Bay Window and Split Buses were never designed to be luxury vehicles, so being built as a Commercial vehicle from the outset, they are noisier and less refined than most purpose-built passenger cars. Add this to the fact that most are approaching 50 years old and, obviously, are fitted with a pretty noisy air-cooled engine and you’ll understand why some extra sound proofing could be a good idea.
There are various products on the market to insulate your Bus from sound and heat / cold, but for the purpose of this article we gave Noisekiller a visit and see how they go about transforming a Bay Window Bus.
- Parts needed: Noisekiller Bus kit, panel wipe
- Tools used: Hand roller, Heat gun, Degreaser, Sharp knife
- Skill level: 2/5
- Time taken: 4-6 hours
- Cost DIY: £185-320 for parts and materials
- Cost Pro: approx. £500-600 for parts and labour
Insulate your Campervan: Step 1
The first thing you need to do is remove the interior from the Bus, including all the cupboards, seats and any existing interior panels. With all of this and any old sound deadening material out of the way, it is imperative to degrease the interior metalwork thoroughly to ensure correct adhesion of the new self-adhesive pads. As the main floor areas will be a non-adhesive barrier mat, you don’t have to go mad in these areas, but the inside walls and the roof need to be free of loose, flaking paint, dirt and grease.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 2
Use panel wipe on a rag, or some blue roll, and go around the whole Bus at least once. Don’t be tempted to skip or rush this step, or you will be left with pads that won’t stick, or fall off, after a short time, effectively wasting the money you have spent.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 3
The idea of the insulation on the side walls of a Bus is to reduce ‘drumming’, which happens on all large steel panels when a vehicle is on the move. Note that it is not necessary to cover the whole of the side panels to achieve this. If you look in the back of a new T5 Van, for example, you will see that VW just put one pad in the middle of each large panel, deeming that sufficient.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 4
Insulate side walls
Measure the distance between the reinforcement ribs of each panel to work out how big your square / oblong tiles need to be, before cutting them with a sharp blade and a steel rule on the workbench. If you are working in cold conditions, it may be wise to gently warm the panel with a heat gun before peeling off the backing and sticking each square in place. As each square is stuck down, go over it with the roller and work it flat.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 5
Insulate side walls
With the main side panel done, move on to the inside of the side door(s) and the rear side panels.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 6
Insulate rear wheelarch
Next, the rear wheelarches. Measure the top of the panel and cut two self-adhesive panels the same size. Work from the top of the curved panel down, using the roller as you go to make sure you don’t trap any air bubbles. If you do, it’s not the end of the world, just pierce the air bubble with a sharp blade and work any trapped air towards the hole in the centre using the roller.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 7
Insulate rear wheelarch
With the tops of both wheelarches done, cut out shaped sections for the side returns. If you are not confident about getting the piece right first time, make a paper template, then transfer it onto the self-adhesive material.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 8
Insulate engine bulkhead
For the engine bulkhead, as it is a high noise area, Noisekiller recommend the use of a thick, black, self-adhesive barrier mat. This needs to be fitted in a few sections to make it easier to manage. Firstly, measure and cut the pieces to size, then apply it to the surface in the same manner as before. As this material is thicker, you will really need to work it into the ribs of the panel with the roller.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 9
Insulate rear bulkhead
Fit the lower panel first, then the upper. With both of these in place, cut two smaller rectangular pieces to go in the corners to make a proper job of it.
Insulate your Camper: Step 10
Insulate rear floors
The barrier mats for the rear floor space and over the top of the engine are not self-adhesive, so simply require cutting to fit. They need to be a snug fit so they don’t move around and you don’t want to get these wrong, so it’s wise to make a paper template first. Start with the piece over the top of the engine.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 11
Insulate rear floors
The main cargo floor area is much easier to do. Just drop the mat into place and trim around the rear wheelarches with a sharp blade. The advantages of using non-adhesive mat in these areas is twofold: firstly, you can remove it periodically to sweep up any mess and secondly, you can remove it from time to time to allow any moisture build up to dry out. If you are fitting an interior in the back of your Bus permanently and are worried about moisture build up, it may be prudent to apply a wax coating such as Tectyl / Dinitrol / Waxoyl under where the mat will be.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 12
Prepare roof insulation
For this step, we recommend enlisting the help of a friend, as it is awkward to lift the large pieces into place without messing it all up. Again, measure the width of the roof spaces between the strengthening ribs before cutting the pieces to size. Noisekiller roof insulation comes in two different types – a thick ‘egg box’ foam mat for use without a headliner and a thinner foam mat to use underneath a headliner.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 13
Apply roof insulation
With the panels cut to size, peel back the backing paper at one end only and start fixing in place, then work away from that point, slowly peeling off the backing and smoothing it down as your helper takes the weight of the material. If you want this to be completely hidden behind a headliner, it must be put on neatly and smoothly, and it is imperative the roof be clean and well prepared beneath it. No pressure then.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 14
Insulate cab doors and front panel
Working in the same way you did on the side walls of the Bus, insulate inside the cab doors and inner front panel. These are tricky areas to work in, so measure carefully and cut the adhesive mat into small squares and cover the areas as thoroughly as you can. Be careful here as there are a lot of sharp edges to cut yourself on. Wearing gloves may help avoid cuts, but can be a real pain when it comes to peeling off the backing. Better to just take your time and work carefully, being mindful of sharp objects and edges.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 15
Insulate front wheelarches
The next area to tackle is the top of each front wheelarch tub. Carefully measure this area and either leave the pieces you cut a little generous, or make a paper template first to ensure you don’t waste material.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 16
Insulate front wheelarch tubs
As this is a complex area with a lot of detail pressings and single and double curvature sections, you will need to work the mat into place with the roller and your fingers, then neatly trim any unsightly edges with a sharp blade.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 17
Insulate front bulkhead
As you can see from the pictures, this Bus is of the non-walk-thru variety. The procedure is the same for a walk-thru Bus, though, obviously except for the middle portion.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 18
Insulate spare tyre well
Again, as this Bus was a non-walk-thru Bay, there is a spare tyre well under the front seat. On a fixed bulkhead Split, you will have a toolbox area with a smaller opening.
On a walk-thru Bus you will need to remove the rubber floor mat, if fitted, and fit Noisekiller direct to the floor area instead.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 19
Insulate spare tyre well /walk-thru section
Because of the complexity of the space, and again so we can remove it easily in the future, we chose to use non-adhesive barrier mat again here.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 20
Insulate cab floor
Likewise, we used the non-adhesive mat in the cab floor too, so you can pull it up now and again, dry out any moisture and sweep it out. If you thought the spare wheel area in the last step was fiddly, wait until you get to this bit! On the upside, if you have one, you can use an original cab floor mat as a template. This will help you to see the locations of all the holes for pedals, levers and the heat tube.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 21
Insulate cab floor
One last word of advice: when you fit this mat and the floor covering, be it carpet or the original rubber floor mat, check all the pedals work properly and you can get full throttle without the pedal sticking. If this is a problem, you may need to trim more material away from this area.
Insulate your Campervan: Step 22
With all the above steps completed, the finished job should look similar to the pictures above. You can now feel proud, and happy in the knowledge you will be able to hold a conversation at highway speeds and not have to turn up the music so loud, resulting in a more relaxed driving experience and less headaches. A result all round.
Words: Mark Walker