Newbie from Stoke


Nov 7, 2016
So had a bit of time this weekend to finish off the heater install.

First job was to remove the fuel sender and install the diesel pickup (silver piece in centre of picture) which was the hard stop I hit before as I had to wait for a removal tool to be delivered.

Unclip all the pipes, mop up the spills. remove the electric connectors. undo the sealing ring using special tool, mop up spills. Extract the sender, empty the excess fuel, mop up spills. Put it on its side, mop up spills, etc..

reinstalled in the van

Then installed the fuel pump/solenoid and fuel filter

and run all the piping.

Then install the exhaust and silencer.
attached them to the heater underneath the van

Black is intake (aluminium), silver is exhaust (steel)

I ordered an extra length of flexi pipe for the exhaust so I could get it to install easier and exit in a convenient place and also makes it quieter.

looks like its touching the handbrake cable but there is a couple of inches clearence.

I also ordered a genuine intake silencer to make it slightly friendlier on the noise front as apparently that generates a lot of noise.

started it up and no joy because no fuel flowed, but the fan and everything worked.
Tested it by sucking on a spare piece of pipe and there was an air leak. So worked through joint by joint and of course it was in the sender so had to take it out again. (insert more spills here)

Fixed it and purged the air out.
A guess what.. it fired up.

It runs the fan for a couple of minutes before the pump starts and it gets warm, which is disconcerting but now I know its ok. But at this point it kicked out loads of smoke which eventually cleared, probably due to bad combustion whist all the air purged.
It eventually cleared, so left it overnight to cool down.

This morning I tidied up the install as I had to move part of the catalyst heat shield (which had come loose anyway) to install the pipework and heated.
So I cut a piece of threaded bar and made a mount using Pclips to keep the pipes clear of the body.

then made a mount of the heat shield.
Not the prettiest but it works.

Then reinstalled the seats and carpets.
here's what it looks like now.

Then took it for a test drive, no rattles, so happy.

what's it like in use I here you say....
When it first starts on maximum it sounds like a jet engine and the pump ticks for a while then calms down once it reaches maximum temperature but its now kicking out alot of heat. Noise outside is not too bad but wouldn't want to sleep near it, but ok for daytime use.
On the minimum setting its very quiet but still noticeable, think of the noise your car interior fan makes, but still kicks out a reasonable amount of heat

Overall quite happy with it, ordered a couple of extra bits though. An additional rubber mount for the pump to reduce the noise further. Also ordered some braided fuel hose to put around the small bore pump-heater pipe to protect it from heat and rubbing as well as allow a neater mounting as well as reduce noise further as the pipe transmits it to the body. Might also make a better mount for the silencer to stop any movement.
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Nov 7, 2016
Done a few more bits.
removed the heater pump and filter. I bought a cotton real bush to mount the pump on to reduce the vibration.

I also put the diesel fuel pipe in a braided hose, again to reduce the vibration and give it some more protection.
Also generally tided up the install, using P-clips instead on zip ties.

This is now whisper quiet, you can't hear the pump and just hear the noise of the exhaust but that just sounds like air blowing.

So this weekend I tackled a couple jobs.
I removed the bulkhead and it starts to look more like a campervan project.

Paneled out the van.

This allows me to start taking measurements to install the windows 'n stuff.

If you look at the previous photos, the van had the world largest roof rack. This wasn't mounted on the roof rack mounting point, just drilled through the roof. :brickwall:

So I'd put rubber grommets in to seal these. At some point I want to mount an awning, so bought a mounting kit from ebay which mounts on the roof mounting points. This means I can't fit roof bars, not a big deal, but I do want to fit solar panels at some point. Some people just glue these on, but I don't trust the paintwork on this, so want to fix mechanically. This would mean drilling more holes so I thought about using the ones I already have and do it properly.

First take out the grommet and treat the rust.

Then used a rivnut (a nut you install like a rivet) with some sealant on it.

Then stick it in the hole, with the tool and squeeze.

remove the tool and have one encapsulated nut, which means I don't have to disassemble the internal roof to unbolt anything.

Then installed a nut and fibre washer to make it water tight.

Now just need to start order all the bits....


