So now that most of the mechanical work has been completed and the new wheels and tires were fitted, it was time to move onto the next step of the van build, turning it into a camper.
If you remember from the last blog, my van started out its life as a 7-passenger people mover. As my intensions for the van are to make a 4-season camper, that can take me anywhere, and be a comfortable place to sleep and cook when we get there. So, some modifications were in order.
Before we can build, we first must demolish. When I bought the van it had a complete interior minus the center bench, it also “smelled like a barn” (direct quote from the girlfriend) so a good clean up was also well over due. During the conversion process, most of the interior was removed when repairing the floor. I ended up removing and cleaning all interior panels, removed the factory subfloor (a cork material I feel was the main cause of the barnyard smell) and scrubbed behind all panels and floor. With the van cleaned and emptied, void of all unpleasant odors it was time to start building. With the metal floor clean and prepped, we added sound deadener and a new wood subfloor as a base for the rest of the interior.
In a perfect world, I would have found a 1986 -1991 westfalia camper and removed all the original grey interior and swapped it over into my van. Unfortunately finding a clean interior that someone is willing to part with was proving to be quite the challenge. Most Vanagon westfalia’ s between 1980 – 1991 had a very similar interior design, with the biggest change being the colour. I was able to find a kitchen unit out of an early 80’s van for a good price very close to me on kijiji, my only issue with it was it is my least favourite of the colour options, fake wood grain. Well after contacting the seller and realizing he also had a new propex heater (propane furnace), a full curtain set, and a new extra-large propane tank we made a deal and I ended up with a truck full of van parts, again. The kitchen unit ended up getting disassembled and painted to a much nicer dark grey with black trim. I also needed to modify the interior of the cabinet to hold fresh and grey water tanks and a 1lb propane bottle for the stove. This project is still in progress but I have a goal to have it working, Installed, and tested before Folk Fest. That gives me less then 30 days, should be fun.
Once the kitchen was sorted and I had all the measurements I needed, I could reinstall the factory full width rear bed, this is turning out to be one of my favorite parts of the interior.
My last van (89 Vanagon Westfalia full camper) had a much smaller bed that would be best described as cozy with 2 people. Once the bed was in I booked an appointment to have the rear windows tinted. With the tint and a bed, I was ready to camp!
So far, I have only spent one night in the van at a local VW Club campout/ swap meet. It was awesome! And it was also just the motivation I needed to get the rest of the van ready for the summer, and my up coming West coast road trip.
Tofino here we come!
See you at Dub’s at the Lake August 18 – 20, 2017