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  Building the camper
  Building the camper
Unfortunately, we did not have any experience or knowledge in building a camper out of a transporter van at all, so the first thing we did was to visit camper- and caravan fairs, collect camper-materials brochures and buy a "how to build my own camper"-book. With the help of this literature we worked out several designs for the interior of the camper and after ample discussion chose the one we still think is the most practical.

By now, two months had passed and it was now time to start with the actual building. We were lucky to obtain a working space in a barn nearby, which contained loads of working tools that we were allowed to use.

The first step was to have the original roof taken off the van and have it exchanged for a higher roof out of polyester. "Hoffman Wohnmobilbau" in Wuppertal (near Dortmund, Germany) asked a reasonable price for the roof and the assembly, so we decided to bring the van there.

Back in the barn we treated the parts that were starting to rust, then sprayed the whole loading space (inside walls and floor) of the van with minium (red lead) and consequently with Tyroson wax (Henkel).
Then we isolated the floor with parquet flooring isolation material and put a 15 millimeter thick board of massive wood on top of it. Although this kind of board was quite heavy, it proved to be the most practical solution, since we could attach all furniture directly to it and did not need to drill holes in the van itself!
A friend of ours, Fritz, welded a frame to make the roof stable enough to later attach cupboards to.
Now that the floor was isolated and the roof-frame was finished, we started with the isolation of the rest of the van, using 40 millimeter Styrodur. Styrodur is a BASF isolation material that is cheap, easy to form and doesn't squeak like Styropor does.

Pakistan, May 2004 In the meantime, we had detailed the chosen interior design to a degree that we could define the plan for the electric connections. To protect the electric cables from external influences, we decided to lead them through the isolation material. This meant that we had to lay the cables already during the isolation phase, not only after building the furniture. Before we could actually start isolating the inner walls, we had to cut out openings in the walls of the van for the windows, the water pipes, the 220 volt plug and the ventilation holes for heating and gas compartiment and then install the windows and all other exterior connections like 220V-plug.

On the inner frame of the van we put wooden strips to which the wall panels were attached. For the panels, we decided not to use the mixture of wood and cardboard that is commonly used, but 4 mm massive wooden panels. These are a bit heavier, but can endure much more than the mix of wood and cardboard, which compensates for the disadvantage of their weight. We also covered the wooden floor with a PVC-covering as long as the floor was still empty, so that the PVC would also neatly cover all cupboard floors.

Now that the walls and floor were finished, we could start building the benches, the kitchen, the cupboards and the "bathroom". All furniture was built from 12 mm wooden panels of the same type as the wall panelling. Before attaching the furniture to the floor of the van however, we first installed the water tanks, pump and pipes, the gas pipes and bottles, the fridge and the heating, etc. After testing all the mentioned devices, we could finally assemble and fixate the furniture and start with the finishing touch: painting, attaching strips and handles etc.

the kitchen 80% of the camper materials we used came from "Reimo" in Germany, since this firm usually supplied the best price/quality relation. All of the wood we used was bought at a local wholesaler in Heidelberg, Germany. During the building of the camper we had a lot of help from Fritz, whose experience helped us many times! All in all, we needed about 6 months to finish the camper.
Finally, we needed to make some adaptions for the trip we were planning to make, like reinforcing the suspension, getting a bull catcher etc. Another friend of ours, Emir, welded the bull catcher, a rack for the spare diesel tanks and a roof box. And then we were ready to go..


Buy the electric gear (fridge, heating, etc) before you start building the furniture. This way, you can make sure the measures of the furniture are correct!


Before you start building, ask your garage about regulations and obligatory provisions like fire extinguishers, seat belts, fortified backs etc.