Hey, I’m Ian
and welcome to the Green Horn Country Club - Your completely out of depth guide to converting a van.
Like a lot of people, I’ve bought myself a Mercedes Sprinter which I’m planning to convert into a campervan. My issue is that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing - I’ve never built anything before and have next to no experience working with tools, so I’ll be relying on help and advice from friends, as well as the world wide web.
I figured it would be a nice idea to document the process, to give an honest look at how I get on and to share what I learn along the way. I’m also going to keep track of my spending and share that as I go too. Again, I have very little experience blogging or filming myself but thought I’d dive right in and give it a shot!
At this point, you may be wondering why this blog would be of any use to you. In truth, I'm not sure either, but if you find it remotely helpful then that’s my goal achieved. At the very least, you might find it entertaining watching a grown man break down into tears in the fetal position on the floor.
Anyway, the van...
She's a 2009 medium wheel-base Mercedes Sprinter which I bought for £4000. Not knowing anything about cars or vans before I went to view it, I read a lot of advice online about what to look for when buying a van, which I can safely say I threw out the window as soon as I got to the dealership.
There were so many red flags whilst I was viewing the van but I went ahead and bought it anyway, partly because I was way out of my depth and partly because I crumble when dealing with salesmen.
In fact, I’m thinking of writing a post soon about some helpful things to look out for when viewing a van.
The main reasons I bought the van were firstly, because it already had windows cut on the side and rear, as well as two vents cut in the roof, and secondly, because it was an ex-service vehicle so I figured it would have been regularly serviced. When looking up its previous MOT history online, it passed its last MOT with one advisory - a slightly worn down tyre...
When I got it home, it took me an embarrassingly(!) long time to realise that all the windows, except the windscreen, were actually made of plastic, presumably from when it was a riot van, to stop them being battered in.
It was also a hell of a lot more work than I thought gutting the van down to its bare bones. As you can see from the pictures, it had a huge cage in the back which had been screwed down through the floor of the actual van, as well as this horrible ‘hospital wet-room’ type flooring and big plastic sheets for the interior walls and ceiling. Hopefully you can see from the photos:
With the help of a couple of friends, an angle grinder and a crowbar, we eventually got the van stripped and there was rust everywhere.
It turns out that one of the roof vents had been leaking water into the bottom right-hand corner of the van and rusted a hole into the side of the van. Something I would have noticed if I had looked under the exterior skirting when I viewed it. I ended up paying a friend of a friend £300 to do an amazing job welding it up.
The MOT, which I expected to be painless, ended up costing over £1000. Three worn down tyres, more welding, a bunch of electrical issues, not fun.
You can probably understand now why I waited a while to start recording my progress. I wanted to get all this negative stuff out the way so I could focus on the build!
The first thing I plan to do is to get some flooring in - post coming soon!