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About the camper
Self-building Mods and Repairs
Travelogue Further Information
1. Planning
Planning is all important, it's no good decide what you want with no idea if it will all fit, and then when it is all fitted will you have enough space to actually live in the finished camper. I've seem plenty of conversions that barely give space to open the fridge door or stand up whilst the bed is out because there's so much crammed in there that floor space is at a premium. Think carefully about what luxuries you really need. Do you need heating, or a toilet, or storage for awnings? Oven or fridge or both? 240v hook up or solar panels and multiple batteries? Once you have decided on the features to fit, think about how they are going to fit in. The Hi Cube has extra sections bolted in halfway down the body meaning that vents could only go in certain places. As it happened those certain place were just about right. The Esterel kitchen was a self contained unit so it was easy to put in side the HiCube in just about the right place to prove this. Gas drop-outs need to be in open areas of the floor, it's no good drilling down to fit you've hit a chassis member or a brake line. Then you have to think about what order to fit certain items. For example if you are hiding wiring in the roof, make sure it goes in before you fit cupboards and lockers. You have also to work out how the fit those cupboards and lockers. Whilst the Hi Cube came with certain features fitted, it means you are stuck with them unless you want to rip the whole lot out and start again. I didn't. A plan of how to proceed and it kind of went like this...

2. Preperation - strip down and repairs
The first task after initial planning, as it should be for any camper conversion, to strip out the current interior and find anywhere that needs welding. The Hi Cube needed more work than we thought it would. There were the usual places around the wheel arches and rear quarters, but the real task was around the windows where the rubbers hadn't quite sealed due to the rubbers shrinking over the years. This meant a large section of inner body had to be repaired or replaced. Luckily a local scrapyard had a mk5 LWB in so I took down a grinder and a drill, plus a battery and inverter, and cut out the whole section I need in one piece. Much easier than patching, especially when the patch area is in view, albeit carpeted.

Rotten window frame

Whole section cut out

repair section cut from
                                        donor van

Of the other repairs and changes made before the conversion was started the most notable were a repair to the circuit board film on the rear of the instrument cluster that caused several warning lights not to function, removing the extra heater and associated pipework & wiring from the load area (the maintenance logs showed regular occurences of coolant loss, this was caused by modern low quality water pipe being bent beyond what it was capable of tolerating before cracking would occur - 90º plastic corners would have solved this!) and removing the hydraulic wheelchair lift. A wheel carrier was found to go back here allowing a second spare to be carried.

3. External work and planning for services
With the internal repairs complete and having decided on how the kitchen, gas bottle, water bottles, and seating etc are going to fit in the camper, it's time to cut the holes that provide cirulating air for the fridge and oven, an exhaust for the fridge, and gas drop out below all the major gas connections. Two low vents were marked out and cut near the floor for the fridge and oven, whilst a high exit vent was cut into a steel panel that was to fitted instead of the small window in that side. Also in this panel would be the gas exhaust for the fridge. Boxes were made to bridge through to the inner panels.

Marking and cutting air
                                          vents for oven and fridge

Position of Kitchen Vents cut
                                          through and painted
Side panel with
                                          reinforcing for kitchen and
                                          locker chassis

Insulation cut to size
                                          and fitted

Also marked out and cut was the entry point for the 240v hook-up.  All the wall panels were marked with the positions of the kitchen and bottom lockers, and to reinforce the positioning of the furniture I fixed batons on the back of the panels. The panels on the kitchen side were the.fitted loosely to mark out the inner side of the kitchen vents. These were cut out and painted along with gas drop-out vents below the fridge and oven burners. With these finished the wall voids were treated to new insulation and screwed in place. Next it was time to build a services cupboard in the rear doors. This would house the gas bottle, water bottles, leisure battery (in the future) and 240v & 12v fuse boxes.

Mock up of the
                                          services cupboard

Cables were now laid in for the lights and switches, running back to a fuseboard in the services cupboard. Next to fuseboard was fitted the 240v fusebox, with a socket for a 16a plug fitted outside.

4. Fitting out the interior
Work in progress

5. Finishing touches
Work in progress
6. Pleasing DVLA
Work in progress

7. What would we do different next time?
Work in progress

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this page last updated May 2020