Introduction: DIY VW Caddy Maxi Camper

Picture of DIY VW Caddy Maxi Camper

I've bought a caddy maxi 6 years ago. I like the car a lot, moving, taking my bike with me, sleeping after a night in the bar, ... It's all possible. But I wanted to be able to go on a holiday, without having to move everything around *every* night and again *every* morning.

A few months ago, I spend to some time on the internet, looking at how different people did organize their car when to go camping. To give credit to everyone, here are the links I bookmarked, that seemed more important than others:

I used them as inspiration (but some a little more than others :) )

Step 1: Designing the Plans

Picture of Designing the Plans

First thing I would advice you is to look around at different options, and try to prioritize the possibilities. Not every two things are possible at the same time. These are my priorities:

  1. Should be able to sleep comfortably with two people. I didn't want to sleep in a coffin.
  2. Should be usable with and without the back seats
  3. Easy access: Probably not everything, but most of it
  4. Be independent for at least 7 days (water, gas, food, ...)
  5. In case of rain, and inside solution

Afterwards I measured my entire car as good as possible, and started modeling.

I decided for a large clothes unit (blue) which can be accessed through the sliding doors. The kitchen unit (purple) can be accessed from the trunk, and the storage unit (orange) can be accessed through the trunk and from the inside. The kitchen unit has a large drawer and a storage place for bottles so that they do not fall.

In yellow I made a small table which can rest on the plastic board inside the trunk. That way, in case of heavy rain and no good location, we can eat in the inside. I made everything from plywood (12mm for the bottom, 18mm for the sides and 15mm for the top). I am able to carry and install each module by myself, so the weight is still okay.

Step 2: Cutting the Wood

Picture of Cutting the Wood

I was afraid of cutting all the wood myself. It takes a lot of time, errors often add up, and especially the angle for the side panels is very important. If the angle is a little bit off, it can easily influence the overall correctness. I therefore went to a local timber trade (woodtex if you're near Antwerp, Belgium). I let them cut out the big rectangles. (I created some overview images for all the panels).

It's an enormous gain of time, all the cutting was done in one hour time, cc-aided and it was exactly what I wanted. I don't think I would have been able to do this myself. Two carts of wood, and I was very happy to see that the wood at least fits into the car :)

Time to get started!

Step 3: Creating the Modules

Picture of Creating the Modules

From some leftovers, we initially made some wooden, 90 degree angles for constructing the modules. Then afterwards it was just:

  • Sorting all wooden pieces, module per module
  • Attaching the clamps and the 90 degree angles
  • Drilling the holes
  • Screwing and glueing it together

We used self-tapping screws and D3 wood glue (water resisting, but no PUR). I sanded the sides before adding the glue. Otherwise the saw dust from cutting might get in the way. I did some initial tests to make sure that the wood doesn't split while screwing.

It was a lot of fun, and all-in-all, it took us one day to construct all the cabinets.

Step 4: Putting Them Together

Picture of Putting Them Together

Finally, all modules created, time to assemble them together! Hooray, they fit :)

I added a small beam support that way the clothes module and kitchen are attached to each other, and the beam will support the table.

As I want to be able to assemble and disassemble them often (every time we leave), I clamped everything together, drilled holes and put T-nuts on one side, and metal brackets on the other side. That way I can just nut them together.

As we were installing everything, it came to me that I measured the car once, and I never, ever, tried to put the boxes in. Everything's already glued together, so hopefully, I measured correctly

Step 5: Assembly in the Car

Picture of Assembly in the Car

Quit happy with the result, they do fit nicely together, and I've got enough space in the car. I haven't installed the table feet yet, and also the cooking drawer is not there yet. But it looks nice already. I'm especially happy with how they align, that should very important for a good night's sleep.

Still todo:

  • paint them
  • Attach to the car (security and minimal movement)
  • Installing the table and the drawer

First test run with the oversized mattress seems okay.

Step 6: Painting and Curtains

Picture of Painting and Curtains

Painting:

I first didn't to paint everything. It smells for a few weeks and takes a lot of time. (Yes, I'm very impatient :) ) A friend of mine convinced me, as it would dramatically increase the life of the modules. They have these (almost) non-toxic varnish, and it takes a couple of days until the smell is gone.


Curtains:

Curtains are very important. I bought 100 pressure buttons (I have no idea how to call this in English) online, and it's very easy:

  • You drill a tiny hole in the car
  • Screw in the base part

Afterwards, in the curtains you

  • punch a hole,
  • add the bottom part,
  • add the top part,
  • hamer them together with a bit,

and finished!

The actual result is very nice. For the curtains I bought in Ikea one set of sun-blocking curtains, and luckily enough, my mother helped us big time by doing all the stitching! Finally, we also bought a two person mosquito net, and using the same pressure buttons, I can attach it around the mattress with 4 easy buttons.

Step 7: Safety and Security

Picture of Safety and Security

I have these things (No idea whatsoever on how to call this)on the bottom of my car which I can use to secure load. I removed them, drilled holes in the cabinets and attached them with sunken head screws. That way, everything is pushed towards the floor and friction will do the job.

To make it even more secure, in case of an accident or something similar, I went to my garage scrap dealer and found two seat belt buckles. I attached them firmly to the boxes. I hope both the seatbelts and the bolts will be more than enough. I especially hope I will never find out :)

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

I added the cooking drawer, the gas bottle and a 10L water supply. Everything fits in nicely. The drawer can support up to 40kg, so food for two people should be possible :)

I also added an emergency table (in case of heavy rain). The modules can be used as a bench. The table has two feet on one side, and is supported by the plastic side of the car. I used some pressure buttons (from the curtains) to make sure the table stays in place when its in use. When the feet are folded in, I used the same pressure buttons to keep the feet in place.

We were very happy to have one night of rain on holiday, that way we could really use the inside table

Comments

ObiWayneKenobi (author)2016-09-02

Good tip on getting the wood cut - I've tried to do it manually in the past and with only a few tools it was a real pain!

Question - where do you put the mattress when you need to access things like the table? I know people opt for 'modular' foam pieces that can be moved independently but can be costly to produce in the shapes and sizes required.

Thanks, I roll the mattress and secure it with two straps. That way I can just put in on the front seat. I've planned to change that a bit, I want to make the mattress fold into three parts (a Z-like fold). Then I can easily move it around or put on the front seat.

Beyond1700 (author)thomasfannes2017-01-11

You can buy 3 childs mattress in the quality you want.

They are 120mm x 60mm. Put 3 in one standard slope and stitch in between mattress. That way you get a foldable set. easy to put aside or create a bench.

Together with a pillow it actually sleeps an adult person in length.

works perfect

Also, that way I can install a bigger mattress. This one is a little to hard

Natalina (author)2016-07-29

Well done! I especially like the pull out stove and organization in the back.

thomasfannes (author)Natalina2016-08-17

Thank you! The pull out stove was something I initially did not plan, it was more an idea that grew on us. However it has proven to be extremely convient

buildandsewandstuff (author)2016-08-13

Very Nice!! My husband and I built a bed and storage under it in a van and traveled around the U.S. in the 1970's. It was great! You'll make memories you will have for your whole lifetime.

Thanks a lot! We spent our first holiday and I'm sure lots will follow.

NoN19 (author)2016-08-09

Sweet

gfannes (author)2016-07-26

Nice build, bro!

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