New project

Jun 1, 2020
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Good evening.
me and my wife have just bought our first caravan and it’s a project. Structural it’s sound With no damp issues but is a total shell. Just looking for any advice and tips on where to start with and how to go about starting?
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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Hi Paul, welcome to the forum.
When you say that your project is a total shell, do you mean that the lockers and any interior walls between the washroom and the living area are missing?
Are any of the appliances such as cooker, fridge or heater present?
To offer advice about where to start, we need more information about what's present and what's missing.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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Sounds like you're on a hiding to nothing - you could make all the furniture but there's a high probability they would be much heavier than the originals, leaving you little or no payload - an alternative would be to buy an identical model with damp or serious issues and strip it.

In practice, you'd be better off selling it and then buying a caravan with all it's furniture and equipment and dealing with any issues.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Not sure how you can say it is structurally sound if all the fittings have been removed as it is the fittings that make it sound and fit for the road. As you are doing all the fittings yourself it no longer complies with the Certificate of Conformity that was originally issued with it. You may need to get a Certificate of Compliance for it to be used on any road as it is no longer standard.
Although no necessity to insure a caravan, in the event of a mishap while towing, the car insurance may claim off you any third party damages and may not cover insurance for your vehicle. If on a site and there is a mishap i.e. fire you could be saddled with a very big bill if there is third party damage.
If it is never going to be moved then good luck with your project otherwise better to buy a caravan with all the fittings as it is the fittings that make the caravan structurally sound.
 
May 7, 2012
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If you are towing the insurance covers you against third party claims involving any trailer. If the trailer was unroadworthy then there might be problems, but there is no problem with that at the moment. I assume that the caravan is at your home so the point of causing a fire is probably not yet relevant. Before spending more money on the project I would try and find out what you would need to do to make it acceptable to insurers.
The certificate of conformity point only refers to caravans manufactured from 2012, and I assume that this does not apply here.
Having said that there are problems not only with making sure that anything you fit is lightweight, but also that the furniture can be part of the structural integrity of the caravan, particularly, newer models. That would mean following the original plan in the main.
You will also need to be competent in handling the gas and electrics or have help from someone who is.
If you say what you have bought and what your plans are then there should be some help available. Good luck though.
 
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If you are towing the insurance covers you against third party claims involving any trailer. If the trailer was unroadworthy then there might be problems, but there is no problem with that at the moment. I assume that the caravan is at your home so the point of causing a fire is probably not yet relevant. Before spending more money on the project I would try and find out what you would need to do to make it acceptable to insurers.
The certificate of conformity point only refers to caravans manufactured from 2012, and I assume that this does not apply here.
Having said that there are problems not only with making sure that anything you fit is lightweight, but also that the furniture can be part of the structural integrity of the caravan, particularly, newer models. That would mean following the original plan in the main.
You will also need to be competent in handling the gas and electrics or have help from someone who is.
If you say what you have bought and what your plans are then there should be some help available. Good luck though.

Thanks a lot this helps. It is a 1960 caravan. My wife has sourced most of the furniture that was in the caravan, so we are going to fit most things back to original, with a few alternations that am comfortable to do.
Is there a reason that most caravans are fitted with gas cookers, can you use a low volt electric hob? And not have any gas hookup?[/QUOTE]
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Google caravan scrappers or similar. There are two or three real big one about and it's not imposssible that you may find the interior fittings you need. You will have to tell them all the details of your shell, make model, age etc and you will still have the problem of collecting quite bulky items .
Years ago i bought a 15ft caravan and fitted it out as a mobile calibration facility for a chemical factory I was associated with at the time. This didn't ever leave the factory site and so insurance and conformity issues didn't arise. So an alternative might be to find someone wanting a mobile food outlet, workshop, studio, exhibition unit.
As others have said, a DIY rebuild will run into all sorts of problems, not least that you may find the specific cravan units eg show cubical, loo, washbasin etc. cost far more than their domstic equivalents - (which will generally be bigger and heavier)
Bare shells were available in the 1960s - usually glassfiber mouldings and some quite attractive, but the degree of fittings in those days was pretty basic compared to today. 2 ring gas hob, no shower, bucket type toilet.
 
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Would a caravan shell manufactured in the sixties ( if that’s what it is) be subject to current legislation?

I'm afraid I don't know the answer particularly about legislation. I can imagine insurers not being too keen though. Another snag may be that the running gear will be of the same vintage as the shell and it may well be very difficult to find replacement wheels, shock absorbers ( if fitted) and hitch components. Other posters have had problems finding such items when restoring main brand caravans of this period.
My first caravan in 1967 had Ford car wheels, leaf springs and a simple tube axle and was without the braking system we have now in that you had to drop a spacer over the extended tow hitch to prevent the over run brakes operating when reversing.
I'm sorry to be negative but having to give up in mid project is far worse than walking away from it at the beginning.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I've now back-rad some of your previous replies.

I am not aware of any low voltage cooking applances as they would require a very good 12v. supply meaning a big battery and the means to recharge it. Possible with solar panels but slow and not reliable in our climate. e.g a 600watt device would in theory require 50 amps at 12 volts. even if you ould find such a 12v appliance. A microwave fed from an inverter fed from the battery would be a better bet but only if you can recharge the battery efficiently. Be aware too that few caravans of this vintage had mains connections, battery and charger and all of these are heavy.
Look at the tyres and see the maximum load if marked. Multiply by two, then take about 85% of the answer and that will give you some idea of the maximum all up weight for the vehicle, fittings and contents.
If you know the make then google it. look for a small plate on the outside which should show the MGW Maximum Gross Weight figure for the original. Without this the onlyreal way is to take it to a weighbridge but as others have implied there may be doubt about the legality of doing this given the present ondition of the van.
 
May 7, 2012
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If you have most of the furniture than hopefully their will be no problem with the structural rigidity. You might want to contact the Retro Caravan Club who almost certainly will help you if you give them details of what you have.
I think any insurer looking at the caravan may want a qualified engineer to check it over and confirm it meets safety requirements. In a way this could be helpful as it will give you confidence in your work. Basically a caravan that old will not have any legal standard to adhere to but must be roadworthy if used on the road.
Electric cookers are not suitable for use in caravans as the site will normally not supply a sufficient current to run one, although a single hot plate should work in most cases. Most sites will supply 16 amps, but at least one site we use has only 10 and we have been as low as 6 amps in France. You may also want to go off grid, when only gas will work.
Before you start on replacing the furniture, do check for damp with a good damp meter. If there is any this will need tackling first.
The caravan will almost certainly have a B&B hitch, which has long since been replaced with ALKO ones in normal use. The point here is that the B&B unit used a slightly bigger tow ball and needs the correct one. If you use the ALKO ball on the car then there is a remote possibility of the caravan coming adrift. You could probably update to an ALKO coupling but on a caravan that old I am not sure.
 
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