Nov 7, 2016
I decided to build it from the outside in.
So firs thing to get sorted is the shell, or in this case, putting holes in the shell. So I ordered the first of the big spend items, windows... Looking at lots of other conversions the thing that annoys me is windows of different sizes and at different levels, it just looks unplanned. So I decided to have windows the same size (2 on the passenger side, 1 on the drivers because of the washroom).
I also bought lots of wood 'n' things to build it out and door the floor. I've also rethought the insulation. Instead of spray foam everywhere, I'm going to use kingspan and recycled insulation up to a level as its an old van and might need welding at some point and spray foam makes this difficult.

So off to Wickes and the local timberyard we went...

One of the problems with a van is the curved sides, especially as most windows are straight as they are meant to go in caravans or custom motorhomes. They do now make panel curved van specific windows, but these are expensive and no information on how to fit them as they are meant for professional firms. The other is the thickness of the walls, they're 1-2mm and windows need them to be 26mm.
The way to make them thicker is to make a frame, that is then glued on. But then you hit problem 1.. 2 ways round this, a) use a square frame and lots of clamps and force the van walls to go square or b)make a curved frame and have slight gaps top and bottom.
I decided to take option b.
First make a template.

Then cut the wood down to fit the curve of the van.

The first window to be done is the one in the sliding door. This is in case of an error, you can replace the door.

First problem is the strengthening strut.

2 minutes with a grinder sorted this.

Then mark out the window

drill the corners, this was scary as no going back

Join them up....

The glue the frame.

This frame isn't thick enough to take it to 26mm on purpose. The window in the sliding door has to clear the side and the other windows that is going in. If you install it flush it will not open once the blinds are fitted. Once the panel is fitted it will be 26mm.

This is then mounted and clamped in place.

So inner panel installed, but without the windows slot cut. This allows you to use a router with a template bit to cut out .

Once set, the window can be fitted.

Its installed using non setting mastics, a new one has come on the general market called dekaseal. This allows you to 'dab off' excess and leaves a clean finish, previously only available to commercial builders.
The window doesn't screw into the frame, the inner blind section screws into the window and sandwiches the frame.

So installed the window

And the inner blind/flyscreen unit

After I cut the door window, I cut the rear one.

And made another frame.

But this had a different problem, the inner lining panel has a bigger gap to the wall than at the top. Some people pad it out, other change the panels to the sit more flush but the professionals build another frame round it, so I decided to do this.

mount it and glue it again.
Then fit the inner lining panel and use the router trick to get a flush finish

Then mounted the window.

And the internal cassette.

I've cut the 3rd window, made a fame and mounted it, but ran out of time for it to set and install the last panel & window.
Not bad for 2 days work, seems more like the project is going now.
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Nov 7, 2016
Spent the weekend on the van but doesn't seem a lot to show for it. There is a delay on the roof lights which mean I can't spray foam yet. I ordered a kit online, so we'll see how it goes....

First thing was to remove all the wall linings, so I can fill the area behind with foam and cover them also (the visible ones anyway).

I took the opportunity to install a mains hook up socket I bought. Same method as installing the windows. Make a frame, align it on the body, mark the hole to cut out, file the hole smooth, paint it, glue the frame, clamp it on, leave overnight. Apply sealant to mains unit, install, remove excess sealant. Easy.... only takes about 3 hours, excluding drying times.

The wheel arches are hard to cover, so I bought some self adhesive foam with a silver foil backing. This allows it to be cut to go round the curve of the arch.

Didn't get any pictures on doing this, but I also used the foam to do the thin section round the door window.

Double layer of foam cut to fit to fill the gap.

The sealed with aluminium tape.

I then stripped out the cab roof entirely, which allow me to insulate the front part of the van. I used the self adhesive foam again as I didn't want to spray the foam with the big foam gun around the cab.

Last week I glued a couple of piece of wood to the front to allow an inner lining to be fitted, so I had to cut pieces round and sealed with tape again.

I then moved onto doing the floor.
First put down battens to take the weight. The foam actually can support a spread load, but the battens stop it crushing under the weight.

Then cut Kingspan 25mm foam to fit.

And sealed with more aluminium tape.

The installed a new 12mm plywood floor, that I previously cut to fit on the batterns.

And that's now up to date....

Deleted member 63

I think you need to get your finger out mate :D :D

Nice job, the furniture & electrics are the tricky bits for me.

Deleted member

Looking good. I too bought a Chinese heater which came with its own tank. It did however suggest that the pump should be mounted at about 45 degrees. I wonder if yours was the same? Geoff.


