Thursday, 25 August 2011

BLOG moved here:


I've stopped using this blog and now update my wordpress blog with van stuff and other things.

If you want to see any updates on the van conversion, please go here:


Friday, 11 March 2011

Let there be light!

Finally got the wiring between driving battery (engine bay) and leisure battery (kitchen pod) and connectedit it to the Zig unit.

It was great to finally see the spotlights working, the ikea 'dioder' with hacked off transformer worked a treat.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:North Wales

Saturday, 25 December 2010


So after a long time convincing myself that wheel-trims over painted steelies was a good look I spotted a good deal on some VW alloys.

The chap was selling them on ebay and also T4forum so I was able to check his postings out and felt confident in the purchase of second had wheels.

They're OEM VW 17" which aren't the biggest but certainly look good and won't cost the earth to re-tyre.




I've made a small stereo unit to run off the leisure battery.
The kit was a cheap stereo (with aux input for ipod) and cheap speakers mounted onto mdf and covered in the same vinyl I used on the van floor.

It is fitted to the front legs of the non-moving box section part of the Rock n'roll bed with bolts.

The stereo/speakers were super cheap on eBay but the speaker grilles needed a little re-spray job

I'm sure I'll not win any awards for acoustic design but I'll save the Sound Engineering for when I'm at work!!!

New Body-Kit

I thought I'd add small dish to the roof and a few subtle accessories.

you like?

Kitchen update

Finally, the kitchen unit is in!

I fitted the push-lock handles to the ikea unit doors and they work perfectly.

The handles needed pretty accurate measuring/re-measuring to ensure the lock bit met up with the catch on the cupboard inside. One didn't meet well enough to stop the door from swinging open when cornering. This was easily remedied by building up the height of the catch with washers.

I'm pleased with how the unit looks now you can't see any of the white hardboard.
happy days!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Long overdue update

Well.....after a few months doing othe things (getting married) it's time to pick up on the van conversion.

I finally got all the units in and attached to the van. The units are screwed to the wall battons with right angle brackets, bolted together and also screwed into the floor. The last thing I want is for the units to get loose when driving.

You can see here the units/ sink/Worktop in place.

Next I needed to seal the 3 holes I drilled through the floor to prevent rust. First I painted a layer of hammerite then fitted the gas dropout vents (rainbow conversions via eBay) into the holes with a liberal coating of exterior/interior sealant.
Once this was done, the remaining hole (16a underfloor socket to onboard consumer unit) was lined with 2 layers of cable conduit (vehicle wiring products) and the socket was attached.

More tomorrow

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Kitchen stage 2

I'm making slow but steady progress getting the kitchen pod in. The sink is now mounted and the unit tops have been adapted to fit the sinks underside:

This was just a case of using the smev measurements (came with the sink) and jig sawing the worktop to fit. I made sure to slightly undersized all cuts and to leave the corner parts so they could be routed later. Then I had to try the sink about 40 times in the hole, marking up any parts that needed sawing. Glad its done!

I came up with a nice way of attaching the worktop edging strip:

I've also added the zig unit to the side of the panel. This way it should be easy to turn the lights on/off when it bed! Also I didn't want the zig to be too visible through the side windows when parked (ignore the toolbox etc in the unit, gotta keep the inlaws garage tidy!)

I've now drilled 2 holes through the unit/van floor for the sink waste pipe and the gas lockers dropout. These are sealed with hammerite and I'm using the plastic dropout vents from rainbow conversions to 'line' the holes. I've just cut the plastic gauze off the vent for the sinks wastepipe. pretty much a perfect fit! Once everything's in place I'll use some exterior sealant to fill the gaps.

Kit wise, I've bought a cheap stereo with aux input and speakers from eBay so I can have music off the leisure battery. I've also bagged a CampingGaz 907 bottle an a 135 Ah gel leisure battery (all 43 kg of it!!!!!!!)

More this week as I'm planning to work on the van on Thursday.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Kitchen - early stages

Ok, after a long time saving and collecting bits of kit for the next stage of the van conversion its time for an update....

