Finding parts for your self build motorhome
This can be one of the hardest things of all and a whole chapter is devoted to ‘Tracking down materials’ in the Haynes publication, Build Your Own Motorcaravan. Some DIY converters use the interiors stripped from a scrapped caravan: others purchase manufacturers’ surplus build materials, windows, doors and so on from specialists like Magnum Caravan Surplus. This Grimsby-based supplier buys end-of-line products from many manufacturers including firms such as Auto-Trail and Swift. There are also caravan breakers like The Caravan Centre in Blaenavon, South Wales. Some of this Company’s write-offs are only a year or so old and the interior fittings are nearly brand new.
Heavy-duty automotive parts are also sold by specialists that supply truck manufacturers and ambulance converters. For example, Albert Jagger’s catalogue is a tome worth getting. So is the catalogue of Caravan Accessories Kenilworth (CAK) when you want interior fittings.
Remember throughout the fitting-out operation that weight-saving is important so avoid using domestic DIY products like chipboard. Laminated ply panels from Vohringer in Germany is a very much lighter board; this can be purchased from small van specialists such as Rainbow Conversions. CAK has also started marketing a similar lightweight board that’s now being produced in the UK.
When it comes to woodwork, many techniques used in our homes are entirely inappropriate when fitting-out a motorhome. Keeping things light is obviously one issue, but there’s also the problem of movement. Roads and campsite fields can be bumpy which causes structures to move. Flexion sometimes damages traditional cabinets so the motorhome joiner uses plastic trims that disguise the gaps that often appear. Issues like this are explained in ‘Build Your Own Motorcaravan’ and where trims are needed, the Mail Order service from Woolies is good.
Equally, interior panelling is normally constructed using 3mm lightweight plywood. This is bonded on one face with either an imitation wood grain or a ceiling-type plasticised paper. However, you can’t buy these 3mm boards in DIY stores whereas a supplier like Magnum Caravan Surplus stocks hundreds of 3mm sheets in all sorts of finishes.