Family-friendly bike-carrying camper build

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  • Family-friendly bike-carrying camper build
  • Premier Icon mick_r
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    Don’t do checkerplate with that pattern! I’ve got it in my brazing shed, and it is awful to sweep clean – the ridges at 90 degrees to each other just trap sweepings (i.e. sweep in one direction and half the ridges collect the dirt, sweep in the other and the opposite ridges collect the dirt). The aluminium will also be unkind to the bottom of fork legs and will leave black marks unless anodised.

    I’d use heavy duty industrial vinyl (like bus / wet room flooring). Google Polyflor etc. A 1m x 2m strip was something like £50 when I last bought some. It isn’t cushioned so forks won’t rip it.

    Awesome thread, just wasted over an hour reading it.

    Premier Icon senor j
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    Awesome thread, just wasted over an hour reading it.

    Me too!!

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    wasted!!!?
    Time well spent, I’d say

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    I’d use heavy duty industrial vinyl (like bus / wet room flooring). Google Polyflor etc. A 1m x 2m strip was something like £50 when I last bought some. It isn’t cushioned so forks won’t rip it.

    Sounds good. I’ll look into it 🙂

    Premier Icon mattbee
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    How big is the boot floor? I have a strip of heavy duty ‘coin’ moulded vinyl flooring left over from doing the back of my T5…

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    The main part is just under 1.9m across and about 0.5m deep, but I need to do the part under the bunks as well which is something like 1m x 0.7m. Ish 🙂

    Premier Icon mattbee
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    I’ll have a look n the shed later and see how much I have…

    Chapeau, Mike!

    This has got to be one of the best threads in ages, looking forward to seeing more. Glad you’re finding time to actually use the van too!

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    Beginning to slightly lose track of what got done when now, but no matter. PLOUGH ON. Here’s the (unfinished) overhead locker for the kitchen, which, helpfully, my Dad made while I was faffing about with other bits:

    In the interests of lightness, the doors are hollow — what you see there are 12mm ply frames, which then got skinned with 3mm ply to give this:

    So the whole kitchen now looks like:

    You’ll have to imagine away the pots of glue, boxes of screws and random tools.

    While parents were helping out, father-in-law made a backrest for the bench seat:

    And MiL upholstered it:

    It’s made the seat way more comfy for relaxing in. The backrest is supported by a couple of short lengths of webbing attached to the B pillars — when driving it sits vertically, when parked up we can just roll the cab seats forward a bit and let it tip back to a comfy angle. We’ve sacrificed the ability to easily climb through from the cab but we were mostly walking round to the sliding door anyway. If it’s really chucking it down it’s still possible to scramble over, just not terribly dignified 😉

    At this stage the interior was almost looking vaguely finished, if you don’t count the lack of washroom door (or indeed washbasin) and various other details:

    So then we went on holiday, which was ace:

    (really must paint up those wheels…)

    Although there was a minor hiccup on the way home:

    Which resulted in us having to leave the van at a French Fiat dealer while we came home in a (very small) hire car:

    That’s me trying to work out where the gear lever is.

    It took the best part of a month for the van to rejoin us in the UK, but only a couple of days for a local garage to fix it. Water had got into the injector loom and made the ECU most unhappy, with properly torrential rain in France being the final straw. Fortunately the ECU survived (despite what the French garage initially said) and the repair was considerably less financially painful that we’d been fearing. Coming up in a future instalment: Sorting out Fiat’s woeful efforts at drainage 🙂

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Ace!
    (apart from the breakdown obviously).

    I’ve often wondered about keeping DIY interiors lightweight.
    I’m not a fan of all these composite materials they use in modern caravans/campers, but thin ply over a frame sounds good.

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    I do need to weigh it at some point 😉 I’m hoping we’ll have at least 500kg of payload, which would mean an unladen weight of 3t. IIRC the empty van was (on paper) just under 2.2t, giving 800kg for the conversion. Which sounds a lot, but then the batteries alone are nearly 50 kg, the rear seats are 30-odd, the LPG tank is 20 I think… It mounts up.

    Premier Icon mick_r
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    I bet the kids love it.

    If you don’t mind me asking, where is the campsite with the mountains / cliffs in the background? Can’t decide if it looks like Switzerland.

    This. Is. Awesome.

    Mike, you win! Keep the updates coming.Please. Bobbing around the North Atlantic waiting on weather & this thread has just helped me pass a good hour or so.

    But left me feeling woefully inadequate.

    Chappeau sir.

    Premier Icon peteimpreza
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    Is the campsite in Le Bourg d’Oisans?

    wingnuts
    Member

    It’s wonderful work sir. I’m fighting a battle with the wife. She (unreasonably) wants me to finish the house before we start on another project.

