XLWB Campervan build – what I’m learning
Love it! Keep up the good work old chap.Posted 1 year ago
Top work.Posted 1 year ago
Thanks for the support! Good opportunity for some progress at the moment!Posted 1 year ago
Loving your work. cant help but marvel at your work ethic. I’d have given up ages ago.Posted 1 year ago
If you’re ever looking for cheap swivel seats then Eurovan 2s (Cit C8, Pug 807, Fiat Ulysse) go for about £250 non running and anything that isn’t base spec has them. If I ever scrap mine I’ll bear that fact in mind.Posted 1 year ago
On the seat, have you considered a car based seat, perhaps maybe something out of a 2 door coupe/convertible?Posted 1 year ago
I have fitted some Z4 seats to the front of my van on swivel bases. They ended up being a bargain.
I picked them up for £80, cream leather with a few marks but tied them up and made a profit on selling the original transit seats (which were to be fair in mint condition). I didn’t get on with the originals as they gave me back ache on anything over an hour. The new seats are way better.
@squirrelking – interesting! There are soooo many posts on facebook about different options. I guess they are only ever going to need a simple plate with 8 holes in to adapt – worst case!
@alanf – I have to say, I was a little nervous of adapting seats, but probably needn’t have been. Also – I find the stardard seats really comfy. No problem with a 8 hour drive last summer.
Anyway – I was lucky with my £100 find, but anyone planning on doing the same will probably have to either fork out or get creative as you suggest!Posted 1 year ago
Rear seats. Part 1
Let’s see if I can remember all the steps!
If you remember, on the original plan we had 2 seats, against the side walls with a corridor down the middle.
Then there is a separate ‘infill’ piece which lives on one of the single beds.
When the seats pull forward, they make 2 benches and the infill can be used as a sofa back.
Or put in the middle to make a bed.
We had a few designs on the go, but eventually settled on one that was strong enough to take the seat belt points at the sides and use the c-pillar mounts for the top reel.
The split you can see on the seat back, is so that it can separate and the kitchen can be extended if required (haven’t designed the kitchen yet).
This has (we discovered after making them) the added benefit of making a 2/3 length bench in front of the sliding door, allowing 2 people to sit and access in and out of the van simultaneously. Win! Also, the removed part of the back sits nicely behind as a seat back for one person. Double-win!
Those stubby legs out front slide forward and sit on top of the step.
We decided to bolt the frame to the van floor and lay wood around it. I think if I were to do it again, I’d be a bit more confident of putting the seat frame on top of the floor and bolting through. It would be been a lot more convenient and less of a cold bridge. Doesn’t matter too much though I don’t think.
So we did everything in CAD as best we could. Obviously it takes a bit of faffing to work out bed width, height for sitting, angle of back, seat/infill width proportions, whether you can get drawer slides strong enough, etc, etc. Even after we thought we sorted all this out there were still a few gotchas which had to be worked around – more later…
Then I took the plunge and ordered some metal!
This is my first metal work project since the days of education and I don’t have many tools for it, so I ordered it all cut-to-length.
£160 for the steel (including stainless for the spreader plates)
£110 for a double mattress from ikea
£71 for the 120kg 700mm full extension drawer slides.
£54 for 1 sheet of 12mm birch ply.
£66 for the seat belts
£84 for the main fabric
£15 for velcro
£6.75 for zips
Plus lots of stainless bolts, door mechanisms, bits and bobs
Total came to £654 + powder coating
A friend has a MIG welder he uses on car bodies, so I decided to give it a crack!
The hardest part is holding things in place and avoiding warping. I should have bought some magnetic right-angles, but didn’t.
Then you try and weld opposite sides, so that the warping goes one way and then hopefully back the other.
Makeshift setup. The angle-grinding to clean the weld points is very messy and noisy. Glad I was on a farm in the middle of nowhere!
My welding wasn’t the best, but with all 4 sides of every box welded I felt confident of overall strength.
In retrospect, I think the extension cable we were using wasn’t quite up to the job. When I went back to finish a couple of bits, we plugged it straight into the wall and it went a bit better.
