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  1. #1
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    Default I purchased an old caravan

    After about 40 years of camping with a tent or a swag, the bag of bones I inhabit has told me it wants more comfort - and the Lady in my life has back issues. I also realized that for the last couple of years I've tended to travel to wherever I want to, set up camp - and then then start exploring/dirt roading/off roading.

    So I've just gone and bought an old caravan - sight unseen! I'm fetching it this weekend.

    It is a '85 Wilk Topaz. What the (elderly) owner told me was:
    1. For the last 18 years it has been standing in a shed.
    2. Each December he had it towed to a camping spot and back - total distance of about 70kms.
    3. Within the last 3 years the canvas and "shocks" for the pop-up roof section was replaced.
    4. Most of the tent and add-a-room's zips have been replaced.


    From the numerous pics he sent me it seems to be in very good condition. I made an offer with some caveats and had it towed to a local caravan dealer. They found one spot of rot on a cupboard, removed the cupboards and interior cladding, found the frame undamaged, fixed the leak and replaced the rotten section of cupboard. Chassis was found to be in good nick and so were the brakes. Wheel bearings were good, so I had them cleaned and re-packed with grease. Replaced the tires as they were 21 years old.

    That's the background. I haven't really towed a caravan in yonks - although I've been towing a trailer with a mini-digger on it for years. That's been over short distances and (because of the weight) at never more than 80km/h and in 4th gear.

    • I'll be towing with a Disco 300Tdi, so it will probably be between 80-100kmh. And I'm not mentioning inclines.
    • Those in the know - how do these Wilks behave behind a car?
    • Do I need to get hold of mirror extensions or something?
    • Has any own/previously owned one of these and can give some general impressions/pointers?
    • Any general tips/advise will be appreciated.
    Ettienne de Kock

    "ASK YOURSELF HOW OLD YOU'D BE IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE DATE YOU WERE BORN" - Toby Keith


    1998 Disco Tdi
    1959 SII 88"
    1975 Land Rover Air-Portable Lightweight
    197? RRC
    AND SWAMBO's Unmentionable Abomination

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Some pics
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    Ettienne de Kock

    "ASK YOURSELF HOW OLD YOU'D BE IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE DATE YOU WERE BORN" - Toby Keith


    1998 Disco Tdi
    1959 SII 88"
    1975 Land Rover Air-Portable Lightweight
    197? RRC
    AND SWAMBO's Unmentionable Abomination

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Official Toppie status now Ettienne

    I hope you and the Lady have many awesome and comfortable miles and experiences.

    Cheers
    Estee = S T = Sean Towlson

    Total 4x4 Novice with no experience whats-so-ever

    ''Nothing makes the Earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes''. H.D. Thoreau.

    Hummer H3 V8

    W.A.P Objectivist

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  7. #4
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, Sean...
    Ettienne de Kock

    "ASK YOURSELF HOW OLD YOU'D BE IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE DATE YOU WERE BORN" - Toby Keith


    1998 Disco Tdi
    1959 SII 88"
    1975 Land Rover Air-Portable Lightweight
    197? RRC
    AND SWAMBO's Unmentionable Abomination

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  9. #5
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by EttiennedK View Post
    After about 40 years of camping with a tent or a swag, the bag of bones I inhabit has told me it wants more comfort - and the Lady in my life has back issues. I also realized that for the last couple of years I've tended to travel to wherever I want to, set up camp - and then then start exploring/dirt roading/off roading.

    So I've just gone and bought an old caravan - sight unseen! I'm fetching it this weekend.

    It is a '85 Wilk Topaz. What the (elderly) owner told me was:
    1. For the last 18 years it has been standing in a shed.
    2. Each December he had it towed to a camping spot and back - total distance of about 70kms.
    3. Within the last 3 years the canvas and "shocks" for the pop-up roof section was replaced.
    4. Most of the tent and add-a-room's zips have been replaced.


    From the numerous pics he sent me it seems to be in very good condition. I made an offer with some caveats and had it towed to a local caravan dealer. They found one spot of rot on a cupboard, removed the cupboards and interior cladding, found the frame undamaged, fixed the leak and replaced the rotten section of cupboard. Chassis was found to be in good nick and so were the brakes. Wheel bearings were good, so I had them cleaned and re-packed with grease. Replaced the tires as they were 21 years old.

