Probably one of the most daunting, but also one of the most satisfying tasks in my camper van conversion was fitting extra side windows. Fortunately, my project van already had factory fitted windows in the back doors which saved me a couple of hundred euro and a few hours work. There is no requirement to fit side windows when converting a van to a camper van but realisticaly, You will need at least one side window to let some light into the van interior and make it feel more like a camper van.
The Nissan Primastar and it’s variants allows for fitting two windows in each side, one in each of the individual panels. I opted for one fixed window in either side as I didn’t want to open it up too much and with the cabinets I had in mind, I still needed some wall space inside. Standard windows are readily available for the Primastar and surprisingly, aren’t all that expensive. I got both of my windows complete with a fitting and bonding kit from Cosycampers.ie. The window for the sliding door has a small cut out in the bottom-right corner to facilitate the door slider. When you’re buying your windows, make sure you get the correct fitment for each side. I’ve seen conversions where a window designed for a sliding door is fitted to a fixed panel and it looks terrible!
The first job was to cut the openings in the side panels. The panels in the primastar are relatively light material and very easy to cut with a jig saw or reciprocating saw. The shape to be cut out is already clearly defined by the shape of the frame visible from inside the van. I just drilled several holes in each of the curved corners to locate the curves, then, from outside use a felt tip pen and a straight edge to join up the holes and mark the line of the cuts.
Once you have the opes marked, just drill a hole large enough to slide the jigsaw blade through, then grit your teeth and start cutting! A good tip is to cover the base of the jigsaw with a pice of felt or cloth and tape it into place to avoid accidentally marking any paintwork as you cut. Remember also that hot metal filings will fly everywhere as you cut so make sure to wear eye protection.
When you are cutting the opes, you will notice that you also have to cut through two vertical struts to remove the panel. You can cut through these easily enough or you can drill out the spot welds to remove the entire strut. You will need to remove the piece left after you cut them out anyway so it’s best to get rid of them from the outset.
You will notice, with the panel removed that you are left with an outer and inner piece of sheet metal a few millimetres apart. you should be able to fit a thin blade between these sheets to a depth of at least 15mm around the entire opening. If you can’t do this at any point, take some time before you fit the glass to separate the panels slighlty and remove any bonding material that’s getting in the way. This is something I didn’t do and I created a lot of extra work for myself after I had fitted the glass. I also risked cracking the glass in my attempts to do it afterwards but thankfully, I didn’t.
Once all of the cutting and preparation was complete, it was time to move onto the next stage; fitting the glass