Week Eight

It is starting to look much more like a campervan this week especially as we are now working on fitting out. The only problem is that the joinery shop boss has gone on holiday without briefing the guy who is going to do the work so that is all on hold for a few weeks because we too are having a week off.

So with the rear most ply lining complete it was time to sort out the electrical systems under the salon floor. Mainly from the Votronic manuals I had drawn a wiring diagram to follow but made a few changes as I went along, mainly just to suit the layout. Everything is well fused so should be quite safe although it looks like we will be carrying a lot of different spares just in case.

I did have to re-pull a few wires and I needed a few extra bits such as more big cable crimps. I had bought a cheap hydraulic crimp tool so I could make up my own big, 10, 15 & 40mm cables and it made the job a lot easier. Everything is now neatly laid out and just waiting for the master fuse and switch that are in turn waiting for a furniture panel to mount them on.

With the basic electrical in place I was able too finish the ply lining around the salon window so it is now neatly recessed into the wall. The bed panels have all been cut to size and shape so that they take account of the B pillar when pulled out and the back has been slightly curved to allow for the curved walls.

We have also spent some time this week on basic layout plans and I think we made a lot of headway with things that seem simple but aren’t like the sliding toiled door. However the most important thing is sitting in the middle of the van just crying out to be installed – our 150ltr Vitrifrigo fridge.

Week Seven

We had two targets this week, first fix electric and ply lining. We made good progress with both but didn’t quite get finished with either. Still there is always next week.

The first job was to finish the raised floor. The idea is that this makes the swivelled front seats on the same level as the seat bed. The space underneath the raised floor is ideal to house the electronics.

I had intended to hinge the floor panel. I used some 18mm “Buffalo Board” but it proved too heavy for the flap stay hinges so I abandoned that for a simple drop in panel.

I layed down and secured in place several flexible conduits and left draw wires in each because I knew I would forget something – and I did.

With the floor in place it was time to set about the ply lining. We are using 6mm poplar ply as a base for the decorative ply finishes. Poplar ply, aka lightweight ply, because it is supper light. Cut to shape it is adhered to the van frame with Stixall and Tech screws. When we offered it up we secured it with some plasterboard supports while the Stixall grabbed.

With the rear lining panels in place I set about the wiring only to realise those cables I had overlooked. I had the foresight to include several draw wires so they weren’t too much of a problem, just time consuming. It works out that we need a coupe more 6mm sheets of ply so that means a trip to SL Hardwoods in Croydon.

So on to next week and see if we get electrical and lining closer to a conclusion.

Week Six

We are almost half way through the 90 days the insurers allow us to complete the work. Seven days a week and decent weather and we are making good progress. There is a lot to do but it is nice when job after job gets done.

We started this week finishing off the seat bed mounting. It is solid and we can see how the boards need shaping, the squab to go around the be pillar and the back to cope with the curve of the wall. Our idea is to leave 10mm – 15mm at the sides to be able to pull a fitted sheet over it. I am contemplating remaking the diary’s in ply for added strengths and a better fit. At the same time we have bought seat belt receptacles on straps that we can easily hide when not in use.

Fitting the side step was always going to be awkward. The diesel tank is on the left side so on a right hand drive, left hand kerbside van the step has to go beneath the tank. The underside of the tank is 30mm below the cill and 20mm above anything else but the main problem is that it negates many fixing possibilities. Having solved the later with some 6mm aliminium angle and lengths of Unistrut I have lost 50-70mm of ground clearance, something that will need watching carefully.

It doesn’t end there because powering it is just as entertaining. There are no fuse diagrams or lists available. Getting the cables to into the van and the passenger seat base was fairly easy and as luckwould have it, and some trial and error, powering it was easy. I needed both permanent and switched 12V both of which are available on busbars in the fuse boards beneath the passenger seat. Those with big red cables come from the battery and those with black from the ignition switch.

The idea is that you can operate the step, in and out, by the switch on the B pillar but if you start the van without retracting the step a buzzer sounds and / until the step retracts automatically.

While we were in this area I added the 100A cable that will go from the starter battery to the charge controller and 2 signal cables from the battery and ignition switch.

In the meantime some very expensive German ebay T nuts arrived so I was able to bolt the solar panels down and fit an seal the cable pass through.

Back to the inside we finished the floor insulation and refitted the floor and insulated the wheel arches.

