Introduction to completing a van conversion

Here we will look at the key stages to convert a van such as the VW Transporter or Transit into a fully functional camper. If you are reasonably DIY able, it is possible to complete most of the steps to convert any van at home.

Whilst this guide will put focus on a VW Transporter sized conversion, the steps are identical for any model or any size, the only difference is in the material size and quantity. Unsurprisingly this varies from Caddy, Transit up to a Crafter sized conversion.


During the article I will point out a few areas to bear in mind that I would suggest for professional installation, this will either be due to health and safety or complexity of the task.

This article will hopefully be thought provoking and confidence inspiring. It is not that hard to convert a van into a fully functional camper. Honestly!

If you have not already read the VW T5 camper conversion manual (Here). I highly recommend grabbing a copy. it has great step by step confidence boosting pictures.

Stages to convert a van into a camper

Of course, every conversion is slightly different and a lot of it will come down to personal preference. In this article therefore I will assume that you are going the whole way. These are the key stages to convert a van into a camper that we will cover.

From a base panel van such as the VW Transporter into a campervan convert with fridge, cooker, sink, rock and roll bed, swivel captain seats, tv, heater, leisure battery, pop top…

I will cover the full works! Skip the sections that do not apply. The main stages are:

  1. Choosing the right van to convert into a camper
  2. Campervan window insulation
  3. Campervan pop top roof conversion
  4. 12v split charge system electrical installation
  5. Selecting and installing the best diesel heater
  6. Installing van lining and insulation
  7. Installing van carpet lining and flooring
  8. Installing swivel seats and captain seats
  9. Installing your campervan cupboards and refrigerator
  10. Installing your 3/4 rock and roll bed
  11. Final electrical connections to finish the van camper convert
  12. Accessorising your VW Transporter camper van convert

Choosing the right van to convert into a camper

Choosing the right VW Transporter to convert can be a a real challenge.

The market UK is flooded with expensive second hand VW Transporter panel vans and Kombi’s. Some are high mileage examples, and many are ex commercial vehicles with body work requirements.

Top buying TIPS

  • If a Transporter has been well serviced, don’t let high miles put you off. They are fully capable of achieving 250k miles. I would always select a well serviced higher mileage example over a lower mileage without service history. Read my guide of Transporter mileage: How many miles will a Transporter do?
  • Aim for a T30 or T32. Avoid the lower end models as they can be very limiting when it comes to the carrying capacity. You would be surprised at how much weight a fully converted camper carries! A guide on models can be found here: VW Transporter Models Explained
  • Buy out of season! If you can buy between October and February, you will find the value of the second hand vans drops slightly and you will get more for your money. Have a browse on eBay for cheap buy it now auctions (eBay link) and also Facebook marketplace.
  • Consider carefully whether you want a short wheelbase or long wheel base. There is only 40cm difference in length which usually is the difference between a toilet/slightly extra storage. The trade-off is a larger turning circle and worse handling. Have a look at my guide here: VW Transporter SWB vs LWB

There is no right or wrong with this answer and of course the right vehicle needs to fit your budget.

So what does your money get you in the UK?

Budget of £5k

You have a few options for 5k. You can pick up a tidy VW T4 or a higher mileage example of one the the earlier VW T5’s. Also worth a mention is the Mazda Bongo, you can get really high spec examples for around the 5k which sometimes offers better value that the T4.

If you are torn between the two choices, you can read my guide here: VW T4 vs T5 Transporter to find the best VW Transporter camper van to convert.

Budget of £10k

For 10k you will get a tidy lower mileage VW T5. Aim for the Highline (eBay link) or Sportline (eBay link) specifications if you can find them as the trims are higher specification.

Budget of £10k +

Anything over 10k and you can start getting into the VW T6 territory. For around 15k you will pick up a medium to higher mileage example of a VW T6 to convert or a superb example of a low mile VW T5.1 (facelift models).

Again, aim for the Highline or Sportline trim if you can find them as these usually come with the higher BHP engines, automatic gear boxes, 4 motion (4×4) etc plus they have the nicer trims, upgraded lights etc

These all make a great base for a VW Transporter camper van convert.

