Repairing a Static Caravan 2

If you have ever experienced Shetland weather, you can understand the unpredictability and diversified nature of it. The repairs and modernization of this static caravan has taken time and the work has often been between raindrops and winds, often at the same time.

The first five weeks have past and, reflecting upon what has been accomplished, the original strategy has been followed. The outside conversion from a tin can caravan with rot has miraculously become a “Cinderella” of changes. This is what has happened…

The technical jargon
With start on the smaller gable end, I took away the caravan-like angled floor at the old tow bar area. I built this out, extending the floor and gaining 2 m2 and having a full 90° wall inside. Quite practical for putting a sofa or bed later along that wall. The humongous sitting room single glazed window had to go and, after its removal, I peeled off the aluminum siding and screwed on my treated 12 mm plywood to the wooden framework of the caravan; sealed with “mastic”, or polysulfide sealant, between each jointed section of plywood!

TIP: The wooden framework has no set measurements and, once covered, it’s trial and error finding a hold for screws or remembering where electrical lines are. To best resolve this problem, mark along the wooden base where the center line of the original vertical/horizontal framework is or where to avoid screwing into electrical lines, then use a water level to mark out your line along/up the sides as you work. I allowed myself no more that ±3mm margins with all measurements.

With plywood screwed on, I set up my baseline board with a water level. Made my vertical studs and positioned/screwed these onto the gable wall taking into consideration where I wanted the new windows to sit. Everything had to be horizontally and vertically correct, as these measurements would be identical for the whole outside wall work around the caravan. Distances between vertical studs are flexible depending upon window size and wall strength. It’s up to you!

After studding is completed, I insulated the walls using 50mm Kingspan. This is comparable to 150mm normal rockwool insulation but doesn’t take the same volume. Windows were lead-free polyethylene double-glazed energy saving and filled with argon gas. These costs and efforts I’m putting into the caravan will pay for themselves within 7 years through the “energy pennies” I’ll save.

After the insulation, wind and water resistant foil (I call it gortex) is stapled onto the studding and covers the whole wall. Treated wood paneling is tacked onto the studs with stainless steel wood screws following a bead from the level. Altogether, from the original caravan siding, I added on 97mm.

The floor was insulated with 100mm, 100% earthwool insulation. This made a big difference compared to the earlier 20mm carton material used for fish boxes.

Several weeks later
With all this work, the inside environment is comfy, warm and much more quiet from outside noise. It will probably be cooler on “warmer” days; if Shetland has these? The porch area is under construction just now, but it’s getting to be too late in winter to continue with it.

The major thing is, this caravan will be beautiful when it’s finished and comfortable to live in! A new roof will come later when weather permits. Let the pictures show the work and results up to now… (to be continued)

12 thoughts on “Repairing a Static Caravan 2

  1. Hi, Thank you so much for showing us this project. I will also be doing this to my static van and have been wondering the best way to do for a while now. Looking at what you have done i feel this is the route i will take with mine. I have been trying to find information like this for ages, but with no luck – until now. It looks like your design will also strengthen the caravan considerably, that base layer of ply turning the flimsy frame into a rigid structure.

    I can tell from what i have seen so far that the finished product will look fantastic. I was wondering how you have managed to reseal the sides of the roof? This is an area i have given thought to for when i do mine. Like you i would do all of the sides first, then do the roof afterwards, but i have the feeling i will not have enough of an overhang on the original roof aluminium to come out over the edges of the new walls. I am concerned about water ingress along the top edge. It would be great if you could show how you overcome this problem on yours. Obviously only a temporary measure will be needed – until the new roof is fitted. It will also be interesting to see what method you use to do your new roof. I will probably peel back the old roof, install insulation, followed by a vapour barrier (Gortex or similar), and then 9mm ply screwed to the existing framework. I would have the ply overhang the edge enough for water to drain into a normal gutter. I am undecided at this time what the final water proof coating will be, but probably either felt or glass fibre.
    I look forward to seeing how yours progresses. But it’s certainly looking good so far. Great work, and good luck with the rest of it.

