So at the end of the last thrilling instalment we were actually using the van for camping. And jolly splendid it was too, even in its very unfinished state. Turned out that the insurance company wanted at least a hint of cupboard door to sign it off as converted, so here goes:
Again, we're trying to keep the weight down, so the cupboard doors are hollow. They need to be a particular thickness to line up flush with the corner of the kitchen unit, so this one's made of two skins of 4mm ply with strips of 6mm around the edges. Glue and clamp:
Glue an inner skin on and offer up in the hole:
Hinges and a latch and stuff need adding, of course... Similar deal with the draw fronts, except these don't have a back. Cut out a frame from 12mm ply:
And a few more:
Glue on 4mm ply skins:
And the result is something that looks suitably chunky but doesn't weigh much:
I left the thin ply slightly proud around the edges, I'll plane it down later. Drawer fronts need drawers, and this is where we cheated ever so slightly:
That's a drawer kit from Screwfix -- you get the sides, runners, and brackets to hold the front and add front, bottom and back to suit. They're steel, but pretty thin steel. My back-of-envelope sums suggested that the weight penalty over making them entirely out of ply is about 5-6kg for every drawer in the van (and there'll be nine of them) which seems a fair compromise because it'd take me FOR EVER to make plywood drawers from scratch and also I'd go mad.
Some drawers in, one latch in place, next to the cupboard:
They need a bit of adjustment and alignment, but you get the idea.
Quick shot of the temporary wiring I did before Dartmoor, just to get the fridge, water pump and a light up and running:
This is all under the rear seats. At this stage the only thing charging the batteries were the solar panels on the roof -- the charger is the grey box vaguely top left under the fuse box. It's an MPPT charge controller, which does clever voltage juggling to get the most out of the panels. The batteries are held in by a timber lip around the floor and (not pictured) a pair of thick plywood plates across the top attached to those bits of threaded rod (which go right through the floor with big washers and nylocs underneath). Pretty much all the wires you see came out later on when the split charge setup went in, of which more later...
Next up, the heater. We chose a Propex gas heater for a couple of reasons. First, they're cheaper than diesel-fuelled Eberspachers. Second, I didn't particularly want to start tapping into the van's fuel supply. Third, we've got loads of gas on board anyway. And fourth, we had one in the previous van that had been there for twenty years and never missed a beat. First up, more holes:
The mesh one is a gas drop-out vent -- butane/propane is heavier than air, so if there's a leak it behaves like water and you need somewhere for it to get out of the van. There is (or will be) one of these underneath anywhere there's a gas connection. The other two holes are for the air inlet and combustion exhaust -- the Propex is room sealed, drawing in air for combustion from outside the van and exhausting similarly. The ideal way to mount it is flat to the floor with the inlet/exhaust spigots straight through the holes, but we don't have space for that so we've got the second-best up-on-edge position:
Connected up the inlet and exhaust pipes, fed them out underneath, connected gas pipe, hooked up some power. With all the gas connections now made, this seemed as good a time as any to bite the bullet and fill the LPG tank. Checked all the connections again, made sure the gas alarm was working and headed to the petrol station. The tank cost £19 to fill which is very economical compared to the Campingaz refills we're used to using. Anyway, all the gas appeared to go into the tank and nothing exploded. Back home and presto:
Oh yeah. Now we're cooking. And so on. You can't tell from the picture, but this is hot water:
And the Propex? Er, nothing. Just a flashing light on the controller, which when decoded was saying "combustion fault", ie the burner wasn't lighting. Checked everything, tried again. Nowt. The main fan (the one that recirculates the air inside the van) would run, but no heat. Internet research suggested that sometimes the second fan (which draws in combustion air for the burner) can stick if it's not run for a while, like for example while sitting on a shelf in a warehouse. Seemed like a plausible scenario, so:
Dug out the pump for our inflatable canoes, pulled the inlet pipe off, stuck the pump hose in and gave it a few healthy blasts. And would you believe it, it actually worked. Yay the internet!