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926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Once upon a time long long ago there was a dream, a dream of a van, of trips away, getting changed in the warm after a day on the river or in the surf, of waking up to a different view every day.

First came the old posty's escort, RIP due to a couple of cambelt disasters.
by a Toyota Highace, many happy miles until the head gasget & rot sent it to the grave.
The Nissan Vanette Cargo with its 95 decibels of engine noise in the cab finally just couldn't take the thought of another MOT.

Many months passed in a vanless void until... The rebirth of Thunderbird 4 SWB Ex AA 2003 70k

And so the journey began.

T4 was pretty healthy really.

In went some insulation. After much debate wool won, I just like the idea of being surrounded by something natural. The floor however is a couple of layers of reflective bubble wrap staggered slightly so no gaps. Just a spot of spray glue to hold it down.

Keen to get away during the Summer a quick fix platform went in. A couple of hours to chuck it together & it worked a treat. Cheap as chips too & all the timber will be reused later. for one thing & another.

Cannon Forge R&R is due in on Friday so out came the timber & in went the windows.
Lakeland Windscreens in Kendal. Excellent chaps, Dave & Alan. Happy for me to hang about, take photos & drink their coffee. Cheers chaps. Highly recomended if you're in Cumbria. www.lakelandwindscreens.co.uk
Measure loads...Cut once!

The existing drivers side mid came out & in goes the slider I got in the Vanfest auction.
Loads of discussion about tinted or 'eu natural' The slider was Limo, but to match it would put the cost of all the other windows up & I'd have to get the existing SLD window tinted. Yes it would look cool, give us privacy & maybe keep the kids cool if we ever get a hot Summer again.
On the other hand on a sunny day I want to wake up to a golden morning not a dulled down version. & having experimented with both we like the light during the day inside the van for cooking etc. I can always put snazzy curtains up. So a fairly big cost saving, off came the tint from the slider & bingo. Not so cool looking but it does the job we want it to. & I can see out when reversing!!

Windows in. Rear 1/4 & barn doors

O/s slider

926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
A lovely ride over to Worksop, overnight in a cracking quiet lane. Woke up to a beautiful icey morning. 2 minutes to Dave's, a welcome brew and hey presto! one Cannons Forge bed frame fitted. Cheers guys.
A couple of hole drilled to lineup with the existing fixing points. Removing the plastic caps under the floor make Dave's life & drilling easier. He also said that if you have hemp like insulation then leaving a bit of space around the drill site saves it getting all wrapped around the bit.
The same was done at the rear points & a plate with fixed bolts goes under the van. This can be self tappered to the floor to provide a 'kept' nut system so removal & refitting of the bed is easy. This will help when flooring goes down or if I ever need to use the van as a van again for transporting stuff.

For ease & to save shopping around I got pre-cut 3" premium foam £80 & Inca fabric, which is foam backed & durable at £20 per meter I think 3m would do it but had 4 to allow a bit of spare & to match headrests when I get them from the scrappy.
There are often questions about the detail of the Cannons forge beds so I have included a few detail pics of hinges, seatbelts, catches etc.

I created some washers from a milk carton to reduce rattle & ease movement.

There are obviously a few moving parts & these are greased. This can be a slight problem so I cleaned up as

much as I could but left enough for smooth function.

The following are just a selection of seatbelt images.
Female fixing

Recoil unit.
I bought the bed as a frame only, used ply for the boards & carpeted them and my local saddler did my covering,

using the inca fabric & blue foam that I got from Cannons.

The only niggle with the bed has been the paint job. Either due to the grease or contaminates on the metal when it was sprayed the paint has not 'set' & has caused some smudging on the end of my cushions. Had I not been in a hurry I would have cleaned down and re-painted the frame with hammerite or similar.
This would aso resist the salt from storing my winter chains under the bed & of my kit after being in the sea.
Next thing is the Reimo elevating roof in the next couple of weeks I hope.

