Tag Archives: T4

VW T4 Project – secondary battery

To supplement my electronic needs like running my laptop during my journeys I recently added an secondary battery to my VW T4 Project. There a several ways to connect the second battery like wiring it in parallel to the main battery, charging it separately by socket, using an solar panel with charging controller or the way I decided to do: using an uncouple relay to load the battery  only while the generator of the motor is running. To realize this, a decouple relay and a trigger signal is required. Also some fuses and really big diameter cables are needed to prevent voltage losses and avoid overheating while transporting drect current two or three meters through the car.


decoupling relay scheme


The main wiring is hidden beneath the drivers seat, here you can see the relay and one of the 40Amps fuses.


VW T4 Project – secondary battery – uncouple relay beneath the driver seat

The battery itself is located in a wooden construction directly under the drivers seat. It is an absorbent glass mat model, which is capable of being loaded 5 times faster than regular car batteries without loosing current level over time. Furthermore it is well suitable for a solar setup. Deep discharging (or lets say below half capacity measurable at 12.5V) without ruining the battery is possible but significantly shortens it’s lifetime. One more thing to mention is the different voltage level of the battery, fully charged it completes at 14.4-14.8 Volts, a voltage the main generator is not capable of delivering, and also stresses the main battery which is not of the same type.


VW T4 Project – secondary battery – absorbent glass mat 80Ah

To trigger the relay to wire the two batteries in parallel only when the main generator provides at least 13.9 Volts (or up to 14.3V depending on headlight or fan status) I searched for a suitable D+ wire in the central electric. D+ is a signal provided by the generator, which provides 0V while the ignition is off. If the key gets inserted and turned until all lamps turn on, but the motor isn’t started yet it should provide about and below 10Vs.  Only if the charging regulator of the car has been triggered which usually happens when the number of revolutions hits above 2000 it should provide the Voltage of the generator. Took me several hours to find the right cable, because for some reason all light blue cables (which should have this properties according to my sources) didn’t behave as expected. Finally I found a dark blue and black striped not used cable of the relay board as you can see in the pictures below:

Controlled Discharging

At this point the secondary battery gets charged while driving, but there was no way to plug any 12-14V devices to a car lighter jack. Therefore I built one:

Avoiding deep discharge I planned to use a battery guard device which turns of discharging when a certain amount of voltage gets undershot for a certain amount of time. Unfortunately my absorbent glass mat battery is incompatible to most of these devices as its half capacity voltage is much higher than that of usual car batteries. I found a programmable device that sadly arrived broken and therefore couldn’t be added to the current setup. To oversee the voltage and discharging current at least somehow, I’ve added an digital volt and ampere meter and wired it including an switch to turn it off at night:

VW T4 Project – secondary battery - back wiring

VW T4 Project – secondary battery – back wiring

As you can see it uses a shunt to – lets say guess – the current drain. Furthermore I’ve added an 20A fuse. I used a piece of electric cooker wire and fused two pairs of wiring harness together to increase wiring diameter and prevent voltage drop. The third harness is left unused.

For now this setup allows to use my laptop which drains about 10 Watts on power-safe mode for 10 hours per 100 kilometers driven distance. This of course gets limited by the size of the generator, driving style and battery capacity.

Anyways, this setup somewhen will be supplied by a solar panel to charge the battery to full capacity in summer by the sun, and charge it at least a bit by the generator in winter. Keep in mind that solar power and decoupling relay in combination with an absorbent glass mat battery could not be used in parrallel due to the different voltages of main generator and full capacity agm battery.

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle V – Sill Part Two - welded sill

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle V – Sill Part Two

As I learned recently stick electrodes are not suitable for welding thin sheet metal of a cars body shell. The electrodes tend to burn holes instead of welding anything together. Unfortunately, all other welding techniques like MAG,MIG, WIG (TIG) welding, require expensive hardware and some degree of education.  After some research I found a rent-able workshop including hydraulic lifts, all kinds of tools and MAG-Welding equipment for 8€ an hour. After some practice welding on small pieces of steel, I felt confident enough to start handling the spots i prepared as described in part one:

To improve the durability of the inner surfaces I used a new rust converter called fertan. As research has shown it is used by a lot of  car restaurateur workshops and is quite effective protecting the metal from new rust by creating an  protective coat. After 24 hours of letting it dry I additionally added another new  rust preventing oil: Owatrol. It’s a synthetic resin based oil able to prevent rust to grow by cutting it off from water and air. By that, the spot should hold 2-3 years without replacing the complete sill.