After 3 mornings, I had one base done!
Another 2 mornings and the other one was done and we placed in van to get a feel
Another 2 mornings and they had some top frames and some extra bits to fit the door catches!
Took everything home to do all the drilling.
Took some effort. Not all drill locations made it easy to apply force. I bought some cutting oil to help things along. The 4mm angle really took some effort.
Fitted the drawer slides.
We decided to try and make 2 seating positions – one reclined, so I cut two holes in that stainless bit with the slope on it (only one shown in the photo).
Dry fitted in the van and marked out the floor positions so I could make cutouts.
Then tested so I could chop the front legs to the right height.
Part 2 coming soon…Posted 1 year ago
Forgot to mention, in that photo up there…
You can see the welding trolley my eldest and I made to say thank you for lending the welder (and workshop space and advice).
Did it on my newly self-built CNC router, so was pretty pleased with it. It’s still going strong (a year later), but needs modifying to take a larger gas bottle.Posted 1 year ago
Really cracking on. I’m 3 months into mine (Boxer, but still L4H2). I like your design, I went for the bed across the back over the garage, really pleased with it TBf as the garage is massive (maybe a bit to massive), I’d probably take a bit off it if I do it again. I was after getting 4 bikes in and I can easily do that.
Your seat construction is very impressive, I cheated and when for the Ford Tourneo seas option. It’s a lot easier to do, but comes with its own restrictions on where you can fit it and how much room they take up raised the height with box section to meet the swivel front seats.
It’s a bit of a god send in the current lockdown. Gives me something to slip away and do. Although the first planned trip to Norway in July is now unlikely I guess and I have a few road blocks with parts (I’d be well stuffed without Amazon) and a bit of help with bits, but plenty to do.
I’d offer to race you to the finish, but I don’t think you every completely finish them.
Enjoy.Posted 1 year ago
Yes, exactly – where would you draw the finish line!
We’ve had a holiday at least 🙂 This lockdown has definitely taken the pressure off – we were going to go away this second Easter week to Wales, but it’s nice to be able to assume that it’s not getting used so I can take it apart a bit to complete some of the jobs.
Is yours 4 berth? If so I’d be interested to see how you got the other 2 berths in – massive challenge!Posted 1 year ago
Getting 2 extra beds in kept me awake at night for weeks, literally. I was always thinking something in the cab for my daughter, I’d seen a few designs in that area and something around their seats for the lad. She’s 12 and about 5’2, he’s 15, currently 5’10 and probably heading close to 6’.
In the end I realised that the van isnt going to be used too much for long (over a weekend) breaks (apart from this summer), so I’ve just gone for a cabbunk (goes on your swivel seats, if you’ve not seen them) for her (hoping she doesn’t get above 5’6) and I‘ve fitted their seat back far enough and stopped the kitchen, so I could get an airbed length ways in front of them. Not the elegant solution I had tried to envisage, but looks like it’s going to work surprisingly well.Posted 1 year ago
Sounds like a good way to do it without all the hassle I’ve been through 🙂
I’m trying to see it as more of a hobby than just needing the end result. Some of it is fun at least and I’m really learning a lot.
My sons are already 6’2 and 5’7 (still growing), and I also want to be able to use it as a bike holiday van for myself and 2 friends, so I decided on full-length beds.
I’m not sure I trust my mates to look after it in the way I would though lol.Posted 1 year ago
Without wanting to piss on your chips how confident are you that those welds would hold in an impact? It’s all well and good having an anchor point for a seat belt but if the seat itself falls to bits it’s useless. I’m no welder myself but I’ve seen professional welds rejected at the radiography stage.
On the other hand, probably better to bolt directly to the floor for the same reasons, if it was floating on wood and the floor shifted then the bolt has room to bend and flex.Posted 1 year ago
It’s all well and good having an anchor point for a seat belt but if the seat itself falls to bits it’s useless.
Well, the only really important point is the 3 seat belt mount points. As I mentioned above (or I think I did), putting the seat belt points through the floor would have probably been a more conservative way to do it.