I know this all seems a bit cob way round in terms of project order but its getting things functional as it can be afforded & nice things like trim will just have to wait a bit.
Been reading far too much about electrics but pretty sure I have my head almost round in now.
Yippeee Just want to be getting away in it

926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I wanted the battery up front primarily to get it out of the way. It seems a waste of space inside. A lot of the design & method came

from Rod. Thanks Rod.
I looked at loads of other designs & took those on board too.
Attempt 1 failed as it turned out my 85ah Leisure battery is just over 200mm tall & also lacks fixing lips at the base.
Some cutting, hitting & flattening later I shifted the whole thing left.
The first thing to do is create some working space so off with the grill & bring the radiator forward.
I found quite a lot of discussion on this & thought this method might assist others so I have detailed it.

The problem with Grill removal seemed to be paint chipping with the use of screwdrivers & the like for levers or you need the VW tool.
I came up with this & it seems to work & no damage or special tools.
You'll need some string or cord that will fit between the coloured metal mid section of the bumper & the wing.
Tie a reasonable sized knot in the end.

Undo all related fixing screws from the grill. (Sorry no pics yet but its fairly obvious if you look carefully)
Remove the indicators to create some space. On the 2003 2.5 SWB open the bonnet, look down & you will see a little black piece of

plastic which slots into the indicator housing. It has a bit of white on in this photo. (Just below the yellow corner)

This is a spring clip. Use a screwdriver & gently flex it. The indicator will then happily slide out.

Now take your string & feed the knotted end between the grill and wing.
When you get to the lug on the wing

there is a cut out in the grill section. Seen here on the right

Hold the knot into this cut out with one hand & pull gently but pretty hard until the slot & lug separate.
Now work the knot down to the lower lug. There is no cut out to give the knot purchase so i used a long screwdriver to hold it behind the grill.(from above & behind)
Once again pull gently but pretty hard until the slot & lug separate.
Repeat on the other side & that's it.
The intercooler fixing plate is on rubber so just undo it

To create space just lift the radiator gently up & forward & it moves on its own hinges.

This leaves loads more working space & for the extra few minutes that it takes it is well worth it.


Now back to the battery tray. I guess rather than repeat info I suggest you look at this along side Rods design & description
& I will just add my variations.
I am a bit of a chicken & don't like the thought of determinant alterations so have tried to minimise cutting & moving of brackets & wires.

I reckon I could take my van back to the original configuration if needed.
It does mean that some things may seem a bit Heath Robinson but they work and I am pretty sure they are safe.

The tray
Aluminum plate I had kicking around.

The bracket for the ECU is designed to mate with the arrowed holes.

Rather than give dimensions for the hole position (to allow for variations) there is plenty of spase to line the bracket up & mark with a felt tip from behind the holes from under the original battery position.
I cant remember the tab length but it is easy to measure. Just make sure the fuel line isn't fouled & the tabs stay below the original battery tray. I increased the size of my cut out after this photo to be sure the fuel ines are clear. I also popped a bit of protective padding over them.
Once fitted the ECU slots in, I padded the base. You can just see the orange sleeping mat foam.
Then secured the easiest way I could. It works and is so much more simple than nuts & bolts. I'll make it one of my routine checks to

make sure it doesn't move.
I got plenty of variations of earth strap from the scrappy, all with ring connectors so plug & play.
The Earthing point down & to the left of the battery is SO much easier to get to with the radiator forward. It is still a scrat but I left the original in place & popped a fresh length on which allows for the 90 degree shift. If you have an Ex AA there is an extra Earth lead, mine had been chopped so I removed it.

Having made space I used the existing AA solenoid plate for my fuse box (easy to make one if you are no AA. Just a 90 deg. angle at the top tuck in to the front cross member.

Once all batteries are in place you can zip tie the fuse box to this.
Plate in & Leisure battery in.

Both batteries in. There is a lot of spaghetti in the way of wires at the moment. Quite a lot of AA stuff but I am finding uses for some of it. When the uses run out I will have a good tidy up. Due to the problem squeezing both in I have yet to sort a clamping system but

the strap is ding a good job until then. Not sure it would pass an MOT though?