  2. Sorry for the extreme delay with a comment. Because the place is much better insulated, for now I only need a 700W oilfilled radiator. Last Dec. I could easily keep the place +18-20° with this and keep a total electrical cost at £10 a week. That includes lighting, power tools etc.
    A woodburner isn’t a bad idea if it is cost defendable (burner, chimney elements, safety equipment, labour etc). Is this worth the investment? It would “dry out” the place but a gas cooker does a good job and, as well, provides back-up when there is a power outage.
    Should you go for it, try to choose as small a burner as is needed. 2.5-3.0 kw should do. Remember that you want that romantic, comfy warmth going a lengthly time rather than having to let it burn out due to being too warm inside. Search narrowboat suppliers! T.

  3. Hi there,

    I just wanted to second what Steve said above, your site has proved really valuable to me. I am looking to do the same thing with a caravan that I have inherited. I’m excited and feel spurred on by the fact that yours is looking so good. Do you have any more photos? Have you kept a flat roof or is it pitched?
    Best regards,


  4. Hiya-
    Thanks for the positive comment! I just put in #5 concerning damp and ventilation, so take a look. The roof is a saddle roof. Look at the pictures on #4. Cheers!

  5. Hi,

    first of all, thank you for sharing this project. the info and pictures, great!

    I am planning something similar and I was wondering how you tackled the floor and its insulation. did you keep the original floor and insulate underneath, externally?



  6. Thanks, Paul! Yea, I used a mechanic’s creeper and rolled around underneath to insulate the floor. I used eco-wool at 100 mm thickness. While underneath, I measured between the floor joists and shouted these to my helper, who cut the insulation as exactly as possible. He passed the pieces to me and I fitted them under the floor. The trick is to get good cuts that fit snugly between the joists so they hold themselves up. So far, none have fallen out in spite of winds. I have no skirting, as yet, but plan to go back under and staple some windproof “gortex” and then nail small wooden slats to finish the job.
    The original flooring was good enough to keep. Later, I’ll explain how I finished the inside floor with a deep English red stain. Good Luck.

  7. Im going senile before my time, I forgot that I already messaged you here, I messaged you again in the other post ‘caravan 5’ before reading your reply!

    thank you for the knowledge again. my main concern is how the caravan is supported/its foundations. is the original metal chassis sitting on concrete block piers?

  8. Sorry for the delay. Yes, the structure still sits on its original metal frame and this is supported by cement blocks. When I first started, I exchanged the original water damaged timber beams, along the bottom and before I built new walls, with new fresh CLS timber in a fashion that allowed me to raise the structure enough to build a more permanent foundation for the caravan to sit on. I’m hoping to do this in the future. When I do, I’ll rest the structure on pallets, or similar, and cut all the metal away before setting her down again. Thanks for the question!

  9. OK, its a fiddly job, Im in the process of running timber beams and joists under my static to replace the non galvanised chassis that is very rusty and won’t last much longer in the coastal region I am in. Tiresome and I haven’t even started the major work!

    I wonder, are you using 4×2″ timber for your studs, are these untreated?
    the 12mm plywood you used, did you say it is standard WBP, marine grade here if Im not mistaken uses the same glue as cheaper WBP (weather and boil proof) but is more expensive due to the superior quality of the veneers selected.

    one more thing, what preservative did you use to paint the stud and plug with?

    I am thinking of using larch to clad mine in because it requires no treatment! also to save time I’m thinking of having a single pitched roof, If I raise the height of the studs on one side then I can run rafter across. your trusses look nice but I have very limited time!

    thanks again for sharing, I love this blog

  10. would love some pictures i live in a mobi full time so your project has been an inspiration to me double glazing first i think.
    regards Steve

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