Following our original design we wanted to build another double bed at the front of the bus for friends staying over. This would need to fold out/pull out from underneath a sofa. We opted for a pull out version. We wanted a slight L shape to the sofa to make the lounge area a bit more cosy and not just a straight sofa, so that complicated the bed design a little. In the end we decided to make a pull out laundry box (with custom made cloth canvas bag inside for carrying to a launderette) under the L Shaped part of the sofa. This would pull out to form the extended top section of the bed. On top of the box we made an extra thick cushion that would make that the foam would all be level.

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We then built the sofa base frame and the extending section. We chamfered the edges of the extending section to ensure that they fit snuggly when not extended and would not slide out without being intentionally pulled out. We glued together sections of foam and enlisted the seamstress skills of my mum to create an L shaped sofa cushion for the permenant sofa. We also made a straight foam section for the extended bed, that lives under the straight section of the sofa when not in use. We bought 4 wicker baskets and made custom canvas sacks to go inside them, and this is where we store our pots and pans, plates, glasses, fruit and veg and other kitchen storage items. We thought that they might need rope to stop them from sliding out when driving but the friction of the fabric of the cushion they sit on keeps them perfectly in place. We stained all of the frame with some oak wood stain, added some rope handles, some Velcro here and there, and our smashing extendable sofa bed frame, laundry box/bag and wicker box storage was complete. Add a few bright cushions, nice turquoise throws and the space looks fantastic and better than we could hope for. The only thing was that we didn’t get a full sized double out of it (due to the max depth of seat needed to sit comfortably, but still two adult guests could easily fit on there!)

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Once the back cupboards, bed frame and base and shower room were complete, moving forwards in the bus, the next logical thing to build was the closet. This went up quite quickly. We use 1”x2” timber frame that we adding 5mm ply to on the bedroom side to keep the nice white clean bedroom interior feel. We then opted for reclaimed wood on the front and sofa side of the closet to add the ‘beach themed’ character we wanted to create in the lounge/kitchen side of the conversion. The reclaimed wood looked amazing, but was just simply far too heavy. Much to Amy’s horror we decided that they only way around this was to router out the backs of all the boards to reduce their weight. Amy worked on this for several days, and although the look is exactly how we wanted it, using pallet wood for the reclaimed wood might not have been the fastest way to produce this look – but it was certainly the cheapest as totally free!

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We then added a downlight in the middle of the ceiling and made a drop down panel which we added LED strip light too and also ran this strip light down the sides of the closet on the back wall to ensure there was plenty of light at the back of the closet when full of clothes. We added some shelves for shoes, drilled a metal digital safe into the floor and walls, added clothes rails, and a rail for the material door. We were originally intending to build bifolding timber doors, but realistically the fabric door is by far the better option as it takes up no space when opening, is easy to close and easy to store out of the way with a few rope ties. The fabric also contrasts nicely with the reclaimed wooden right side and front of the closet. We also create a raised front so that the base of the closet became an enclosed shoe box, and added some elastic cable ties to hooks in order to store our table out of sight.

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To complement the reclaimed wood effect on the lounge side we purchased a standard 240V industrial looking copper wall light, which we replaced with a 12V LED bulb, and switched separately from the main lounge 12v lights. This means we can have a more ambient low level light in there in the evenings if we want; which works very effectively as even three of the 12V 3W downlighters can be pretty bright in the evening!

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Once the bedframe was built we knew how much space we had at the back for the cupboards. This was already somewhat pre-defined as the two heaters on the roof were already installed and was one of the main reasons we had opted for the rear cupboards. We have an Eberspacher Diesel water-to-air heater installed on the bus, but unfortunately it isn’t working. After toying with the idea of stripping it all out, we decided that one day we might have enough money to pay the exorbitant repair fees, so decided to box them into the top of the rear cupboards and get them fixed one freezing, desperate, winter’s day.

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So, the frames we cut to size from 1’’ by 1.5’’. Made the supports for the shelfs and walls, and then spent several hours/days cutting out shelves and walls over and over again to make them fit. No matter what we used, tracing paper, cardboard templates, with so many different angles from the uneven floor, roof 45degree angels and bedframe, this posed somewhat of an annoyance and challenge. We did get there eventually though!

