Category Archives: Internal

Sunroof mood lights


the Westfalia conversions are a very well thought out camper, and after owning mine for 5 years I have address many of the things that I have not been happy with. That said the sunroof has been an optional extra that i can see no good use for. In the winter it is the only part of the van that gets condensation to the point it wets the front seats and continually needs to be wiped dry. In the height of summer the sun can become rather irritating whilst driving around midday, which may sound a little ungrateful, but its not a pleasant feeling when its hot. Similarly, in the summer when the sun starts to rise early its surprising how much light enters the van through the sunroof waking us earlier than we would like. So its taken a while to get round to sorting out a solution, but I’ve finally done it.

As with any fabrication its always a compromise, and its made more difficult if trying to do it sympathetically. What I mean by this is to try and keep the modifications fully reversible by not drilling holes or screwing into the existing structures in case I want to revert back to OEM. With this modification I chose to take out four of the twenty or so self tapping screws that hold the bottom part of the sunroof frame to the roof, and substitute these for longer ones that would hold the cover in place. The base material for the cover would be 3mm hardwood ply as this was light, thin and strong.

I created a template and carefully cut the wood using coping saw .

The four self tapping screws were dabbed with paint and the board was offered in place whilst the paint was still wet. This provided me with an accurate location of each hole I needed to drill to secure in place. I varnished the board to seal the wood and stop it warping when in place. This would also provide a good base to glue the other materials to.

Above you can see two lengths of aluminum which would support the structure from below when fitted, and four circles for the mood lights. I could have just made a basic cover to block out the daylight, but I thought I would go the extra mile and make it more of a feature by adding the lights.

Here I used tracing paper to create three templates I would be using to cut the grey rubber mat I would be bonding to the surface of the board. This would give it more of a factory finish along with providing a little insulation.

Two of the three grey foam elements in place. Just gluing the aluminum bars

Above you can see two of the three grey foam elements in place, and below the third and final piece being held down by weights as the contact adhesive sets.

Third and final foam element in the center of the board being held down by weights as glue sets

Other than the wiring that needed to be extended towards the rear of the van so that the light switch was next to my other mood lighting switch, the process was just a little fiddly / time consuming rather than complicated. Most of the items inside the cupboards needed to be removed to run the cables to the rear, along with the fridge, but it was worth it in the end.

Gallery below shows the finished article.

Slide Out Cutlery drawer

This was the second attempt at utilising the available space below the compressor fridge. The first attempt was not brilliant and I kind of knew I wouldn’t be totally happy until I had a solution that was on a par with the chopping board. What I mean by that is the chopping board had a lot of time dedicated to it to make sure it worked and could stand the test of time. The first incarnation of the lower fridge draw was really just an alternative place to store stuff like batteries, fuses, headphones etc. Basically it was adequate, but not brilliantly executed. We were also having to make do with a flaky solution for our cutlery, which was a draw in front of the sink which has a large portion deeply recessed to make way for the sink waste pipe. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not having ago at VW or the coachbuilders Westfalia. They did the best they could with the components and space they had at the time. But things have moved on and I was going to make sure I took advantage of this.

So with all of the above in mind I set to relieving the already crowded cutlery draw by relocating below the fridge. This meant that the fridge had to come out along with its shelve. I worked out the space I had to work with and started to look around for suitable parts. I knew that it would need to slide out a lot further than the chopping board so a pair of double extending draw slides were purchased from Screw Fix (UK). From there we took a trip to B&Q  and found an amazing solution which would save a great deal of time in this project. Basically its a bamboo cutlery drawer that expands to fit different size draws in a domestic kitchen. This worked really well as all I needed to do was mount the inner part of the hinge into each side of the cutlery drawer, and the outer part of the hinge on the inside of the unit. Simples!

Components purchased…just a lot more faffing to do 🙂
Drawer fixed to hinge, and hinge fixed to unit

What I did do to make sure the drawer wasn’t going to slide open as I drove around was to mount a block of wood at the back of the drawer to act as a stop buffer. On both the buffer and the tray I attached a magnet so that it would connect as they became close. As you can see from the below video, everything seems to be working a treat 🙂

So this was all well and good, but I needed a front facia and handle. Fortunately the DIY suppliers provided aluminium angle extrusions that perfectly matched half of the depth of the drawer (See below as I measured for size).

So I cut two pieces to the required width, drilled, countersunk and screwed one at the top, and the other at the bottom.

Handle fitted to match the Chopping board. Red anti rattle foam dropped into the compartments.
In place
Nicely flush with the bespoke surround

GPS HUD speedometer

My stock speedometer is woefully inaccurate. It used to read in kilometres per hour due to its European origin. To try and make it usable in some way shape or form, I fitted a Backlit Gauge Kit from Brickwerks.

The kit certainly adds that modern look to the dash and converted to MPH. However, I think in stripping the speedometer to installing the kit I may have upset the calibration of the device. That or it was inaccurate before I started tinkering.