    That's the background. I haven't really towed a caravan in yonks - although I've been towing a trailer with a mini-digger on it for years. That's been over short distances and (because of the weight) at never more than 80km/h and in 4th gear.

    • I'll be towing with a Disco 300Tdi, so it will probably be between 80-100kmh. And I'm not mentioning inclines.
    • Those in the know - how do these Wilks behave behind a car?
    • Do I need to get hold of mirror extensions or something?
    • Has any own/previously owned one of these and can give some general impressions/pointers?
    • Any general tips/advise will be appreciated.

    Congrats, (oom) Ettienne. I hope you will have many happy holidays in it

    I have never owned a Wilk but has caravanned quite a lot. Some contributions from my side, based on my experience:
    * Wilk was in the day the Rolls Royce of caravans. The fact that it is such good condition after all these years speaks of their quality.
    * At the towing speeds you mentioned, stability should not be an issue.
    * For peace of mind you can get a stabiliser, but more importantly is to ensure that you have sufficient weight on your towbar (ball park figure is 80Kg). If the caravan is tail heavy it becomes much more unstable.
    * Golden rule is to pack the heavy stuff on the axle and then use small things to work out the weight distribution.
    * If your current mirrors give you clear line of sight, you don't need extensions. You can also consider a reverse cam behind the caravan - just permanently activated.
    * Lastly: it is quite a big and heavy caravan to move around by hand. You will do yourself a favour if you install EWIKS movers on the wheels.

    Lekker sleep!
    Johan Swanepoel

    "Nkabe ke ngwana wa morago"

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  11. #6
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Looks like a top notch van !
    Check towball weight to 75 to 85.
    Tyres never less than 3.0
    Will tow like an arrow.
    Enjoy
    There is no task too simple for some people to complicate !



    Ford Figo 2016

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  13. #7
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Take the wheels off and inspect the tyre on the inside as well, I found bulges on tyres of a caravan much newer than yours. Consider replacing the tyres if they are older than 10 years from manufacture. A tyre blowout is a real possibility if the tyres are old.

    I'm sure you, the missus and the Wilk will enjoy each others company on many a pleasant trip!!

  14. #8
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Oom Ettienne,

    Doen my 'n ###### guns en noem die karavaan "VoŽlvry"
    Cheers
    Willem Greyling

    "When the wise man points at the moon, the imbecile examines the finger" - Confucius

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  16. #9
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Wilk was a very good product, you have bought well.

    Make sure your vehicle tires are 3bar rear and 2.5bar front. Van tires anywhere between 2.7 and 3.0bar depending on how heavily you are packed.

    Towing is part of the journey 100km/h is good and more fuel efficient, if you want you can tow slower but you do not want to become a mobile chicane for other road users.

    That will probably a 3 way fridge so plumbing 12V to your tow bar and towing with the fridge on will be a major plus. If you already have a dual battery then you are waxed. Those fridges tend to get rapidly warm inside in summer, a 6/7 hour trip in summer and stuff will be warm when you arrive. Three way fridges are notorious for a wide hysteresis in their temperature control when on electrical power, which is not good. You may want to upgrade your thermostat on the 220V supply to an electronic one, you will not be sorry.

    If a three way fridge they also require to be properly level in order to function optimally, get a spirit level and learn to level the van, it is important.

    Research packing the van correctly for stability. Heavy stuff as close to the axle as possible, avoid packing far forward and far back.

    When your van is hitched to the car and on a flat surface you want to make sure that you have a very slight nose down attitude on the caravan, up to 5 degrees would be good. You may have to invest in a drop plate to achieve this nose down attitude.

    Now that you have the space, SWAMBO will want to pack stuff you do not need and or that is superfluous to requirements. It is unnecessary, adds to fuel consumption and you WILL bring half of it back. My wife pack 2 months groceries for three week vacations and we bring back a month a half groceries.

    You may want to have all the roof seams resealed, the sealant tends to get dry and cracks when old and leaks start and rot sets in. The owner would not have noticed this as the van is under cover.

    Enjoy the comfort of camping in a van. When it rains you will be very happy to be 500mm off the ground.
    Last edited by Andrew Leigh; 2021/06/02 at 12:00 PM.

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  18. #10
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Firstly, congratulations on a fine choice in vintage. You could not have chosen better than a Wilk!

    Without repeating all of the sound advice above, enjoy the caravan and it would be cool if you continue updating and sharing your your experience.

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  20. #11
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Nice looking van.

