1) Let us put the story:
That’s it! After more than 30 years of camping, it’s decided, my wife and I want to try caravanning. For lots of reason: A little more comfort especially for the latest 6 months, the ability to quickly bivouac at night without a 2:00 pitch the tent, and then just for a change.
We are looking through all the usual channels: ads, acquaintances, both internet. We wanted to have a child’s room to sleep and small to continue the quiet evening. This therefore excluded caravans side dinette because it transforms itself into too small a space for two adults.
We end up finding on the Bordeaux region a caravan that suits us at a price that suits us well. Money is always the name of the game!
This is probably our first mistake: Having bought away from home. Especially for a first trailer. I had traveled the forums, looked for information to try to avoid a bad purchase. But nothing beats experience and habit.
So we‘re off to Bordeaux, with the idea of buying the trailer and go directly on holiday with. Second mistake: always take the time to test that surprises appear.
The meeting with the seller happens could not be better. The caravan is in good condition outside, inside the frame is healthy, no corrosion. I was shown a few flaws: a closet door was repaired, a small track up the lining, tinkering what. The walls ring mat, seals were redone with putty. Everything looks in order.
The sale is concluded. I splint, system stabilizers, and it’s off to the Massif Central, supposed place of our holiday. Children await us at the grandparents, we will take them along the way.
After 100 km of highway, the night comes and I stop. A little more tension on the blade stabs further facilitate driving. These stabilizers are a sacred invention! Well aimed, they almost make you forget the caravan behind the car. All is well. Not for long!
To me for a few hours I lay on the lower bunk room, and … I found myself on the ground. This is the beginning of a nightmare! fixing the sleeper is detached from the wall. I try to reattach course, but the screws rotate in a vacuum. Probing beneath the siding, I makes me the obvious: the wood inside the walls turned into tow! and it is the same on both sides! On the surface, nothing is visible, but the walls do not have any strength. Later, after démotnage, the damage will appear in all their magnitude:
Frantic, I called the seller, ready to bring back his trailer. Surprised, he asked me details about what happened. I have no reason to suspect his sincerity, because I myself inspected the caravan without noticing anything suspicious. He finally offered me a deal on the price, as it has of course not want to take a caravan that will dare to sell what I taught him. I do not really have any other choice but to accept.
We leave the next morning while driving cautiously, not knowing what has attended us. The trip to the Massif Central passes uneventfully until we reach the mountain roads.
A few tens of kilometers of our interim destination, we just hear a donkey after a big “Craaaaaacccccc” … a look in the mirror gives me on the scale of the disaster: The front of the box was torn off the frame, the front trunk is broken in two, and the caravan swings like the mouth of a crocodile, letting us see the bunks collapsed intermittently.
This can happen in the head of the unfortunate holidaymaker at that time? Well … NOTHING! Not even the urge to set fire to this disastrous purchase. Too bad surprises in no time, fatigue 400Km driving the eye in the mirrors … the mind does not respond, emotional either.
I pick up the pieces, I attach what I can with bungee cords so as not to play more Tom Thumb, and we leave at 10 - 15 km. / Hr The last 40km are a nightmare, the caravan seems to disintegrate each turn. Finally, I arrive at my parents. I must leave the caravan on the edge of the road, because the pathname is steep, and I fear that my car can not slow down or maneuver sufficiently to place the remains of the caravan in the correct position.
What we learned today: The holidays are damned!
I pass over the disappointment of children, the head of my parents, the wife who does not know where to turn, and I refuse to consider anything before a good night’s sleep.
It must be said that until the I have not really thought about taking pictures of our troubles, hence the lengthy explanation.
The next morning rested but still desperate, we must manage priorities. A neighboring farmer down the caravan up with my parents, and maneuver for the best position. He was impressed by the state of the caravan. He never saw that. Me neither, and for good reason.
2) How far does gangrene go?
We ended up taking the absolutely unreasonable to try to save the patient decision, even though the case seems a little desperate.
The caravan in place, it must stall for working below. The work area is rather “rustic”. The songs in the front box was stored away in the barn. As seen below, the front was torn off the sides.
