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Thread: My Van Project :)

  1. #1
    Chilling Out andyvw's Avatar
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    My Van Project :)

    It all begins on a very dark and wet night last December.

    The previous evening I had put down a deposit on a 22 year old VW transporter, with numerous minor faults on the engine and electrics. I wanted something with a bit of character, something I could work on myself, without all the modern luxuries like power steering and electric windows. What I now had to do was drive this unroadworthy beast 50 miles through the dark depths of the Peak District. To add insult to injury (or comedy?) it started raining heavily. The sky was pitch black with cloud cover, and so was the dashboard. The only sign of life was the engine ticking over, after it started on the 5th attempt. I drove it cautiously into the night, not daring to go above about 35mph.

    About 5 miles into my journey, I stopped to tape a torch onto the dashboard so that I could see what my speed was. I also noticed that the fuel gauge was showing empty. Not sure whether or not to believe it, I continued only to then run out of fuel on a blind bend 30 miles later. Luckily I had a can of fuel in the back which got me home.

    Anyway, to cut a fairly short story even shorter, I finally got it home and by some miracle managed to reverse park it into the driveway. Here's a picture. I was very tired, and went to bed - probably waking up the next morning thinking the whole thing had been a dream.



    So... here are a couple of pics of the van, before I really did anything but give it a wash. It was running super rich, with a fuel economy of about 8mpg, and you couldn't drive it without choking on the fumes.






    My rough plan was to build something that I could escape in for some random adventures around the UK, at the drop of a hat. I think this plan developed sometime late last year when I went away to the Lake District for 3 nights after work and stayed in a camping barn - it was cheap, very basic, had some great hillwalking right from the front door, and I had the whole place to myself:




    Anyway that's the story so far. Back to the van. I suppose at this point it becomes more of a blog of progress... which so far has consisted of repairing the engine, sorting out the electrics, and doing numerous boring work to get it roadworthy. The fun stuff is yet to come, but I'll drop a few pics below...



    Electrics... not so much fun, half of it has been repairing existing bodges, and the other half adding things like split charge system, reversing camera, and audio/video.



    This has gone on late into the night on some occasions... basically I work on it at my parents house, then I have to drive it home at the end of each day. This means having it all back together in a drivable state, and that has meant working on it up until midnight sometimes



    This is the cab yesterday... before I put the carpet back in. Much nicer to drive now



    This was a couple of weekends ago - I had to remove the front cross-member and attack it with the welder, for MOT purposes. It was actually quite funny having the van looking in such a state on the road outside - people slowed down to have a look, and I got some funny looks. I guess from a distance it looked like a wreck.



    Here's my plan... it's a very minimal setup as far as a camper goes. The bed will double up as a sofa, and I'll be able to watch films on the TV which will eventually be on the worktop. There will be room for lots of clutter and a bike in there without taking the bed out.


    Well, more pics will appear as I progress Early days! Oh and she needs a name... any suggestions?!


    Oh, and I have just booked the MOT. It's on April fools day which I'm not sure is a good or a bad thing...






  2. #2
    just me Colin M's Avatar
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    Good luck, and thanks for sharing this with us

    :-)
    Smile - It'll make them nervous.

  3. #3
    This looks like a fantastic project! I'm looking forward to your updates.

  4. #4
    Lovely story Andyvw and like the pics looking forward to seeing and reading more about your van adventures
    I do most of my own stunts because the stunt guys show me how.

  5. #5
    Jesus is not your friend Fire-Tree's Avatar
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    Love it, love the way you're telling the story. Looking forward to future updates.
    Blog: Experiencing England in a car with no money

  6. #6
    Chilling Out andyvw's Avatar
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    Thanks for the encouragement

    I'm getting nervous at the moment about my MOT on April fools day, the outcome of that will decide what I am doing over Easter

    Quick update from the weekend - nothing exciting yet I'm afraid. Saturday was springy day - if I'm going to drive this around North coast 500 then I don't want it bouncing off the road into the sea. I put some softer springs on the back, to improve handling when the van is empty (which it is pretty much all the time as a camper).

    I've also started the conversion inside I'm putting in an insulated wooden clad wall between the cab and the back. The plan is that it's easier to build a wall than insulate the cab, plus it will be stealthy as it'll look like a work van that is boarded out from the front. Today I've bought all the insulation and various bolts and some plastic sheet for the vapor barrier. More to come!



