To anyone else thinking of converting a van: something that intimidated me before I decided to convert a van was the seemingly endless list of jobs, specifics, areas to cover, things to do. Don’t be overwhelmed! Take each step at a time and just focus on the one thing at a time. Stop trying to plan everything at once! Keep in mind how awesome your own personalised camper/ tour van/ race day van/ bachelor pad (whatever floats your boat) will be when you’re done!
SO first things first, finding out what’s wrong with the thing. See The Van for all the details of the original van.
As far as I’m still aware I was lucky enough to get an engine in good shape. That’s one reason I picked Mercedes. For £1440 and with 14 years of wear I don’t think that’s bad at all. I soon found out after bringing the van back home that the breaks were almost completely shot and the tyres pretty illegal, so a few hundred quid later I had working brakes and decent tyres. Yay! Now to the body itself…
Vans in general, especially Sprinters, are not exactly famed for their ability to keep rust-free and aesthetically sound for any period of time, never mind 14 years. The van I bought had had some work previously done on the skirting, and thanks to a respray (albeit a rather poor one), the majority of the body was rust free (wahoo!). Looking on the roof was a different story. Or should I say – standing inside the van looking at the sky through the roof. Each of the seams between the three overlapping panels that comprise the Sprinter’s roof had rusted, pretty badly – to the extent where multiple perforations on the middle, and worst, seam presented a dotted patchy view of the sky above; an ever-so conveniently placed natural shower whenever the heavens were to open.
The left rear wheel arch was crumbling away and as were the inner corners of the rear doors. Time to fix!
A family friend who lived in the village, Simon, kindly agreed to do some welding on the van for me. Tasks in order were:
- Weld up the leaky roof seams, patch the holes.
- Grind off the crumbling rusty edges of the back doors and driver’s door and weld new bits on
- Weld new patch over the crumbling wheel arch
- Sand and touch up any rusting or exposed areas of metal
- Remove wooden bulkhead
- Clean up the inside
The back doors were worse than the following photos of the driver’s-side door, pre-weld:
The back doors, post-weld and painted, one with grey oxide, one with Hammerite (one I bought, one I was given!)
This is the middle roof seam – the worst offender – mid-weld then painted:
Some mid-weld roof shots:
Grinding. Non-sexually (safety first):
Initial jobs mostly done, it’s time for the next step: Insulation