Final tip

The higher specification base models will always hold their value better once converted. The higher BHP models (150bhp+) are more desirable due to the improved driveability, they deal with larger alloys better and also carry the weight more adequately.

Do not underestimate how much a fully kitted out Transporter plus passengers will weigh!

Camper van window side window convert installation

If you are starting with a panel van you will first need to install your side windows. Here we will look at the campervan side window installation process.

This is always the best starting point to convert a van into a camper.

Campervan window installation requires cutting through your vehicle it is best to get this job done early on. You can buy cheap fitting kits for less than £300 for both sides (Example here) and on eBay here

Campervan Window Insulation. Converting a van into a camper
Nice quality opening window kits available on eBay here

The process of installing windows is not that tricky however you need to be very confident that you can make a clean cut as you only get one go! If you are not feeling confident then most good suppliers will offer to fit them for around £60 per window.

The process is self-explanatory, the key steps are below (and a video worth viewing here)

  • Make sure the metal inside of the van is exposed, if you have bought an ex commercial van you may need to remove the lining first.
Campervan Window Insulation preparation to convert van to camper
  • On the inside of the sliding door where the window will be located you will see a reinforcing beam, this needs to be removed. Using an angle grinder carefully cut it out on both sides of the van
  • Drill holes in each corner of the panel (I have marked the drill points in red below)
how to cut out the Campervan side Window for camper conversion
Cut out the reinforcement and drill a hole in each of the corners
  • On the outside of the van using a marker pen and ruler, join up the holes that you have drilled. This will form the lines of the rectangle that you will be cutting along.
  • Before you cut, attach a set of suction cups to the panel to aid removal, you will also use these later when lifting and installing the new side window.
  • Using a metal nibbler accessory (Cheap enough to buy here if you do not have one) cut along the inside of the lines that you have drawn.
  • Once the panel is safely out, using a metal angle grinder sanding disc, grind the edges back to make them smooth
  • Paint the exposed metal edges in a decent metal primer to protect from rust (remember even the insides will get moisture from condensation) Most kits will include this but if not then Dinitrol is good stuff.
  • Install the trim – this is the rubber seal that covers the internal metal edges that you have applied metal primer to.
  • Clean the glass window with good glass cleaner
  • Apply the glue to the full circumference of the rectangle cut out (ensure an even application)
  • Lift the new glass window into place with the suction cups fixed to what will be the internal side of the window.
  • From the outside of the van, press the new window firmly and evenly into place – use tape on the outside of the camper to hold the window in place whilst you secure it from the inside.
  • On the inside attach rope or a ratchet strap to the suction cups and pull tight/secure to hold the glass in place. Fix the other end of the rope to a fixed object such as your driver/passenger seat.
  • Close doors and leave the heater running inside the camper for approximately 30 minutes to allow the glue to set.

Campervan pop top roof conversion

The campervan pop top roof conversion is of course optional and if you are only interested in converting your van into a two berth camper conversion then this stage can be skipped.

TIP – When deciding whether to go for a pop top or not. the main downside to bear in mind is that as soon as you install one of these, your roof insulation is going to be compromised.

You won’t be able to insulate your roof area as well as you would do without one of these installed. Think carefully about your planned use, are you a summer fair weather camper only? If so, proceed.

However if you want your camper for all weather use and maybe a few alpine ski trips in the winter, make sure you assess the benefits gained vs the loss of heat.

A high quality campervan pop top roof conversion to convert a van into a camper
A nice quality pop top conversion on eBay (here)

This is one of the elements that I would recommend getting a professional install unless you are extremely confident. You don’t want to mess up the cutting of your roof or introduce leaks into your vehicle.

It is best to carry out a campervan pop top roof conversion before you do the lining or any other internal fittings.

Some still choose to have a campervan pop top roof conversion so that they can stand up in the camper. If you have a low roof model Transporter (which most opt for) then unless you are a smidge under 5ft, you will find your self constantly bending over.

This can be a pain if you are cooking in the camper conversion for example.

Pop top conversion cost in the uk

The cost for a fully installed, decent quality pop top conversion to a SWB Transporter T5 or T6 starts somewhere around £1.8k and goes up to £3.5k. It will always add good value to your converted campervan however.

The main difference being the finishes and materials used. The example on eBay (here) by van creations is worth a look as they do a lot of decent quality conversions in the south of England.

