Our campervan bathroom

With a new deadline of Christmas, we’ve spent the last few weekends adding the final touches to the campervan.

The bathroom is now finished:Campervan bathroom

Campervan bathroom

The glass mosaic tiles were left over from our own bathroom so we thought we’d continue the red theme through from the living area.

We have boxed in the wheel arch behind the toilet, which also provides a handy shelf or magazine rack:

The doors separating the bathroom from the kitchen are made from the same gloss panels Paul’s used for all the woodwork (sold as pantry doors in Bunnings – if the link is saying ‘sold out’, err.. we have bought quite a few.)

He added new hinges, handles and a lock at the top of each door, so they can be secured in both the open and closed positions.

Campervan bathroom

So the interior is very nearly complete.

In other news, the curtains are finished – hurrah! My new nemesis is the tiebacks; they are being decidedly tricky.

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Raising the roof

Early on in our diy campervan project, Paul removed the back panel of the internal ceiling so he could install the wiring. (The front panel stretched right down to the windscreen and housed all the air conditioning, so he left this intact.) Removing the ceiling afforded us an extra 10cm head height in the main part of the van, which has been useful with Paul working in there every weekend, and which we’re now reluctant to lose! So instead of replacing the original ceiling, Paul’s created a new one out of panels of flexible hard board.

This shows the original ceiling at the front and the extra head height we can gain at the back:

Once all the ceiling was insulated (using flooring insulation as above), the hard board panels could go up. It was quite a long process involving a lot of measuring and sawing, before each panel was screwed into the van framework with metal screws.

In the bathroom we’ve extended the ceiling down to block out the two side windows (it seemed a bit of a shame to lose the extra light, but the alternative was making two more curtains. Hmmmm.)

The original ceiling is covered with a pale grey type of carpet, which we couldn’t match exactly so we’ve gone for a two-tone look with a darker grey carpet matting from Clark Rubber.

It was really fiddly cutting the carpet template exactly to size and fitting it in place – made harder by the fact that the adhesive (Selleys Kwik Grip spray) was brilliantly sticky and stuck fast the instant it attached to something.

The wiring for each hole was fed through the board and the carpet, then the light fitting screwed on top.

The final job is to bridge the 10cm gap between the front panel and back panel.

It’s great having the tiny bit of extra room, and we’ve realised we don’t even have to stoop over any more, if we just bend our knees into a slight squat we can stand up to full height – a quick and simple way to combine a bit of added exercise with excellent health & safety practice.

Plumbed in and ready to go

After the overindulgence last week of filling both sinks to the brim to test the campervan’s plumbing system, came the inevitable morning-after headache when we tried to empty them. The main problem has been finding fittings to connect the various flexible pipes to their respective tanks. But, with a bit of wrestling and a lot of silicon, everything seems to be secure and the cabinets have stayed dry! The only unexpected outcome is when we empty out the bathroom sink, the kitchen sink fills up:

Apparently it’s because our driveway slopes downwards, although I may keep it up my sleeve as a last-ditch party trick if we ever end up at a particularly sociable campsite.

This is the waste water tank, secured into place with some luggage straps.

The main grey hose leads into the tank from the two sinks, and we can empty it out via the blue tap at the bottom, which leads to an outlet with a normal hose connection:

We fill the cold fresh water tank up from the inlet pipe:

The pipe was a bit too wide to fit through the standard inlet connection, so Paul heated the end in boiling water until it was soft and pliable enough to fit. When the pipe cooled, it expanded back to its previous size and filled the hole nicely.

From there, it runs around the back of the waste water tank and into the fresh water tank:

The vertical pipe is a ventilation hose, which exits just to the left of the inlet hole (see above), and the metal bracket at the front holds the tank in place.

The real test for the whole plumbing system will come when we’re bumping along one of Queensland’s finest outback roads with a full water tank; it may be prudent to fill our limited storage space with more emergency mops than emergency cardigans for our first few trips.

Another day, another trip to Bunnings

This morning, like most Sunday mornings this year, started with a trip to Bunnings. Indeed, Paul even leapt out of bed saying, ‘Got to get up, got to get to Bunnings’, with the sort of enthusiasm usually reserved for those days when you’re hoping to find an overflowing stocking at the end of your bed.

