Finishing the “Snap wagon”

The last major job in the conversion of my Vito to campervan was to make the inside look more homely by carpeting the ply lining. The “Snap Wagon” has a tailgate and the carpet weight had to be light or the gas struts would be overwhelmed. If your van has twin rear doors you can opt for something heavier if you wish but I went for a light, felt backed corded carpet. The range I liked had a red almost the same as the exterior of the van which I thought would be warm and cosy. I bought this from a small local independent retailer who was full of useful advice yet still very competitive in his prices. He suggested an adhesive, gave tips on its use and recommended that I fit the carpet to any panels I could off the van and then refix them, the time lost in removing and refixing would be saved in ease of cutting the carpet – very good advice.

First up was the tailgate from which the ply lining was quickly removed and laid on the carpet. I drew around the ply “template” with a felt pen as a precaution, just in case the carpet fell off before being fully trimmed although this turned out not have been necessary. I then sprayed glue on a strip about six inches wide on the back of the carpet as well as on the ply, making sure I had not sprayed adhesive over a screw hole, and pressed the two together. With the carpet firmly attached to the ply the carpet was trimmed with a sharp Stanley knife. The ply was now screwed back to the van and once done glue was applied to the remainder and the carpet stuck to the ply working from the centre of the panel to the edges. As you can see from the photo below, whilst the ply was being screwed to the tailgate a bungee cord was used so that the carpet did not tear free from the ply.

Next up were the bottom panels of the side doors, which were done in exactly the same way as the tailgate. The top panels of these doors are fixed to the metal with only a couple of screws and a lot of silicone sealant. Re-doing the sealant after the carpet had been fixed seemed more problematic than making a paper and card template and cutting the carpet to fit in that way.

The carpet sides of the van had to be fixed in place and then cut to fit; removal of the sides at this stage was precluded by the way in which the other furniture was fixed to them. You may want to think about this and adapt your method to make this later stage easier. I tackled the right hand side first, it looked much easier being virtually a rectangle and it went quite smoothly. The near side had the kitchen unit protruding into the rectangle left a much more awkward shape. I started out on the same tack as the first side, cut a slightly oversize rectangle, stapled it to the van side half way up to hold it in place while some glue was applied. A generous coat of glue to both van side and carpet, allow to dry briefly, then press firmly in place and when set remove the staples. Working slowly, methodically and with a sharp knife, trim and glue about one quarter of the carpet at a time, use a blunt (you don’t want to accidentally cut the carpet) cold chisel to press the carpet into corners and give you a clear line to work to. Cut, glue and move on. It took two goes to get a decent finish on this side, I made a complete mess of the first attempt and decided to start again rather than try to bodge around an area where I had cut a bit too small; I knew it would haunt me later if I cheated now.

A few words of warning at this stage. First and most important a Vito is a smallish van and contact adhesive is solvent based. Keep the doors open and stop regularly to take a breather outside and let the fumes clear. Solvent abuse can lead to permanent disablement or death, even accidental abuse in this way and don’t even think of carpeting out the van and setting off on a road trip; allow it a period to “go off”. Take great care around the areas where there are cables; cause a short and you could destroy the van. Always work with a sharp knife, it will cut cleanly and always cut away from yourself. Finally contact adhesive is difficult to remove if you spray it somewhere unwanted so spray accurately and around edges use a strip of card to protect against overspray. The glue I used was Everbuild Stick2, which has an adjustable nozzle from broad to narrow and for which a proprietary removal solvent is available. Check it does not remove the colour from your chosen carpet first and, in an emergency you could, as did I once, use genuine Turpentine as an alternative solvent.

I thought about the roof for some time, having done the rest it was, frankly, beginning to bother me. The thought of keeping an 8ft x 4ft piece of carpet above my head while trimming it to shape around lights, cables, the reversing camera screen and the headlining at the front without either making a mess of it or cutting something I shouldn’t seemed daunting. I had bought enough carpet to do this but in the end decided to scrap this and, since I had a few carpet tiles left over form carpeting my office felt it would be easier to use those. The centre line of tiles would need no cutting, except for the ends and where they met the sides it would be easier to cut and fix a tile at a time rather than one big piece. I had some largish scraps of card in a cupboard and it was easy to make card templates to fit around the awkward corners and trim the carpet to these and in the end the whole job went very smoothly. I also used two different colour tiles since I felt this would tend to add to a feeling of space in the small van; I’m not entirely sure it worked but it has not detracted.

The card is more easily fitted around complex curves to allow it to be shaped and cut as a template if you cut the edges into strips and fold each strip into the corner before cutting – see the picture below. A fairly heavy grade of adhesive is needed to hold the weight of these tiles, especially in hot weather.

How different it looks in these before and after shots!

 

As bought.
As bought.
Ready to camp!
Ready to camp!

All that remains is curtains for the cupboards and for decency behind the front seats and a cover for

the bed. I bought a large remnant of heavy quality material from a local shop and am hoping to rope in the help of a friend for this – sewing is way too complicated for me ☺.

I hope you enjoyed this little saga, good luck with your own conversion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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British Landscape Photographer – blog and news. Main website www.billallsopp.co.uk

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