Camper van conversion to bike / Adventure bus – Hints and tips please !

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  • Camper van conversion to bike / Adventure bus – Hints and tips please !
  • I’m on the hunt for useful info (lots of pictures) before I embark on the conversion of Molly to an adventure bus!

    Molly is a 1995 310d Mercedes with a 2.9 non turbo indirect injection, nice and simple (bit like me)

    She has 55000 miles on the clock, She has had four previous owners. Starting life as a builders van in Devon, she was then converted to a Motocross van. Then a farmers van used to pull jet skies down to the coats before the last owners took her on as a slightly rotting project. They repaired her mechanically changing a few bits here and there and took her to festivals, only doing about 1000miles a year.

    We bought her a couple of weeks ago, she is going to be our wedding present, and we have asked people to contribute rather than buying us gifts. So over the next few months / years I want to get here converted and set up for bike and general travelling.

    My basic plan is to leave the current kitchen in place and concentrate on the bed area to start with, making it into a motor cross style with the bed above the garage.

    (I have ordered the Haynes manual already for campervan conversions that is)

    Features I would like,

    – Double bed part fix/ extendable but not cushions on seating area as she is now
    – Seating (away form the drivers seat)
    – Garage for up to four bikes (two road and two mtb) with front wheel off only (need to pick materials carefully to make bike proof)
    – Wood burner (may be pushing it here)
    – More windows (I was thinking boat window as the caravan plastic ones are a bit crummy)

    Techy stuff/ Accessories

    – Solar panel to charge 12v system leisure battery
    – Roof rack / Sun terrace
    – Convert to run on Veg oil
    – Swivel front seats
    – Mini bus seats to bolt in when needed for carrying people

    Well the list could go on but….

    If anyone has some good advise, contacts, or references please let me know.


    I am no camper van expert, but definitely worth looking at the cricket trailer tent. It is obviously a different concept than a sprinter conversion, but it incorporates some great ideas and uses some equipment you might see in a small boat (storage ideas etc). Small, but clever.

    Also worth googling sports they are a printer conversion specialist with loads of cool designs for outdoors enthusiasts and motor sport nutts. If I have the address wrong, just do a search for Brian Lopes van. They look proper pimp and there are some good ideas for floor plans and details.

    Hope you get some inspiration.


    I converted a much smaller van vw T5. I found that ikea kitchen wall units were a good cheap way to get base units for the furniture. They have some good door colours too.

    Premier Icon althepal

    Ive always wanted a van to convert and always thought one of those would be good! I like the double bed on top of the garage but another design ive seen had a seating area near the bulkhead that converted to a bed, then at one of the back corners two bunks running in line but the lower one folded up to make a storage spacefor bikes.. think it was actually intended for a mobility scooter but I’ll prob need 4 berths and thought that would fit the bill!!

    Hi that looks a decent base van, the old mercs are very reliable, but like anything else with moving parts they need some maintenance. If its from 1995 have a good look over the cooling system be sure to check the radiator and hoses for perishing. Well worth changing the coolant and at that age its probably got a fan belt too. I think most mercs that age are chain driven cam have a listen for noise, if its a belt change it.

    Inside that looks like a 3 way dometic gas fridge. These are also very reliable as they have no moving parts. And are easily serviced. lots of info on the web about how but pull it out carefully lift out the cover on the burner jat and hoover out the exhaust and inlet.

    A cheap caravan £300 / £500 will probably provide a lot of parts you need if you have space, think sink cooker water tank etc. A sky light is very handy in warm weather especially with a fly screen.

    If its had a home conversion, check the gas system very carefully. Gas hose is only rated for around 2 years and is date stamped. have a look at it, it gets brittle replace in any doubt. Hose and a new regulator about £10.

