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I bought my Caravelle (T4 TDI 2003) during the summer of 2006 and it had 180.000 kms on its clock. I've been spending long periods in southern Spain during the winters and the idea was to have a spacious car for taking a group of people around and in which I also could sleep in during the journeys back and forth between Sweden and Spain.

My Caravelle is original equipped with eight seats (2+3+3), two seats at the front with armrests and the extra seat by the sliding door in the middle row. It was also equipped with some extras, e.g. the auxiliary heater for the rear compartment, heated front seats, cruse-control, the on-board computer and extra rubber mats. It is having the parcel shelf behind the rear seats.

The Caravelle has gradually been converted into a temporary camping-car due to needs I've experienced over time. The idea has been that the changes should make it possible to easily to convert the Caravelle back for transporting people.

The first thing was to get a bed into the car. When folding the backs of the rear seat and the double seat in the mid row, I got a quite even space in level with the rear parcel shelf, where I place a real mattress (2 x1 m). I made a plywood board (1 x 1.46 m) that is placed on the backs of the rear sets when they're folded and also made some pieces for filling up the lower level on the parcel shelf, for getting an even base for the mattress. I use a foam mattress (2 x 0.9 m) that I had from before and it's wide enough for both me and my partner. When the bed is not in use, the mattress can be folded and the plywood board can be moved backwards, so one can rise the back of the double seat in the middle row for using all seats in the middle row. The good thing not having a bed that takes up the entire wish of the car is that the extra seat next to the sliding-door in the middle row is intact when the bed is in place. It's useful for getting changed and getting out when the partner is still asleep. The back of the double seat locks in the horizontal position, but not the back of the rear seat. Therefore, I've later made simple devices for also locking the back of the rear seat in horizontal position for giving better support to the base of the bed.

Before I took of for the first journey to Spain, I installed an alarm (Car Gard T70C) that works with the original remote control for the central-lock. One can also connect extra modules to the alarm for e.g. getting alarm to one's mobile and getting the GPS-position of the car. Since narcoses-gas is quite commonly used for robbing people sleeping in mobile-homes, I also installed a gas-alam that both detects narcoses and burn-gas.

I already had a navigator, a 12v cooler-box, an old folding camping-table that fitted well at the rear,
and a water canister. I set off the first time for the almost 4.000 kms drive to Spain. The navigator was set up for avoiding tool roads, so I saw lots of villages in France. It's great to have the cruse-control for relaxing one's feet, and it also helps keeping the speed limit for avoiding fines. I didn't drive faster then 100 km/h for saving fuel and the average fuel-consuption for the long journey was 6.5 l/10 kms, according to the on-board computer.

During the first winter in Spain I realized it would be good to have a leisure battery. Even if I used batteri-suge for the cooler-box the battery was drained once as much as the car could not start.

It was difficult to find space in the engine bay for a leisure battery, since the ABS-pump take up some space. Instead, I realized that the dead-space underneath the extra seat, next to the sliding-door, had room for a standard size battery-box. I put in a 70 Ah battery with tick cables, since the cables had to be longer and for avoiding unnecessary drop of voltage. I put in a 120 A Split-charge relay, which to start with was connected to the ignition-key, but later on has been connected to D+ via the adapter cable I made for controlling the Eberspächer water heater. I had to put in a very Low-voltage battery protectors are used all loads on the leisure battery for avoiding deep-cycling. The leisure battery keeps the cooler-box running during quite a few hours when the car stands still. There is no problem keeping the food in the cooler-box cool during my long journeys, as long as one drives a bit every day.

The next development was to convert the Eberspächer water-heater for it to run as a parking heater. Eberspächer sells a kit for this including: water pump, combi-valve, timer and a control-unit. I found instruction on a German forum for building the conversion on one's own. First I built the adapter cable for controlling the water heater. By putting in the adapter cable before the heater and connecting four diodes, one can control the heater manually with an on-off switch. For running the water heater without the engine running an electrical water-pump is needed. The combi-valve is also needed for not having to heath up the engine when running the water-heater. I bought the timer, a suitable water-pump and the combi-valve and it's corresponding T-connector made by brass. I found an Eberspächer installation manual on a German website that was of great help. The adapter-kit that Eberspächer sells use the defroster fan at the front, but since the air is taken from the outside it also bring fumes from the heater into the car. Since my Caravelle is equipped with the auxiliary heater at the rear and it takes the air from the inside, I decided to use the fan for the auxiliary heather instead. I also decided to put in a thermo-switch for detecting the water-temperature, so the fan won't start before the water has reached a certain temperature. I soldered a brass plate, for the thermo-switch, on the T-connector. The thermo-switch I chose (Elmwood) closes at 40 C. I could have chosen a higher temperature, since the fan starts a bit to early. I'm thinking of changing it to a thermo-switch that closes at 50 C.

