Caravan

I possess a T.E.C. Weltbummler 495 TSK caravan since 1999. I bought it second hand primarily for attending R/C jet and/or R/C scale contests. It was built in 1991. The first outing was to the 1999 Jet World Masters in Zeltweg, Austria. We had never traveled with a caravan, let alone built up the awning and when we arrived at the campsite, we had a hard time setting up everything in the pouring rain. Luckily, some fellow modelers gave us a hand.

T.E.C. Weltbummler caravan behind my Renault Grand Espace IV

In the subsequent years, we traveled a lot with the caravan to go on holidays, besides the contests. After our son moved out of the house, we used the caravan solely for the contests. The last one we attended was the Jet World Masters 2015 in Leutkirch, Germany. Since then, the caravan was sitting idle until early this year, we decided to take her out again and join some friends for a short biking holiday. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to organise our main summer holidays around the caravan and biking. To make it easier for us, we substituted a simple canopy (Thule Omnistor 1200) for the heavy and cumbersome poled awning. A big improvement!

with the old poled awning at the 2013 Jet World Masters in Switzerland...

 

...and with the new canopy in 2023 on holidays in France

During those holidays, we were contemplating giving the caravan a make over, but I was hesitant at first because of the magnitude of the task. Early October however, I did find the motivation to start the make over. I describe the job here below, illustrated with some photographs. At the time of writing, the job inside is 100% complete, but Iím still contemplating to do the outside as well. If it happens, it will be after the winter.

I didnít like the quite dark old fashioned interior with lots of brown and rural style cabinets. It was decided to redo the interior in white with new smooth cabinet doors and some indirect lighting. It promised to look a lot fresher!

old fashioned interior dominantly brown

I measured and numbered each door and drew up the plans on the computer to cut new doors. I discovered that IKEA had some nice material to cut the doors from: the F÷RBńTTRA cover panels (used in kitchens). Using my computer controlled router, it would be easy to duplicate the cabinet doors.

old cabinet door

But first, I had to strip the interior of the caravan. I removed the beds and all the cabinet doors.

interior stripped

 

removable parts ready to be painted in the garage

I also wanted to repaint the control panels for the fridge and the gas fire and the one for the overhead kitchen lighting. These were in dark brown with golden lettering and I wanted to repaint them in black with white lettering.

old fashioned control panels

For this, I also had to remove the kitchen sink and that was probably the hardest job. I damaged one of the gas burners in the process but luckily found a replacement in a German online shop (Weippert). By the way, I replaced a lot of old parts with brand new parts bought from different online shops specialized in caravanning, mostly from The Netherlands (Obelink, De Wit Schijndel and Kampeerwereld). Some hardware was also bought from our local shop: Decuyper in Poperinge.

preparation of the control panel for paint (some filler was required)

After the necessary bits and pieces were removed, I degreased and washed the interior thoroughly. I masked all the windows and everything else that had to remain unpainted with masking tape.

windows masked

I used a renovation paint for kitchens (V33) to repaint the complete interior white. I didnít do the inside of the cabinets as this remains unseen (unless you open the door). It was immediately clear that the interior would be a lot brighter than before.

painting in white brightens up the interior

At that time, I also decided to install indirect RGB LED lighting (from Paulmann) adjacent to the curtain rails.

test of the RGB LED lighting

Replacing six window blinds (Remiflair I) took a big chunk out of the budget, but it was worth every penny.

window blinds installed and another test of the LED lighting

The cabinet doors were routed and the edges painted. The hole pattern for the hinges, the closures and the openers were duplicated from each individual door.

cutting of a large cabinet door on my computer controlled router

 

cabinet door with rounded bottom edge and other edges masked for painting

 

finished cabinet door with hardware installed

After that was done, the installation of the doors was completed.

cabinet doors installed

The kitchen control panels were refurbished and painted black. I duplicated all markings by taking photographs and redrawing them on the computer. The graphics were then used to print them with my laser printer with white toner (replacing the black toner) on a clear decal sheet. I use this technique to create white decals for my (plastic) model airplanes. With the white decals placed, the control panels and the kitchen sink could be put back in place. It was quite a challenge to make the sink cover panels and to replicate their correct articulation, but I'm more than happy with the result.

