The Bulkhead

Its now time to start on the inside of the van. First job – fit the bulkhead.

I decided I wanted a bulkhead between the cab area of the van and the living area for a number of reasons. Firstly I wouldn’t need any blinds in the cab. Secondly the cab will warm up faster in the winter. Thirdly, when I leave the dog in the back of the van (well ventilated of course) he cant get into the front and try impregnating the steering wheel. Actually it was just for the third reason.

To start the bulkhead I made a very rough template to get the door size right.

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Once this was made I fitted it temporarily in place to see how living with it was for a few weeks. All was good so I started making the finished piece. I decided to make it out of 12mm ply which will be covered both sides with high quality vinyl (the same stuff as on kitchen doors) and to finish the edges with knock in edging.

The first job was to get the shape perfect using the prototype. Once it was exact the next job was to cut the door way and the hole to get into the above locker. To do this I made a template with a router.

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The next job was to cut the holes using the template and then make sure it fits perfectly in place.

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Thankfully it does fit as it took me hours to cut this 🙂

The area to the right needs to be stepped back slightly to allow the drivers seat to go all the way back. This will be the side of the wardrobe.

The next stage was to cover the plywood with vinyl. This was a job I’d been dreading.

As it turned out, it wasn’t as difficult to do as I thought it would be. After a little trial and error I found the easiest way to do this was as follows.

1. Sand the plywood nice and smooth.

2. Seal the plywood on all sides with PVA and allow to dry. This acts as a moisture barrier and stops the glue from soaking into the wood.

3. Apply a layer of high temperature spray contact adhesive to the ply and the vinyl. I used Trim-Fix and highly recommend it.

4. Once the glue is touch dry and starting from one edge start sticking the vinyl to the wood. I did this by having a helper lifting the other end of the vinyl up above the ply so it didn’t touch down until I wanted it to. To stick the vinyl into place, ensuring there were no air pockets, I used an ink roller which I bought from Ebay. I started from the middle of one edge rollering from the centre outwards  until it was all stuck down.

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Once the vinyl was stuck it was time to trim it. To do this I used a Stanley knife to trim the vinyl within a few mm of each edge, then a small router with a guided trim bit to finish.

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So that’s the bulkhead panel finished and ready for edging.  I’m using “knock-in T edging” for most of the edges on my van. It’s a great edging for a motorhome as it’s hard wearing, flexible and easy to fit.

I’ll cover edging it a later article.

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