build I couldn't weld, join two bits of wood together or even drill straight. I am as clumsy as it gets. Don't let a lack of current knowledge put you off, it's only temporary until you start!

Only counting material costs, this build is probably around the price of your average bit of chod, and much of it is very optional. You don't need a fridge, hob, solar, or running water. Just a warm place to sleep and maybe something to cook with.

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8 hours ago, juular said:

Tell me more! I get annoyed by the ticking.

There's a bit more info here:

Basically the Planar pump is specifically stated as not being suitable for Chinese heaters (as it pumps more per stroke than the pumps supplied). But by changing the pulse frequency, you can tune the dosage to suit. It's not cheap, but if you look at the heater and pump as a package, it's still good value IMO.

I've also tweaked the maximum fan speed down to around 3k rpm. Reason being that after it had turned off and the temperature dropped, it would restart at full rpm and wake us up! Having a slow start means slower temperature swings, quieter starting and less switch on/off cycles so sparing the leisure batteries.

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The woodworking skills here really put the typical pallet efforts to shame. The other day I saw a couple of vans which had 30s style chesterfields, bookcases and sideboards instead of the usual camping stuff. This is like a toned down, more practical version of that. So much more homely than iron on plastic units. Nice work!

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Genius. I love the planning and forethought going on here. This is surely better than most professional conversions. Though of course it would cost thousands if you were pay someone to do it. We still have a couple of these at work but they're a bit shagged because Royal Mail. Superb. 

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  • 8 months later...

The Trafic is still dutifully plodding on. We've taken the mileage from 35k to 100k and in terms of actual mechanical fixage it owes me about a quid for a hose clamp and a crimp connector.

It did throw a DPF fault last month, just as we were about to start going away in it. A DPF fault on a modern French diesel had me reaching for the butt lube, but it turned out to be just a bit of sad looking rubber hose, which according to the Renault folk TADTS. I just cut it and put a new clamp on it.





Some of the wood finish is looking a bit tired where it has been scratched or damaged from carrying stuff around, but I suppose it'll be easy enough to just dab some varnish on. 

The heating is grand. I do recommend the cheap diesel heaters, they just get on with it. It's cosy even on really damp and cold Scottish winter evenings.



The fridge and solar panel combo just work. I get about 5 days running the fridge on full power (freezer properly freezing stuff) before having to drive anywhere to recharge the battery.

I made a small upgrade in terms of ventilation: stealth vents.






When the back doors are closed these are totally hidden but still get lots of free air.

On the other side they are connected to a bit of 40mm drain pipe with midge netting attached. 


Next I bodged in a bit of ceiling with some 120mm pc case fans to pull fresh air in.




Fugly but temporary.


It works ok. I'm going to go back and redo this properly and possibly add some more fans. It works really well in the evening with the bed down, but in full on sun the van still gets very hot.

I might need to bite the bullet and add roof vents. Something like this maybe.



Anyway, despite the screaming gearbox (TADTS) the van is excellent. Bombing a campervan full of stuff down the motorway at 80 then lazily overtaking all the dawdlers on the B roads and still getting 40mpg, it's magic.

If I had to keep one car of the whole fleet it would be the Trafic.

(At least it's somewhere to live when the Mrs gets fed up with me buying rusty shite.)

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  • juular changed the title to Vanshite - sleeping in Trafic.
  • 4 months later...
1 hour ago, 2cvspecial said:

A mate of mine has a 68 transit custom limited on lease from VANARAMA (EXACTLY LIKE FATHER2CV'S) can he buy it off the company  for his own use after contract?

Seems very unlikely that a man converting a second hand Renault Trafic will know the answer to this, it's between your mate and his employer.

Although, quite often work vehicles are on lease not HP so they go back at the end of the contract and the lease company will sell them.

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I've just read through this entire thread. Having a caddy maxi that is going to get used for camping I am very interested. I'm only going as far as insulating and lining the van, and a leisure battery. I'm not going for built in bed, or units. It will be just for me so a camp bed will do in it when required, and I dont cook at home, so the need for cooking facilities is none. I am considering a heater of some sort though.

Sent from my SM-T585 using Tapatalk

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14 hours ago, 2cvspecial said:

A mate of mine has a 68 transit custom limited on lease from VANARAMA (EXACTLY LIKE FATHER2CV'S) can he buy it off the company  for his own use after contract?

I don't have an answer to that, but bear in mind if you buy an ex fleet or company van you will have to pay the VAT on top of any asking price. It's much cheaper usually to find a private owner that has already paid the VAT.

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