Some of the dearer ones have better longer life fabric, colour coded finish, Roof bed kits and so on. They should also be M1 Crash tested.

how to supply and fit roof campervan pop top conversion
A supply only pop top starting from around £1k

If you are feeling confident at fitting your own (or have someone local that can do it) you can buy just the pop top van conversion kit for around 1k. A good example being the one above (eBay link here)

A campervan pop top roof conversion can be a great investment as it adds considerable value to a Transporter.

Generally speaking you should expect to at least get your money back at point of resale as a pop top upgrade does not depreciate in value unlike the vehicle itself.

E.G a 4 year old T6 with a pop top should be worth around 2k- 3k more than its counterpart without a pop top conversion.

How to fit a campervan pop top roof conversion

If you are feeling brave, a very good guide on the stages involved can be found here by pop top roof.

Electrical installation to convert a van into a camper

The wiring of a campervan can sound quite daunting however there are some ready made 12v split charge systems that you can buy that make it a much more plug and play process.

So long as you understand the basics of electrical circuits, most of the work involved is routing the wiring and finding easy access, but well hidden locations!

Tip The best tip I can give you here is to make sure your connections are accessible! You do not want any joining cables/plugs or junctions behind lining that will not be accessible.

When you are routing your wires in what will be hard to reach places once you are finished, make sure they are complete runs of cable. This will minimise issues with loose connections

The scope of an electrical installation can be very varied depending on how far you want to go when converting your van into a camper. Some just want a simple leisure battery, split charge system, lights and perhaps a socket or two to charge a mobile phone or run a small fridge.

Others want solar panels, TV’s, Audio, etc.

Below we will look at the basics to get power into your camper conversion.

Split charging systems for a van camper conversion

The starting point for most camper conversions is installing a split charging system. In simple terms this is a separate 12v battery (termed a leisure battery) that sits within your campervan.

vw transporter split charge kit
VW Transporter split charge kit

The split charge part of the set up allows the leisure battery to be charged up when you are driving the camper but ensures that your main van battery does not become drained when you are using the leisure battery power whilst camping.

The split charge system therefore makes it perfectly safe to drain the leisure battery and still be able to start your campers engine the following day.

If you plan on drawing a lot of power (example being a fridge/freezer, TV, charging of phones, lights) then you can install multiple leisure batteries side by side, thus giving you more power before you deplete.

VW Transporter split charge kit

The easiest and quickest way to install a split charging system into a camper conversion is to buy a ready made up kit. If you search for VW transporter split charge kit – a few pop up on eBay and Amazon There are a few low cost options (such as this one).

When coupled with a decent leisure battery (Tip – make sure you get one with a high aH such as the Autolite), then the vw transporter split charge kit is simple enough to install. You can buy them for Transits, Crafters etc however the only real difference is the length of cable!

The hardest part of installing a VW transporter split charge kit is running the main power from the battery (under the bonnet), into the van and then onwards to the final resting place for your leisure battery.

It is for this reason it is best to do this before you do any further internal fits to your camper conversion as it is easier to run the power cable under the flooring etc before you lay anything on top.

Most camper conversions opt to place the leisure battery and most of the vw transporter split charge kit gumming’s within some sort of cupboard unit as there is not room for it elsewhere.

Some fixed base rock and roll beds may have enough space underneath them providing there are no moving parts on the base.

For now run the wires to where the resting place will be.

The rest of the VW transporter split charge kit is self contained around your leisure battery location. Follow the split charge kit install instructions and you can’t really go wrong.

Final checks on your split charging system kit

Once you are all wired up, if you connect a voltmeter to your leisure battery, when your engine is running the volt reading should rise from a resting reading of around 12v up to 13.5V- 14.5v.

This indicates that the leisure battery is successfully charging off your engine when running.

The rest of the camper conversion electrical fit out

So, once you have the camper 12v split charge system installed, the world is your oyster.

Following the conventional rules of electronical circuits, you can run just about any gadget that is 12v. When running the wires/cables it is best to keep the wires easily accessible.

If you are planning to insulate, line and carpet the camper interior try to use a common channel for as much of your cabling that will be easily accessible once the lining is in place.