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  7. #7
    Chilling Out andyvw's Avatar
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    Well the conversion work has started this weekend. Today I've had a hell of a day, been well and truly defeated by bits of timber, and right now I'm knackered (and it's nearly 2AM) but here's a quick update...



    On the far right, you can see black stuff covering the panels. This consists of carpet tiles stuck to the panels with contact adhesive, then I have coated them with underbody seal. This is my low-cost method of sound deadening the panel. The result is a fairly thick and dense slab of 'stuff' stuck to the panel. Insulation and cladding has begun on the far left.


    Celotex going in... I decided there are too many windows. This is the side the bed is going down.


    I decided it would be a good idea to timber clad the walls with tongue and groove cladding. This is as far as I got before it all started going wrong. It was just too difficult bending the boards, then getting the tongues aligned with the grooves, and then screwing the whole lot in place. I kept at it, but eventually I was breaking more boards than I was fitting. The grooves would snap, then I'd unscrew the damaged board, and then it would spring out suddenly and break the previous board as well.

    This part beat me completely, and I had to just pack everything up and go for a drive. So much time spent hardly getting anywhere. I parked up, climbed in the back and had a long think...


    The solution was quite obvious - fit the boards lengthways instead to save having to bend them. I returned tonight and managed to get this far before calling it a night.

    So I've ended up with the back boarded out with boards going horizontal and vertical. It's quirky and has a bit of character, but that's typical of anything I make or do

    Just about falling asleep at the keyboard here, going to bed
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  8. #8
    Tuning In Trap's Avatar
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    It's looking good fella. I'm thinking of paneling like that in the new van and then just having a carpeted bit next to the bed and on the roof this time.

    What part of Derbyshire you in? I'm up in Glossop.

  9. #9
    Chilling Out andyvw's Avatar
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    Thanks I think for fitting these boards, it would be a lot easier if they were going onto battens... I was just going straight onto the metal to try and save space, but it made the mounting next to impossible.

    I'm quite a bit south of you Trap - I'm at the other end of the Peak district just a few miles out of Derby

  10. #10
    Tuning In Trap's Avatar
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    Yeah I can probably get away with batons in mine. I might have to pick your brain when I come to doing the electrics in mine as it will be a learning process for me.

    Ah cool I used to drive down that way through Buxton an on further down quite a bit when I used to Airsoft more often. Can be quite fun over the tops in the snow

  11. #11
    Chilling Out andyvw's Avatar
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    Yeah Buxton does seem to attract a lot of snow I've camped there over winter too. I like the Snake Pass road up your way - lots of fun on the motorbike up there in the summer

    Just give me a shout if you need a hand with the electrics, and if anything goes pear shaped I don't mind having a look at it as we're not that far away from each other.


    Here are a few pictures from today. I have this week off work and I'm really pushing to get the van usable as I want to get away in it soon - if not towards the end of this week!




    Stud wall and internal doorframe going in


    The doorframe is a tight fit into a recess in the ceiling, with plenty of sikaflex to hold it in place.


    Kitchen to be!
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  12. #12
    Tuning In Trap's Avatar
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    Yeah I used to love taking my old kit cars out on the hill roads round here.

    Cheers for the offer fella.

    Bulk head is looking good! My new (new to me) van is coming with a solid bulkhead. Thinking of cheating and getting my old place of work to fab a sliding door arangement for me. I defo think insulated bulkhead is an easier way of doing it stealth than the curtain I used in the last van.
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  13. #13
    Absolutely wonderful!!!!! The wood work looks brilliant. Im really enjoying reading your progress.
    It took me decades to understand the vw thing. I finally 'got it' approx. 2 years ago. but it wasn't to be, as I don't have the skills to maintain one. So now, I nip around in a stealth micro camper, but every time I see a vw, I think of that extra bit of room, regular car parking space and getting under barriers.
    For a name, I think Grace.
    x
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Trap View Post

    Bulk head is looking good! My new (new to me) van is coming with a solid bulkhead. Thinking of cheating and getting my old place of work to fab a sliding door arangement for me. I defo think insulated bulkhead is an easier way of doing it stealth than the curtain I used in the last van.
    Funny, I have gone back to the curtain in my van after having a fixed bulkhead and a door in the last one. But it is just 2/3 width as I have a wardrobe behind the drivers seat.

    Reasoning is I have fitted a swivel passanger seat and got cab blackout windows. Makes more living space. But both systems work.

