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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Welcome to my build thread!

I thought i'd compile all the information for my van in this thread so that it can be used as a point of reference and also to avoid having several posts about it all over the forum. I apologise for any plagiarising in design from certain other vans of which I've stolen some ideas, however please see it as a compliment rather than anything else!

I'd wanted a T4 for about 2 or 3 years, but after looking at many, many vans I just couldnt find something in my price range and in the condition I wanted it. I'd given up looking when a casual browse on eBay unearthed a T5 just a couple of miles down the road. In price range, and with a bit of initial work, a blank canvas.

So it started July 2013 when I bought it. At the time of purchase, it was a 2005 Versa conversion, 1.9 with 38k on the clock. Very clean and backed up with its history, an ideal base to start from.










It was a case of removing the whole conversion in the rear and stripping it back to the bare bones of the van.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
What I did think would be a fairly straight forward process did actually become a bit of a pain but perseverance and some quality tools (including 2 pairs of hands) eventually won in the end. 


First of all, the wheelchair lift had to be removed. Being so heavy, it was lowered to the floor, unbolted disconnected and then lowered out onto itself manually using the hydraulic pump.

The seats then had to be unbolted. They came out easy enough, but the plates which they were bolted to were a different matter. I took all the plastics from under the van off, and then began removing the bolts (hi-tensile steel). A couple had to be drilled out using a very hard drill bit. By removing the plastics underneath, I was delighted to see that under the van, it was spotless. Undersealed and free from dirt, It looked like new. The plastics really do their job protecting it from corrosion.

The wheelchair unwin bolts were next. These are what the straps connect to onto the floor.



Some of these happened to be over the fuel tank. So, again crawling underneath, I lowered the tank onto a trolley jack, and with a very large wrench, managed to unbolt them whilst getting my arm between the fuel tank and floor in a very awkward position!

Once they were all out, all of the holes were treated with some red oxide paint to cover any bare metal, and then once dried, I heated up flashing tape, and pushed it into the hole to provide a seal. The tape was rollered and left to dry which created a watertight seal on the metalwork preventing any water from getting between body and tape.

The conversion had some rather nasty cheap wool insulation too so this was taken out and thrown away



I did save some of the sound insulation though, particularly that on the arches however it was carefully removed so that some sound deadening could be placed there first



Once all removed, I began the laborious process of removing the old carpet, which took plenty of patience, Autoglym tar remover and half the skin off my hands



 

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Discussion Starter #3
Once i’d finished that, I then wanted to start routing electrical cables and fitting Split Charge and 240v Hook up system to it.




I contacted Martyn at Travelvolts (www.travelvolts.com) several times and he was more than helpful in providing me with what I needed, making sure it wasn't overkill but also that what I wanted the system for was within the limits. He gave me excellent advice and was always willing to talk on the phone or via email. A massive thanks to him and his plans which make it so easy to do yourself providing you have some basic electrical knowledge. Not a great deal of photos here, largely due to concentrating on where the wires all went!


At the moment, I havent yet placed the sockets, so to avoid having to remove them as I play about with the design. The wires are ready and threaded around the van so I just need to connect up to the battery or to the 240v supply and attach the sockets.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Having fitted the split charge, and leisure battery under the front seat, and the 240v hook up point under the bonnet, I then returned to insulating the van a bit more.

I used some very expensive double bubble foil which happened to be spare from an extension a friend had built. It wasn't the cheaper B&Q stuff which I had initially planned to use however, i’m not sure how much benefit that would be gained from using it.




The sound insulation had been replaced and was then taped over to provide a surface for the carpet to adhere to.




I then made ‘pillows’ of good old B&Q recycled bottle wool with the double foil, sealing them in and using foil tape to attempt to provide a seal from moisture.

Once that was done, it was time to contact megavanmats (www.megavanmats.co.uk) to order some carpet and adhesive.

I bought 14 cans of adhesive which was probably overkill as I’ve still got a few cans left, however might yet use them for a couple of ideas I have to finish the interior build.

I then began carpeting the sides first, starting with the drivers side and taking my time over it. I had a spare pair of hands to assist me which was invaluable. I doubt I could have done it by myself as I was working with the whole roll at once and therefore needed that extra pair just to help hold it whilst I sprayed.



Once the side was completed, I then carpeted the roof in light smoke, adding a couple of spotlights into the lining adding to the rocker lights which were from the previous conversion. The spotlights could then be used when camping and the rocker lights used off the door switches to provide light when using the van day to day.




Once the sides and roof were carpeted, I then turned to sorting the floor out. After looking all over for 10x5 12 plywood sheet, I found these guys, just down the road from me.

www.falltimber.co.uk 

I was lucky that they were so close, so headed down to their yard, where I was able to get a piece cut into a nice square shape so that it would fit into the back of the van and simply needed shaping to make a proper fit. 12mm Latvian Birch, good quality stuff and nice and thick for the floor with the Kombi step which was already in the van.

I’d kept the old floor from the conversion (had holes in it for the seat plates) to use as a template and guide so once I’d used that to draw around, cut out the plywood using a jigsaw and a heavy blade.

It was a snug fit but went down well. I don't have any photos of it but I only needed a small extra piece in the bottom nearside corner to finish the floor.