The kit for the water-heater works fine and it doesn't take more then 5-10 minutes until the fan is putting out warm air. It's good to start and let the water-heater run for two hours (maximum time with the timer) for heating up the car when the temperature outside is getting below 6-7 C during the nigh. An advantage is that one also can run the heather after starting the car for the car to get warmer quicker.

An indoor-thermostat has later on been added for further controlling the fan of the auxiliary heather. There is no need for the fan to run and consume unnecessary electricity when the wanted temperature is reached and it also increase the comfort since it's not nice when it's to warm either.

For getting a 220v socket in the car I used the cables for a DEFA WarmUp system, besides the 220v engine heather, which I had in a previous car of mine. I also had a small 220v interior fan heather, which I use in combination with a 220v power plug thermostat, e.g. when hooked-up at a camping site.

I use thermo-mats for all windows for both keeping the car warmer during cold nights and for keeping it colder during hot days. They also make the car pretty dark inside.

The latest improvement of the interior climate has been to insulate the body with X-Trem insulation, with inspiration from a German website. The X-Trem insulation is glued with high-temperature resistance contact adhesive. There is only space for 10 mm insulation between the roof and the ceiling. I used 10 mm insulation for the whole car, since I wanted to cover as much of the body as possible and I considered the windows to be a weak link in the chain. I could feel a big difference during the job between body parts that was uncovered and covered with the insulation. Afterwards, I put back the original insulation on top of the X-Trem insulation. Since it's very difficult to put the insulation in a good way on the tailgate, I glued the insulation instead of the back of its panel. I've still got to insulate the front doors, which will be done when I got a chance to do it.

Since my Caravelle is equipped with extra rubber mats, I also placed insulation between the Caravelle mat and the extra rubber mats at the rear compartment for making it warmer for the legs when one is sitting still watching TV etc.

One of my best creations is a table I made behind the passengers seat at the front. When using the table one put the front seat in its upfront position. When not using the table one rise it and can move the passenger seat back to position for giving space for the passenger. I also made a board for extending the table, which is needed for giving space for my 17” laptop that also function as a television. I made the table quickly and I'm going to redo it for allowing the passenger seat to be moved further back for making it more comfortable for the passenger.

I like to stop during my journeys for pedalling around with my bike. For carrying my bike I use a Fiamma Bike Carrier. I also got hold of two used Thule Combi-boxes (Skii-boxes) that is put on lockable Thule roof-carrier, for getting additional space for storage. I realized the it's good to put the dirty cloths on the roof-box for avoiding having the smell in the car.

Lately, I've also put two small 20w solar-panels on top of the roof-boxes for charging the leisure battery. The cable from the solar-panels is fixed to a 3 m long bars that is placed at the outside of each roof-box. The cable goes down by the tailgate. No holes have been drilled for this arrangement. The regulator is placed on the side of the driver-seat’s base, behind the handbrake.

The bars I've at the outside of the roof-boxes are also used for sun-sails, which function as cheap marquesses, and for holding the TV-antenna.

I've only stayed at camping sites when I've been to cities like Paris, Luxembourg and Barcelona. Normally I just park for the night where other mobile-homes are staying over night or at ordinary parking spaces where it feels safe, preferably underneath a street-light. There have been several mornings with an urgent need for finding a toilet quickly, which is not always that easy to find where I park for the night. For quite some time, I was thinking of how to find a solution of this problem. The solution was to put in a potta-potty behind the extra seat at the sliding-door. I found a small potta-potty that just fitted. I put a canvas around it for not making a mess with the seats. It might not sound that great, but it works well for emergencies and is great to have.

