GMC Safari Camper Conversion – Part Two

GMC Safari Camper Conversion – Part Two

With the bed and storage complete I could now move on to all of the smaller jobs required to make the van habitable. You can read part one of the conversion here.


First up was cutting the insulation to size so it could be pushed into the windows to make blinds. This worked well in the last conversion so I decided to stick with the same technique.

Blind made from insulation

Window blinds made from insulation

I used some left over material as extra insulation for the cool box. Every little helps after all.

Left over insulation put to good use

Left over insulation put to good use

I used some cord to create a curtain rail and Hilary very kindly sewed a loop in the top of some back out material to form a curtain. This combined with the blinds should keep most of the light out, and hopefully some heat too.

Curtain made from black out material

Curtain made from black out material

I used bungie cords (is there nothing they can’t do?!) to hold the storage containers in place on the shelves. I ended up moving the water container seen here closer to the side door and adding a tap for easy pouring.

Containers kept in place on shelf using bungie cords

Containers kept in place on shelf using bungie cords

I added a simple latch to the back of the sofa to keep the hinged section closed whilst driving.

Storage behind sofa

Storage behind sofa

Latch to keep sofa back in place

Latch to keep sofa back in place

The rear doors of the van didn’t stay in place when open and swung around in the wind. To fix this I used some scraps of wood as door wedges.

Wooden wedge to stop doors from closing

Wooden wedge to stop doors from closing

I then attached some cord loops to the top of the doors and connected these with a bungie cord.

Attaching a bungie cord to rear doors

Attaching a bungie cord to rear doors

This held the doors open pretty effectively. The plan is to throw a tarp right over the top of the open doors to provide some shelter from the rain whilst cooking (note to self: try this out before it actually rains)

Rear doors held open

Rear doors held open using wedges and a bungie

I had some help attaching the velcro to the sofa back and bed top which will hold the foam in place. Thanks Carly, Richard and Karina!

I had some help on the finishing touches

Getting some help with the finishing touches

I could now start filling the storage space. I used a left over piece of two by two to prop the hinged section open.

Bed hinged to allow access to storage

Bed hinged to allow access to storage

Removing the rear foam section reveals the kitchen area where I can place the stove and prepare food.

Foam section removed to reveal kitchen work top

Foam section removed to reveal kitchen work top

Under the kitchen area is storage for food and anything kitchen related. The two plastic crates slide right out and contain nearly everything needed to cook in the van or on a camp fire. On the recommendation of some friends I purchased a 5lb refillable propane tank which runs the two burner stove.

Kitchen storage area

Kitchen storage area

I used some mosquito netting and elastic to mosquito proof one of the front windows so it could be left open it at night to keep the van cool in the summer. This turned out to be a little awkward due to the shape of the door, but I managed to rig something up. I will probably apply the same technique to the other front window.

Mosquito proof window for ventilation

Mosquito proof window for ventilation

The finished conversion! I’m very pleased at the likeness to my design. It is also very comfortable in there. It’s official.

The bed and sofa with foam added

The bed and sofa with foam added

With a little help from my friends

Getting the seal of approval


I am very excited about taking the van out on it’s first road trip when we drive it up to Whitehorse from Victoria.

With two people being in this space, keeping things organised is going to be very important. The first trip should be a good opportunity to start figuring out the best place to put things and identify things that need to be tweaked.

Thanks to everyone who helped out by offering your labour, suggestions and donations. I really appreciate them all.

12 Comments

Elizabeth

about 2 years ago

Hi Joe. Great blog. You mentioned somewhere that bed height should be no more than 30cm. Does this include the cushions? How thick are your cushions and how comfortable do you find them?
Thanks!

Reply

Joe

about 2 years ago

Hi Elizabeth,

Yes I planned the bed height to allow me to sit up in the van without hitting the roof, so this will vary for different sized people and vans. In the end the wooden bed frame was 32cm, plus 3 inch high density foam. We find the foam to be really comfortable, as comfortable as any mattress we have slept on. I recommend trying out some at a foam company or upholster before buying, as different thicknesses and densities are available. Good luck!

Joe

Reply

Anya

about 3 years ago

Hey, this looks really cool! We just converted our Astro van but did it in a much more amateurish way as we are just tourists with no tools and no home improvement skills ;)
So, we are always keen to know how other people solved all those tiny little problems and I'm impressed :)
How exactly did you put the mosquito net to the window? Is it permanently fixed?
Kind regards, Anya

Reply

Joe

about 3 years ago

Hi Anya,

Thanks! The mosquito net is remove able. There is some velcro stuck inside the door which hooks on to the netting while it is being attached. When the door is close the netting then gets trapped in the door, which holds it in place more firmly. The elastic is needed to keep the netting tight under the window because the netting wasn't big enough to cover the whole door.

It's not great, but it has done the job so far.

Joe

Reply

Céline

about 3 years ago

Hello Joe, I'm about to buy an Astro in Québec, and your conversion is (by far) the one I prefer, after having looked for many many many exemples. I think I'll use some of your ideas for my own conversion, if you don't mind ? I might start to work on it very soon.
Lots of thanks for the several illustrations and explanations, I found them very helpful. Enjoy your trip ! :)

Reply

Joe

about 3 years ago

You're welcome Céline, feel free to come back and share how your project goes.

Reply

Céline

about 2 years ago

It's done !
http://atroispieds.net/amenagement-du-van/
Sorry, everything is written in french, except one line just for you. ;)

Joe

about 2 years ago

Thanks for coming back and sharing Céline, it looks great.

Sophie

about 3 years ago

It looks flippin awesome. I must say we are very jelous. Have a wonderful first trip out. Xxx

Reply

Jessica A. Hawes

about 3 years ago

Fantastic! Will you
have heat-resistant cover for the cooking bench? Like formica or something. You will have to be very well-organ ised all the time, won't you. love, Grandma.

Reply

MOG

about 3 years ago

Wot?...no TV or satelite dish!!

The only problem I see is remembering to take everything out that you need before going to bed.
How about some hammock-like storage slings for nightime essentials?

Reply

Christine Hawes

about 3 years ago

Aww... home sweet home. Hope you guys enjoy it. Good luck on your maiden voyage.

Reply

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