Tips for those who own or who are looking to own an old caravan.
We specialise in restorations and new-builds of timber framed, aluminium-panelled caravans. Most caravans of the 60's and 70's were built this way. It's a great way to build as they can be built light and strong.
Original caravans from this era usually have the same issues:
Water gets in from around the windows and panel joints and rots the frames.
Almost invariably the corners will have gone leaving nothing to hold the caravan together. The telltale signs are that they smell damp inside and panels aren't secure on the edges.
- To fix them we have to pull the panels off and replace the framing - we often add extra strengthening in the form of plywood stress panels.
- Caravans weren't often originally insulated so we add insulation when the frames are apart. We also check and replace worn/old wiring and fittings.
- We repair the old panels where possible then refit them - this helps maintain the character.
- We use modern glues and sealers so they will invariably be stronger and last longer then when they were originally built.
- We replace window rubbers where necessary to prevent leaks.
- We repair and reuse lights, window frames, door handles... where ever possible to recycle them and keep the caravans authentic.
These always rust to a certain extent. It's very rare that a chasis from the 60's or 70's will not need significant work.
- Often they are cobbled together with different metals of all shapes and sizes - so we often end up building complete new chassis from box section steel tube.
- The small caravans were designed to be parked in an ordinary car garage so have very short drawbars. A good modification we often do is to put a longer drawbar on them. It makes them easier to tow (particularly backing) and also gives space for things like bike racks and spare tyres.
These were often not built to last so it's quite common to have to rip them out and start again. We can do them to any design and can fit modern fridges, water heaters, cookers etc, very easily while maintaining a traditional/retro style.
It is important to note that much of the interior is critical to the structure of the caravan i.e cupboards etc provide bracing for the flimsy frames, so you will need built in cupboards and bed frames of some sort.
Yes you can buy many old caravans for between $1500 and $3000. We would suggest that these all need work to make them watertight and safe. Budget around $5000 to make the body and chassis sound (this is just a guideline it could be more or less depending on the original condition); and extra for paint, interiors etc. All caravans are different so it's best to come and see us or email us with some images for a rough quote.