Jack T

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Hi all,

I thought it was about time I posted up some info on the build of my T6. Me and the better half have been researching/wanting a T5/6 for a number of years.

So after much searching the spec I wanted came up at the right price in late 2017 and a deal was done!



So it’s a LWB highline 150 manual, panel van with tailgate in starlight blue with sub 15k miles. Finding that exact spec without buying new was tedious!

So the aim of the build is to create a vehicle that is a complete camper suitable for heading to Europe but be just at home as a day van. But I didn’t want it to look like an obvious camper if possible from the outside. We need 4 berth as we have two boys under 5 hence the LWB!

So I used the van as a van for a while to get to know it and confirm some of the plans that we had for it.

So the strip out began:




So usual bulkhead gone, ply out, double seat gone (not to return) ready for phase 1.

Build is to start proper now with decisions to be made on roof and interior. The aim was to do as much as possible ourselves and create a custom interior made from scratch.

I will keep updating this post to show progress up to date. I hope it may be of some interest to others.

Jack.
 

Jack T

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I always knew a poptop was going to be the way forward to give the space needed. Again with the camper in disguise aim in mind there was only one roof that fitted the bill, Hilo it was. I know it’s all about preference and there are other great options on the market but this ticked all the boxes for me.

This is one of the only aspects of the build I didn’t carry out which made me nervous as I’m a control freak! But to get the Hilo with warranty it was the only choice.

Next thing was finding a fitter that I trusted, after I visited a few people a deal was done with Xtremevan in Market Harborough. This was a long trek as I’m based in York but Jay and his team put me at ease straight away with their work and attitude.

So I wanted a trade fit so I could trim everything below the bedboard ourselves to suit the conversion.



So the van left the garage and headed to Xtreme. At this time I was in the middle of fitting out my new garage. So whilst the van was away I had to crack on and get that finished to have somewhere proper to work! I like a bit of pressure!

Jay agreed to fit the van in around other jobs to get it done ASAP so left it with him for around a month to work their magic.

So the spec was:
Colour coded
Polished hinges
Black scenic canvas
Windows were also fitted whilst there and all the cutting was done in one. Two sliders, one fixed near side quarter and one fake offside.

When I collected the van I was delighted with the job done and couldn’t recommend them highly enough!

So as it returned:



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Jack T

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So I got the garage done so there as no excuse I had to get on with it!

So first off was the usual oceans of silent coat, dodo mat, Dacron and more dodo! This took a lot of evenings and late nights from me and the boss (swmbo) but the results were well worth it. It now feels like driving a car in terms of noise.





So usual story here we have all seen this plenty of times!

Then was the floor treatment with base prepared with 9mm ply strips and sikaflex.


Note the subframe bolted down to the floor and lashing points. This is for a Cambee 112 r&r bed which after much deliberation was our favoured choice. We wanted Rib ideally but the head height of the Hilo along with being 6ft plus just wouldn’t work. However we are delighted with the Cambee and now prefer it.

The subframe bolts in along with a re enforcement bar beneath to slow the seat to bolt in and out from above really easily.

Next was carpet time, so all metal work was done in one piece right round with no joints as I like to make like hard for myself. We were pretty will practiced by the end of it! The panels were all then re cut in 3.6 ply with hidden trim fixings. The boss trimmed all of these with the kitchen table becoming the trim room! (Still finding rogue glue!)






Seat trial fitted to make sure all was well and measure up for furniture production.
 

Jack T

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So next was more carpet including panels, b pillars, van shades blind pods and custom ceiling panels including spotlights and hidden LED strip.


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Then it was time for floor insulation from Harrison’s followed by a one piece floor cut from a 10x5 sheet of 12mm birch ply. This was quite time consuming and took about a day of in and out trimming to get right. Pleased with the result though now.


 

Jack T

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Some of the wiring went in at this point so not to trip myself up later on.