For people reading this blog overseas, Bunnings Warehouse is a chain of massive DIY stores. They have a sausage sizzle at the entrance and a cheery lady in an apron who welcomes you in. Paul visits at least twice every weekend. And not just because he doesn’t get fed at home (he doesn’t always have a sausage) but because he usually gets sidetracked and forgets something, so has to go back.

Although I probably don’t approach a trip to Bunnings with quite the same vigour, I still tag along every couple of weeks. Last time I spent the time wandering the length of the aisles trying to work out how many products they must stock. A serendipitous visit to their website later revealed the answer – it’s over 45,000. So there you go – it’s very big, and if you’re into DIY, it sells absolutely everything you could want. I am not into DIY, and still usually end up with an armful of treasures I didn’t realise I needed.  The trouble is, Bunnings uses the same technique as Ikea and places all the intriguing and bargainous bits at the end of the aisles. You know this is a cunning marketing trick. You know that you don’t really need another miniature torch for your handbag or any more self-cleaning eco mops, but somehow, they find their way into your basket.

Anyway, there was a point to this post, which is that so far, we have bought almost everything we’ve needed for the campervan from Bunnings. Along with three torches, this has included:

All the cabinets

Laminate flooring and insulation

Bathroom sink

Waste water and fresh water tanks

Panels for bathroom walls (sold as pantry doors)

3,000 jigsaw blades

Initially we thought we’d have to get most bits from independent suppliers and caravan stockists, but they’ve been much cheaper and more readily available from Bunnings. We’ll still have to buy the specific electrical parts from a camping store, as well as things like the water heater, but if anyone is approaching a similar project, try a DIY store first before spending a fortune at other places.

Having spent the morning extolling the virtues of Bunnings, I think I will email them now in case they would like to sponsor my site.

Campervan layout – a feat of architectural design?

Before we started work on the van and it was still an empty shell, it was hard to imagine we’d be able to squeeze in a kitchen, bathroom and living room without it all looking very cramped. Yet somehow, now the furniture is in and the walls are up, it’s like our little minibus was always destined to be a cosy campervan. Everything just fits. It is compact and bijou! Clearly all those Thursday nights we’ve spent watching seven series of Grand Designs have been worth it – Kevin would be proud! (Actually, Kevin would say it could have been even better if we’d employed an architect, but never mind.)


The internal structure is quite defined now, and the walls have gone up between the bathroom and kitchen. Paul bought these as pantry doors and used a cardboard template to cut them to shape around the side of the van. The bathroom door will be a bit trickier. Ideally we’d want a rectangular panel that slides across the gap, but the position of the wheel arches on either side means it could only open half way. So the options are to fit a double door that opens into the bathroom, or hang a few strings of beads. That one’s still on the drawing board.

 

The toilet and bathroom basin are now bolted down, and the back of the toilet is fixed to another panel to facilitate the rear-entry swivel benefits, as shown below.


The seating is coming along, and the next stage will be to construct and fit an extra horizontal panel that will hinge out to form a bed. This has been a more contentious issue than you would probably imagine, and the subject of many robust discussions between Paul and his various campervan advisers. Whichever method he chooses, it’ll be one of the next jobs.

A lot of the work coming up will be less visible and includes the wiring and electrics. My sewing machine has now arrived and I may attempt another place mat before launching into the cushions. Thank you to everyone who has expressed a preference for a particular fabric. Surprisingly, almost everyone chose the same one.

(I suspect a conspiracy.)


Thetford cassette toilet C200, swivel, flush tank, rear entry

This is the (slightly disconcerting) description of our campervan toilet.  I have been assured, though, that the rear is actually the best place for an entry point, and just refers to how you access the waste tank. Phew. And the swivel aspect means we can position the toilet with the rear facing towards the back door (for optimum cassette removal), but swivel the seat round so we don’t have to sit facing the wall.

As the photos below probably do a better job of explaining.

The toilet is freestanding at the moment, but will be secured to the wall that separates the bathroom from the kitchen.