    All has been said already. I've been caravanning since I was 31.

    Reverse camera works nice. My dad and father in law both fitted one for themselves. They both have travel blankets, so looking through the van is not an option for them. The camera stays fixed on the back of the caravan, but the display (clips over your existing rear view mirror) you can pack away.

    Father in law fitted EWIKS movers. Best decision according to him. He is 65 and they can't move their caravan into tight spots themselves anymore. Worthwhile upgrade.

    Always have a couple of extra poles and fittings on hand. You never know when you will need an adjustable pole and a clip on fitting when the wind and rain comes to get extra support for the rally or full tent.

    I initially towed with a gooseneck towbar. No option to fit a trapezium or any sort of stabilizer. Everyone told me the caravan is going to sway and get me into trouble. Well, I have never had an issue with sway (always packed on my axle and tried to stuff as much as I can into the car and not into the caravan) and I tow at 110km/h.

    One of my best pastimes when sitting at camp is I think of everything that could be improved. So when I get home, things get changed. Camp and repeat.
    My ryding: 'n Ding met 4 rubber sirkels en n enjin wat nou en dan aangedryf word met al 4 sirkels

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  22. #12
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    "Father in law fitted EWIKS movers. Best decision according to him. He is 65 and they can't move their caravan into tight spots themselves anymore. Worthwhile upgrade."

    Hi! Roughly how much is one of these 'movers'? We are approaching 60 and it sound like an interesting thing to invest in. Thanks!

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  24. #13
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    I bought a kit for my Xplorer August last year R12 100.00 delivered. We did the installation on our own. Installers ask few grand to do the job. If the van is double axle it will cost more. Jockey wheel might have to be replaced in some cases if it is weak or only single wheel. Those motors have power and sunken jockey may suffer.

    www.ewiks.co.za

    SWAMBO asked movers. Xplorer is heavy, we have a bit of an uphill on our yard and where the van is today reversing it using car was a real mission. Today we sold the road van and Xplorer will go where the road van was. Reversing uphill is a bit heavy on auto boxes. Using mover no issue what so ever. On camp sites easy. Stop the car and move the van using movers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hobie View Post
    "Father in law fitted EWIKS movers. Best decision according to him. He is 65 and they can't move their caravan into tight spots themselves anymore. Worthwhile upgrade."

    Hi! Roughly how much is one of these 'movers'? We are approaching 60 and it sound like an interesting thing to invest in. Thanks!
    Jouko
    ----------
    2003 Grand Cherokee 4.7l
    2012 Smart
    Never drive a normal car 8)

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  26. #14
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Looks good. Those vans had a good name. Full tent and add a room. We had both. When only us travelling we never had them with us. Only ralley.

    There is one thing that kills these older vans. Dew/condensate night after night. If you do not have roof over the van you will run into trouble without doing couple things. Where the roof slopes down there is that strip of aluminum (?) seal the top using Sikaflex. On the roof if there are pop rivets seal them including the holes in the middle. We run into trouble on both counts. Look also that the longitudinal strips are sealed.

    Learn to use that fridge. We froze veggies many times. Ammonia fridges do need service from time to time. Not many places servicing them. Seems to be the same make as we had.

    Service brakes and open bearings and as a minimum repack them. In the front look under the fancy cover. If you see grease nipples pump some grease. Learn to lower the pop up without pinching the canvas.

    Not for a sand road.

    I keep telling people to buy these older vans. Relatively small investment compared to new and they work.

    Quote Originally Posted by EttiennedK View Post
    Some pics
    Jouko
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    2012 Smart
    Never drive a normal car 8)

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  28. #15
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Nice caravan!
    If it were me I wouldn't bother with the whole tent thing, maybe just an awning so you can sit and relax, but otherwise just pull up, drop the supports, plug in the electricity and pour a glass of wine..

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  30. #16
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by MANDREAS View Post
    Oom Ettienne,

    Doen my 'n ###### guns en noem die karavaan "VoŽlvry"
    ###### goeie idee!
    Ettienne de Kock

    "ASK YOURSELF HOW OLD YOU'D BE IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE DATE YOU WERE BORN" - Toby Keith


    1998 Disco Tdi
    1959 SII 88"
    1975 Land Rover Air-Portable Lightweight
    197? RRC
    AND SWAMBO's Unmentionable Abomination

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  32. #17
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Baie Baie nice....