I've got most of the bits I need:

Smev combi hob/sink
Ikea Factum cabinets/doors/panels
Steel enclosure for gas locker
Zig CF8 distribution/charger unit
20L water bottle
submersible pump
waste/water pipes
gas vent

I've started working on my soon to be in laws drive which is great (Thanks Max and Carol!).

The first stage was to build the Ikea units and try them sitting in the van.
I deliberately ordered the smev with the hob to the right so I don't toast my headrest!
I'd seen lots on the forums about people using ikea factum kitchen wall cabinets in T5s and can confirm that two of the 50 x 70cm units side by side fits perfectly behind the drivers seat and just in front of the angled metal bit by the wheel arch. I bought gloss grey doors and a matching side panel so the white won't be seen once the unit is finished.

I still need to get a worktop for the pod. It seems hard to buy any under 3m in length so I'm going to try to get an off-cut from a local kitchen fitters.
Cutting the aperture for the sink is going to be challenging. The Smev booklet does include a technical drawing of the hole shape required. I'll definitely be trying this a few times in cardboard, then hardboard till I'm sure the shape is right.

The next thing I needed to sort out was where to drill holes through the van floor. This had been stressing me out for a while, but I'm glad to say I'm happier now.
I need 2 holes in total, 1 for the sink waste, 1 for the gas lockers drop-out vent.

The first stage was to have a look under the van where my unit will. I wanted to be sure I wasn't going to drill into anything important underneath (cheese straws and bowl of nuts are optional!)

Underneath the van there are several plastic 'plates' that cover up the chassis. You need a sprocket set to remove the hex bolts. Here's the panel I removed:

Once this was gone it was easy to see the structure of the vans belly.
Under the drivers side there are several areas that its possible to drill through...I tried to capture these in a photo:

The red ring shows the underside of the lashing point's bolt behind the driver seat.
You can clearly see the sections without cross pieces that are drill-able.
Having confirmed that this was indeed the lashing point bolt, I had a point to start measuring from.
I measured the clearance from the bolt on the underside like so:

Then I took these measurements and transferred them to the inside of the vans floor, marking out 'safe-zones' where I could drill through:

The final job was to drill a pilot hole to test out the measurements. I was very pleased to see the hole's placement inside the van matched the underside perfectly.

Hopefully this helps someone to do the same as I had trouble finding many step by step instructions online.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010


I actually put these curtains in a while ago but only just got round to the update.

after looking for various options I went for Van-X T5 curtains as these seemed to look 'factory' from the pictures and didn't take up too much space inside. I ordeed curtains for both side windows and the barndoors at the rear.

Installation was failry straightforwad,

heres what I did:

The curtains arrive as seperate rails, curtains, rivets and end stoppers. The rais are all a generic length (I guess for different vans) so they needed to be cut down to size. Then they needed to be bent into the shape of the window frames.

This involved lots of 'offering-up' to the window. I cut them with a hacksaw and bent them by tapping them with a rubber mallet. This needed doing with the top and bottom rails for ech window. Here's how they look after bending into shape:

Next I drilled the holes for the rivets. I also had to bend the rail's 'channel wall' out slightly to allow for the size of the rivet heads. Luckily, the rivets attatch to the window-side of the rail so these tweaks shouldnt be seen.

The next job was drilling the holes. Its never fun to drill holes into your beloved van but after about 40 the job does get easier! I had to change drill bit a couple of times and the rear doors had 2 layers of steel to get through. I'm effectively driving around in a massive colander!

Once the holes were in place the real fun began. I picket up a £20 rivet gun (hand operated, just squeeze) and started fixing.

I love riveting. It is definately the most fun I've had since starting on the van. Once the rails were in I spent the rest of the day riveting stuff together around the house. What a great tool! ; )

heres how they turned out:

Friday, 12 March 2010

Alarm Conclusion

After loads of stress with the Alarm, it has now been fixed.

