Thursday, 17 December 2009

Flexi Shower Base Solved

The plastic shower tray was very flexible. I am told that some people put then straight in like that and don't have a problem with it, however the amount of flexing bothered me, and besides how many domestic showere flex when you stand in them?

My first idea was to make a cement slurry, and this did look promissing until I turned the tray the right way up (once set) and it fell out and smashed. Plan 2 was to use expanding foam but instead of letting it puff up I put clingfilm over it then a flat sheet with a large weight on it to force the foam to set more solid.  That stuck, but it was still too spongy.  Getting it out for the 3rd attempt was very difficult.

The third attempt was to cut out 14 disks of the right thickness, hardboard was spot on.  Stick these in the inverted dimples followed by a final infill of MDF.  Problem solved.

The base is now nice and firm.

Friday, 11 December 2009

I Can See The Light (s)

The correct lights turned up and are now fitted.  Many thanks to Weekend Leisure for taking the time to put things right, unlike the first company.

That looks better

All I need to get now is some additional mid line marker lights.  These shapes were originally where the handles for the caravan were when this was a caravan back.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dry Fitting The Fridge

The fridge I got of ebay arrived yesterday. A saving nearly £400 on the equivalent Dometic model. (Dometic took over Electrolux) I am so pleased with it, its almost as new!  It even came with a new and un-fitted flue system.  So far I have only been able to test it on 240v but it works   a treat.

To make a cabinet for it to fit in I have used what would normally be decorative end panels from B&Q's IT kitchen range.

The cut out is for the bottom hinge.
A plinth will be added later

Dry fitted into its designated place.

It will be set back a bit further on the final fit.  Hopefully you will notice its a big fridge so more room for beer.  Hmmmm! beer ;-)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Dry Fitting The Kitchen Area

At the weekend I clad the walls and parts of the ceiling in the bed area with MDF.  I have made the bed area 4'6'' where our tops will be, and 4' at the feet.  I would like to have had 4'6" all over but the shower area needed 6" of space that I could not get from anywhere else.

Today I built the kitchen units.  The units are from the B&Q IT range.  The tall unit needed to be cut down to fit in the motorhome headroom.  Doing this was straight forward of course but once it had been chopped the factory holes at the top for construction fittings were gone, also I am modifying its use to fit 2 standard base unit doors, not the tall line doors it was designed for.  I used the top off cuts as a drill template to make new fitting holes where I needed them.  This was method was also adopted with the short decorative end panel as this for some reason has no holes what so ever.

So here is the kitchen dry fitted.

From outside

From passenger seat

Sunday, 6 December 2009

How Difficult Can It Be??

Generally I am not the moaning sort.

However this week I am amazed that despite ordering new light clusters for the motorhome that were clearly shown as the version for motorhomes both companies sent the version for caravans.

The difference is in the reflector.  Caravans have a triangle because its a trailer.  The motorhome version has a square reflector to comply with the law.

The difference is obvious

The first company just said tuff! send it back.  The second were very apologetic and say I will have the right ones early this week.  I hope so as I need to go to an LPG fitters to see about an external tank that can be filled at a petrol station.

Then another company failed to collect an ebay purchase despite texting the collection person with a time etc.  So far they have not bothered to reply to my email about the cock up.

I should be dry fitting the kitchen area this week, and I have just won a large 3 way fridge on ebay which should arrive this week.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


I have been busy with steps.

The first step was to remove the old rear step that was for the back doors.  This is where I want to put the water tanks. The recess the step provides is ideal to enable me to put the tanks under where the fixed bed will be.

The old GRP step fascia was removed to reveal the nice strong steel supports underneath.  The floor then needed to be cut away to the size of the tank.

GRP removed and floor cut out

The whole then needed to be filled to make up the new lower floor and seal up the rest of the whole.

18mm shuttering ply glued and screwed

All fitted with screws through the steel supports
and through the floor.

160l water capacity.

The tanks I am using were industrial food containers each 80l.  I will be plumbing these up in due course.  These 2 water tanks cost me £22 delivered!

The next step was to create a step.

I think when the ambulance was commissioned there was never any intention of using the side door as it was obstructed by a rack, also there was no step.  I needed to put a step in here for 3 reasons.  1 is headroom through the door. 2 my knees aren't getting any younger. 3 now only need a single step up so less to carry.

Carefully considered and marked out.
(Measure twice, cut once!)

All cut out

Nice new step

Thursday, 26 November 2009


So its finally come time to do some "construction".

First thing to sort out was the wiring.  Jerry at the body shop did a temporary job just to be legal to get me home.  A bit tiding up and feeding each side with its correct wire saw that job off.  Jerry also gave me some marker lights for the top of the caravan back.  I needed to cut the holes to fit them and run the wires.  I have also ordered new rear lights of the motorhome version,  The difference with them and the caravan version is the motorhome ones have square reflectors not triangles as in the caravan version.  I have also put the towbar wiring in.  Photo to come.

