So this was the first weekend actually working on the van. I mean, old Psychfest Tee, shorts from a second hand shop in Kosovo, dust until I looked grey type of work.
First day went OK. Got all the existing panels out and took off the rusty roof rack, which needed an angle grinder, which we broke. Sanded a few of the panels and figured out most were re-usable. Yay?
Not so fast.
- Mistake number 1 was not having a clue where I put fuel in. I mean, I bought a van without having a single clue where you put the diesel in. If I was using emojis it would be an emoji with the straight line mouth because my god that is mega dumb.
Then came the BULKHEAD… dunnn dunnn dunnnnnnnnn
- Mistake number 2 was thinking that the bulkhead (bit in-between the cab and the back of the van) would come out fairly easily. NOPE. Not at all. Since it used to be a DHL van carrying tons of parcels, in total the van had 31 stainless steel rivets with steel reinforcing pins holding it in (I only know this now after asking on various super helpful camper van Facebook groups, needless to say I did not know this at the beginning of the weekend). After a bit of research we decided to drill through the rivets with a 3mm JCB drill bit. The drill bits lasted about 3 seconds before wearing down into nubs, little useless nubs. More research, more questions to the wisdom filled Facebook groups and we (being me and my dad) tried some 5mm ultra strong drill bits designed for stainless steel with some WD40. I mean, it feels obvious to go for drill bits designed for stainless steel, but previously me and my baby brain had only known them to be “some sort of metal”.
- Mistake number 3. I thought that because all of the rivets were out, the bulkhead would just come out. WRONG AGAIN. It turns out the bottom of this huge hunk of metal was below the flooring so we would have to take out the wooden floor panels. This proved even more difficult that you would imagine. Due to its sordid past as a delivery van most of the screws holding the floor in place had worn away, meaning that we had to chisel away at the wood, then use pliers to widdle out each nail (of which there were about 15) before the floor would come off.
- Mistake number 4 – thinking that after removing the floor the bulk head would then come out. No no no my good friends, it turns out that I would then have to hammer and kick the bulkhead angrily for about 10 minutes until it finally pried loose.
Lessons learnt… Rome wasn’t built in a day, and bulkheads in ex-delivery vans are little fucking bitches. It took 3 days, 2 people, sweat, swearing and perseverance. Any one wanting tips from someone who doesn’t have a clue what they are doing (firstly what are you doing getting tips here?) but also, get the right drill bits for the material you are using. Secondly realise that whatever you do it is gonna take some effort, this isn’t Instagram, or MTV – Xzibit ain’t gonna pimp your ride for you.
***OH AND YES MY DAD IS THE ONE IN ALL OF THE PICTURES BECAUSE I DIDN’T THINK IT WAS APPROPRIATE TO TAKE PHOTOS OF MYSELF USING POWER TOOLS. DEATH SELFIES ARE NOT A THING***