This way you can also install some form of cable trunking to protect the core wires. For the trunking, some camper conversions use conventional household trunking (such as this one) and others opt to use simple black conduit (like this).

There are pro’s and con’s to each type of trunking but mostly it boils down to how you plan on hiding the cables whilst maintaining the accessibility.

What about installing the lights and flip down TV etc?

My advice is to complete as much of your wiring trouble shooting now, get it all connected whilst the camper is empty and not lined. This way you can plan your routing and fix the main cables in place.

The devices such as the spotlights/flip down TV’s and so on can easily be disconnected once you are happy that it is all working as it should.

Once you are happy with how your wiring will work and all your devices are working (and the cable is long enough) you can remove the items until you are ready to fit them into their final resting place.

Lets recap your progress so far

Ok, so just to recap before moving on… You now have the following in place:

  1. Selected which camper base van to convert
  2. Side windows installed
  3. Campervan pop top roof conversion complete
  4. Electrical fit out planned and tested, and core cabling laid

So, secure your main cabling, disconnect + remove your appliances (lights, TV, fridge etc), and let’s move on.

Selecting and installing a diesel heater

This stage required it’s own article as it is a fairly complex subject and one that you want to consider carefully. You can view the main article (HERE). however in a nutshell:

This stage of converting your van into a camper is a good time to install a diesel heater, if that is indeed your plan. There are two main types of diesel heater: Plumbed and non plumbed.

  1. Plumbed – These connect into your main diesel tank underneath the vehicle. The most popular manufacturers for the UK market are Eberspacher Espar Airtronic S2 D2 L 12V 2.2kW and the Webasto Air Top 2000 ST C heater Diesel
Airtronic transporter diesel heater for a camper conversion

2) Non plumbed – These have their own stand alone diesel tank (usually 10L) that you will need to refill manually. The most common of these is the Low cost MaXpeedingrods 12V *2kW*

best vw transporter diesel heater for conversion into camper

Tip 1 Whichever heater you go for, on a Transporter sized campervan conversion it is recommended to go for the 2kW power output models. Anything above this you will find too warm even on the lower settings.

The 5kW Chinese diesel heaters are ideal for crafter sized camper conversions (or bigger).

Tip 2 – If you install a diesel heater, make sure you install a carbon monoxide alarm at the same time as you are introducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning into your sleep area. You can pick up the battery powered alarms for less than £20 (Example here)

Best place to install a diesel heater

The two most common places for the diesel heater to be installed on a Transporter sized conversion is either:

  1. Under the passenger seat base – This will only work if your seat base has room. Some swivel seat bases prevent this
  2. Beneath the vehicle – This is the preferred option however you will need a mounting box to protect it (View eBay Examples).
HOW TO CONVERT A VW TRANSPORTER INTO A CAMPER - diesel heater mounted under Transporter
A good solution for mounting a diesel heater under a camper conversion

Installing your camper conversion lining and insulation

If you are at this point of your van to camper conversion process, the good news is that you now have made the majority of the major alterations required to convert your van into a camper.

That said, many people (including professionals) overlook the importance of spending time and money on good quality insulation.

Selecting your camper insulation

Do not underestimate the importance on your camper insulation, this is the base layer that will fill the cavities between your internal area and the great outdoors. To convert a van into a high quality camper you need to nail this section otherwise you will end up cold, damp (from condensation) and miserable.

A decent thermal lining will improve sound deadening, reduce condensation build up, and ultimately enable your camper to hold it’s temperature in both hot and cold conditions.

Tip – Do not make the mistake of lining your van in thin reflective foil. Whilst this has great reflecting properties that is great for windows for example, what you really need is material that has a high R Value that will create the best thermal break.

(You can view a good R Value guide here)

The best way to insulate a camper

It is a common misconception that one type of insulation will do the job. The best quality camper conversions use multiple different products to ensure a high-quality thermal break is achieved.

The good news is that thermal insulation is extremely cheap. Whilst the list below seems quite daunting, you will not need much of each to complete the full camper insulation.

