If you're just starting out with VW T5 T6 campervan conversion then take a look at our really useful Kiravans 'How To' video where Mike shows you the process of taking out the bulkhead and gives you his best advice on the process and tools you'll need along the way.
Quite often when you buy a brand new van or a second-hand van like this, you're going to have a large, steel bulkhead or a half-height bulkhead in the van. Quite often the first stage of the conversion is to get rid of that. I'll just quickly go through, show you how to do that. It's simply removing all these little nuts that hold it on. Then once I get these two parts out, I'll show you how to grind out the metal work along the bottom and up the sides.
Unscrew bulkhead retaining nuts
Before you release all the nuts with the top half of the bulkhead, you need to come inside the cab and pop down the plastic strip that runs along between the headlining and the bulkhead. Then up there you will see four T30 torque screws. You're going to need to get one of these screwdrivers and just undo those four. Then go back inside the back of the van, and finish releasing the nuts to drop down that top section of bulkhead.
That's bulkhead removed and what we're left with is the metal upstand along the bottom here. Then two half-height metal upstands on each side. To do a nice job of your conversion, I always think you want to get rid of those. It takes a little bit more work, but it's well worth it.
Remove the double seat
The next stage is to take out the double seat out and we're going to pop off these plastic trims so we can get our metal grinder in there safely to cut that out. We're going to grind out these wells here to get this one out. So if you're new to these vans, the way to get this double seat out is to pick it up underneath where your knees go and flip the cushion forward. Then underneath, you will see in behind here is all the wiring and the seat itself is held in with eight nuts onto threaded bolts. You might find a plastic trim tool handy here to get these covers off. Just prise those off the studs like that. Now to get these wiring blocks disconnected, you'll see on each one there's a little lug. On that one, it's there. You just press that in... and pull them apart like that. Then the other half can drop out of its little cradle. So we do that with them all. Obviously, make sure your engine is off and your key is out of the ignition. Then you're gonna need a 16mm socket set. To get the seat out, it's just simply a matter of taking the headrest out. I tend to grab the seatbelt in the middle, and then try to lift it straight up off those studs. Bring it back into the van like that.
Remove the driver’s seat
To make life easier for myself, I'm going to take out the driver's seat as well before I start grinding. It'll make it easier to get some access in behind here as well. To take the driver's seat out, it's probably simplest just to take the base out and everything. The handbrake assembly's fixed to the base. First thing to do, slide the seat forward and disconnect any wires you've got running under there. This van, this spec, has got one wire so pop that off. The handbrake... let me just zoom in. I'll show you what goes on there. To get the handbrake covers off, first want to do is there's a little push button, plastic clip under here. Push that in. And then that bit of plastic, just wriggle off there. This cover here is held on by two little metal lugs sticking out at the base… so this needs to come straight up and that just pops off there...slide that forward. Then there's two nuts holding the handbrake to the base. It's just a matter of undoing those and removing it. Then to remove the seat.
Remove plastic pillar trims
To get these plastic trims off, there's two pieces top and bottom. We need to take the top seat belt hanger off first. We do that by gently prising out the bottom bit of that plastic cover. Be careful, it's quite weak up here where it's held on. Then you’re going to need a number 10 spline piece. That'll just come away like that. These plastics are held onto little lugs on the back of them so it's just a matter of prising them away. That's the top one off. There, you can see the little plastic clips that go into these holes. Now, this one's got a wire on the back. So just be careful with that. There we go. You can just leave them like that to get the bit of metal grinded out. We'll do the same on the other side.
Unbolt top bulkhead securing lip
Once you've got your plastic trims off, you can see what we're left with. This metal outstand here at the top. If you look around the back, this one's held on with a few bolts. So they can just be unscrewed, those three, and then that piece will come away. As we work our way down, this one here is a bit trickier. It's held on by some spot welds, and it finishes off down here. What I'm gonna try and do there is with a metal slitting disc on a grinder, just cut around those and leave it neatly finished off. Then on the bottom, we've got this upstand here which again is spot welded to the floor. I'm going to go along and grind those welds out. Same on the other side.
Cut out lower bulkhead securing lip
So, I've cut around these spot welds, now just leaving four, small bits of metal. The outside edge will probably be covered up by that plastic trim anyway. I’m just going to get a grinding disc on there and smooth those edges off.
Remove floor level bulkhead lip / Grind welds smooth down to floor level
So this what we're left with. Once we've cut out the metal lip and I've gone through with the grinder. Ground those all back to floor level. Just be really careful with your cutting disc and your grinder that you don't take to much metal out. I've ground out those spot welds and the little squares on the pillars as well. You don't have to do that. You can leave those squares on there if you want. I've gone through and given it all a good vacuum to get rid of any metal filings. I wiped the grinded areas with some panel wipe just to degrease it. Next, I'm going to paint it with a metal paint so it doesn't start to rust.
There you have it.
That's how to remove the bulkhead in a VW T5 or T6 van like this one. You’ll probably want to allow about half a day to do this job if it's your first attempt. There's a few tools that you're going to need that you may not have. Mini grinder to get the cutting and grinding down. I mentioned, if you're not familiar with these, slitting discs are the really, really thin discs like this for cutting through metal. Be very careful when you're using this that you don't cut into the body work. Just take your time, go slow. Then a grinding disc which is a thicker one which will grind away those welds once you've cut the metal out. A T10 Spline bit, you may not have. That's for taking out the seat belt upper mounting. Your T30 torques for removing the top screws of the bulkhead. You want to get yourself some metal paint. Something that's suitable to go onto bare metal and put a couple of coats of that on.
One thing I didn't mention was once you've got your seats out, hang an old sheet or something to stop any sparks or metal filings going into the cab area. Also tape off the seatbelt cavities to stop any metal filings going in there.
That’s it. Good luck.