Stripping the Van – Preparing my DIY Renault Trafic Camper Van Conversion

written by Sabrina
published on August 17, 2017

Woohoooo! The day is there that the first steps towards vanlife are taken!!  My Van Conversion is now really starting 😀 😀 The first step is stripping the van so it will be completely empty! I bought a 2012 Renault Trafic passenger van with a high top in good condition.

It had been used in the army to transport people and bring around food. So it had a solid floor, some woodwork and panels on the sides and a cabin for the backseat passengers. No crazy rust, holes to fix or disgusting old isolation to deal with 🙂

Preparing the van for the conversion: stripping it completely!

The whole stripping took about 10 hours with 2 people, and then some hours to finish off the details and clean up. Want to get right to the point and don’t feel like reading the entire blog? Check out this 1 minute video for an impression of the stripping the van.

I was super excited to start stripping the van, but we decided to start out easy 🙂 the sides of the van had some woodwork on them. They were easily removed by taking out the screws.

Above the backseat cabin, there was a very heavy wooden base. This one was easy enough to get loose, but impossible to take out. Check the video for some funny footage 😉

Van Conversion Stripping The Van
The first steps!

Taking out the floor

First important thing: keep the floor parts without breaking them!! This will come in handy when putting in the new floor in the van 🙂

I was first thinking about keeping the original floor in as it looked solid and decent. However, we got recommended to take out the floor. Firstly, to put isolation underneath it and secondly, because it’s super heavy. You don’t want to get into a higher tax bracket because of the floor.

Van Conversion Stripping The Van
Taking out these big nails is a true pain in the ass!! An no the small drill was not enough 😉

The floor was attached with so-called “popnagels” or “pop-rivets” in English. They are made to last and knowing that, you can imagine how difficult they are to get out.

The drill on the picture looks cute, but didn’t do the trick ;-). You simply have to break those nails, but it requires some muscle and a proper drill. Once they were out, it was quite easy to take out the floor!

Taking out the cabin

Then the fun part started. Obviously, the cabin is used to transport people so should be attached properly. Well I can tell you, it was attached properly!! I have never seen such solid and strong glue (kit) in my life.

We started by taking off the wiring to make sure not to break it.

Van Conversion Stripping The Van - Taking out the cabin
When taking out the cabin, mind the wiring on top!

After having removed all the nails and external fixtures we thought it would be relatively easy to take out the cabin. In addition, there was some time pressure.

I had sold the entire backseat cabin including floor on markplaats (ebay) for €250 and it would be picked up next day!

Van Conversion Stripping The Van - Taking out the cabin
Biggest challenge of stripping the van: taking out the cabin

In the end, it took the largest part of the day to remove the glue and get the cabin loose. We cut, used a saw, even a shovel to get through this mess! And it was EVERYWHERE!

Check out the last part of the video to see how much force we had to use to get the whole thing out.

At the end of the day, the van looked like this. Still lots of leftovers of the glue on the floor and the walls, but the cabin came out in one part! Victory! Beer o’clock 🙂

Done stripping the van!

You’re probably full of energy at this point as you are just starting out with your van conversion! So the day will fly by ;-). I you buy a new, empty cargo van this job will probably be very easy.

If it’s older, rusty or you are converting an existing campervan, this may take a lot more time!

Why I loved stripping the van? It’s the first step and you really get to know the van! How the existing wiring works, the shapes and odd parts of the van. It’s one big process of discovery.

My only word of caution about this part: don’t underestimate this job. It’s a big part of your van conversion and it’s important that it’s done well. You don’t want have to go back to the beginning to remove something that you forgot while stripping the van.

Otherwise, HAVE FUN! 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions about this part of the van conversion.

Van Conversion Stripping The Van - Taking out the cabin
The Cabin is finally out!



  1. The Ultimate Guide to Your Van Conversion - BACKPACKING LIKE A BOSS - […] Stripping the van was lots of fun! […]
  2. Campervan Insulation - DIY CamperVan Conversion Part 2 - […] we had completely stripped the van and cleaned it (see below picture), it was time to put the insulation…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *