Updated: Apr 12
Welcome back to our Combe Valley Campers blog section. This day van conversion guide will provide you with the steps and many helpful videos which will be walking through the process as we turn an empty panel van like this...
to a comfortable and professional day van conversion like this...
With the growth of our Youtube channel, we are finding more and more people are converting their vans. We often get asked what order should I watch the videos or convert my van? This blog will explain at what stage you should do the various conversion tasks.
Day van conversions are a great way of making dramatic changes to your van. When you bought your panel van whether new or used it probably arrived with a few factory ply panels, it may have had a floor but apart from that, it is usually it. Now for most trades and couriers, this is great and all that is needed.
If circumstances mean you require a more presentable area the van will require upgrades. This blog will give you a basic description of each of the steps as well as some links to our youtube channel. There you will find an in-depth guide to the process.
Step One-Ply Removal
To start your day van conversion you must first strip all the interior out. Remove any ply panels and flooring that are already in the van. Make sure any wiring is safely insulated and then using some tape or cable ties ensure the cables are safely out of the way. If you haven't bought a new ply panel kit then carefully remove the old and store then to the side.
Here we also removed the bulkhead, depending on the make and model this is often very different. On this transit, we were able to remove most by taking out the bolts and then used a grinding tool to remove any remaining metal.
Step Two- Cleaning
If you've just driven your van out of the dealership then this will not take too long. If you've just bought your van from a builder or gardener then be prepared to be at this stage for a little longer.
This van wasn't too bad, a few muddy footprints and the usual dust took no more than half an hour to get perfect. we recommend spending a bit of time with this stage, hoovering up dust, using brake cleaner for any grease and we always give all the metalwork the once over with some hot soapy water.
Please note that if the van isn't cleaned thoroughly the sound deadening, insulation and carpet will struggle to stick efficiently
Step Three- Sound Deadening And Insulation
Once you're happy that the van is clean we can start applying the sound deadening. All the products we use can be found on our products page.
It is important to sound deaden and insulate the interior ceiling, floors and walls of the van including the doors. In this build, we worked the sound deadening into the grooves of the floor and then covered them with a foam insulator. This meant we were able to minimize how proud the floor sat. This was our client's specification and you might want to cover the floor entirely. The sound deadening is peel back and apply. For more details on how to sound deaden then check out the YouTube video below.
Step Four- Ply Panel Mockup.
As you can probably tell by the title, the panels are not going to be up permanently at this stage. We mock fit panels so we can do all our drilling and finding the initial screw points before the carpet is applied. This stops any potential snagging problems with the drill and carpet. It also means we can draw out and cut out where are electric points may be fitted, planning where our lighting will live so we can carpet accordingly. Step 4 is covered in two of our YouTube videos.
Be careful to check what you are drilling into, especially making sure to avoid the outer layer of metal, any cables that may be in the van and anything that is underneath with regards to floor fitting
For the floor, you want to fix it to the raised ribs. Using a straight line and with a pen take your drilling mark line to either end of the van. This is so when you lay the floor down u have a reference to where the raised points are running down the van.
Step Five - Electrics
We do not recommend electrics to be fitted with no prior experience. we can only recommend what we use and cannot be held liable for your builds.
This is the stage where the electrics will be run and terminated. Cut any holes in the panels where the electrics will exit. In this build, the client needed the electrics near the cab but still in the rear of the van. After a discussion, we decided to install the points into the rear of the handbrake. If this doesn't work for your build then control panels that can be cut into the ply walls are a common way of accessing switches and points. Check out our guide on camper van electrics on YouTube
Step Six- Carpet Lining
Before this stage is where you will final fit your ply panels. There are two main ways we carpet our vans at Combe Valley Campers. The first is to Carpet the Ply Panels individually and the second is to carpet the van one side at a time using one piece of carpet.
Step Seven- Flooring
One of the last jobs is the covering and fixing of the flooring. We leave this till after the carpeting so we can tuck the carpet under the floor. Only by a few centimetres but it allows for a seamless finish. When fitting the flooring it is worth having another quick clean of the van to remove any dust or rubbish from the job so far.
Once you've fitted the floor you can now fit any steps or thresholds. These provide a good finish. If you can't get hold of these steps for your make or model then an L shaped aluminium strip as we used here gives a high-quality finish to the edge of the ply floor.
Once finished you can now add any extras. Curtains are great for both privacy and warmth and can be easily added. Make sure to put the make and model into the search bar as although most vans are very similar in size a few cm difference could lead to poorly fitted curtains.
We hoped this blog helped give a better understanding of what you will need to do to improve the look of your van.