Camper van Mabel Pt. 2 – Get the gin in

Having decided that the internal layout was almost right for our Camper van Mabel it was time to crack on. After making sure all the nw electrical bits and pieces worked, more about those later. Anyway, it was time to start thinking about how to line the interior. Now I know you can get off the shelf ply lining kits but they seem to waste space. There are lots of interesting looking nooks and crannies that I was sure could be put to better use.

Research, then ignore everyone else.

Extensive research (an hour on YouTube) raised more questions than it answered. Being me I decided to take the old “fools rush in” approach. 10 square meters of blue three-way stretch van lining carpet was ordered on eBay. While I was waiting for that to arrive I set about lining all the interior panels. For this I used blue under-laminate closed cell foam stuff. Some people go a bit mental with insulation, but at the end of the day it’s a van. We’re not going to be doing any running in Siberia as far as I know.

The Vivaro Gin Shelf

The pillars and recesses that I wasn’t going to be using for storage were packed with rolled up silver insulation. They were also stuffed with polystyrene bits and pieces I’d been diligently saving up. Prior to getting serious with the lining I also fitted a shelf across the window recess on the drivers side. This was made easy by existing cut-outs in the “window frame”. These nicely accommodated a 2X1 batten meaning the shelf was solid.

It was going to have to be.

It’s a gin shelf !!!

A break in the progress.

Islay home form homeProgress was then put on hold for a while as it was time to head to Islay for the Half Marathon. For this Mabel was a means of transport and not a place to stay.

This longish run confirmed that the Vivaro was a bit more economical than the Doblo it replaced. A lot more comfortable too.


There’ll be a review of the Islay half somewhere. Executive summary? It pished down and we had a generally miserable time during the race.

But absolutely LOVED the island.. when the fishing down stopped.

Right, back to the van.

The 3-way stretchy carpet arrived while we were away. Mabel was back on “home from home” duty the next weekend I wanted to get as much of the interior prettified as I could during the week. The door panel on the tailgate was hanging off so that seemed to be a reasonable place to start. I’d already installed the wiring for the reversing camera (more on that in another post) so I knew that there were a few trim clips broken or missing. eBay to the rescue. Good as new.

Vivaro tailgate liningBetter actually.

The panel seemed like as good a place as any to practice with the trim-fix adhesive and three way stretch carpet and.. hallelujah.. it was surprisingly easy to work with. I don’t have a “before” photo because I’m crap at remembering to take them but basically where you see nice blue carpet there was only an expanse of rattly grey plastic.

Job Done.

Fitting the panel was a bit of a faff, even with the new clips, as the carpet wrapped round the edge of the panel made it a tiny bit thicker but after trying some gentle persuasion in the end a dose of excessive force clicked them all home and the job was done.

Never has a carpeted door panel led to so much overconfidence !!!

Measure twice.. cut once.

Vivaro pillar carpeting

Knowing roughly what I was doing it was time to start on the inside and, to spoil the ending, I f**ked it up a bit. I started at the back and worked forward which seemed logical but it meant the seams in the carpet just don’t quite look right. What I should have done is start at the roof and work down but hey-ho.

First off I carpeted the pillars, posts and various double skinned parts of the bodywork. Here the carpet was stuck straight to the metal. The various holes were filled with some silver metal tape I had lying around. In actual fact the carpet is pretty good at bridging the holes without the tape. There are a couple of access type holes I was going to make little trim panels to cover but in the end they weren’t noticeable. If I do need access I can cut a hole in the carpet and put a neat panel over it.

As you can see here where there was a big recess, like above the wheel arch, I boxed it in to make a little cubbyhole that was then insulated with blue foam stuck to the bare metal and then underfloor polystyrene panels covered in carpet and glued into place. The wheel arches I’d been dreading but in the end if you take your time and make sure the carpet is pulled flat they’re not too bad to do. In my design you can only see all of one of them anyway.

Tie me picnic basket down, sport.

Another eBay purchase were some canoe tie-down rings which I thought would be good for securing bungee cords to keep the things on the shelves and cubby holes from falling off / out.

Vivaro coffee shelf

Oh, yeah and we have a picnic basket !!

The carpeting onto the metal frame went surprisingly well, and the end result on the passenger side once the insulated lining panels were fitted was a shelf fit for the storage of our coffee making facilities.

The little kettle is great, if a little slow. There’s a socket beside the back door which runs straight off the leisure battery.

The panels on the side of the van were insulated with a couple of layers of the blue foam before the internal trim panels were fitted. I’m dead chuffed with these, they were going to be carpeted plywood but wandering round B&Q I found the aforementioned polystyrene laminate flooring underlay. This is lighter and easier to work with than ply and once carpet was glued over the panel no one would ever know.

And that’s a quarter of the sides done.

Vivaro gin shelf in progress

Shelf defence.

The gin shelf was next, and it was a bit of a fiddly bastard to do but I got there in the end. Again the inset panels are polystyrene covered in carpet glued to a couple of layers of blue foam insulation.

Vivaro interior panel liningThis photo shows the drivers side almost finished. There’s a big storage bin that runs the length of the van that’s got hinged lids. (mahogany, no less) This is for storing the bedding and other stuff that we don’t constantly need in and out.

The rest of the interior was done in pretty much the same way. Carpeting over the cable management duct on that runs along the length of the van was a bit nerve-wracking. Was I REALLY sure I’d finished all the wiring.

I was sure, REALLY sure.

But I was wrong, that’s a Mabel the camper van story for another day.