DIY Mini camping caravan build





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  1. #1
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    Default DIY Mini camping caravan build

    So, as many of you know I'm going through a rather difficult time in my life at the moment, so I decided to do something to keep my hands busy with. I've wanted to build a camping trailer for a long time, almost a tear drop style, but more rectangular to make the build easier. I also feel that the tear drop style has a lot of waste space for it's footprint.

    I started asking a few questions on the forum a while ago regarding trailers, caravans, etc.

    SO! First things first! I got the trailer I'll be using as my base! At last!

    After searching and weighing up all of my options (P.S. thank you to all the offers with regards to building a registered frame trailer for me!!), I happened to find this trailer for sale in town. It's a fully galvanised tip trailer for a golf cart. 750 GVM, exactly what I needed. Got it for R9000, which I think is a really good price. I've seen what these go for new....

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    The loading section is about 1.4m wide and 2.6m long.

    I'm going to have to modify a few things, but nothing major. E.g. the rail on the sides will have to go. The "ramps" on the back will also go. The axle will have to be spaced down a bit (or replaced) to fit larger tyres underneath. I'm not going full off road (maybe later), but would like to fit a 14" rim and tyre combo underneath (I have 4 rims with the same PCD and basically new tyres, so would like to use them).

    This is a rough idea of what I'm looking at as a final product:

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    If I can get anywhere close to that look, I'll be happy.

    So here we go. Going to try and document my build as I go along. Will also be asking for a LOT of advice. I've never done something like this in my life, but I'm always willing to learn. Even if I make a bunch of mistakes along the way.
    Anton



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  3. #2
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Speak to UYS on this forum. Lots of know-how and experience in this department. Also owner of Stofpad products.
    Gd luck with your project. Will be following it...

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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Will be following with great interest.
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Looking forward to follow your build.

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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Laat waai!
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    There is a new spacer on the market that replaces the old one that was a bit crumbly. This one is made from PVC so the resin doesn't attack it either. So the days of wood rot is gone. You can dunk the damn thing and you will have wet linen. But nothing will rot. Once you laminate it, it is as strong as heck.

    I will changing the floor in my RTT with this stuff
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Good luck nice base to start from

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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Anton you are off to a wise start, plenty of questions to be asked and lots of lessons to be learned. It is good fun creating something from scratch so go for it.

    Build in lightness, probably the best advice I can give you

    Look at this for a floor, you would probably get away with a 10mm ply and this stuff not only comes in 2440 x 1220 but also 1500 x 3000. It is resin impregnated and will last longer than the base that it is going to be mounted on
    Henk
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Quote Originally Posted by hbannink View Post
    Anton you are off to a wise start, plenty of questions to be asked and lots of lessons to be learned. It is good fun creating something from scratch so go for it.

    Build in lightness, probably the best advice I can give you

    Look at this for a floor, you would probably get away with a 10mm ply and this stuff not only comes in 2440 x 1220 but also 1500 x 3000. It is resin impregnated and will last longer than the base that it is going to be mounted on
    Thx oom Henk. Think you forgot to add a link.

    Jip, I'm trying to keep weight to a minimum. Luckily starting with a relatively light, but solidly built frame, so I have quite a bit of leeway. But I also know that weight piles on fast when you're building something like this. My aim is to keep the dry weight of the finished trailer (excluding fridge, mattress, etc) to about 400-450kg. I've made a few calculations (adding 15% more than I think) and I should be able to get close to that.

    I have been investigating a few different construction methods. Still have to sort out the frame, so I have time to decide.

    At this moment, the front runner is doing the whole construction in 6mm marine ply (thicker for the floor), then skinning it on the outside. Apparently there is a company in Uitenhage that sells a fibreglass sheet which is relatively thin, light and easy to work with. It should give me a nice finish. I'll be checking this out sometime in the next 2 weeks when I get out there. Also perhaps considering ABS sheet like they use for signs...

    The marine ply is of course not the lightest material to build with, but it has a few advantages like being easy to work with (for me - as I have much more experience in woodwork than anything else ) and being designed for applications where moisture could be an issue.

    Unfortunately, a bit of a drawback from living in a small coastal town away from major centres, that getting some items is a bit of an issue. Even 6mm marine ply sheets I might have to go to PE to buy.
    Anton



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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Will follow your thread on the build with interest.

    Good fortune.
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Quote Originally Posted by avk View Post
    Thx oom Henk. Think you forgot to add a link.

    Jip, I'm trying to keep weight to a minimum. Luckily starting with a relatively light, but solidly built frame, so I have quite a bit of leeway. But I also know that weight piles on fast when you're building something like this. My aim is to keep the dry weight of the finished trailer (excluding fridge, mattress, etc) to about 400-450kg. I've made a few calculations (adding 15% more than I think) and I should be able to get close to that.

    I have been investigating a few different construction methods. Still have to sort out the frame, so I have time to decide.

    At this moment, the front runner is doing the whole construction in 6mm marine ply (thicker for the floor), then skinning it on the outside. Apparently there is a company in Uitenhage that sells a fibreglass sheet which is relatively thin, light and easy to work with. It should give me a nice finish. I'll be checking this out sometime in the next 2 weeks when I get out there. Also perhaps considering ABS sheet like they use for signs...

