First camping trip in the van!

We used the van as a camper for the first time last weekend in the Lake District 🙂 The whole trip was a great success the van didn’t break down, leak and handled the load of 3 people, a dog, 2 bikes and all the camping gear 🙂 The bike rack was solid as a rock, really glad we invested in a tow mount one, they are so much easier to load and a damn site stronger than the hang on type.

The night before the trip was a bit of a rush job! The lights had to be fit (ikea dioder) and the carpet laid. The carpet was a bit of a pain and took hours to lay and still isn’t stuck down yet we were out until midnight finishing it off.. It was great on the trip though and I’m really glad we opted for carpet instead of vinyl. We picked it up as a roll end from a local carpet place for about £15. I finished the step off with some angle aluminium checkered step stuff.. that was only about £8 for 1m from wickes which was just enough. It looks great and finishes the step off nicely.

We are still waiting on my uncle to reupholster all the seats and bed so we made do with a mattress topper and a duvet cover for the weekend. I’ve got to admit the bed was hard! as the foam was only about 1″ thick… but we survived. Dog is a bit of a bed hogger tbh though so may have to get him a dogbed for the front seats!

The temperature in the van remained stable all weekend which I believe had a lot to do with all the time invested in proper insulation and the home made silver window screens. It was nice to wake up on a morning without it being freezing or too hot like the tent days!

Another recent purchase was the awning! an ex-display gooutdoors special, its the Zenobia 6 Porch that we picked up for £60. It fit over the van nicely but we never did attempt to drive away as it requires some customisation yet.

What else is new? well we had some more welding done on one of the inner door sills, we were tempted to bodge it initially with some fibreglass but I knew it would just annoy/worry us if we didn’t get it sorted properly.

cupboards will be the next big challenge….

anyway enough rambling here are some pics of the first trip.




brill bike rack, £80 ebay.

brill bike rack, £80 ebay.


packed up and ready to go

packed up and ready to go


EGR pipe fun, window blinds, TV installation & the new wheels..

Whats new? well the EGR Pipe running from the EGR valve to the inlet manifold decided to go the other day… the van sounded like a motorbike..

After much searching I’ve struggled to find a replacement pipe, the local Nissan dealer has to get it from Japan with a 3-6weeks minimum delivery time! we are off camping soon so thats no good. I got a pipe from a 1.6 but it wasn’t the right fitting at all so that got sent back. I’m waiting to hear back from scrapyards but in the meantime it was time to get my bodging skills out :). Decided to repair it using some exhaust putty, 2 hose clips and a bit of pepsi can :). its suprisingly solid at the moment. Lets hope it survives the 90 mile journey to the camp site!

Oh dear..

Oh dear..

winner :)

winner 🙂

Window Blinds
With the impending camping trip we need to get some blackout blinds sorted for the many windows! We were going to make some out of the expensive thermo material but as we are on a budget and had loads of spare bubble foil and some sticky backed velcro about we thought we might aswell trial the cheap option first! So far so good!
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TV InstallHad an hour to kill so thought I’d have a gander at getting the LCD mounted on the headrest. After some playing about with some spare bits of wood and butchering the existing stand I came up with the simple mount below. As its using some of the existing stand mounts its actually easy to detach the screen to stop the local yobs nicking it. I still need to make some kind of cover though for when we wan’t to leave it in. Eventually I will install a nice swing arm mount so we can watch it when we are sat outside. I also had a play with the raspberry pi at the weekend but still need to get the wifi dongle working… more to come.

not pretty but works

not pretty but works

TVCatchup using the iPad.

TVCatchup using the iPad.

After much searching on ebay for the correct fitment I took a punt on some alloys I saw for sale for a Nissan Stagea (skyline estate!). A bad listing on ebay lacking many details and pictures also being collection only from Nottingham I bagged them from an absolute bargain of £40 with the tyres! it was a 170mile round trip but boy was it worth it. Really pleased with them after a clean up. All I need to do now is spray the centre caps as they have faded a bit. Went round a mates with a flat driveway to put them on and got caught by the rain a few times but they look really good on the van. Very happy 🙂



Bits and bobs

Well its been a busy month and good progress made.