The four types of product that I would recommend using for the walls and ceiling (together) that will ensure a fantastic coverage are:

  1. Vapour barrier – this will help reduce condensation build up, super cheap base layer for all of your walls and ceilings. For a Transporter sized conversion you need around 10 – 12m2
  2. Insulation board – this is for your large thermal cavities where it is easy to cut and insert into place.
  3. Insulation foam – this fills the smaller gaps around the insulation board that you cannot reach but will not need access to once your build is complete (IE do not use foam in areas where you will need access to wires or bolts etc in the future). For a Transporter you need around 3 cans
  4. Rock wool or similar – Perfect for stuffing into gaps where the insulation board won’t work and where you may need access in the future (rock wool is easy enough to pull out). For a Transporter you need around 4m2 as an absolute maximum.

And finally… Before you lay your camper conversion flooring, make sure you lay some silent coat (or similar) product. Avoid going too thick however as it will cause you issues when laying the floor.

Ply lining your camper conversion

The van lining process will start to make your van feel much more like a campervan!

There are a few ways to go about lining a camper, some of it comes down to personal preference and the planned use of your camper. The options you have are as follows.

  1. Buy your own ply lining from B&Q and cut it yourself (Skilled).
  2. Buy a pre-cut ply lining kit for your specific Transporter model – example (Semi-skilled)
  3. Buy a pre-cut ply lining kit that is carpeted for your specific Transporter model – eBay example (Plug and play!)
A pre-cut ply lining kit by Just Kampers

Tip – My top tip here is to not underestimate how hard it is to cut your own panelling from ply board. Unless you are a skilled joiner or carpenter, I would recommend buying the pre-cut pieces to speed up your conversion and ultimately get a great finish.

Pre cut and pre lined VW Transporter convert to camper kit

The professional conversion companies all use the pre-cut/pre lined kits so do not feel ashamed!

Let us revisit the electricals for a second…

Now that your ply lining is going in, now is the time to revisit some of your electrical install. If you are fitting lights into the ceiling, switches, or sockets into the walls you are best drilling your holes for the wires to feed through at this point.

If you have spotlights to mount you are best to drill the mounting holes into your ceiling panel etc before you install the ply into your camper.

As you are mounting your ply lining, now is the time to tidy up the final routing of your wires ensuring you then feed the wires through the ply holes in readiness for the electrical final fit.

Installing van carpet lining and flooring

So, the first Tip here – do your carpet lining first and then lay the flooring. This way you can leave a couple of extra centimetres of carpet around the bottom edges of your walls. This will then be covered nicely by your top layer of floor.

This will give you a smart seamless finish and reduce the number of cuts that you will need to make.

Selecting the best van lining carpet for a camper conversion is relatively complex also. There are more options than you might imagine with a few key things to avoid if you can, you can read our more detailed guide on this (here).

camper conversion van lining guide

You can buy carpet lining kits for Transporters that offer good value for money and make life a little easier as they come with the correct glue and best 4 way stretch carpet to use etc.

Tip 1 If you are buying carpet separately the top tip here is to make sure you buy the four way stretch variety.

I made the mistake of buying a slightly cheaper variation of carpet for one of my earlier T4 conversions and I quickly realised my error. Carpet that is not four way stretch does not glue well or mould well to the side of the van. The wrong carpet will double your fitting time and the finish just won’t be as professional.

Four way stretch is much easier to work with and the stretch enables a nice flush fit even to the more intricate areas such as the arches.

Tip 2 Make sure you get high temperature adhesive. The sides and roof of campervans get hot in summer months (even with good insulation!). Some glue will weaken under intense heat.

Lining a van with carpet is one of the easier jobs to complete. Take your time, watch a few videos on Youtube and cut as you go are the best words of advice.

The only tools you are likely to need are a Stanley knife (with lots of spare blades), Scissors, and some cheap plastic edging tools like the ones below. You can use these to tuck in the edges of your carpet nicely into the manufacturer seams / trim of the camper.

Transporter Camper conversion guide to lining a carpet
Example here

Some aim to complete each side in one single piece of carpet. This produces a nice finish however is not essential. Using one piece to cover a side can also be a pain in the future if you ever wanted access to a particular area for maintenance or modification purposes.

If you work with the shape of the camper walls you can do a panel at a time and if you bought pre lined ply boards, these will cover up any joins or edges anyway.

Electrics again….

