XLWB Campervan build – what I’m learning
The floor is pretty straightforward.
I fancied 25mm celotex (I haven’t used celotex on the rest of the van because I don’t like the dust, but on the floor it’s all straight cuts that I can do very cleanly with a knife and by folding to break).
Unfortunately, 25mm timber is pretty hard to find, as it’s usually planed down to 21mm. The cheapest option is to buy roof battens. usually either red or blue tanalised (but don’t seem to be heavily pressure treated compared to tanalised 2x4s).
As I already know where the furniture is going from the layouts above, I judged where the battens should go. Mid-point of the walkways, just behind the front edge of the kitchen and side-bunk. Then split them into roughly 40mm centres) definitely not exact – much better to position them usefully.
I stuck all this down with Sikaflex EBT+
Then filled in the gaps with 25mm Celotex
Then foil taped over all the joints. For some reason I haven’t got a pic of this, but you can see the rearmost batten taped over in this shot. It was all sealed over.
Beware – some foil tapes aren’t actually foil, but silvered plastic.
We fancied a step behind the front seats. 1. To create more storage and 2. to give somewhere for your feet to go when the front seats are swivelled. To give enough room to get onboard from the side door, this had to taper.
Just made with pocket joints and 21mm planed timber. Height matches the height of the back edge of the grey plastic trim. The top will be scribed to go around the seat legs.
Then we started to lay the flooring. We decided on outdoor cladding ply in 12mm thickness after doing a test with some 9mm. Could have got away with 9mm, but decided the weight difference wasn’t worth it. It’s pretty heavy stuff though 🙁
This is screwed with countersunk screws into the wooden battens. Plan is to put some tough vinyl down over the top.
This pic shows where we’ve left a service channel behind the rear seats. This will take all the electrics and gas pipes from one side of the van to the other. I can’t see how you’d do it well otherwise. We’ll leave access to this as long as possible.
You can see some of the conduit sticking out where it’s going to connect the main leisure battery location to the kitchen side of the van.
This shows the markings on the floor where the rear seats are going to go, but I’ll do the seats in another post.Posted 1 year ago
Awesome stuff keep it coming 👍👍Posted 1 year ago
Enjoying your updates…keep em coming.Posted 1 year ago
Cheers! I’ll try!Posted 1 year ago
Gas tank pt.1
Before finally attaching the floor above, we made sure we’d drilled as many of the holes through the floor as we could.
We’re not going to bother with underfloor water tanks, but we are going to have LPG under there.
GasIt do some nice (if expensive) kits and I ummed and ahhhed for ages about diesel heaters vs gas, etc, etc.
Anyway – in the end we decided to go the Propex route and run that and the cooker from the same underslung LPG tank.
To keep the warranty you have to spray the tank with anti-chip paint which is pretty horrible stuff. It says sticky for ages (maybe even still). So we masked off the important bits and got spraying outside with a cardboard booth.
I think we gave it a few coats.
Once dried, we fitted the brackets and measured everything to work out where it might go.
Got drilling (with paint protection as usual)
As you can see, it’s pretty roomy under the van
This kit comes with long standoffs to keep access to the nuts easy.
One change from normal.
Because we have the rear seats, we decided to keep them apart a bit one floor rib towards the sliding door.
Unfortunately this decision made it so that some of the pipes supplied with the kit weren’t long enough 🙁
I’ll have to fix that sometime, but for now we’ve got the tank where we want it and can continue with the floor.Posted 1 year ago
If you haven’t already sited your regulator, amkensure you can easily reach it. ours is a bit of a stretch and it’s a bit of a pain when turning up for the tunnel and they insist on it being turned off for travel.Posted 1 year ago
I spent ages trying to find a direct bolt on ‘drivesafe’ regulator to remove the ‘weak link’ of high pressure pigtail under the van and that also has a crash sensor shut off. After I fitted it they changed the regs so you are meant to fit a remote regulator with a pigtail…so I could have just bought any old one!Posted 1 year ago
Thanks – no I haven’t positioned anything yet.Posted 1 year ago
Obviously , my notes above don’t fully reflect the weeks and weeks of agonising over all these decisions – bonded vs caravan windows, celotex vs thermoliner vs wool vs pet bottle insulation, gas vs diesel heater, etc, etc, etc
The more you research, the more confused you get in some cases!
