camper van mountains

Camper van conversion unfolds

Since my last article on the destruction of my VW camper van, Harvey the RV, further mayhem has ensued.  Metal has been shredded, holes drilled and roofs sawn in half – breaking hearts and minds.  What could quickly turn an initial fairly sizeable investment into zero with a few mistakes has been nerve racking to say the least.  Fortunately for my mental health the VW T6 conversion process has made good progress over the last few weeks and move forward full steam ahead.

roof conversion VW T6

Seeing daylight

An open view straight up into the clouds!  A quick way to turn a van into an expensive convertible is to cut a huge hole in the roof.  On this occasion it was to fit the new camper conversion with a roof courtesy of Austops.  Austops are a high quality UK based manufacturer offering well made and keenly priced elevating pop top roofs.  Supporting scope for a variety of different van manufacturers but of course including VW for the ever popular T4, T5 and T6 models.  You should find something to meet your requirements.

Many different options are available covering aspects like both long and short wheel base variations to suit most if not all conversion needs.  I opted for the VW T6 pop top in black but there is the option to have this colour coded if required to match the paint work of your conversion.  

Other things to consider may be if you want to expand sleeping arrangements from a two to four berth, consider adding a bed in the roof.  An elevating bed powered by gas struts can be a quick solution to expanding family accommodation or just provide extra storage space while you are parked up for the night.

Window conversion VW T6

Shredding heavy metal

The butchery of Harvey the RV didn’t stop with the roof.  Soon holes were being cut into the soft metal of its sides to make way for new windows to provide that all important light and ventilation in the conversion.  Windows came with rapid delivery courtesy of Vee Dub Transporters.  Vee Dub Transporters offer a wide range of accessories for most models of VW transporter.  Everything from solid and sliding windows, through to detailing and suspension upgrades is available for prompt delivery to your door.

In this conversion I opted for sliding windows on both the driver and passenger sides of the van to provide greater straight through ventilation.  This was particularly important to me with the lack of AC on this Trendline T6 model.  For security and greater privacy I decided against adding further glass all round but thats the great thing about a new build.  You have the ability to make your own decision on what you want or don’t want to include.  Not seeing other motorists in my rear view mirror is a huge plus for me and makes motorway cruising more relaxing.  Sometimes less is more!

finished VW T6 windows

Expanded Conversion Space

Sure the van was good before the conversion process got under way but expanding the available space takes it to a whole new level.  Only intending on using the van as a day van?  Adding a roof would allow you to stand fully upright and get changed after surfing or simply stretch your legs out of the rain.  As a camper van it has even bigger benefits, allowing you to sleep more than two adults on a trip and move around more easily while cooking are two that will be instant game changers.  

Thinking of saving money and doing the conversion at a later date?  I would caution you to think again.  Carrying out open heart surgery on your van is hard enough empty but even more difficult if you have already fitted other interior items.  To avoid damaging any of your investment and make life more straight forward try to make the decision to expand space early in your conversion process.  In terms of adding useable value it is admittedly expensive but will be a worthwhile choice to most users.

Laying the foundations

With the more drastic changes out of the way in the roof and windows, attention shifted to the foundations of the interior.  Earlier work to strip out the ply lining pre conversion was the key at this point.  The floor pre fitting was a bit of a mess after the removal of the original plywood, meaning a big clean up operation was required before new fittings, insulation and sound deadening could be installed.

Insulation and sound deadening are important to change your simple panel van into a full blown camper van conversion that will be habitable during a Scottish winter.  Kiravans offer a full ply flooring kit for T5 and T6 builds making the process of ordering from separate places unnecessary.  In this build I opted to include a higher side and rear step to replace the original and level with the new higher height of the floor.  Try to avoid cheaper 9mm ply floor equivalents found else where and aim for a 12mm wide flooring to provide better quality and noise deadening.

conversion flooring

What’s next?

With the conversion process now fully under way I’ve been hard at work.  Major changes like roof installation aren’t the only time consuming pieces of the puzzle.  Selecting, build and fitting an interior is proving to be not completely straight forward with so many options available and different setups all aimed at unique user groups.  Be sure to subscribe to the site for future updates covering this and other aspects of the VW T6 camper van conversion process.

I’ve enjoyed speccing out the inputs of this build to meet my intended use as an outdoor adventure and touring van to see more of the world.  What kind of build process have you gone through to meet intended van use?  I would love to hear about the choices you made along the way below and maybe inspire some future modifications of my own.  Its amazing what other people can come up with to fit in with their chosen hobby or life style on the open road.