So this included wiring for rear speakers (keep the boys happy), hook up, usb points, 13amp sockets, lighting, etc ready for main wiring once units were sorted.

At the same time as wiring the rears I dealt with the fronts. After chatting to Jason at Absolute5 he provided pre terminated cables for the rears. At the same time I ordered a set of Eton fronts and tweeters, all direct fit plug and play. Absolute gave great advice and these speakers were pretty new to the market at the time. I won’t have room for a sub under the seats which will become clear later so these were the best option. The result is fantastic the sound is top notch!

Again loads of silent coat, I must have an addiction!



Another job ticked off was the tailgate with spot lights switched from near opening, rear camera (pioneer) and OE internal release button. Didn’t get this luxury as started with a panel van, got to love German cost saving.

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Next thing was fitting the Eber D2 night heater which I have posted in a separate thread:

Fitting Eberspacher D2 - My Experience

At this point I also installed a power latching kit to the sliding door provided by Pauly on here. Fantastic kit and a doddle to fit, makes a huge difference and a lot quieter when camping.

Next thing was to start the units with a visit to Latham’s timber for half a dozen sheets of 15mm light weight ply!

I will continue updating the thread in the next couple of days if everyone isn’t bored by now!
 

Jack T

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So the next step was units and for me this was where it got a bit more interesting. We wanted the look of a custom interior something you are more likely to see in a split screen or bay.

I enquired with some companies to build it but the lead time and cost was going to be too long/much. So the decision was made to build it ourselves.

I do have access to a well kitted out workshop so with a lot of support and a second pair of hands from my dad we got on with it. This all started with 8x4 sheets of lightweight ply. The pictures below show the process.


The blank canvas!








So that was the carcass of the units built ready for an external face and worktop. This took about 1.5 weeks of careful work and playing draughts with all the things that needed to fit. The internal part of the units was always going to be a lacquered/oiled finish, so care had to be taken as this was all going to be on show when opened up.

Within this space was required for:

Hob
Sink
Fridge
Fuse boxes
Controls
Storage
Gas locker
Over arch water tank
Water heater and expansion vessel
Twin leisure batteries
2KW inverter

Getting this and all the wiring/pipework to fit in was a bit of a headache. But it does fit!

At this point we started to think about colours which was fun! A sample was sent to my trusted body shop to see how it looked.
 

Jack T

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The face panels were next up for the units which are in panel form so they can be removed in bits. This allowed easier painting and helpful for maintenance down the line.

This ended up being a lot of panels, doors and drawer fronts.



At the same time the work top went on which is made from bamboo in two layers. This allowed the top to be flush with the cabinets but still have a step.

The bottom layer also hides the fixings for a table.


The curved part to take a tambour door. Cutting the and worktop took some head scratching with a router and a few jigs!


These are the speaker rings turned on the lathe and bonded into the unit and near side panel to make the speakers sit flush.

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I felt like we were really making progress at this point even though a lot to do.

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Jack T

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So at this point the colour was chosen for the units which is VW dove blue. Sample from the painter just what we wanted. The finish is also really good after highbuild primer layers and 2k base and clear.

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Hoped it would look good when all done!
 

Jack T

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Great Build and really like the Dove Blue, it goes well.

Thanks a lot. We are really pleased with the colour, nice to have another VW colour on the van.

Always wanted a split screen so get the colour at least! Safety, speed and reliability was was more of a priority even if a T6 isn’t quite as cool! Close tho!
 

superflyguy

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@Jack T I sold my Splitty 6 years ago and have regretted it ever since as I didn't really need to, but I wouldn't have dreamed of doing the trips in it I do now in the T6.
 

Jack T

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@superflyguy I suppose having both would be ideal but deep pockets needed for that. Yes can’t imagine going to south of France at 50mph but would take the T6 anywhere without a second thought.
 