Amen to that! Spent 6 months thinking and planning and was still making decisions on the hoof sometimes, mostly good but some I would have revised with hindsight.Posted 1 year ago
Does anyone want a step for their van? We’ve got one we no longer need.
It’s like the one below, hardly used and free to a good home. Must collect from West Yorkshire (HX4)
Posted 1 year ago
I’m looking to do a similar conversion on an L2H2 Relay (without the garage) and am debating between diesel, probably Planar 2kW, or gas heating. I’d be interested to know what made you go for gas in the end? Is it because the gas heater is quieter? This is my main concern about choosing a diesel heater, as we prefer to stay on more tent orientated campsites than caravan sites. If we did go for diesel though, then as we’d only need gas for cooking we were thinking we could get away with a much smaller gas cylinder, so it probably wouldn’t be worth the expense of fitting an underslung gas tank. Any thoughts on the subject appreciated!Posted 1 year ago
I’ve had both. I have had several Ebers, granted they did not have the optional exhaust silencer fitted, but they were noisy, often come with a 1 hour max timer, and they use a glowplug whilst running (I think it stays on all the time) so uses a fair few amps as well as diesel.
The propex in comparison is fairly quiet without needing a silencer, peizo ignition so it only really uses power for the fan, and the control is designed to stay on 24/7 if required, it can cycle on and off at will to maintain the set temperature.
Underslung gas tank is expensive but the main reason I chose it is the space saving, mine is around 30 litres and it lasts ages, I probably squeeze a 10-15 litre top up into it twice a year.Posted 1 year ago
Thanks Spooky. I hadn’t thought about the electrical power requirements, but yes, if the Propex takes a lower current that would also be a benefit.Posted 1 year ago
Ebers do use a fair bit of power to get started but not once running, the glow plug is only used for start up. They keep burning very low and ramp up as requested by the control. Diesel use is negligible tbh. Buying new the 1hr limit won’t be a problem and buying second hand you can replace the controller.
It sounds like a jet engine on startup but quietens right down, not as quiet as gas though.
Personally I chose to use a diesel heater and a spirit cooker to avoid having to fit gas.Posted 1 year ago
Yes, noise was definitely a consideration, but it also came down to ease of install of tank under the floor, the fact I’d tried a diesel cooker and didn’t think it would suit a family of 4. Once I’d made the gas cooker decision it was easier to pick gas heating too.
I made the decision when the Chinese diesel heaters were still a bit of an unknown (and around £200) compared to the current situation.Posted 1 year ago
Also, if I was doing a 2-berth or 1-berth, I’d definitely consider the diesel cooker option – expensive, but much safer than gas and all other options end up expensive anyway.
I’ve got an Eber for heating and an underslung LPG tank running the hob, oven, water heater and bbq points.
I chose them as I wanted to keep the heating and the other stuff separate. Now, choosing again I might have ditched the Eber and run a Truma combo system, but at the time they were just released and very expensive, they also nicked a fair bit of space I couldn’t afford to give up.
My Eber is under a false floor so takes up no space in the van, and works very well when needed.
I’d always use an underslung LPG system as I’m very happy with it and once paid for it’s only the refill’s that are cheap and again, it takes up no valuable space inside the van.Posted 1 year ago
I need to get a post written about insulation and then one about the seats.Posted 1 year ago
I thought I would have loads of time over Christmas, but nope!
Awesome work! Surprised this almost passed me by, but I’m glad I spotted it.
And timely, too…
Need to sell my T5 LWB as I’ve out grown it. Too many compromises regarding storage, cooking, sleeping, parking up with the roof up and obviously the bikes.
Currently looking at Ducatos. Across the border in Italy they are about 5-6K cheaper than here in Germany. 21k€ would get me a new L3H2 in silver with cruise control, reversing camera and fancy radio. In Germany the same motor in white would be around 27k€.
Looking at what you’Re doing and thinking whether the GF and I need a L3, but then again, why not…? Bikes, fixed bed, decent cooking area (possibly a stove unit that is removable so we can cook outside), plus slouchy lounge seating. Shit and shower outside or at amenities.
