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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Caravette 4 Refurbishment

    Hi all,

    I thought I'll take some time and document my refurbishment on my Caravette 4. Before I started the whole process I did not find much information on the web that could provide my with more information on the specific things I wanted done to my caravan. The info that was available was more geared to the UK style caravans and not really the old Gypsey type caravans we are used to in SA.

    I know there will be a lot some naysayers that will not agree with what and how I have done. In this case, use this as a guide on what not to do . For the rest that is looking at doing something similar, hope you can take something away from my experience.

    Let's start at the beginning, I was specifically looking at a Caravette 4 as I wanted a small, and old caravan I could refurbish. I actually wanted a camping trailer but the costs are just ridiculous, and the wife rather wanted a caravan. So I went for the cheaper option (that turned out to be not so cheap).

    I stumbled across a 1986ish Caravette 4 for R22,000. At the time I did not know much about caravans but after looking where I thought to be all the right places, I bought it. The structure looked solid, no dampness or obvious water damage inside so all was good. However, the outside was in a very poor condition and full of dents. It looked like it was vandalised. Being only cosmetics, I thought I will do the repairs over time and it will not be expensive to repair. It is only sheet metal and some paint that needs to be replaced... That was mistake number 1.

    Here is what it looked like originally:

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    We then used the caravan as-is once or twice and it was great! I the eventually send it to a caravan specialist for some "minor" repairs and a quote to do all the cosmetic stuff. The costs for all the repairs that was quoted came to R50,000 (50% labour, 50% parts). Needless to say, I did not go ahead with this. I ended up with spending about R30,000 on repairing woodrot on the top, a new roof, some woodrot where the handles are fixed, new wheels and tires, checker plate on the side to hide some dents, and a service. Some spray painting was also done but this was a complete waste of money as this did not improve the look much.

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    I was now in for much much more than what I anticipated because of the woodrot that I could not repair myself, but I could not turn around at this point. I had so soldier through with this project. The cosmetics side of this however was still a big bother. I then decided to tackle the interior and replace all wood that was either damaged or that got swollen from previous dampness. I took a risk here as my woodworking skills are very limited with no proper wood working tools. I removed all the cupboard doors, stripped the veneer/thin ply-wood where needed. I then ended up replaced all the structural wood with pine, much more then I originally intended to. This made a big difference and everything was much more solid.

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    I used meranti quarter rounds and painters mate to tidy up some of the gaps and to round off some of the corners. I then started with the painting process which was an absolute pain to do. Space is tight, and a lot of coats was required. I started off by wiping everything down to get rid of the dust and grime. Inside there is then two types of "veneer". The one has a plastic type/melamine sort of feel to it, this one was applied with a special melamine under coat that is used on tiles and melamine. The other is a 3mm wood veneer that I prepared with a coat of wood primer. This a maybe a bit of an overkill but I had a used can in the garage. This was then topped up with 4 coats of white paint with a low sheen finish. I was very happy with the result.

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    The floor was finished off with artificial lawn as I wanted something di(the vinyl tiles was just too expensive), and some block out blinds was fitted. These blinds are a must for any caravan, it makes it much cooler, and the early morning sun is not so intrusive. I fitted them with velcro strips so that could easily be removed when towing. Visibility was much improved.

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    New interior lights and switches was fitted to round it off. The interior revamp was a big task, but definitely worth the effort as it made a very big difference. The cost was also very low as the material is cheap.

    I was still not happy as the exterior was a big eye sore. I then did some research on how to repair dents on the aluminum textured sheeting. There is little info on this, as I have not seen any example which was dented as bad as mine. The only proper way was to replace the sheeting. According to the repair shop, these sheets are only available in long lengths and they need to be bought in bulk, hence the cost to replace these sheets are extremely expensive. So what other options did I have... I thought I will take a chance and try automotive body filler. This is where things get risky as I have have no experience with this. I spoke to some panel beaters and they said I should try this. I bought the filler, a wire brush attachment for the drill, and started the prep work.

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    It was then thoroughly cleaned and body filler was applied. Once it was dry, I block sanded the areas to a flat finish.


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    The decals was very brittle and difficult to remove. I used a heat gun a scraper to remove all of this. Note that the aluminum warps VERY easily when heated, great care needs to be taken when doing this. Also note that the caravans walls are fitted with polystyrene sheets that can melt when too much heat is applied. Be very careful and do small spots at a time.

    Once this was done, I removed the windows (very easy) and taped up the strips and areas that I did not want and overspray on. I applied automotive primer to the area where a repaired the dents. I used about two cans on the whole caravan. Then the fun part started.

    I did some research and really wanted to apply U-pol raptor to the caravan. This seems to be a great product, and it would have been perfect for the caravan. I needed something that is textured to hide all the flat spots that was left by the repaired dents. However, the U-pol Raptor did not fit into my budget. Well there was no budgeted anymore because all the cash went into the woodrot repair!

    I eventually settled on Duram stone chip. I rented a compressor, bought a stone ship spray gun and started spraying. I applied one thick coat that was applied using two cans of the Duram product for the side panels of the caravan. I was extremely happy with the result and it exceeded my expectations. It was by no means perfect but the risk paid off.

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    The weekend after this, I applied the top coats.

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    The final coat was a bit too gloss for my liking. It looked neat but a prefer a more matt finish. The only other thing a would have done differently is to apply a thinker coat of stone chip. The top coat highlighted some of the imperfections that could have been hidden by another coat of stone chip. However, all in all, I was happy.

    I resealed some of the areas to round it off nicely. If you tape off the areas you want to reseal, it is easy and looks very neat.

    Decals then had to be done which I was not going to attempt. For this, I had to shop around a bit because the pricing differed quite a bit between the various places. I then rewiring of the lights that completed the refurbishment.

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    Will I do it again? YES, but only if I can by a really solid old caravan with no woodrot!

    Was it worth it? No, all-in without including my labour (read beer money), I ended at about R63k which included the purchase price. I eventually sold it for R42k and still searching for my trailer

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Jacques668866; 2021/03/01 at 11:44 PM.
    Pajero DID GLS LWB - 2004 Gen3
    Audi A4 1.8T - B8

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Pretoria
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    50
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    Default Re: Caravette 4 Refurbishment

    Great work!
    Mitsubishi Pajero 3.2 D-ID GLX LWB

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Kempton Park
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    Default Re: Caravette 4 Refurbishment

    Well done
    Fortuner D4D
    Hilux 2.7 4x4 Raider.
    Sp Tourer

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