Once cut correctly, we routered the walls and set about making the shutter effect doors. We did this my insetting ply into a thin frame, and glueing slats on top of the ply. This was to make the doors slightly heavier and sturdier, so as not to be flimsy 4mm ply, and to make them match the window shutters at the end of the bed we were just starting.

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We decided that we wanted to add an outdoor shower to the cupboard on the same side as the water tank, so that we can rinse off sand after being at the beach / mud in winter. So we plumbed in some hose to the back cupboard and added an extendable hose pipe in there and used the remainder of our shower wall board to make the base of the cupboard water tight. We added some hooks on the walls so this is our wet jackets/boots/beach stuff cupboard, and works fantastically from keeping half the beach out of the bus. We made it so that this tall cupboard opens to the outside, and then one above opens from within the bus, so that we can access the top cupboard from the bed whilst the back doors are closed.

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After living in a previous bus conversion through a long and bitterly cold winter, simple curtains and no insulation had been far too cold to handle. Therefore, high levels of insulation were of paramount importance this time. We decided that we wanted to keep a decent sized window in the bedroom for enjoying our surroundings, but knew the larger the size, the poorer the insulation and colder/hotter it would be in the bedroom area. So, we opted to make some insulated shutter-styled windows. We made a simple timber frame, cut in grooves around all the framing pieces and slide in 4mm pieces either side with a 25mm gap in between. We then inserted celotex/recitil into the gap, and cut thin 4mm rectangular pieces to dress the front of them and make them look like old French / Beach Style shutters. We were really pleased with the outcome and after some chiselling here and there, managed to get a really nice fit and tight seal around the edges. (Might be worth mentioning here that we masking taped and sprayed a few cm black border on all the windows, so that when the blinds/shutters are closed there is not light escaping from the edges. A good idea – and one that worked to good effect here!)

 

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We also added a ply window blind box to the back door. This took ages to build as very fiddley, especially getting the blind into it and painting it. The idea was that it would create a totally blacked out window at the back of the bus, which looked really good

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Once the bedframe was complete we installed the lockable water inlet on the outside of the bus and the fiamma 70l fresh water storage tank under the bed frame. We had forgotten to mark out the best place for the water inlet at the framing/insulation stage, so ended up drilling into a one and half inch thick steel plate (which resulted in about 30 drill bits dying and about 5 hours of arm-numbing torture. As the hole we needed was about 70mm across it meant we had to drill about 50 holes in a circle and then smash the steel out with a sledge hammer/cold chisels/wrecking bar/angry fists/ weary heads). All in all another great lesson about forward planning!

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For our shower room we bought an old Thetford C200 Electric Flush Cassette Toilet for around £70 plus £20 postage. Having started the shower room once before, and built in another Beige Thetford toilet, we decided that the beige colour was simply way too 80’s looking, so decided to dismantle our efforts thus far, and buy a different white one. We were really pleased we did as the new one matched the shower tray and the wall board we had ordered. (If buying a used Thetford one becareful to not to get the beige one if you want a really nice white crisp finish!)

The position of the internal wheel arch really decided where our showroom was going to go, specifically the shower tray itself (something to consider for a tri-axle van). We decided to build a wooden box over the wheel arch that would act as a seat in the shower, with the shower tray sitting just to the left of it.

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We originally were planning on using a left hand toilet but this meant we would have to take the toilet waste through the bus to empty it. Unfortunately there was a steel frame member running horizontally from the wheel arch to the cab, right through where we needed to pull out the toilet waste tray to empty it. This meant we had to lower the toilet significantly by cutting off the bottom of the plastic frame to the toilet. Thankfully this was hollow so does not effect the performance or function whatsoever, but it did mean that because it was so low, that the waste door was now into the fibre glass skirting of the bus. But there was no choice. We had committed so no turning back.

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We drilled four holes in the corner of where we expected the waste locker door to go and then jigsawed out the rectangular section in between. The fibreglass was thicker in some areas and was very loose on the metal frame. This needed then packing out with timber in between the inner metal frame skin and the fibre glass, to enable to the locker door screws to be strong and secure.