I posted on Brick-Yard and T4forum with a plea for help as my alarm kept going off. I was reluctant to go back to original installer initially after getting a bit of misinformation. However, he heard about the problems via the blogs and offered his services to get it sorted. It seemed the system would go off after being left for an hour or two. This could have been for 2 reasons:

  1. VW 'brain' sending out a self-check system through the door circuit, triggering alarm
  2. Faulty door switch (maybe corrosion causing small voltage on door circuit triggering alarm)
The first thing the installer did was isolate the alarm from the 'brain (i don't know the correct terminology!). This seemed to work, we left it for 2 hours with no false alarms. Unfortunately when I returned home, the vehicle did still trigger.
This means I have an issue with the door switches.
The installer kindly fitted new switches in the cab and side doors and connected the alarm to these. This solved the problem.

Its a little worrying to know my door switches are a bit 'iffy' but they seem to work fine in every other way (interior light, central locking, dashboard light etc). Hopefully I won't have an more problems.

Bed and foorplan

I'm now the proud owner of a 3/4 width cannons forge bed/seat. I went for the all extras like 'headrests, seatbelts and memory foam'. I am considering sleeping in the van permanently now as it's so comfortable! It also looks great with the matching T5 fabric.
I'd read a lot about these online and finally decided to take the plunge.....I wasn't disapponted! They are built to a very high standard, the mechanism is solid but really easy to use. I also like the fact the front legs don't scrape the floor when you open the bed.

The plan is to extend the most of the bed to full width by building a storage box at bed height that runs most of the length. The foot end of the bed will remain 3/4 width to allow space for the kitchen pod. Like so:

I like the idea of a full width bed but also need a bit of storage space.
This should give me a 'best of both worlds' solution to comfort and storage. It'll also mean that I can rack a couple of surfboards alongside the rear seats when there are other people sitting in the back of the van.

The next step is to buy all the bits that the kitchen pod will house (sink, gas, water, leisure battery, heater???) Once I have these I'll probably go down the 'ikea cabinet + worktop' route for the kitchen pod then build a frame for the bed extension from wood. Once I have the measurements, I'll give Dave a call at Cannons Forge to make me up a bed panel to form the 'bed extension'/lid for the storage box.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Floor insulation and vinyl

After a few months without van improvements I finally got around to sorting the floor.

However, there was a small leak that needed fixing at the back of the van before I tried sticking down the flooring to the ply. The leak was at the rear offside barn door and was caused by water being drawn in through the carpet. When we carpeted the metal door-frame, we removed the door-trim stuck the carpet on then replaced the trim. There were a couple of areas where the carpet stuck out beyond the door-trim on the outside. So first, I Stanley knifed the excess carpet back to the level of the trim. Then I added some Sanitary Silicone to seal the area where the door groove, carpet and door trim met. Hopefully this will keep out the water.

Next came the floor insulation....this only took a couple of hours and followed the well documented methods of:

- lift ply

- Brush out all the dust and rubbish

- Add flash-band to reduce panel noise

- Add bubble foil insulation (strips between the raised areas, then sheets)

- Add 3mm foam laminate floor underlay

- Replace ply

(it looks like my Dad did all the work in these photos but it was a joint effort!)

It was a little tough to get the ply back on as it was at a higher level and needed 'tucking' in under the walls. We found that lifting the ply pieces along their center-line to form an apex allowed them to fit under the sides while being 'persuaded' down into position.

Next came the vinyl. I bought 3x2m of hard wearing Grey commercial vinyl from a local flooring shop. It cost £50 with glue. This stuff is TOUGH. the kind of material you'd find on shop floors or buses. Should cope with surfboards and big guitar amps nicely!

We rolled out the vinyl on the ground, then put the ply floor together on-top. Next I cut around it with a Stanley knife with a hooked flooring blade. I was glad I bought these blades as this vinyl was strong stuff and the hooked angle of the blade made corners a breeze.

(not the most illustrative photo, but shows an alternative use for Morrison's car park in Caernarfon!)

