Currently I don’t have a window on the back of the van! I want to have one and getting one fulfills one of the requirements for the DVLA for converting a panel van to a campervan.

Bonded window : £140 + VAT
Bonded opening window : £255 + VAT

These were the prices I got for a window in the side door of my transit.


What can I say, they are shelves! Each shelf does have a lip on it to stop stuff sliding out. Some shelves have old suitcases on (I like them… don’t judge me!) The last niggling thing was that I was using two cardboard boxes waiting for the perfect box, chest, suitcase to turn up that would fit in nicely. 

I gave up waiting and made two crates out of my left over and scrap ply. I’m quite chuffed. 

The only problem is that now my kitchen shelf with plastic stacker-boxes of food and cooking utensils looks really untidy. May have to buy more ply to make more matching crates!

So I did go back and make another 3 boxes for the kitchen shelf. I also got some name plates so I could add labels to the front of the boxes. I think they really finish off the boxes.

Added name plates

At the bottom of the shelves I’ve added a drawer / pull out table. This is on drawer runners so can be pulled out by the rope handle. I went for the rope handle as that would be right next to the head of the bed when the bed is out so I didn’t want a hard handle sticking out and the rope fitted with the vaguely piratey theme that seems to be growing in the van.

Hoping that this ticks off the requirement for a table for it to be registered as a motor-home.

Update: this pull out drawer works really well… I’ve had my first weekend away since I’ve added this. I made this so you could sit at the table if the bed was not folded out but the drawer also clears the bed (and duvet) if the bed is down. It was really pleasing to sit crossed legged on the bed and play jenga with the boy and later find him and his mate using it to write on and build car tunnels out of jenga blocks.

Shelves over the sideboard

On my latest trip out I’m still piling stuff onto the sideboard, such as my toiletries bag. I need more storage. My next plan is to have some more shelving above head height, over the sideboard. The current plan is to rivet some aluminium right angle to the last exposed metal, then fix some ply to that and add in a few brackets on top to support from above. I’ve not decided if I’m going to have doors, a lip or a roller to keep things in place.


I want a seating area in the van and you need to have one if you are going to get your van converted to a motor caravan on your V5! It needs to be 1800 mm long but an indeterminate width! I was initially going to go with the ingenious method that BigRed used here…

However with the rather large overlap that this requires I opted for having two layers of 9mm ply slide over each other instead… I’ll explain as I go on!

My basic idea is that the bed will expand in three sections so that you can pull out the middle section to make a T shaped bench that goes around a table. If it expanded in two sections then this could take up too much of the kitchen.

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First step was to build a frame that is deep enough and high enough for a sofa / bench. One consideration is that it should be deep enough so that it is just over half of the width of the bed you want it to turn into! In my case that was easy it was as wide ad it could be from one wall to the kitchen / shelves on the other side.

Then put braces across the frame where the different sections will end.

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(This photo was taken at the end but the braces need to be wide enough for an 18mm divider for the sections as well as having room for the lid to slid over and rest on.)

Next step is to mount a 44mm x 18mm batten along the back edge. This will be to mount the hinges for the 2 lids on each box (they lie on top of each other and are made of 9mm ply, so my hinge batten needs to be 9mm x 2 = 18mm high!). The 44mm width needs to accommodate your hinges so buy hinges that will fit or adjust the width of the batten, be aware that a really wide batten will reduce the amount the lid can extend!

At the front both bits of ply line up, overhanging the frame and there is a batten screwed into the lower bit of ply I’ll attach legs for when the bed extends later.

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…and here it is again with the bottom layer, of the end section, slightly slid out!

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The back of the lids is more complex! There needs to be a lip that catches the lower lid as it slides back in, so that when you lift both of the lids come up together. To make that lip first cut a strip off the back of the lower lid wide enough to mount the hinges. Then cut a batten wide enough to slip into the gap left by the runners. Then cut a piece of 3mm ply to use as a spacer, this should be as short as the batten and as wide as the offcut from the lower lid.

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Then screw these together, it’ll help later, with a couple of screws towards the centre.

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You should be able to drop this into the section you are making a lid for and it will sit 9mm below the hinge batten.

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Then drill the hinges in with screws long enough to go through the top lid (9mm ply), the bottom off cut (9mm ply), the spacer (3mm ply) and into the lip batten (18mm pine). I used 40mm screws which seemed to work as they were slight raised up due to going through the hinge as well.

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Then with the batten for the legs attached to the bottom lid where it overhangs the frame and the lip attached to the top lid the only remaining thing to do is to put a face of ply on the bottom lid and finish boxing out the bed in left over ply!

