Mark & Irene’s
Viscount Royal 1976 model (Project Resurrection Betty)
We were staying at a good friends Caravan park Christmas 2013 in our Trusty old tent.
This was starting to get the better of us both, raising two boys and having as we call it a Divorce maker (Tent). I stumbled across the old van pushed out the back of a paddock, full of what appeared to be bikes and other junk.
I had a little talk to our friends about it and it used to be an onsite van that had been retired many years ago.
I asked if they wanted to sell it and the answer was, sorry but that is our Garden shed!
I left it as that, but soon it got the better of me and I went and dropped another hint that we really wanted it……… I will buy you a garden shed for the Van!!!!!
We both agreed on the total amount of $400 for it…..this been a complete bargain of course.
The fun then began, trying to get it back to Brisbane 3.5 hrs away. No one wanted to touch it due to the age of it! The coupling and Aframe had big rust holes and was broken.
We decided we would leave it there and come back later in the New Year of 2014 better equipped to deal with the problems at hand.
March 2014 we decided, Rob( Step Father) and I would take some tools, spare wheels and some new bearing s and coupling and try and tow it home with a permit.
Thank goodness this went all good without any major issues.
At first we were going to just have a bit of a tidy up and start using it until:
I removed the fridge to get someone to check it out for us, when I fell straight through the floor with the fridge in hand…….
We then decided that if we were to have the van as a safe and reliable Caravan for the Family, it would need to be gutted and rebuilt from ground up.
Irene’s Father passed away in 2013, He loved Betty Boop. We dedicated the build to him in his memory we called the Caravan Betty, Hence the big Betty Boop Sticker on the back.
So outcome the hammers and crowbars we went to work on it and pulled it to bits.
The chassis needed an upgrade so it was retro fitted with a larger electric braked system with shocks. The Aframe was way too short and rusted out to worry about fixing so this was cut off and a New one fitted that was around 1mtr longer.
Water tank fitted to rear with under body spare wheel hanger that came off my cruiser, also back bumper bar was fabricated for the back.
All new drop down legs fitted, we also raised the complete van up by about 150mm to suit been towed behind a 4WD opposed to old school Falcons or Kingswoods….Lol!
We struggled with the Direction with what Aircon we would use on it, we ended up going with a house hold split system that had a total weight of approx 30kgs.
We had to make up a separate box vented 1.5 meters away from source of ignition, to house the Gas bottles to be able to get it complied with Gas Regulations.
We then started inside with new floors and fit out.
The walls and roof were all insulated with 25mm foam, and then lined with gloss white ply, ceilings with white embossed ply.
We needed as much room as possible due to having the two boys. So we decided we would keep the bunks up the front, and bed at back.
The double bed at the back become a Queen with lift up base with storage.
We also didn’t want any of the cupboards due to been lots of wasted space, so these would become draws instead of doors.
Two big slide out pantrys where fitted, also New overhead cupboards in the van where installed with 4 way stereo system in it.
I tossed up what to do for hot water, but wanted to try and keep the weight down, so at this stage we are using an instant 240volt hot water system. This can be run off the Genie.
The lounge cushions we made up from an old set from a Mates Caravan he converted to a Toyhauler, we just made up the base for it.
Solar on the roof was a bit of trial and error, we ended up putting two household panels on the roof 500watts, running that into a solar regulator into the big battery bank.
The old hatch and door had to go, as they were very un user friendly…Lol
They were replaced with a New Camec Door and 4 Seasons Hatch, The door was a lot bigger than the old opening so we had to make the opening bigger.
The old van came with the original Annex. However this was a bit like putting up the Divorce maker,
So it had to go, this opened up another can of worms as all the new awnings are straight and aren’t meant to fit on the old football shaped roof.
We had to come up with a system that would allow the Carefree awning to be attached so all the walls would fit, so I put up a Headboard to flatten the top out to suit.
The old windows were going to be pulled out and New rubbers and screens fitted. That was until I Backed the Van down the drive way and One of the boys left the window open, and it became pick up sticks on the driveway and a bigger opening when it hit the fence…….
We got all New windows and protector Shades from www.caravanservices.com.au in Brisbane for it.
As the Van was old and had a lot of battle scars on it, we decided we would paint it in a Matt paint to hide a lot of the old scars. Especially with Two boys that are likely to add to the dents as well with balls etc.
The complete Van was stripped back to the bear Aluminium and all the J moulds (corner strips) were removed, cleaned and put back on with a good quality Silicone.
The Van then was painted with an etch primer, and then top coated with enamel paint. This was all sprayed on.
The total build time was around 12months part time give or take, as most things every trip sees changes and modifications to prefect it..
We love our old Van and hope it will bring us heaps of great trips and memories.