I’ve inspected the Wildax and Autosleeper seats in person and looked a pictures of loads more and decided that this meets or exceeds those in terms of design at least.
In terms of welds – yes, that is another story and I tested a couple of bits to make sure I feel they are strong enough. At the end of the day, you have to decide this for yourself and I’m comfortable with it. ymmv.Posted 1 year ago
I’m trying to see it as more of a hobby than just needing the end result. Some of it is fun at least and I’m really learning a lot.
Same for me really, Ive wanted to build one for years, but Mrs hasn’t fancies it. But the last year or so the children have started doing Tri’s and cyclocross (as well as all the other stuff) and every event you go to there are loads of campervans. One day we where sitting in another muddy field for 8 hours and she asked what I wanted for my 50th, I said campervan and she said “sounds like a good idea”, happy days.
I’m loving building it and like you learning new skills all the time. I’m “okay” at DIY, played with cars a lot in my youth and an electrical engineer by trade (we’ll I was about 30 years ago). But this is so much more. YouTube has been invaluable, but it’s a rabbit hole you disappear down for days on end.
Starting the kitchen units this week. Gone for a track saw to try and get my cuts straighter.
Are you going for DVLA re classification?Posted 1 year ago
Are you going for DVLA re classification?
Probably wont bother as I don’t want stickers and wasn’t planning on an awning. I’m fine with the speed limits and my insurance is £320 anyway, so I don’t think there’s a lot to gain.
I was going to originally, before all the changes.
Gone for a track saw to try and get my cuts straighter.
Mine has been invaluable. As soon you get it, you wish you’d had it years ago. That and a good shop vac.
played with cars a lot in my youth
That’s one thing completely missing from my experience and something that does terrify me slightly when I know how much work I’ve put into the innards. Thankfully I’ve got a couple of good mechanics that I trust locally.
Somebody asked what I would do if someone nicked it. I nearly cried imagining it 🙁Posted 1 year ago
Just realised, I’ve completely missed out electrics. I’ll try and gather photos together.Posted 1 year ago
Rear seats. Part 2
Time to start building these metal bases into actual seats!
We were in a mad rush to go on holiday, so not as many photos as some bits.
We had all the seat sizes in the CAD, so I cut them all out of 12mm Birch ply.
They weighed a lot and would probably stop our mattresses breathing, so I cut millions of holes in them.
I made a paper template of the pattern (from CAD) and bradawled all the points in and cut them all with a Wickes holesaw.
The odd pattern on the left is because that’s the seat back that separates into 2 sections to leave room to extend the kitchen.
We placed them roughly into the van to measure how long the seat belt clip straps needed to be and started planning what model of seat belt to go for.
One annoying discovery was that even though there are seat belt mounts in the c-pillar at the top, there isn’t really a specific place for the reel at the bottom. So I had to decide whether to mount the reel at the top, or put some kind of spreader plate and custom mount at the bottom.
After umming and ahhing for a while we decided to buy:
Securon 254 top which has a top retractor and a floppy strap for the buckle (some have a more rigid wire, but the lengths just didn’t seem to match and I wasn’t sure if they would get out of the way of the bed as easily.
Meanwhile, my wife set to work on the upholstery. We got some fabric from a local fent shop (after much deliberation natch) and my eldest wrote a programme (he’s a bit bonkers like that) to determine the least amount of fabric we needed and the fewest cuts! £84 – you could buy some nice wood for that!
The mattress is a brand new double from Ikea that we chopped up and wrapped in wadding:
Meanwhile 2: The seats came back from the powder coaters. We couldn’t decide on colour, so when they said they had some cheap matt grey left over, I went for that. Total cost for soda blasting and coating was £80.
So I did a final fit of all the rails, catches, etc. I also made the supports for the infill section of the bed. This uses the same fixing holes as the drawer runner and has a bit that sticks out beyond the seat and is slightly higher than it. Very rounded corners so that we don’t hurt ourselves on this. The seat belt clip strap neatly fits through this and flops over the side. Phew!
