Saturday, August 2, 2008

First Trip

We took our first trip with the caravan recently. One thing I discovered is it is very hard to tow the caravan with a 4 cylinder car. We couldn't go over 55mph on level highway. I believe it is do to the large flat front of the caravan catching too much wind. The situation improved dramatically if a truck or something was in front of us to block the wind. I have ordered a wind deflector from JC Witney to try to move more air over the top of the caravan.

[Update: the wind-deflector from JC Witney worked like a charm. on a test drive on a hilly highway, I was able to maintain speeds of 65 to 70 mph on all but the steeper hills which slow my car when it is not towing a trailer.]

That being said, the caravan towed really well through town.

We got to the campsite around dark. The first thing I tried was to plug the standard 110 extension cord into the power outlet. Guess what, I had a 15 amp plug and they use 30 amp plugs. A trip to Home Depot remedied that problem. Turns out only older campsites have 15 and 20 amp service. The standard for newer campgrounds is 30 to 50 amp service. I plan to order adapters so that I can hook to any service available. [Wal-Mart has RV adapters going from 50 amp to 30 amp and 30 amp to 15 amp. With the two adapters, I can hook to any available RV camp supply]

Other than those problems the trip was a success. I slept on the bed one night and a bench the other. Both slept very well. The air conditioner kept the trailer nice and frosty inside. Note, cover the air conditioner with a plastic bag when traveling as the wind will rotate the fan and cause problems. It took a few minutes for it to start working right when we arrived at the campground. Everyone at the campground was great and all had to come over and check out the caravan. Here are a few pics of the trip.

Lessons learned. We need some heavier duty folding chairs. My son broke three on the trip. Bring citronella candles. It is very nice sitting outside the back door watching TV at night without mosquitoes. Buy perishables locally as needed. Buy a camp stove. I tried cooking bacon in my Dutch oven. It worked but would be easier to just use a stove. Buy a microwave. Nice and quick for snacks or TV dinners. Buy a tent for a porta potty. Trips to the bathroom are a pain if you are parked too far away.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finished at Last

The trailer is finally finished. I added a Victorian style lock and the hanging lights. Also finished wiring up the trailer lights. Here is a tip for wiring the lights on Harbor Freight trailers. Because the trailer is bolted together an each piece is painted, there is no way to guarantee a good ground for the lights. I ran a separate ground wire for the lights and everything works correctly now. The next posts will be in a new blog all about our travels in the new caravan, Woo hoo ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Porch

Another good day. Managed to put the porch on today. It extends 18" off the back of the trailer and makes it much easier to get in and out of the caravan. It is bolted to the trailer using the pre-drilled holes. The light brackets are mounted to the sides of the porch. Should be finished next weekend. Then I will have to start a new blog to document our travels.

Flying Caravan

Today was the big day. The day we had to mount the caravan on to the trailer. Early in the building process, we had set the caravan on to 4 round wooden fence posts so we could roll it from under the carport. We wrapped a rope around the caravan and slowly rolled it from under the carport pulling it with my car. Every few feet I would have to move a fence post from behind the caravan to the front so it would continue to have something to roll on. Once it was out from under the carport I used an engine hoist to jack up one side enough to slide a couple of tires under the caravan. Then we put the engine hoist on one side and a hydraulic jack on the other and used one of the fence posts to jack up the other end. We put one end of the trailer under the caravan and wedged a fence post between the caravan and the trailer and planned to roll the caravan onto the trailer. The trailer could actually lift one end of the caravan by pushing down on the tongue. The engine hoist was moved to the other end and we got some help from neighbors to push the caravan the rest of the way onto the trailer. The whole process was a bit scary but its done.

I bought a new trailer from Harbor Freight for the Caravan. A 1,700 lb model. My caravan is a bit heavier than normal because of the AC, bed, etc. and I thought the extra weight capacity would make it safer to pull. For some reason they designed it to have bolts sticking up on the bed so I had to add a couple of 3/4 deck boards to the trailer so the caravan would not sit on the bolt heads. You can see the deck boards in the picture. That is it for now. Off to Lowe's to get materials for a porch for the caravan.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Almost Finished

Managed to get some more work done this weekend. Mounted the door and trim. The door will open 90 degrees. Glad I lowered it 1 1/2" to give it extra clearance. Found some nice Victorian hinges at Finished attaching the bows. Currently waiting for the caulk to dry between the bows and the wall panels to paint the caulk. Once that is finished I can attach the tarp and it is ready to put on the trailer. My wife made some curtains out of the leftover material of the curtains we used on the walls. Here are some pictures of the finished interior. That is my son Gavin making the funny faces.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I managed to get my windows put in. First I tried some kind of plastic glass from Home Depot. It was difficult to cut the curves so I tried a jig saw with a fine tooth metal cutting blade. It cracked. Went back to Home Depot and got a sheet of 3/16 Lexan. It cut very nicely with the jig saw. No cracking. My windows were attached with 1/2 rivets. I didn't try to pull the nail all the way through the rivet with the rivet gun as it may crack the Lexan. They were pulled snug and the nail was clipped of flush with the rivet. Hope to get through with this by May so we can get some camping done this summer. Pics to come.