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Discussion Starter #1
Just joined in the last week and am already looking for advice...

We were originally looking for a low budget older 4 berth T4 in reasonably good nick with a view towards tidying up whatever was necessary (I'm the handy type). Having discovered they're, to put it mildly, rare, we've started to look very seriously at a conversion and I'm itching to get going.

The plan is to get an 05/06 T5, strip it, clean it and get a pop top and a couple of windows fitted (behind drivers seat & slider). Then I'm planning on doing some insulation, wiring and lining. A furniture kit and a 3/4 bed will then be fitted. Looking at a LWB for the extra space (anyone use a curtained off area behind the driver/passenger seats for a porta potti?).

I did some research a while back after seeing a few nice, mainly larger vans, but never got around to doing anything about it so I have an understanding of what's involved. The T5 pop top option is good for us as it will fit in the driveway and won't be too annoying to the neighbours.

In a lot of ways this will be much easier and quicker than what I had considered in the past due to the furniture and bed coming pre-made/in kit form.

I would see myself putting the water tanks underneath the van to maximise space. Services (gas bottle & reg, leisure battery, water pump, space for a heater etc. I would see going in the bottom of the press at the back with the gas bottle accessible by opening the back door of the van to turn on/off.

Does the gas bottle need to be in a sealed compartment? I would definitely be putting in a dropout vent either way!

Bonded windows appear to be the weapon of choice - any reason aside from aesthetics? Do they make the van colder? I would have seen seitz fitted to other vans but reckon they might not look the best on a T5?

As far as insulating/lining goes what do people do about moisture barriers - I don't want the thing rotting away after a couple of years? I was thinking of van > insulation > moisture barrier > lining > carpet? I'm also considering some flash bond after reading a few threads here.

Does all this sound reasonable? Is an 05/06 van too old for this kind of investment (it would be well serviced/maintained and should go for a long time)?

I also assume VRT will be liable when I go to get the use of the van changed?

Last question - am I mad?
 

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Registered
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223 Posts
Just joined in the last week and am already looking for advice...

We were originally looking for a low budget older 4 berth T4 in reasonably good nick with a view towards tidying up whatever was necessary (I'm the handy type). Having discovered they're, to put it mildly, rare, we've started to look very seriously at a conversion and I'm itching to get going.

The plan is to get an 05/06 T5, strip it, clean it and get a pop top and a couple of windows fitted (behind drivers seat & slider). Then I'm planning on doing some insulation, wiring and lining. A furniture kit and a 3/4 bed will then be fitted. Looking at a LWB for the extra space (anyone use a curtained off area behind the driver/passenger seats for a porta potti?).

I did some research a while back after seeing a few nice, mainly larger vans, but never got around to doing anything about it so I have an understanding of what's involved. The T5 pop top option is good for us as it will fit in the driveway and won't be too annoying to the neighbours.

In a lot of ways this will be much easier and quicker than what I had considered in the past due to the furniture and bed coming pre-made/in kit form.

I would see myself putting the water tanks underneath the van to maximise space. Services (gas bottle & reg, leisure battery, water pump, space for a heater etc. I would see going in the bottom of the press at the back with the gas bottle accessible by opening the back door of the van to turn on/off.

Does the gas bottle need to be in a sealed compartment? I would definitely be putting in a dropout vent either way!

Bonded windows appear to be the weapon of choice - any reason aside from aesthetics? Do they make the van colder? I would have seen seitz fitted to other vans but reckon they might not look the best on a T5?

As far as insulating/lining goes what do people do about moisture barriers - I don't want the thing rotting away after a couple of years? I was thinking of van > insulation > moisture barrier > lining > carpet? I'm also considering some flash bond after reading a few threads here.

Does all this sound reasonable? Is an 05/06 van too old for this kind of investment (it would be well serviced/maintained and should go for a long time)?

I also assume VRT will be liable when I go to get the use of the van changed?

Last question - am I mad?
No/Yes :ILU:
 

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taking too long to build van2
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Keep an eye on the London area while you're looking for a van. lots for sale at the moment with the whole Low Emissions Zone grading meaning most t4's are pretty expensive to have in the city. Buyers market so would prob work out even with ferry trip and import.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Anyone have any recommendations for getting a pop top supplied and fitted?

I'm also interested in bonded window fitters/suppliers?

I figure I may as well get some of the groundwork done while waiting for a van to come up.
 

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934 Posts
First of all, no van/bus is too old to do a conversion and I don't think you should see it as an investment.

While campervans are holding pretty good value, it's still a car and will depreciate. Never asume, that you will get yours money worth back.