I’ll let the pics do most of the talking but a quick summary:

Ply lined the floor
Finished putting the batons down and cut a large sheet of ply for the flooring base. This is actually harder it to do than it looks and is a bit of a crappy job really. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% happy with it but we are going to lay some carpet over the top so its not really that big a deal as it will not be seen. We managed to pickup some hard wearing camper van carpet from the local carpet place for £15 so can’t complain.

used a bit of the old interior matting as template to cut the ply.

used a bit of the old interior matting as template to cut the ply.

squeezed in nicely :)

squeezed in nicely 🙂

got some angle alu to stop the edges getting damaged, wasn't enough length to mitre the corners :/ still need to do the bottom step..

got some angle alu to stop the edges getting damaged, wasn’t enough length to mitre the corners :/ still need to do the bottom step..

bed back in for a test fit.

bed back in for a test fit.

turned around to find this pest in the van!

turned around to find this pest in the van!

battons... I'm not sure if this was the best approach after all..

battons… I’m not sure if this was the best approach after all..

some ugly cut outs for the   bed mount points. It had to come out again to cut again to access the seat belt mount points..

some ugly cut outs for the bed mount points. It had to come out again to cut again to access the seat belt mount points..

does it fit? notice the gap at the near side, due to ply board size, this will be covered by units so not an issue.

does it fit? notice the gap at the near side, due to ply board size, this will be covered by units so not an issue.

Spark plugs changed
As the van is mid engined this is a bit of a pain because although the front seats fold back there still remains the handbreak and a bit cross beam blocking access so all that had to come out before you could even get near the plugs. We are in the middle of a heatwave too so it was red hot in the van. Looking at the plugs there weren’t even that bad but seeing as I had already bought a spare set I put them in anyway for piece of mind.

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Seat belts fitted
This is a bit of a grey area for me as from what I’ve read if you have installed a bed seat in the rear of your conversion legally you don’t actually need to have a seatbelt. Anyway I decided to use something called D Shackles which enabled me to connect the seatbelts to the strong floor mounting points. Making them pretty much factory safe. I’m going to get it all checked by an MOT centre though to ensure its safe.

2013-07-20 12.51.13 2013-07-20 12.51.17 2013-07-20 12.51.27

Leisure battery & split charge relay system installed
This is pretty cool, basically you wire up a relay so that when the ignition is on (engine running) a secondary battery in the rear of the van is charged up. Meaning you drive to your chosen camping location and when you park up you essentially have a massive car battery to run your electrics without fear of your car not starting.
I built a shelf out of MDF with some ridged edges to stop the battery bouncing around.
I’ve got a 500W 240 inverter too so we can run 3pin mains devices off the leisure battery, think TV, hair straighteners etc. It will also be used for some lighting and phone chargers oh and I’ve got a raspberry Pi to go in there so we can watch some media on a night when its too cold for a camp fire. Its a 110ah battery (the biggest I could find) so it will be great for us.

piggyback fuse tap, easy way to have a plug and play install.

piggyback fuse tap, easy way to have a plug and play install.

all feeds use inline fuses for safety.

all feeds use inline fuses for safety.

this will be hidden in a cupboard eventually.

this will be hidden in a cupboard eventually.

Whats next?
In the following order we found a bit more rust so that needs welding ASAP before I can build the cupboards.. we decided we need to get the windows tinted so the cupboard backs don’t look ugly from the outside. We also went to visit my uncle recently whos an uplholsterer so hes going to make the sofa bed cushions and reupholster the front seats too. After all that I’ll make the cupboards.. lightweight veneered ply is very expensive though… so either need to save up or see if we can use contiboard.. (mpg affect scares me). Just remembered that the tyre that the garage puncture is completely shafted now and goes flat within 3 hours so that needs sorting out…again… so watch this space.

Flooring and other bits

Decided to make a start on the flooring tonight which unfortunately meant removing the sofabed ..groan. While I was taking it out I noticed there was a little give in the brackets so I decided to add some extra rivnuts to strengthen the mounting points. I initially intended to carry passengers in the rear but to be honest I don’t think the mount points are strong enough for that so it will just be used as a day seat and the bed.

The next job was to make a start on the flooring. Its a ribbed floor presumably for strength. This poses obvious problems before it can be ply lined as its uneven and would be bouncy as hell. So we bought some 12mm batons from Wickes to pack it out. Chopped them up with the jigsaw and glued down with some grab adhesive. We are trying to avoid making loads of moisture attracting holes in the floor. The batons can be used to screw the ply into too. I’m not really looking forward to cutting the floor I suspect it will be an epic farce! Plus I’m going to have to make a new step seeing as the floor height just wont work with the existing plastic one. The joys of a totally bespoke build! Ill be getting a VW T4 next 😉

In other news I got a fuse tap lead today to make the split charge relay installtion easier, it requires an ignition switched feed you see to activate the the charging for the leisure battery. I did try locate a feed to tap into within the engine bay but failed… the engine bay is seriously filthy. I had tried to degrease under the bonnet area at the weekend but it looked no better sfter the 2 hours I’d spent on it!

