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Aussies Living Simply

Carvan Reno – Project for 2010

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 71 total)
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    Tassie TigerTassie Tiger

    I know, I know this is the Building and Construction thread but I figure that as my project is about renovation of my future home, albeit one on wheels, I sorta figured this was the best spot.

    I am seriously thinking about renovating a carvan during the coming year and then early next year, after I qualify for my super, loading my tools in my hiace van, hitching up the caravan and heading off on a working holiday around various places.

    The sort of caravan I am after is one that is no more than 14ft long, a pop top, preferably no leaks, solid rust free chassis. Interior is not all that important because if it’s scrapy or doesn’ suit my needs then thats where the renovation bit comes in. So if you hear of one for sale up to say $2000 let me know(in Tassie would be preferable).

    So that’s my new years project and goal. I would also be interested to hear from anyone who has or is doing this sort of thing:tup:


    hrm we bought a 14 footer from a friend a few years back – cost us $4K (yes I know, we were kinda ripped off but you win some you lose some!)

    It’s a 1971 model franklin, not a pop top. Then we spent $2K on it at the caravan shop, fixing the drawbar, putting those wind-out doover legs things on it and getting the water tank and the top skylight thingy replaced and the gas line sorted.

    It leaks, has loads of interior water damage, and the price of fixing said leaks via a professional was going to be another $3K. Hence – we didn’t get it done. And we haven’t done it either.

    WE’ve taken it camping twice now. DH doesn’t like it. so at the moment it’s a spare room and used when master 15 has sleep overs so he doesn’t wake up the young ones with his insane giggling.

    I actually don’t think there is a point to this story – other than be careful. If you don’t know anything about caravans (like we didn’t) it’s very easy to get one that isn’t going to cut it.


    When we got a campervan, we didn’t really consider renovating it until we realised we couldn’t sleep on the foam bed long term. 🙂 We pulled out the table and replaced it with a double bed and it really worked well for us. Of course, you’ll have more room than we did!

    We got lucky with no leaks, but it’d be of major importance. The canvas pop-top was in great condition, so that was a good sign. We spent lots of time at a campervan/caravan store, and it’d be so easy to spend up big – there’s so much nice stuff to get! 😆 There were times that we wished we got a van and just started from scratch so you get everything you really want. The old gas lines needed repair as well as the sink, and the 3 way fridge may as well been just another cupboard. 😛 After spending heaps to get everything “ok”.. it would have made more sense to start again!

    In the end, we just changed the bed. Otherwise we fixed the leaking gas line, replaced the gas bottle, added extra vents behind the fridge (didn’t help much), replaced the roof vent and did lots and lots of work to the engine. We bought it for $10k and sold it less than a year later for $7,500.. and I don’t know how much we spent on it – TOO MUCH..

    Given our time again, we’d buy an empty van (with a good engine), and design the interior ourselves with new (or good quality) appliances / sink / etc.

    Good luck with the caravan. They have lots more room and it’d be much more comfortable for longer-term travelling!!


    Hey there TT

    No advice for you re the caravan, but, if you find yourself in the Clunes vicinity around late 2011, I might utilise your skills with my house .. though at this stage, I have no idea what level of building I’ll be up to.. :metal:

    (we need a Bob the Builder type icon!)


    TT, it sounds like a fun project. i am considering a similar thing but I thought I would buy an old 2 ton truck with an enclosed section at the back. I dislike towing things so I thought this was a good alternative. A bus was another option. Anyway I hope you find what you are looking for and best of luck with the project. Cheers porgey. PS happy NY to all.


    TT, we have done what you are talking about, so a couple of pictures are included. Ours is a 15 foot by 7 feet 1968 Viscount full van, originally a 4 berth, slept 2 on the table area and 2 singles down the back.

    It now has a queen mattress at the rear with storage under using gas struts to assist with the lifting and holding up and the front is now an island table as there are only 2 of us it is plenty big enough. I made a bigger area for the food preparation sink/stove area, slightly wider and longer with a slightly bigger fridge.