Exactly as we did above with the ply lining stage, make sure you feed any electrical cables that you will be connecting to sockets or light fittings through the carpet as you go.

Installing swivel seats into your camper conversion

This section also deserves its own article which can be found (HERE). However, the top level info to consider for your van camper convert is below.

If you went for a higher specification van such as the VW Transporter Highline or Sportline, Caravelle or Shuttle to convert into a camper, you may already be happy with your standard seats. In which case all you need are the Swivel bases (Example from eBay here).

These bases are basically plug and play, Undo the floor bolts on your original seats, remove the original base from the seat and then replace with your new swivel bases.

If you buy Transporter specific bases, all the mounting holes will line up with your floor and seat mounts.

It takes roughly 30 minutes to an hour per chair if you pace yourself. Anyone with a spanner can do this part of a camper conversion.

Convert a Transporter into a swivel seated camper

If you bought a used panel van, however, you may want to consider changing your seats to captain seats first.

There are loads of options for captain seats that will be a huge improvement over old and tired standard VW Transporter panel van specification seats. The best place to browse is eBay. Good condition second options pop up all the time (Examples from eBay here).

You may even get lucky and pick up a set that are already finished in the trim you desire.

Jac Conversion Kits LTD
You can buy the full matching set from Jac Conversion Kits LTD as a great example

Installing your cupboards into a Transporter camper conversion

We are getting close! You should now be looking at a nicely lined interior with floor, ceiling and walls finished in carpet, swivel captain seats, diesel heater, pop top, side windows and a few random loose electrical cables poking out of a few random holes!

Now is a good time to get your cupboards and rock and roll bed into place so that you can mark your mounting holes and ensure that you are happy with the final layout before you start fixing things down.

Most choose to use the side cupboards for securing their leisure battery and tucking the rest of the split charge system gumming’s away out of sight.

The easiest way to install the traditional style camper convert cupboards / sink / hob / fridge is to buy a readymade frame.

You can pick up some nice quality CNC cut products that you would struggle to build without a qualification in joinery or a lot of time on your hands. An example of a fully accessorised and finished set of cupboards are below.

View product on eBay

TIP You can buy camper side units that are in the final finished state or just the bare MDF wood. I personally quite like the MDF style such as the one below that you can then finish yourself in your own matching trim.

A nicely finished MDF Transporter van cupboard unit (View product on eBay)

Applying your own finish usually works out cheaper AND you can personalise it however you wish. This will give you a much more individual conversion!

At this point some choose not to have a sink or hob when they convert their camper and choose to leave the side unit as a side unit. If you want to cut your own hole for a hob and sink, then it is simple enough to do so.

Once you have your units, you can have a browse at the millions of different vinyl wraps that you can buy to cover it.

The actual fixing into your campervan is simple. You can screw these directly to the ply lining that you installed earlier. Make sure you sink lots of well placed screws and use mounting brackets to get a good solid finish.

Remember you do not want this coming loose during an accident so take your time to get a good secure finish. Cheap steel brackets such as the one below will help you achieve this.

Mounting brackets for Transporter cupboard conversion

Installing your 3/4 rock and roll bed

This section deserved it’s own article as there are so many different considerations for your perfect 3/4 or full width rock and roll bed. You can view the Campervan Rock And Roll Bed Guide here, however the key factors you will need to consider are below.

Depending on how far you want to convert your van into a camper and its ultimate intended use will determine the best kind of rock and roll bed set up and material to go.

High quality campervan rock and roll bed to convert your van into a camper
  1. Will you be carrying passengers? If so, you need to ensure you have an M1 crash tested rock and roll bed base
  2. Do you need ISOfix? If so, there are only a couple of suppliers that offer this.
  3. What kind of slide out mechanism do you want. electric, gas struts or the good old-fashioned hump and dump!
  4. If you are carrying passengers, the installation of a rock and roll bed maybe best suited for a professional install.

TIP 1 If your rock and roll bed is not pull tested and accredited with at least the M1 rating, it should not be used in motion.

This means it should not have seat belts installed. Technically if it does have seat belts, it is an MOT fail (however this is rarely checked during an MOT from experience)

TIP 2 This tip could save you a lot of time, money, and weight. If you do not want to carry passengers in the rear of your VW Transporter camper conversion and you don’t require an m1 crash tested rock and roll bed…

Have a really good look at the wooden frames that are available on the market, or even consider making your own.

