MODIFICATION MANIA

Why do some people find it so satisfying to modify their RVs?

WORDS BY JOSEPH VAN WOERKOM PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARAVAN & MOTORHOME

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It seems that a lot of RVers just love to tinker, modify or renovate. Some even get the bug so badly that only doing a complete build from scratch will satisfy. I’ve got to confess that I’m one of these people and while I probably will never get around to doing my own build, I get huge satisfaction by maintaining and updating my ‘93 model Prattline Lo-Tow.

I bought this caravan because it appealed to my engineering mind. For those not aquatinted, the Lo-Tow is a pop top caravan that has no fabric in the part that lifts. Instead, imagine a full height caravan which has a horizontal cut halfway up all around the walls. The top is made slightly wider and longer than the bottom and slides over the bottom when folded up for travelling. Hydraulic rams in each corner make lifting the top effortless.

Anyway, the caravan still hugely appeals to me and so I have kept it. However, caravan design and features have changed dramatically over the years and what was state of the art in ‘93 wouldn’t even rate as basic these days.

For example, I can’t remember any caravans back in ‘93 that had a toilet or shower. Come to think of it, most didn’t even have a battery. While my Lo-Tow had a battery, the only means of charging it was via a ‘hot’ wire from the tow vehicle.

Over the years I have made a few mods to keep the Prattline up to date and better suited to my needs. The major driving force was the ever increasing desire to do more independent bush camping.

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This meant that the electrical system had to be completely revamped. So in went a mains powered smart battery charger, a DC/DC charger for charging on the move, a fixed solar panel on the roof, a portable solar panel, a solar charger and LED lighting throughout. Also added was a sine wave inverter and battery monitoring system to keep tabs on energy consumption and battery condition.

The next major change was to have the chassis professionally raised and strengthened, including replacing the tiny 14” wheels, road tyres and 10” electric brakes with beefy 16” wheels, off road tyres and 12” brakes. The ATM rating was also increased from 1850kg to 2500kg.

Being happy with these changes I have decided to replace the double bunks at the rear of the van with a shower and toilet. This also necessitates a 12V water pump and a hot water system and perhaps a grey water tank. So far only the toilet and the water pump are in but the others should soon follow.

Will I stop at this? Who knows? In a way I hope I don’t as I find it immensely satisfying doing these mods. How about you?