And we have got the crème de la crème of campervan basins! It is twice the size of the basins in our house, and plenty big enough to have a personal wash twice a day. (Sorry, these Gavin & Stacey references just keep rolling off my tongue – anyone would think I was obsessed.)

Paul bought the bathroom cabinet and basin from Bunnings, and just had to saw 10cm off the bottom of the cupboard, and cut around the wheel arch and a couple of other protruding objects. I say ‘just’ – this was in 35 degree heat yesterday. The cabinet still needs to be bolted onto the floor, but we need to fit the waste-water tank underneath the basin first.

The next job is to fit the dividing walls, so we can start fixing things into place. Having tried out almost every conceivable colour for the walls, I think they’re going to be white.

Plan of attack – 11 simple steps to achieving your diy campervan

Right. These are the 11 simple steps needed to transform our maxi-taxi into a campervan so our 4-wheel adventures can take off in relative comfort. And style, obviously.

    1. Buy and fit laminate flooring. Involves removing upright bolts in floor that were used to secure the seats (and which I keep treading on), fitting chipboard, laying the underfloor insulation and then fitting the laminate on top. Having spent only 20 minutes in sauna-like conditions measuring up the van yesterday, we’re going to skip the underfloor heating at this stage.
    2. Order and fit toilet. The size of the toilet will dictate where the three surrounding ‘modesty’ screens will sit, and how much space we’ll then have for the kitchen. [note: The bathroom will also be accessible from the rear door of the van, which means we can empty the waste water from the sink and remove the cassette from the toilet. This also means we can get a bit of a through draft into the van when the door’s open. There will be a screen next to the toilet so it’s not visible through the back door, but fitting a wall next to the basin would reduce the bathroom width by about 10cm so we’ll just have a blind on the glass instead. One that’s dust-repellent, anti-static and easy to wash, of course. If such a thing exists?? (sorry, in-jokes are probably considered very poor blogging etiquette).]
    3. Order and fit fridge, freshwater tank (which will go under the kitchen sink) and waste tank (which will sit under the bathroom sink – we can then open the back door of the van and empty water from the valve at the back of the wastewater tank, just as we can remove the cassette from the toilet on the opposite side of the bathroom). Also order and fit smaller (2.5kg) gas bottle and casing, which will sit underneath the seating next to the stove.  Fitting the big ticket items early on lets us see how much space we have for everything else.
    4. Joinery – build cupboards / drawers which will go underneath the seating and underneath the stove and sink in the kitchen. And the sink in the bathroom. Also need to fit extra panel to the side of the seating which will slide out to form the bed, fit laminate onto wall between kitchen and bathroom, and incorporate the door.
    5. Order and fit water heater and water pump. Ideally these would go on the left-hand side of the van underneath the sink but that side is already heavy with both water tanks, so to distribute the weight a bit, we’ll put the water heater on the right-hand side under the stove, and run a pipe underneath the flooring to the freshwater tank.
    6. Finish bathroom – install basin, do tiling around toilet and basin.
    7. Figure out wiring and locate batteries – not sure if we’ll need one or two at this stage – but they’ll sit alongside the battery charger underneath the seating behind the driver’s seat.
    8. Electrics – fit and connect lighting, connect water heater, move speakers (currently providing piped music to the bathroom) to the middle of the van and install 3 ceiling vents.
    9. Fit work surfaces in kitchen, install sink and stove and connect to gas (will need help with this bit).
    10. Upholstery – fit seating in living area.
    11. Interior design – fit blinds and/or gingham curtains, commission surfer-chic artwork, casually scatter cushions around seating.

 

We’ve chosen the hottest day of the year so far to start on the flooring…

Paul resorting to desperate measures to find some shade

 

The hardboard layer and insulation went down well, and we’re ready to lay the laminate flooring next weekend. Again, let’s make it clear when I say ‘we’ – Paul is doing all the physical stuff here. I have joined in the shopping excursions, but otherwise have been taking photos from the sidelines and occasionally offering helpful advice at critical moments. Which is also an important role; we should all play to our strengths.