Another problem has been to have showers. Germany is not a problem, since one can find showers at all Autohofs. It's more problematic in France and Spain, especial when one avoids going by tool roads. The first solution I tried was two solar showers that I lifted up in a 4 m tall bar for getting some more water pressure. Since it was a bit time consuming putting it together and wait for the water to get warm, I've also used a 12v camping shower. Besides from the sun, I can also get warm water from a 12v kettle or the gas-cooker. Lately, I've also tried using a 200w immersion heather that I've place in a water canister. I use a relay for both the kettle and the immersion heather so it only works when the generator is working.

An upcoming project is to fit an underfloor freshwater tank, for free up space in boot and for carrying more water for the shower.

I'll try to post some photos later.
 

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sounds like you have thought hard an used your experiences to good use
id love to see pics of your set up as i have a 9 seater lwb caravelle.
and have realised with work and visiting my kids 100 miles away at weekends its not worth me converting for a couple times a year id use it.
 

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Pictures please. I've an LWB velle but I've put a bed in the back.
Instructions for the heater mod seem to match up with others I've seen, one day I will get round to sorting this out but I don't think I can do it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Some photos

Thanks for your comments. It's raining in the southern Spain, so new photos will have to wait until the sun will be back. Meanwhile, I'm uploading some photos I've taken earlier.


This shows the car without solar-panels on top of the roof-boxes and the bars for the sun-sails.


The folding table with the extension board.


The folding table without the extension board. One can also see the the corner of the bed.


This is the only photo I have from when I insulated the car. It shows the back of the tailgate's panel, where I glued pieces of sleeping pads, since it's difficult to insulated the tailgate itself. I found the documentation and images at (http://www.gaskutsche.de/tipps_isolierung_x_fish.php) as useful when insulating the car.
 

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I don't see any photos in your earlier post.

Been busy looking at the link you posted. Like the ideas about keeping the caravelle, mulltivan but then being able to sleep in it. But I do enjoy the space I have in the LWB with the Rock and Roll bed set up as a seat.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I don't see any photos in your earlier post.

Been busy looking at the link you posted. Like the ideas about keeping the caravelle, mulltivan but then being able to sleep in it. But I do enjoy the space I have in the LWB with the Rock and Roll bed set up as a seat.
Strange since I can see the photos in my earlier post.

I understand it's nice to have space. My priorities have to be a bit different since I need space for lots of luggage and also bring the seat with me during my pan european trips. I need a good bed, since I'm having problem with my back, but I don't need to cook and using a sink inside the car. I do it outside instead. If it's pouring down with rain, then I can always go to a restaurant.

I take my time during my journeys. These days it tend to spend 10-15 days for crossing Europe. Last winter I also slept for two months in the car meanwhile touring around Andalucia. Besides one night at a campingsite, I spent the nights where I could park for free. It was my experiances from last winter that made me realize it would be good to get solar-panels on the roof and to get the car insulated.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Conversion of the Eberspächer water heather

I'm adding a useful link about conversion of the water heather to a parking-heather. It gives information about building the adapter cable (with corresponding VW parts number) and how to connect the four diodes that is needed for controlling the heather http://www.t4-wiki.de/wiki/Zuheizer_(Aufrüstung_B.Rude). The timer only feeds out an on/off signal for controlling the heather.
 

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Thanks for the link.

First time I have seen the details for the pump and coolant circuits.

But still beyond my skills so next to look for someone who can do the work for me.....

Oh... and the money.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
My "Camping car" is now equiped with an underfloor water tank of 38-39 l, for freeing up space in the boot where I had a 25 l water container before. I have 10 l water container that is placed on the step by the sliding door, which is equiped with a tap and easy to operate . The purpose of the underfloor water tank is just to carrying water for filling up the water container, so it hasn't got a water pump, just a tap with a Gardena garden connector. The water tank is mounted with four M10 stainless steel bults for making it easy to remove it during the winter and for being able to clean the moud that might build up around it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Re-posting of photos that disapeared.

Fiamma bicycle rack and two Thule skii-boxes


Folding table with extension for combined Lap top and TV


Two Thule skii-boxes sitting with two solar panels (2x20 w)


Further photos can be found at:

Picasa - CampingCar
 

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Hi Sokrates,

Posting here as you're in box is full. Thanks for the links. Will come in very handy. T: Couldn't get the pictures to work however.

Cheers Jonnie
 
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