I’ve got a Gasit tank fitted to my T5 purely to save space. Never got round to fitting a heater.
Maybe fitting one on the new van might make sense (cost of refills and space saving), but I want to be able to cook outside.
Anyways… enough of my rambling.
Top work!Posted 1 year ago
Yep, L3 is a pretty easy-to-live-with size. If it’s just the two of you, that’s what I’d go for. Personally, having bikes inside is the only way to go.
List price for these vans is silly money, but there always seem to be pre-registered ones around the £15000+VAT mark here in the UK.Posted 1 year ago
Updates?Posted 1 year ago
Sorry – been super-busy.
Still need to catch this thread up with:
- Ply lining
- Rear seats
(BTW, before doing this, make sure you know where wires are running and what the ply lining is fixing to – I’ll cover that in the ply lining post)
Right – here goes.
There are lots of arguments about insulation. Not just the best way to do it, but some people will argue that your way of doing it will disintegrate your van in mere minutes 🙂
So I’m not going to give out advice. I’m just going to describe my reasoning.
I did it in 3 layers:
- 1. Thin foam against the van skin
- 2. Thick dacron/plastic loft insulation in the middle
- 3. Vapour barrier on the inside – under the ply
1. Thin foam against the van skin
I fancied something right up against the van skin, to stop condensation forming against the metal.
I wanted this thermoliner (you can buy it from a few places). But on my van it was going to cost about £300 I think.
So I chose this XPEMP alternative as it worked out at about £108.
It’s fine as a product, but the adhesive isn’t as good, so after watching it unpeel, I faced up to the fact I had to buy some high-temp spray adhesive to fix it in place. It’s annoying, because on some places it sticks really well, but unless you can hold it firmly in place for ages, it never really gets a grip, so everywhere there was a radius, it didn’t really work. By all accounts, the genuine thermoliner is better, so I kind of regret it.
Anyway – once spray-adhesived, it’s all good and strong. It took a couple of cans at £5 a can, so it didn’t impact the costs too much – just time.
I also thought this would be useful in some areas where I didn’t really want the thickness of the full 3 layers. I could double-up and it would still only 10mm thick.
This is what it looks like next to the window frames (you can see the blind attached to the frame here too.
This is the ceiling – this is after I’d thought through the ply lining attachment blocks and a bit of electrical routing.
2. Thick dacron/plastic loft insulation in the middle
After hearing horror stories about fibreglass and not really wanting to do lots of cutting of kingspan/celotex stuff due to asthma/dust, I decided to use a mixture of 35mm Dacron and B&Q Recycled PET bottle insulation.
I needed 2 rolls of each.
This was one of the most satisfying parts of the build as it really quetened it down, smooths everything out and gave a nice homely look 🙂
It’s also pretty quick and is doable for one person.
Again, I used the high-temp spray adhesive. 4 cans for this job.
3. Vapour barrier on the inside – under the ply
This covers a lot of things up, so take some photos like this with tape measures in place and also draw on the surface any batons, blocks, hazzards, etc.
For this job, I chose to use the silver bubble insulation stuff. I don’t think it adds much insulation, but it is easy to work with, seems pretty puncture-proof and gives a bit of padding between the ply and van studs, etc and the whole lot was available from toolstation for about £70.
To make installation easier, I put double-sided carpet tape on the wider bits of van ribs. It also helped to have an extra pair of hands.
Foil tape over all the seams. Make sure it’s genuine foil as there are some silvered plastic tapes masquerading!
I haven’t really finished the over-the-cab area yet, but that can wait.Posted 1 year ago
I also haven’t done beyond stage 2 on the sliding door and rear doors. Still deciding on those.
Forgot to mention. I did the floor insulation after the walls, and the celotex was surprisingly clean to cut with a kife/snap method. It’s pretty cheap too.
If I were to do it again, I’d consider doing the walls like this maybe.
Also – I haven’t really tested the insulation so can’t make any claims about its effectiveness, but to be honest when I was in 30-degrees last week of last August, it was pretty bloody scorching in the van. Who knows what it was like for others 🙂
Main problem seemed to be that there is such a large front area of glass. When we bought some thermal screens to put on the inside during the day when parked, it seemed make an absolutely massive difference.Posted 1 year ago
Ply lining next!Posted 1 year ago
Busy working on the step behind the front seats and I think if I were to do it again, I’d change style completely to something like this.