When building this I started from one end and built the lid for the end section and added an 18m x 18mm stip of pine to help guide the bottom lid to slid out and guide it back in. Then moved onto the second section, another strip of pine and finally the third section. I will have to cut separate bits of foam to go on each section.

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This is the 18x18mm guide that divides two sections. Note that it does not line up perfectly with the brace underneath… it does line up with the lid, apparently I didn’t take enough care when putting in the braces but it lines up with the lid so looks fine with the lid closed.

The next thing to do is cut a face for the lower lid from ply just to cover up the batten legs and give you a lip to grip on when pulling out the lower lid. This is what it looks like with the ‘face’ on, I think it is worth doing as it just finishes things off and reinforces the legs of the lower lid.

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If you flip the lower lid upside down you can see where the face overhangs the horizontal batten giving a lip the you can use as a handle to pull the lid out.

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The top of the face sticks up 9mm so that when it is pushed closed the face is flush with the top lid….

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The feet end of the bed where it overlaps the sliding door I was going to box off to tidy it up…

…but it has been so useful having an easy access bit for coats and jumpers that I’ve just neatened it up instead.


The flooring is fairly simple…
I want a black and white chequered flooring!

Black and white, chequered flooring

£60 from B and Q for 3m x 2m.

The edges I want in shiny aluminium tread plate.


The process was fairly simple as I decided to keep the existing ply flooring. The vinyl was spread out across the floor and roughly cut oversize, being careful to make sure the squares line up and did not end up on a slant! Once I had a roughly cut version it was much easier to carefully cut to size with a Stanley knife. The trickiest bit was going round the wheels, I wanted to do the whole floor prior to fitting furniture in case I ever changed my mind about the layout.

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The trimming around the doors and between the cab and the back were all edged in tread plate after the vinyl. I managed to borrow a chopsaw / mitre saw to get nice 45 degree cut so the edges meet up nicely. To fix the tread plate in place I just drilled holes through the tread plate and countersunk them to ensure the screw would be flush and screwed through the vinyl into the ply flooring.

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I think it now looks really good… downside is that the step now looks really shabby so I’m going to have to do that as well with the offcuts.

Prep Work and Insulation

Being an Ex-BT van the back of the van was full of heavy duty shelving, cupboards and storage. Way more industrial than we needed and not laid out nicely so it was a case of stripping everything out and starting again, with the help of my Wombat assistant! …Keeping the Orange light though 🙂

We also removed the bulkhead to let more light into the back of the van, we will be adding one side window in the sliding door but that is still to come. We figured that the window should go in the sliding door as that way we don’t lose any wall space for furniture and the kitchen. One it is all in place we may squeeze in a second window possibly in the back doors.

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Once everything was out, well apart from the flooring we decided to keep the flooring rather than tear it out and redo it, we set to work insulating the van. The flooring we may yet live to regret as if we had ripped it out we could have laid another layer of insulation beneath it. We also decided against KingSpan (or something similar) as we didn’t want to lose the width or height that this would cost us. In the end we went for the silver covered bubble-wrap type insulation. Time will tell if these steps cost us and we are shivering with cold!

The bubble-wrap stuff went on easily enough with spray adhesive but after reading around a lot more I’m not sure if the spray adhesive will still stick after a couple of hot summers! Either way the boarding out will be fairly easy to remove if we need to go back and upgrade to KingSpan.

I have since had to rip everything out to have some welding done on the underneath of the van and as the silver bubble foil does bugger all I’ve chucked in as much Kingspan/Celotex as I can. Its 25mm under the floor, 50mm in the ceiling and 50mm  or 25mm on the wall depending on the curves and bumps.

I have filled all indentations and cavities with 50mm foam board backed in silver (e.g. Celotex). I’ve taped all the joins with aluminium tape. Ribs of the van body and any areas where I’ve used lots of little chunks of Celotex, I’ve covered the whole lot with silver bubble wrap and then taped the edges of that. (insulation level = new Aussie Girlfriend!)

Boarding Out

I’ve used various thicknesses of Marine Ply for the boarding out. 3mm for the roof as that will not really be supporting any weight and 6mm for anything that will be load bearing.

The most complex bit was the space above the cab… “The Alfie Cave”. This will be the little one’s bed after we install a cot/cage door to stop him rolling out. I figure that as he gets older we can remove the door and add a ladder for him to get himself up and down.

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One other point to not is that I added a mesh hatch to allow the breeze from the whirlygig on top (no idea what they are really called but the thing that spins and lets air in!).

Sliding mesh for the whirlygig roof thingy!

Alfie has massively outgrown the Alfie cage so he now sleeps in the front of the van on a camp bed resting on a wooden frame that goes between the two front doors.