sink covers in action

The task I dreaded the most was replacing the floor covering. Thanks to the encouragement of some friends, I eventually decided to tackle the job and I can proudly say it was absolutely worth the effort. A contemporary look vinyl floor covering was chosen (Holly Beige Oak from Kwantum). A template was made out of scrap A4 paper sheets individually cut to cater for the most difficult recesses and all taped together to form a large single piece template.

step by step process of making the template

I was a bit worried about the accuracy of the template due to the high dampness: it was raining outside at the moment of making. After the rain had stopped, I took the template inside the house and taped it on top of the vinyl blank. I then proceeded to cut it out keeping an approximate 2 mm gap all around.

template positioned over the vinyl blank

 

vinyl blank precision cut to size

The erratically shaped vinyl floor piece was then carried into the caravan, hoping it would fit... And it did perfectly without any adjustments at all. Needless to say I was very pleased! The floor is free floating on top of the old floor and that seems to be totally ok.

floor installed with the old cushions still visible on the left

The ugly brown cover of the Trumatic 3200 gas heater was painted a modern white and black and the logo refurbished.

old and new look of the Trumatic heater and floor covering

During the make over, I fixed some minor defects and installed a few extra 220V wall outlets. All light bulbs were replaced with their LED equivalents. The toilet space was left as it was except for the brown areas painted white.

toilet space was still ok, so mostly left untouched

A new table for the train seat arrangement was made from the same material as the cabinet doors. The mounting rails were painted in black to cover the earlier gold anodized look. There are two of these at different heights, the lower one being used when the arrangement is being transformed into a sleeping bed.

All new neutral gray (Southend Anthracite) cushions for the train seat arrangement were beautifully manufactured by a Dutch online shop with a peculiar name: Nofruit. All beds received new gray bed linen from Action, giving a balanced neutral look.

new cushions, new table and rails painted black

 

gray bedlinen installed and final test of the RGB LED indirect lighting (also visible top left: refurbished roof window)

gray bedlinen installed and final test of the RGB LED indirect lighting

The final interior job will be the installation of a piece of art from my dear uncle Gustaaf Avonds (deceased in 2021 at the age of 95). This stunning abstract piece of art will bring some colour in the otherwise quite sterile white interior. In my eyes, the perfect balance. The original work is smaller and too delicate, so it was photographed and transferred onto a 64 by 36 cm canvas, courtesy MyPoster in Germany.

colourful artwork to be installed

With the interior completed, Iím contemplating doing the outside as well. If it happens it will be in spring 2024. Below some photographs of before and after in the most likely design (I made a few different designs and withheld this one). The T.E.C. and Weltbummler logo's will be refreshed as well and they have already been cut on my Roland Stika.

before and after...

before and after...

 

The caravan is due to have a complete check up (especially the brake system). I will do this in spring 2024. At the same time, I will add a third brake light.

Scary moment

My friend Wim Reynders had borrowed the caravan in the summer of 2022 and on his way back to my place, he experienced a bad puncture. He pulled over on the emergency hard shoulder of the highway and substituted the spare wheel with cars racing by, only inches from him. That was a very dangerous and scary situation. If a puncture ever happens to you: please continue to drive (slowly) until you find a suitable area where it's perfectly safe to change wheels. Do not worry about a destroyed rim, it's absolutely not worth to compromise your safety!

Speaking about safety, I was unaware of the necessity for tyres with a higher load factor on caravans. The tyres had been renewed several years before, but their load factors were insufficient. I had presented the caravan at least a half a dozen times at the mandatory technical control (autokeuring) and the discrepancy was never spotted... Needless to say that the new tyres now have a load factor that largely surpass the requirement.

badly damaged tyre

 

new tyres of the correct load factor have arrived (also one for the spare wheel)

 

good opportunity to repaint the steel rims

 

the freshly painted rim with the new tyre looks a lot better

 

Make over total cost

And what about the costs? Total cost of the make over was approximately 4200 euro. This includes the new tyres, substitution of the canopy instead of the old poled awning, the six new combination blinds and the new simple blind, all RGB LED indirect lighting, the IKEA panels for the new cabinet doors, the new cushions, the new floor, the extra wall outlets, a lot of new hardware, and of course all the paints, brushes, rollers, masking tape etc. I'm very happy with this make over and it is worth every penny!

 

 

Philip Avonds Scale Jets

Doornhofstraat 6
B-8670 Koksijde
Belgium
Phone: +32-58-514451
e-mail: info@avonds.com