Matter of fact, I'd actually rather go for a '03-'04 T4 than for a '05-'06 T5. There are various reasons for this:
- Early T5's will still have all the child sicknesses of a new model vs. the last of a model, like the last T4's, will have all of that sorted.
- Reliability is unrivaled in the T4's. The 1st generation TDI engine is bullet proof. I can't quite say that about the T5 PD engines. They've been a nightmare compared to T4's.
- Known issues with T5's, that you don't have with T4's are: warping EGR pipes, failing waterpumps, failing gearboxes.
- The headroom in the cab of a T5 is pretty pathetic compared to a T4. The T4 has a lot more headroom there.
- 2nd hand parts are a lot easier to get from breakers and ebay for the T4
- You also probably get better value for money buying a T4, as it's the older model. Hence cheaper to buy.

The things speaking for the T5 obviously, that it's a more modern vehicle and more powerful engines being available.

As for bonded windows, it's hard to give advice, when all you have specified "Ireland" as your location. A bit more specific about your location would help. But you could speak to Freight here on the forum. He's based in Wexford and does do camper-conversion, bonded windows etc.

In regards to the LWB version (be it the T5 or the T4), that's definatly recommended. I miss the extra 40cm in my T4. All the T4's are had before my current were LWB's, now I have a SWB.

There are commercial converted T4 and T5, that have a toilet/sink section in the camper, but it'll really limit your layout. Have a look at this VW California. Not so much for buying it, but for an idea on the layout. That could be realised with a pop-top or the high roof.

Space in these vans/busses is pretty limited, so you will have to make compromises depending on what facilities you want.

For the gas tank, you can also have an underslung gas tank. There are limitations to distance from the ground and the exhaust pipe though. They are handy though, because they can be filled at a normal LPG petrol-station or from a gas bottle. There was a discussion about that here.

Water-tanks etc. are definatly a good option to have under the car.

When installing things like leasure batteries etc., make sure, you distribute your weight over both sides of the van. You don't want it to be too heavy to one side. That would be for handling. That's a problem VW's own Californias have (both batteries on one side and the kitchen on the same side, hence more heavy to one side.)

VRT will be charged at 13.3% of the estimated value of the finished campervan. I'm currently in the process of finishing my Caravelle and not expecting to pay VRT on that, as it's cleared at 36% already, so in the sense of having a good bit insulation/trim already and saving VRT, that might be an option, too (buying a Caravelle and converting it, opposed to a panel van Transporter)

/M
 

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As Marlow said, if your near the southeast I can help you out with the supply & fitting if the windows. Can also help you out with parts if you need them.
John in Greendog Campers can supply and fit pop roofs, but your looking at €4,000.

If you need any help give me a buzz, advice is free T:

http://www.happycampers.ie
 

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I had the same considerations when i deciced to convert rather than buy.

I went with a T5, I'm not sorry, had no big problems with 05 2.5 4 motion. great to drive, front head room not a problem in my experience, and i'm 6'3. but i do hear great things about t4 reliability, never had one though so cant comment, its up to youself on that one

Originally went with an un conventional layout, in the process of changing to more normal california style at the moment so i'd think that through fully. check out blue tdi conversion blog, he did an awesome job.

You have the idea with insulation vapour barrier etc, once you get that right you have a good start point. make sure you have all wires and conduit thought out and ran first, these are hard to change in some places,

They are small vans even the lwb, nice to drive and easy park but small, so every little bit of space is worth using. the layout and storage options are very important. have a good look around and maybe even have someone make up a unit to suit you. friend of mine is a cabinet maker, he and i have come up with the stuff in mine, twice granted, but maybe third time lucky.

I got the opening bonded windows from vansport uk, big difference in price from fixed but worth it in my opinion. local crash repair crowd fitted them, very familiar with bonded glass. were sound and did a good job not too expensive either.

Sure theres a million questions and a lot more answers, if you like give a pm, you can give me a ring or call for a look if your in the area. i'm no pro but might be of some help.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Cheers for that lads. Have since gotten a van and work has commenced. It's a 2005 T5 2.5 - a few minor cosmetic things to sort on the outside but other than that it's in good condition. Work has also commenced - I stripped the ply and bulkhead and cleaned it out which was quite a job! I have taken pictures and will hopefully get around to putting them up somewhere soon.

I did a lot of investigation, got quotes from a number of places etc. regarding a pop top and windows but in the end worked out a deal with a converter here to do that work and it will be going in later this week (have to deal with the screwholes first). I will then insulate, wire and line it before fitting the furniture. Still having conflicting thoughts about condensation and vapour barriers - some advice suggests to seal it whereas others suggest allowing it to breathe - I'm wary of sealing in moisture in the cavity which will then do damage. The current favoured method is flashband/foil bubblewrap -> insulation -> lining. I was thinking that a dehumidifier after trips wouldn't be a bad idea either?

We have decided to go with the more traditional side layout and my head is currently wrecked trying to decide what wiring I need and where to put all the stuff. Thinking the battery & chargers will end up living under the drivers seat with switches & sockets on the side of the wardrobe over the counter.
 
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