Nov 7, 2016
I believe so, the instructions were terrible. I beleive its to allow it to self-prime and cuts the noise down.


Well-Known Member
May 8, 2016
Cléguérec, France
Lot of good work there Jon - and it's a nice big van, too. Enjoy the space you've got now because the time will come when you've built some furniture and you need to get to something tucked away up in a corner somewhere. You'll be tying yourself in knots trying to reach whatever it is and soundly cursing the bloody idiot who built this thing in such a difficult way. We've all done it :confused:.

Enjoy the rest of your build.


Nov 7, 2016
So had bank holiday Monday on the van.
First job was use the hand held spray foam to fill all the bracing struts and other parts. 2 reasons for this, the compressed air can is more controllable and the expansion is less vigorous than 2 part foams as its not a chemical reaction so less chance of damaging panels.

After I spray foamed the gaps, I installed the roof battens, so I can fit to a flat roof and make my life easy, and maybe fit more insulation. These are stixall'd up and held in place with bolts. These will come out later but will be used to hold up the shelving.

Then sprayed with the 2 part foam, this went ok, but its a huge van so took a while. I expected it to expand more, but it is quite a solid foam which had expanded fully

Then I used the 2 part spray foam to do the walls. The plan was to do the roof another day, but I ran out of foam. I've got a couple of sheets of kingspan that will do. I was leaving the roof till later, so I know exactly where to put the roof lights once I've put the carcasses in the interior.

Anne had been shopping and brought me back a carving knife to trim the foam rather than use the household one.

tidied up quite well.

I left a couple of panels bare, so I have options of what to install where later. I also didn't do the sills. Its an old van and might need welding at some point and spray foam can make this difficult. I had bought some insulation, the recycled bottle type and used it to stuff all the sills and hole I'd not done. I had quite a bit left so put some in the walls when the spray foam had left gaps in the huge walls. They're is going to be a vapour barrier installed in a while to prevent any moisture getting to the insulation. I've used it all and still have the rear wiring area to install once the towbar is fitted, so I'll get some more. Don't plan to be cold.

This had took me about 11hrs today, including making a frame for the roof light and lots of prep to installed them.

I got fed up with doing prep, so decided to mock up a unit. I realised with having a front bathroom it was going to make it very tight to get through from the front seats. Anne had a bright idea of putting the fridge at the front, so decided to mock it up and see where it would sit and still allow the front seat to go fully back. Its going to have a wardrobe on top but that could be staggered if needs be. It will have the batteries underneath, hidden under the false floor.

So 40 minutes later, courtesy of a track saw and kreg drill system, I have a mock fridge cabinet. The track saw makes cutting accurately simple and I can't believe how easy the kreg drill system make joints, especially if you get the clamp as well.

This sits brilliant, can be moved forward for a bit more space in the cupboard and still not get in the way of access from the seat. The cupboard can go straight up also to the roof so will be big enough. The gap at the bottom is an intake vent location another will be installed at top as I'm fitting a Vitrifrigo 12v compressor fridge.


Nov 7, 2016
Insulated the back door using the recycled bottle wool.

Then sealed with the insulating silver bubble wrap.

Then cut a hole in the side for emptying the loo.

Also installed the exhaust for the heater and the door for the loo hatch.

internal view

Also cut a hole in the roof and installed a roof light and started insulating the roof.

I need to pick the porsche up from a specialists and the X3 is too new to tow, so installed the towbar.

Had a right faf with this as a part was missing, then became a real faf as it has to have holes cut in the chasis rails and bars installed, so took hours to install.

Big old beast as its a 3 ton capacity

New battery installed, as its the 3.0 it should have the larger battery as standard and the current one was showing 11.5v.
Got it from halfords as it was the cheapest place, then dscovered the neigbours lad worked there, friends and family discount applied. :happy:

uninstalled all the wiring that is going to the leisure batteries and installed the power feed to the rear

As it was a normal van it had bulkhead which I've removed so its left a bit of scabby bit.

Fiat only allow you to search for part s by VIN number so unless you have the VIN of a vehicle with the parts you need, you can't find them.
I found online the part numbers for the van trim, unfortunately its the peugot part number so might have been beige, not grey. So I took a punt and order it from france.
Turned out they were beige, but that matches some of the rear trim.

Then trimmed the side door.