They offer incredible value for money, offer better storage solutions, and are much easier to apply a magnitude of different finishes and designs to. It is also easier to modify should you ever desire.

Whilst the traditional style steel rock and roll beds are popular, the only real major benefit they give over wood is the ability to pass the crash test in order to carry passengers. Wooden solution pretty much outranks steel for every other practicality.

Once a well-built steel frame or wooden rock and roll bed is upholstered you can’t actually tell aesthetically whether they are wooden or steel beneath.

A couple of nice options are below:

convert your van into a camper and its intended use
View product on eBay made by Van Furniture
View product on eBay by Van Furniture

Installing the bed into your camper conversion

The process is slightly different between a wooden and steel structured rock and roll bed, lets cover both.

To install a wooden bed

If you are installing a wooden structure (as above), these can simply be secured with screws to ply lined floor and walls. Make sure you use good mounting brackets and get plenty of well secured screws planted, and you are done!

Bear in mind you do not want them coming loose in an accident so don’t skimp on the fittings. The brackets below would work well as an example.

How to mount a wooden bed into a Transporter camper conversion
View Example of a decent mounting bracket for wooden frames

To install an M1 Tested rock and roll bed

The key to a successful install of an m1 tested rock and roll bed is the use of adequate spreader plates. which will seat beneath the vehicle. You will need the following:

  1. Ramps or axel stands to give access to the underside of your van
  2. Drill with metal drill bit that will cut a hole for an m10 sized bolt
  3. Small metal drill bit for pilot holes
  4. Spanners, screw drivers etc
  5. Underseal
  6. Measuring tape
Steel spreader plates for m1 tested rock and roll bed install
Example spreader plates on (eBay link)

The process isn’t rocket science, but you need to be careful that you don’t drill through anything other than the floor and make sure you can get at least 4 secured mounts in place, one for each corner of the rock and roll bed base.

  1. Place your rock and roll bed inside the vehicle
  2. Remove underside belly pans and drop the spare wheel, check for other items that might be in the vicinity of your drill. You want to avoid steel cross beams, suspension components, the fuel tank etc! Use a measuring tape to get a rough idea for where your holes will land
  3. Mark out the bolt holes from the inside of your van. Check again that you will not hit anything on the way through.
  4. Drill your pilot holes and check that the final exit place under the vehicle looks good
  5. Drill your final M10 bolt sized holes
  6. Prime the bare metal and slap on some undercoat. Let this dry and then ideally use sealant between the mounting plates and the underside of your floor. This will give you a great seal and protect the metal further.
  7. Thread your bolts through, tighten the nuts. You will need a friend to hold the underside nut whilst you tighten the other side.
  8. Once you are happy and everything is tight, finish off with a healthy dose of undercoat, all over the underside mounting plates

Final electrical fit to complete your camper convert

At this point you should be looking at a pretty much completely converted campervan but with a couple of wires hanging out of the ceiling or walls waiting for your lighting and switches to be connected.

Now is the time to finish installing your electrical components. It should just be a case of plug and play at this point as you pre-drilled your holes during the first electrical fit out.

So, the final check list:

  1. Firmly secure down your leisure battery to the floor. Ideally using mounting clamps (View example here)
  2. Firmly secure the rest of the split charge gumming’s. Things such as the fuse box and amp relay all need to be tightly secured. Most choose to screw them down to the inside of the cupboard unit, making sure that they are accessible.
  3. Connect your lights/spotlights/ mood lighting and screw the fittings down
  4. Connect any sockets or switches that you may have ran the wiring for
  5. Connect your diesel heater and mini fridge if applicable
  6. Connect your Flip down TV, aerial, surround sound (if applicable)
  7. Connect the battery and test

Accessorising your camper van convert

The final piece to the puzzle to ensure you get the most from your completed van camper convert and achieve a pleasurable camping experience is to accessorise!

There is a magnitude of different accessories available for Transporters but only a few that I would consider essential.

If you have enjoyed this guide you may enjoy reading the top 7 ESSENTIAL campervan accessories to never leave home without. Find out the Best VW Transporter accessories here.

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