Campervan Build

Cleaning & Sealing

The first process to begin was the inspection process to see what was lurking underneath. My biggest fear was either large amounts of rust or worse, a big hole in the van floor. Even though the side panels were in relatively good condition, I had always planned to rip the whole lot out and start from scratch.

The floor boards were a challenge, the screws had solidified and buried themselves into the boards.

With the area now revealed, besides the obvious muck, there din't appear to be any worrying signs. A simple brush and scrape where necessary and finished with soapy hot water and it was cleaned. I pulled out the anchor points and began the inspection.

The paintwork was still in good condition, there was very minor surface rust with a little rust around the holes. A quick sand and then applied Jenolite rust remover and it was gone. I applied silicone to seal the holes and then painted over any exposed metalwork.

I was a little to eager and decided to apply 2 additional coats of paint over the entire floor for extra protection.

With the floor cleaned and sealed, the biggest problem I faced was the unevenness of the floor. It had taken such a beating towards the rear, it dipped a couple of inches and I needed to plan how best to install a levelled floor...

Frame Structure

Due to the nature of the floor, you can see that I built a rigid frame. Most people tend to install individual members and adhere them to the base, independent from one another. In my case this would result in an uneven floor. I call that approach the bottom-up as I built mine top-down by installing the necessary blocks underneath to keep it as level as possible.

The timber members are 25mm x 50mm, glued & screwed to accommodate 25mm PIR insulation boards ready for the structural hardwood plywood floor.

The entire frame was adhered to the van floor with a strong silicone adhesive and weighted appropriately.

With the rigid frame in place, Dodo Dead mat was used as a sound deadening solution which effectively reduces that 'tinny' sound from the panels. I think you are meant to cover 2/3 of the surface area which I was a little too generous with.

After measuring the spaces between the frame, I cut all PIR panels to fit. It's not shown on the photo but prior to installing each panel I sprayed Soudal insulation foam along the inset of each frame. This is rated for acoustic and thermal properties. With the panels pushed in place & weighted, the insulation foam will rise between any gaps completely sealing the underside.

The remaining areas of the floor were finished with a combination of insulation foam and PIR insulation board to ensure a seamless floor finish ready for the structural plywood to be laid.

Cardboard templates were created for each of the structural plywood boards. I had to keep these small as everything is being transported via a car to my vans compound. With each panel in place I made the wise decision to mark up with masking tape the exact positions of the timber frame on top of the panels to give me a visual for service entry points.

Once this was done, 100mm Mammoth insulation tape was overlapped over the timber lengths and all gaps were also sealed. The panels were put back in place and screwed directly in to the rigid frame structure.

Sliding Door Window

Preparation for the cutout of the sliding door window began by carefully marking out the interior face. Most people tend to cut out the single skin but I chose the double skin for better strength but there is less margin of error. Working within a 20mm frame I marked centrally all the way around on some masking tape. This was then translated to cardboard.

By measuring my pen line to the door edge, I translated this to the outside at roughly 114mm. The template was put in place, the opposite side double checked which measured the same. I further checked by wrapping that measurement back inside and it landed exactly on my pen line. The template was marked out with a pen on the masking tape and ready for the jigsaw to cut out the window opening.

Once the window and the opening was cleaned and the window trim applied. I began applying the bonding agent around both for the appropriate contact. The window sealant was then applied to the window and put in place, propped up with sutrcutral supports and tape until it cured.

Water Tanks: Fresh and Waste

I installed a 66 litre fresh water CAK tank and a 50 litre waste tank underslung the vehicle chassis. Installed within the fresh tank is a heating element with automatic switch, a probed tank sender and a resistive tank tank to measure the water levels. The grey tank has a water level probe too. Both are insulated with tank wrap. Both tanks will service the shower a sink within the van. A water fill up was installed within the B-Pillar adjacent to the drivers door and outlet taps to dispose of excess under the van.