Our living room was temporarily unavailable!
Seat belt strapping (actually cut from the double seat from the van before we chucked it) is stapled to the back and base with just the right amount of gap to leave room for the mattress
And velcro is stapled to the bases and sewn onto the cushions
Infill used as a sofa back.
We 3D printed some inserts into the bottom of the legs with a captive nut so that we could screw some ebay feet into it to make it adjustable.
And quickly slapped some card into the middle to make some under-seat storage!
We also 3D printed a door knob to release the seat catch and some end caps for the box section.
This pic shows the way the two back panels slide together.
For our first trip we secured a wooden structure between the c-pillars to support the backs.
As a lucky accident, we realised that the top section of the passenger seat back slotted down between the sliding door and the seat to proved a seat back there too! (I’ll try and get a pic of this sometime)Posted 1 year ago
A photo or two of the the unforseen goodness (was quite useful on our first couple of trips):
Posted 1 year ago
We quickly framed up the rear transverse bunk, added slats and placed a mattress below that (in the final position but on the floor)
(son #2 didn’t want this photo posted)
Then we went on holiday! For a week on the Northumberland Coast
It was ace!
Things we learnt:
– Transverse bed is only just long enough for me to be comfortable.I preferred to be diagonal. Oops – I’ll have to get used to that.
– Van drives great, although noisy with windows down in 30-degree heat.
– Also in 30-degree heat the Air Con was a bit pants – just not enough for an open bulkhead maybe. Not sure. It was fine when I bought the van with the bulkhead in.
– Also in 30-degree heat and sun, the front windows are the main problem, with silver screens in place whenever stationary, it was pretty good. Especially with the rooflights open. Driving was a bit hot though.
– Rear seats were really comfy for the boys – phew!
– Silver screens were fine for the front windows at night – no need for £500 reimo blinds!
– Managed to level the van with rocks/planks, etc but some levelling ramps might be nice.
– Mattresses were comfy (it’s what the boys sleep on at home anyway).
– Plenty of room for us to sit including multiple options – need a table though – trays on laps was a bit of a pain.
– Atmos was really nice – cosy.
– Height difference between the front and rear seats was liveable with.
– Shoe storage and coat storage in wet weather was something we were going to have to carefully consider.
– Parking the L4 can be a bit of a pain when in town centres – Supermarkets win, as does parking a bit out of town and having a walk. Not a major deal, but does need thinking about.
– Being limited to 50 on A-roads and 60 on dial carriageways didn’t really bother me. I was driving in a chilled manor anyway. So perhaps I’m not bothered about getting it classed as a motor caravan.
We didn’t have much interior storage, so most things were in the boot, which was a pain, but hopefully overcome on the completed van.Posted 1 year ago
I know I’m talking to myself, but I promise I’ll get around to the electrics – I’ve just drawn out the circuit diagram!Posted 1 year ago
Excellent work!Posted 1 year ago
👍Posted 1 year ago
First job is to plan everything.
We decided on a service channel to go between the c-pillars (just behind so that the entry points were in the kitchen and under the side bunk). See previous posts for that in the floor.
Most electrical equipment is going under the driver’s side rear seat.
-Garage lights and a 12v socket.
-Kitchen lights above worktop
-Ceiling lights on 2 circuits (living room and bed area).
-Light and turnoffable USB socket next to each bed head.
Might also need ignition for cooker and feed for water pump, but as these are accessible from the service channel, I didn’t need to route anything behind ply lining.
So, during insulating, I routed conduit through all the areas I could reach through pillars and sills.
Here you can see how I routed the conduit to the light points
Then threaded the wires though. There are a couple of pinch points on the passenger side c-pillar, but just about possible to cram it all in.
I used 2.5mmsq for everything low ampage (lights, USB, 12v, etc)
Here are the wires going to the top of the double bed and the lockers above
And this shows where the hub is going to go at the back of the rear seat.
The solar wires come down from the roof and out here too.
Then after our first holiday I tackled wiring it all up.
