The Exterior…

Beyond The Van

The final stage… Exterior!

After we returned from our New Years trip around Wales, I was itching to get started on making the outside of the van look presentable. Delighted with the inside, it was time to work on the outside.

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Kirsty had previously removed almost all of the vinyl that was originally on the van, but this does leave a horrible glue residue covering the entire van. My friend for this stage is petrol. Petrol breaks down the glue very quickly, and it’s cheap. To do a thorough job, it took the best part of a day per side of the van.

I also had to remove the areas of old vinyl that Kirsty couldn’t reach (short arse!) as well as remove the silicone from around the windows to allow the new vinyl to sit neatly.

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Looking better! This tired old exterior now needs a new lease of life. Vinyl is the answer, lots of it!

We decided that white sides kept it looking too much like a standard Luton, plus when wild camped, we’d like to blend into the countryside a little. Already we had a large green wind out canopy on the side and rear, as well as the green astro-turf I’d previously covered the tail lift with. Amazingly, we both agreed matt green would be a good colour to do the entire van in! Matt British Racing Green it’s to be then…

DSC_0002Let’s get this started then!

Of course, the morning I decide to start working with large vinyl pieces, the wind joins in and makes the job a whole lot harder. The weather wasn’t exactly warm either, making the vinyl very easy to rip.

I wasn’t going to be beaten though. Besides, it’d be just my luck for the weather to turn really bad for the rest of the month and I’d end up not being able to do it at all!

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By the end of the day, I admit, I was frozen! However, the first side of the van was now officially GREEN! I was pleased with the result of my day and thankfully I started with the most awkward side! The second side was made easier by less wind, a little January sunshine and best of all, no fridge vents to go around!!

Time now to get the plotter out, cut the name and logos, and attack the tail lift and Luton frame with….

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Hammerite! Lots of it. I spent a fair amount of time painting the tail lift and the van frame to make it all a uniform green theme. The rear roller shutter was fun to vinyl cover…! I then silicone sealed all the vinyl edges to really waterproof the van body.

There was also the addition of a rear locker box which I made after getting fed up of having nowhere to store the hose reel etc.

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Add some GB stickers, reflective vinyl to the cycle carrier and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Who can spot the Kingfisher in this photo?

New number plates fitted, just to finish it all off nicely.

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The cab was another time consuming job. It hadn’t been cleaned since…. erm…. well, ever really.

I attacked the bodywork with T-Cut and polish. It’s come up like new!

The bumpers and plastic trim needed attention, they were old and tired looking. I re-sprayed them in the closest match green I could find. Doing the wing mirrors, handles, locks, grille and windscreen surround to match. I’m almost tempted to do the spare wheel cover to match. This was an eBay find, designed for a Volkswagen T4 spare wheel, but happened to fit mine perfectly. The spare wheel had nowhere else to go, so the bonnet seemed a good choice. A local fabrication firm designed and fabricated me a mounting for it. As luck would have it, the bonnet opens with the wheel in situ.

Above the cab was a challenge. Not the easiest place to get at, but using the spare wheel as a stool, I got it cleaned up and sign written without breaking any bones!

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I upgraded the headlights to HID and ordered some LED side light bulbs to match. Hopefully the night driving will be hugely improved. A few reflective panels were also added.

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Whilst working on the cab, I did a few extra jobs too. A second pair of 120AH leisure batteries are now fitted, side camera fitted to improve visibility, and I had the driver’s seat foam replaced. No longer does it feel like sitting on a brick. Happy days.
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Battery bank volt gauge and turbo boost gauge fitted to the dash.The cab interior light has never worked since I bought the van, and this was a nuisance when we were in Wales. I took the time to strip it down, trace the wiring and eventually discover… the fuse was missing. Dropped a fuse in, as well as a bright LED bulb and… let there be light!

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My sticker collection has commenced!

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Below the van is a heavy duty cage which houses the LPG generator and other bits and pieces. The beauty of this is the generator can run inside the cage while it’s securely locked away.

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The previously mentioned fabrication firm also made us some stabiliser legs, one each side at the back. Drop these down and the van doesn’t rock in the wind. These also earth the satellite! More on this later!The van has two fuel tanks; originally designed as dual fuel (Diesel or Veg oil) setup with electronic tank selector. When the engine is fed from the tank in the photo above, a pre-heater is also activated. Whichever tank is selected, the dash gauge displays the level for that tank. Diesel at the moment has come down a lot in price, so I’ve got diesel in both tanks. The idea being that on long journeys we always have a good fuel reserve.

DSC_0052The tail lift has a Fiamma cycle carrier fitted for our bikes. The bikes do not need to be taken off in order to drop the lift down (thankfully!). Heavy, but convenient!DSC_0046

Just the toilet locker to vinyl cover now.

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On a nice day (unlike in the photo) we can unwind the rear canopy, put the deck chairs on the “balcony” and consume a beverage! Hopefully overlooking some beautiful scenery. Or a car park.It’s unlikely that the side canopy will get used but I fitted it to help me escape the rain when using power tools during the build. It also acts as a car port (extends 2.5M) should I need to work on the Land Rovers when we’re on home turf.

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Over time, the exterior changed. Exra windows were added, the frames painted black to blend in more when parked up, etc. The timber panneling was changed to green too…

The stabilising legs turned out to be rarely used so were removed.

August 2017 saw a major upgrade. I fully resprayed the exterior Nato Green… And added an extra door! The satellite broadband was no longer needed and I built a kayak rack for the roof!

Beyond The Van…

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8 comments on “The Exterior…
  1. Linda says:

    The van is looking good Rich, a complete transformation. Love the logo on the van too, just finishes it off cosmetically. The new bits are an excellent addition too. Almost ready for the off now, will certainly turn people’s heads.

  2. J. David Cox says:

    Very nice. Well done. You didn’t waste time, that’s for sure. So? ‘Round the world or just jolly old?

  3. Phil says:

    Van is looking great and I love the green colour scheme. We are also heading for France in March for our first trip in the van.
    Good luck to you both
    Phil

  4. Alf and Marianne says:

    Looking real good hope you enjoy and have safe travels,enjoy reading the blog! Good luck to pair of you, Alf and Marianne

  5. Philip McDonald says:

    Absolutely gob smacked, what an amazing conversion, you must be as proud and generally as happy as the proverbial pig in the proverbial do-do!

    Of all the very many self built conversions I have ever seen it has to be amongst the most creative in layout and execution, truly very well done.

  6. Zoe says:

    Brilliant conversion! In such a small space you have fit a lot of essentials in! Can I ask what is the MAM or Ton of your Van? Did you need the category C1 licence? Thanks, Zoe

  7. steven collier says:

    looks fantastic…do you have any interior photos?cheers,steve

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