The locker door hung out of the fibreglass skirt too much as well, so we had to make a timber frame addition here to pack that out too, and then covered in Sikaflex. Not a bad bodge job really in the end.

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The shower tray was a small caravan tray (cost about $50). We built a wooden frame for it to sit in, lined the underneath of it with several layers of acoustic underlay to cushion it slightly from the wooden van base underneath, and then drilled a 20mm waste pipe hole through the van floor. We sikaflexed in some waste pipe, attached it to the shower tray, and plugged it all in with trusty Sikaflex. We built a wooden framed section between the toilet and tray, covered with 6mm ply and then some pvc sheet that we bought cheap from a local window manufacturers. We then built a timber frame from 2’’ x 1’’ and 1 x 1’’ timber sections, covered it with 6mm ply, and then the slotted together the wall boards and glued them to the ply walls with super strength adhesive. We wired in the spotlights for the bathroom and added the switches for the kitchen into the left hand wall of the shower room.

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Building and adding the toilet door and adding the white pvc trim inside the shower was one of the least enjoyable we undertook and we kept putting it off because it was so boring. The door was made from timber frame covered with 5mm ply for strength and then covered in more of the slot-together shower pvc slats. The endging of this was then covered with pvc L-shaped angles. We opted for hidden hinges as we didn’t want clearly visable huge hinges inside or outside of the shower room. These were only about £8 for the pair from an architectural design website, but needed precise routering to install. We also decided at this stage to make the width of the shower room door match exactly with the width of the corridor between the shower room and the closet, so that the door would create a useful partion between the bedroom and front of the bus. This was to give us privacy for when the front double bed was extended when we had guests or to block light out from the front when parking in highly lit city streets. I would say this simple consideration is one of our favourite design features and works fantastically well – amazing for creating a cosy totally-blackouted-out cinema-in-bed hideaway!

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Once the wall paint had dried we were eager to get onto making the bed. We wanted to start with this as the size of the bed was would determine how much space we would have left in various areas of the rest of the bus. We decided not to put the bed right to the back of the bus, but to add in two cupboards in the back then the bed for additional storage. It was pretty important for us to have a hydraulic lifting Ottoman bedframe so that we could utilise the underneath for storage and not have lots of claustrophobic head height lockers.

We started by building the top slatted frame which the mattress would sit on.

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This consisted of building a large rectangular 2” by 3” frame and then adding level 2” by 1” slats across it. This was built to UK Kingsize 150cm x 200cm. We installed the edge frame pieces to the walls and built in strong floorboard-finished box frame sections under the bed to both carry the weight of the frame and us sleeping on it, and also to create our underbed storage spaces.

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We then built the bottom of the frame from the floor up to the slatted top. This was again because the floor was uneven so all framing had to build in situ to ensure the frame finished off level.

Then came the frustrating part; installing the gas struts. We found it difficult to find any installation directions for these online, and after about 5 or 6 make-it-up-as-you-go-along attempts, and chiselling out a section of the framing, they worked great.

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The width of the bus was 215cm so that left us an additional 15cm after the bedframe width in which to use. We first thought that we could build a thin and deep box at the end of the bed, that would be level with the matress in which we could store the duvet, for quick access on those chilly nights. However, we settled on making a reclaimed wood headboard to make sitting up in bed a bit more comfy and to give us a sunken shelf to put phone chargers and things you would usually have on your bedside table.

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This would also double up to hide the water pump, and other electrical junctions, etc underneath. So we build the headboard frame out of 1’’ x 1.5’’ pine and then covered with dismantled pallet boards that had been sawed in half width ways to make them much thinner. We also added some beeswax to give a deeper colour and to seal the wood. At this stage we wired in a 12v LED self-adhesive rope light to the inside of the shelf space to give off a subtle ambient glow. We were a bit disappointed by this as it was supposed to be a warm white but turned out to be orange. In contrast with the reading lights we also installed at this time (which we also meant to be warm white but turned out to be blue) all in all a bit of a unsatisfactory jumble of warm white spotlights, oranges and blue!