    Ours was an onsite van and was in fairly good condition, but we found that condensation was a big problem along with some water leaks so we removed the front and rear windows and rolled the roof back and insulated it with sisalation and bit of bats that were left over from building our house that overcame the condensation and made the van a lot more comfortable. The walls have also been done with the bats as the windows needed to be taken out for waterproofing.

    The chassis was just cleaned and painted along with the drawbar, a new stronger axle and springs and electric brakes have been fitted. The weight came in at 830 kgs which was not a great deal different to when it was first registered.

    We preferred a full size van as it is easier to stop for a cuppa or meal, We have done many trips to the southern state over the past few years.

    The cost was kept down as we were able to access offcuts of maple from a local window manufacturer, we purchased a couple of sheets of Tassie Oak ply, had some laminex left over also from the house, so basically it was mostly the cost of the new items that were fitted. Hope that this may be of some help to you and if I can be of assistance with information just ask.:tup:

    DH for Sue


    Photo of the front.

    DH for Sue


    One of the outside.

    DH for Sue


    One of the kitchen area.

    DH for Sue

    Tassie TigerTassie Tiger

    Hey guys thanks for all the advice and input. I am really surprised at the level of interest:o

    I am at the research stage at the moment and while I am 85% sure I will get it going this year I need to seriously consider my finances(self funded semi retiree whose health can sometimes restrict my earning capacity) but hey bluwiz aka DH for Sue you have inspired me:metal:

    I am really interested in what you have done. Did you make the cupboards yourself? What did you start with ie. did you gut the van? How did you get on with electrical, plumbing etc so many questions so be prepared to be inundated over the next few months.

    Being a self taught wood butcher(carpenter) I have access to excess materials etc from various jobs so I am looking to do the vast majority of the work myself with the help of some mechanically minded and metal bashing friends. So thanks DH for Sue for the inspiration:clap:

    Andre, it will probably be toward the first quarter of 2011 before I up the anchor and head for the lessland but I can certainly put you on the top of the list:tup:

    Good LiferGood Lifer

    Sounds liker a great project! Small spaces are so much more interesting to design for, don’t you think? Can be tricky, but you are rather forced to be more creative to make the most out of a limited area. I hope we get lots of pictures as the project unfolds. 😀


    The price of caravans is unbelievable!! Especially when they haven’t been maintained properly- people think you will pay top dollar without batting an eyelid…

    I want a 12ft poptop with 2 single beds and a little kitchenette, easy to pop and depop… Brand new (with aircon, new electrics, matresses, good tyres and water tanks ect) is about $27 000 ( :jawdrop: I know!!!! )

    But I have looked at a few oldies and when you think about replacing and repairing it doesn’t take much to start racking up the $$…

    I can dream…. :tup:

    Hope you find what you’re looking for TT… :tup: Great idea…

    Tassie TigerTassie Tiger

    Thanks GL :tup: You are right about small spaces. I currently live in 54 sqm and that certainly makes you look at what you really need so moving to something even smaller will be challenging but exciting.

    Woops, I just realised that I missed an “a” out of the title of this thread:shy: It should be caravan not carvan but it could be a freudian slip as I will need to renovate the hiace as well if I am to fit all my tools of trade in:D

    As to pics of the “project” I am hoping there will be lots too:shrug:


    We lived in the back of a Toyota Landcruiser for a year while we travelled, my husband built a queensize bed in the back and we have plenty of storage under the bed too. We towed an off road trailer, which had all our kitchen goodies – we took way too much in the trailer, we could have fitted plenty of tools in there too.

    Lots of planning for efficiencies and make it so you don’t have to pull everything out to get things. We also had a map of what was where so we could find things easily.

    Good luck with it, we’ve just bought a Kombi so we can do some holidays.




    We have been looking for a cheapie for a while as well. Maybe this year.

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