Higher, open backed (for just stuffing things under) and a continuous floor. Fixed top.
Mine’s become a right time-suckPosted 1 year ago
A lot of MPVs have lidded cubby holes in the in front of the middle row of seats. Could that be an option for storage in the step? Though probably means faffing with hinges etc.Posted 1 year ago
What do you mean about doing the floor insulation after the walls? From what I can work out in the photos you’ve already done the floor some posts earlier?
Also Celotex being the rigid board insulation stuff?Posted 1 year ago
“What do you mean about doing the floor insulation after the walls? ”
I’d done the plastic insulation in the walls before I put the celotex in the floor and saw what it was like to work with. So I kind of wish I’d used celotex throughout. Especially as I found trade prices at Travis Perkins were so cheap for the stuff. Although maybe not. Just thought I’d mention it.
Even though you can see the floor in earlier posts, you can also see the insulation was done.
Post order doesn’t really reflect much other than perhaps my recommended order to do things 🙂
The reason for waiting for doing the floor was because all sorts of decisions about the rear seats were being made and also gas/battery location, etc. So I cracked on with the walls in spare moments.
Yes – celotex is just a brand – Kingspan, etc. I think the generic name is PIRPosted 1 year ago
@FB-ATB – yes, I’ve put hinged hatches in now, but we decided to insulate it and line it, so it’s proving a bit of a complex project. I should have planned better, but with all things van-related it’s very tricky to weigh up the pros and cons before you actually get stuck in!Posted 1 year ago
After many ditherings it was finally time to commit to a cladding style.
I was determined to have a nice radius curve at the top corners, but I knew it was going to be tricky and my wife thinks I’m mad for not just getting the van ready quicker. Ah well.
Another decision was what to do with the window surrounds. Lots of options – you can clad to the window and then attach the blinds on the inside of the cladding which is pretty neat but sticks out into the room a bit. I decided to take the less-easy approach (never!) and make a frame that snugly fits around the blind, then clad up to it. Any gap will be covered with some ply edging later.
It was a bit of a faff – trying to keep it lightweight meant 6mm ply, but you can’t screw that together in that, so I got these brackets and drilled holes in them that let the blind sandwich them with the window. Shortest screws ever!
Did the vapour barrier up to the frames and tucked and taped them
Then carefully measured the walls so we could poke these frames through the cladding.
We decided not to attached the cladding directly to any metal. Choosing instead to sikaflex batons and blocks all over the van at key points to allow woodscrews to attach the 6mm Birch Ply panels. (pics from before the vapour barrier).
This all went really well. There are some bits of van rib still showing. At some point I’ll make a box to go over these.
Now – for the ceiling!
I’ll admit – this nearly broke me. My determination to get the curves meant a lot of work and it’s mostly unnecessary
During this process we had some failures which wasted whole panels (they’ll get use for bits and bobs instead).
The plan was to kerf-cut the ply, so that it fitted the curves of the van. Lots of track-saw cuts along the back, leaving just the single face ply on the visible side.
56 cuts per side per piece! Thank goodness for my track saw.
First try was to get a single sheet to go all the way from one wall to the other.
But manoeuvring it into position was just too hard. We snapped the delicate ply as we were trying to get it into position. Nearly gave up on this as our Summer holiday was looming.
After discussing with a couple of friends (who agree with my wife about the madness of this plan), we decided to do the van in two halves with a split line down the middle of the ceiling. Easier to manoeuvre, and less to sacrifice if it goes wrong. We also sponged warm water onto the ply just before fitting to help the fibres swell and become more flexible.
Not shown was the fact we left the panels too long down the sides deliberately as it was impossible to measure. Then we had the most stressful track saw cut ever while it was on the wall to trim it to meet the lower panel!
5 panels in total (it’s not a curve above the sliding door)
Oh poo – it went wrong on the last one and we decided to leave that one until another time as we needed a garage to be able to go on holiday.
What happened was the track saw stop must have slipped as I was doing the 56 cuts and it cut too deep on the last few – you could see light through it 🙂
We tried to fit it anyway and failed miserably. Kept it as a template for doing the replacement. (still not done btw but is the next thing on my list).
