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Project Rhocaravan


richyb66
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Next job was to put the inside lighting in. We're using led lighting throughout to minimise the load on the battery. We've only got around 25mm of wall or ceiling depth to play with so we bought these small lights which mount in a 10mm hole. The threaded portion was actually too long but as it's turned aluminium, we just cut around it with a hacksaw taking care not to damage the wiring.

 

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For the light switches we used small rocker switches that mount in to a 20mm round hole. The positions for the leds were marked out on the ceiling panels, holes drilled and the leds were mounted to the ceiling. They were connected using some small 2 pin connectors so if we ever need to remove a ceiling panel, we can disconnect the leds and leave the wiring in place.

 

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The bundle of wire on the bottom left will be used to add a pair of lights over the kitchen area.

 

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Inside the door on the right there's 3 switches, outside light, a group of 4 ceiling lights and a single light over the left hand side of the bed (head end).

 

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The wiring was routed through the sideframe using grommets where required. The dangling wire is the outside light, this isn't the light we'll be using, just one to test the wiring.

 

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Inside on the ceiling panels you can see the group of 4 lights and a large led dome light. The dome light has it's diffuser removed and has a built in touch sensitive switch with 3 lighting levels.

 

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Edited by richyb66
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Next up was the 240V hook-up. Along with the trailer tent, we got a 30m hook-up cable and a board with circuit breakers on it so we were able to reuse some of these items. We wanted to have the hook-up point under the floor to save having to put an access door on the side panel which means it would be in a wet area, so we bought a new socket with a spring loaded cover which was mounted under the rear floor next to the spare wheel.

 

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The circuit breaker was mounted on a new plywood board under the rear bench and we also mounted a 3 way fusebox for the 12V electrics.

 

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The mains wiring was fed up from the external socket, through the floor into the breakers and then back down through the floor in to 20mm plastic conduit. The conduit runs the length of the caravan with flexible sections at either end where it passes up through the floor.

 

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We've got a 3 way camping fridge but it's going to be too big to fit inside so eventually it can live inside the awning (when we get round to making that. We've already added added a gas point outside to connect the fridge to but we also want a mains point so we fitted a waterproof socket on the side of the A frame underneath.

 

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The socket was connected to the main conduit run using an inspection Tee and a short length of flexible conduit.

 

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The main run only needed to pass through the chassis in on place and so we drilled a 22mm diameter hole to pass it through.The mains feed at the front will only be powering a single socket, which is not yet fitted so for the time being, the cable was just bundled up. We also need some 12v power at the front for the small coolbox that will go in the kitchen area and to power the water pump so 2 additional wires were also pulled through the conduit ready to be used later.

 

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Things have been progressing well this week. We carried on with the wiring, connecting up the 240V stuff to the breakers and wiring up the 12v stuff to the fusebox. We've use 2 of the 3 available fuses, one for the lighting and one the fridge / water pump. The leisure battery was mounted in the corner of the bench area and clamped in position to make sure it can't move. We've added a 25 amp toggle switch in the feed from the battery to the fusebox so we can isolate the electrics and this was mounted to the plywood fuse panel as well.

 

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The last couple of jobs we need to do in this area will be to add a mains charger for the leisure battery and wire in the solar panel. We don't have either of these items yet so they can be jobs for later.

 

The space between the inner and outer panels will be insulated as much as we can and in the vertical areas we're using 26mm Kingspan which was cut with a bread knife then trimmed out around any wiring. Once the panels fitted, we sealed all the cut edges with reflective foil tape.

 

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With the Bank Holiday Weekend looming we wanted to make sure we had plenty of jobs to go at so we placed and order for the aluminium sheets for the outer panels together with some lengths of aluminium that we needed for the windows and some decorative finishers.

 

On Wednesday night we were looking at the door that we;d previously made from a shortened caravan door and eyed it up against the hole we have in the side frame. When we made the door, the plan was that the caravan sides would be no higher than 1200mm (size of a sheet of plywood). However, in order to get the necessary headroom, we made the sides bigger (1350mm) and so the door was about 100mm smaller that the hole in the side frame meaning we had 100mm less head space for getting in and out.

 

It's a bit of a set back but we really need the additional height and so the only option is to make another door. We spotted a caravan door quite local on Ebay for £20 on with 4 days left but we wanted to get something as soon as possible. A quick check on Gumtree threw up the same door for £15 so we rang the seller and collected it on Thursday evening.

 

Here's the door we previous made compared to the Gumtree special. The new one still needs 435mm removing from the height which is slightly more difficult than before due to it having 4 rounded corners. It's also anodised bronze colour - not our first choice but we can paint it if necessary.