With the floor fitted the batteries were installed in an aluminium floor frame with a ratchet strap holding them tightly in position behind the seat bed.

Something that bothered me on Saturday. I started the van for the first time in 10 days and got errors from the ESP, the parking sensors and the Auto Stop Start. I hoped this was simply because the battery had been disconnected. Once off the axel stands and a drive out on Sunda the Errors cleared themselves.

And finally on a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon we were able to try out the Fiamma rollout awning for the first time.

Week Five

This is turning out to be quite a week. The van is up on axel stands to make it a little more comfortable working underneath.

Monday’s first job was fitting the water / waste tank, it is a single split unit with 80ltr fresh & 50ltr grey from Shaun Barratt. I started by wrapping the tank in foil Dodo just to make me feel better. I cut the level sensors holes and trimmed the sensors to length. They need calibrating so I did that by using the console and and a jug of water filled to tank depth. I got them to bang on 100% as I can’t do that once installed. Finally once I got the right length hangers I lifted it into place and made up and fitted the fill and drain lines from the under cill location.

Next job was fitting the intake / exhaust for them Wallas XC Duo. It was a lot of trial and error – no other examples to follow. Then I lowered the fuel tank to get the sender out and got covered in diesel only to find the pick up kit that came from Eberspacher was wrong. I eventually got a replacement and it’s fitted and the tank back in place.

Whilst all this was going on I set about fitting the solar panels. The panels are 1240 wide and the distance between the roof rails 1380. It seemed like an easy job to make brackets with some 4×2 ally angle but unfortunately they clash with adjacent roof ribs so I am waiting for a length of spacer material tomorrow. A word of warning to others – finding slot nuts for the roofrails is impossible. Unistrut are too big and T-Slot are to small. ATM it seems the best I can find are on their way from a German ebay shop. Tomorrow the cable and some StSt self drill screws arrive so it will be time to fit the cable pass through on the roof. Meanwhile Sue is almost there with insulation and we are contemplating doing the floor this weekend.

I offered up the Thule step – a new project in itself. There is not much to hang it from as the diesel tanks is in the way. Another lump of aluminium billet is on its way next week that will hopefully solve the problem.

The weekend came and it was time to start working inside. We startd by setting out the floor drilling’s for the seat bed frame. We layed a few 6mm ply strips with 2mm double sided foam on top of the ribs with 12mm Dodo in all the valleys and finally 8mm Dodo Thermomat.

Then it was time to refit the OE floor, at the moment we are concentrating on the front part. We quite like the material, it is 9mm resin coated like buffalo board but the top finish suits our design. We relaid it with a bead of Stixall on the ply battens and reused the OE tie downs – the ones b6 the door might be useful I future. When the floor was in place we drilled through the holes in the steel floor to refined the seat bed rail fixings and then, having marked the channels, cut slots in the ply.

So now it is all in place but the U channel needs a bit of “adjustment” and I need to pick up a few special fixings in the morning. However all in all a lo5t of ground covered this week. Let’s see what week 6 brings.

Week Four

This was to be window week. Time to be brave.

The Seitz S6 windows are made to suit a curved wall with a radius of 5m. Taking several dimensions off the van and setting them out in CAD I found that the radius varied from 5m to 10m but I guess the frame and window will take up what equates to a small variation and won’t be noticeable. I have after all seen flat windows successfully installed on to curved walls.

The RH window frame I made fitted the curve of the window and the blind perfectly so I made up the LH slider frame. The only difference being that the RH is as far forward as I can get it whereas the slider is in the middle. The frames are made up of 3 layers of 6mm ply and one of 3mm which gives 22mm and the steel skin will add 1mm so pretty much bang on the 22-23mm spec from Seitz.

The frame for the Midi Heki is different in that it has a stepped shape on top for the curve of the roof but a flat bottom for the blind. I am keeping it slim as I want to avoid losing head height so that with the roof curve and ribs I will end up with c.32mm. Installing this frame and the rooflight will involve quite a bit of packing and sealant.

While I am at it I decided that a large white roof light is going to look very out of place even if you only see a bit of it. So a can of Halfords grey bumper paint later and voila..

And the frame for the Fiamma roof vent is much smaller and simpler. It is small enough to ignore the curve and just needed a bit of “fitting” so that it will go tight up to the last roof beam.