    The marine ply is of course not the lightest material to build with, but it has a few advantages like being easy to work with (for me - as I have much more experience in woodwork than anything else ) and being designed for applications where moisture could be an issue.

    Unfortunately, a bit of a drawback from living in a small coastal town away from major centres, that getting some items is a bit of an issue. Even 6mm marine ply sheets I might have to go to PE to buy.
    Eish old age https://www.universalply.com/product...rm-maxi-birch/

    Had a tester in a drum of water for more than a year and nothing happened
    Henk
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  22. #12
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Quote Originally Posted by hbannink View Post
    Eish old age https://www.universalply.com/product...rm-maxi-birch/

    Had a tester in a drum of water for more than a year and nothing happened


    Gaan verseker gaan loer.
    Anton



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    "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." - Ansel Adams

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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Go for it and good luck Anton, at least your spending your time wisely
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Quote Originally Posted by meh View Post
    Go for it and good luck Anton, at least your spending your time wisely
    Thx. I think so too.

    Huge challenge for me, but I need that right now.
    Anton



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    "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." - Ansel Adams

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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    OK. So this is my (VERY) rough drawing of what I am working towards with regards to the layout, dimensions of the camper. Still needs some fine tuning. Excuse the drawings, haven't done that in a long time. I've added some numbers to indicate what I'm talking about.

    The width of the loading area on the existing trailer is too narrow. I'll be widening the steel structure to match the edges of the mud guards. This means the floor area where the mattress will be, will be have to be above the mud guards, so I'm making a false floor. This should give me about 20-25cm for storage (1). I will section the floor (false floor) in 4 or 6 blocks, so they can easily be lifted to gain access to the full storage area. This space will also allow space for things like a battery system in the future.

    This also allows me to make the trailer's living area the full width including the wheel arches (like a normal caravan), this will allow for a full queen size bed and some narrow storage bins on both sides (2). All of the similar trailers I've looked at don't have these. I'm thinking that they could have tops that can open for storage, but also more importantly for me, allows you a place to put your phone, cup of coffee, etc. on top. No need for fold down tables, etc. like in other trailers. Also considering flaring out one of the sides at the foot end of the bed (3) (flared out both in my drawing for now) to place a computer screen if I wanted to (combined with an Android box which I already have for entertainment if needed), especially if the kids are along and the weather is bad.

    The kitchen area (4) (apparently the people who build these trailers call it a galley ) is about 500mm deep to allow space for the fridge, etc. Below that maybe a drawer on the one side? Other side with a working surface that could be lifted to access the storage beneath for pots, pans, etc. The front storage area (5) will have sliding cupboard doors to access from the inside for clothes, etc. The bottom storage area in the front (6), I am considering exterior access hatches on both sides for items such as chairs, gazebo, etc.

    The sleeping/living area has a length of 2m (7), as I am a tall bloke (1.86m). Most other small trailers are only 1.8m which means I can't fit.

    Last thing I'm planning is a bunk bed/hammock on the inside against the galley (. My little boy will be able to sleep there, and I can take full advantage of the full width of the trailer (about 1.75m) so he should be able to sleep there for a long time, until they are old enough to sleep in their own tent. This bunk bed will not be fixed but rest on the side bins, so it can be taken out if not needed.

    The axle on the current trailer is slightly further back than where I made the red mark (9), so weight distribution should be OK.

    I am still fine tuning this, but think this is the basic layout I'll be going for. It is larger than I originally planned, but the trailer allows me to do this. At this stage I think I'd rather have too much space, than not enough. I need to stop looking at pictures on the net, as there are SO many good ideas out there....

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    Anton



    "At the end of the game, the King and the pawn go back into the same box." - Italian Proverb
    "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." - Ansel Adams

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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Nice! Try sketchup free as drawing program... Easier to make adjustments.

    https://www.sketchup.com/plans-and-p.../sketchup-free

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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Quote Originally Posted by Subok View Post
    Nice! Try sketchup free as drawing program... Easier to make adjustments.

    https://www.sketchup.com/plans-and-p.../sketchup-free
    Thanks!

    I tried Sketchup, but I was in too much of a hurry to learn how to use it, so went the pen and paper route for now. But I think I need to go back to it and try it again.
    Anton



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    "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." - Ansel Adams

