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Volkswagen Transporter vans have always been a very popular van for small campervan conversions – ever since they were first introduced, back in the 1950s and 60s.
This remains the case today with the current incarnation of the Transporter, the T5. It is no surprise, therefore, that a number of small van converters and parts specialists exist who deal almost exclusively with VW campervan conversions.
One such company is Leisuredrive, which features heavily in two books I received recently from automotive publishing specialists Veloce Publishing:
- How to Convert Volkswagen Bus or Van to Camper, by Lindsay Porter (applies to T25 & T4)(Amazon⇒)
- How to Convert Volkswagen T5 Van to Camper, by Lindsay Porter (Amazon⇒)
As you might guess, the second book is an updated version of the first, following the same lines but dealing with the conversion of a new VW T5 van, rather than a second-hand T25, which is the subject of the first book.
Both books follow a largely pictorial format, with hundreds of captioned pictures illustrating all aspects of the conversion process, as performed for the books’ author Lindsay Porter by well-known VW converters Leisuredrive.
What Is Covered
These books contain a huge amount of illustrated information that will enable you to understand the conversion process in reasonable detail. Areas covered include:
- Fitting a high-top or elevating (popup) roof
- Fitting windows
- Internal insulation, carpet-lining and flooring
- Construction and installation of furniture
- Some information about gas, electrics and water
- Fitting various aftermarket accessories to the van, such as a solar panel and a swivelling passenger seat
The list of topics covered in the book is pretty comprehensive. The way they have been covered enables a prospective converter to understand the tools and techniques used to create and fit the furniture and other fittings, and provides enough knowledge to enable you to work out approximately the correct sequence of activities. Although virtually all the work pictured is carried out by professional fitters in a fully-equipped workshop, the majority of the tools required are not particularly specialist or expensive.
One thing that is understated in both books is the amount of time and effort that Leisuredrive save through having templates for almost all cutting and furniture-related jobs. A DIY converter will not have any of this and needs to be prepared to spend (a lot of) extra time and effort in measuring and creating templates to get the same level of fit and finish as the professionals.
What Is Not Covered
I have noticed that both of these books have a few very negative reviews on Amazon, alongside more positive reviews. I think the reason for the negative reviews is that because these books are focused on a single model of van, people buy them assuming that they can be used as an instruction manual to convert a van – rather like an assembly manual for a piece of flat-pack furniture, for example.
This is not the case – if you are planning a DIY conversion, you will need to read the book, learn from it and then create your own plans. These books do not contain templates, measurements or detailed plans for wiring, plumbing or gas pipes. These are all things you would have to work out for yourself – although if you bought a ready made conversion kit of the kind provided by Leisuredrive, much of this process would be simplified for you.
Despite this, the information in these books is all accurate and relevant and will help you understand how to perform a decent conversion and what skills and tools you will need.
If I was considering converting a VW van, I would probably buy one of these books. They provide a lot of useful information about the processes and techniques required to convert a small panel van.
You do not need to be an expert joiner, automotive electrician or mechanic to convert a van, but you do need some practical skills, a fair amount of time and the common sense to know which jobs are beyond your abilities. This last point is emphasised in these books, especially where gas and electricity are concerned.
These books make an ideal basis for planning and researching a DIY conversion or understanding what will happen to your van when you send it to be professionally converted. On top of that, they are an interesting read for anyone who would like to understand more about how VW campervans are built.
Publisher: Veloce Publishing (www.veloce.co.uk)
How To Convert Volkswagen T5 Van To Camper
How To Convert Volkswagen Bus or Van To Camper