    Ek hou van die ou karavane

    Ek het onlangs my 1979 Gypsey 2B vir my ouers gegee en 'n 1x Eienaar 1979 Jurgens Kampioen "A" gekoop wat ook sy hele lewe in n stoor gestaan het ...
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Hou op om almal altyd gelukkig te probeer hou, Jy is nie n braaibroodjie nie

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  34. #18
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Geniet die wa dalk wheel bearings inspekteer en kyk na band se ouderdom geniet en kamp n hond uit n bos

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  36. #19
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Ettienne you have bought one of the best caravans out. Those wilks were built with quality and luxury in mind. From the photos yours look as if it is in a great condition.

    These babies tow like a dream ...... provided you load them right if not they become a fox terrier brakkie by the way they wag their tails. I always erred on the side of 100kg + ball weight to tame the nasties.
    Do you need a stabiliser? it is like a safety net, if you don't fall it is a waste of money but use it once and it is worth every penny. I have experience with Trapezium and Tando. Both work very well with the Trapezium being my first choice.

    I think it is law to have mirror extensions as your towed vehicle is wider than your towing vehicle but regardless of that a set of towing mirrors make life so much easier.

    Andrew is correct with his assumption that it is a 3 way fridge 12/220V and gas, it needs to be fairly level to work optimum but I do not agree with the claim of a 12v line working when on the road. These absorption fridges work on separating hydrogen peroxide and ammonia and recombining them again. When traveling the "coolant" is shaken up and efficiency is greatly reduced. The other side of the coin is that you need a huge cable to feed the heating element as voltage drop is a big factor and if you should stop for a bite to eat you would need a relay to isolate the battery otherwise you could push like by brother found out the hard way. If you want to know how it works without any moving parts ......Google is your friend.

    Pitching the tent is not a quick pitch and help is recommended, you are on holiday take your time and enjoy just keep in mind that all the warnings about canvas tents apply to this one. No harsh solvents or scrubbing to remove marks, if it does nor come off by dry brushing or a damp cloth gently rubbing.....it is a battle scar leave well enough alone. Never fold or pack damp tent for longer than the trip home and do that in a hurry, mold will start attacking it as soon as you fold it so get to a place you can open it to dry asap.

    Movers? I never had them on any of my caravans but had the privilege to use them on a few caravans that I worked on, Best accessory ever invented. I can see that saving many travel weary fights when coming home or setting up camp and if only for the ease of moving the van it is well worth the cost.

    Your electrical panel is probably the CI Charge master, looks impressive being a split unit with the breakers and fuses being up high and the heavy transformer and control gear hidden somewhere in the front of the caravan low down. This system was adequate 40 years ago now they are battery killers. It is not an intelligent system and probably the one upgrade I would seriously consider besides the movers even if only replacing the charging circuit with a modern charger like a ctek or similar.

    Hope you have many wonderful camps and km with this beauty. Shout if I can help advice can travel long distance
    Henk
    Adventure is out there go find it

    Fitment and trailer service. Agent for SnoMaster & Tentco
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  38. #20
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    Default Re: I purchased an old caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by hbannink View Post
    Andrew is correct with his assumption that it is a 3 way fridge 12/220V and gas, it needs to be fairly level to work optimum but I do not agree with the claim of a 12v line working when on the road. These absorption fridges work on separating hydrogen peroxide and ammonia and recombining them again. When traveling the "coolant" is shaken up and efficiency is greatly reduced. The other side of the coin is that you need a huge cable to feed the heating element as voltage drop is a big factor and if you should stop for a bite to eat you would need a relay to isolate the battery otherwise you could push like by brother found out the hard way. If you want to know how it works without any moving parts ......Google is your friend.
    So we can respectfully agree to disagree on this matter. The sloshing actually does not affect the performance, there were millions of RV's travelling the States with absorption fridges all with cold contents. My experience was no drop off in efficiency, cold contents after a 8 hour journey.

    So yes, I did have a dual battery fitted to the tow vehicle with the appropriate cutoff and charging mechanisms. I have towed on 12V using 16mm2 cables to the tow hitch and then 16mm2 cables from the tow hitch to the van using a purpose built thermostat to control the 12V element.

    When the new van came with a 220V fridge I towed with the same setup but driving a 12V to 220V invertor in the caravan. This ran the caravan fridge as well as the 72l Snomaster in the van.

    One of the best things I have ever done is to tow with power to the fridge.

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