  31. #18
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    A little bit of advice with planning.
    Firstly make sure that the lay out of the existing trailer chassis (golden triangle) is 100% correct. If you get this wrong, you may as well chuck your caravan! Do the necessary mods to the chassis first, before you start.
    During the planning, keep in mind the size of the sheeting/ cladding that you will be using. Also the size of normal bed mattresses. Normal Cupboard sizes usual 500mm or 300mm deep, 900 high for working tops, have been tested by guys with white coats and thick glasses. Keep to it.
    The width of 1.850m will be the same as your vehicle. Making it easier in traffic.
    Keep the structure as light as possible. Alu frame, cladded with Alu, insulation and thin wood on the inside.
    Working with alu is as easy as working with wood, and you can use your woodworking tools for this. Do not skimp on the quality of materials and use the best adhesives you can find.
    Seriously look at a pop up roof.
    After you have done your first drawings sit back, relax and give them to Swambo with your idea and planning. Have them ripped to shreds and start all over again.
    The R&D on teardrops have been done. Look at the tiny trailer and teardrop plans on the web for more ideas.
    Completing and using such a project for its purpose is very satisfying.
    Enjoy!
    Last edited by Pieterk; 2019/06/16 at 11:54 AM.
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  33. #19
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Quote Originally Posted by avk View Post
    OK. So this is my (VERY) rough drawing of what I am working towards with regards to the layout, dimensions of the camper. Still needs some fine tuning. Excuse the drawings, haven't done that in a long time. I've added some numbers to indicate what I'm talking about.

    The width of the loading area on the existing trailer is too narrow. I'll be widening the steel structure to match the edges of the mud guards. This means the floor area where the mattress will be, will be have to be above the mud guards, so I'm making a false floor. This should give me about 20-25cm for storage (1). I will section the floor (false floor) in 4 or 6 blocks, so they can easily be lifted to gain access to the full storage area. This space will also allow space for things like a battery system in the future.

    This also allows me to make the trailer's living area the full width including the wheel arches (like a normal caravan), this will allow for a full queen size bed and some narrow storage bins on both sides (2). All of the similar trailers I've looked at don't have these. I'm thinking that they could have tops that can open for storage, but also more importantly for me, allows you a place to put your phone, cup of coffee, etc. on top. No need for fold down tables, etc. like in other trailers. Also considering flaring out one of the sides at the foot end of the bed (3) (flared out both in my drawing for now) to place a computer screen if I wanted to (combined with an Android box which I already have for entertainment if needed), especially if the kids are along and the weather is bad.

    The kitchen area (4) (apparently the people who build these trailers call it a galley ) is about 500mm deep to allow space for the fridge, etc. Below that maybe a drawer on the one side? Other side with a working surface that could be lifted to access the storage beneath for pots, pans, etc. The front storage area (5) will have sliding cupboard doors to access from the inside for clothes, etc. The bottom storage area in the front (6), I am considering exterior access hatches on both sides for items such as chairs, gazebo, etc.

    The sleeping/living area has a length of 2m (7), as I am a tall bloke (1.86m). Most other small trailers are only 1.8m which means I can't fit.

    Last thing I'm planning is a bunk bed/hammock on the inside against the galley (. My little boy will be able to sleep there, and I can take full advantage of the full width of the trailer (about 1.75m) so he should be able to sleep there for a long time, until they are old enough to sleep in their own tent. This bunk bed will not be fixed but rest on the side bins, so it can be taken out if not needed.

    The axle on the current trailer is slightly further back than where I made the red mark (9), so weight distribution should be OK.

    I am still fine tuning this, but think this is the basic layout I'll be going for. It is larger than I originally planned, but the trailer allows me to do this. At this stage I think I'd rather have too much space, than not enough. I need to stop looking at pictures on the net, as there are SO many good ideas out there....

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    With the added slanted piece off the chassis at the back, you will have to move the axle backward. This will cause sway. Removing the slanted area and making it square will give you more and easier access to the rear area
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  34. #20
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    Default Re: DIY Mini camping caravan build

    Thanks for the advice Pieter! I am a little stubborn when I get to doing something like this, so I am taking all of the advice I can get.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieterk View Post
    Do the necessary mods to the chassis first, before you start.
    For sure! This is where I am going to start. Nothing major, but needs to be done before I can do anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieterk View Post
    Also the size of normal bed mattresses. Normal Cupboard sizes usual 500mm or 300mm deep, have been tested by guys with white coats and thick glasses. Keep to it
    Cool. That is in the ballpark of what I am planning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieterk View Post
    Alu frame, cladded with Alu, insulation and thin wood on the inside.
    Working with alu is as easy as working with wood, and you can use your woodworking tools for this. Do not skimp on the quality of materials and use the best adhesives you can find.
    This is one of my options I am looking at, only problem is getting a steady supply. Quite expensive in town, and a limited selection from what I saw. But if I go this direction, and I have to plan and drive through to PE to get everything, I'll do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieterk View Post
    Seriously look at a pop up roof.
    This is something I have considered, but won't fit into the finance at the moment. I am looking at designing the roof in such a way that I can always modify and add the pop-up roof later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieterk View Post
    After you have done your first drawings sit back, relax and give them to Swambo with your idea and planning. Have them ripped to shreds and start all over again.
    This is luckily not a problem....just myself to worry about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieterk View Post
    The R&D on teardrops have been done. Look at the tiny trailer and teardrop plans on the web for more ideas.
    I have been spending SO much time doing this. Amazing ideas out there! I had to stop at one stage, as every design I see, I want to change my own design.

    But thanks a million for your input! Appreciate your time. When I finish it, I will definitaly be taking it to Dwarswegstrand, so I'll pop in and have a coffee.
    Anton



    "At the end of the game, the King and the pawn go back into the same box." - Italian Proverb
    "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." - Ansel Adams

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