our vw camper van is finished!

17 October 2011

After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, our camper 'Lewes' has had a complete internal renovation!
Its been hard work to do it ourselves with no experience of this kind of thing, but we were so ambitious that this little van was going to take us to some mighty fine places, we worked our fingers to the bone {quite literally}.

We bought our 1978 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus from a lovely couple in near Lewes in Sussex a few months ago. Their three boys were growing out of it, and so had to put it up for sale.
After coming back from a camping trip in Dorset, I received an email telling me the van was still for sale, so we made a detour and headed along to view it. We fell in love and although we looked closely for any rusty problems, our eyes were blinded by love I think!

It came with all the original Devon conversion interior which is extremely 70s {and makes me feel so old that I was born in this year}. I loved it, but we knew it would need a bit of work to make it nice and cosy.

{'before' photos taken by the previous owners}

When we had it back home, we took out all of the interior so that we could get a good look at the bare metal and inspect the rust properly. We un-earthed 33 years worth of fossilised insects and some
sweet wrappers that belonged in a museum and other crud. In fact there was evidence of probably every trip, tucked down the crevasses between the units that are impossible to reach without taking them all out. The cupboards and units themselves are made from chipboard, and we found they were quite rotten at the bottom and swollen up, it was time for them to be replaced.

We found mostly surface rust in patches, but unfortunately, all four seat belt anchor points had rust through to the wheel arch, ouch! {amazingly it came with 12 months MOT!}We knew about some of the damage but not all of it. And, we discovered the battery tray so rusted that it could have just fallen out onto the motorway!

After a lot of Internet searching, we found a lovely guy called Ian from Mayflower MG & VW Services Ltd in Brixton, and after a lot of tutting and chin rubbing, {like mechanics seem to do a lot of} he fixed our van up a treat and gave us lots of helpful info and a free spare wheel!

So then, after a few weeks of sitting idle, we had Lewes back and we started work cleaning, sanding and treating all the rust, re-spraying the interior metal {as it was a bit rusty and with green spray paint along the window sills}, insulating and laying the flooring etc etc etc...

I had already done most of the upholstery work, which you can read more about here although fitting it into the van took longer than the sewing and covering!

FINALLY, we were ready for our first weekend away, the most exciting day of my life {except our wedding of course ; )}  We went to a campsite near East Grinstead, about an hour and half from South London.

Our van now looks like this...

Two very proud owners!

Actually 90% of the work we did is hidden underneath all the carpet and walls etc... but anyways...

Nao sanded down the original table legs that screw into the top and made a lovely new table out of pine, beautifully sanded and oiled.

We found two little bedside cabinets at a junk shop and thought they were just the right size for our van and looked quite 70s. We repainted them in off-white and sanded down the wooden handles.

And I made some bunting out of some vintage Japanese silk remnants which were a present from a very good friend of our in Tokyo, who's parents own a Kimono shop. I love the silk manufacturers stamp!

we used pure wool carpet, of course very impractical! but extremely cosy. So no shoes allowed.

the cab part had a face lift too, after a lot of sanding and re-spraying, we laid down seagrass matting but kept the original VW black matt at the front {I washed it in the bath!}.

so nice to have kitchen drawers! we don't even have this in our flat.

and a TINY fridge...

because of the fumes, I decided to fill our old hurricane lanterns with fairy lights instead...they are battery operated.

What a treat to go away camping and taking a suitcase...its like going on a train trip...

a few essentials ; )

The seat folds out into a very comfortable bedroom with dual aspect windows {I learnt that phrase from an Estate Agent}
I was very happy with the way the sun light shone through the curtains bringing the animals to life!

I also made a linen padded spare wheel cover, but it didn't go to plan! I will have to re-make it at some point. You can just about see it behind that bag. {by the way, wellies from B&Q!}

The bed frame was in a bad state too, all the white plastic coating was coming off. I just gave it a quick sand and enamel paint but needs a bit more work {one day!}.
There are clips in the corner to store the table legs when not in use, clever innit!

It was very lucky of us to get such nice crispy Autumn weather, and a good view too...

The table comes with four legs so we can use it outdoors too, so you can have tea and bicces and look over the rolling English countryside...

for your information, this was very agreeable.

There was a lovely fishing pond at the campsite too, and funnily enough, about ten other VW campervans!

After having an Automatic Nissan Micra, Nao soon got the hang of driving this VERY manual bus.
...and I think, he is looking like a bus driver already.  

We went to some lovely National Trust properties during our stay, but this post is WAY to long as it is, so I will save that for another day.
But, there will be plenty more tales from Lewes soon, I am sure you are going to get very bored!

If you are a crazy person and havent seen enough already, you can see more of the inbetween stages on my Flickr album here.

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