Only on our first trip after buying our new Sprite Tourer SW in April last year did my wife point out that the design of the outside Kitchen Drawer was impractical. It fitted better on the smaller Tourer SP Caravan for which it had been developed. As my wife is not the most enthusiastic camper, I had to do something about it quickly. Or else.
Cooking over the washbasin is certainly not ideal; and standing on the left, next to the side wall, is impractical. Also, no space is provided for any hot pot that has to come off the gas cooker.
So, to keep the peace, I went to the drawing board and worked on several versions, keeping in mind that the existing space was set in stone and could not be altered, although a slightly longer box was possible. Also, the original sliders were very flimsy and needed to be replaced with heavy-duty, longer sliders. The kitchen drawer also had to incorporate the gas cooker unit.
The final design was a box 100mm longer that fitted the gas-cooker housing on sliders within the box; the water spout needed to be incorporated in the new design, as well.
Once I was satisfied with the design, the drawings were made and taken along for the material to be cut, assembled and, finally, powder-coated. The hinged top melamine board was cut and the edge beaded.
To fit the new box, the old sliding rails needed to be replaced; to do this, the mounting brackets were removed from the caravan, the pop rivets drilled out and the new rails fitted to the brackets and replaced in the caravan.
After some trial and error, the main drawer finally fitted and the drawer box moved freely and easily. After that came the fitment of the sliding stainless-steel gas cooker box, again using 400 mm ball sliders.
The original gas cooker was fitted to this moving box. A new, longer, gas pipe was attached to the cooker and fed through a hole between the inside of the seating area and the nose compartment, which allowed the main drawer, together with the cooker, to move freely in and out from its base. I did not like the idea of removing the gas bottle from the nose compartment and replacing it every night for fear of theft; it would also have been inconvenient. Now I can stop anywhere, pull out the drawer, and have a quick cup of coffee or tea.
In addition, a 220V outlet was fitted to the front of the drawer to provide power for the Induction cooking plate. The cable for this supply ran together with the new gas pipe and plugged into a spare connection on the distribution box of the Caravan.
The next step was to keep the main drawer box in a closed or open position. I did not like the doorstopper that performed that service in the original drawer, as it was very difficult to operate. A few sleepless nights later, the idea came to me while I was opening the tailgate of my car. Use an extension strut! This strut was fitted in such a way that the box would stay firmly open or closed.
The final touch was to fit the hinged melamine work top (with a cut-out for the water tap) to the drawer. Now, my wife has space for the kettle, the pots and pans, and the induction cooker inside the box. The Induction cooker also finds a work space next to the gas cooker.
The water tap used the original water supply connection, but we later found that the plastic pipes gave the water a very unpleasant taste. This made it necessary for a new approach to supplying clean drinking and cooking water.
The problem was solved by fitting a 20L stainless steel tank into the opening next to the new drawer box and the fire extinguisher, under the door-side seat.
The water is pumped to the tap by using an inline electric pump via a carbon filter element to the upper, fold-out, water tap. For the flexible water line, I used standard braided flexible water pipe, which removed the foul taste from the water. I also provided an external outlet from the tank to drain any remaining water that could become stagnant when the caravan was not in use.
The next item to be tackled was the crockery cupboard. Here, I used selfadhesive carpet tiles and Velcro tape to generate various shelves and divisions. Now, many more plates, cups and saucers and other various items can be fitted without worries about spillage and breakages, and they are also within easy reach.
The modified Kitchen Drawer was so successful that when we were camping in the Addo Elephant Park, a fellow camper (also with a Sprite Tourer SW) saw the modification and asked if I could make him a set of drawers as well. We will be fitting his new set of drawers soon.