In other news.. the engine power delivery isn’t very smooth we have noticed. The van has an ODB1.5 port so my OBD2 scanner won’t fit, luckily I’ve found an adapter cable online. So when then arrives I’ll scan for error codes. I wonder if its the spark plugs… mid engine pain to get to (I tried to look a few week back).

Oh I also noticed the coolant reservoir was running on dreggs! So topped that up yesterday. Wouldn’t be suprised if this was caused by the garage who removed the rear heater to be honest as I believe it was linked to the engine cooling system (its why I paid ‘professionals’ to sort it out..)

I think thats it for now.

Update: 04/07/2013 after driving it to work today the power seems better again I think the low coolant may have been related.



halfway through fixing the batons down, the floor ridges variate so much I think we will need a combination of various thickness batons.

Sofa bed is installed

Well this has been the most frustrating part of the build so far. I’m not exactly that familiar at working with metal and it started to show pretty early on. I couldn’t really find any suitable brackets at the local Wickes but bought some anyway and wasted an afternoon fitting them for them to only bend within about 5minutes of installing them…

Here is the rubbish we installed first time around, I had no choice to install it to the side of the leg due to access under the van as we need to access the bolt head from below… which just caused the force of the bed folding mechanism to bend it:

cheap brackets

It was a wasted afternoon anyway and after some research and posts on a few forums I opted to go down the Rivnut route something that I had been put off with previously due to cost of tools etc. Basically it allows you to essentially created a strong threaded hole in a metal surce when you only have access to one side. Ideal for our scenario. I needed the bed to be secure as I didn’t want to launching forward if we were to have a accident etc. 99% of the time the seat will not be carrying any passengers so I settled for a rivnut tool that could go up to M6 size, anything higher and it just got out of budget.

Here is an installed M6 rivnut

The cheap brackets were no good so we opted for some 5mm mild steel angle, my dad managed to get some off cuts from work so these were perfect for what we wanted. They did need trimming down though. It was at this point that I realised the angle grinder was my least favourite tool :/. TIP: do not buy cheap cutting discs!

pain to use

cheap cutting disc…

In the end I got my dad to finish it off for me as I was crap using the grinder and would have probably taken my leg off before long. He also seems to have a bench grinding disc in the garage so he tidied the cuts up nicely.

By this point the brackets were pretty small and I don’t have a workshop table top (pillar?) drill so had to devise a little vice of my own to hold the brackets in order to drill them safely. I also bought some better drill bits… more expense!

self made vice

holding the bracket securely

We only cut 4 brackets and I decided to use all of them on the rear legs as these took the majority of the force when the bed was folded up and down. I used an M8 bolt and nut through both to secure the leg through both brackets to stop it twisting.

brackets installed bolted through.

I found some smaller brackets in the shed that I used on the front legs, I will have to see how these hold up, I do have some more 5mm steel left to make more for the front but like I say I’m not a fan of the angle grinder. I will see how these smaller ones hold up for now I think. There is a rivnut installed in each of the front legs so It should be strong enough.

front brackets… lets hope they last

I might have to shorten the legs or wheel legs but I’m going to see how it is after we have ply lined the floor. Headroom is pretty tight at the moment so it will be even worse when the cushions are on.. I’m happy to slouch though if it means I don’t have to re-install the bed! 😉

Interior carpeting done

I Well we finished off the carpeting tonight and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. It looks like a real factory finish. We may spruce up the door cards later on with some iron on stuff or quirky vinyl but they are fine for now.

Next task is to bubble foil the floor, ply line it and apply some lino type stuff tbc. The bed seat mountings to be sorted too… That will be a challenge I suspect.



Deflectors on

Finished the insulation on the slide doors tonight, after getting the door card off it became apparent the door is designed to let some water flow through it (drainage holes at bottom) there was loads of rods and levers in there too so decided against bubble foiling it all. In the end only the rear of the door card was insulated. I couldn’t reinstall the door cards though as I now need longer clips :(. Time to get my google on. Still need to carpet them too… Which will be a pain as the current rubber seal is stapled on.

Edit: went back outside and carpeted one of the door cards 🙂 the clips did fit after some force! It was about 11pm when I finished so I hope it doesnt look shite in the morning!

I did manage to install the Team Heko wind deflectors though 🙂 they look great. The will help with ventilation too on a night without us having to worry about rain getting in.