The next job was to to seal off the underneath of the new back .  This went surprisingly easily with the aid of a cardboard template.  In true home converter style I used the GRP faced ply that formed the bulkheads I removed back in week one.  Top tip, never throw anything away!

Finally I have made a start on putting something back in instead of ripping out.

As the back has been modified I needed to put a new rear wall in the motorhome.

Stiffening timbers in place


Job done

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

3500kg Magic weight why?

Thanks to Sue, one of my blog readers, for asking and making me realise that not everyone that reads my blog will have all the tech. knowledge.

There are a few significant reasons why it is desirable to stay under 3500kg.

Firstly there is liecencing considerations, If you passed yout driving test  pre '97 license you will have C1 category to legally drive it.  After that you need to take another test to drive over 3500kg

Then there are  downsides that limit speeds on dual carriage ways and single lane roads, and if you go to into Europe you will be barred from quite a lot of towns and villages who operate a strict max. 3500 Kg access limit.

Also when you reach the age of 70 you will need a medical by your doctor which will allow you to continue driving anything over 3500kg.

Another consideration is specialist recovery also comes into play, RAC & AA etc. won't be able to recover anything over 3500kg with their standard vehicles.  This requires specialist (expensive) recovery should you breakdown.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Its Weight Day

I thought it prudent to get the motorhome weighed.  A trip to the local weighbridge revealed its 2830kg in its stocking feet. 

I have to admit this is a lot more than I would have guessed so I am glad I did it,  The fuel tank was very low as well so to stay within 3500kg I am going to have to be very careful with what goes in!

Allowing for myself & wife, dogs and fuel I have about 400kg left of which up to 160kg  will be water.

It is true the the chassis is a 4600kg variant so if the worst comes to the worst I can go over but it would be nice to stay below the magic 3500kg

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Ambulance has gone.

The motorhome is back from the bodyshop for now.  Jerry has transformed an ambulance to a motorhome. Henceforth it will no longed be called an ambulance :-)

Before with light bar removed

I need to get some new rear lights as the back was from an
accident damaged caravan

This back could almost have been made to fit the ambulance body.  Look at the detail line on the lower back where it lines up with the line on the original body.  Having said that an enormous amount of sculpting has been done with GRP and filler to make it look and fit like this.


Lights and sign all sculpted it to one continuous piece.
Now our very own C class motorhome :-)

In reality there's still a lot of work to be done before its a real motorhome, but the outside no longer looks like an ambulance.  The keen eyed of you will see the white is a different colour.  This is a protective coat until it has its final paint job.  There's no point at this stage in doing the paint as there a quite a few holes to be cut in the body for various windows and access doors.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Another Photo Update

Jerry has been busy! Its ready to pick up tomorrow :-)

The paint on the job so far is just a holding coat as my workspace is outside.  Once all the  outside is done I will see about getting a complete respray.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Quick Photo Update

I received another photo from Jerry today.

Looking good

Friday, 13 November 2009

More Progress

I got a photo update from the body shop yesterday on the progress.  Its certainly taking shape :-)

Definitely not looking like an ambulance now

Even the front no longer belies its origins

On another note, if you are following this blog then have a look at my boat project blog Boat project clicky link  Its been a busy week on that too.


Monday, 9 November 2009

Its looking different

I had to drop some parts over the the body shop today.  I got to take some more photos while there.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

I have had a a few photos sent by the body shop of the progress of the caravan back that's being put on.  They are from a mobile phone txt message so not very big but nice to have.

The bubbles are PU foam

I am going over tomorrow to take a new front wing to be put on so will be able to take some more pictures.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


I took the ambulance to "the man that can" to have the caravan rear put on. He has kindly offered to take and send photos of progress so I can have it for the blog. 

Exciting times :-)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Projects are like buses.

It had to happen I suppose. The boat shell I have been after for the best part of a year is now mine. So now I have 2 projects on the go. Looks like another blog to write as well.

The ambulance is going to the body shop on Wednesday to have the caravan back put on. This should give me time to get the space prepared for the boats arrival.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Result :-)

I have just gone on line to tax the ambulance as I need to move it next month for the work to the rear to be done. I put in the details at DVLA and RESULT £0.00 for 12 months.  I can only assume this is because it is still listed as an ambulance.  I suppose when it gets reclassified it will change. 

On a different note.  If you read back you will see I have been waiting for a boat project.  I got a call from the receivers disposing of the boat and I have to put in a sealed bid for opening on 1st November.  I have never done this before.  It's like a blind auction. 

This is the shell.

60' x 12' 

Lets hope I win the bid.  I would expect this to be an 18 month - 2 year project.

Edit to say I won the bid see the link.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Off to O'Learys Cave

We are off to O'Learys motrorhome emporium tomorrow. According to many sources this place is an Aladdin's cave of goodies, ideas and inspiration. Certainly speaking the one of the chaps there they are very enthusiastic. Lets hope so. Its a 115 mile trip from our boat where we are staying for a few days over half term. Its another 100 from home. I am going to take a trailer "just in case".