A combination of existing and additional holes were used to install the tank hooks to mount via brackets. I actually had to blowtorch the hooks to reshape and prise in to position.

Wall Insulation

50mm PIR insulation boards were placed within the walls and held with insulation pins. Expanded insulation foam and mineral wool was used within the gaps and crevices where possible.

An aluminium foil membrane double-layered was installed as an additional vapour barrier and thermal insulation to further seal the wall system.

Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe

The installation of this combined fan and extraction unit was positioned centrally within the van roof and between the ceiling ribs. A 400x400mm opening was required for the installation which I initially marked out on masking tape. Once again a jigsaw was used to carefully cut the required shape. The area was cleaned and iso alcohol applied to the openings edge in order to apply butyl tape between the ridges and to seal the frame.

The fans plastic frame which essentially houses the main body of the fan was positioned in place. I made a wooden frame for the interior ceiling for the frames screws to bite in to while also serving as a wooden frame for the ceiling battens to attach to. Both sandwiched the van roof and kept a nice seal ready for a silicon seal to finish off the exterior frame. The fan was then dropped in place and attached accordingly.

Rear Side Windows

Similar to the previous window, an internal position was established which was then translated to the outside, marked out and cut with a jigsaw. This included cutting out a section of the internal column and a portion of the insulation board.

The window was installed in the same manner with the bonding agent and window silicon adhesive. In this instance no window trim was applied in order to maintain a flush finish to the side of the van. Another window was installed in the same manner directly opposite on the other side.

Roof Rack

The rigid frame was designed in order to support 4 x 100W solar panels and was the only way to achieve mounting the panels around my fan and skylight. Essentially this maximised the most available square foot possible by allowing me to slightly overhang the curved sides.

I started by cutting small brackets from a length of 50x50mm angled aluminium profile 3.2mm thick.

These would be used to connect the rigid frame via a bolted system.

I bought 4 mounting brackets suitable for my van to mount the rack on and installed them first.

The roof rack itself was made from 38x38mm box sections 1.6mm thick with the angled brackets at each end.

Solar Panels

The difficulty i had with installing the solar panels to the rack was that the bolt head would be inaccessible and the bolts would be too long due to the thickness of the box sections. I overcame this by chopping out sections of existing holes in the panel frame and using carriage bolts so the square blocks would lock in the slots

4G Antenna

Installation of a Poynting A-MIMO-3-V2-17 7 in 1 antenna towards the front of the roof space. I first drilled a hole for the cables as central as possible and loosely installed the antenna to gauge the overhang of the antenna in order to layer up mastic tape to provide a sufficient seal. Once installed and firmly in place, a further seal of silicon around the outside was done. A supplied plastic nut on the inside was installed to further tighten the antenna to the roof.

Garage Storage: Side Cabinets

Underneath the bed board which is supported by XX. x XXmm timber lengths on both sides of the van is located the storage units. One is to house the electrics and the other for other essential stuff. Rather than frame it out and reduce space I used 12mm ply panels. The sides were installed first along with horizontal bracing above and below. The 12mm ply shelf was then installed on some angled brackets and the wall was framed with 12mm ply ready for a 9mm ply back board to support any attachments. Silicon and wood filler used to seal off any areas and then painted for a final finish.

Electrical Installation

Most of the electrics were designed in CAD prior to installation to figure out proper placement of appliances, devices and the correct wiring schematics. I intially installed all the relevant wiring but has since changed positioning due to design changes. Once all wiring was routed back to the electric cabinet, I began installing the main elements such as solar to MPPT charger, the batteries installed with the inverter and DC charger. Then I worked on connecting all the 12V wiring to the fuse box. The mains cabling was ripped out and better flex cable installed. Slight changes were made along the way. Full details provided in the CAD drawings.

Main Front Wall

25mm x 50mm timber lengths were first attached to the vans metalwork with bolts and rivnuts to build up the wooden frame. Another piece was overlayed and screwed in to this in order to project out 100mm frame. The vans seats protrude out by 70mm so with a 100mm out and then an internal frame of 25mm I just about build the frame as close to the seats as possible. The internal frame was glued and screwed, 25mm insulation panels inset and all edges sealed with insulation tape.

