Campervan kitchen – in go the cabinets

We’ve had to bring in reinforcements; Paul’s parents, Jean & John, were staying last week and earned their keep by knocking a few cabinets together. J & J are also keen campervanners and have just embarked on their second tour of NZ in a v posh 4-berth campervan.

So the task last weekend was to build and fit the kitchen cabinets that will house the sink, gas stove and fridge. The ‘build’ part was made easier by buying ready-built cabinets from Bunnings! Well, they were flat-packed but still easier than just buying a load of wood. Amazingly they fit perfectly width-ways, so Paul just had to take some of the height off the bottom, and cut round all the wheel arches etc at the back.

So from left to right is the bathroom basin, then there’ll be a wall, then the kitchen sink, then the fridge.

The cabinet on the other side is for the gas stove and grill.

The fridge is a Waeco CoolMatic (80 litres), which is bigger than we thought we could fit in, and has a little ice box at the top for our frozen peas. It’ll be wired in with 6mm cables to the 12volt battery and should last about 3 days before the battery needs to be recharged. That should be plenty long enough, as I can’t imagine we’ll ever go that long without plugging into power somewhere – not intentionally anyway, and if the worst comes to the worst, we’ll just have to have a couple of meals of warm beer and defrosted peas.

The next job is to source and fit the two water tanks underneath the bathroom and kitchen sinks. Paul thinks he might be able to get them from a 4WD shop this week. He also wants to figure out the seating / bed combo; this has already prompted many colourful conversations between him and his Dad, as they both have very different ideas about how to build it. I think Paul is going to take advantage of J & J being in NZ for the next few weeks to make a start on it.

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.