    To the OP, conversion is coming along nicely, I love those T4s, they drive so nicely.
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  15. #15
    Chilling Out andyvw's Avatar
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    Thanks for the encouragement again


    Well, I'd hoped to get away in the van towards the end of the week, but in the end all I managed was a 100-ish mile drive around the Peak District and Hope valley yesterday afternoon. I found a couple of good park-ups as well, one in particular had a couple of vans there already. If I'd been better prepared, I would've parked up myself for the night too! Here's the van near Castleton last night...




    I've been working solidly on the van these last few days. Come inside and take a look




    Since the last update, I've been busy at work on the interior. I finished cladding the walls, and then I insulated the floor with some laminate floor underlay which I had lying around. It seems like a very good insulating material, and very easy to fit.



    After that, I finished insulating the roof with celotex. Here's a tip for getting it to bend to fit the curves of the roof - score the aluminium foil with a knife several times before pressing it into place. The foil gives it its strength. The celotex is stuck into place with high temperature contact adhesive.



    Fitting the ceiling board... I used some thin marine ply for the ceiling, and spent ages measuring up and marking out so that it would hopefully fit first time as I didn't want to be messing around with this huge piece! Another tip - if there's no-one to help you fit it, then build a helper! I put this thing together to hold the ply up. Then I'd maneuver it into place, and push the ply up further - securing it with the workmate. After lots of faffing about and me thinking I had made some huge measurement error, there was a huge 'thud' and the board suddenly fitted perfectly





    At this point I screwed it into place quickly.



    Here's a photo I took whilst wondering what to do next...



    I decided to go to B&Q and buy some carpet tiles. It was getting late, but I decided to keep pushing on! When I got back from B&Q, I started varnishing all the woodwork. Afterwards, I started fitting the carpet tiles. This pic is taken at about 11pm on Thursday night



    The next day, I got to see what my varnishing looked like in daylight. I was pleased with how the ceiling turned out in particular. I was actually chuffed to bits with how the whole thing looked at this point, it's really light and airy. I could live in it if it was bigger. Testing the lights in the above pic.



    This is as far as I got before putting the bed in The worksurface on the left is slowly becoming my kitchen, and I will turn the part below it into a cupboard.

    To do list:

    - Make a door for the bulkhead wall (full stealth mode enabled)
    - Sort out curtains/blinds/something to cover the windows in the back
    - Finish kitchen bit
    - Sort out the dashboard and electrics
    - Put in some decor/pictures/arty stuff on the walls, etc.
    - Go on some weekends away mountain biking/hiking etc. and test it all out!
    Last edited by andyvw; 12-04--2015 at 11:59 PM.
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  16. #16
    Woah.. amazing job there! Loving the woodwork - and it all looks so neat! So impressed in the early days when you had to reassemble the whole thing to drive home. Keep those updates coming.
    Roughing it smoothly...

  17. #17
    Heavenly Creature Wolf Angel's Avatar
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    Looks FAB - It's doubly impressive and so much more rewarding when Art, Design, Craftsmanship and "Love" is invested into such a project. The fact that it allows you you that allows Freedom of/to explore must be liberating
    Keep the posts coming
    "And, in the end, the Love we take, - is equal to the Love, we make"

  18. #18
    Wow! that looks amazing andyvw!!! Great job. Love the wood. It looks so cosy in there

  19. #19
    Heavenly Creature r3ubs's Avatar
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    Looking awesome :-)
    "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindess."

  20. #20
    Dirty Uncle Bertie... julianthegypsy's Avatar
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    Looking really nice, can't wait to see it finished!
    Yawn I'm so tired with this big bag of coal on my head...

  21. #21
    just me Colin M's Avatar
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    I agree with Unkle Joojoo ^
    Smile - It'll make them nervous.

  22. #22
    Jesus is not your friend Fire-Tree's Avatar
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    Looking lovely. So warm and cosy. I could defo put my slippers in there.
    Blog: Experiencing England in a car with no money

  23. #23
    Heavenly Creature dieseldog's Avatar
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    Nice one my mate, really enjoying this thread; thank you !!!! Keep on creatin', Toby.

  24. #24
    Chilling Out andyvw's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the kind comments

    I'm trying to decide what to do next - finish it completely, or just get away in it. I'm tempted to just go and try it out (and I need a break anyway!)

    I suppose I need to at least do something with the heater controls... I went out in it yesterday morning and it was icy. It took ages to clear with no working heater!
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