You always end up arriving on the healthy parts, even if the bindings gave out. Needless to say, we could recover it. The floor of a caravan, like the walls, is a “laminate” the bottom is in hardboard “rot” (my eye!), The top against plated, and in between a wooden frame (here fir ) maintains the expanded polystyrene panels for insulating. In short, this is a very fragile construction.
For strength, it is best to stagger the joints between new and old materials. The top plywood is cut beyond the frames fir.
You can see the black marks that the caravan has been for many years (in my opinion since it was built almost …) water leaks that have gradually rots the wooden structure of the sides and floor . The lining was made of a plastic material. This explains why the damage did not appear visible. Another drawback: waterproof listed on both sides absolutely drying out inside the walls. I also found plenty of waterlogged wood.
All cleats on the front panel are unrecoverable because rotted on the sides. Initially the timber are joined together by metal staples which eventually cause electrolysis of aluminum outside, creating holes. We must therefore find another method of assembly.
In examining the totality of the caravan, I discovered that the back also had leaks. Some woods are changing, but not out of proportion to the damage to the front.
It starts well on a raid at suppliers of building materials in the area. Less common supplies such as coatings and sealants will be found on Rodez. And here we go!
For the floor, it takes quite thin panels and supporting good overhang. the choice is glued panels tabs (OSB 3 +). This material is not afraid of moisture. Fasteners chassis and jacks are reinforced by poplar. This lightweight, fibrous wood used for roofing slate has several advantages: it hardly kept dry, and does not rust nails or screws.
The insulation will be redone expanded polystyrene and the gaps filled with polyurethane foam.
The panels will be outside surface of 5 mm plywood.
Original small cleats are replaced by cleats double section, and the sleepers are poplar 25mm.
The two pieces curved down the front are also poplar and shaped to fit at best the sheet aluminum. It took a lot of hours just to re-shape at the front, twisted during removal.
All woods are assembled by cadmium plated screws down on edge, so no contact with the sheet, and glued. A general strengthening was obtained by replacing assemblies of small pieces by larger areas of solid wood.
The old lady is getting a makeover by changing the original décor to a trivial (but pretty) wallpaper. That may be a mistake against a more resistant coating, the future will tell. It will have no influence on the strength anyway.
Meanwhile, the rain started to fall continuously. Fortunately, I made sure to completely RE-SEAL caravan with polyurethane sealant. It’s much more effective than silicone sealant assemblies sheet. Indeed, most no drop goes through the roof. By cons, my canvas is pierced, and the water comes in through the gaping hole in the front trunk. Grrrr ….! I have to stop work on the front of the caravan.
So I focus on the back, and am very proud to present the new look of our Sterckeman, a little site I grant you, but younger than the previous chicken foot.
However, a month and a half has passed, and the new school year is fast approaching. So we have to pack up and return to Nice. I return danq few days to finish up the work dried out and show you the beast in a state “like new” almost.
4) The caravan II: The Return …
In early September, I let the wife and kids in Nice and I take the path of the Massif Central. The car is filled with materials that will certainly be useful to me, and tools “that can still be used.” It was on that I need that I did not take, Murphy’s Law requires …
When I get there, the weather is looking good for several days and the site is dry. Good, the mud has never been practical for work. I remove the tarp protection, and … I found the wallpaper off the 2/3. Diagnosis: it dries completely, glue a wallpaper does not adhere at all to the old laminated covering. To solve the problem, a local shop advised me glue flooring. And not very expensive and more. € 20 3 Kg Doubtful, I try. It works, in fact, the paper fits securely. Almost too. To change it, it’ll be a different story, but we is not there yet.
Once the wallpaper is complete, you have to attack the floor. By first removing all remnants of the old. I try to take off one piece for me to use as a template. Of course, purists will say “Oh, it has not removed the furniture, he cut around.” And it’s partly true. I left on the kitchen, the dining room and the block boxes under rear bench block. Ares had to smooth the cons below plated with polyester putty.
As side front bathroom were announcing themselves rather complicated I looked for a solution to limit the work, especially the risk of error: Once cut, what is lacking can not be returned! So what?
This allows cutting close to the shower tray, without the need for precision, since the door and bulkhead will cover everything.
I came to realize how much an hour to disassemble a piece of furniture is a time saver in the end, because the cutouts around the frames are really tedious, and require extensive testing before the result is clean and clear. After careful sizing with the same glue for paper, the ground has taken a look presentable, more “human”.