And the rear

And the "C"? Pillar (who knows with vans)

And even panelled out and trimmed the overcab area



May 31, 2018
Hi, I'm Jon based in Stoke. Currently planning a conversion that has a few specific requirements. My hobby is doing trackdays so it needs to be able to tow a trailer and car, ideally at least 2500kg tow weight. We've come to the conclusion a self build is the best (and cheapest) solution as professional builders seemed to downplate towing limits on older builds plus we can spec what we want and add things as we go along.

It will mainly be used for somewhere warm to sit for the wife with some of the other trackday widows. Rockingham paddock in March is like basecamp 1 on Everest. It will also be used for a few trips away but mainly on sites with facilities when we're away watching racing. Initially the plan is a campervan, no loo/shower, but full fridge/ cooker with blown air heating. I could squeeze it in a MWB and it would be easier for parking as it will be parked in some hotel car parks when we're doing some foreign trackdays, but contemplating a LWB so I can add a toilet later but not XLWB.

The current plan is probably a Sevel van (post 2007 so its galvanized), with at least a 130hp engine, ideally a 160, as they have a decent tow weight. I looked at Iveco's as they have mad towing capacity but have a reputation for rough ride, which wouldn't do the wife's bad back any good. I also looked at Sprinters as they have full auto's, perfect for towing, but can only tow 2000kg unless you order a factory special, never seen one secondhand.

current thoughts....
  • Underslung gas tank to free up space, as well as underslung water tanks
  • Gas blown air heating,
  • multiple batteries.
  • A 230v charger/inverter so we can run a microwave (with a good supply of batteries...)
  • b2b charger and add solar at a later date
  • layout will be an end lounge so can seat at least 4 round a table.
  • 12/230v compressor fridge as when we are away it will be on hookup, other times it only needs to last 24hrs.
  • sprayed insulation
Any advice or recommendations warmly received.
Welcome indeed. Home build is definitely best IMHO. We have a Ducato MWB with a raised full sized mattress platform permanently made up crossways. A diesel powered Eberspacher saves weight of gas tanks and we use a 10Kg bottle under the sink. Ditto water in 3 Gall containers on the basis of you don't need to carry 100Kg (20 gallons) of weight of water when it's available in most places.

We don't use an oven, just a hob and Dutch Oven (cauldron) while taking 4/5 days food in a frozen state to see us through until cooking becomes inevitable to avoid the dreadful meals available in most establishments. Dutch Oven is simple to use and wives appear to be grateful for the simplicity and lack of washing and cleaning. Toilet, unnecessary unless you intend being camper-bound, when other places are readily available with a little walking to get to them and other methods are simpler and user friendly - Zero smells. Ditto shower when camping procedures are simple. Dispose of waste water regularly - saves carrying dead weight.

IMO many people overdo the camper thing and try to recreate home therein. Keep the weight down; lightweight Voringher ply, plastic containers for drawers, no lids to close and forget heavy kitchen furniture. Bespoke means you can make things higher than the norm which makes life simpler for us.

You'll need a big engine, probably the biggest to pull your needs.

Best of luck and look forward to reading what you do.

I would add that 240v electrics are hugely expensive but in the end it's all a wandering lead so, we have made a hole with grommet in the floor and drop the lead through to connect to EHU with 3 plug arrangement fo our needs. The instant trips cover safety (can't remember the name !).


Nov 7, 2016
2 days into a week off work, so trying to crack on as its due in the upholstery place next week. So need to at least get the seating done. which means building the bathroom and the fridge/wardrobe.

Did a a few tidying up jobs on Monday, but main job was to build the bathroom. A lot of work as its almost all manual shaping the panels, to get a snug fit to the wall.
The lightweight panels are £100 each so don't want to make mistakes (which I did).

Also have to cut out the door frame from the panel, so no "easy" panels.
After a full day in the heat, the 3 bathroom walls were done, including service panel behind where the toilet goes. The back wall will be done later.

Tuesday, started working on the fridge/cupboard. There are batteries going in the base, so spent the time to fit the false base using furniture fixings so it won't get damaged being fastened/tightened frequently, also did this on the bathroom service panel.

The fridge is a 12v compressor one, so no holes in the side of the van needed, but had to fit vents for air to circulate, and fit the shelf.

Took about 6 hours to make this...

I had a couple of hours left so I made the bed/sofa bases, still have to do some more bits to them before I make the tops.

The cupboard will also have the electrics at the back so decided to fit a vent at the top also.