 

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First job was to unscrew the doors and separate the frame from the edge extrusions which was just a case of removing 4 screws and a bit of brute force to overcome the sealer around the edges. The main panel on the lower door was marked out to remove 230mm and then cut with a hacksaw blade. The outer skin is 1mm aluminium, then a foam core and a 1mm fibrelass inner panel so it cuts easily.

 

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On the lower door we just cut 205mm material off the top but for the upper door, we removed the window and cut across through the window opening. This was so we kept the corner radii at the top of the door on one piece and the holes for the handle on the other piece.

 

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We haven't decided whether to have a window in the door or not yet. The outer panels are embossed aluminium which we need to replace with flat sheet to match the side panel so we can make the choice later on.

 

The side extrusions of the doors were also cut down and re-drilled so they could be screwed back together. The door frame is made in a single piece with 4 bends and the join is bridged by one of the hinges to put some strength back in we marked the frame so we could also remove 435mm and have the join bhind ther hinge on one side and on the other side we made a join level with the door latch. This is because there's a latch plate rivetted to the frame which could bridge the join and we also added an extra aluminium support strip rivetted in place.

 

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Cutting the frame down isn't difficult but it needs to be done carefully to avoid mistakes and to get neat strong joins.The cut down door looks like this, I quite like the window so if we can get the seal to take to the new shape, we'll probably keep it as it will let a bit more light in.

 

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With the door now the correct height, the frame could be offered up to the hole in the side panel and once the gaps were evened up, we fixed it in place temporarily with half a dozen self tapping screws.

 

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Final job for today was to fit the second 240v socket at the kitchen end and cut the insulation panel out to miss the wiring.

 

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I was a bit disappointed that the aluminium sheet I ordered didn't arrive before this weekend but in the end it's probably done me a favour. Jackie is away for the week so I've managed to bang in two 11hr days and one 10hr day on the caravan finishing off a few of the jobs I've been putting off.

 

We'd bought a small 12v chiller that will be going in to the kitchen area and it really is tiny, just 4 litre capacity but it'll hold a carton of milk which is all we really need it for. I'd left more than enough space for it and had put a shelf in to support it but it needed fixing in place. I found a couple of these Bighead fasteners which are normally molded in to fibreglass and screwed them to the bottom of the chiller with short screws (having previously checked they they weren't going in to something they shouldn't)

 

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The support shelf then had 2 holes drilled in to it so the screws could pass through and have nut fitted from underneath - or so I thought. The thread is something imperial and I couldn't find any nuts so in the end I used a couple of those white nylon furniture fixing blocks which I screwed on to the thread. I can remove them by hand and they won't vibrate loose so they worked out rather well.

 

The chiller sits on the shelf like this with plenty of space around it for the air to circulate. It comes with a fag lighter plug on it but I cut this off and soldered it in to the 12v wiring via a small switch so it can be turned off if required.

 

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To the right of the chiller, I cut a round hole in the back of the sink unit so i could run wiring to the chiller switch and also a waterproof switch for the water pump. I also made a couple of flying leads that will be connected to the water pump once the outer panel has been fitted.

 

Here's the visible side, the chiller originally came with a brushed stainless steel front panel which was carefully removed with a big knife and replaces with a decorative panel to match everything else. The green switch is for the chiller and to the left of this is the water pump switch. The spare space to the left of the chiller was boxed in and a storage shelf added.

 

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Underneath the kitchen area is divided in to cupboards and I wanted to add some floor vents to allow air to circulate. Ideally I should have fitted these earlier because i couldn't get in to cut them from above with a jigsaw and underneath, the chassis A frame blocks access. I ended up chain drilling the hole with a stepped drill which worked well as it allowed be to drill the holes as big as I wanted to get then close to my marked out line.

 

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The holes would be filled with round soffit vents but I wasn't happy that the size of the holes would keep the bugs out so I added some fine mesh to the back. This was held in place by heating up a small screwdriver and then pressing on the mesh to melt the plastic so it held the mesh in place.

 

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Before the mesh was pushed in to the hole, i varnished the cut edge of the plywood floor and then trimmed vinyl flooring to fit inside the cupboard. In one corner the gas pipe comes up through the floor and to prevent the cupboard contents from smashing in to it, I made a small shield out of aluminium angle which was screwed to the floor.

 

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The next addition was a couple of extra horizontal frame pieces across the front panel area. We're not going to insulate the area in front of the kitchen so the 1mm skin panel will be unsupported and it looks quite a large area. The top part will be curved so will have some strength to it but the bottom will be flat so some additional support seemed a good idea.

 

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The horizontal tubes are screwed each end to angle brackets which are rivetted to the vertical members. The final job at the front was to add some back panels to the cupboards, again to stop the contents crashing in to the back of the outside panel. These were cut from 3mm plywood decorative panel salvaged from the old trailer tent. The pattern doesn't match the rest of the interior but it's barely visible anyway. The panels slide down vertically in to place and are self retaining.

