Repairing a Static Caravan 4

If anyone is familiar with the North Atlantic weather conditions and Shetland’s “between weathers” phenomenon, then understand the intensity and stress it required to change the roof of the caravan. Not knowing when nor how the weather could change, it took true grit and courage to rip-off the only thin protection against rain and winds this caravan has had for close to a year.

Having insulated, rebuilt and paneled all the outside walls, the layer of aluminum roof was only being held on with a small strip of treated lumber. This small strip was holding down the 40mm overlay that was available from the old aluminum walling and, together with many tubes of mastic, it was only screwed down tight onto the upper part of the new walls. This upper part prepared the way for new rafters, or roof trusses, and had to be “unsealed” to change the roof.

So it was! The mastic weather-proofed parts were taken apart, skylights removed, and starting at the one gable end the rafters were laid in place. Eyes were often spying the horizon for weather changes, weather reports were eye-balled several times during a day and the work days were….very….very…long work days.

Simply speaking, old roof is removed, new rafters put into place, electrical wiring adjusted and inspected, Kingspan insulation between new rafters, treated plywood screwed on rafters, layer of roofing “gortex” stapled on plywood, slats fastened on covered plywood, some insulation put between slats that would lie just under metal roofing (prevents condensation and keeps the place quiet during hail or heavy rains) and finish it off with metal roofing. (So “simple” this wasn’t…just to save writing many paragraphs)

How long did this take? I don’t remember. Maybe a week or two? I do remember several 18 hour days with hardly any breaks. I do know that it was tough working and sometimes I had to tack down a strong plastic tarp material for rainy periods in between all work. Fortunately, I had a few friends spend some of their time to lend a hand. Great help, indeed!

After the roof was in stable condition, I grit my teeth and attacked the extension area. Same procedure as the rest of the exterior…Kingspan, gortex and paneling. Just this last week, I finally could fit the new front door.

Old aluminum roofing was recycled. It weighed in at 40kg and gave £16.

I’ll let the pictures explain better…. (to be continued)

11 thoughts on “Repairing a Static Caravan 4

  1. Excellent article, am thinking of doing something similar (in Holland, climate not quite so harsh).
    Do you have any drawings, can do it but lazy?? also any major pitfalls (I did sport a few in the narative)


  2. Hello,
    it’s very nice ;o)
    Do you have any detailed sketches or drawings of the structure and parameters of the materials used. Plans to build a static caravan in Bulgaria.

  3. Sorry for the extreme delay to your comment. No, I had no blueprints and only did sketches to work on ideas. I’ve found I’ve done some minor mistakes due to believing that I must follow the form and planning of a “static caravan”. F.ex. it was unnecessary with so many windows and their size. Right now, I’d hesitate calling it a static caravan but would rather use “a chalet on a metal frame”.
    Use your imagination and talents and create the idea you like best. Solve your own problems and don’t hang yourself with mistakes. Everyone gets better with time and experience. Besides, it’s more fun to make it personal than to replicate someone else’s idea. T.

  4. Inspirational, thank you! Can you help with a small query? I recently bought a very modern static caravan with a very outdated fireplace, and want to hang a contemporary wall-mounted fire on my sitting room wall instead. Do you know if the walls / frame on a standard modern caravan (2010) are loadbearing to about 12 kilos?
    I assume the kitchen units etc are floor-standing and don’t hang off the walls. My dealer couldn’t get me the plans for the van so I don’t know where the frame uprights are so it will be a bit of trial and error. The manufacturer won’t even reply.
    This is where a lifetime of renovation begins…..the new fire is just the start of it.

    Good luck with your project. (I’m reassured to learn that the UK tax and welfare system isn’t the only one up the creek).

  5. Thanks for the query. The answer may not be the easiest to understand. With a general question of hanging things on walls and weight, most people believe the type of fastener used is fashioned so as not to pull outwards from the wall due to weight (try to follow me here…) The actual strength of a fastener is largely gravity pulling downwards and flush to the surface of the wall. Then, concerning the distance an object protrudes outwards from the wall, will influence the gripping power of a chosen fastener. Geez, doesn’t this sound scientific?