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However, in reality we rarely use the headboard light at the same time as the reading lights, so not a problem at all. Its nice to have the warm glow on when just relaxing and a powerful white light when reading in bed.

 

Once we had all the wall panels up, we couldn’t help thinking how messy it looked. We wanted to find the best way to fill in all the panel joins which could withstand being shaken in the bus while driving. At first we decided to keep our saw dust we had accumulated from our circular saw and mix this into a paste with PVA glue, this was very thick and quiet difficult to use, we had to leave a lot of paste hanging out over the screws and wall joins to sand over. It did sand very well, we would recommend this method for covering screw heads but not for the wall corner joins, as it is so strong it is difficult to remove from angled wall and ceiling joins.

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Next we tried wood filler, this was too soft when it was dry and a lot fell out when we sanded over it. We decided to try specific flexible wood filler instead; this seemed to work very well for filling in the panel joins and wall corners. We did have to apply several layers of this over a couple of days.

We then sanded all the joins with an electric sander. The flexible filler sands a lot easier than the sawdust/PVA combo. Next we had a really good clean of the bus to ensure all the dust was hoovered away and we lay down dust sheets to cover the windows and floor. Basically if you can get to this stage and keep your sanity intact then you are doing better than we did.

We decided to use Homebase’s Contemporary shade of Extra Durable Emulsion paint (£28 for large tin). We were happy with the colour, but the paint didn’t seem as durable as it claimed to be and we had to do about 4 coats. We will have to do a few final coats when the rest of the bus is finished to ensure a smooth finish with no scratches.

Essential Equipment for this stage: PVA glue, saw dust, flexible wood filler, spatula, electric sander and paper, dust sheets, paint, rollers, brushes

Panelling the walls of the bus is a huge job; we used 4 by 8 foot 5mm superior external grade plywood. This was £30 a sheet which we didn’t realise until after we received the bill!!! We switched to a much cheaper 6mm Malaysian ply for the internal walls (do not use the Chinese we learnt that the hard way) this cost £ 12 a sheet.

Triple checking the measurements is essential at this stage, remember unlike a house a bus or van floor is not always level, therefore it can be hard to find right angles to measure from. Our floor had a 3 cm bow in the middle, and having not sorting this out at the floor laying stage we were unable to make anything outside of the van as every measurement had to be tailored to take into consideration this bowing. This added on weeks to our build.

Our bus had straight walls then a 45 degree angle panel before reaching the ceiling.  Therefore when cutting the panels you want to allow them to join up at the right angle as this will be easier to fill in with filler at a later stage.

It took 3 of us to cut the larger wall and ceiling panels with a circular saw. Once each piece was cut, we checked if it fit in the bus well, then we did 3 under coats of white primer. We wanted to achieve a beach like interior so we decided to router long vertical lines into the plywood to achieve a Shiplapthe effect. We used a v groove router bit to achieve this effect. This was difficult to achieve as the router kept jumping about, we had to secure runners into place using clamps for the router to move along for each line that we did! It was very time consuming but the effect in the end is very good.20170511_09472520170512_10070420170514_09241420170515_121619IMG_4018

We drilled the panels in using a countersink drill bit to ensure the screws will be hidden when you fill over them at a later stage.  You want to ensure you are drilling them onto the wooden frame behind using 16 mm screws. We found that in some areas our insulation was too thick and we had to slice some of it away using kitchen knives, so try to ensure that your wooden framing is thicker than your insulation so that the panels sit flush against it.

Essential Equipment for this stage: large sheets of plywood, measuring tape, circular saw, right angle large ruler, jigsaw, router, clamps, drill, screws

Wiring the Electrics into the bus was one of the most daunting tasks we faced; with neither of us having any previous experience, the whole thing seemed very confusing!

We hope this diagram and steps help make this an easier process for you

  1. Make a diagram of everything you want to wire

This is important. It will enable you to have a clear picture of where every output / power requirement is going to be located in the conversion, what your individual and overall power consumption requirements will be, help you start to consider where cabling might be installed and how many outputs your fuse box will need.