    The gas bottle storage area should be well away from the sleeping / living area in a sealed compartment with a gas drop hole. Gas is heavier than air so if the bottle leaks the gas leaks out of the van avoiding fire and poisoning risk.

    look here for inspiration


    Nearly finished my Transit conversion, long story about which I will post a thread at some point.
    I’ll give one bit of advice here though RE windows. Having them cut and fitted is really expensive (£300ish each), and they don’t always seal well. I bought a pair of rear doors with windows for £70 from someone who was breaking a minibus, sold my windowless ones for £100. Bought a side door with window from a different minibus for £100, sold mine for £170.
    Go looking on ebay and breakers yards for new rear doors, (maybe offside side door too, can’t see what’s what from your pics)


    Gas drop hole.
    thanks NCB, you may have just saved my life. Now, how do I make one of those…


    That’s the easy bit. It’s getting a hole through the lino, plywood floor, wood and metal battons with rockwool insulation and steel floor without hitting any brake lines or anything underneath which could be the tricky bit…
    I suppose it doesn’t really have to be in the floor, just somewhere near the bottom. How does it stop water getting in? It’s harder to keep out than mice.


    Andrewh I’d be interested in a write up on yours. Did you get the same coloured doors? Ply lined and carpets?

    The gas bottle should be in its own cupboard, 18mm ply or metal lined to give it some protection against fire. Drop out holes around it, if the door is to the interior it should have a rubber draught type seal round the door, otherwise an external door. You are not really meant to have rubber/flexible gas hose within the van, normally you would have your regulator and rubber hose within the gas locker, then 8 or 10mm copper pipe to your cooker.

    Thats the ideal way, otherwise just take extra care checking the hose regularly.

    Get yourself onto, its well worth the £15 or so if you are doing a refit…loads of help. Membership will get you discounts on insurance and suppliers too so it usually pays for itself.

    My pics
    The work begins


    Use B&Q recycled plastic bottle insulation to stuff in all the cavities (it doesn’t get damp) and use sheets of Cellotex to insulate the panels. Cover the whole lot in plastic sheeting before plylining to reduce condensation. Takes a couple of days, but you’ll have a vehicle that maintains a more stable temperature all year around. The extra stretchy carpet from MegaVan mats is really easy to line the rear with.

    Premier Icon rockhopperbike

    bit of light reading here for you
    Advrider adventure van


    There used to be a good self-build camper van forum. Had many knowledgable folk on, it’s worth a google…

    Ace ! starting to get more ideas !

    The outside shower looks like a definite go’er, never liked the idea of having them inside due to loss of space and having to clean them out after a weekend of mud on the bike.

    Gas bottle at the moment is outside i.e plug in when you setup for the night. I will most likely put in a ply wood box at some point.

    NorthCountryBoy : She had her heater matrix changed out a few years back and the hoses look in pretty good condition.

    There was an interesting post on the advenutre forum on sound proofing that I need to look at in more detail as the old girl is a wee bit noisey above 45MPH mainly due to the engine been in the cab


    Strip the cab back and cover all the metal in Flashing Tape to reduce the engine and road noise.
    Works well over the rear wheel arches too.


    Same coloured rear doors Hora. Side door not (Arctic White and Ice Whitte are surprisingly different…)
    Yes, lined and insulated (that Megavanmatts stretchy stuff again)
    Sounds a bit complex with the gas Spooky. Mine’s effectivly a two-ring camping stove bolted to a fold-out thingy next to the bed. You have to have the side door open to use it as it fold out to make a table bit outside (difficult to explain) The stove was very much an after thought, just added on at the last minute to make it officially a camper and easier to insure. Is all that strictly necessary? I have a CO detector and a twirly roof vent to hopefully prevent me getting gassed.
    Another top tip OP: Measuring and cutting ply panels for lining can be a real PITA, especially with an odd shaped van like a Transit, T5s look much easier, no idea about Mercs. Go to a scrappy and get the lining out of an old van. It will be damp, tatty and come off in pieces. It is however an excellent template and will save loads of time. And is pretty much free (got both sides and rear doors for mine, 2 speakers from an Omega and a rear view mirrow from a Rover 75 for a tenner)

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