Van Conversion Process
All I can say is thank you internet!!! I have to say as first timers it’s been a struggle but the #VanLife Community on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube have been our main source for ideas and guidance in terms of design and the build of our van.
Our Toyota Liteace Premio 1.8 (1995) (by the way we named our van – Vanhalen) came with its original stock interior which was extremely well maintained by its previous owner.
We started the van conversion by removing all of its interior ourselves. This was an important step for us, doing it ourselves taught us how things work in our van. We did this at a friend’s garage – BluePrint Garage in Subang Jaya, in case we screwed things up and needed his help. After stripping Vanhalen, we had to drive it home completely empty and I remember how hot and hollow it was without any insulation. I know it seems that at this point we took a great interior and ruined it but don’t worry, there is a good reason for all of this craziness.
STEP 1 HEAT INSULATION
This was the state of our heat insulation for the engine hood and the engine bay area. So we bought new insulation from a Car Audio shop. Costs us RM60 (Usd15).
We stuck this to the engine hood and it’s helped to stop the heat coming through to the seats and it has helped with the sound of the engine.
We also bought Ceramic Wool and lay it on certain areas of the engine bay which we felt needed it most. We re-used our van’s original carpet after sending it for dry cleaning. (read more about this process here Heat Insulation for Van Conversion)
STEP 2 SOUND DEADENING
Next we sound deadened the ceiling, wall panels and floor of the van. (Read more in detail about how we did the sound deadening here – Sound Deadening for under Usd20 )
STEP 3 WOODWORK
The interior space of a Toyota Liteace is 5ft in width and 14ft in length. TINY! Our goal when designing the van was to fully utilize every square inch and the only way to do so is to create multifunctional pieces of furniture.
To begin with Rene and I have no carpentry skills so we seeked help from a set builder friend who then allowed us the use of his workshop and tools so with him and his boys we started the woodwork for our van.
We worked on a budget of Rm750 (Usd200) which included thematerials, the workshop and some help. We made a schedule to complete the work within 2 days, the cost didn’t include sanding down and painting the items.
Pinterest has been the most reliable source for van interior ideas. After spending hours and hours surfing and referencing other Vanlifer’s vans I started measuring up our van and planning it’s tiny space out. After planning the layout we then taped out the layout onto the floor of the van.
Cutting the parts and assembling it was the easy part. The hard part was getting it to fit into the van because of the curves within the walls of the van we needed to cut and recut several times. If I were to do things over again I would have at this stage done the sanding and paintwork but we had limited time in the workshop so we thought we would do it once we got back to home base.
We decided to recycle stuff because we were trying to minimise and get rid of stuff at home, going out to buy more stuff just doesn’t make sense. At home we had an old Ice Box (sentimental value because it belonged to my late Dad and this is the Ice Box we took for all our family camping trips. We found a plastic drawer which is great because building drawers would probably take us too many days extra. And we went and bought this huge plastic funnel for just Rm5.00 (Usd 1) which will serve as a sink. We do intend on getting a fridge but not just yet.
To be continued …