In 2018 we bought a new van and started another van conversion. We took what we’d learnt from our 2016 van conversion and improved our design to better match our change in needs.
Cleaning the van
In June 2018, we bought our new van in a very good used state. It came fitted with ply-lining, racking and a bulkhead fitted. On the first morning of owning the van we stripped it back and gave the internals a good clean. We also removed the bulkhead to give easy access through to the front as we had with the 2016 conversion.
We spent a while deliberating about which insulation to go for. Whether to try something new or stick with what we knew. We opted to go for the YBS SuperQuilt again because of how easy it was to work with in 2016. We filled all the pockets with 1 or 2 layers, depending on the size of void.
Ply-lining and carpeting
The ply-lining was cut down into 3 sections so that we could leave the window area free. We’d decided that we wanted windows in both sides so that we could see out more, but also because of the plans for the gas hob. Using high temperature spray adhesive, we stuck 4-way stretch carpet to the ply lining and temporarily fitted them back in. The same method for sticking the carpet to the ply was used for the wheel arches. The 4-way stretch meant it was far easier to follow the profile of the wheel arches.
Using the old ply floor as a template, we cut out the new ply floor. We found this coated ply, used in trailer floors, at a local timber merchant for a low price so bought a couple of sheets. We laid the floor out in a way such that the joins would not be obvious. One would be hidden under the seat/bed and the other under the cabinets. In 2016, we used the same YBS SuperQuilt insulation under the floor, but this time we opted aluminium bubble wrap, to maintain a low profile.
Cutting out the windows was one of the most nerve-wracking jobs we’ve done, not just during the van conversion! The van is our 2nd biggest investment, and we went and drilled holes and chopped parts out. From the inside, we drilled small holes around the internal paneling, and then opened them out with a larger drill bit. From the outside, a jigsaw was used to cut round the outsides of the holes, leaving a window shaped hole. Pinching the internal and external skins together, we sealed the window hole using U-trim.
We then prepped the surfaces (body and glass), added the adhesive to the glass and stuck in place, using masking tape to stop it moving too much. It was a pretty simple task in the end, but the consequences of mistakes could be quite large – a too big hole or the window not straight or falling out. Thankfully, the windows didn’t fall out during our commute the next morning, and no leaks as of yet!
Instead of carpeting the ply lining for the roof as we’d done before, we decided to clad the roof to give a lighter and more modern feel. This proved to be a nightmare to fit with the cladding clips provided. Instead, we screwed the cladding onto the battens which is easier and more secure. We ran out cabling for the LED clip in lights as we went, and fitted them once the ceiling was fitted. We used YBS SuperQuilt to insulate the ceiling voids, and aluminium bubble wrap on the ribs.
Four bright LED clusters light our van conversion. We have two touch sensitive dimmer switches that control two lights each. One dimmer controls the front two, over the door way and the sink/hob area. The other controls the two rear lights over the bed/seats. Power to the switches comes from the leisure battery via a master switch and fuse box.
Rails & Bed
We knew with this van conversion we wanted a Rock and Roll bed so we could carry more passengers. In this decision, our layout had pretty much been chosen for us. We were going for the typical camper style, cabinets behind the driver’s seat going back and the bed/seats behind the passenger. Opting for the 1.20 meter bed width (small double) meant we’d have enough cupboard space for longer road trips. We decided to go with Smart Beds’ Evolution II bed because of their innovative design. The transition between seat and bed is really easy and the cantilever system means we don’t have to put anything away.
We used the Campervan Kit 2 from Unwin, consisting of 2 rails, all the bolts and 4 quick release fittings. The weight of the seat on the rails results in some sliding friction but for our purpose, the seat is still able to move and be removed. This means the van can adapt to our changes.
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