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(Re)building a dream

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  • Profile Photo
    Malita Du Plessis
    Participant

    diy1.jpg
    I grew up caravanning, and have always loved it. But my husband, Paul, and I could not afford a new caravan, so we decided to buy one “voetstoots”. We drove all the way from Johannesburg to Springs to pick up an old Ci Sprite.

    Once home, we realised that the tires were in a terrible state and the caravan was rotten to the core. What had been going to be a quick fix, turned out to be a nightmare. Two parts of the floor had to be replaced, as well as all the supporting beams – all the wood was rotten. The caravan sagged on one side, but Paul managed to hoist and lift it while we put in a new structure. All the panels were replaced.

    We are both really handy, but we are by no means experts. We learnt as we went along. I cut and sawed and nailed and hammered and used the angle-grinder …

    diy2.jpg

    We replaced the ugly tiled floor with beautiful panels. I painted the cupboards white, wall-papered the panels, put acrylic sealant everywhere, and built new cupboards to suit our needs.

    For our sleeping quarters, we put in a proper doublebed; and, in our “living room”, re-covered the seats, and wallpapered the roof on the inside. We ripped out the old kitchen lights and put in downlights. I made all of the curtains by hand.

    The seats can transform into a bed, and there is storage underneath. For the extra bed, we just made 2 metal rods to slide over the seats for support; we then slide a piece of wood onto it and use the back-rest cushions to make a bed.

    The door was also badly swollen, so I took it off the hinges and re-cut one the same size so that I could rebuild it. Every cupboard, except for one that was in good condition, was taken out and rebuilt.

    The wheels were replaced and the bearings checked. Every screw in the wooden panels was replaced, as all were rusty. The new wood in our caravan will now be perfect for another 30 years.

    I’m a hairdresser and work from home, and many of my clients didn’t think that we would be able to finish the project when they saw the state the caravan was in. They often popped in for a progress report, and were always surprised at our determination… but it paid off!

    We decided to leave the outside of the caravan as it was; there was no real need to re-paint.

    I did take off the canvas along the lifting roof, to patch it with new canvas. No one can tell that it was as bad as it was.

    We also discarded the tent, as we pitch a gazebo in two minutes flat. I keep all the tents and the gazebo under the double-bed.

    We took the caravan out this July, for the first time. We were in the Waterberg area at a place called Matamba Bush Campsite – a place built by campers, for campers − lovely and quiet. We packed two electric blankets, for which we were very grateful. It was freezing!

    The caravan towed like a dream and we had no issues. However, we did realise that we hadn’t secured the cupboard doors, as they all opened while we were driving. Nice lesson to learn.

    I wouldn’t change a thing, although I would put a reading light by my bed so that I can switch off the main lights.

    Before we left, we made a connection for a spotlight on the outside, in case we needed it − and we did, as it was incredibly dark in the bush.

    We are going out again soon; can’t wait!

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  • Profile Photo
    Clarence
    Clarence on

    Fantastic job!
    Just wish the pics were a little bigger and more…well done.

    Profile Photo
    Kristi Williams
    Kristi Williams on

    Beautiful work. How long did it take U?

     

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