XLWB Campervan build – what I’m learning

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  • XLWB Campervan build – what I’m learning
  • Premier Icon Tiger6791
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    Amazing! Keep it coming

    Premier Icon NorthCountryBoy
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    Bookmarked

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    @paton it’s actually the external features which are causing a lot of controversy at the moment. They’ve pretty much stopped allowing re-registering of vans as motor caravans unless it looks like a motorhome on the outside. They reckon it’s important that someone on the street should be able to identify it in line with it’s registered body type without too much thought.
    Currently that includes more than one window on one side, awning, stickers, etc (although these are still open to interpretation by the individual assessing the request)

    I’ve pretty much given up on getting mine changed over. My insurance is cheap enough and I can live with the 50mph on A-roads, 60mph on dual carriageways and 70mph on motorways. Not changing it means I don’t have to fit in with their specific interior rules too.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Strip out and Clean

    While doing the windows and waiting for various paints/glues to set we stripped out and cleaned the rest of the van.

    First job was unbolting the bulkhead. Straightforward apart from 2 bolts which have had their heads deliberately sheared off to prevent tampering. Using pliers and a tap with a hammer worked for me, but some have had to resort to grinding.

    I put it on ebay, but nobody was interested, so after one annoying no-show, I took it to the tip

    Then stripping out the ply lining. Mine was screwed into the metal in all sorts of random placed with self-tappers. Some awkward burrs to clean off with a file. Most jobs working in the van I ended up with cuts to hands – the the back edges of the skin is sharp, so when stuffing insulation, cleaning or anything you tend to catch it at some point.

    The only holes that went to the outside were on the floor. So with these, we used a wire wheel on a drill to smooth/clean them, then I used Jenolite rust converter, then UPON X182 Zinc primer and then Hammerite smooth white. Then I used white Sikaflex to fill any holes.

    Floor looked rough when first removing the ply, but actually cleaned up very smart indeed.

    The lower half of the walls were covered in a tough plastic material into these clips.

    These were a pain to remove as they are riveted. Managed to chisel a couple out, but the rest needed drilling out which causes more metal filing to be controlled/caught/hoovered/etc.

    Something I should have learned but haven’t
    I’m a hoarder. I need to learn to let it go.
    I kept thinking that the old ply lining might be useful as boards or as templates, so I kept hold of them. As the van is miles away from the house (36 steps and about 30m) and we don’t have much storage space anyway, they stayed in the van. This meant I was always shifting everything from side to side, doing half a job, waiting for things to dry and then doing the other half.
    Absolutely pointless and ultimately the ply was of no use. I really wish I’d got ride immediately. Same with the bulkhead and the double-seat (which also eventually ended up at the tip).

    —-

    With the floor clean, rust-free and clear, we then got under the van and marked on every obstruction on the floor.

    There isn’t much, but the chassis is like a ladder so marking the long rails and cross rails was important as well as the exhaust.


    (that’s the exhaust on the left with the cross rails in view)

    This is the bit that was most critical for us because we want to install an LPG tank under there (behind the exhaust) and bolt through the back seats just at the back of the sliding door opening (just behind the LPG tank location).

    Moses
    Member

    FYI: If you don’t have a spare wheel fitted, it’s possible to buy LPG tanks designed to fit the recess which a wheel would fit into.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    @Moses – yes, however as soooooo many Relay/Ducato/Boxers get converted into campers (diy and professional coachbuilders) there are kits made to fit just in this exact location.
    We’ve already fitted ours and I’ll do a post about it soon.

    Premier Icon granny_ring
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    Great thread OP.

    I was also thinking about the possible weight issues?

    500kg for 4 people, bikes and kit? Doesn’t sound enough?

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    No, you’re right. It’s tight. We’re a light family so we’ll be fine, but you definitely have to keep an eye on it.
    4 ebikes would be too much for example.

