Monday, 12 March 2012

How I Fitted out my Transit Connect for window Cleaning

This is a little different from the usual "Wisdom of Ken" posts, but I figured it might be of interest to some, so it's probably worth putting it out there.

I recently parted company with my trusty Citroen Berlingo van. Although it had proved reliable, it was starting to get a bit weary, and its lack of heating, power steering and payload capacity was beginning to get me down. Time to start looking for something a bit newer. I had a number of criteria which had varying degrees of importance: minimum 800kg payload, compact enough to fit on the drive along with our Golf, a bulkhead would be nice, a roof rack too. Reasonable mileage and service history were important, as was body condition. After hours browsing eBay and Van Trader, and visits to sites in Nailsworth, Brierly Hill, Coventry and Milton Keynes I found the chosen van, a nice blue 04 plated Transit Connect 230 LWB. The 90PS engine should be more than capable of pulling the weight of 400 litres of water and assorted kit, whilst the ply lining, bulkhead, roof rack and security grills on the rear doors were all welcome additions.

Money changed hands, the van picked up on the way home from a holiday in the Lake District and now the fit out could begin.

Having taken a tape measure to a friend's 230 LWB, I had a pretty good idea of how I was going to layout the load area. I had run over the plans in my head so many times I was pretty confident that it would all go smooth and by the numbers. Here's what happened...

A Blank Canvas...

So, first things first, I gave the load area a good sweep out whilst it was empty. I was going to line it with Protecta-Kote, so in order to ensure good adhesion I wanted as little debris as possible.

In order to stop damp accumulating under the installed water tank, I next decided to screw battens to the floor of the van, to provide some air circulation. This was a tip I picked up from Matt at when I was fitting out my Berlingo a few years ago. 

Fitting the battens.

Once they were in place I slid the tank in to make sure I could fit the battery where I wanted to. Once it was all lined up, I screwed in two further short pieces of batten to hold it in place. As a side point here, I thoroughly countersunk the screw heads to ensure there would be no unexpected puncturing of the tank once everything was strapped down tight.

Starting to come together. The small board is the backing plate for my pump unit.

By happy coincidence, the space behind the tank was perfect for my bucket!

Once I was happy with the fit of all the bits I dragged them all out, and gave the floor another thorough sweep out in preparation for sealing the woodwork with a PVA/Water mix, as recommended by Protectakote. Another tip here: I removed the elbow from the tank to ensure it wouldn't get damaged with the trial fitting/removal of the tank, and I wedged a cloth in to the hole to ensure no contaminants got in to the  tank.

Ready for the PVA/Water mix.

Now everything was as clean as I was likely to get it, I mixed up a 10% PVA solution and liberally applied it. To make sure it would dry for the following morning, I left a small heater running in the van overnight.

Sunday dawned very wet, which was hardly ideal. However needs must, etc., so I rigged a tarp over the back doors and, after masking off the relevant bits, set to with the Protectakote. Rather wonderfully, the paint I had ordered was an almost perfect match for the colour of the van!

First Coat

The first coat went on well, and after it had a few hours to go tack-free, I fired on the second coat which looked really good

Coat two looking resplendent.

At this point I was starting to feel a bit pooped. I had been working on the van since 3 p.m. the day before, it was now about 5 p.m. on Sunday and a beer beckoned. After clearing up, I suddenly noticed paint on the driveway and my heart sank. I had been really careful to make sure not to get any Protectakote on the ground, so how was this possible? Then I noticed this:

Paw print..?

Only one cat could be responsible: Miggins. A quick scout in the back garden, following more blue foot prints, and the culprit was nabbed...

Feeling a bit blue.

After a bit of a panic, a phone call to the emergency vets (very helpful, and calming), and twenty minutes with an old scrim, some semblance of normality was regained. When he came back in later that night his chin was clean, and now, a week later, hardly any paint remains on his feet. A useful lesson learnt, don't leave a van airing where an inquisitive cat may find it...

Cat sorted, van locked up, it was time for beer.

I was up early the next morning, as I wanted to get it finished and hopefully get some work done too. I set to on the pump board. I had in mind a unit that could be removed easily should it be necessary, but that was neat and smart. I had cut a piece of ply to size, screwed two pieces of batten to the back, and then drilled it to take two load straps. I had then given it a coat of Protectakote to ensure a nice finish. After working out where the controller and pump were to sit, and where the wiring was to run, I started putting everything together. A bugbear of mine with both DIY and some professionally installed WFP systems is messy wiring so I fed mine through 20mm conduit for neatness and protection. I was really pleased with the finished result. 

The ladder straps run through the baffles of the tank to hold the board in place.

Rejigged plumbing after I connected the pump the wrong way round. *slaps head*

The load straps run through the baffles. It feels rock solid with no movement at all.

One final touch I thought would be worthwhile was the addition of some chequer plate to the rear of the load area. I know that Protectakote is meant to be a very tough finish but the battering it would get from the hose reel being constantly dragged in and out might a bit too much. I trotted of to B&Q where I was horrified to find that a 500x500mm piece of thin chequerplate was £42! Bizarrely, the 1000x500mm piece was £38... I think it was money well spent.

The finished article:

I have swapped the hose reel to the other side after fitting a longer hose from the DI vessel, and the bucket now resides in the middle, but you get the gist.

One other thing that I have since done is added two water butt taps, with a Hozelock-type nozzle, to the tank lid. I can connect my feed pipe from the RO to one, and an overflow pipe to the other. When driving I can shut them to prevent spillage and when the system is running I just open one to act as a breather for the tank. I think it's probably a simpler solution than fitting a ballcock. They were about £6 inc delivery (for the two) from eBay. I would say definitely worth doing if you don't want to flood your van (which I have done on far too many occasions...) I used a 25mm flat bit to drill the holes for them, make sure you take the lid off the tank before you drill or you'll dump a load of plastic shavings straight in to the tank!

In conclusion I think it's worth saying that with a little bit of thought and preparation it is quite straight forward to make a DIY installation look smart and professional. I've seen some shocking set-ups that must be a right pain to work with, but so far this has been a pleasure. Everything is to hand that needs to be, and there's no awkward faffing about. I'm really please with how everything turned out and it didn't cost a fortune.

1 comment:

  1. I noticed you have no comments so let me break your duck :-) I'm thinking about doing a DIY job myself just wondering why you chose flat tank instead of upright don't they suffer from more air locks.. it looks really good for a DIY Ihaveseen shocking attempts I think it pays to have it nice tight and tidy which you have done :-) maybe you could add to your blog by showing your ro system... PS I hope you still haven't got a blue pussycat :-) your blog was helpful