Split charge
in a nut shell that went in today, with a bit of fiddling. I like the idea of something for nothing so cruised the scrappy again but there

was a bit of monkeying on to fit things together & I was short of a few connectors of the right size so it took longer than expected.

Finishing in the dark again! Roll on Summer.
Split charge info came from here
This is the diagram of the back of the fuses. On my 2.5 ex AA the plug that goes into A2 is yellow. Disco Dave has good tips. Search his posts. It was watching him do one that allowed me to have a crack at mine. Cheers Dave. Credit where due.
http://www.vwbooks.co.uk/vw_info/D+_...n_fuse_box.pdf (Rod again)
However it was a bit of a fight to get to so I opted for the blue wire with a plug on.
I was able to utilise Ex AA wires already there from the interior fuse box to the relay.
Disco Dave's Headlight upgrade has 2 spare fuse holders in the 4 way box so I used these for either side of the 40amp relay.
The fuses are 30amp as that's what I had but I've been advised to go with 40amp so will up these.
My lay out is a little untidy but I'll get that sorted.
Anyway tested with a multi meter & getting about 13.25v on tick over.
Most importantly it only gives it when the van is running not immediately on start up.

In terms of cost; I payed 15 quid to the scrappy for 3 headlight bulbs, loads of wire & terminals, a pocket full of fuses, 3 dimming cab lights, a gear knob, & various odds & sods. It took a long half day of my time & the wife would say WAY WAY to long on the forum researching & in the scrappy!
OK the local Auto electrician would have done the lot for about £40 so if you take my time into account that's cheaper, but in terms of satisfaction & learning I'm feeling pretty good. It also means I have stuff that I can give back to the forum in return for the invaluable info I have been given.

love the thread on the new battery tray. :ILU:

Did the guys at the windscreen place spot weld the window frame together? before fitting the rear window?:confused:

Keep up the good work :ILU:

926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I read the thread you suggested a lot while debating seats & belts, as I am sure you did. :confused: It may not be the perfect option but I gave it a lot of thought. I did feel that I just had to come to a decision or the project would never move on. Oh for endless funds!

926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
The battery area looks a mess. There is loads of Ex AA wiring but as I am utilising it I clean as I go. removing what is not used

when I know I don't want it.

After sorting the split charge

As mentioned I used the blue wire with little blue plug (as others have) to switch my split charge relay. It only powers up when

the engine is running. You can see this in the next photo.
The extra relays are Disco Dave's Headlight mod.
I used the old AA wiring as it was already passed from engine bay to the fuse box area to bring power into he van.

I wanted as much of the interior electrics to run from the leisure battery as possible so ran a fused positive (yellow connector top

right) from the Leisure battery into the additional fuse box (Ex AA) adjacent to the main fuse box.
The radio was not fused where expected but as an accessory below the main fuses, (Ex AA). From the additional fuse box I used

a spade connector to the "out" side of the relevant fuse point for the radio, interior lights & cig lighter. All to the OUT side

having removed the original fuse & placed it in the additional fuse box so there is still protection. There is a small plastic insert

below each spade connection just in case there is any movement of the spade downwards to the 'in' side of the fuse.

I found the heated rear window feed at the rear nearside & tested to check it only powered up when the engine was running. It

is switched by the heated wing mirror switch & doesn't seem to be on a timer.

I used a length of scrap cable so the colours are not correct but I have labeled them up. Popped the fog lights out. It was a bit

of a fiddle to get through the existing grommets but once through its easy to run the wire with all the others under the bumper &

back in again.

Can't find the photo of the connection to the windows but it looks as you would expect. Had lots of fun breathing on the window

& watching it demist.

Timed interior light
I love my local scrappy!
B Williamson Canal Head Yard, Ulverston.
Had a few from VW or Audi.
They all had sunroof switches but I don't mind. I'll either remove that element & blank it off or find a use for the switch.
Take the plug & a few inches of wire for id. purposes.
Pop out your old light, nip the retaining clip off the plug. Confirm which are the correct pins using the old plug & wire.
At this stage it will work & delay for 10 seconds but will be on for a bit after you start the engine. To get it to go off on engine

running, find a trigger (its that little blue plug on the blue wire down at the fuse box again.) & bring a connection up to the

spare pin on the light. I used a small female spade & bingo. Off goes the light when the engine starts. Cool.

