Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Tell us your ongoing tales and experiences with your French car here. Post pictures of your car here as well.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by van ordinaire » 11 Mar 2019, 23:22

Have you tried any caravan breakers? Yes, they do exist!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 12 Mar 2019, 01:04

A lot more there than last time I looked.

In fact, after some rummaging has found the correct one I think, the tap is definitely identical to the ones in the van which suggests the same maker and time period. Colour looks the same to...

I don't need the cabinet...but the shower there is better than the one I have too...so might give that a bash.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 12 Mar 2019, 23:54

Having had a think about it I just decided to go ahead and buy the bathroom kit I found via the related items from Van's link above. First time I've found this exact sink for sale anywhere.
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Based on one extremely tiny, blurry photo I've seen this definitely looks to be what would originally have been fitted. Therefore it will make me happy because the designers of this thing obviously knew what they were doing. I don't need the cabinet, as mine is still present and in good order so may well chuck that back on eBay at some point.

Went back in to see if by some miracle the wallpaper had de-wrinkled itself when it dried.

No prizes for guessing the answer.
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No idea what's happened there...as my folks used to do up houses I was helping hang wallpaper pretty much as soon as I was walking. This wasn't just a case of poor prep or too much paste or anything like that.

So what did I do next? Well actually got to spend a very satisfying twenty minutes making a godawful mess.
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Not worrying about removing what's left there as it's firmly attached to the walls.

Now someone had suggested looking into using vinyl floor tiles to "tile" the walls.

They're definitely onto something. Got a few in place now and two things are immediately obvious.
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Firstly is that it's going to be an order of magnitude easier than the wallpaper to put in place. Secondly is that it should look a lot better when it's done. I've got two types, the ones you see there which I will use up to the window base and then a mosaic pattern from there upwards.

Now I've used these tiles before (which is why I can't believe I didn't think of it) and I know the adhesive is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, so have tacked them down using decent contact adhesive.

Also glad to report that despite the torrential (sideways at times) downpour today that my roof light in there is definitely keeping the weather out. Had the inner bezel off so I could actually see the seam between it and the roof, so know it's good.

Just need to try to convince the water getting in at the offside rear corner to cut it out. Astonishing really that it's the only water ingress issue I'm aware of given the age of it.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Gibbo2286 » 13 Mar 2019, 09:57

Do you think those vinyl tiles would work in a domestic bathroom? I've just stripped the tatty wallpaper off mine, going to paint the ceiling today then need to decide what to do with the walls.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 13 Mar 2019, 12:41

Gibbo2286 wrote:
13 Mar 2019, 09:57
Do you think those vinyl tiles would work in a domestic bathroom? I've just stripped the tatty wallpaper off mine, going to paint the ceiling today then need to decide what to do with the walls.


I can't see any reason why not. The back of the box say they're suitable for use anywhere aside from wet rooms, though that's likely down to the adhesive, if you use something a bit more industrial it shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 13 Mar 2019, 23:52

After a five hour round trip (yay traffic...) I have now this chunk of delightfully eighties beige plastic in my possession.
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One bit of damage to one corner but nothing we can't fix with a little bit of fibreglass or filler.

Really glad that despite having been rummaging on and off for months and not turning up anything aside one fuzzy picture of it, I've managed to turn up a match for what would originally have been fitted.

Hopefully get it fitted tomorrow.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 16 Mar 2019, 00:05

Today has been one of those really annoying days which you always hit at some point in any decorating project where you wind up spending several hours taking stuff apart so you can get something else done. Made fifty times harder because the bathroom is just awkward to work in because it's so cramped.

Wanted to get the lower half of the tiling in the room finished and the sink properly installed.

Step one: make sure it actually fits and mark things up so I could see where to tile to (no point in doing the whole space under it) and where to drill holes for the pipework. This sink originally had the pipes coming out the bottom though I saw no reason for them to be visible as the sink was to be fitted against an interior wall up against the service cupboard. I suspect it was up against an exterior wall before.

Didn't take me long to realise that the pipework was too bulky to be bent around in the direction I needed and for the sink to lay flat against the wall. No problem, I've got some elbow connectors which will solve that. Cue 30 minutes of digging through boxes to find them. Eventually though they did turn up.

I then discovered that the hose clips on there were utterly seized. This took a further half hour or so of (very careful) argument to resolve. Once that was done the hoses still refused to be separated from the hose connector stub and I wound up having to (again, very carefully) slit them both with a knife before removing them. Attaching a nice new hose which actually bends and the elbow significantly reduced the room needed so the sink would actually sit flush with the wall.