Finding previous examples of wiring diagrams online was quite difficult, as everyone’s requirements and set ups are different, and not so many seemed to include solar. However, as we have no electrical experience whatsoever, after as much research as possible (and hassling friends and the kind folks on ‘Self Build Campervans’ Facebook Group) we put together the following wiring diagram:

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Essentially it is quite simple really. The 200W solar panels and the Van’s alternator are the power sources and the 12V appliances and outputs leading from the fusebox (top to bottom on the right – Water pump, Waeco Fridge, Water Heater, Mini Projector) and the 240V sockets wired to the inverter are the power requirements. [In the end we had to wire the gas hob ignition to the 240V Inverter too as the 12V campervan ones seemed unnecessarily expensive so we opted for a standard kitchen sized 4 ring gas hob that was 240V.

  1. Install, wire and earth the Relay Unit

So the first job, before building the electrics board, was to install the Relay Unit. The purpose of this is to allow current from the vehicle’s inverter to flow in one direction towards the power bank. This means when he vehicle is running, the alternator creates electricity and when the starter battery is full it can then start filling up the batteries in the power bank. It then cuts this power off so that you could essentially drain the power batteries but maintain a full starter battery; so in theory you should never have a flat starter battery.

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Here is how we wired in our Relay Unit and the Battery Powerbank. The Relay Unit is connected between the positive terminal on the starter battery with 16mm 110A Battery Cable and the positive terminal on one of the leisure batteries in the powerbank. Either side of the Relay we wired in 100A ANL MIDI fuses, and a battery switch so we can cut the power from the starter battery/inverter if need be. [A good point to note here is that you never want to run your batteries to empty as this drastically reduces their life. Try not to use more than 50% or let them go below 12V/12.1V as a rough guide]

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To connect the 16mm 110A cable to the relay and batteries you will need to attach the correct sized eyelet terminals to the cable. To do this we trimmed the cable, soldered the ends slightly, inserted them into the ends of the connectors, hammered the ends of the connector with a pin punch several times (to crimp the connectors to the cable) and then added more solder using the blowtorch and some silver solder. After a few attempts we quickly realised you need to slide the shrink wrap black tubing onto the cable first before adding the connectors, so that they can then slide down over the connectors and be shrunk to cover the joints.

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Labelling cable ends might be useful here. You also need to earth the Relay. We did this by removing the paint on a section of the chassis and bolting a negative cable to it.

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  1. Install 100A MIDI Fuses

Run 16mm Cables to the Leisure battery bank through the cab chassis. On our van there were several holes already made and sealed with black plastic caps that just popped out and were perfect for feeding the cabling through, so it’s worth checking for these before drilling more holes. We also included cables and an isolator switch to bypass relay in case of emergency start, which would link all starter and leisure batteries together.

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Then add connectors to the wires and attach the inline MIDI Fuses. We opted for 100A here. Whilst it is incredibly unlikely that the Ampage from the starter battery would ever spike anywhere near this, the cable can take up to 110A and the relay 150A so if this is what you are protecting with the fuses then there is no harm going to 100A safely. I decided to fuse either side of the relay as to protect both relay unit and battery bank. I am not sure if this is completely necessary but made sense for only a few pounds extra to protect the battery bank.

  1. Install the Leisure Battery Bank

The number of Leisure batteries and their Amperage Hours of storage that you include in your battery bank will depend on several factors. One consideration will be whether you are installing solar panels or just running off the alternator alone. Another will be how long you intend to stay stationary in various places. Another will be what applicance and lighting will you be pulling from the battery bank. And finally your budget will affect your choices of battery.

For us, as we are using solar and travelling to relatively sunny places over the summer, we would expect to pull in between 7-14A per hour from the solar alone. We do not have many high Amperage drawing appliances, with really only the inverter powering 240v sockets for laptops and the mini projector. With all these things on, some lights and the bedroom fan on, we probably use around 5-6A per hour. That means that during the day we have more power coming in from the solar than we can really use so it is just a store for cloudy/rainy days and night time. We are also considering adding a 12V fridge to pull some ampage during the day and turn it off at night.

