in Hobbies

Transit van to camper conversion

This is a photographic log (sadly missing a couple of steps) of my conversion of a 1999 Ford Transit van into a camper.
Dad kindly gave this van to me for Christmas in 2010 after I’d mentioned considering buying a Volkswagen camper to use for surfing.
He'd tried to sell it before but was offered very little for it. To me, this van was going to effectively save me about £5k!

I bought a set of windows (two side and one rear) along with a head liner from a minibus for £180. I started by cleaning the van up and cutting holes for the windows.
After taking up the floor, it was obvious that in addition to requiring a bit of repair work to the rear brake compensator valve, it would need the floor welding to prevent rust from spreading.

Dad helped me by doing most of the welding, whilst I set about repairing the wheel arches and other areas that had rust breakouts.
After weeks of work, the welding was done, doors repaired and windows fitted. I bought several rolls double sided thermal foil covered bubble-wrap insulation and also recycled plastic loft insulation from B&Q and set about lining the interior.

I fitted handles to the roof after the head lining was fitted, in order to hold a surfboard when I sleep in the van.
I also wanted the option of being able to use solar panels to charge a leisure battery in future, in addition to a caravan hookup – so bought a cable-gland.
Unfortunately, once stuck to the side of the van there would be no easy way of feeding cables through the tiny openings and into the body cavity.
I decided to run hosepipes from the apertures through the bodywork and panelling, so that it would be easy to feed cabling in after it had all been assembled.

Wheel arches boxed out – the passenger side one is under what will be the kitchen worktop. A waste pipe runs to a connector mounted in the wheel arch. Insulation packs out the boxing. The same applies to the driver's side, but I angled the boxing to give more space inside the wardrobe and under seating space.
Kitchen unit has two drawers, sink and two gas rings on the hob, plus space underneath for gas canister and water supply.

Wardrobe will have side access for easy maintenance of the leisure battery and wiring. Hopefully will be big enough to put wetsuits in. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it as wide as I’d hoped, due to the way that the back of the van is not perpendicular to the floor – it not only curves where the walls hit the roof, but inwards from the back so the floor effectively projects out further than the roof.

(3 April 2011) I replaced the locks on the van with a new set that Dad had bought for it years ago, unfortunately I’d completely forgotten about the fact that the new key's transponders wouldn’t match those in the PAS (alarm/immobilizer) registry. After it wouldn’t start, I had to leave it overnight and then attempt to pair the new keys with the system by taking the ignition apart again. You need at least two new keys to authenticate in order to pair the new third key.
Given that the new one had a totally different barrel, I had to separate the induction coil from the ignition barrel and hold it away from it with the new key in the barrel and the old key near the induction coil. Turning the ignition to position II and then off (with the new key in, but old one near the coil), putting the second original key in and repeating, then putting one of the new keys near the coil and doing it again. The alarm light stays solid when a key is recognized otherwise you get error codes flashing. I switched the new keys in the ignition and repeated to pair the second new key. I had a bit of difficulty the first few times, and then realized you have to switch the keys around within a few seconds. First order of business will be to get a new spare key cut and paired.
If you lose one key (leaving you with one) it makes it impossible to use another new key.

Fitted the hob and gas pipework, and was also given a set of cushions from an old caravan – they’ll need some trimming down to make them fit properly as they’re a bit wide and too thick, but it’s all getting there rather quickly now!

Deane

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Van, rather rusty and a bit beaten up to start with.
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Splashes of paint on the driver’s door…
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Dents above the rear bumpers.
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Back doors dented and rusted due to impacts with a trailer.
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Sliding side door has a bit of a scrape and dent.
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The sides were ply lined as Dad's work van…
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Took the ply lining out.
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Took the wood out of the door panels also.
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Floor taken up.
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Opposite panel will come out for window.
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Notice the rust on the floor. The supports underneath catch the spray.
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Hob/sink will go above wheel arch.
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During welding – see I have side windows in!
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Paint touched up (bit patchy).
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Also tidied up wheelarches and dents.
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Rear doors off for repairing now.
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Notice the bumper corners? All filled in!
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Sliding door dent pushed out and filled as best I could.
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Insulating roof with layer of double sided bubble-foil.
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Also stuck layer to topside of head liner.

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Voids in front and sides packed with recycled plastic loft insulation.
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Doors have bottom edge replaced with welded plate.
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Filler to blend the levels, resprayed doors.
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Rear window fitted (was done at same time as side windows).
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Head liner fitted – was a struggle with the extra insulation.
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Dots are double-sided worktop tape for adhering insulation.
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Holes drilled for solar power cable (or other).
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No easy way of getting cable in post-installation, so used hosepipes. This way, cables will feed up and through inner panelling.
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Solar and power hookups stick out enough to pass through panelling.
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Hookup and gland externals fitted, quite neat I think!
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Should be possible to pass solar cable through gland and aerial in hookup.
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Re-used some fibreglass panels for inner insulation. Strung side panels to hold up.
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Insulation sealed in with another layer of thermal foil.
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Side panel in kitchen area. Rawlnuts hold middle of panel (refitted to hold hob etc.)
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Side panel fitted in bed/wardrobe side.
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Both side panels. Hookup and solar feeds come through on the right.
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Ceiling handles for hanging the surfboard from, using bungee cords.
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Tops of side panels fitted, along with brackets for framing.
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Tops of side panels fitted, along with brackets for framing.
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Plastic trim made from guttering, formed into the shape of the curve.
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Plastic trim made from guttering, formed into the shape of the curve.
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Back of the van with the doors fitted.
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Both wheel arches boxed out.
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Wheel arch passenger side under kitchen unit.
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Drivers side wheel arch.
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Kitchen unit framing (unfinished).
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Kitchen unit with sides and drawers.
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Finished drawers and beginning to fit cupboard doors (they’re bowed out).
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Turnbuttons inside drawers stop them opening.
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Cupboard doors fitted and unit varnished.
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Unit opened up.
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Kitchen unit and lino floor.
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Wardrobe framing.
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Bottom of wardrobe.
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Top of wardrobe.
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Wardrobe frame.
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Template for wardrobe panel.
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Panelled wardrobe
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Inside wardrobe top.
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Inside wardrobe bottom.
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Electrics access.
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Wardrobe from inside van.
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Base bed framing.
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Base bed framing from inside.
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Bed/Seating with bed section hidden.
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Bed/Seating with bed section pulled out.
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Table and toilet boxing/seat fitted.
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Table and toilet boxing/seat fitted.
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Cupboard fitted above kitchen unit.
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Seating finished, table assembled.
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Seating finished, table assembled.
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Seating finished, table assembled.
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Gas installed and hob fitted
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Hob/sink unit opened up.
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SCab heater installed (needs a cover grille).
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Table and bed panel storage hooks on wardrobe.
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Caravan cushions (need resizing).
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Cushions and table.
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