Even though I don’t have a smart alternator (and so in theory could just do a standard split charge), I decided on a Ring RSCDC30 to combine Battery to Battery charging and solar controller. It can cope with my solar panel’s large voltage and people seem to report that it looks after batteries pretty well.
I’m not bothering with 240v hookup as it’s not our intention to stay on large campsites, so this is the wiring diagram
First job was to buy a leisure battery, fuse box and cable to wire up
I decided on a 180Ah flooded battery from Varta as they have an excellent reputation for not emitting gas and for reliability and also because it fills the allocated area really well (2 normal batteries would have to go in a different section of seat)
We strapped it down using M8 threaded rod and angle iron through the floor with large washer/spreader plates under.
I wish we’d used M6, because the M8 was a bit rigid and one of the holes was pretty near a chassis rail, so it needed angling slightly. They are actually putting a bit of force on the battery, so we needed to protect the corners with plastic angle.
Since this photo, I’ve also put battens screwed to the floor all around the bottom edge. “It’s going nowhere” lol.
Then we started routing the cables…
There’s a channel across the width of the van under the front seats, but to get to it you have to come out from the battery bay into the footwell. So the route goes:
Battery box > 40A inline fuse > Passenger footwell > through to driver footwell (via the fuel tank hatch which offers a useful mid-point to pull through from) > Along the drivers b-pillar > into my step > Through the wall opposite the sliding door > out into battery area near c-pillar.
It actually only took an hour and the 16mmsq cable is surprisingly flexy and easy to route.
According to the specs of the Ring unit, I only needed 10mmsq, but I fancied more just in case I used a higher amp charger in future.
From battery bay, along the footwell and into the widthways channel:
Showing my method of pulling through in the centre hatch for fuel tank access:
Looking towards the rear showing the routing through the b-pillar:
Then I made a (probably temporary) board to mount all the electrics on:
And spent a peaceful afternoon on my own connecting everything up.
ALl fuses are out at this point BTW.
You can just see the earth point I created behind the battery on that first photo – It’s an M6 nut and blot through a wire brushed part of the chassis. Then all the copper tube terminals are threaded on and a wing nut tightens it all down.
I didn’t really like the way the cables entered the Ring unit unsupported, so I made a wooden board to put against it and zip-tied everything tightly to it.
From left-to-right it’s
– Temp sensor to leisure batt
— Starter batt
—- Leisure batt
Then I threw in a few switches and attached some lights so I could test.
Then placed all fuses in to make it all live.
I found this great way to protect the battery terminals from accidental shorting.
There’s this amazing plastic stuff (called Polymorph) that comes in tiny balls, that when you put it in near-boiling water, it becomes mouldable and stays mouldable for a few minutes even after cooling.
So I made some custom covers that clip over the terminals for a couple of quid’s worth of the stuff!
Still transparent and mouldable:
More electrics to come…Posted 1 year ago
BTW – the polymorph stuff was the higher temperature version – about 90-degreesPosted 1 year ago
🙂Posted 1 year ago
So good! So inspiring! Commenting so I can find again as we may be about to do something similar although not so ambitious…Posted 1 year ago
julioflo – good to know it’s inspiring! When I saw Mike D’s thread it was the start of my plans too!Posted 1 year ago
There’s also a favourite button at the top of the page. Then it goes into your favourites page that you can access later. I use it all the time.
More electric thoughts:
When I was buying the Ring B2B/Solar charger was fairly unique.
Now there are a few alternatives, just be careful that the voltage range on them can cope with your preferred solar panel.
These cheap domestic panels (like mine) usually have higher voltages than the vehicle-specific panels so you need to make sure that your controller can cope. The Ring can do up to 50V, but some of the competitors only do 25V for example.Posted 1 year ago
I would have bought the Ctek unit, but it could only do 23V without another expensive add-on.
(although the add-on also makes for faster charging from alternator).
@alexsimon Great thread! and a small favour to ask….
I have those ceiling lights for my LWB T6. I have it insulated, carpeted and electrics are ready to be connected once my kitchen units arrive etc and can be fixed permanently. Here is a mock up to test and before dismantling for later fitting:
Question I have is do you have a wiring diagram for the ceiling lights?????Posted 1 year ago
Just put them in parallel.
