Insulating “The snapwagon”

The main part of the electrics are in, all that remains is for me to connect the interior lights when the insulation and panelling have been done. I have yet to install the reversing camera and this will have to be done before the insulation is completed but a start can be made on some areas.

First off is the right hand side behind the side door. As you can see from earlier posts the van was ply lined when I bought it so first this had to be removed along with the ply box over the wheel arch. The lining was fixed to the ribs of the van side while the wheel arch box was screwed to the wheel arch and a silicon seal had been run between the two. I presume this was to prevent the two rubbing together and squeaking.

The ply lining and wheel arch box removed.
The ply lining and wheel arch box removed.

The insulation is Black Mountain sheep’s wool purchased from NaturalInsulations.co.uk whom I found very helpful despite this only being a small order. I chose sheep’s wool because it has good thermal properties, comes in rolls 2 inches thick, and is natural, clean and not prickly to work with. It can easily be cut or torn to shape and is light so easy to affix.

In the next picture you can see the insulation is in place; it is lightly glued to the side wall with spray contact adhesive. It only needs enough glue to hold it until the ply is back after which it won’t move far but before putting the ply back a vapour barrier should be installed.

Here you can see the double sided adhesive tape in place ready to hold the polythene vapour barrier.
Here you can see the double sided adhesive tape in place ready to hold the polythene vapour barrier.
Polythene vapour barrier in place.
Polythene vapour barrier in place.

Finally the ply is replaced and the tailgate is done in the same way.

I finished off insulating the side walls of my DIY camper conversion ; here you can see the sheep wool going behind the ply lining with a vapour barrier as shown before and also into any little nooks and crannies which would otherwise bleed heat on cold nights.

Insulation going into all the little nooks and crannies.
Insulation going into all the little nooks and crannies.

In addition the wheel arch box was insulated before being refitted and a silicon bead put around the edges where it might otherwise rub on the sides and cause friction squeaks.

Wheel arch box being insulated and refixed.
Wheel arch box being insulated and refixed.

The odd shaped hole in the ply lining is where the spare wheel was originally fixed. Mounted here it intruded into the van too much taking eight inches off the usable width and to improve the layout I decided to place this on the floor behind the drivers seat where it will fulfil another use.

I spent some time thinking about how to insulate the roof and fix ply lining; some of the forums and other resources on the web were a great help. Eventually I decided to get some battens of ¼” ply cut to the width of the vehicle. Using thin battens and laminating them in-situ would allow them to follow the curvature of the van roof whilst giving the necessary depth. This required 32 battens each one inch wide and my local DIY shop cut these down for me. Gluing them in position was fiddly and time consuming and done with contact adhesive. Once the glue had fully gone off they were rock solid. They were installed at four positions along the length of the van. The roof of the Vito van is ribbed and so the battens had to be trimmed and some short lengths inserted to maintain contact with as much of the roof as possible as you can see from the next picture. Using four sets of battens allowed them to be positioned at spaces correlating to the width of the sheep wool roll whilst keeping them close enough to provide adequate support for the lining. The placement of the battens along the length was recorded so I could ensure I was drilling and screwing into a supported area when attaching the roof lining.

Mini battens glued to the roof.
Mini battens glued to the roof.
Batten now complete.
Batten now complete.

At the back I riveted an angle section of aluminium to assist in holding the lining in place while it was fixed.

Rear support for roof.
Rear support for roof.

Now it was time to insulate the roof. My first attempt involved gluing the sheep wool to the roof was a failure, The material did not have enough structural integrity and started to come apart so an alternative was needed.

Problems installing the roof insulation.
Problems installing the roof insulation.

I opted to split the ply lining down the length of the van for the roof panels, to make it easier to manoeuver into place and fix. They were cut to approximate size by my local DIY shop and I then trimmed them to shape using a plane to get the rough outline (the roof of a Vito curves out from the front and narrows again towards the back). At the front, behind the seats, the shape is more complex so I cut a card template with scissors and used that to mark the ply lining.

Cutting template.
Cutting template.

Once trimmed exactly to size I fixed the polythene vapour barrier to the top of the plywood then cut panels of sheep wool to fit into the spaces between the battens. With help from family the roof panels were offered into place, sheep wool slid above them when they were held under the final fixing point and then screwed into place.

Another stage completed – next we can move on to the furniture.

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