Gutting the motorhome interior
Having bought the motorhome in spring 2016, it took us almost a year to figure out that we wanted to gut the interior and rebuild it. Slowly but surely during the winter-spring of 2017 I finally got out with my head torch and started the demo.
Initially we had planned not to rip out all the interior, but I should have known with our track record this was unlikely. Many times before with DIY projects we end up just ripping everything out, and the motorhome turned out to be no different.
The original renovation plan
Firstly, we said we’d take a few trips out in the Baby Bus to get a feel for it and what we might need to travel long term. So we did one weekend away in it… We also spent one night in December on our drive, testing out how cold it would get with no heating. That was fun!
I visited a local caravan and motorhome shop and the bloke seemed confused as to why we wanted to take anything out of it having spent £6k on it.
All in all this led us to decide that we would remove the small bathroom (who needs two basins in a 15 square metre living space?!) and the kitchen. Our plan was to replace this with a toilet hidden in a seat and more storage. There was an old heater taking up a large amount of space in the wardrobe, so we decided that should go too.
Removing the motorhome bathroom
I started with the bathroom first, taking out the shower cubicle and walls. Every screw was covered in plastic caps, so it was a laborious task of finding them all. Thinking you’ve found them all, you try again to knock it down, only to find that it doesn’t budge. And there’s another half a dozen screws you didn’t find the first time.
After I’d removed the old shower, basin and toilet I discovered some damp. Then a bit more, and a bit more, then some up the walls. In the end I dug out a section along the back wall/floor and down the side to the wheel arch. Luckily the rest of the chassis didn’t collapse. There may have been more, but I left it dry out for a good period of time while I planned my next move.
Throughout the whole demolition I tried to keep the electrics in place. There was miles of cabling and I found a huge transformer in the back. All in all I was overawed by it all and wanted a far simpler setup that I could actually understand and maintain.
My background is mechanical engineering and I’m a lot more wary of electrics and plumbing. So as you may have guessed, slowly but surely I cut it all out. I only left a couple of the substantial cables in place until I got some expert help from a friend to understand it better.
Dismantling the kitchen
Dismantling the kitchen – which comprised a fridge, sink, and gas hob – I had a friends help. Trying to disconnect the gas took a bit more muscle – after 20 years the threads were solid on the pipework.
What surprised me most was the weight of everything, even the shelving above the table was too much to lift myself. I had to balance it at one end to get it down, but I think she (Baby Bus) breathed a sigh of relief once I’d taken everything out. I’m very conscious that every gram we add back in will factor to our running costs.
The ‘oh shit’ moment
Once I got into it, the rest of it ‘came down’ with less of a challenge and I knew to look for those few extra hidden screws. As I went along I hung onto various bits convinced we could reuse them. With 20 years of grime covering, we ended up getting rid of it all.
At the point when the motorhome was an almost empty shell with a drivers seat, holes in the floor and layers of dirt I had my ‘oh shit’ moment. It was late at night, Charlie was heavily pregnant, and I was left wondering why we bought a motorhome and not a van.
I walked back in the house, tired and dusty, wondering what had we done? For the last 4-5 months I’d spent a couple of nights a week stripping out the motorhome. There was a growing list of repair jobs, and Charlie’s growing belly. My thoughts turns to:
How much time and money have I/will I waste doing this?
Should we have bought a VW or a LWB Sprinter?
But even then, and still now, I believe we have got the right vehicle for us. We’ve given an old girl a new lease of life. She’s bright and airy and has bit more character than those plainer vehicles. We like the beds above the cab and I hope for the four of us it will turn out to be a good decision. Fingers crossed everyone!
The final sweep
After taking the final few loads of timber, screws and cabling to the tip, I gave the walls and floors a mop and wipe down. It all cleaned up pretty good. It had taken me longer to strip it all out than I’d anticipated, and many times I’d be left wondering if we’d done the right thing. Finally, we were ready to start actually adding something back in – well fill in the holes at least! Now we could begin to dream up of what the space could be, and how it might function day-to-day for our family.
Final photo credit: This Makes Us Tick