Saturday, 16 June 2018

VW caddy van conversion

Finally I have time to post about the van fun!

bulkhead removed
So bluey my old VW caddy maxi was good, and nice but I never felt totally happy with 'him'! I made up lots of (silly) reasons that it wasn't quite working and dreamt of getting a standard wheelbase VW caddy which wasn't bright British Gas blue! That was my dream!

panels out, cleaning time
I was thinking about selling bluey in spring (the time to sell), and then I saw Hamish on auto trader! In the Highlands there aren't mainly vans for sale, and the ones available are generally white and either 1-2 years old (very expensive), or older and have suffered a tough life being used 'properly'!

insulation under floor
So I spotted Hamish over Aberdeen direction and immediately knew it was a rare find up here, being silver, a blue motion (eco!), with cruise control and not having been used as a 'work' van. Barrie had really looked after Hamish and put some nice 16" wheels on him too! So I bought him and sold bluey!

more insulation
I then set about my conversion. The conversion done to bluey was of a high standard, and what I asked for at the time, but after using him for 2 years I definitely wan't to do it differently. I wanted the flexibility to use Hamish as a mini camper, be economical for work (99% of its use) and then be able to be used as a van... oh and be easier to park and more discreet than bright blue!

All insulation down and floor back in
Completing the conversion was really fun actually. I've decided at this point not to have any electrics or air vents (nearly cut a hole in the roof).

starting the carpeting 
So basically I stripped it out, used Low-E (cost - £115) as the main insulation product sticking it (high temp spray adhesive) to the sides, roof and under the existing floor. I then carpeted everywhere! I got quite a good finish, but the wheel arches aren't amazing and this took about a week! I also added some block insulation, and soft material insulation into some voids (cost - £35)

the carpeted panels go back in
feature (sticker) wall in
I bought a 'trade' made to measure wooden rack for the van storage from van rack. Friends said I could have made the equivalent much cheaper (it was £80 I think), but it wouldn't have had the same finish and I am really pleased with this. Well worth the money in my mind!

rack/cupboard in!

bed construction (highlighting the main mistake)
I then wanted a removable bench seat/bed, which could be a single or double bed. There were various options for this, but I went with the simplest, and made one after watching a video from Huw Tube. It took a little while to get this right as I made a few mistakes and the design needed modifying to function better, but I'm really pleased with the results. This cost approx £50 to make!

finished. seat/bed tied down! In seat mode (or single bed)
I had lots of dilemma's regarding the seat covers/mattress. I didn't want to use a plastic and wanted to be green with this considering natural latex, wool.... etc. But it was impossible to get the size/shapes I required and would have been too expensive.

Serendipity led me to McEwans Upholstery in Inverness and I'm glad it did. I wanted the cushions to look really nice as they are the main thing you see and I don't have a sewing machine or the skills to do this part of the build myself!
fits 2 x bikes inside without taking wheels off - handy
I made use of their remnants section and picked a navy tweed, left over from a refurbishment job they completed at Eden Court. It's a lovely fabric, and should be hard wearing. They did a great job of the cushions, even making an alteration after me rethinking stuff a few weeks later! This was the most expensive bit of the job at £230, but worth it.

double bed
I find I'm making minor changes (just bought a pop up bin for £6), and still have to put curtains in the back window... but basically its done and I think I've already slept in it for 4 nights. I have a spreadsheet somewhere, but the conversion cost approx £550, which I think is very good (the professional conversion to bluey cost £2200).

Hamish working well with 6 people in!
As a van, main vehicle it is great, it drives like a car and is economical averaging 50-55 mpg (good for a van). Its brilliant having cruise control, and as a part time camper works well. Functionality and use of space is much better and more practical than bluey. Sure, room is tight with 2, but its great and the bed is comfy! I'm happy I made the swap!


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