    My bet on the holiday pics is somewhere between Grenoble and Chambray.

    Premier Icon mick_r
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    Well if we’re betting on the photo, I’m going to (probably be completely wrong) and say Camping Jungfrau at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Guess assisted by what might be a 2014 Swiss Vignette in the windscreen.

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    Camping Jungfrau it is — well spotted 🙂

    wingnuts: Our house has plenty of missing skirting boards and unpainted bits 😉

    jwt
    Member

    This is awesome, you’re doing a great job! I spent Saturday at the camping and caravan show at the NEC as I’ve been toying with building something similar for a while now, but you’re fit, finish and attention to detail knock a awful lot of what I saw into a cocked hat!
    I was hoping to build into a sprinter LWB hi-top to enable a moto x style garage under a double, but I like the idea’s you’ve given me with your 4 berth arrangement as I’ll need to transport and sleep four as well. I’ve done the usual scouring of the internet but this is one of the best how-to threads I’ve seen.
    Thanks for the inspiration, and good luck for the rest of the build.
    😀

    Premier Icon mick_r
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    I’m rather pleased with that guess – especially as it was 1995 when we stayed there (but been back to the area plenty of times since). Top tip with kids if you travel down there again, you can avoid some toll motorways in Germany and break the journey at Speyer where there is a fabulous technical museum with its own secure campervan area. Museum unlike any other I’ve seen – Jumbo Jet on stilts that they can climb around with a huge stainless steel tube slide, Buran Space Shuttle, Russian Submarine, Antonov cargo plane (all open to clamber around). Also a sister museum at Sinsheim with Concorde and Tupolev Concordski.

    http://www.technik-museum.de/en

    Fabulous job on the camper and the write up has been a highlight of many lunchtimes – is there a date when you will class it as “finished”?

    Love it, turning out really well 🙂

    My current van is on its second incarnation, still not ‘finished’ after owning it for around six! Next years plan is to tidy it up ready to sell, there’s no rush as the van that ticks all the boxes has only just been released and I need to wait at least two years for the eye watering £25-30,000 plus VAT price tag to become affordable.

    I reckon a used one will be under £10k within a couple of years as thankfully they depreciate really really fast!

    P.S For the boot floor, how about that heavy duty rubber stud moulded flooring? I plan to use it throughout the van next time as I’ve had various floor coverings which have turned out to be dirt magnets or susceptible to ripping.

    Great thread….
    Are you keeping a tally of hours spent/costs etc.
    Whatever the figures, I’m sure it’ll be a great investment.

    Premier Icon Stoner
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    Bravo – great stuff, Mike.

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    jwt: Went to that show last year, it’s a good opportunity to pick up ideas. We made a couple of changes based on what we saw there, although mainly to avoid things we didn’t like in pro vans — originally the fridge was going to be on the floor, but having looked at a few we decided that we didn’t want to be grovelling in a narrow aisle to get things out of it.

    We did think of getting an extra-high van and putting in a drop-down bed at the front, but the vans were too expensive. Maybe next time 😉

    mick_r: Good tip, thanks — looks ace 🙂 We went through France on this occasion, I’ve got relatives near Dijon so we did a stopover there. Definitely planning to do Switzerland again, though…

    As for finished, I suspect they’re never really finished. If we can get the rest of the interior in and painted by the first anniversary of getting the van (ie middle of December) I’ll be pretty happy.

    spooky: That looks ANGRY. Have they changed much beyond the front? Dimpled rubbery stuff is on the shortlist for a boot floor.

    rockhopper70: There’s a massive pile of receipts that we’ll pluck up the courage to add up one day. Kind of lost track of hours, beyond “a lot”. I reckon we’re looking at £12-13k (including the base van) by the time it’s done. I don’t think DIYing is in any way a profit-making exercise, but if and when we sell it I’m hoping the net cost of ownership will become very reasonable. The plan is to get a good few years use out of it 🙂

    thebunk
    Member

    Way better than Grand Designs this. Thank you Mike.

    Mike_D – Member
    if and when we sell it

    Dibs!

    Mike, the blurb reckons its 80% new components, but how that’s measured…

    +1 point for a new indicator stalk, -1 point for the original ladder chassis? Who knows, but I bet its measured in their favour!

    Anyway, its largely new, has some very powerful engines and still pulls 3.5 tons which is the critical bit for me, but the main advantages is the wheelbase is now longer with less overhang so should be more stable and safer for towing and give less grounding issues, and you can get a locking rear diff. Just need to tweak my layout as the ideal wheelbase/body length combo for towing is 50cm shorter than my current mwb van.

    I too have a couple of box files stuffed with receipts, the conversion came to more than the £5k cost of the van…

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Been away in Autumn/Winter Mike?
    Learning anything about the build, now that it’s getting used?

