Starting a conversion HELP!

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Bruce, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Bruce

    Bruce Read Only Funster

    Aug 12, 2012
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    hi all we've finally got our bus, all seats are now stripped out and are ready to start converting but we're not sure what to do first. Any advice would be welcome. The bus has been checked over, it's a Ford Transit [had 16 seats] so it's not too bad for space. We are not sure whether to go for a rock'n'roll bed or the bench type you fill in the middle. Any suggestions or advice most welcome.

    :BigGrin: Is there an order of progress ie electrics, flooring, bed, cooking area etc
    Thanks for any help
    Bruce, Irene& Toby Transit
  2. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

    Aug 26, 2007
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    YO11 2BD
    my priorities would be

    positions and installation of electrics and plumbing

    floor and insulation

    wall/ceiling boards and insulation

    then move on to the internal furnishings.
  3. jhorsf

    jhorsf Read Only Funster

    May 15, 2009
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  4. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

    Aug 22, 2007
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    E Yorks
    Before you do anything, have a good look round at what types of conversion are done on vans and decide which layout will work for you, then source some of the bits and pieces you want in it - if you are looking to use secondhand/nearly new ones then they will determine to some extent the space they need and what you then have left to work with.

    When I converted an ex-ambulance, I had a good idea of how I wanted it to be and managed to get hold of a couple of 'sample' sets of lounge seating to use for the settees, a good second-hand virtually new 3-way fridge, and some cheap cupboard doors - all of these determined the size of the settees, kitchen, wardrobe and cupboard sizes, then it was just a matter of putting the 'jigsaw' together to the design I wanted and making it all fit. One way of getting a 'full' interior is to buy a caravan and use the parts from that - if you can get a fairly young one (for example one that has been damaged and written off, or has major damp in the structure) you can utilise a lot of the stuff in it to keep costs down and also to some extent the construction time too. You may also then be able to utilise the existing sockets, lighting into your conversion.:Smile:

    Design is the key though - you need to know what bits are in the base vehicle that you cannot alter (wheel arches etc) and work round them to get the best out of your van - whilst it is tempting to get onto working on the van immediately, resist and do the ground work/design first and you'll find it much easier.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
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  5. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

    Nov 27, 2011
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    from experience
    plan first then do it again till your happy it will work by using masking tape on the floor

    then do insulation in roof sides and floor

    next run the cables needed for a first fix, same with pipes

    fix brackets or wooden blocks behind wall boards to support furniture and trim round windows or skylights

    fit wall boards and roof lining

    lay flooring and protect with plastic or brown paper taped over

    build and install furniture

    finish wiring and plumbing

    then fit beds/sofa etc


    one van we built just came to mind reminding me.... if your going to cut the metalwork above the cab reducing the cupboard size, do it and reinforce before doing anything else. the same if you plan to panel over windows
  6. Terry

    Terry Funster

    Dec 27, 2007
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    South yorks
    Hi LAYOUT is first and determine what goes where :BigGrin: insulating and boarding next, remembering to lay any roof cables.Found it better to run cable ducts along floor and wall cupboard :Wink:then pull wires through later.Use masking tape to determine cupboards etc then cut out windows and roof lights (if sure where you can do this before any boarding ie first job:BigGrin:) Next bathroom then base cupboards worktops, sink etc.Then wall cupboards, then start to position boiler, heater etc where you can get at them :thumb::Wink:also underslung tanks pipes etc fit doors then soft furnishings and enjoy
  7. pudseykeith

    pudseykeith Read Only Funster

    Nov 5, 2007
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    Leeds West Riding of York
    What ever way you tackle the job , get the insulation right Dont skimp, over do rather than under do.
    Pudseykeith :thumb:
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  8. wiljoy

    wiljoy Funster

    May 23, 2008
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    Crook, Durham
    Local professional has just started with a conversion for me. His first job was to fit cardboard to the floor then measure/draw where everything is to be fitted.
    After satisfying himself of the exact layout he will fit all wiring and pipework to
    the various appliances, sockets lights etc. One thing he always does is lay extra wiring into the system incase any extra lights etc are required. The reversing camera wiring (if your need it) can easily be fed through the roof space at this stage. Then he will size and cut all holes in bodywork for windows and skylights. From that stage we haven't has a discussion yet. Will keep you posted when he is ready to move to next stage. This could take a few weeks as he is busy with other conversion work as well as mine.
  9. JJ

    JJ Funster

    May 1, 2008
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    Quinta Majay, Pinheiro Bordalo, Portugal
    What ever you do, don't do what I did with my third self-build.

    I had a big pile of material and bits from my dead van and an empty "new" van.

    I had a parking place on the side of a busy road.

    I needed to move in... I had been in a house for nearly three months and was going mad.

    I ripped out the checker plate flooring fitted by previous owner... cut it up, bent and welded it into a shower tray/wet room floor.

    Got the (hand) saw out and a day later it was panelled out inside with insulation behind it.

    The next day the bed was made with space for nine drawers underneath it.

    In went the (old) mattress and I moved in. The next day I went to Southport for a National Convention!

    All the rest of the van was "planned" from a horizontal position.

    I haven't nearly finished it yet but then I have only lived in it for 11 years.

    A lot of it was built on the side of a beach in the Algarve.

    These things take time.:Wink:

    I have sheets of plywood on board (ready to make the dinette) which have been transported 100,000 kms around Europe.

    Not finished but what fun I have had in it and what places I have visited...

    You might think I lie but many several Funsters know I am not.

    Deciding on a self-build will be one of the best decisions you have made.

    I advise you to make all the runs of wires around the van in channels with easy to remove covering for quick access. Make loops now and then in the cables so when you want to add more stuff or change positions of lights etc, the job is easy.

    I could never design the thing exactly as I wanted it first off. There would always be things I would want to change later.

    JJ :Cool:
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012

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