The New Caravan and Olive Barrels


I’m back from my quick trip to Victoria for my Nan’s 70th, it was a great weekend away, but it has put me a little behind on my plans.

As people have probably seen on the facebook page, we brought ourselves a “new” caravan last week. We picked it up for $2,400 but are expecting to need to spend a few hundred to get it into shape.

As we were towing it home one of the chains must have been pulled as we turned a corner which seized the D shackle on meaning the caravan was a permanent fixture to the patrol for a little while. It was a quick and easy fix to grind it off, but it meant we didn’t have to worry about securing the van while it was sitting out the front of our house.

It’s in reasonable condition for it’s age, about 18 feet long and about 30 years old. The next step will be getting it into shape before dragging it down to the block.

Below is a summary of what I’ve done, and what I still need to do, my best case turn around will be the end of this weekend, but I’m not optimistic.

– I hooked a gas bottle up and with only minor persuasion both the stove and oven started working so we have cooking pretty well sorted. I’m not sure if we will use the oven very often as it seems to only have 2 settings, flames up the back, and flames everywhere. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with the oven or if it’s just because it’s a gas oven. All of our ovens have been electric so I’m not sure what normal is.
– I had a bit of a play with the fridge to convince it to run on gas, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to want to happen. It doesn’t seem to be letting the gas in, there is no smell of gas when it’s on, but there’s also no indication that the pilot light is lit. A fridge isn’t a major thing for us because most weekends by the time it gets cooled down it would be time to go. But for the bigger 3-5+ day trips it would be a nice addition.
Donut is coming up next month so if we haven’t decided to move it to the block before then I might try to use his expertise (although I’m fairly sure he has never worked on a gas fridge in his life).

– Connected a hose and the sink and shower both seem to be working with no issues. There was a lot of sludge and gunk coming out the drain though. We’ve also filled the water tank, but there seems to be an issue with the suction on the tap that draws from it, no water is coming out, so I’m thinking there might be something wrong with the seal in it.

– I’ve had a quick play with the 12v electrics but it looks like someone like me has already been in there and rewired everything so I have no idea what’s going on with it. I’m hoping I can set it up so that the lights run off 12 volt, and probably put a little inverter in so we can charge phones and things as well. I haven’t tried hooking up to 240v yet, I’ll give that a go on the weekend just to get an idea of what power is working and what isn’t. Then I can start on making things work.

In relation to the power, I also need to get the indicators and brake lights working, I’m not 100% on the legalities of towing it down with a move permit with no lights, but either way I would much prefer to have them. It looks like rust is the main is an issue in the tail lights, so I assume I’ll probably need to run some fresh wires.

– There is a missing vent/grill on the side, I’ve got some eves grilles that I’ll pop rivet over it, the vent is to the fridge, so if that does end up working we will still be able to safely use it. If not then I probably could have just sealed it over.

– The lock on the door only works from the inside (the owner had lost the keys years ago) so I’m setting up a standard bolt lock on it. We will only be locking up when we’re not there so it doesn’t need to be anything fancy.

– We can’t see any leaks but we will silicone all the windows and openings to make sure, Shan has cleaned all the curtains, they are still very old-school, but they will do the job.

– there are a few shutters on the front and back windows, neither of them open at the moment, but I’m hoping with some screws and pop rivets I can get them working again, it looks like they have just come apart with age.

– I’m sure I would have forgotten a few things, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. Then once all that is done we just need to give it a quick pressure clean and we’re good to go.

Once we get the van down there we are going to keep an eye out for corrugated iron or similar to put a roof over it and out the front of it to keep some of the heat out and also to give us more under cover space out the front.

We will have our own little house on our homestead.

In other news, Shan has picked me up 2 olive barrels, they hold about 200l each and can pick them up from our feed man for $25 each. I’ve been meaning to grab a few to use as rainwater tanks at our Gosnells house but have never gotten around to it.

Now I have other plans for them. My first idea is to get one of them on the roof over the caravan, plumb a hose onto it and connect up to the caravan, my hope is that it will have enough pressure to use the shower, plus in the summer months it should warm up enough to be a luke warm shower without having to find a way to heat water and get it in there. I’ve also been playing around with the idea of a thermosiphon water heater with something like a metal drum which would be awesome and give us tons of hot water, but that is a long way off yet.

My other project with the olive barrels is irrigation for establishing trees. I want to set up drippers and hopefully get at least some water to newly established plants for the 4 weeks that we aren’t there. Even if we can provide 2-3 weeks worth of water then they suffer for the rest of the month, it will hopefully be enough to reduce our death rates. To do this I’m going to have to do a few experiments at home to see how many of what kind of dripper I can put onto the barrel in order to maximise how long they take to empty.

I’ll ask Shan to get some pictures of the olive barrel projects and more of the caravan while I’m fixing it over the weekend so that we can put them on facebook, I’ve had a few people ask what the inside is like, it’s actually better than I expected.

As always, lot of projects going on and not enough time to do them all.


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