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    Crikey, I’ve neglected this thread. Where was I? /reads back.

    Oh yes, the saga of the flooding engine bay. Investigations (based largely around tipping buckets of water down the windscreen) revealed that a healthy proportion of rainwater would end up here:

    That’s a bracket hanging off the middle of the scuttle that holds some sort of actuator that’s something to do with the EGR valve. Yeah, showing off my MAD MECHANICAL KNOWLEDGE there. The water coming off there ends up on top of the engine and is trapped by the shape of the head. Genius. But not as good as where most of the rest of the water goes:

    That’s the nearside of the engine bay. Look down a bit at where that stream’s ending up:

    It’s aimed with unerring accuracy straight at the plastic cover over the connector between the main wiring loom and the ECU. Hmph.

    There’s a plastic cover over the scuttle at the bottom of the screen, which I took off for a closer look. I guess there’s a semblance of a seal in there. OK, no, there isn’t:

    The cover’s also in two pieces, overlapped in the wrong direction so that water attempting to run off along the designed-in slope towards the offside tends to go through the gap instead — that’s where the dribble onto the top of the engine is from. Much Sikaflexage later and the cover was sealed to its other half, sealed to the windscreen on the back and for good measure, sealed along the top edge too:

    Next order of business was to get rid of the water that should now be gathering in the scuttle cover. As I said, it’s supposed to run off to the offside and through a drain hole, but there’s only a hole on one side, the slope isn’t that substantial and if the van’s not dead level (like, for instance, parked on the camber on the left of a road, as if that could ever happen…) the water just sits there.

    Fortuitously, there’s a blanking plug stuck in a handy-looking hole on the nearside, so I took that out:

    Drilled the hole out a bit bigger:

    And gooped in a usefully-sized spigot tube thing I found in the plumbing box (it’s actually an insert that you push into PVC pip before using push-fit connectors):

    More rummaging in boxes of left-over tat revealed a handy length of corrugated pipe, which got gooped and ziptied onto the pipe insert thusly:

    It’s routed down through the engine bay to exit by the front wheel, pretty much mirroring how the standard drain on the other side works:

    Yeah. FACTORY. Kinda.

    Buoyed by this achievement, I tackled a little “tidying” job. The table top still had square corners and was a bit wide to boot, so I attacked it with a circular saw to narrow it a bit and then rounded the corners with a router. Those of a delicate tool-use sensibility may wish to look away:

    That’s the router fence with the plate reversed and inverted, a couple of blocks of wood glued together and a random bolt stuffed into a blind hole on the back of the table top to rotate around. Surprisingly, it kept the alignment pretty well:

    Repeat on the other corner, put the leg back on:

    Much better, especially for moving into the back part of the van which was a bit of a squeeze between table and kitchen before. The table still needs a load of weight taking out of it, it weighs as much as a small child at the moment.

    In amongst all this we returned to France at October half-term — we were meant to go to Disneyland in the summer but the breakdown scuppered that, so we’d promised the kids we’d go back. Did it on the (relative) cheap by taking food with us and camping in the car park. Which turns out to be quite a popular option:

    It actually worked really well — parking’s included with the annual passes we bought, it’s really close to the entrance so we went in first thing, came out at lunchtime when it got busy, had a meal, chilled out for a bit and went back later in the afternoon when it was quieter again. Beats overpriced hotels and crappy grub 🙂

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    Oh, and long-time followers will have noticed that we didn’t manage to get the interior finished and painted within a year — we’ve now had the van for 13 months. We did manage 33 nights away in it in 2014, though, which seems like a result to me 🙂

    Bigface0_0
    Member

    Boom its back, YES!! Love this thread.. Whats next???

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    Probably finishing the washroom — put in shower tray, finish lining the inside, add lighting, basin, cupboard. Will mean dropping the waste tank to add another inlet. Also still need a lot of drawers and cupboard fronts making for the rest of the interior. And another overhead locker. And lining the space over the cab. And lining the sliding door. Boxing in under the travel seats. Tidying wiring. Control panel for lights and level gauges and stuff. MANY THINGS 🙂

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    We did manage 33 nights away in it in 2014, though, which seems like a result to me

    Definitely – congratulations!

    Probably finishing the washroom — put in shower tray, finish lining the inside, add lighting, basin, cupboard. Will mean dropping the waste tank to add another inlet. Also still need a lot of drawers and cupboard fronts making for the rest of the interior. And another overhead locker. And lining the space over the cab. And lining the sliding door. Boxing in under the travel seats. Tidying wiring. Control panel for lights and level gauges and stuff. MANY THINGS

    Blimey – makes my shed seem very simple indeed.