Next I added the glue to the ply and we put the vinyl down. As the glue takes a while to dry, we had opportunity to press out any bubbles. Tomorrow, once the glues dried, I'll do a final 'tidy-up trim' with the knife.

Overall I'm really happy with the results. In the next month I'll be visiting Cannons Forge to get the bed fitted.

Here's a shot of the van in action on Anglesey:

wanna hear my band?

check the videos on

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Insulation Part 2 (and a carpeting test)

We've just completed our second phase of van insulation, the roof is done along with the remaining passenger side walls, barn door and sliding door.

Progress was a lot quicker this time after learning so much from the previous days efforts.

The rear passenger side wall was easy cutting kinspan into large shapes to match the size of the panels/wheel arches, then dividing these into several vertical pieces to fit through the holes. Once the pieces were in, we added slim wedge pieces in the gaps to make the board 'grip' the spaces. Once again a couple of layers of the silver bubble-wrap stuff was added over the top.

Same technique was used on the rear door however we were unable to add much insulation to the as we risked blocking the handle mechanism that takes up most if the space. Wish I had a tailgate. Grrrrrrrrrrr!
The slider was much easier, and I managed to get 3-4 layers of 25mm board in. This picture shows slide with the first cavity filled with 3 layers of 25mm board.

Next up was the roof. My dad had the idea of writing my name and the date as a kind of time-capsule on one of the panels. Maybe it'll be of interest to future historians.....However, as I had just cut my finger removing a panel clip and we didn't have a pencil around, drastic measures were called for.....

Then I went completely mental with the flashing tape. Evo-Stik Flashband tape have seen a massive increase in sales despite the economic downturn!!! Love the stuff.

Hopefully the walls can take the weight of the roof now! haha
Next up we just added a layer of silver bubble insulation to each section of roof. This was quite easy as you can just tuck the trimmed-to-fit pieces under the roof cross members. Happy days. I might add another layer when the roof comes off again to be carpeted.

We also couldn't wait to try a bit of carpeting on the sliding door ply. The tried and tested method was used of spraying carpet and ply with high-temp glue (megavanmats) with enough carpet to fold around the board. A few cuts had to be made for the corners and curves. The finished job looks pretty good!

Next week I'm back in Wales for my dads 60th and the rest of the carpeting....oooh, and maybe a quick surf if its on.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Insulation Part 1

The Van


The old man!

I've just spent the afternoon insulating the van in Wales with my Dad. So far we've got the drivers side walls done and one barn door.

Here's the method and materials used so far:

First we unscrewed the ply, then removed the VW grey panels. Like everyone says, those VW plastic clips are a pain in the arse, in a couple of turns the hex bolt heads are no longer hex shaped so we used a B&Q tack remover to prize them off (thanks Stone174!).

Next we attached generous amounts of flashing tape to the main panels. This will help reduce road/rain noise. We've probably used about 10m of the stuff already.

Next we cut our 8'x4' 25mm Kingspan (Celotex or similar will do) sheet into quarters, then cut pieces to fit the holes in the walls of the van. The best method for this we found was to cut a piece to fit the hole you're filling, then cut it vertically into 2 or 3 bits to allow you to fit them in behind the metalwork. Once these are in you can slide slim wedge pieces down into the gaps which pushes the boards apart so they grip the cavity well. When we started we were using lots of GripFill adhesive but this wsn't that helpful so by the end we weren't using much glue. The cavity on the left shows what i mean.

After that came the thermal foil bubble wrap. Compared to the board, this stuff is a joy to work with. It was on 2 for 1 at B&Q so we did 3-4 layers covering the cavities. I also used offcuts to stuff any gaps.

Next was the Vapor Barrier. Basically a polythene sheet. At first we were taping this in place over the cavities but halfway through we came up with a better technique. First, we cut out pieces slightly larger than the grey VW panels. Then we stuck the sheets to the back panels with spray carpet glue. Then just clipped the panels in place with the plastic clips. Once this was done we taped around the edges. Obviously the clips have to pierce the sheet but the seal seemed ok and I plan to do the same again on the inside of the main ply panels for double moisture protection.

