The per­fect fit

Our read­ers tell us about the mod­i­fi­ca­tions they made to their camp­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion setup so they can af­ford to have the best time with­out break­ing the bank.

Go! Camp & Drive - - CAMP BOFFIN - Com­piled by Kyle Kock

Not ev­ery­one has the means to com­mis­sion a big out­fit­ter or cus­tom shop to mod­ify their car­a­vans. Some­times all you need is good old-fash­ioned in­ge­nu­ity and tech­ni­cal know-how. The power tools in your garage will do the job just fine. 1 Couples re­treat You don’t need to splash out on tents and a car­a­van when your large SUV can house you and your sig­nif­i­cant other com­fort­ably for the night, says Deon Steyn from Welling­ton. “My wife and I had a trip to the Etosha Na­tional Park in Namibia com­ing up. Be­cause it was just the two of us, I be­gan the process of con­vert­ing the rear of my 2006 Toy­ota For­tuner 3.0 D-4D into some­thing of a camper. The two rows of seats came out eas­ily enough as they are only at­tached to the floor with four bolts each.

Then I con­structed the frame for the bed and stor­age space un­der­neath it. The space from the rear of the front seats to the tail­gate al­lows for a 2 m long mat­tress, so if you’re tall you can stretch your legs at night. Un­der­neath the bed there’s plenty of space for odds and ends. I pack in my 3 m x 3 m tent just in case we want to sleep out­side, a cooler box, plas­tic crates for stor­age, the nec­es­sary cook­ing gear, and our two camp­ing chairs.”

go! Drive & Camp says It’s a sim­ple de­sign but it gets the job done for about R8 000.

2 Drop­side draw­ers They’re hardly ever in­side their 1981 Sprite Sport when they’re camp­ing, ex­cept to sleep. But they needed more work space out­side the car­a­van, so Jo­han and El­mare van Staden from Parow built a drawer and fold­ing work­top into the side. “We de­cided that a work sur­face and draw­ers built into the out­side would suit our needs be­cause we very sel­dom use the sink and stove in the cabin. We mea­sured ex­actly where we would need to cut in the side panel so that the draw­ers would slide in un­der the bed. The cut-out had to be neat be­cause we needed to use it again.

In order to also not neg­a­tively af­fect the struc­ture of the car­a­van, the cut had to go be­tween the ex­ist­ing wood re­in­force­ments. The depth of the draw­ers was lim­ited to 280 mm, but they are 600 mm wide and 600 mm long. With the work­top on the left drawer folded, the sur­face is 500 mm wide and 600 mm long, and it un­folds to pro­vide a to­tal length of 1 200 mm. Be­tween the draw­ers is a tray. We also fit­ted a power point and LEDs. The out­side door is hinged at the top and has been fit­ted with a safety mech­a­nism that en­sures it does not open when the ve­hi­cle is mov­ing. We can also lock it with a pad­lock for added se­cu­rity.”

go! Drive & Camp says The Van Stadens used off-cut ma­te­ri­als in their garage for this project, and the ad­di­tional ma­te­rial such as alu­minium hinges, run­ners for the draw­ers and rub­bers set them back only R1 400. >

3 Top up Camp­ing would be so much less en­joy­able if the roof above your head was cav­ing in and leak­ing. That’s ex­actly what hap­pened to Jan Eber­sohn from Stel­len­bosch. His old 1984 Gazelle 2100 wasn’t age­ing very grace­fully and he de­cided to take mat­ters into his own hands.

“Ini­tially, I had just re­moved one panel, but af­ter proper in­spec­tion I de­cided that all six roof pan­els had to be tossed. One or two boards would just not cut it, so the en­tire roof had to be re­built. The whole struc­ture con­sists of a ply­wood frame that’s screwed into the car­a­van’s square tube steel frame. I used 100 mm thick insulation in the gaps to help reg­u­late the cabin tem­per­a­ture better, and while the top was off I took the lib­erty of in­stalling 220 V lights and more power plugs. I also in­stalled two ex­trac­tion fans in the ceil­ing while a smaller one sits by the fridge to di­rect hot air away from it to the out­side. The top of the car­a­van is now an 8 m long piece of 3 mm thick fi­bre­glass and it’s also quite re­sis­tant to hail.”

go! Drive & Camp says Rather than pay­ing some­one else to do it, Jan (who has the know-how to per­form this task) re­built his car­a­van’s roof him­self for only R5 000.

4 Wall and all You don’t al­ways feel like break­ing out the poles of your full­size tent, es­pe­cially when you’re not go­ing to be spend­ing a lot of time at one spe­cific camp­site. A rally tent is of­ten a much better op­tion, al­low­ing you to feel part of na­ture, pro­vided the weather plays along. But when Mother Na­ture’s tem­per flares up, the side pan­els alone are not al­ways good enough, says Job Schoe­man from Modi­molle.

“The side pan­els are fine, but some­times you long for the pro­tec­tion of some­thing a bit more sub­stan­tial, like when the wind is par­tic­u­larly chilly or the rain falls at an an­gle to­wards your car­a­van door. We de­cided that a great com­pro­mise was to make our own ‘walls’ to fit right at the front of the rally tent to cre­ate a cosy place to sit and play cards with our camp­ing neigh­bours on cold win­ter evenings. We bought our own shade net­ting, mea­sured the gaps, and then made sure that the top seam was large enough so a 25 mm pipe could eas­ily slide through. The stitch­ing can be done with a reg­u­lar sow­ing ma­chine. Then we bought pipes, plas­tics fas­ten­ers and Vel­cro. We have a zip­per in the right panel with a track that opens up in the shape of a door. You can also use tent pegs to se­cure the front pan­els to the ground if you have loops sewed in.”

go! Drive & Camp says For the to­tal cost of R500, Job’s home­made pan­els are quite in­ge­nious. If you have a seam­stress in the fam­ily, this one is re­ally af­ford­able.

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