The time came to bite the bullet and cut the window holes in the van. Fortunately I had the loan of a heated workshop for a few days which made it a whole lot easier. Taking an air saw to our shiny new van was a bit scary but seems to have worked well. Even though I left the corners to last the slider in particular got a bit wild and wobbly making the last cuts but it seems to have survived it OK. One important thing to remember is a few bits of gaffer tape to hold on to the cut out piece and avoid it falling on to the outside paintwork.

First we touched up the bare metal cut with some Hammerite before cleaning around the area with a dab of acetone. The window inner frame was bonded with Sikaflex 252 structural adhesive and clamped for a while until it grabbed. The window was sealed with a good bead of SikaLastomer 710 that squidged out nicely. Cleaning the excess the next day was easy – simply go round with a blunt table knife and pull the excess off. The blind is a temporary fit until we work out how to finish the wall around it.

Fitting the roof vents was similar but complicated by the ribs and the slight curve. The outer sides of the cut for the Midi Heki coincided with a rim so left a useful upstand. I found some 25 x 10mm rigid plastic that I fitted between the ribs and inside that outer rib. All of this and the frame were bonded again with Sikaflex 252 and then the remaining few millimetres of the curve built up with layers of 20 x 2mm butyl rubber tape. Finally the roof vents were lowered in with a good bead of SikoLastomer and once clamped does I went round with more SikoLastomer to fill any gaps. No it doesn’t look pretty but that will only bother you if you are 10ft tall.

It has rained a lot for 2 days since we fitted the windows and roof lights and, touch wood, no leaks. While it was raining I took a drive to TPS to fetch the last piece of B post trim that finishes off the post nicely. The cab headlining needs a bit of adjusting and I need to get a nice grab handle like one from a T5/6.

So then it was on to the floor. I was told about the big strip of glue up the middle so got prepared. A few lengths of 3 x 1.5in CLS one of which I cut a chisel point on to one piece and I soon had the floor up. Getting rid of the glue was another story. I managed to pick the floor clean quite easily but getting it off the reverse of the floor ply was very difficult. So much so that it pulled the skin off my thumb.

Week Three

The week started well on Monday with the delivery of our SmartBeds Evo II seat bed. It is a really neat pull out rock and roll bed designed for a Transporter. To make best use of the underbed space ours is for a LHD van and we have bought it with wider, 1200mm, seat boards and foam but unhupolstered. We are a long way from being ready for it but we need the frame to work out the installation.

On Tuesday with just 24 miles on the clock I set off to do 100 miles with a visit to SL Hardwoods in Croydon to collect several sheets of 6, 9 & 12mm poplar (light weight) ply. Good people they have or get all sorts at a couple of days notice. At the same time the Morland laminate and wall board materials were delivered to Cut’n’Edge who are doing the joinery. On the way I called in to TPS in Crawley to collect the off side B Pilar trim but but we are still struggling with a piece of upper trim. Once back home we continued insulating and cut away the panel supports on the window panels and the roof joist at the mid roof vent.

To set out the window positions and to get them level I drilled a 1mm hole from the inside through the middle of the window panel. Levelled this with the outside body lines and drilled a hole back from the outside, Miraculously this was parallel to the internal structure.

While Sue was working on the rear doors I got busy making the widow cut out frames. These were made difficult by the curvature in the walls. As a result I made up a jig and laminated several layers of 6mm ply to give a 5-7mm curve to match the windows and the wall.

Week Two

First thing this week, with a bit of help, we lifted the awning onto a very frosty roof. It sits neatly in the brackets OK but we haven’t yet rolled it out. Full marks to Stefan @ NoVa Lesiure who took the bracket handing issues on the chin.

The weather this week has hardly been conducive to working outdoors but it had to be done. We started on the insulation, one layer of 6mm Dodo mat, second layer of 12mm Dodo mat and polyester wadding everywhere else. We are about halfway through with Sue’s more delicate hands with the 6mm reaching the parts I can’t to get to. I followed with the 12mm and polyester wadding. We had a struggle insulating over the cab. The roof lining simply would not come out because of some weird plastic fixing so we had to be a bit clever.

I fitted the first of the new B pillar trims. They look neat and cover the whole pillar. I did try insulating underneath but that gave me problems with the seat belts so I did without.