Tomorrow we'll finish the ceiling, floor and the other wall.

I'll list how much of each item was used once we finish. Its amazing how so much material has been 'swallowed' up by the van. At least its going to be nice and warm!


Thursday, 26 November 2009

No Pane....No Gain!

I've just returned from a trip to Penzance to get the van windows fitted.

I'm over the moon with the results. Thanks to all the guys at Vansport. They did a great job and also helped cut one of the ply panels to go around the new glass.

In the end I went for the Barn Doors and both sides in fixed privacy glass. I also got some Clim-air wind deflectors for the cab windows. Should help the ventilation of the van when its parked up.

One thing I liked was that Vansport fit a trim to the rear of both side windows. This looks especially good on the drivers side where the 'raw' glass edge can look a bit 'non-factory'.

Next I'll be hitting Wickes for the insulation materials ready for next week.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Mirror no more

I'm gutted.

Some nugget has broken my wing mirror on the drivers side.
The weird thing is that the drivers side was left against the pavement!

No doubt another crackhead off the estate thought it'd be fun to kick a mirror. You get a lot of that round here. Thinking I'm probably going to park it on the next street from now on. Its much nicer round there.

The annoying thing is I've just been quoted £100 for parts from the local VW dealer and I have to get it fixed by wednesday as I've got a long drive to Penzance to get the windows done. Not looking forward to driving the van with 1 mirror, its hard enough without back/side windows but to loose the drivers side is irritating.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Jobs for this Month

This month is going to be a busy (read - expensive!) month with lots happening to the van.

First, I'll be driving down to Vansport in Penzance to get my windows fitted. I'm going for limo-tint glass in the rear barn doors and fixed windows (limo - tint) in the sliding door and opposite.
I was quoted £650 for this fully fitted. Cutting holes in my van is definitely something I'll leave to the experts! I'll also pick up some Clim-air wind deflectors when I'm down there to allow for some rain-proof ventilation when I'm camping/driving. I would have liked a sliding window on the door but I cannot justify the cost, its £69 for a fixed one, £225 for a slider (parts only)!!!!!

Before I get the windows done I'll be cutting a section out of the ply lining on the drivers side to allow for the window. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep the ply in 1 'L-shaped' piece to make it easy to re-attach.

Next I'll be visiting my parents in North Wales. My Dad (dab hand at all things practical!) and I will be insulating the van, then Carpet lining the ply and metal work. I cannot wait for this to be done as It'll start to feel like a plush camper rather than a work van. I've read lots on other peoples blogs about insulation (Stone174, Blakey) and I'm pretty happy with this step, its carpet lining the metal that's giving me nightmares.

Little extras

Still pretty skint from the van/alarm purchase I went for a few cheap mods on the van this month.

The first was 'Crystal Clear' side repeaters. These were about £12 off eBay. I also bought 2 silver bulbs to go into them (about £4).

A tip for anyone doing this mod: My factory orange repeaters took quite a bit of effort to remove. You need to use a Flathead screwdriver (or similar) to apply pressure to the plastic light casing from the rear of the vehicle. I wrapped a screwdriver in cloth and managed to pop them out but unfortunately made a tiny scuff on the paintwork on one side. Nothing too serious, the scuff is invisible as its in the slot behind the light.

The new repeaters look great and I didn't even change the stock bulbs. The light surrounds themselves cover the bulb and reflect the light in so you don't see it from the outside.

I also added some 16" Wheeltrims to cover the factory wheels. First I cleaned and painted the silver parts of the factory wheels in matte black hammerite. Once this was dry I added the trims (£40 eBay). This made a MASSIVE difference to the look of the van. I will invest in some nice alloys one day but for now this will do. I can't understand why every T5 I see hasn't got trims on. The change to the look of the vehicle far outweighs the cost of the trims!

Here's a shot of the trims I bought.

I thought the large amount of spokes would be better at hiding the factory wheels underneath.

I'll post a shot of them on the van soon