The drawer holding about his runners against plated, I brought Nice metal ball bearing slides. After planing, last dimension, and careful adjustment, the spool working again. It now opens completely, which is convenient for cleaning.
Reassembling the bathroom requires a little more work. Indeed, for no apparent reason it lacks 1.5 cm to the wall supporting the mirror so the door can close. And it’s obviously not new. I decided to make a small change:
It has “enough” to switch a half turn the door and the wall … Well, AC made me mess up a strip of wallpaper, but that’s okay. The amount which supports the hinges of the door is again wider (and in the woods, please!) To fill the space, and the door locks flawlessly. Incidentally, Mrs. appreciate not out of the bathroom directly opposite the front door, opened frequently. A third reason for this change is that I plan to install the Rolls Royce of comfort for the caravan: the cassette toilet (It will be for next year can be, but it is better to plan now) Now original available prevented because of the assembly wheel. The new location of the door frees up space that runs the full width of the bathroom and allows the installation of the door. Smart, right?
Meanwhile I dove into the polyester resin to collect the pieces of the front trunk, reverently picked up on the road by our little mom and Audrie. He has already undergone repairs at its bottom, following shock I guess. But here, it’s the top that was torn off. The pieces are stuck back together, and the whole is lined with glass cloth impregnated with resin: There’s no more classic.
By the way, I wanted to change the colors of the caravan, because the brown and red 80s did not really liked it. The choice fell on a blue lagoon and a yellow gold that are more current and won unanimously in the family. 4 rolls, 200 m paper caulking are needed to define all the features of the caravan!
I do not have much time to admire the end result because I have half an hour to clean everything before a neighbor to come with his tractor up the caravan on the road. So I took my courage in both hands, a mop and the camera, just to have some memories anyway. This is the most frustrating ca in history when at last the galley ends is to abandon the object of so much attention in a hiverneur until next year. Snifff …
5) Review of the operation:
Purchase Price: 750 € (After arrangement with the seller)
Materials: 600 €
Spent time: 2 ½ months, 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. I dare not make the total.
It is clear that it is not profitable, I knew that before I started. But that’s not why I started this reconstruction. Who wants to scrap what he has just bought ?? No one, of course. So the only solution was to flatten el problem and change everything we needed.
I console myself by thinking that next year I can take this caravan, and that tinkering is limited to maintenance details or improvement. Finally, this is what we all hope!
6) Two years later:
It has been two years since we use this caravan restored and we can appreciate its interior intelligently laid out.
Work in 2007 included good time. The joints were more reopened, and the caravan is still tight. The structure does not move, either. The only thing I would do differently is that I no longer would put decoratively painted paper. Indeed, variations in temperature experienced by the caravan between summer and winter have shrunk the wallpaper, and it does not very pretty. Paint would have been more appropriate. But there have been sticking to glass cloth on the walls in order to paint them.
We bought a large canopy depth that allows you to use the caravan as room only. A basic chemical toilet (Not a Thetford cassette, unfortunately) found at a garage sale took place in the bathroom.
A microwave grill throne above the gas burners that we do not use because nosu have installed a stove under the awning.
This caravan will not be eternal, but the work provided for the rehabilitation allows us to enjoy a vacation that we would not have if we had decided to scrap it, as common sense suggested to do so.
Like what, this is not always the most cost-effective solutions that pay off over time. A thought …
7) Five years later …
Already in 2012! Our sixth was in the trailer ended with one notable incident, the refrigerator broke down. I’ll have to find something else. I took a vacation to clean the brake pads, which were not even worn, just ice. The shock shaft is dead too, and when we drive, the caravan balance. It’s not pleasant for the occupants of the car. A change so …
If I look at the work done in 2007, they did not move. The intakes were not reopened, the caravan is dry. She now spends 11 months of the year covered shed, which also explains the good condition of the renovated shell. Painted paper in a caravan is definitely banned. With two devils 10 and 6 years coming and going, it is impossible to keep clean. Now that the kids are grown, the trailer seems to have shrunk. I think the time is coming and it will change it to a larger model … when finances permit. One thing is for sure: I will never buy a caravan that sleeps outdoors!