I also needed a full length rear door trim so used my local VW Van centre to source one for the right finish.


I toyed with using Altro flooring, but I really liked the idea of a wood look design, so found some Lino which seemed quite a tough top finish so after laying it down onto ply with some overhang, stuck it down with the megavanmats adhesive and then trimmed it once it was snug in the van.

This resulted in a nice and close fit

Cut templates from 3mm ply for new side boards, and carpeted over resulting in the project getting this far:





Went for a picnic in it!

 

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Discussion Starter #5
At this point, I wanted to return to getting the exterior of the van sorted. First visited a locally ran company specialising in window tinting

From this:



to this:



and after fitting a set of BF Goodrich tyres with some powder coated steels and a bit of detailing, this:




I thought long about having alloys and lowered suspension, however didnt want to ruin the ride, and thought that if I was driving around fields camping, then having something capable of pulling me through the mud of a British summer might help!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I’d held off from doing the interior until I’d done some of the exterior, to allow me some more time to sort out my ideas. I wanted to retain the length in the van so I didnt want to go for the R&R bed option, and liked a lot of the alternative layouts which I’d seen on here.

I think Suffolks T4 might have been one of the first which grabbed my eye, but having also seen several other designs, I considered going for a U Shape layout, and a double opposite bench. In the end though, I went with an L shape design.

I’m much a fan of the functional, and liked the Cambee and Amdro stuff particularly their use of Birch Ply as a material but finances just wouldnt have been able to stretch that far ready for this coming summer, so I had to think about doing it myself. What originally started as just thinking about layouts, then began to drift towards design, how to build and how to secure it.

I scoured the internet for bed designs, pinching bits from each one. I then began to build it.

I first of all took a trip to Ikea and picked up a pair of bed slats, then trekked back to Fall Timber to pick up some more of their Latvian Plywood.

I knocked up a frame, glued and screwed it together and began cutting and fixing the slats to it







Once they were all fitted, I removed the top and began to build the base.

The frames were all glued and secured using Titebond glue, screwed and then the front panels bolted with cross bolts and inserts into the rear of the wood to ensure a secure and strong build.





I spent hours and hours on making sure things were sanded, the edges were all routed over and then applied Ronseal quick drying clear varnish. In between coats, it was sanded back with 240grit and then sanded again. This has resulted in a really good finish, waterproof and hard wearing. I tested an off-cut and had a job getting it to mark. When it did, it wiped clean so it was just what I wanted. Really easy to apply as long as the coats aren’t too thick. I made sure the whole bed was coated at least with 2 coats to protect against moisture and where a finishing surface, 3-4 coats.









Just got to sort the upholstery for it (I’m going to have to get a pro to do this) Something fairly robust yet comfortable.

This is where we are right now, although I have started on the kitchen unit over the rear arch. I want something that can be removed for camping but can also be used inside. Again, back to the drawing board stealing ideas!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Jimmy I did take some idea from yours....

The weight of the bed is light, about 27kg. I can easily lift it in and out myself which is what I wanted.

Ive now started on the kitchen unit idea. The plan is to construct a table type box over the arch, the same width and length as the kitchen unit that will sit on top. The box will have some storage in it accessed from the front.

Im planning on securing the kitchen box to the arch box using toggle latches. I was planning to use 2 either side but I need to see whether or not they will be suitable to hold the box securely in place.
I need to consider braking and cornering forces with the weight of the box and its contents
 

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Hi,
Red, best colour. I like that bed a lot, been thinking of something like that for a while, will closely copy.
Nice one.
John
 

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Rob,
Good work. Keep the photos coming, can't wait to see your table/kitchen. Hope you are OK if I steal a few of your ideas!
Jan
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Been out to see a few sewing specialists today about upholstery. I'd like to keep the work local if at all possible. I've got to get some foam too, but its a bit of a minefield when you look at comfort! Theres so many different grades that I dont want to go for something to find its rock hard to sleep on or too soft to sit on!

Also got the kitchen unit parts cut out, mocked it all up tonight in the van. The bottom bit (with the cut holes in it) will be secured to the floor of the van, and will remain in place. Its topped so its like a table when the unit on top is removed.

The top is yet to have some cutouts and a few cut backs to it, however it is generally what it'll be. The issue I have with it, is that it is heavy. It probably weighs as much as the bed unit, with all of its 12mm ply panels, and a 9mm shelf and back panel. I'm considering cutting holes in the back panel to reduce the weight and cover it with something lightweight. The panel should still have enough strength to support it. In terms of asthetics, it's yet to be sanded, varnished and shaped where it needs to be (no holes for handles yet and no cutouts for the cooker)





Another of the bed in the lift up position



If anyone has any ideas/feedback for me on the unit then they're very welcome to give it. I thought about removing the front doors under the shelf unit and just having a set of storage boxes for it. I did find that Ikea almost had the exact sizes, except that they were too high.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yeah thanks chaps, Mr James I have tested the bed out the other day and there were no problems with it, although I was a little worried about whether or not it would break! I have thought about what to do to tie the bottom in with the rest of the bed without losing the functionality of it. Im thinking of using 2 or 3 wooden bars with notches in them to be placed across the rear and front panel to brace them.
 
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