A van is a metal box so it is noisy and has no thermal insulation. So before the conversion work was started we needed to do something about sound deadening and thermal insulation. It was important to bear in mind what the van is about before going daft. The glass windows are not going to be insulated, there are areas of metal that simply aren’t accessible and the roof canvas is just that and has zero thermal benefit.
The inaccessible areas are structural box sections. Stuffing these with wadding is asking for trouble as they the metal is likely to allow condensation, the wadding will become a useless soggy mess and rust will ensue. It is much better to let air circulate through these and just accept some limited air gap properties. The roof canvas is absolutely zero use thermally so if it is that cold close the roof. The roof and the bed mattress make good insulators. The main areas that required attention were the body panels and doors. The floor would be taken care of when the new floor is fitted and the roof when the new roof was fitted.
The first task was to add some sound deadening. This is basically a dense heavy self adhesive mat that increases the mass of the metal panel and so reduces resonance and noise transmission. Really they are all much of a muchness so for this we used Silent Coat. We bought a kit for doing a Kombi van which had far too much material in it. There is no point in going over board if you are also insulating, lining and furnishing and bear in mind that it adds weight.
The second part of insulating is to add some thermal barrier for which we used Dodomat, a self adhesive foam with a foil backing. The idea is to cover as much of inside of the external metal as you can making sure that it is adhered to the outside. You can do this over metal and the sound deadening you have added.
We replaced the sliding door card with a Door Store from Caravans and the rear left quarter with 5mm ply to make a housing for the rectangular table – not forgetting to include a vent for the slam vents. The left hand wheel arch also got a plastic cover as there was now way to cover it otherwise given the tight fit of the sliding seat frame.
Trimming the van was a real decor job. We had decided upon a leather quality and colour that was going to be easy to live with. Andy at Coastal Cushion came up with a great fabric for the bed area, i.e. the reverse of the seat and the panels around, using a 100% waterproof and washable fabric from the care / hospital market. Subsequently Sue used a large piece of this to make a travel cover for the rear seat for Fred to sit on however grubby he is.
The most complicated part of the trimming has to have been around the roof where there was some fabrication required. Added to this the roof and all the exposed metal is done in vinyl rather than carped which is washable and won’t bobble or hold smells with age.
We use thermal Silver Screens covers for the windscreen and front door windows so these help with thermal insulation and stop condensation forming of the inside of the glass at night. The rear and side windows have thermal blinds to help with the cold drop. These are concertina type blinds with foil that helps insulate as well as black out. The blinds have been fitted and trimmed so that they fill the openings, including the sliding door, but have no frames that cut out light like curtains do.