The VW van has been on the road for a while now and I haven’t done an update since it passed the MOT. I’ve been slowly working on it and I finally have enough to make a reasonably interesting blog post about it.
Leo and I haven’t really used the van much since it’s been on the road. We took it to Big Bang, went to a unicycle meet in Wales and Leo used it to move house. Since then it’s broken down twice. I had the carb off and totally overhauled it, fitting all new seals, gaskets and giving it a good clean up.
The end goal with the van was always to turn it into a proper camper to go unicycling in, so as soon as it was roadworthy I started thinking about building a camping interior.
The most obvious thing we needed was a bed. I wanted something that could be used as a seat and a bed, so I started looking at rock ‘n’ roll beds. Proper ones seem to sell for around £300. I thought I could do better than that, so I scoured Ebay, Gumtree and the local free ads. I managed to bag this old futon for £15 off Gumtree.
By some kind of miracle, after a bit of measuring, I discovered that the hinges were almost the same distance apart as the width of the van. I unbolted the hinges and seat from the base and set it to one side for making extra supports later. Then I cut off the very ends of the seat base and back. This made the seat the same width as the van.
I managed to work out a way of mounting the futon hinges to the van without having to cut or drill the van. I utilised the existing seat belt mounts and made up brackets that the futon could bolt to. Once I’d fabricated those, I loosely bolted it all in to check the fit. I realised that the seat base and back were too deep. When I sat back on it as if travelling with a seatbelt on, my legs would hang in the air and the back was almost as high as my head. It also protruded futher forward than I wanted it to, not leaving much living space. To get around these problems I moved the hinges back on the brackets I had made and shortened the seat base and back. No photos of the brackets, not sure why I didn’t take any of them.
I cut out about 100mm from each so they were both 500mm deep. I also re-drilled the hinge mounting holes in them so they bolt to the hinges the other way round. I wanted the rounded corners to be on the outside so that you weren’t constantly hitting your knees on the sharp square corners when climbing in and out of the sliding doors.
Then I cut down the wooden slats and gave it all a lick of paint.
Then the exiting bit, I bolted it in the van smug in the knowledge I’d just saved myself £285. I cut up the original base from the futon that I’d set aside earlier and used it as supports for the front of the seat. It had rubber feet which I took off and fitted to them and makes it look quite neat. You can see them fitted in these photos.
Finally, I cut the foam down to fit. All I have to do now is modify the cover so it fits the cut-down foam and buy a couple more bits of foam for the rear portion of the bed.
Obviously this is a massively simplified version. In between all of these steps was loads of measuring and test fitting. I must have bolted and unbolted the whole thing from the van at least 50 times. Worth it though I think. More updates on the van coming soon!