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    That’s just the stuff I can remember 😉 There’s a new incentive in that we want to get rid of our tatty conservatory, which is currently employed as a storeroom for van bits and sheets of plywood…

    I don’t ever want this thread to end

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    I sort of hope it will eventually 😉

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    hora
    Member

    Found this thread. I am Speachless.

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    If I find a Speach I’ll be sure to pass it on 😉

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    So after something of an over-winter hiatus, we’re back on it 🙂

    First up, the washroom rooflight sprung a leak. Which was annoying. The only way to be sure of sorting it was to pull the whole lot out and start again:

    Seems to have worked.

    After that, we looked at tidying up the shelf over the cab a bit. Thus far it’s all been exposed insulation and a slightly manky plastic shelf. Made some cardboard templates:

    Transferred to a handy plywood offcut that was about the right size:

    Cut out and stuck in:

    They’re Sikaflexed to blocks stuck to the van roof, and to the side of the plastic luggage shelf. Once they were set, Mrs D spent an afternoon getting dizzy on spray glue and lined the whole lot with magic stretchy carpet:

    At some point there’ll be another ply panel as a face to the whole thing, we’ll come back to that…

    Made a start on an access hatch to go under the bottom bunk. At the moment there’s just a hole to the boot space. Put some new uprights in the appropriate places, chopped out the batten that ran across the floor:

    Put in a timber moulding to cover the edge of the floor — this’ll come out and go back in again once we’ve put some flooring in the boot.

    Started to make a door, but thus far it’s just two bits of wood so not really very interesting. Moved on to lining the sliding door, which I keep forgetting hasn’t been done:

    I’ve made a reveal around the window as per the other side of the van — the panel will be further in than the face of the window, so something needs to bridge the gap. Also boshed in a couple of rivnuts for an extra handle to make the door easier to shut from the inside. It’s big and heavy and not that easy to fully close:

    After much measuring, marking, faffing and cutting:

    Had to do it in two pieces, because the door’s 95mm wider than a standard sheet of plywood. Although it works better on that orientation anyway because the ply’s bendier on that axis and fits the curve of the door. The window aperture was marked out as close as I dared but left a few mm extra all round and will plane/sand it down flush later.

    At this stage the bottom of the door still looked like this:

    Oh yes. Homely. More cardboard, more plywood:

    Fitting the lower panel was challenging, because with the door shut the front half is obscured by the bench seat. And with it open it’s outside the van. I ended up Sikaflexing half the door with it half open and the other half with it shut, then half opening it again to slide the panel in and holding it with one hand while boshing in a couple of temporary self-tappers to keep it all in place while the glue goes off. End result:

    Marvellous. The join between the two sheets will be filled and sanded, and there’ll also be a padded panel across there which will hide it.

    Premier Icon siwhite
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    Love this conversion – just killed an hour of my night shift reading it, so thanks for the distraction!

    Out of interest, where did you buy the long-ruler-spirit-level-with-handle thing?

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    You’re welcome 🙂

    Big level was borrowed from my Dad, he got it from a local hardware shop I think. It’s suffered a bit during this job and doesn’t have a handle any more. Or a level. So really it’s just a giant ruler now. Still v useful. Must find a replacement…

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    Expect one or two more updates shortly – heading to the Alps at Easter so keen to add a few things first. We’re not staying in it (except a night on the way down and a couple more at Disney on the way back), so I don’t need to worry about tank insulation or anything. Thankfully…

    Premier Icon Mike_D
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    Extra update ‘cos I found some stuff I’d not posted..

    Ages ago I started making a slide-out support for part of the bed. The smaller hinged flap needs supporting at the end of the kitchen, and there needs to be an extending piece to come out into the aisle to hold up one end of the large flap. My first pass used crappy runners, so step one was to take it all apart again and use some better runners that actually hold it straight:

    I’m not sure now why I decided to make the fixed part of the support sit outboard of the sliding part. Maybe because I just want to make things unnecessarily difficult? Here’s the fixed part before fitting:

    It’s held on by the ply closing panel at one side and by the timber stub at the other, which goes through the slot in the sliding piece. The finished thing looks like this when closed:

    Opens like this:

    And the bed flaps rest on it like so (just one shown here, I was standing in the way of the other one):

    I had to do a bit of trimming and notching of the large flap so it cleared various corners and seatbelt brackets and could actually extend far enough to reach the support. While I was at it I drilled a bunch of holes in it:

    This is mainly in the interests of getting some air circulating under the mattress, but it also saved about 400g in weight. Pretty trivial in the context of a 3,500kg van, but that’s a couple of extra bottles of beer we can carry 😉

    The fully-deployed bed platform now looks like this:

    Pretty pleased with that 🙂

    Premier Icon gray
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    Very nice work mister. Looks really neat!

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