When we purchased The Outpost, it came with a caravan. A 16″ (5m) 1965 “Classic” caravan made in Levin by Hurst Brothers.
We frequently use it as a place to host guests, a quiet spot for some privacy, storage, a spare room, a study, and a greenhouse. It’s fully kitted out with cooking, cooling, heating, eating, and reading facilities right there.
There are 4 “berths” (beds) – two singles and a small double futon. Though with a bit of work I could turn that into two doubles.
We usually keep all the seating set up, but it’s pretty quick to turn it all into beds.
There’s a set of drawers, a wardrobe, lots of storage, a bench complete with tap and sink, electricity, and the original gas-powered fridge and cooker.
She has two doors and two axles – something I haven’t seen a lot of as I’ve been looking at caravans online.
She’s not perfect – the electric is perhaps a bit dodgy in places, and there’s a leak that took on a lot of water in the huge rains we got in October. But I do like my caravan, a lot.
One of my favourite things about it is the old WOF stickers. She doesn’t have a current WOF (though she is registered), but I love that these old stickers are still there. I’ll never scrape them off.
There’s also a painting I inherited from my mum, by a lady named Jypsy Jude. If you’re at a ‘Gypsy Fair’ over summer, look closely at the busses. If they’re painted, they may have been painted by Jypsy. The only place it felt right to hang this painting was in my caravan.
The carpet is pretty epic too.
As it turns out, a classic Kiwi caravan is worth a fair bit of money these days. Especially if they’re in good nick. This one isn’t in perfect condition, but it’s pretty good. I figure a few small improvements, upgrades, and a bit of elbow grease, and she’d probably become an appreciating asset.
So I’ve decided to make restoring the caravan my ‘hobby’. Gardening used to be my hobby, but now it’s kind of my entire life. I need something a bit different to think about and figure out. Something that adds a bit of balance to my life.
The caravan fits that goal without entirely being just a money pit. It’s worth a bit of investment to maintain her and allow maximum use of our very limited space.
While there are a few jobs I want to hit on the inside, there’s not a huge amount to do – certainly no decorating. She’s pretty mint from that perspective. Most of the work is on the outside.
The fix-up list
I’ve actually started a Google Doc to track this project more in depth. It includes every task I can think of, as well as more detailed photos and my plans.
Aside from the window leak, there’s also door hinges and window seals to be replaced. The towing frame will need treating for rust. And much like everything else around here – it just needs a good wash. Eventually, I’ll make a decision about painting it, and depending on how I’m feeling, I might try to add a solar power system.
Inside, there’s the original 1960’s gas fridge and cooker that are unused and taking up floor space. The wood under the seats needs replacing with some sturdier ply to make sleeping more comfortable. And there’s probably some electrical, gas, and plumbing work as well (which might require actual experts).
The long view
While I’m hoping to knock a couple of tasks off quickly, this is a project that will last a while. I’m going to be learning a lot of stuff as I go. I’ll probably make mistakes.
This is my version of a classic car restoration. It’s a classic caravan restoration. I’m starting from a pretty easy place, really – it can be much worse than this. But slowly I’ll figure it out, and hopefully it will be accommodating guests in greater comfort soon.
If you’re interested in watching the progress, go take a look at that Google Doc. Feel free to leave a comment on it if you know something I don’t.