VW T4 Project – Interior construction – Realization

The step after planning is realization, so I went to the local home improvement store and bought some sawing rough wood  at 3,69 € per meter. I additionally required several M10 screws at 90mm length for assembling the wood construction directly to the ground floor of the VW T4.

Thanks to my going-to-be-brother-in-law for all the help during the wood construction progress! I am totally surprised by the high level of functionality and very low cost for the interior simply  by combining the given circumstances.

I have already spent two nights inside and do not miss any functionality of the  bed and couch at all, it’s way better than I could imagine 🙂

VW T4 Project – Interior construction – Planning Stage

Usually it is really helpful to take a decent time to plan the interior design, but due to my available going-to-be-brother-in-law
for one day, I had to do this at night during my well deserved sleeping time. Taking the measures from the carpet I came to this Sketchup model:



VW T4 Project – Interior construction – beddinge as a couch, having 5 cm left as a 1,95 cm guy while sitting


VW T4 Project – Interior construction – right side view – top rectangle is roof

Fortunately at this time I had a left over sofa-bed from IKEA called Beddinge around, which I would like to include into my interior design. It is foldable and usable as a couch and therefore perfect as a the heart of my low cost campervan VW T4:

It is possible to pull the seating area and get an full 140 by 200 cm bed by that:


VW T4 Project – Interior construction – front right view


VW T4 Project – Interior construction – back right view

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle VI – Interioir

As presented in a previous post, my beloved Vw T4 has some Issues with rust on the interior floor. For some reasons I will explain soon, I only got one night to solve these and handle all spots below the carpet as good as possible.

This is where we have to start:

VW T4 Project – Interior construction - Removal of all Seats - looks like an area needs to be treated

VW T4 Project – Interior construction – Removal of all Seats – looks like an area needs to be treated

I forgot to take the right amount of progress pictures but some can be shown here:

it is really time to learn to weld and to plan the interior functional design.

VW T4 Project – Interior construction – Removal of all Seats and carpets

I currently do not know anything about the status of my VW T4 interior. Is there rust? Do I need to fix anything before starting to convert the interior to fit the local camper regulations?

Only one way to find out, therefore I started by removing the seats:

So far, so good, but the real trouble might be under the carpet:

in conclusion, this needs to be handled before it means any further trouble.

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle V – Sill Part One

There was a small little hole in the sill on the front left side, but after inspecting it a little further the small little hole reveals as a dirt and rust filled water holding mess. I drilled a hole below the sill for the water to drain off, an sawed the hole into an rectangular shape:

I’ll need to learn welding of some sorts to fix that hole in the future. I am currently not owing a welding helmet, I would like to get an automatically darkening one, but these are usually above 100€ a piece. Hopefully I’ll find a cheaper solution to that.

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle I – temporary lost

I am a bit behind my reporting schedule, but several things have happened the past days. I’ll post them in chronological order.  First of all the rust on the fuel tank cap is back. I really should have used zinc and a bit more sanding on it:

I am going to use a different rust converter on it, it might help when it arrives: It is called owatrol rust converter.

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle IV: Roof

Still not easy finding before pictures, but examining the archives, i found this litte landscape of rust:


Maybe not looking that bad, but still, this is the number one location for rust on T4s – causing water flooding everywhere it can cause damage inside … Therefore it totally earned my attention in the war of rust battle IV 🙂

Clearly, this is not a professional paint job. Also it seems the white of the roof of the VW T4 is slightly brighter by age or by default, but still – it prevents one of the most vulnerable spots of rust and invading rain water.  Sadly on some spots I’ve painted the rubber seal white, which left me no choice but to paint the whole seal a bit more white than I’d have retrospectively. Anyways, the VW T4 looks a lot more worthy than before and hopefully will not develop rust issues on the handled spots soon..

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle IV: Roof - total final result

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle IV: Roof – total final result

There are two more areas to treat soon which I have been avoiding due to the required experience: sill and back right wheel case hole. I am really looking forward to solve this 🙂

VW T4 Project – War against Rust – Battle III: left front area

Unfortunately I forgot to take real before pictures… but still the war against rust is still something really exhausting. The more I circle around the car, the more I find spots that are worth being treated against rust and future conservation. Still collecting experience my quality of removal improves every time, currently I am using a automated wire brush for most rust removal. After that I apply rust removal followed by zinc spray and undercoat before I apply several layers of color matching paint.

Still that progress leaves some transition between old and new paint, but I’ll hopefully improve that soon by gaining experience. Until then, I’ll try some polishing and maybe freestyle paint grading 🙂