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So.. we opted for 200W solar power on the roof to compliment the alternator power source, one 110A heavy duty leisure battery and one 130A heavy duty leisure battery with dual terminals. Some people said that you should use the same size and manufacturer of batteries, and some said that it didn’t matter at all. If building a full scale house leisure battery bank I would, but for the size/cost of our set up I don’t think it will make very much difference. I chose the double terminal battery to be the first and main battery in the bank, with all positive terminals going into this one, and all negative cables onto the smaller one.

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The smaller one was positioned behind an existing fuseboard (that had to stay where it was) and the larger one was positioned between the fuseboard and the wall, with a simple timber frame around it to keep it in position. On top of this frame sits the switch/fuse board and the solar controller unit. This means all parts of the set up will be ventilated, out of sight when the counter top and cupboards are installed, accessible from the driver’s seat if necessary in emergency, and I can see the input/output readings on the solar controller unit easily enough from the driver’s seat.

  1. Wire in Switches and Fusebox (add photo completed)

So now is the slightly tricky job of wiring in the cables from your batteries, your isolator switches, fuses for the switches and fusebox. You are aiming here to get the fuses as close to the switches as possible (as recommended by the manufacturer) and use as little cable as possible to reduce cable resistance to current.

  1. Add negative bus bar (add photo completed)

The negative busbar unit essentially collects all the negative cables from your appliances and lighting (anything getting the positive cable wired into the fusebox) and joins these negatives with one 110A cable to the battery bank/other earthed part of your wiring system.

  1. Run 2 core cable to various 12v appliances

Having a drawn plan (would recommend the free program Google SKetchUp here) is incredibly useful when considering how to best utilise space in your conversion, but it also plans a fundamental role in the electrics wiring. Without a pretty clear idea of where every appliance, switch, socket and light will go is imperative before you can start wiring in appliances and lighting cables. With appliances, some of these can be wired in once the plywood skin in added to the walls, but some (especially the lighting if you are having downlights) needs to be wired into the insulation, so you need to know the exact position of each downlight and switch at this very early stage of the build.

  1. Wire in all the lights in a series circuit imbedded into installation

Lay a good quality dual core cable into the insulation. Add insulated connections where necessary and wire in enough cable to drop down inside potential walls so that you can wire in the switches for the various parts of the circuit.

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You may have to add plywood skin over insulation at same time as wiring to keep checking the system is working. A few times I had misjudged screwing or nailing the plywood up and then had to remove the whole thing to find where I had punctured the wire with the nail or screw.. verrrrrry annoying to have to take it all down once it is up. I would recommend marking on each plywood sheet exactly where the cables lie underneath it so you do not puncture any wiring below throughout the remainder of the build !

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It’s a hell of feeling when you have all the 12V system wired in, the downlights plugged in and you have power and lights on inside… all powered by solar panels on the roof!!

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  1. Wire 12 Volt to any fans you are installing into the roof. 

 

  1. Run 240 volt cable to inverter, and wire in the invertor. Split 240 volt cable with junction boxes and add in plastic socket boxes. 

 

You may choose to do this now or later once the walls and furniture are installed. I certainly opted away from having any 240V wires in the walls as I wanted to be able to see all wires and connections easily, and this would mainly be at floor level anyway so easily hidden in cupboards, under sofa and in bed storage space. It just seemed like a safer option.

  1. I also decided to wire in a very precise ammeter to the battery bank so that I get very accurate readings of what current I am drawing from the battery bank, so I can see what Watts and Ampage I am currently using, and the exact level of battery Voltage. I originally positioned this in the electronics cupboard because the blue light was fairly bright at night, however, it really is something that you want to be able to see from as many spots in the bus as possible, so it is now wired up through the driver’s seat cover and is positioned in the back of the driver’s headrest. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone if they are using a cheap solar controller (like the ones in the cheap kits like we did as their readings are very inaccurate)

Stage 7- Flooring

We decided not to take out our existing flooring in the bus and to simply apply our flooring over this. We covered the whole floor in the same recticle insulation we used on the walls.IMG_3982

We could see that our flooring was not level  so we tried to add additional silver insulation foam in the middle to compensate this, however we did not add enough and once completed the flooring was still not level, this caused huge complications further down the line. Ensuring you have a level floor is paramount, otherwise you add weeks to your build trying to measure angles with no right angles to work away from!