Jack T

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@Knobby Thanks, van interior is now done I’m just getting round to writing it up. Next up on write up is plumbing and wiring. Been using the van a lot and loving it just a few bits to finish up on the outside.
 

Jack T

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So all parts of the units to be painted headed off to the body shop for paint at this point. Because of the carcass of the unit being left behind it enable me to get on with wiring and plumbing whist away

First job was dealing with hook up, gas point and rear end.

I looked at hiding the hook up in the panel beneath the light but just couldn’t get to to work how I wanted without the risk of it being knocked when open and plugged in. So opted for the under bumper option.

Whilst in bits I fitted a Westfalia detachable towbar kit from PF Jones mainly to use a tilting bike rack down the line.

So normally you would get rid of the plastic bumper brace and add the reinforcement section from VW. But I wanted to use the brace to mount my hook up and a gas point for a Cadac grill.

I trimmed all the material away required for the towbar but retained it where required and still support the bumper.

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The gas point goes back to a switchable manifold in the gas locker from a GAZ 907. Quick release trauma point so the Cadac just plugs in. I had to trim the heat shield near the exhaust to allow the hookup to plug in.

Once done and bumper back on nothing is on show which is how I wanted it. Yes maybe a little more awkward to access but happy to compromise for the look.

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Whilst the rear was in pieces I also double silentcoated the rear arches before the shields went back in.

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Water filler point was also fitted to the tank along with and outlet for a removable shower.

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Switch is for the water pump so it can be isolated if the pump were to run dry, switch in the front also if required.
 

Jack T

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At this point I had about two weeks to complete the van as we were booked on a tunnel to France! So took a week off and got on with it, took a few late nights. Few less photos now as time was at a premium.

Electrics and plumbing were next to go in.

So twin leisure batteries, 2Kw inverter, hook up B2B charger and mains charger.

Space is tight so some space used in the units and and then the rest under the front seat bases. Having fitted RIB swivels I found the seat height too high so I went for Jennings lowered seat boxes. This made the seat height spot on but a little less room again!

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The bulk of the plumbing and electrical in at his point, it’s pretty tight to say the least!

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The seats arrived back from the trimmers at this point, we are delighted with the quality.

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Whilst the seats were trimmed I had Dometic heated seat pads put in. Wiring was simple but just where to put the controls to look kind of OE.

So I decided on the little slot next to the cig lighter. So I sourced a piece of acrylic and made it work.

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And fitted

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Jack T

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So next was a test fit of everything to see it all fitted. At the same time photos were sent to the DVLA to get that sorted before we headed to France. In 5 days the V5 was back as a Motor Caravan perfect sensible speed limits!

I also got the worktop finished up with the hidden table supports I finally figured out.

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Bed fits spot on which was a major relief!

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Bed box sorted as well, this has castors underneath so it just rolls out. M6 thumbturns and rivnuts hold it secure when on the move.

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Jack T

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Now the fun job of putting it all together!

So front seats back in:

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Carpet finished up along with speakers, sockets etc.

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This is how the table brackets work which means they are not on show. Only reason for this is that we don’t think the table will get used much but still nice to have the option. Also DVLA requirements mean it’s a must have.


Then the day I had been really looking forward to the panels started to return from the painters.

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This was a bit scary though as everything was pretty soft still. Baking the paint as normal was not an option being on timber so they had a short time in the booth only.

I checked the shower works too at this point. Result!

 

Jack T

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Final stages of the interior now.

Put a couple of touch lights in the pop top controller from below also on the B pillar. Blue option was a hit with the boys.

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Also added a net to the Hilo opening so some heat and contact can remain with the boys but still catch them if needed.

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Tailgate carpeting finished with a wiper motor cover added just to tidy it up even though there isn’t one.

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Flooring down, just a simple vinyl and a Kombi step as usual.

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Also managed to squeeze the inverter in under the bottom drawer which was dead space.

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Took some doing to get the 35mm battery cables dressed in here nicely.

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