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Readers to Followers

Hello readers.

My stats tell me there are quite a few reading this blog. It would be nice to know who you are.

If you hit the "Follow" button I will know.


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Swivel on this. (These)

The swivel seats from the Renault Espace are now fitted.  The Espace seats only turn one way so it has been necessary to swap the driver seat and passenger seats over to get the required rotation.  The more eagle eyed of you will spot the seat belt mountings are on the wrong side.  I will fix this when I adapt them to receive the seat belt clip from the VW.  The Espace seats have mountings for either side so this will be easy.


It is now taking on a motorhome feel at last.

Having found my 110v transformer I thought its time to see if the ambulance battery charging system worked.  Pleased to report it does.  The unit can be seen under the passenger seat. I am going to keep this as it is a 40amp smart charger, I just need to find a small 240v - 110v transformer to tuck in somewhere. I did speak to the tech. support at the manufacturers to see if it had an option inside to switch it to 240v.  Sadly not.  But I was told this charger is about £450 +vat and for the price of a transformer it was worth keeping.  I agree.  The charger is charging both the start and domestic batteries.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Lots of Little Jobs Done & Some Rust Found :-(

A couple of days of messing around in the ambulance has seen a few changes.

I recently got hold of  2 Renault Espace front swivel seats.  I took the VW seats out and to my amasement the bolt holes width wise lined up perfectly with the Renault seats.  Not that this is going to be much use as they need to be raised 75mm to get the right height to drive but it does make the new brackets easy to design.  I pick them up tomorrow from a local sheet metal works.  I could have fabricated these but having them pressed will make a much more aesthetic finish.

Originally I was only going to have the 2 channels
but decided to weld in the cross bar in for
lateral rigidity.  Sprayed satin black.

I did try to use the base of the VW seats as these have a height adjustment as well, but even on the lowest setting they were too high, so 2 seats will be going on ebay soon.

The near side of the ambulance had a window ambulance style.  Not only was it ugly it was also where a wall will be going so I have removed this and replaced it with some GRP sheet. A wooden frame screwed to the outside from the inside provided the support for the new panel until the glue and reinforcing strips have cured.

External support frame.

Temporary internal bracing.

Job done, just needs finishing with filler.

Other things done include re-wiring the front high level lights, refitting the now cleaned head lining, repositioning the A/C unit in the overhead space, fitting the 240v inlet,

Fitted where the  original 110v was.

putting the floor liner back in and changing the start battery.  The latter as luck would have it was the exact same one I had already from my car.  Reason.......  electrical fault was misdiagnosed as a failing battery, a new battery didn't fix it.  The fault was eventually diagnosed as a faulty A/C sensor.  So that turned out well in the end.

The step insert on the drivers side was removed when I took out the floor liner and there was a bit of rust there that need some treatment, at the time I was not able to unscrew the passenger side so today I drilled the heads off the screws and removed it.  Glad I did as below it was a large area of rust that needed cutting out.  

Rust cut out ready for welding.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Decisions Decisions

I have decided not to go with getting the rear quarters repaired.  Instead I am going to get a very talented chap to put a GRP rear from a caravan on the rear of my ambulance.

Its not going to be a cheap job but I have every confidence in the finished result and I know long term I am going to be happier with it.  IMO it changes the body from an ambulance to a motorhome.

I know it might be considered cheating by getting someone else to do some of the work, but something like this is well beyond my talents so I figure that something this important should be be left to the experts.  The same goes for the spray job when the time comes.  The rest will be me.  Honest :-)

No ambulance picture of any progress so here is where we went for the weekend.

The Falkirk Wheel

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

One thing leads to another.

At the moment it seems like every little job has a series of other jobs that have to be done first.  It was the same when I refitted our narrowboat and it has always been the the same on property renovations I have done.  Still, all the prep work needs to be done in order for the fun part of re-creation starts, which is after all the point of the project.

I thought I'd better pay some attention to the various knocks and dings the ambulance has had.  Initially they looked quite superficial.  I took the whole ambulance to a friend that 'does' GRP to have a look at.  After the normal umm and ahhs etc. he decided the job was actually a lot more than it looked on the surface.  The biggest problem being that it was impossible to get behind the holes to form a base for a good repair, additionally as the damage had been left so long water had got in and does what water generally does to GRP and there was a fair bit of de lamination probably due to frost.

The damage in the photos give the impression that it is just superficial.

The best solution I could see was to remove the quarters so a proper repair can be made. After much deliberation I decided I could use the natural lines in the bodywork for the cuts and they would give me a "hide" to refix it all back. So this it what it looks like now.

These are the part going off for repair.

Whilst under the ambulance I looked for suitable mountings for a towbar.  Looks very much like this will be fairly straight forward, which of course it won't be once I start.

Finally (no surprise) there was the now obligatory wiring to cull.  This time it was behind the O/S light cluster but was soon dealt with.