Monday, May 28, 2007

Paint and Floor

Things have been going rather slowly with the build lately. The upper rails are installed, and the caravan received a coat of primer and 2 coats of bright green paint. The interior received a coat of white. We had some leftover floor tiles from remodeling our bathroom that we decided to install. They look great and will be easier to keep clean than a painted floor.

The next step will be to install the bunk and then wall covering. I shopped for cloth but what my wife liked was $45 a yard. Just too pricey. Instead, we have decided to cover thin PVC bathroom wallboard with vinyl wall paper. The plastic should be stiff enough when installed on the caravan to eliminate the need for bows in the middle section of the caravan. Anyway, that is for the next post.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Upper End Panels

Here are some pictures of the caravan with the upper end panels attached. At this point, we thought it would be good to prime the whole caravan before any additional work was done because I can still get to the areas that will be under the bed easily. The bottom of the door has been cut out. I had to add some glue between the plywood panels at the base of the door so it was clamped. My door opening was lowered about 1, 1/2" in an effort to make the door open wider. Ideally the door should open at least 90 degrees before hitting the overhang of the bow top. This is a link to some Canadian friends building their own caravan.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

End Panels

The next step is to attach the end 3/8" plywood end panels. I must say that the templates made this much easier than drawing it out by hand. I cut two panels at a time by screwing two sheets of plywood together. This made both end panels match, but if you make a mistake, you will mess up both end panels instead of just one. I chose a spot for the screws where the king posts would be screwed in to avoid having extra holes in the plywood.

My end panels were modified for the additional height of the box. Instead of having the squared off bottom of the end panel 11 1/2" high, I made it 15 1/4" high. I also decided to add an additional 3/4" so that the end panel covered the end of the sheet of plywood for the floor for a total of 16". Instead of making the bottom panel higher, I simply drew it out per the template, changed the squared off bottom from 11 1/2" to 16" high, and then lopped off a portion of the curved section to to accommodate the extra height of the box. My bottom end panel is now 3/4" higher than called for in the plans, but mounted, it is the same height. Now the end panels can be screwed and glued to the floor plywood making a very strong joint. You can see the additional screws every 6" on the bottom of the end panel. Now the end panel and upper part of the caravan cannot separate from the floor. The plywood sides make for a weaker joint than the 1x12s attached to the floor so I decided the overlap would compensate for this. As you can see, I will have to cut part of the box out that is covering the door opening.

The Benches

The plans call for benches using 1x12s. I decided to use another sheet of 3/4 plywood so I could make the benches 18" deep to be more comfortable to sit on. The final depth of my benches was 18 3/4". The reason I chose 18" is because cushions are readily available for patio furniture that will fit the benches. My boys could also sleep on the benches. That is my significant other sitting on the bench before they were permanently mounted;) As you can see, the benches are much more functional and there is plenty of space between them for leg room and a walkway. The benches extend about 11" into the box. That leaves 26" for the walkway and king posts. Plenty of room;) Tim suggested adding a 1x3 along the upper edge of the box to add support for the bench so I did that before mounting the benches. The benches are screwed into the 1x3s. [Tip: Mount the end panels before the benches for a tighter joint between the end panel and the bench]

The Box

The first thing I had to build was the box. The plans call for using a 3/4 sheet of plywood and a couple of 1x12s to build the box. I decided to increase the height of the sides of the box to 15 1/4" so the benches would be chair height. Instead of using 1x12s, I used another sheet of 3/4 plywood for the sides. That is my son Gavin helping to paint the bottom of the box before the other parts are attached. [Tip: Use PL Premium polyurethane construction adhesive. It is water proof, sandable, paintable, and gap filling]

The Search

We haven't been on a real vacation in 20 years. My wife decided she wanted to go on vacation but I really couldn't afford it with the price of hotel rooms and all. She got the idea to buy a travel trailer but all the used travel trailers we could find in our price range were too heavy for my 4 cylinder car, which could only tow 1,500 lbs. Then she got the idea to build a trailer.

The first one we found was a survival trailer on eBay. It was built on a 6x12 landscaping trailer. Just the basics. No real interior to speak of. Bit on the ugly side too. I ordered the plans but decided to wait a while and see what else we could find.

The second candidit was a camp trailer. It was basically a kitchen and bathroom on a small Harbor Freight trailer. She ruled that one out because there was no place to sleep. She doesn't like the idea of sleeping on the ground.

Finally we lucked out and found Timothy Limke's site for the new gypsy caravan.
First I bought the book. It was well written and even entertaining at times. The Caravan was designed to fit on a 4x8 utility trailer. I already had a 4x8 Harbor Freight trailer I rarely used. After thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I took the plunge and bought the book, plans, template set. I highly recommend the set for anyone thinking about building one. There is information on each of them that is not found in the other format. For example, the book has details on how to build the bed platform. The plans and templates don't include this information.

What follows is a build diary, which includes links to materials I found to use in my caravan.