Brains up top

Its getting hotter and drier – or more accurately, less cold and slightly less damp – and I’m starting to eye up the caravan parked up in the corner of the back yard.

We purchased the caravan before the last holiday season and used it over Christmas without doing any work on it before deciding what needed changing.  We actually made up our minds, after several outings, that the fold-up/down feature of the caravan was unsuited to camping with 2 children under 3 years old.  We planned to sell it and then buy a more standard (but still ‘loved’ – read: in need of project) type of caravan that didn’t need to be set up.  However, after taking stock of finances and the hefty price of a decent caravan, we’ve decided to try again for another season.

A few repairs are required to get the caravan ready for this summer, but I’m not going to go overboard on renovations until we’ve given the caravan another trial run.  The roof of the caravan is a fiberglass cap, and the ceiling is a sort of heavy wallpaper that is glued up against the inside with a thin layer of insulating foam between.  This is starting to come away from the ceiling on one side of the caravan.

Of course – if I’m going to do a little work to the ceiling, I may as well do a few other bits and pieces to improve the caravan.  Instead of gluing it back up, I’ve decided to rip out the existing ceiling and redo it in stylish carbonised bamboo plywood with recessed ceiling lights and LED strip lighting – remote controlled, of course – and I’m going to install a winch and hidden cable/pulley system (with a remote control, of course) to automate the lowering and raising of the roof.

Because the caravan collapses and folds away like some sort of transformer robot, the roof is not connected to the walls.  One wall has the power point on the outside, and only that wall is wired for electricity.  The lights, power points and fridge are all along that same wall.  It would be almost impossible (or at least very expensive) to alter the electrics in the wall, so the best way to add features to the old girl is to add them into the ceiling.  The ceiling will contain several 12V LED drivers, wireless units for remote control, with (hopefully) hidden access hatch in case of maintenance.  A short lead will run from one of the existing wall lights to the ceiling to provide the 230v main power before stepping it down.  The ceiling will contain several 12v outputs to run LED strip lights below the kitchen cabinetry.

The main items have been priced up, and it looks like the total cost for this tech roof will be somewhere around $800NZD ($600 USD / £400 GBP / €475EUR).  I’ll be keeping a detailed spreadsheet, so it will be interesting to see how that develops.  In my estimation, this renovation should add over $1000NZD to resale value – even though that’s not the main concern here.

I have a lot more plans for the caravan, but one step at a time.  I’m getting excited – another project on the horizon!

A beautiful example of carboinised bamboo (flooring, in this case). Image source

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