    If you go over, you can re-register it as heavier, but you need to upgrade to the ‘heavy’ suspension and youngsters can’t drive it without passing a different driving test.

    trail_rat
    Member

    If you go over, you can re-register it as heavier, but you need to upgrade to the ‘heavy’ suspension and youngsters can’t drive it without passing a different driving test.

    Only with certain vans.- is the ducato/relay/boxer one of them , I’ve not seen any 3750/4t versions for sale like you do with the mercs, dailys and masters And the different driving test is your truck test. It’s spendy.

    It’s worth fitting the hd suspension or better still airbags anyway as your less likely to get tugged for looking over weight which if your near 3500kg on standard suspension in something french youll always look overweight.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Mine’s the ‘heavy’ version already. Rear arches still look quite roomy (weighed at 2580kg last week half converted)

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Sound deadening

    This is one of those jobs that you kind of do because you can’t ever go back and do it later.

    Depending on the type of insulation you’re going to use it may not be necessary (spray foam for example, or maybe celotex stuck firmly to the van skin).

    It’s about £80 and takes half a day or so.
    I used one pack of this: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Silent-Coat-2mm-Bulk-Pk-40-Sheets-Car-Van-Sound-Deadening-Vibration-Proofing-Mat-/151155678947

    Here’s a video showing the before and after of a fairly badly ringing panel.

    As you can see, there’s no need to fill the panels. I used a mixture of full sheets and half sheets of the mats to cover the main panels, then went around tapping panels to see if there were any remaining ‘ringing’ panels. Many of the roof ribs go uninterrupted along quote a few ribs, so as soon as you deaden one bit, there’s no need to go over it all the way along.

    The rear wheel arches are somewhere where people recommend covering more than usual as a lot of road noise comes from there.

    One pack was just right. I’ve got a couple of sheets spare.

    Van Halen
    Member

    well done. I recon my next van will be one like this.

    I`ve just done a LWB vivaro crew cab conversion. i love it.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Sound deadening pt 2

    I’ve just remembered (because I spotted it in the photos when they posted above).
    As well as using the sound deadening mat, I also found all the bits of the van where ribs were bonded to skin or where two skins were meant to be bonded and ran a bead of Sikaflex (this time I was using the Sikaflex EBT+ you can buy in any toolstation/screwfix) along them. I did this before the deadening mat in a few places and it worked really well. I think there was a factory foam in a lot of these places, but it had often split, or wasn’t applied properly.

    Crap photos alert

    Premier Icon xraymtb
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    Just a note for anyone reading this and planning their own – I used adhesive flashing instead of the ‘proper’ sound deadening stuff on my van. Worked a treat and cost a lot less (under a tenner from memory).

    Premier Icon kayak23
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    I read about using flashing but a few folks said it ponged a bit, what with the bitumen.

    Have you found that?

    I bought the ‘proper’ stuff in the end but was tempted by flashing.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Actually – that mention of flash band reminds me of something else I learned (I was going to leave it until insulation, but I’ll mention it here.

    Everybody argues on the internet
    It’s not just that person a suggests one thing and person b suggests another, it’s that person b will say that person a’s solution will completely destroy your van and person a will say that person b’s solution will completely destroy your van 🙂

    Coming from a position of ignorance, this can mean you get stuck very easily.

    In the end, you have to trust your own judgement, make a decision and keep moving forward. It can be very tricky at times. Sometimes that means following someone’s build and copying. Sometimes that means making it up as you go along.

    It’ll probably be fine 🙂

    Premier Icon tillydog
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    I used Flash banding in ours (the genuine Bostick stuff) and it worked well – no smell, no problems with 40° heat in France this summer and very effective. (£20 for a 225mm wide x 10m roll from Toolstation)

    I wasn’t going to bother, but early in out build, I was in the van when it started to rain and couldn’t believe the racket.I tried to make a vijeo to show the difference (which it sort of does):

    As per the comment above – it’s very difficult to go back and do it later!

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Interesting about the rain tillydog. To be honest, I was mostly thinking about road noise while driving for ours, but that shows a massive difference.

    Premier Icon xraymtb
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    I read about using flashing but a few folks said it ponged a bit, what with the bitumen.

