The Build

Working with Vinyl

While plan­ning the con­ver­sion of my van, I knew that I want­ed to get away from the grey inte­ri­or that comes as stan­dard on a pan­el van. See­ing how oth­ers had done this, I noticed a lot of peo­ple had used paint to get results. Some look good but I was always wor­ried about chips or flak­ing, espe­cial­ly as the tem­per­a­ture can get very high inside on a summer’s day. I was also try­ing to go for a man­u­fac­tured look and was look­ing to use plas­tic trim as much as I could, but this has colour prob­lems of it’s own. I pur­chased the Trimtech kit to cov­er the B pil­lars and slid­ing door rail, as you can see from the fol­low­ing pic­ture, the greys are not even the same.

An image showing the Trimtech plastic trim.
An image show­ing the Trimtech plas­tic trim.

As men­tioned in my pre­vi­ous post, the style I was try­ing to achieve was sim­i­lar to the Range Rover sport black and ivory inte­ri­or, hope­ful­ly giv­ing more of a pres­tige look rather than sporty so noth­ing seems to say pres­tige more than leather. Of course trim­ming the vehi­cle in leather, though maybe pos­si­ble, would be very expen­sive and tricky, def­i­nite­ly beyond my skills. The solu­tion was to use vinyl. I found a sup­pli­er online who had exact­ly the colours and style I want­ed, AS-Trim. I pur­chased the smooth grain leather effect vinyl and con­tact adhe­sive.

My idea for the door cards was orig­i­nal­ly designed on Pho­to­shop com­bin­ing the black and ivory vinyl to give a slight­ly less builders van look.

A mock up created in Photoshop for the door cards
A mock up cre­at­ed in Pho­to­shop for the door cards

I had pre­vi­ous­ly worked as a sign fit­ter so had a bit of expe­ri­ence in fit­ting vinyl, though this was much thick­er than what I was use to. The first thing I worked on was the grab han­dles, with a lot of patience and the use of a heat gun, I man­aged to work the vinyl around the edges of each half of the grab han­dles, end result is a com­fort­able to the touch leather like han­dle. With the slight extra gap caused by the vinyl, they need a good bang­ing togeth­er to stick, but it does work.

Using black leather effect vinyl on the grab handles
Using black leather effect vinyl on the grab han­dles

I want­ed to achieve the Car­avelle style padded sec­tion at the top, in order to achieve this I marked out an area to cut from the door card using a per­ma­nent mark­er, I then cut this out using a dremel.

The Caravelle style arm rest area.
The Car­avelle style arm rest area.

Once I had two pieces, I need­ed to cre­ate a lip for the cut-out to stick back onto when it was fin­ished, this was made from fiber­glass. To do this, I cov­ered the back of the cut-out in foil tape and veg­etable oil so that the fiber­glass would not stick to it, then taped it back onto the door card. The fiber­glass was then placed around the edge on the back of the door card and as it mold­ed around the cut-out, it gives a good lip for it to sit back on. Once the fiber­glass was set, the cut-out could be removed, ready for cov­er­ing.

To give it a padded feel, I used scrim foam (also avail­able from AS Trim) under­neath some black leather effect vinyl, tuck­ing it around the edges of the cut-out. Once that was all done, I stuck the cut-out back into place on the fiber­glass. I had a cou­ple of clips lying about which I used to posi­tion the arm rest sec­tion onto the door card and some con­tact adhe­sive too.

Clips used to secure arm rest
Clips used to secure arm rest

The vinyl that cov­ers the main part of the door card would not stretch inside the arm rest area unless I cre­at­ed the arm rest area any­way, so besides giv­ing some nice detail, it is essen­tial when using vinyl.

I need­ed to find a point on the door card to join the ivory vinyl at the top with the black vinyl at the bot­tom. After some thought, I solved this by cut­ting a slot into the edge of the door card, one at the front and one at the back, this only goes up to the door pock­et, I then wrapped the vinyl around the back to give a smooth join which will not peel off in time. This method will only work if you have a door pock­et though. This is illus­trat­ed in the image below, the vinyl at this stage need­ed rub­bing on a bit more so looks a bit lumpy.

The slot in the door card where ivory meets black vinyl
The slot in the door card where ivory meets black vinyl
Black leather effect vinyl used on bottom of door card
Black leather effect vinyl used on bot­tom of door card

The door pock­ets were removed from the door card and wrapped sep­a­rate­ly.

The door pocket being wrapped separately
The door pock­et being wrapped sep­a­rate­ly
The doro pockets wrapped in black smooth leather effect vinyl
The doro pock­ets wrapped in black smooth leather effect vinyl
The door card complete and put back together
The door card com­plete and put back togeth­er
Door card with chrome strip added.
Door card with chrome strip added.

As well as the door cards, I applied the ivory vinyl to the remain­ing plas­tic trim, this ensured the same style was car­ried through­out the van. The Trimtech plas­tic trim was a lot eas­i­er to cov­er than the door cards and the full fur­ni­ture unit was also cov­ered in the same.

Vinyl used throughout the conversion.
Vinyl used through­out the con­ver­sion.

The one thing I did not cov­er in vinyl was the dash­board, the con­tours of this I find to be just too vary­ing for vinyl to work. At the moment the dash­board is paint­ed black, but I have plans for the spare one I have at home which involves Wicked Coat­ings in Poole and a padded fin­ish so watch this space.

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The Author

sharkbait

sharkbait

A complete self-confessed VW nutjob. My VW T4 is actually my first and only VW I have ever owned but I love it. Having bought my van as a straight forward panel van, I enjoyed the process of converting it how I wanted. Now the van is all done, it's getting out and exploring I love to do.