Munro Crusader Caravan Restoration

Photography by: IMAGES SUPPLIED

In this issue, we take a look back at a very cool caravan makeover we featured a few years ago – a 1978 CI Munro Crusader, renovated by Tony and Rebecca Powell

The Powell family

Several years ago, after winning a $1 reserve auction online, the Powell’s collected their new purchase – a 1978 CI Munro Crusader caravan – from a property Kawerau where it had been stationary for the past 15 years.

Having recently completed a restoration on his boat, Tony agreed that his next project would be something Rebecca could be involved with too, along with their three children – eight-year-old twins Emma and Lucy, and six-year-old Cara.

"It was important to us that they kids were involved, we wanted them to be interested in what was going on so they feel like they’ve played a part in getting it on the road," says Tony.

The family have always been into camping, so they knew owning a comfortable caravan big enough for the five of them to sleep in would pay itself off in no time. Plus Tony’s father built a couple of caravan’s from scratch 50-odd years ago, so it was in his blood.

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Ready to restore

It was originally supposed to be a small project, only restoring the interior of the caravan, but once that had been gutted, Tony realised how much moisture there was in the walls. So he decided to rebuild the whole thing.

"We’d come this far, so we figured we should probably do the job properly," says Tony.
All four walls were replaced and polystyrene was placed on the chassis, sandwiched between two sheets of plywood.

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Building new framing

As Tony is a service manager and marine technician, he was able to professionally do all of the aluminium work and painting himself. He connected the 140-watt solar panels and replaced the tyres. Tony’s father, a retired cabinet maker, helped with the interior also. In fact, the only outsourcing they had to use was to connect the gas bottle for the gas compliance certificate. The caravan has outdoor speakers and lights, which is ideal for summer evenings. There is also an outdoor hot shower which Tony jokes should be coin operated to cater for campsite neighbours in need.

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Everyone helped out

It is completely off the grid. Inside, there are two 12-volt deep cycle batteries which run a 60L 12-volt fridge, all LED lights, the extractor fan, water pump, plus the TV and stereo.

"The interior design took us months of compromising and a mountain of cardboard to make life-sized furniture to see if everything – including the kids – would fit," says Tony.

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The final result

The hot water and oven are run from the 9L gas bottle located in an aluminium box on the draw bar, which Tony extended after being informed on the difficulties of reversing.

"We set a map of New Zealand into the table so the girls can see exactly where we are on our adventures. They love it," says Tony.

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Plenty of room for a family of five

In February 2015, almost one year to the day after they bought it, the caravan was finally finished. "The first thing we did with it was take it to show the elderly owner we bought it off in Kawerau. She couldn’t believe it was the same one."

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The Kiwi-themed interior

The family uses the caravan at least once a month, towing it to their desired spot behind their Ford Territory.

"The biggest problem I have is that I can’t tow the caravan and the boat at the same time – first world problems," he laughs.

"It took longer, and was a bigger job, than we expected but it was all worth it in the end. We love not having to worry about packing and unpacking tents, or relying so much on the weather. We would definitely recommend it to families in a similar situation to us."

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The children enjoy a game of cards

Tony and Rebecca's top tips for restoring a caravan 

• Accept that it will take longer than you think
• Get the kids to help out where possible
• You can never have enough storage space
• Think outside the box
• Don’t let negative input put you off
• Stick to the plan


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