Anyhow, knowing that it’s out by a good 10mph, and I run the risk of getting a speeding ticket I tend to use an app on my phone to accurately monitor my speed. This is all well and good, but a tad inconvenient.

With all of this taken into account I have decided to look at a Head Up Display (HUD) GPS speedometer. It’s cost me £38 from eBay.

I’m going to have it wired into the ignition live so it comes on automatically and test it on my dash pod. The other option is to plug it into the cigarette lighter (12v) socket but this is too messy a solution for something I want to work each and every time I use my van.

It’s yet to be delivered, but I’ll post up with feedback once installed 😊🖖

Dual Power Fridge Vent (CVC)

12v Cigarette lighter + 2xUSB
12v Cigarette lighter + 2xUSB

Some time back I had replaced the original rusting fridge vent for a stainless one with a 12volt socket incorporated. This was obviously an upgrade, but since I had installed my solar panels we have not had to use electric hook up and this will be the case for the foreseeable future. The knock on effect of this is that we don’t have a 240volt option for charging phones tablets etc. So the single socket we were relying on in the stainless vent just wasn’t enough. It looked nice, but function was more important now.

Vent1

Seeing the Campervan Culture ‘multi socket fridge vent it looked like it would answer all of my prayers. The grey is a good match for the later Westy interior in the Atlantic, and installation was pretty straight forward, daisy chaining one socket on to the next with the main feed from the leisure battery (fused at 20A) .

CVC 12v Fridge Vent Socket
CVC 12v Fridge Vent Socket

So here is my installed unit with a splash of red from my braided USB cables courtesy of the Pound shop (they were £1 before you ask 😉 ). We have only done a couple of weekend getaways since installation, but it’s already come in really handy!

2016-07-24 19.01.47 (Small)

Lower Fridge Drawer

2016-07-31 14.24.47 (Small)

Knowing I had the extra space below the new Waeco Fridge , and not wanting it to just get used as a lazy storage area where things would get crammed and look messy, I decided to make a drawer. This was always my intention, but rather than be prescriptive and methodical from the outset, this had to be fluid in its design. Basically the slide out chopping board established the height the fridge needed to sit in the aperture available. It wasn’t until I had fitted the fridge that i knew the depth i had to play with for the drawer.  The ‘hole’ has been handy to store some tools for the last month or so, but items like these that should only get used occasionally, are far more suited to a less accessible area, freeing up this space for things that get used in a daily basis.

So the draw….Initially I was thinking of a drawer on rails. In fact i brought two pairs of rails, one for the chopping board which are utilized and effective at present, and the second set for the drawer. However, the slide out action of those particular rails is such that they only extend about 30cm out. For a drawer that has a depth that goes back far further than that it didn’t seem like an effective use of space if you can only access the front  portion of the draw. There are other rail systems that extend out double the length of the rail, but these tend to be quite deep in design and would take up quite a lot of the already limited space, making the draw a lot narrower.

So the solution was a far simpler one than having to mess around with rails. We found a very low profile storage box that had an insert for the top portion allowing small items to be segregated. Things like fuses, light bulbs, remotes for devices etc. The bottom part was shallow, granted, but this would be for our tablets, blue tooth speakers etc. We brought the box from Rymans, and if I am honest it was a bit of a stab in the dark in terms of the size . I’ve got a pretty good eye for judging space and to me it looked too deep, which actually turned out to be the case. However, when the lid was taken off it fitted perfectly. So we lost the lid, which probably would have become a bit of a hindrance anyway.

So the basic elements can be seen here.

The basic elements
The basic elements

It doesn’t get much more complicated than this and it took me best part of an hour to construct. The drawer handle had been brought at the same time as the handle for the slide out chopping board. The white thing in the photo above is the aluminum sheet with its protective film on (which was a slice of a larger sheet that a friend got me for another project). All that was required to complete the construction was a small spacer to bridge the gap between the internal tray plastics, and the extruded strengthening  elements surrounding it. This came in the form of a piece of hardwood that I found in my wood-store. Two holes were drilled in the Aluminum, wood and plastic tray to marry up with the holes on the handle. The screws for the handle needed cutting down a fraction, but all in all it was a really simple process.

Draw complete with top devider
Draw complete with top divider

This was all knocked together without having access to my van as it was in storage so I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to fit. I had used the original Westy fridge as a reference as this was in my garage, and a few photos of my fridge install from my phone.  However, I was relieved to find that the drawer fit perfectly 🙂

FridgeDraw (4)

At present the drawer is no more than a push under tray with a suitably matching front fascia on. I will most likely stay in place during transit, but I have acquired some very small, high power magnets. I plan to stick a couple of these on the back top edge of the aluminum drawer fascia, and a small countersunk head, ferrous metal screw at the corresponding edge of the framework on the lower fridge support. This should allow the drawer to locate shut with a nice crisp click 🙂