Wednesday, July 24 2024

It’s that time of year where I’m not real­ly get­ting away in the van, par­tic­u­lar­ly when the weath­er is cold and wet like it has been. There­fore, it’s a good time to address the small mat­ters on the van in order to be ready for when the weath­er improves.

The Formi­ca style work­top I had orig­i­nal­ly installed in the van looked fine when I first installed it, but being gloss black it soon began show­ing scratch­es and on top of that, I chipped a piece off near the basin so I start­ed think­ing of how to replace.

The first thing I realised I would need to do is cut a new base for the work­top, this was orig­i­nal­ly done in ply, but I had no ply left and want­ed to keep cost down so opt­ed for MDF. The good thing about MDF is it’s easy to cut and shape. Using the orig­i­nal work­top I cut a new base.

The MDF cut using the orig­i­nal work­top as a template.

Once cut, I just checked it would all fit OK with the hob in place. It was at this time that I realised I liked the look of a lighter work­top, rather than black. It cer­tain­ly gave a warmer home­ly feel to the van.

MDF Work­top base in place with the hob to test for fitting

The obvi­ous choice in mate­ri­als would seem to be a form of floor­ing, not only cheap but hard wear­ing. Although not the cheap­est, I opt­ed for floor­ing with a real wood top, in this case a white washed oak bought from B&Q.

While the work­top was off, it was a good time to just tidy up the con­tents of the cup­board. The orig­i­nal shelf for the water con­tain­ers was made of ply and had absorbed some of the water that had splashed so was not look­ing good. I decid­ed to replace with an alu­mini­um frame made from angled strips riv­et­ed togeth­er. I also added a new base to the unit which is just lam­i­nate strips with an adhe­sive back­ing bought from B&Q.

The rack to hold the two water containers
Inside the cup­board with the new alu­mini­um rack for water containers
The new lam­i­nate strips of floor­ing and water containers

The lam­i­nate floor­ing was glued onto the MDF base using wood glue and left to cure overnight. Once cured, I used a router to trim off the excess laminate.

The MDF base with lam­i­nate boards glued in place
The MDF work­top base with lam­i­nate boards glued on

Trim­ming the excess lam­i­nate with the router made a real mess of my back yard, saw­dust every­where but it worked out well. The edges just need­ed a lit­tle sand­ing to give a smooth finish.

Mak­ing a mess in the back yard
The work­top after rout­ing the edges
Anoth­er quick test to see if it fits OK now it’s thicker
The hob was fixed down using “No More Nails”™

Once the hob was fixed to the work­top I cov­ered the edges in the cheap imi­ta­tion chrome bought from eBay which works well and can eas­i­ly be replaced if need­ed. I already had a small round bam­boo cut­ting board, I used a hole saw to cut a hole through this so that it could be placed in the basin and eas­i­ly removed. The fake plant is held in place by vel­cro and is actu­al­ly an air fresh­en­er being that it can be sprayed with a scent.

A view into the unit show­ing where the crock­ery is kept
A view of the whole unit with the tam­boyr door open
The fin­ished work­top with cut­ting board placed in basin
The fur­ni­ture unit with the tam­bour door closed. The fake plant is an air freshener.

UPDATE (5th March 2017)

The com­ment below by Tim Ald­iss got me think­ing. Although it’s not too much trou­ble remov­ing the crock­ery to access the water con­tain­ers, I know one day I’ll end up drop­ping them or some­thing so I went back to an idea I had very ear­ly on, and that was to be able to lift the work­top up to gain access. This isn’t all that straight for­ward though as a nor­mal hinge would not work due to the fact the work­top has an over­hang at the back. A lit­tle while back I pur­chased some flap hinges, these have been sit­ting in my box of bits and pieces I call my “box of delights” as it’s full of things I know I will get around to using one day. Also in there was a cou­ple of gas struts which I was orig­i­nal­ly going to use for the under bed storage.

For­tu­nate­ly this all worked out exact­ly as I’d hoped and I can now access the water con­tain­ers and every­thing else for that mat­ter, with­out hav­ing to remove things.

The work­top raised in order to access beneath. I have on order some rub­ber trim to cov­er the top of the sides
The flap hinges which allow the work­top to rise above the unit while opening

Keeping the van steady on a windy night


My custom built overhead storage unit

About Author

The Moonraker

A complete self-confessed VW nutjob. My VW T4 is actually my first and only VW I have ever owned but I love it. Having bought my van as a straight forward panel van, I enjoyed the process of converting it how I wanted. Now the van is all done, it's getting out and exploring I love to do.


    1. I don’t think I did men­tion it actu­al­ly. It does involve remov­ing the crock­ery first, but that just lifts off in one piece from hooks, then the con­tain­ers can be accessed through the open­ing. The bot­tom part where the glass­es are stay in place.

    2. Hey Tim, thanks for prompt­ing me to go back on an idea I had ear­ly on, for­tu­nate­ly it worked and I have now got bet­ter access to the water con­tain­ers (see update in article)

  1. This looks beau­ti­ful. Tell me, where do you keep your gas bot­tle? Looks like it’s out­side? Does that and the flex­i­ble pipe etc meet the gas regs? Mine does not cur­rent­ly, and although I’m sure it’s per­fect­ly safe I’m look­ing for alternatives…

    1. Only just catch­ing up on the web­site and noticed this com­ment. The gas bot­tle is stored under the bench, it is in its own com­part­ment with a drop-out vent. It is not in a met­al lock­er, how­ev­er, this is per­fect­ly legal, as long as the vehi­cle is not hired out and there’s no chance of that 🙂

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