With the frame complete with insulation, I then installed a 3mm ply strip on the side as a finishing piece. I slightly oversized the width to take in to account the thickness of the cladding. By installing this strip first, it allowed the ply to bow in accordance with the van frame and curve in line with the rubber seal. While loosely in place I then began to measure the cladding lengths and cut the cladding inline with this curved nature. The ply strip was then pinned to the frame and cladding and then trimmed back with a multi-tool to provide a flush finish. Finally a primer was painted all over ready for a final finish.

Shower Build

I first began the build with the shower tray. I wanted a tray as small as possible for space efficiency more than anything. Realising I couldn't get a tray as small as required, I decided to build one. My requirements were influenced by needing to raise the tray up to accommodate a returning drain pipe to provide a recirculating shower system. This will be explained further in the plumbing section. The base is essentially a 9mm ply panel with an 18mm ply frame glued and screwed. The supporting blocks are the typical 38mm x 38mm lumber used throughout the build. The blocks are laid in a grid format with each row descending in order to provide a slope to the drain. A 12mm birch ply board was installed as the main support. 2 drains were installed, one which goes straight down and out to a grey water tank and has a click-clack function to close when I want to use the recirculating drain. This main structure was then finished with a 2.5mm pvc panel with pvc cement used to weld each edge together and finished with a silicon bead. The tray was tested for water tightness.

The internal finishing of the shower was largely made up of 3mm ply panelling as an initial face, with a 2.5mm PVC panel adhered on top. With the ply panel installed, I then applied a waterproof tanking by first applying a jointing tape to seal off all seams on the ply panels and and a primer all over before the final coating of the membrane. Once cured, I then installed the 2.5mm PVC panels bonded with a silicon adhesive and a silicon bead to finish all seams. This system was sealed all the way down to the shower tray to provide a seamless solution. The ceiling above was solved in the same manner as mentioned.

Bench Seats

The bench seats are essentially 2 separate seats with different functions but ultimately serve as 1 L-shaped arrangement. The first seat adjacent to the shower will house the fridge and water tank and will only require a hinged lid for for access to this space. The 2nd seat will house all of the remaining heating & plumbing system but will also serve as a pull out bed so it will function slightly differently.

As you see below, the main structural elements are both typical framed structures with 38mm x 38mm pine lengths and reinforced. All appliances were roughly placed to understand the layout for further development.

Heating & Plumbing

This system is designed around a recirculating water system with a diesel heater. Used water specifically from the shower is pumped back through a 3 stage filtration system and a UV filter before being pumped through a set of radiators which the diesel heater is heating before sending back in to the hot water tank. The diesel heater is being supplied fuel directly from the vehicles fuel tank. The whole system is programmatically controlled regulating temperatures and sensing battery usage with the hot water tank having the potential to be heated via 12V power in addition to diesel. The diesel heater can switch between being a water heater to a space heater for the van.

Sliding Door Frame & Cladding

The design of a mitred frame was established by first measuring up the existing window and taking in to account the radius and the rubber window seal. Once cut to the correct size I had to take out angled cuts at the back to accommodate this. This was repeatedly tested until flush with the window.

With the window temporarily in place, I was able to take the angled measurements in order to create a series of supporting blocks. Each side expressed different angles for customising. With the aid of rivnuts and flange head bolts, I secured them in to positions ready for the frame to be glued and screwed in place. The supporting battens for cladding were installed in a similar fashion.

The pine frame was finished with an Oak veneer and applied with an impact adhesive. I had to veneer the front mitred face first so I could screw the frame to the supporting blocks and then finish the veneer on the inside face to hide the countersunk screws. This was then finished with 3 coats of Liberon Superior Danish Oil. 8mm pine cladding was then primed and pinned to the battens ready for the final coat later on.

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