My Power management System arrived so I need to get positive for that into the van & am pretty sure there's a bit of AA left

over that will do the job. 4mm2 is whats required.

Then I need to consider mounting it.
There is no money for a furniture kit at the moment so its going to be a Heath Robinson job on the cheap until we save up. Question is by the time I've bought a bit of

timber & cobbled something together I may be better off throwing some cheap kitchen units in. HHMMMMM??
Booked ticket for Skye Harris & Lewis at Whit so it needs to be functional by then.
Got the call from the Saddlers & the seat cushions are ready to pick up. Yippee.

Oh the roofs in too.
Fitted by Exploria near Dewsbury in a day. Thanks Graham.
I have lots of trimming to do so it doesn't look its best. Had they trimmed themselves Exploria would obviously not leave it as

you see it. There service was great.
There are often questions asked about the Reimo roof so I will put a selection of pics in so folks can see the structure before it

is hidden by trim.


T5 lights to go in but they need new connectors.

Wind deflector

Very neat job on the sealant

Rear hinges
You can also see the retaining strip that holds the fabric to the van.

Gas strut meets frame. The excess material is deliberate so when it comes to trimming & can choose how much should stay/go.

This will be the tricky trimming bit but having a fascia templated to the shape I think I can get a good finish. I would be interested

in other peoples photos of how there's is done. It has the 'cab cutaway' to give access to the bed.(which will be a couple of


Top side of the fixings

So well on the way but a long way to go.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I am way behind with this thread but wanted to add these roof rack pictures in answer to a few requests & questions.
They are a Reimo roof rail with a Karitek www.kari-tek.co.uk bar system.
They are very versatile in that the space between the bars is infinitely adjustable. Without the bars on there is no height increase on the normal roof height.
They can also take the Karitek loading system.
My pop top can lift when loaded with a surf board, If I have a kayak on as well I would use a prop system inside to prevent stress on the struts & hinges.


926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Trimming was something that I really wanted to get right & it took a long time to pluck up the ecourage to get started. Once I did though it was pretty much a fun thing to do. It took a few days & a bit of fiddling but I got, pretty much, the finish I had hoped for.
Make sure you check which wat the nap (grain. Like stroking a cat) runs on your carpet & try & keep it uniform throughout the van.
I used scisors, stanley knife,& the handle of this file for shaping.
I started with B pillars to get things underway. Sokal had suggested not skimping on carpet & leaving plenty to work with. Good advice.

I extended into the drivers side window ready to trim later.

From this point I moved on to the walls. The key thing is to key the van surface well & make sure it is rough enough for the glue to bond. Then use a solvent to cean off any residue.

In retrospect I would have done the poptop frame differently. As I intended using a facia I only carpeted 1/2 way round the frame. Its not been a problem but would have been simpler to wrap the frame in one go.

Wheel arches are a bit of a challenge so be patient & work it bit by bit. One I did top to bottom.

The other I tried bottom to top and got a better result.

Rear corners. Again make sure you have plenty of carpet spare.

Panels were pretty straight forward. I used the AA panels where Strength didn't matter & ply where I thought I might need to attach /screw to later.
All the panels were reduced by about 5mm to alow for the addition of the carpet around the edges.

Make sure you bond well to the edges.

Start from the middle & work to the corners.

Trim off the excess & rub down until flat.

