The Birth of Blue

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Yes, the time has come to lend my hand to the art of Caravan renovation and see what I can make out of my 1960's/70's (date unknown) 13ft Wayfarer Caravan. We welcomed Blue into Hearts Haven in March 2019 with the intention of doing her up so we can offer comfortable glamping style accommodation to our guests. The idea is that she is a small 'room on wheels' which will allow guests a private space to retreat to; to read a book, have a cuppa tea, write in a journal or to have a daytime nap or snuggle under the woollen blankets for a long awaited slumber.

I found her online via FB Marketplace. A guy does up and sells caravans but Blue wasn't done up at all, in fact she was sitting up on a hoist and was used as a storage caravan.

$2000 later and she arrived on my doorstep - yes she is blue, she is very blue, but I kind of like that, its full on in your face Blue. My first step was to sit inside and just dream...yep, what am I going to do with her?

I didn't really know what to do, I have never done a renovation on a caravan before, all I knew was I wanted to make her cute and cosy. I didn't want to put a kitchen and oven in her as that would just be asking for trouble, this was basically just going to be an outside room.

My budget was small, I didn't want to spend any more than $5000 on a van, which meant I had $3000 to spend, but my aim was to spend as little as possible and see what I can get done and do it all by myself.

So looking at her sky roof, I thought that was where I should start and make her water tight which was a simple step of screwing the tiny screws in on her outside and then removing the sky roof and repairing/replacing that. The sky roof had rotten edges and was a water damaged mess. A simple job of unscrewing the hinges and lifting it off and replacing the old rotten timber edges and folding the aluminium cover over it. I did bog up the holes with a metal bog product and repainted it.

The next step once the sky roof was done was to tackle to water damage walls and windows - I could write a book on this step - I tried everything but I didn't really want to replace the entire walls with ply it just needed patching but nothing stuck - bog peeled off, i tried waterproof membrane but that was too rough, plaster didn't stick, tape didn't stick - so I ended up doing some fibreglass repairs and some builders bog and bondcrete...and it worked...sort of. I did replace the large piece of ply behind the kitchen

Once I had it all bogged up, I waited for the rain and waited and watched for any leaks. There was something romantic about sitting in the caravan listening to the rain pounding on the aluminium roof and wind howling around outside and I was sitting like a squirrel with my torch watching for the leaks. I did find a few, but it was simply a few outside screws that I hadn't tightened and the useless windows that needed to be repaired, but that was going to be my next job.

The window latches needed replacing as they were broken in every which way and there were 3 different varieties, all of which were going to break again even if I could find replica latches. So I thought of an alternative way to open and close the windows, using a simple casement latch like you can find in older style windows. Initially i thought wind out ones but they proved too big and too expensive. 6 windows latches later and $110 spent, and the windows are fixed.

Now it was time to rip out the kitchen and drawers...I was hesitant to do it, because I thought the set up looked cute, but the length of the 2 single sofas was 1.78metres long and the dining booth fold down bed was just under 2 metres long but only 1.2 metres wide - so the choice of beds were either a squishy tiny double in the dining booth or a wide but not long enough 2 x single beds. The caravan is basically 13 foot long (4 metres x 2 metres wide) so not much room to swing around in. So, I decided to build a large bed across the 2 x single beds, which would mean removing the drawers and the kitchen to make the bed 2.05 metres long.

Making a bed was pretty easy, but it also meant removing the kitchen, and the opposite cupboard and the drawers. A little bit of mucking around, but it was done in no time. The bed head was made out of left over pine boards from my house renovation and I used structural timber for the frame. I decided to build over the existing single sofas as I wanted a permanent bed with a super comfortable mattress and not a makeshift bed with a crappy foam mattress. Getting a good night sleep is vital for your health!

Next to do was the painting - all white walls and ceiling (Cottonball) and the cupboards were painted Mocha which was used for the headboard and the foot bed end. Mocha is actually a floor stain which I used to stain my house ceiling boards with so I had some left over stain too. The cupboards were laminated and the stain did not go on very well, so I turned the doors around and stained the back of the doors and it worked perfectly - a deep dark chocolate brown, I simply had to reverse the handles, which I spray painted grey (they were gold). The mattress was a brand new Queen size pillow top which set me back $320. Linen and pillows $100.

I had to house a small retro fridge, and I am not very good at cabinet making so I found a set of drawers from the tip shop for $5, they were the perfect size and a pretty blue colour too. I simply removed the drawers and fitted the fridge inside it. The drawers were cut to size to frame up over the wheel hub and i covered over them with extra pine boards. As this is simply an outside room, storage is not such a big deal, so making extra cupboards and storage is not necessary.

The checker plate lino was covered over with some leftover vinyl I had from my house renovation which wasn't too hard to lay, although I think I need to add more glue next time.

The old laminated table I sanded back lightly, then painted and primed with White Knight Laminate paint, which worked pretty well, I then added a top coat of dark blue to the top. I sprayed the table leg and the trim, but the trim needs to be done again with a more heavy duty paint as it peeled off.

Making the curtains was easy. I had 2 leftover voile curtains left over from the house, so I simply cut these in 4 lengths and sewed a hem and a pocket at the top and the existing plastic coated wire slid through. The curtains may not keep you warm, but they look dreamy!

And its almost all done. I still need to get the electrician in to do the wires and I need to do a tidy up and clean. Add some plants and seating outside and also maybe some shades/canopy to the outside...but all in good time and all before Summer 2019 gets here.

Total cost of renovation was under $800.

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