Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Restoring a retro caravan: time to modernise


Words and photos: Lee Davey


Here's the story of the caravan restoration project, so far – stage by stage:

Part 1
Lee introduces his Bailey Maru caravan, which cost him just £5.99
Read it here

Part 2
After considering the damage to the caravan, Lee shares his big plan for renovating it and transforming it
Read it here

Part 3
Lee shows us how to repair the rotten framework of the caravan
Read it here

Part 4
Lee and his son, Charlie, tackled the state of the flooring


The phrase ‘Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance’ had to be written by someone familiar with older caravans.

In the previous part of this series, we repaired and replaced rotten sections of framework that form the caravan’s skeleton, and with this all-important structure rigid once more, now’s the time to map out wire runs, equipment locations, and anything else you may be planning to add.

Equipment levels in modern caravans are considerably different to those in vintage caravans. In 1970s Britain, gas-powered appliances were considered cutting edge and heaters were becoming mainstream, allowing folks to explore the UK and beyond during the cooler months.

Looking alarmingly similar to a doner kebab heating element, these devices must have branded many a 1970s caravanner, singeing platform shoes or flares with comparative ease.

However, with a few carefully chosen modifications, it’s possible to introduce 2021 levels of comfort, and safety, to a budget caravan.

We equipped our previous project – a 1967 Bailey Maestro – with a flexible solar panel, a Whale heating and hot water system, external shower socket, etc, but we’re hoping to keep the costs relatively low on the 1977 Bailey Maru, splashing the cash on just one or two ‘must have’ items.

Our Maru left the factory as a two-berth caravan but adding a bunk would make it a bit more family-friendly. I found a folding bunk for sale locally that the seller had removed from his seasonal caravan.

With the wallboard stripped and frame repairs carried out, adding 50mm by 25mm strengthening beams will, hopefully, allow me to mount the new bunk to the nearside (left-hand side when facing forwards) of the caravan.

I’ll need to refit the bed boxes before attempting to add Charlie’s new bunk bed, but the tape measure suggests it’ll be a three-berth soon.


You can read more practical advice features from Caravan magazine using our online archive. Use the search bar below to find exactly what you're interested in, and you'll get access to years of back issues:



External connection points in an older caravan

Equipping an older caravan with an electric hook-up point, a pump capable of drawing water from an Aquaroll, or an external shower point, etc, requires the fitment of suitable connection points and these require a firm base beneath the caravan’s outer skin.

Unbraced aluminium is wibbly-wobbly at best, so these locations need to be carefully planned. With the framework exposed, a mounting box can be crafted from off-cuts of ply or batten, the dimensions of which can be taken from the connection point itself.

As with the frame, these mounting boxes need to fit flush against the inside of the aluminium skin, reducing any flex in the panel. Placing the Aquaroll and hook-up point on the offside (right-hand side when facing forwards) keeps cables and clutter away from the door, awning, etc.


Electrical wiring in a caravan

Regardless of DIY competence, unless you have the correct certification, rewiring your caravan requires a degree of intervention from a certified electrician and Caravan magazine would always recommend you seek professional advice.

Our Bailey Maru has had various cables spliced into its original harness, most of which looks like multicoloured spaghetti. During our last project I asked an electrician for advice before running the cables, and with the wiring routed as per instruction, he simply connected everything as per regulation, and gave it the thumbs-up. Cable runs should be well-planned and hidden from view.


Gas connections in a caravan

Gas connections are not to be trifled with and, much like any electrical work, will need to be carried out by a certified installer. Luckily, my brother-in-law is a certified gas engineer, so I’ll be speaking to him about terminating a line to the (missing) fridge and renewing the rest. Thankfully, existing pipe runs will be used.

With so much work having gone into the frame and associated cable runs, it seems a shame to cover it up, but next month we’ll be refitting the wallboard and showing you how to replace soggy sections with brand-new boards.


In the next part of our restoring a retro caravan series...

We’ll be seeing if it’s possible to retrofit equipment from a newer caravan, something that will require reinforcing beams to be fitted before the wallboard hides it from view. Wish us luck!



Back to "General" Category

03/05/2021 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

The complete touring caravan guide. Including advice about buying a touring caravan, travel destinations, readers stories and inspiration about ...

Cooking in your caravan

Enjoy al fresco dining on your pitch with these delicious recipes ...

Caravan Toilets: The Ultimate Guide

Caravan toilets - the ultimate guide. It’s perhaps the least glamorous aspect of caravanning but it isn't ...

Caravan Jargon Buster

If you’re a caravan novice, fine-tune your knowledge with this jargon buster guide to ABS, GRP, MIRO and ...

Other Articles

Caravan magazine's DIY expert answers your questions on security, dented worktops, electric cars and more

Beginner’s guide to caravan awnings

Awnings are a great way of adding extra space to your caravan when on site. Here's everything you need to ...

Cooking in your caravan

Warmer months ahead make cooking outdoors a real joy – these recipes will become new favourites ...

The retro caravan restoration project continues

In part four of the series, Lee Davey and his son, Charlie, tackle the floor of their vintage Bailey Maru ...