It feels like I’ve made so little progress on the campervan conversion, yet I have: I now have a more or less blank canvas.
To get this far has meant some repairs to our 7 year old Peugeot Boxer- a new exhaust, a new passenger window raising mechanism and we still need a new EGR valve.
After taking out the bits wall and floor panelling there was LOTS of mastic removal and some minor rust remedy.
Ambulance electrics vs Camper electrics
I spent 2 days with a car electrician, who gave me his time for free. He talked me through the bits of the ambulance electrics he could understand and we worked through some bits which weren’t obvious. Before we started I had no clue what was under the driver’s seat. I just knew it was to do with the emergency start battery and some other bit.
Once the seat was removed we could see what we were dealing with: a battery, lots of relays and a large 12V fuse box with more relays.
We figured out what leads where and where I need to add in the extra lighting and 12V sockets I want.
There has been some debate over what purpose the 13AH pure lead battery served. I know for a fact it was used in giving the main vehicle battery a boost when it was flat, however my uncle thinks it was the back up power source for critical life support equipment. What do you think?
In the height of winter the van heating on its own is not enough, we’ve learnt. If the engine is not running and we are not on electric hook up then heating needs to be provided for. Our van came with an Eberspacher D4 plus heater. The control panel of this doesn’t seem to be working, but I have tested the heater and it works well. I was rather pleased, as this will be very useful in the cold scandinavian winter next year.
However, as I learnt from a Eberspacher specialist, I need to reconsider the heater’s position and how I want to configure the heating pipes. Currently we have no pipes.
In fact, when we went under the van to remove underside of the tracks on the floor we noticed that the Eberspacher’s exhaust system was missing. In preparation for relaying the floor I’ve removed the heater. It will need a new exhaust and a new controller before I can reinstall it. Now, there is a large round hole where it used to be.
Remedial metal works
The back of the van had big gaping hole from the old wheelchair ramp. This has caused us lots of head scratching.
Luckily, my uncle is extremely handy with metal. He has now repaired the hole: it’s filled with 1.5mm steel plate shaped, welded in, reinforced from below. A new bottom latch point is made for the rear door latch.
I had the extremely unpleasant task of wirebrushing oodles of burnt on mastic left over from the ramp and then applying metal paint on the topside and chassis protection paint on the underside of the repair. It was an extremely messy and unhealthy job, but had to be done.
We’ve gone from this:
In case you are wondering why it is red: it was the colour hammerite paint we found lying around. 😀
Cab area tidy
From Campy Van’s ambulance life the front cab’s original Peugeot flooring was chopped up and bits were missing. I’ve attempted to insulate this area with closed cell insulation matting with a heavy rubber on top. It is working in progress to say the least. The rubber I’d sourced turned out to be too heavy and needs a rethink.
I was trying to tackle the whole of the cab area at once and to insulate above I removed all the lining and visors, etc. It wasn’t worth the effort in the end- not enough gain in access to tricky areas for all the work needed removing the lining and fixtures and reinstating everything.
I did, however, do my first 12V electric installation: a cigi lighter socket by the windscreen pillar. Super proud of my first electric work!
Progress has been very slow thus far, but we have finally taken the ambulance structure back to the point where Campy Van can really start to emerge. It’s been a very steep learning curve and now I can start to benefit from some of the ambulance past of the van, which will hopefully make the fit out easier for our extremely multifunctional van.
Next steps, which I hope to do in the next week:
- replacing the broken rooflight
- creating the seating and bed arrangements for our extreme camper