Where the roof frame meets the cab leaves an awkward gap so I just created a small piece on hardboard to bridge the gap.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I had some definate elements that I wanted in my interior & maximising storage space (wife & 2 kids) was prettyimportant.
I wanted my gas off the floor to open up the space below that runs into the van.
A big enough gas locker for 2 gas bottles.
Under applience storage.
External water

After a lot of research & getting ideas of the forum & from friend's vans I couldn't quite find what I wanted within my budget.
Exploria would have been my chice but I just couldn't afford it.
Flatpack from www.freebirdconversions.co.uk was an option if a few modifications were possible & bespoke from my neighbour who is a genious with the creative use of wood was also in the mix. http://www.artistdesignermaker.co.uk
So in order to have control of the design & some workshop space I started work with Duncan. This gave me the design features I wanted but through a series of circumstances I ended up with birch ply rather than Vohringer which I would have prefered.
The design is still evolving & ease of use has out weighed aesthetics a bit. It is much easier to pack kit into boxes in the house & move them to the van, so at the moment I have sacrifice the clean look of doors in preference for stacker boxes.

The main thing about a raised gas locker is having a suitable drop out in case of gas leaks. I didnt want to drill holes in the van so I made use of the air pressure balance vents & a piece of tube.

This exits below the bumper, protruding a little further than in this photo so there are no obstructions to the gas flow.

The flooring was designed around keeping the kids entertained. I will no doubt go a bit more 'classy' as the kids grow out it.

A basic open plan layout, kitchen blocks being used to fix to the floor & lining ply.

A sizable gas locker whick will be sealed using silicone on all the joints.

The underspace is then plenty for chairs, pushchairs & other long items.

Still leaving a full length between the cabinate & bed for my paddles.

I used a mixture of cardboard boxes & hardboard to create templates as both are easy to cut & shape.
Appeture were cut using a jigsaw with either a fine shaping blade for the curves or a broader tracking blade & a batton to get good straight edges.

Power Management. The space is smaller than the dimensions recomended in the PMS instructions. I researched this & found examples of smaler spaces being used. (the actual requirements are huge) so I came up with a system of vents which I think will give more that enough air flow around the unit.

Above rear cabinate with storage & speaker boxes. This was then carpeted.

Wardrome/cupboard meets rear cabinate & everything firms up & becomes self suporting.

Setting the Smev into the work top requires a slight cut out as the mold of the unit isn't flust to the worktop. I didn't receive a beading trim with mine but I think this is what would raise the unit slihgtly. the gap is about a penny thickness as shown. I just used a stanley knife & removed a layer of ply at a time until it sat flat.


926 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I decided silent Gliss was definately the way to go for me. It's not the cheapest but is smooth, flexible & discrete.
After shopping around I found http://www.kiravans.co.uk/ who fortunately had some cosmetic seconds & after a chat we came to an agreement on price that we were both benefitting from. Excellent service & lovely to talk to.
There are various 'cross sections' availale but F section will take the bends needed & fixes well to the van. As long as you bend very gently You can avoid kinks in the track. I got one slight kink but that's because I was being fussy & twisted too much.

Due to shipping I got mine in 1.5m lengths. this is plenty for most windows but as you can see it means the passenger side cany be done in one 'full' length' This isn't really a problem as the curtais rest at the C piler when open.

I got 6 sets of
1.5 metres of Gliss Aluminium rail (easy to cut to the exact length you require with a hacksaw)
20 x sliders (fit into the rail so your curtains dont keep falling off)
20 x hooks (fit them into the curtain tape and hook onto the sliders)
2 x end-stops (to stop the curtains sliding off the end of the rails)

Make sure you check really well for wires & the outside skin of your van before screwing & double check your screw lengts. I nipped the end of some of mine as there are some vulnerable plaaces you screw into.
For the headlining in the cab I esed the lining down & slipped what I think was a small block of wood to screw into.Its been a while so I can't remember clearly. It could have been a bit of plastic or one of those little metal clips with a hole in for self tappers.

I used card to cut a template for the curve then an of cut of rail to get the bend right and finally this. Bending & twisting very carefuly.

The side door was a lot easier than I expected.

This is whert the side door track meets the rear section

To keep things light weight I managed to get hold of some theatrical black out fabric which works well & I will get some fire retardent spray which is availale on ebay.
I also use some left over silver bubblewrap insulation as themal screens for insulation & the 2 windows I am short of fabric for.
I'll put some photos of the curtains up when I get chance
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