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We brought our floor from Wickes on special offer, we had to buy 7 packs which cover 2.5metre each and we managed to get it all for around £80, we were quite happy with the quality as we thought we would have to spend a lot more on it. However in hindsight the flooring was a bit 70s looking!

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We used paper on the corners and curved edges of the floor to make templates for cutting the flooring. If you push the paper into any rounded edges and then draw along the shape and cut them out, you can then use them as a template. We used the jig saw to cut out the floor boards which worked quite easily.  With laminate flooring you need to work from one side of the bus to the other, as the floor boards slot into each other long ways.  You want to leave a 10mm gap around the edges where the flooring meets the wall in case the wood expands.

We did not need to use any additional glue on the bottom of the laminate as they were very solid once all slotted together. However where was a step up to the driving area,  we noticed the floor was a bit bouncy. David added some screws to secure this into place and managed to drill straight through to the Petrol tank underneath. This meant the petrol tank was leaking and cost us hundreds of pounds to fix, so be careful!

It took 4 days straight to build the floor up over the step into the cab area, each piece meeting at the top of the step had to be cut with a 45 degree angle so they sat flush, we also had to template more or less every piece around the chairs and bends of the cab, which was very frustrating and time consuming. We did also stick this down with Sikaflex.20170501_170010IMG-20170531-WA0006

We finished the edges by the doors with a 1inch by 1.5 inch pine, and got a cut to fit door mat to sit on the step underneath.IMG-20170603-WA0004

Essential Equipment for this stage: Laminate Flooring, pen, paper, circular saw with 45 degree angle cutter, Insulation for under the foam, screws, jigsaw

As our bus had a small amount of cheap Styrofoam insulation in the ceiling and wall panels, we wanted to add additional installation. We decided that 25mm Recticel Rigid Insulation Board would work best.  This fitted nicely within our wall framing and is very easy to cut and use. We had to buy about 20 Recticel boards as we were using it for the walls, celling and floor, this cost a whopping GBP 250. You can get polystyrene sheets for around a quarter of the price but we opted for the recticel due to higher thermal quality, less absorbtion of water rates (should we ever have a leak) and a firmer product (so hoped to cut down on struts if we backed our plywood with something more solid).

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  1. Measure and Cut

We measured each gap we needed to fill, then using a tap measure and a metre rule drew the shape onto the insulation sheet. We then cut these using a Jig Saw with a metal blade so that it didn’t chew up the insulation. The Jig saw was the quickest and easiest way to cut the insulation sheets, but for some of the larger pieces we used a Circular saw bench. The circular saw bench was great for cutting the insulation width ways to get thinner pieces for areas that required it, but expect your garage/garden/street to be covered in celotex snow. Please note that most Stanley knives did not cut all the way through the insulation pieces, but if you only have this option it is still manageable, you just need to cut down both sides, or do one cut and bend it and cut in the bend.

 

  1. Finishing the insulation

Most of the insulation should fit nicely into the frame work, but if using scrape pieces for smaller areas we held them in place with either sealant or strong duct tape. Bear in mind at this stage every little gap needs filling with expanding foam or metal sealer tape to avoid creating any cold bridges through the insulation.

The next stage is personal choice, with opinions varying wildly: Adding a vapour barrier. The purpose of the vapour barrier over the insulation is to prevent any moisture building up inside the insulation. This may happen as the skin of the van can be very cold and the air inside your van can have a high moisture content from breathing/cooking/washing, and as this air makes its way through the insulation it condenses against the outer skin and can create damp spots. This can happen in ordinary homes, which is why walls and roofs in houses have vapour barriers too. It therefore made sense to us to include a BREATHABLE vapour barrier; one that stops water coming through but allows the insulation to breath. We opted for fabric roofing felt as it is super lightweight, and designed specifically for this purpose. IT wasn’t cheap at $50 a roll, but that is for 50m in length so I imagine we will vapour barrier the ceiling, walls and probably even the floor just for good measure with that amount. This felt comes in large rolls and is easy to apply, you can just unroll directly over framing and cut and staple gun to the wooden framing.

 

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