Cutting a hole in the side of your van can be terrifying - it's one of the first things you need to do for your van conversion and one of the most important! However fret not, while it might be scary, it is actually very easy. In this guide I will show you the simple, no-nonsense approach to installing a Gaslow filling point gas inlet in your campervan. By the end you're van will be ready for a stove, heater, and hot shower!
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
Now let's jump in and have a look at what to do!
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Supplies List 🛒
Gaslow filler kit
What is the Gaslow system?
For most vandwellers a campervan gas installation is going to be vital to a successful and comfortable build. The following are appliances that you can run via gas:
Yes, you could have an electric version of all of these... but I'm afraid unless you've got an onboard nuclear reactor, you won't be able to power them!
A campervan gas installation provides an efficient and cheap way to run many appliances that make a campervan feel like home!
The Gaslow system is particularly useful, it is a gas cylinder (plus appliances) that can be refilled over and over to fuel your LPG system!
How to use a hole saw
You will need to use a bi-metal (metal cutting) hole saw drill attachment to cut a circular hole for the gaslow filler kit.
There are a few things you should be aware of when using a bi-metal hole saw;
Oil: Use LOTS of tapping and cutting fluid on the metal you are cutting - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't.
RPM: Use the drill on a low RPM (rotations per minute) - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't. This means that you shouldn't press your finger all the way down on the trigger of the drill.
Pulsate: Pulsate the drill while you are cutting. Use a stop and start motion while drilling, this gives the holesaw a chance to cool down (it gets very hot).
Don’t cheap out: Real bi-metal hole saws cost a bit of cash - the cheap ones you find online may not work as well / at all.
Learn from my mistakes; the first time I used a hole saw, I destroyed it within 5 minutes because I didn't follow the advice above.
Careful of the swarf:
When using mechanical tools on metal, a lot of metal shavings are produced ( known as 'swarf'). It is vital that you remove all these shavings from the van when you are finished, if you don't they will very quickly rust and damage your vehicle. They are quite sharp, so be careful when handling them.
Always wear goggle while using mechanical tools on metal; if swarf gets into your eye, it could have very serious consequences. You should also wear earmuffs - these tools are VERY loud!
How to install a Gaslow filler kit in your van
A gas inlet would be needed if you're planning on using a refillable gas cylinder such as Gaslow. The reason you want gas in your van is so that you can power your stove, your heater and optionally your shower.
I personally have an 11kg Gaslow refillable cylinder with a gaslow refill point that goes into the side of the van. I love how easy refilling with LPG is with a refillable cylinder!
Step #1: Cut a hole in the side of your van
If you are using a Gaslow filler kit, cut a 70 mm circular hole in the side of the van using a bi-metal hole saw. Like the other inlets, you should first attach a piece of scrap wood to the inside of the van to prevent the hole saw from wandering.
Step #2: Cut a top and bottom lug
Using a metal file, cut a small lug in the top and bottom of the hole. This is to prevent the gas inlet from rotating when installed.
Step #3: Apply metal paint to the exposed metal to prevent rust
Ensure you clean all the metal shavings (swarf) before applying the metal paint.
Step #4: Install the brass filler head
Install the brass filler head into the plastic bracket using the 4 screws and bracket provided.
Tip: Before fixing the housing to your campervan, it is better to fit the connection hose onto the outlet of the brass filler using a spanner and a set of grips which avoids putting too much rotational pressure onto the housing when tightening up the connection.
Step #5: Insert the plastic bracket
Slot the plastic bracket into the hole you cut from the outside.
Step #6: Install the backing flange
Hop inside your van and screw the interior backing flange into the exterior plastic housing. Screw it down nice and tight.
Step #7: Apply sealant
Run a bead of sealant around the inlet to prevent any leaks! Sikaflex is most commonly used.
I hope you found this guide to installing a Gaslow filler kit useful! Gaslow also have a fantastic manual on the installation of their filling kit which you can find here. You are well on your way to a beautiful self-build campervan!
Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).
If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,