Almost every caravan will benefit from small modifications – projects that will improve the lifestyle of its owner. For most caravan owners, this means focusing on modifications that don’t require major construction skills and that won’t affect the payload, stability or centre of gravity of the caravan.
Here are five caravan modifications that won’t break the bank or attract the ire of road transport authorities.
1. SATELLITE DISH HOLDER
For those who love watching their satellite TV service, keeping the portable satellite dish in good condition is important. Storage, therefore, is a major consideration.
Barry Matson, a member of Queensland’s Combined Caravan Club, says the answer is to build a metal frame for your satellite dish that you can attach to your caravan’s drawbar.
A metal plate, box section steel and a threaded rod make up the clamp. This is the only element of the design that stays permanently on the drawbar. The remainder of the holder is made from box section steel that forms a horizontal ‘T’ shape, the dish’s support arm, and curved plates that form brackets against which the satellite dish base holds firm. The whole arrangement can be raised up and down on a bolt that acts as a pivot.
This project does require some metalwork skills but it provides an elegant solution to a common problem. On the downside, you need to find storage space for the holder when you’re on the road as it’s not practical to leave it attached to the drawbar permanently.
2. POP-TOP SHOWER
If your pop-top has a bathroom, it’s likely to be a very small combined shower/toilet. Caravanner Tom Mitchell has addressed the issue of bathroom space and privacy in his pop-top by adding a new curtain track that was the same as the original and fixing it into the ceiling with self-taping screws.
He then bought a new rubber-backed curtain, which was provided by his caravan manufacturer. Tom says this whole modification gave him the room he wanted and took only about 90 minutes. Perhaps the hardest part for Tom was being patient enough to bend the curtain track slowly and steadily over a rounded surface to get the desired shape.
To put it all together, all he needed was a handy cordless drill and a Phillips head screwdriver.
3. OPENING DOORS
James Edge-Williams is a dedicated caravan modifier from way back. A few years ago, he made numerous modifications to an old pop-top – among them, a new door that he built to better suits his needs. Although it was some years ago, it’s still a project worthy of consideration for anyone set to renovate and perhaps personalise an old caravan.
“The top half of the original door was made up of sliding, sash-type windows with the lower part of the door being a fixed panel. That didn’t allow enough air flow,” James said.
So, he converted the fixed panel into an opening lockable section with security grill and added a security grill to the top section. Life became so much cooler.
4. DRAWERS AND CURTAINS
Roy Watling, a long-term member of Coolum Caravan Club, Qld, found that, after running up many long miles with his caravan, his kitchen drawers were a little rickety and were coming loose at the corners. Roy solved the problem with some inexpensive metal angles that screwed neatly to the inside of his drawers. He could then be sure that his drawers wouldn’t rattle apart on an outback road somewhere.
Then Roy focussed his attention on the pesky metal latches on his concertina ensuite doors. They kept scratching his skin as he entered his ensuite. Roy removed the magnetic latches and replaced them with velcro strips on the door and the wall. He reckons the new strips work a treat.
5. DIY BIN
You’re relaxing under your awning, a steak sandwich in one hand and you’ve just finished your first cold beer for the afternoon. It’d be perfect if you just had somewhere convenient to pop your rubbish. Here’s one answer.
Combined Caravan Club member Bob Rutherford took a strip of L-shaped metal and bent it into a box large enough to accommodate his garbage bin. He used pop-rivets to hold it together and braced it with a flat metal piece across the base. Bob then made a triangular support for the holder from off-cuts and hinged it to the box.
He made the bottom of the support from left over U-section aluminium large enough to fit snugly over an awning arm and secured it to the hinged holder upright. Build this clever holder and you’ll never trip over the bin again.