    Have you found that?

    Can’t say I noticed any smell whatsoever. Certainly not once it I installed insulation, boards, carpet etc. It did make a huge difference in road noise (I drove it for a few days without a bulkhead and fully stripped out – could barely hear myself at motorway speeds. Just adding the flashing and nothing else made a massive difference).

    Premier Icon tomaso
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    Looks like a great project and progress looks top notch.

    This is my tomaso’s XLWB Ducato project, also in part inspired by Matt’s highly skilled output.

    Mechanically my van has been great so far, but I have an intermittent fuelling problem and need to take it to a diesel specialist for a P0089 Fuel Pressure Valve sticking problem. Its been great for 20k miles and every vehicle you keep for a long time costs you money no matter what.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    @tomaso – are the photos still online anywhere?

    Projects look brilliant, well done all…..

    Premier Icon tomaso
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    Alex I’ll send you a link to the google photo album via direct message.

    Premier Icon Tiger6791
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    Can I also have link to images pls.

    All essential research

    Premier Icon duncancallum
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    Cough me too.

    Anyone looked at the Chinese diesel heaters.

    Where are you based I used to work for fiat professional so have some contacts

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    @duncancallum. Yes, I have looked at Chinese Diesel heaters – there’s a massive facebook group and I reckon I would do it for the price saving.
    But I decided to go with Gas as it’s a bit quieter and I need gas for cooking anyway.
    It’s a shame there isn’t a Chinese diesel cooker 🙂 at a similar cost saving.

    I’m near Macclesfield

    Premier Icon duncancallum
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    @alexsimon

    Shame got contacts over here.

    Google feather diesels they’re good chaps

    Premier Icon Tiger6791
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    Is the L4 worth the difference?

    Seems it’s only a foot longer

    ElShalimo
    Member

    the extra length will push you over 6m which makes ferries more expensive

    surfer
    Member

    Anyone looked at the Chinese diesel heaters.

    Staggeringly cheap compared to Erbespatcher(sp) and the reviews on the T6 forum seem to confirm that they are OK but for me there would be a nagging doubt about there safety given they dont adhere to EU/UK safety regs (as I understand it)

    Premier Icon tillydog
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    Is the L4 worth the difference?

    Seems it’s only a foot longer

    It is if you want to fit a shower / toilet at the back of the van – it’s ~360mm longer than the L3*, all of which is between the rear wheel arch and the back of the van. There’s precious little floor space there in the L2 or L3.

    (Also, the L3 is too big to fit into a standard parking space already, so the extra space of an L4 is not really any additional inconvenience.)

    Ours is an L2, btw.

    (*Assuming we’re still talking Boxer / Relay / Ducato vans)

    Re: Diesel heaters… If you want to avoid the Chinese heaters, have a look at Planar.

    I fitted a Planar 2D Russian made heater and it’s at least as good as the Eberspacher D2 we had previously for well under half the cost. Seems very well made (brushless fan motor, etc.) and seems very efficient. Full UK warranty and spares, etc. from PF Jones:

    https://www.pfjones.co.uk/planar-2d-12-tm-air-heater-12v.html?currency=GBP

    (N.B. some ebay sellers have cottoned on to this and are selling generic Chinese heaters as Planar now – they’re not the same).

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    @Tiger6791

    tillyog (Also, the L3 is too big to fit into a standard parking space already, so the extra space of an L4 is not really any additional inconvenience.)

    Actually I see a fair few L3s in normal spaces, whereas I haven’t to large it over 2 spaces.
    Also – as mentioned as soon as you go over 6m, there are extra restrictions on ferrys and chunnel (not that I’ve done either in it yet).

    So, rather than saying is the L4 worth it, I would say going for the smallest van you think you can fit everything in is sensible, even if it causes some headscratching. 4 people and 4 bikes aren’t going to fit in an L3 though.

    Premier Icon Tiger6791
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    My thinking is that the bikes will be on the outside if sleeping etc. With the ability to store inside if needed, ferrys or parked up.

