The following article describes the conversion of a 2004 Suzuki Carry van into a camper/day van. The base vehicle is a bog standard van with just 16000 miles on the clock.
Firstly to widen the track and give a bigger tyre contact area 15x6 alloy wheels are fitted which vastly improves handling and looks. Privacy film is then applied to the windows. The front doors have a light tint to allow better visibilty, on the tailgate dark tint is used as this window will be blocked and insulated from inside. To allow good rear vision a reversing camera is concealed in the tailgate and connected to a monitor mounted to the rear view mirror.
To make the most of the available space a section of the floor which would have housed a heater in the car version of the carry is removed. The remaining part of the rear floor has battens fitted to raise it to a comfortable seating height, 15mm light weight ply from Magnum Motorhomes is screwed on top. The gaps between the ply and the floor will be used for storage and insulation (accesible from the rear). The lower floor is measured up and fitted with anti-mould treated 18mm hardwood ply, to keep it level pieces of 6mm ply were used to flatten out the bumps in the metal floor. Gel backed automotive carpet is glued on top and edges protected with some aluminium angle.
Once all the wiring is in place and the 14" flip down tv is securely mounted to the roof the sides can be ply lined. A ready cut ply lining kit from Plyline North East was used as a good starting point. Te get it to fit neatly requires some modification. After cutting speaker holes and making the rear sides fit flush the ply is screwed and glued to battens using sikaflex silicone adhesive to stop any creaks or rattles. Before hand the metal sides of the van were painted with sound deadening paint (surprisingly effective) then covered in a layer of self adhesive sound insulation followed by a layer of foam underlay and finally a layer of recycled plastic woolly insulation. This makes a vast difference to how the doors feel and sound when opened and closed, more of a thud than a clang which adds a feel of solidity, perhaps even quality. Noisy generators or heaters running late at night are of no issue and can barely be heard from inside the van. Keeping warm is also much easier and potential for condensation is massively reduced. Felt lining also bought from Magnum Motorhomes is stuck using spray adhesive. At first cheap £2.50 a can carpet adhesive was used which soon came un-stuck in places so more expensive £4.50 Trimfix was used more successfully.
All the lights have led bulbs fitted which give a lot of light for not very much power consumption. The roof mounted spot lights are 3 watt and are much brighter than the 10 watt halogen bulbs they replaced. The two rear side mounted reading lamps have remote contolled colour changing bulbs in. These bulbs are dimmable so can be set to a low level and left on all night if required. The best way to use them is as up lights so the light and colour is better diffused. They also double up as retainers for the cusion when in seating position.
More 15mm light weight ply is used to make storage boxes behind the front seats. The centre section is boxed in to make a hidden space to put wiring and electronic boxes. The front of the box is stepped to allow boards to be slotted in to bridge the gap and create a flat loading area/bed. The fake wood effect on the caravan grade ply wouldn't suit the rest of the decor so it's covered in carbon fibre effect vinyl.
With boards placed in the stepped part of the boxes a flat loading area is created. The boards store under the rear box which can be accessed through the tailgate.
With the cushions in place the rear area is turned into a comfortable double size bed. The cusions are made of memory foam covered in matching material.
With the boards removed the bed is transformed into seats. 12v power points are fitted on both sides next to the speakers for charging laptops and phones.
Two more power points are fitted in the storage box. This centre section also hides the head unit control box and a Raspberry Pi media centre.
Inside the storage box behind the drivers seat is the slightly messy fuse box and solar charge regulator. More info on the solar set up can be found in the magnetic solar panel article.
Theres no engine under the bonnet of the Carry which leaves ample space for a leisure battery. The battery tray from another vehicle has been repurposed to securely hold the battery in place from the bottom.
A Nasa Marine battery monitor is fitted to the passenger side dash which enables monitoring of voltage and current both in and out.
To provide entertainment a Kenwood motorised DVD player head unit is installed. This unit will play many media formats including wmv and mp3. By burning mp3s onto a DVD many hours of music can be made available at the touch of a button. There are also auxiliary audio and video inputs for other devices.
The output of the DVD head unit is wired to the 15" roof mounted flip down LCD screen which allows comfortable viewing of DVDs from the rear of the van. This type of screen is fantastic when space is limited . Built into the monitor are two led lights which can be handy for some low intensity, low powered lighting.
Since the rear windscreen has been covered and insulated a means of rear vision is required so a 7" LCD monitor is mounted to the rear view mirror. Mounting the screen in this position allows for a neat install, also the habit of looking in that direction for rear view can continue. Whilst parked the input can be switched to the DVD player for entertainment.
A Haynes manual is not available for the Suzuki Carry but a digital version of the official Suzuki workshop manual is available on the downloads page.
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