Still need to actually connect everything back up behind the wall but that's easy stuff I can do later. Flexible pipework likes to look a royal mess which I dislike...I will need to instill order in this mess before I declare it done!
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I initially thought I could just remove the two bottom screws holding the cabinet to the wall to slip the tiling under that edge - right up to the point that I discovered that there's actually a wooden frame under the cabinet which is essentially part of the wall. Cue careful measuring and cutting of tiles.

The tap for the shower also needed to come off the wall to let me tile under it - the hoses to this were about as interested in shifting as the ones on the sink were. At least they weren't attached to a fragile hunk of brittle plastic which made things a bit easier to sort.
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This is where we finished for the day.
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I still find the whole sink without a conventional plug thing an interesting concept. It's an elegant engineering solution to allow for the basin needing to fold up, no flexible piping necessary.
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This wall is essentially done. Just needs some sealant along the edges and the lower edge tidied up. Need an additional pack of tiles though, need a few more than my total guess, not by much though. I've a few small offcuts which will do for the sliver of wall visible to the left of the cupboard.

Yes they are a bit heavy, but the small number involved because of the tiny size of the room means it should be fine.

Hoping that as the rest is just sticking tiles on the wall and a bit of trimming that the next bit will go quicker...

Also reckon I must have wasted an hour going back and forth to the garage for tools! Will just take everything next time!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 17 Mar 2019, 01:58

First task of the day was to get the plumbing for the sink and shower sorted out as I had taken it all apart yesterday.
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Much better. This lot used to be hidden behind a plywood box...not sure I will bother putting that back as it eats quite a chunk of space in the back of the wardrobe. Reckon I will add some clips to hold the pipes against the back wall and call it good, the box just seems unnecessary given this is all hidden at the back of the wardrobe anyway.

Drainage has been tested by dumping a five litre bottle of water down it, no leaks to report and it seems to drain at as close to a reasonable rate you can really hope for, though the design at least means you don't have to wait for the draining process to finish before stowing the basin.

Once that was done it was back to the tiling. Seems to be taking forever!

We are getting there though.

This is where this pattern will stop - there is a mosaic pattern to run from here up to the ceiling.
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This would have taken significantly less time had I realised that the trim around the window just snaps in place - I realised that after I had already carefully made sure to measure it as close to millimetre perfect as I could on two sides...rather than just extending the tile a bit last the edge and snapping the trim back on...oh well now I know! Obviously there is one little infill strip I still need to put in there too, just waiting for an offcut the right shape to turn up.

Interior wall is also ready for the next pattern. This is really awkward to get a photo of.
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I am *hoping* that I will be able to call the decorating nonsense done tomorrow as it is taking forever...though does kind of feel like it is actually moving in the right direction now.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 17 Mar 2019, 20:21

Today it has *finally* started to feel like we're starting to get somewhere and this is starting to actually look like a room again.
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Bit annoying that it's impossible to get things lined up perfectly with the rear wall courtesy of our friend Pythagoras, but it's good enough for a camper van! Won't be so obvious once the sealant along the edges is in place anyway.

If I had been smart I would have realised that was going to be an issue and would have made sure not to use a repeating pattern spanning the side and rear wall...though I reckon it still looks better than it would have in plain white (or with the original pink floral pattern!). Doesn't hopefully look too out of period for the vehicle either.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Hell Razor5543 » 17 Mar 2019, 20:23

She is looking nice. When are you getting the solar cell on the roof to keep the battery charged? :D

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 18 Mar 2019, 21:16

Hell Razor5543 wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 20:23
She is looking nice. When are you getting the solar cell on the roof to keep the battery charged? :D


If we were likely to spend more time off grid we'd probably look into something like that and to refit all the interior lighting with LEDs...but as we're most likely going to be in camp sites with a mains hook up it's just not worth the bother at the moment. In terms of kit to go on the roof, a cassette air conditioning unit is far more likely to appear in the short term given my inability to function in even moderately high temperatures these days.

This afternoon. I had a bit of a push to get this finished, and am glad to report that save for needing to refit the curtain rail and source a shower curtain, the bathroom is now done.

Oh...and find some brown screw caps as the white ones stick out way too much against the generated decor.

Doesn't look too bad for an entirely home brew job though I reckon?
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Just need to make a blanking plate to sit in the shower tray when it's not in use, re-fit the rail for the shower curtain and we should be done. Oh, and stick some water in the tank so I can confirm the taps don't leak before discovering that's an issue at the far end of the country.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 20 Mar 2019, 01:58

Hardly any time to look at the cars today, so was just able to get a little bit of system testing done on the van.

Threw some water in the fresh water tank and set the pump running.

Soon enough we had water in the kitchen...
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The odd arrangement at the base of the tap is my temporary solution to the problem presented by the emphatically not camper/caravan grade worktop being thicker than the threaded section of the tap is long. The worktop will be getting binned for something more appropriate as soon as I get around to sourcing something suitable. See also my previous comments about whoever started to "upgrade" this van having zero concept of the idea that unnecessary weight isn't your friend.

