Deborah the Van: Starting the campervan conversion

The Problem With Converting A Van Into A Campervan

Quite honestly, it hasn’t gone to plan. Converting a van into a campervan requires an awful lot more than we anticipated.

But hey! That’s what a challenge is all about, right? A challenge should be … erm… challenging!

The challenges so far


Now, this was NOT something we had envisaged being a problem. But upon calling our insurance company to let them know about our new vehicle we found that actually, not so easy. You see, sure changing a vehicle from car to van is fine.

But a campervan? That has a whole set of weird stipulations in order to be classified as such. You can’t just whack a mattress in the back and call it a camper. Noooo…. the insurers have a long list of items that have to be included to count as a campervan. Otherwise we kind of fall into some kind of no-mans-land of having a vehicle which doesn’t come under an insurance category.

It’s weird. But I think we have it sorted.

Underneath the floor in Deborah The Van

Lifting up the floor in Deborah The Van

Removing the screws in Deborah The VanRemoving the floor in Deborah The Van

The floor

When buying our van we thought we buying one that was part-converted already. Hoorah! We thought we were hitting it lucky and grabbing bargain.

As is always the way, looks can be decieving.

Sure, Deborah The Van had a few dents and scratches. We knew she’d been well used.

But we hadn’t banked on the floor being full of mould underneath. It was pretty filthy, but mould? We couldn’t risk that spreading and damaging our stuff. Nor, our health.

So we had to pull up the entire floor to thoroughly clean and start again.

Not as easy as it sounds given the previous owners had taken to using super-strength glue AND super-massive bolts to secure the floor. The bolts were screwed so tight and then worn down it was near impossible to get out. Plus some of them were so near the fuel tank we couldn’t risk hammering them through.

Cue, spending weeks hammering. chiselling, sawing and whatever else we could think of to get the screws out and then prise the wood out of the floor of the van.

Phew! That was stressful.

Weird extra seat

Another seeming perk of the van when we bought it was an extra seat and seatbelt. Hoorah! We thought, we could take two extra people with us on fun roadĀ trips around the UK.

But no.

Upon later inspection we found that both the seat and seatbelt were precariously attached to the van and a bit of a safety hazard. So, out those came.

Packing up Deborah The Van


We were also led to believe that the van was insulated. And it kind of is. But having taken Deborah The Van for her first camping outing (to Blogstock last weekend) we found that it was TOO DARN COLD to sleep in.

We have some serious work to do to get the insulation sorted and there’s a good chance we need to rip out what’s there and start again.

Design of interior

And the final challenge is to figure out how to design the interior. We have loads of ideas, and our Pinterest board is brimming with inspiration, but we need to settle on what will be most practical in serving us on roadtrips.

The boyf has devised a system that we think we will work best so once the insulation is fixed we will begin the process of installing a cupboards and bed set-up.

Deborah The Van at sunset

So that’s the latest update on Deborah The Van. We are still super excited to convert her into a campervan. And whilst some things haven’t gone to plan. We are positive it will be worth the hard work in the end.

Have you converted a campervan before? Any advice for us newbies?


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  1. It’s great converting a van but can be hard work, me and Hubby are half way through doing our second van, Hubby is just trying to sort out electrics and gas atm. We’ve got the beds in so are off to Wales this weekend to try her out.
    We live in Birmingham too, so feel free to ask anything, there are lots of self builders and they’re a great lot for helping out.

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