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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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Figured it was about time I put together a build thread for my van as a way of documenting my progress with it from stock white panel van to day van / bike hauler.
I've include links & prices to the parts I've bought where possible.

I used to have a B6 Passat Sport estate which I'd used numerous times to drive out to Morzine in the French Alps for road & mountain biking during the summer and snowboarding in the winter.
We'd always stop at the Aires en route and I'd be massively envious of all the T5's and other campervans parked up getting a comfortable nights sleep and having loads of room for all their gear.
4-up plus bikes & biking gear gets pretty cramped ... and I was always really security conscious of having the bikes on display when strapped to the roof!

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A couple of my mates then bought T5's (one a fully converted camper, the other a Sportline kombi) and that was it, I was sold, the T5 hunt was on...

Fast forward a couple of months to the start of December 2017 and a contact at work told me of a company local to him who specialise in converting VW T6's who'd just taken in a partially-converted T5.1 panel van as a part-ex.
A quick phone call later and that same evening I'd put a deposit down on a 'builders-favourite' white T28 panel van.

Even though I REALLY wanted a grey van, this one had already had the bulkhead removed and a set of tinted side windows - something that I really didn't fancy trying to tackle fitting myself!
It was already carpet lined, had a set of roof bars and a set of Unwin rails in the floor which I thought would come in handy for having adjustable seating in the back for carrying bikes.

I managed to blag some workshop space in my mates bodyshop for the week before Christmas and had the van delivered there, along with a pile of extras I'd already started buying (aaah such a slippery slope!!).

Over the course of a week I spent a silly amount of hours helping to sand & prep the front & rear commercial bumpers and number plate plinth ready for colour-coding along with a rear barndoor spoiler from Travelin-Lite.

Due to the van having solid rear doors I decided to wire in a reversing camera and sensors too. And then once the bumpers were ready for my good friend to start painting, I was able to steal some time on his 4-post lift to fit up a set of stainless side bars, H&R 50mm Springs from Travelin-Lite and a set of 20" Wolfrace alloys.

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The best Christmas present ever was finally being able to drive this home on Christmas Eve!

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
After Christmas I'd finally decided to go for the ABT front spoiler instead of the more usual Sportline front, paired with a set of DRL's and gloss black grill from Travelin-Lite so the van went back in to my mates workshop for a little more colour-coding. I decided to paint the lower fog light trims all black to tie in with the radiator grills above.

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Couple months on, and I decided to trim all the plywood and roof panels using light grey Alcantara-style Suedeliner from Harrisons Trim Supplies (HIGHLY recommend these guys!).
I also added a set of 4 LED downlighters alongside the original VW rear lights to brighten things up in the back.
The Van-X rear seats were really bugging me - they didn't match the VW seats in the front, so these were handed over A1 Trimmers in Knottingley to be retrimmed in black leather with perforated white leather inserts and white Bentley stitch pattern.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Picked up a cheap Android double DIN headunit to upgrade the stock sounds. For £200 it did the job but after a while I just couldn't get on with the Sat Navs really poor functionality. So I ended up swapping this out for the Kenwood DNX525DAB from my old Passat.
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Next up - I managed to pick up a brand new leather MFSW & airbag on eBay for £280 to replace the horrible plasticky stock wheel.
I decided to retro-fit Cruise Control (£156) with a kit from VW Teeside and Auto-headlights switch from Travelin-Lite (£55) whilst I had everything apart.
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Quite nerve-wracking pulling apart so much of the dash. I'd retro-fitted cruise control to my old Passat though so was fairly easy going ...until it gets to the multi-plugs under the battery! What a PITA that is!!
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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Before I had chance to swap my new plate across though, winter struck in the February - a good couple of inches of snow fell.

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Even though I'd scraped my sloping driveway of snow, nothing quite prepares you for the sight of seeing your van sliding it's way down your drive (handbrake still applied!) and out into the middle of the (even steeper) road out front, all by itself as you stand watching helplessly from the kitchen window!! :eek::eek::eek:

Luckily it was about 7am and no cars or pedestrians were near by. I thought I'd gotten away with it until I noticed a nice gouge along the drivers door where it had glanced off the corner of the front garden wall before carrying on out into the middle of the road where it thankfully came to a stop!

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Next up comes probably my favourite mod - the Van-X / Unwin rail combo weren't really working for how I wanted to use the van. Having to unbolt them to be able to move them was too much messing about and I also wanted to be able to sleep in the back when going camping which they wouldn't allow for.
So I decided to ditch the triple rear seats AND the bench & single in the front (as they all match) and use the money to buy a set of Caravelle rails & seat bed from Kernow Transporters.