Bathroom sink had water through soon enough as well, taps work properly and don't leak which is nice - even though I do have a spare if there turned out to be any issues with the bodies.
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One thing I was curious to see was whether it would be possible to actually get a useful amount of flow from the shower at an acceptably high temperature for it to actually be useful.

The water heater I have always eyed with slight suspicion given the fact that it did a good impression of a fountain the first time that I supplied water to it due to perished O-rings in several locations. Thankfully my replacements seem to be holding up just fine, and aside from making unreasonably loud gurgling noises for the first few seconds, it behaved. Yes, I did remember to close the drain down valve before turning the pump on.

Once switched on, it fired up as soon as the hot water tap was turned on, just as it should. I don't have a combustion tester, but the flame looks healthy to me.
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Adjusting the shower controls to giving what feels a sensible temperature seems to be at a flow rate that's on par with any electrically heated shower I've used before. Not a power shower that's going to knock you over when you turn it on, but it's absolutely fine for taking a quick shower and to wash your hair with.
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So I'm calling it done on the bathroom and plumbing in general for a bit. I still need to fit a shower curtain, finish off a few bits of silicone sealant and to fit a few pipe clips in the utility cupboard, but that's all just simple stuff. Next main target is going to be the kitchen.

What I need to do in there:

[] Rip out those poorly fitted household worktops (they're not even close to level for one thing) and install something that weighs less than a Mini.
[] Reconstruct the partitions below the worktops, including the gas cabinet and the support framework for the drawers.
[] Replace the crudely hacked off gas pipework to the oven and cabin heater. Really wish they had disconnected stuff rather than just snip the pipes off with a pair of side cutters. Need to confirm for definite if the manifold I have is a long obsolete size for with it's hard to get fittings for or not, and if so just buy a new one. If not, pick up the missing fittings so I can connect stuff up properly. I'm very, very aware that the current setup is absolutely NOT getting used beyond the one weekend away - and even then the gas was only on when we actively needed the oven or hot water.
[] Properly reattach the heat shielding around the oven - I'm absolutely certain that my current configuration isn't right as none of the holes in it line up properly. This is one of those situations where it would be really useful to be able to have a look at one of these vans in standard form so I could see how it was originally put together.
[] Once all of this is done, obviously re-route the plumbing as necessary. At least being flexible lines that's hardly an issue.

[] Finally, sort out the peeling wallpaper around that general area. I've pretty much decided at this point that the brown mosaic pattern from the bathroom will be continued around the rear window and across the worktop splash back, finishing where the cabinet for the water heater is. It should help make things look more seamless and professional I think, and be a lot easier to keep clean around the kitchen than the wallpaper.

First though, I think I need to have a bit of a tidy up. I have made quite a ridiculous amount of mess while working on the bathroom...
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Some of the foam core board I didn't end up using in the bathroom will be retained though, I'm going to use that to line the floor before the cabinet bases are put down as a bit of extra insulation. It weighs nothing so no reason not to use it that I can see. Being honest though, given how foul it was outside a few days back when I was working in the van it seems pretty well insulated really. I've never actually even tested the gas fired heater yet other than establishing that the fan runs...

We're booked in for a weekend away in May - so that's my deadline to get the thing MOT'd and the kitchen into a serviceable state.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 21 Mar 2019, 23:34

The offside rear corner is the only place on the van I've had any signs of active water ingress. As is standard for a van like this (or a coach), trying to actually match up where the rain is getting in with where it is appearing is tricky.

There was no sign of dampness anywhere above the height of the worktop (the wallpaper is peeling more because it hasn't been applied properly than due to damp. As such my guess was that it was finding a point of entry below the height of the work surface but above the floor. There is a bodywork join there and as such that has to be a favourite. No obvious issues present there other than that the infill strips were all missing. This could be to blame, especially bearing in mind that due to the slope of our driveway about 90% of all water coming off the roof of the van pours down that corner at the back.

Well I got a huge bundle of new infill strip with the van...
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...So no reason not to get it and the missing end caps (which meant open screw holes!) back in place. Should be a nice quick job for the afternoon, right? This is the point at which I discovered something really rather annoying.

When whoever it was last had these strips off, they refitted them with screws rather than the original staples.
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Fair enough, I would have done the same. The issue however is that what they had not done was countersink the holes in the aluminium trim. The result of this being the screws sitting just proud of the surface enough to prevent me from fitting the infill strip.

Cue me having to remove each screw, drill the hole out slightly and refit it. For Every...single...screw.

We got there in the end though - after several hours.
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The only bit I still need to do here is the nearside corner, though I need to dig the old silicone out of the groove there first.

Oh...and the spare wheel retaining bolt has been greased...I had to use an uncomfortably large amount of force to remove it given the lack of structural metalwork that the carrier is attached to.