 

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Last couple of jobs for the Bank Holiday were to finish of panelling out the insides of the bench area. Just 3mm plywood panel (which does match everything else), trimmed to size and screwed in place.

 

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The aluminium sheets I ordered finally turned up yesterday meaning we could make a start on the outer panels. The sheets are 2500mm x 1250mm which means they're just long enough for the side panels but not high enough so we'll have a horizontal join part way up the sides. The joint will be overlapped and covered with a decorative strip.

 

We started with the lower panel on the right hand side as it's a simple rectangular shape. We decided to extend the panel down below the floor level so that the vertical part of the chassis would be hidden. The lower edge of the panel would have a 25mm return edge folded on it where it goes under the chassis to stiffen the panel edge. As sheet was cut along it's length to 750mm width and the cut edge would be at the bottom under the chassis.

 

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The sheet was clamped between two sturdy pieces of timber and the 25mm flange was turned over using a hammer and a 150mm long wooden block. The flange needs to be formed a bit at a time all along the sheet or the metal will stretch and then leave creases.

 

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With the bottom flange formed, the panel was offered up to the side frame and the front and back frame curves were marked off and cut. The lines drawn on the panel correspond to the frame members and any fixings will be on these lines.

 

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At the lower corners, the panel needs to wrap around the chassis so we marked out some boxed corners and folded them up.

 

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The top half panel was marked out and cut next and clamped to the side frame. At the bottom there's a 20mm wide overlap where the panels fix on the 25mm side frame box section. We could have butted the panels together but fixing them both in such a narrow area might prove too tricky.

 

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With the panel in position, we draw around the window apertures on the inside, removed the panel and cut them out with the jigsaw. Constant removing and re-fitting the panels means we can check and re-check everything before any cuts are made.

 

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The left hand lower panel was cut out next which has the door in it. This will leave a strip about 80mm wide underneath the door meaning the panel would be a bit floppy so we left a 30mm wide strip across the top which we could cut out later. The panels are quite strudy but we want to try and avoid any dents in them that will be visible later.

 

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The lower panel was temporarily screwed in place and we clamped a length of wood in position that we could rest the upper panel on while we marked it out.

 

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Rather than use a whole sheet for the upper panel, we decided to make it in 3 pieces using offcuts from the previous panels. The front part was marked out and cut first.

 

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The panel behind the door was then cut and fitted which left us with a small area above the door to be filled in.

 

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The infill panel was cut out and had the mating edges joggled so they fit underneath the other two panels and the joins could be rivetted together to leave a flush joint.

 

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With the side panels made, we turned to the front of the caravan as we could use more of the sheet offcuts for the panels. The additional horizontal frame members we recently added meant we could have a horizontal join in the panels. We put a joggled edge across the bottom edge of the panel and then fixed it in place so the joggle is just below the frame tube.

 

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The panel was then pulled against the curve of the frame so the bottom part of the window aperture could be cut out. The panel the other side was made the same way and at the join in the center, the panels were butted together rather than overlapped because they meet at a slight angle. The join here will also be covered with a decorative strip.

 

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The aluminium sheets I ordered finally turned up yesterday meaning we could make a start on the outer panels. The sheets are 2500mm x 1250mm which means they're just long enough for the side panels but not high enough so we'll have a horizontal join part way up the sides. The joint will be overlapped and covered with a decorative strip.

 

My shop built van is the same Rich. There is a horizontal join maybe 2ft from the bottom which goes underneath the top sheet. There is not even a decorative strip but the edges are nicely rounded so they`re not sharp.

 

Looking better every week mate

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The green colour of the protective film is actually really nice :-)

 

Looking awesome - you should get in contact with one of the big caravan mags, they might be interested in doing an article on it (after we've done one :-)).

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Jackie as out for the day today so I carried on with the lower front panel. These also have a small return flange along the bottom edge that tuck under the wooden floor. The front part of the floor overhangs the chassis by about 10mm at the sides and 40mm at the centre due to the pointed shape at the front.

 

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The visible part of the chassis will be covered by seperate panels that we'll add later. They'll probably only extend as far inboards as the A Frame because the centre portion will be hidden behind the storage box when it's refitted.

 

Next I had a good look at the front of the main roof to decide the best way to form and join the panels. The roof needs to curve down from 2 different heights to meet the vertical area above the windows. I used a couple of offcuts of interior trim board and clamped them in position to visualise the curvature required. The lower level needs to match the curvature of the side frame while the upper level doesn't need to match anything in particular.

 

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The area between the 2 levels will be filled in with a vertical panel which will be flanged so it can be rivetted to the roof panels. I make a quick cardboard template for this crescent panel before turning my attention to the main area of the vertical panel. This was measured up and cut out so a return flange could be folded along the lower edge. The front vertical edge was joggled so that the crescent panel could be joined to it.

 

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