£2k later and I have a set of rails, bolts and a grey leather & alcantara full-width seat bed.

Took me a full weekend by myself start - to - finish.

Removing the Unwin rails - relatively easy.
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Ripping out the old flooring - not so much! Wish I hadn't used quite so much glue to hold the Altro down :rolleyes:
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Got all the old Altro up after a lot of scraping! I wanted to try re-use what I could of the existing plywood floor so I numbered up the little pieces supporting the original floor, until I realised that most of these would be replaced by the Caravelle rails!

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
As I couldn't blag any more time at my mates workshop, I bought a set of these heavy duty 5 ton rated plastic ramps from eBay.
eBay 5Ton Rhino Ramps

- they're much wider than the usual metal ramps so they're more suitable for the larger 20" tyres - and they're stackable to save space in the garage.
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With the van up in the air, I could remove all the underbody plastics and the spare wheel carrier and also drop the fuel tank on the trolley jack, ready to drill new mounting holes.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Mounted up the 4 rails loosely at each corner to begin with and then lifted in the triple seat (b*stard thing is HEAVY!!) to do a test fit to make sure they were all perfectly parallel and the seat would move freely along the full length.

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Interestingly, when I opened the box of fixings supplied by Kernow, there were no spreader washers / plates for the chassis rails. When I got in touch with them, they told me that they're not needed and that it's just a 'forum myth'!! 😵 😵 ... try telling that to your insurers in the event of a crash. Really disappointing, given the money I'd spent!
A phone call to my local VW dealership and a fair few £'s later I came away with all the correct spreader plates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I tightened down the rails once I was happy with the position and then used them as a guide to drill the remaining holes. There's 8-10 bolts per long rail and 5 or 6 on the shorters ones (it varies depending on the age of the rail - the newer ones have fewer holes). Still plenty of holes to drill!
Once I had all the hole drilled, I could remove the rails and treat the bare metalwork.
Then I could replace the rails and begin bolting them down properly which is very tricky to do by yourself! With no-one available to help, I managed to succeed in wedging a spanner into the rail inside the van, then climbing underneath with a socket to tighten up! A major ball-ache but do-able.
I then set about chopping up and glueing down the old 6mm plywood slats to fill the valleys in the floor using Sikaflex.

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Next up was to build up a new floor. As the Caravelle rails are approx. 32mm in height, I had to use two sheets of plywood doubled up to get the necessary height (leaving a couple of mm for the new Altro Contrax flooring to go on top (supplied by Harrisons Trim Supplies).
Using what I had left of my old floor as a template I than had to work out where to cut out the slots for the rails (which run about 1/2" from the wheels arches).
Fortunately I could lay out the new flooring in my garage before transferring it in one piece into the van.
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I definitely recommend using proper hooked blades for cutting Altro - it goes through blades in no time! Making the cut-outs for the rails was fairly easy as I could use the rail as a guide. All complete - with just some minor tweeks to the rear to allow the Van-X rear threshold to fit back in place.
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New Caravelle side-step from Breeze VW
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
As I was replacing the front & rear seats as a matching set, I starting looking for alternative front seats. I wanted something with more side bolster as the original van seats weren't supportive enough and I found myself sliding sideways in them! I've always liked the shape of Porsche tombstone seats but couldn't find anything within budget and then I came across these 2015 Mercedes W176 A-Class Half Leather Seats & door cards on eBay for £250!

A quick test sat on the VW base and the rails aren't much wider - just a bit of fettling to remove the fixings from the VW seat base.
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I welded up the holes in the seat base with a 3mm spreader plate underneath to provide a little more meat to drill new mounting holes into.
Drivers seat fitted nicely and super comfortable!
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Picked up a brand new drivers-side seat base for £50 off eBay which I attacked with the angle grinder to remove the handbrake bracket from, then repainted it to use on the passenger side.

All done and really happy with how they look!...
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
With the interior of the van coming along nicely, another eBay trawl turned up this Outwell Darlington drive-away awning & carpet on clearance from a local camping & caravanning shop!
It's just the right size for a double air-bed for when my daughter comes camping with me and the girlfriend, or just for a table & chairs / bikes etc. when it's just the two of us.

A quick test fit in the garden. Need to get a proper awning rail now...

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
As most of you will know, the stock van speakers are pretty pathetic so my thoughts quickly turned to upgrading the ICE.
AbsoluT5 came up with a great deal on these Focal ISU200 8" speaker & tweeters and enough sheets of sound deadening for the cab doors...
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