That little 12v socket set you’ve got on the far right of your photo shows the wiring perfectly (although you don’t need the negative if the switch doesn’t have an led). I can’t stand leds everywhere so I bought ones without).
Everywhere you want a switch, put a new circuit. Calculate the wire thickness based on total number of lights in that one circuit.
If the length of wire from fusebox to light is absolutely massive, you could consider putting an earth point near the light instead of coming back to the fuse box – that reduces the voltage drop and therefore the gauge of the wire.
If the parallel thing and the switches is still confusing you, let me know and I’ll draw a diagram.
Whether you go with separate wires from the switch to each light, or daisy chain them from each other (in parallel) doesn’t matter. I’ve done the former for now, but it’s all temporary until I get top cupboards in.
A diagram would be easier, but I’m not at my main computer at the moment!Posted 1 year ago
Thanks @alexsimon appreciate that. Share your dislike of LED’s find them irritating during the night.Posted 1 year ago
I’ll link to the switches I bought tomorrowPosted 1 year ago
I bought some of these:
(which need the 4.8mm female blade terminals if you’re crimping – that might be the red-size insulated ones, but I haven’t tried)
And some of these
(which take the blue-size insulated female blade terminals)
I really like the toggle-style ones, but there are a few places where they’d get in the way.Posted 1 year ago
Finally – some finishing touches!
Finally – a chance to use my cnc router!
Decided to make my own 12v panels.
After a while of deliberating (seems to be common with the van!), I decided on just using standard 12v sockets everywhere, then I can use USB sockets within those, and hopefully keep up-to-date with USB-C, etc and higher charging speeds.
I also decided not to mount permanent reading lights anyway – again using plug-in USB things. So far (16 nights in the van) I’m happy with my decision.
I fancied easy-access to the back of the sockets, so I designed my own socket panels. Everything is switched to prevent any unwanted battery drain.
The intended use is reading lights when in bed, mobile devices for the rear seat passenger and then an extra one for laptop charging or other electrical devices (like a vacuum, etc)
As these are next to the seats (at about hip level) and next to the head of the bed, I decided to keep everything as flush as possible, so the nice toggle switches were replaced with those plastic round things that I don’t really like, but look ok with a small rebate.
With these, I’m limited to 16A though, so may have to be careful with what I plug into it.
Currently, I just undersized the hole I drilled in the back board and screwed the M4 bolts straight in – seems sturdy enough, but I can always glue a nut to the rear if needed.
There are a a couple of other places I’ll be having something similar – end of kitchen for rear bunk, and end of overhead locker for side bunk use.Posted 1 year ago
Very nice surrounds, I like that & I would love a CNC router, I assume it’s your work?
We’re just starting a L3H2 Relay build, so a bit shorter than you. I’ll have another read through of your thread looking for tips 🙂
Also I think I’m going to do the same as you and fit sockets for plug in adapters, the chinese ones I used before were always OK but seemed a bit dubious quality.Posted 1 year ago
It’s a hobby-level CNC that I built. It uses 3D printed parts (I bought the 3D printer with it in mind).
It’s great, but the 500x700mm work area means I can’t use it much in the van.
So far I’ve used it for those channels you can see in the step-locker in the photo above,
I’ve used it to create a cubby-hole next to the rear bunk (I’ll cover that later).
And I’m thinking I might use it for the overhead lockers.
Posted 1 year ago
Wow that’s awesome. 500 x 700 would definitely be handy for a few bits.
I need a new router, the chuck has gone on mine. What one is that and how do you rate it? (Not the whole rig, just the router).Posted 1 year ago
The router is probably not good enough for general routing (although you can buy a plunge base for it). It’s a Katsu (only £40).Posted 1 year ago
But I’ve just bought a new proper router and as I wanted to mount it in a table, by far and away the best option seemed to be the Triton MOF001 for my needs. Only used it a couple of times, but seems great. The other one I was considering was the Rutlands’s own brand one.
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