    Premier Icon tillydog
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    I would say going for the smallest van you think you can fit everything in is sensible

    I’d definitely agree with that! (Hence L2, but there are only 2 of us… and 4 bikes 🙂 ) I have no regrets – it’s worked out very well.

    For us, the whole point of converting the van was to keep the bikes inside, but YMMV, etc.

    See, I’m the other way round. I have an L2 boxer for work and an L3 camper, If doing again I’d have probably gone L4 camper to give more bed and garage space in my design.

    I was scratching for mm’s when building, no space wasted at all. I wanted toilet and shower cube and the garage had to house all of the kit and bikes, can get 6 in but I have to take both wheels off every time which is a bit of an arse ache. However I wanted all the kit locked inside so it was a compromise worth making, had a T5 before and bikes had to go on a rack and I was never happy leaving it unattended or over night.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    Solar setup

    Before insulating the ceiling, I wanted to fit the solar panel. I’d wire it later, but to make the decision, you kind of have to decide EVERYTHING – which is a right pain. Anyway….

    Early on in the planning, I found out that domestic solar panels are much cheaper than the smaller ones you get for vans/boats/etc.

    Lots of people put them on vans and a single panel can be around 300W for around £100-140

    But obviously they are big and required specific placement of my rooflights.

    There are loads around the same size/price/power, but depending on what solar controller you’re going to use, some may be too high volts (as they tend not to be 12V)

    There was also some debate as to whether my van (Euro 5) came with a smart alternator or not.
    Smart alternators mean that you can’t use a simple split charge system to charge the leisure battery from the alternator. They need a more sophisticated and expensive B2B charging system.

    (note: As it happens, since this, I’ve come to the conclusion that these vans don’t have a smart alternator unless they also have stop/start – but check!)

    Sooooo. With both the panel voltage in mind AND the B2B system in mind, I decided to go with a B2B charger with a solar controller included.
    I bought everything from Bimble Solar

    Ring RSCDC30 B2B Charger
    Solar panel 300W JA All Black
    Solar accessories Brackets, Cable, Gland, etc

    For a total of £418

    The brackets and panel frame come undrilled, so you have to work out how to attach them to each other and the roof.
    I personally didn’t fancy sticking them with glue, so I nut and bolted everything.

    First, I made sure the brackets were going to sit ok on flat pieces of the van roof. All good.

    Then attached the brackets to the frame. Quite exacting work.

    I used 2 stainless M5 bolts per bracket (4 brackets) with washers.

    Then drilled the brackets where they were going to go through the roof. I can’t remember what M size I used here, maybe stainless M6

    Then added those sticky zip tie pads to route the cables neatly

    Then lifted it onto the roof, drew through the holes with a marker pen, drilled the holes and then touched them up with the usual Upon/Hamerite process.

    Then applied the non-setting mastic to the areas where the brackets were going to sit. I didn’t want water sitting here. Quite a lot of mastic used!

    This is the bolt from the inside – big washer and as this was close to a sloped bit of metal, we spaced it out with a bit of ply.
    I smeared mastic all around top and bottom of the holes before inserting the bolts.

    All good!

    Last job was to drill out the holes for the wires (using a box inside to catch the bits again).

    Thread the cables through glands and stick the box down. I’m only using glue for this bit, so good old Sikaflex to the rescue.

    Totally forgot to get a good pic of the completed roof 🙁

    BTW – I haven’t installed any of the electrics yet, so can’t even comment on whether the solar panel works, or anything about the Ring unit, etc.

    Premier Icon spacey
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    Drilling the roof is horrible isn’t it! Don’t get me wrong, you’ve done a lovely job. I just hate that moment when you’re going to put a hole in the solid roof and bring in potential leaks. That is a hefty bit of solar, top job.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
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    @spacey – yes, the whole thing up to this point was unnerving!
    But I have to say (if I haven’t already) – take things slowly, measure twice, have a cup of tea then measure again and look up some simple techniques on forums and it’s surprising how straightforward everything was!

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