Last year I managed to get my hands on a second-hand, 5-berth, Sprite Major caravan and since then have spent weekends trying to get it ready for its first outing in a few weeks.
And so it began
The caravan was in a bad way when we first got our hands on it – full of junk, covered in mouse poo, walls that were covered in rotten wood which were sodden with water, no working electrics or gas, and just generally filthy.
I just got thoroughly fed up of camping. After a tent flooding, a tent zip breaking and having no cold drinks left after day one, we both thought enough was enough and decided to get the caravan and start a major DIY project. The caravan will be luxury compared to the trusty tent but don’t get me wrong, my tent has been amazing and a noble steed for many years. I have done so many festivals in it now that I felt I had earned the right to do future festivals in a bit more comfort.
It started by clearing all of the junk out of the caravan, salvaging anything worth keeping and chucking the rest. We then ripped out the really manky carpet and took out all of the soft furnishings.
The cushions themselves were in ok condition. By that I mean, only a few moth/mouse-chewed holes, but they were an awful shade of orange and looked like they came out of a 70’s indie film. We decided to keep all the cushions, as we soon discovered the cost of foam (which by the way is extortionate) and invested in a steam cleaner so we could reupholster all the cushions ourselves.
We used this upholstery fabric from Ikea which is hard-wearing and machine washable which would really improve the look and durability of the cushions. Not only that but every time we looked at upholstery fabric is costs upwards of £20+ per meter, the one from Ikea on the other hand costs £6 a meter!
I luckily have my own sewing machine and do have some experience with textiles and sewing but I had no clue where to start and don’t claim to be a pro. So, I did what everyone does in this situation and took to YouTube to get inspiration and help on how to reupholster caravan/campervan cushions.
I actually used this video on YouTube which I found really helpful.
The Messy bit
Next, we came to the more messy part. We ripped out all the soggy wood, removed all the rotten wood batons, and started reconstructing the interior walls.
We squirted foam filler ( which is 100% my new favourite thing) into the cracks and crevices in the walls to make sure no more mice could make their way into the caravan. We then cut new wood batons which were made from scrap wood we got out of a skip and cut down our new sheets of marine plywood to size.
Marine ply is great, it’s more water and moisture resistant than normal plywood which is great for a caravan as people cook inside. Not just that, caravans can suffer from poor ventilation and therefore have problems with condensation, so using wood that won’t warp or bend when damp is a big plus.
The paint job
Once all the walls were on and the glue and foam filler had dried, we started the mammoth paint job. We didn’t paint the outside, but we painted all the interior walls, the ceiling, and the kitchen cupboards/cabinets. We used a high-quality primer on all the surfaces we painted to ensure proper adhesion of the emulsion paint.
The paint we used was a normal emulsion from B&Q which was specifically designed for kitchens and bathrooms. It has better mold resistance and can be wiped clean which is useful for a caravan or campervan as they can suffer from problems with condensation. We chose an off-white coloured paint in a satin (soft sheen) finish.
We also decided to paint the interior of the main door with blackboard paint as it looked pretty moldy and nasty. Blackboard paint is super cheap and easy to get hold of. Ours was from Wilko and cost only £6 for a tin- bargain!
The technical bit
Then we got onto the technical bits. Since the caravan had no gas or electrics we had to get all of these fitted and made sure to get the help of someone whose experience expanded further than YouTube. A family friend helped us by fitting a leisure battery and transformer into the caravan so that we could go ‘off grid’ and have lights, chargers, plug sockets and other electricals on the go or when at a festival. The majority of festival sites don’t offer electrical hookups so having the luxury of the battery will make all the difference. Plus the beauty of having the transformer is that we can charge the battery whilst driving to the festival… IDEAL!
Next, we hooked up a new Butane gas bottle and made sure that all the pipes and connections were in good working order. This we got checked by our family friend as well. Never do anything with gas or electrics without help. Caravans are not earthed so one wrong move and boom!
Wax on Wax off
The final thing (actually it was technically the first thing too) we did was give the outside a good scrub. The caravan had been sat under the trees in a field for years so was covered in moss, bird poo, and other grime. An hour, one pressure washer and some aching arms later it went from grime to shine.
Part one was finally complete!
We still have bits to do but the major work was done, and all on a shoestring budget I would like to add!
Keep your eyes open for Part 2 and see what is next for our little caravan. Also any name suggestions… we can’t decide on a name!!