Garage next…Posted 1 year ago
Top effortPosted 1 year ago
Great. Love that you persisted with the curved panels.Posted 1 year ago
Just a quick comment to say love this thread 👍
Keep it comingPosted 1 year ago
@towpathman Thanks! Me too – although today I’m meant to be fitting the last panel and I’m feeling very apprehensive. Not least because of all the noise for my long-suffering neighbours as I cut those damn 56 slots!Posted 1 year ago
Somewhere in all of this, I swapped out the double bench seat for a single and fitted CTA swivels (seem sturdy and good, but raise the seats by 40mm which I find a little uncomfortable and another reason why I wish I’d made the step behind them higher).
Easiest job on the van so far! 2 bolts to take the seats out. 2 bolts back in. 16 bolts for the swivels.
Only slightly tricky part was that the seat belt didn’t fit in the clip, so I used the angle-grinder to make it match the drivers one and then it fitted no problem.
Unlike Mike_D, my bench seat didn’t have seatbelt pretensioners, so when I tried to connect my new one the light came on the dash, but I couldn’t just fix it by adding a resistor like Mike did. So I just left it unconnected.
Price of seats has shot up over the last couple of years. When I first started looking, they were £250 new, but now £400+. Second hand ones go for silly money. I was lucky and after having a saved search on ebay for 6 months, I got one about 40 miles away for £100 on a ‘Buy It Now’. It doesn’t match, but I don’t care. I can always buy some covers. Felt like I’d won the Lottery that day!
If I were doing it again, I’d either modify a driver’s seat (a few examples have popped up since), or I’d get some seats from another vehicle and adjust them to fit. Galaxy seats seem popular and have built-in swivels. At the time, I hadn’t really worked in metal or welded, so I was nervous, but since making the rear seats, I’m a bit more confident and have a mate who knows what he’s doing.
Posted 1 year ago
(don’t know why the one sock)
Impressive build. In one of the window photos taken directly on, I wondered for a while why there was an oversized pair of grungy red y-fronts hanging outside….!Posted 1 year ago
For me, swivels were a huge part of the design. I’ve always felt like they would really open up the interior and provide a more flexible seating space for us.
Even though they cost a lot more than I think they should, I’m really happy with them and when we went on holiday, we used them all the time. As our driver’s side rear seat can be made into a sofa, sometimes we didn’t need to have any other seating. We didn’t have a table on our holiday, so that might change things.Posted 1 year ago
The garage was pretty straightforward. The framing was a nice quick win for a change!
Obviously when we clad it, we took ages trying to get the fit accurate 🙂
Lots of that lightweight roofing slat timber (only thing I could find that was 25mm thick to match the celotex).
We put the verticals where we thought it would be good go have garage shelf supports.
Mostly we just pocket-holed into the ply and floor, but at the middle sides you can see two places we thought it would be good to put some stronger fixings, so we self-tapped (self-drilling actually) two big screws into metal here. Eventually it will be supported by lots of bed structures, so no need to overdo it.
We left a hatch at wheel-arch width so that we can extend the garage under the rear breadthwise bed. As well as bikes, we’ll need storage for an inflatable canoe and other chunky items.
Filled with 25mm Celotex
Then began the labourious job of scribing, templating and adjusting the cladding to fit as well as we could. It’s pretty good. Within 2mm all around. It’s all 6mm Birch ply again.
Then we got some cheap twin-slot shelf thingies from Toolstation to place the shelf and did a bit of experimentation with bike placement.
Phew – I found a way to fit them all. Non-dropper seat posts are a pain! My garage is 600mm deep and it’s plenty for 4 bikes and pedals and even a mudguard to stay on my Bird.
Yes, it’s a real shame to block off all that lovely light and views from the rest of the van. No, I couldn’t find another way to do it 🙁
All you 2-berthers will not have to do this and I envy you 🙂
We’ll just have to park so that the sliding door faces all the good views.
Next (and it might be a while) is the rear seats…Posted 1 year ago
BTW – I didn’t try, but I reckon I can get 6 bikes in at a push. 5 is the actual goal, so I can take an MTB for each of us and my CX bike as well.Posted 1 year ago
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