    I’m not familiar with new caravans. Material and construction is important so that the wall-mounted fire doesn’t fall off the wall. Let me suggest the following help…
    1. Determine how thick the wall area is. Go to a window or door and look/measure the caravan’s wall thickness as best possible. You don’t want to punch holes through the wall, do you? This will give you an idea as to maximum length of any fastener you choose.
    2. To find a vertical/horizontal stud, knock or tap your knuckles/small hammer along the walls and listen for a solid area that may reveal where a hidden stud is. Be choosy and be sure. I wouldn’t think there is any standard distance between caravan studding, center to center, to correspond with the eyelets on a wall-mounted fire. Also, I could think that manufacturers use aluminum/metal studding instead of wood nowadays. You want to decide exactly where the strongest place is to stick a screw or fastener into. Perhaps investing in a stud finder (lokal building supplies)?
    3. When you’ve determined how long a fastener is possible and where the strongest place on a wall is at, consider drilling a very small hole (2mm) at the place your first screw will go. This will allow you to “feel” the strength and material in the wall. Why small? If you’re wrong, then you won’t leave too much of a mistake on the wall. Easy to hide later.
    4. When you are absolutely sure of the place you want to hang the wall-mounted fire, have determined thickness and studding, have chosen a correct and satisfying fastener to do the job (10mm thick seems adequate) and have taken a few deep breaths…then you can put the screws/fasteners in using tape measure and water level to make it straight. Thereafter, hang the fire.
    Tip/ Can you do “test holes”, to determine what material is behind/in the wall and your choice of fastener, somewhere less noticeable than the chosen place? Farthest in a corner or behind a skirting?
    This may sound simple but it really requires a good knowledge of the hundreds of types of fasteners available as well as skills to get something straight on the wall. I often think to myself, “If I do this, what are the consequences of my mistake and how do I correct/hide this mistake?”.
    I hope this was helpful advice. I would be disappointed with a caravan manufacturer that can’t give structural information to a consumer. They don’t seem to care nor are familiar with their product. Good Luck with the DIY!

  6. I can’t quite see from the pictures how you did the roof;
    is the kingspan insulation between the ties on the truss’s (the horizontal member)? did the insulation not fall through the gaps and lie loosely beneath in the old roof system?

    Is the ply fixed onto the diagonal part of the truss?

    looking forward to starting the project!

  7. I apolgise, Its clearly stated where the ply is installed.

    you say the old roof is removed, did you take out the original caravans truss thing? did this mean the ceiling board had to be replaced and fixed to the new truss or did the original ceiling remain intact?

  8. I hope Im not becoming a chore with too many questions. your giving away all the secrets, you might have to start charging consultation fees

  9. Hi love the site, has inspired me to attempt a similar effort. We have two statics linked together.

    Incidentally I fitted an oil-fired central heating system to ours. Mounting radiators was one of the first challenges. I removed the interior wall panels and then glued in additional support struts where possible. For the larger radiators I fixed 6mm ply over the supporting section screwing into any batons I could get too. This gave the wall additional cross-bracing.

    I approached each radiator placing individually depending on what the state of the wall was, size of the radiator etc. in one case I actually used a couple of short table legs from B&Q to support a large double-radiator. I inverted the table legs so I could screw them to the floor and then wind up the adjustable feet to meet the bottom of the radiator.

    All working well now (after much fiddling).

  10. you can often see where the studs are by going outside and looking for any screws in a vertical line that may have been used to secure the outer aluminium skin. Im just about to change a curved roof into a double pitch roof, has anyone done this or got any tips? I will leave the original roof underneath in situ when I do it.

  11. My old roof was bowed/curved. I ripped off the whole aluminum, removed the original curved roof trusses and replaced everything with a pitched/saddle roof. This allowed for me to insulate with kingspan just above the inner wooden ceiling and adjust/modernize the electrical wiring to where I wanted it. Afterwards, I screwed on 9mm cls plywood, then 25 mm styrofoam insulating (to keep rain showers quiet) and finally a metal roof.
    I would suggest removing and cleaning out all the old curved roofing. With your double pitch roof, you’ll have a better opportunity to allow ventilation and fresh air flow in this space from gable end to gable end. I know of a man who just walked and pushed down the old aluminum roof and built a new one over this. He has it too tight and poor indoor ventilation due to this. Think about it….
    Keep close contact with the rain Gods when doing the roof my way. I was lucky to have 5 dry days when I ripped it off. Not bad having a tarpaulin handy just in case.
    Yes, one can follow the holes from the aluminum fasteners, but by building new/thicker outside walls they disappear. Why would you not want to strengthen/change the outside of a caravan when you have a chance? Adjust the length of the roof trusses to fit the width of the caravan after new outside walls are built, like on a house.

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