The flue cover for the fridge is duct taped to keep weather out just now, purely as I need to adjust things there a bit due to the floor height at the back being roughly an inch higher than when the van was made. As such I need to trim a bit off the end of the flue before actually securing the plate. It's actually really fiddly to assemble so I'll be glad to have that bit finished too!

Hopefully having got a bit more sealant involved and having replaced all the infill that corner will stay dry now...guess we will see next time it rains.

The things obviously missing from the bodywork there are two high level tail lights which AutoTrail fitted to all their vans in this era.
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I would quite like to get them reinstated, though as all of the wiring has been removed it will be a bit of a chore...it will happen at some point, just might not be this week.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 23 Mar 2019, 00:11

Didn't have any time for car stuff today really, but did manage to spend fifteen minutes refitting the two main side rubbing strips. Thankfully unlike the smaller infill ones this didn't involve re-drilling three thousand holes, just slipped straight in.
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I stuffed a good blob of non-setting seam sealer under the end caps so there's no chance of water getting into the panel through the screw holes.
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Does help make the van look a lot less generally scruffy, though I really need to do something about the bumper sitting at an angle. That's going to be a bigger job though as the entire structure under it has been subject to quite major alteration by previous owners

I do have a new mains power socket ready to fit as the one on there currently has a broken hinge. This definitely needs to be done before we go anywhere again as it flaps around anywhere above 40mph and if the window is open all I can hear is click-click-click-click...

The nearside rubbing strip really will need to come off to redo the whole lot as the sealant under it is an absolute mess and it looks horrible.
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What was a bag full of bits when I got the van has now been reduced to this.
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The white circular thing is the cover for the keyhole on the toilet access door. The last four metal bits are for the lower strip behind the rear wheels. Those will need the screw holes re-drilled before I can refit the infill though.

Aside from the obvious impact on helping keep the van weather tight, I'm glad to be getting stuff like this done as I always like to turn up for an MOT in a vehicle that even if old looks to be well looked after.

Speaking of a car looking well looked after...I was feeling really guilty about the state the poor Xantia was in, so finally dropped by one of our local hand car washes and got her a mini valet.
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Looking a bit more respectable now at least.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 24 Mar 2019, 00:21

One of the things I always tended to do my best to avoid when helping out with preserved buses was the fiddly bits of bodywork...oily bits I'm good with, but the bodywork is something which I always find it takes a massive amount of time for little visible gain.

However with it being my own vehicle that's less of an option as I can't delegate it to the new guy!

So it is a day of "annoying fiddly bits."

First up, the last two bits of infill that were missing.

Offside...
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That whole lower panel skin is in pretty poor state with quite a few tiny holes in, so I may need to think about changing it at some point. For now I've just touched them in with seam sealer to keep the elements out.

Nearside...
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That was the nice easy bit done. Just wanted those done first as it meant that I could get rid of another bag from the box of bits of van as all the trim is now actually attached to it again.

Next up was replacing the missing upright infill from the nearside rear corner. As this runs all the way to the front of the van, I'm not doing it all right now. Just the last couple of feet. However before I could do that I first needed to dig the silicone sealant out of the channel. This must have taken me the best part of an hour. Turns out that it sticks really quite well to tarnished old aluminium.

Eventually though I managed to clear enough of it out of the channel that it was possible to get the strip in.
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The strip directly above the passenger door on the cab I noticed a couple of days ago had come away from the cab and was just barely hanging on by a couple of threads on two screws. Was a quick matter to pull that off, clean it up, stick a new mastic strip to the back of it and slap it back in place. I used slightly larger screws to help take up the slack and then put a new infill in there.
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Getting the infill in was a bit of a chore purely because it was done teetering on the door step. Funny how jobs like this make you appreciate how much bigger the thing is than a car.

This had been on my radar since the day I bought the van.
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In fact I bought a new hookup unit about a week into owning it... replacement of this definitely needed to happen, as aside from just looking awful it also insistently would flap around going click-click-click-click-click-click anywhere north of 40mph.

Ten minutes later...
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Much better. It actually latches closed as well so hopefully won't drive me demented next time I'm on the open road.

This was the point at which I spotted two (blindingly obvious afterwards!) bits of infill I had missed. These were on the surround of the gas locker and luggage compartment doors.

You can see how it just fits into a groove around the edge here.
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Now this was a task which I went into thinking it would be a ten minute thing to finish the day off with. Yeeeeaahh...About an hour later I had both doors done.
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One of those jobs that is just incredibly fiddly and time consuming. Does help make the van tidier though as a whole bunch less screws heads are on show how.
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Getting there bit by bit.

Really do need to get some decent wheel trims though and bin the bargain bin specials currently on there as it drags the whole thing down.