RV adventures are attracting more and more enthusiasts. But how do you camp in your modern home without having to buy a new or refurbished mobile home for at least a million kroner? Our reader Václav Stolař, who has lived in Ireland for nearly 20 years, contacted us to show us that it is possible even cheaper. He built his Viking 360 buggy trailer with his own help.
In an exclusive interview, he explains Irish charitable legislation, the main idea behind building his own camper, detailed workflow, technical construction, modern equipment, and the new trailer’s symbiosis with Mladá Boleslav’s tow truck.
Caravan camping is beginning to enjoy a new interest in the Czech Republic and beyond as a popular activity rediscovered for adventure enthusiasts. Tell us what inspired you to build your own RV? Was it mainly because of learning about the local landscape and culture, or were you more drawn to spending your vacation at the campsites?
In recent years, camping has become a huge hit, whether in a tent, caravan or camper. I used to go camping with my parents when I was a little kid, we would always go to Nemšová in Slovakia to the Váh River and camp in the wilderness, as they say today. We have been going camping in Ireland with a Czech and Slovak community for years. And as the years go by, you get used to the comfort and really feel your back in that tent. In addition, Irish nights are cool even in summer, and summers are very short.
From that came the idea of building your own wild camping caravan without a camping site and without electricity. The priority was the height of the caravan, because all Irish beaches and car parks around the beaches have a height barrier – from 200 to 230 cm. This was the first dimension I stuck with. We don’t go camping with this camper, I built it for wild camping. I have a great caravan for camping.
When you decided to build your own caravan down to the smallest detail, did you first have to solve basic legislative issues?
Legislation in Ireland differs from domestic legislation in the Czech Republic. Trailers or trailers whose weight does not exceed 3,500 kg are not subject to any government technical registration or inspection. In addition, the statutory insurance is covered by the tractor unit, so you do not incur any annual costs. The most important thing is to take into account the dimensions and not exceed the width of 2.5 meters, the height of 4.65 meters, and the total length of the vehicle is 22 meters. The police (local police, author’s note) check the lighting and the visible side only during the road inspection, if nothing is missing, and that’s the end of the matter.
What inspired you for the ultimate artistic design and construction of your caravan? Did you start the project with the goal of creating it yourself, or did you first consider outsourcing to a specialized company? Were there any obstacles that were difficult to solve while building the camper trailer?
I didn’t even think for a moment about getting a stroller or buying a similar version. And it was not even an option from a financial point of view, because self-construction is cheaper – construction costs have risen to 14,000 euros (about 345,000 CZK today). I started at home in the living room with a large piece of paper, a ruler and a pencil, while watching YouTube videos.
Finally, after several dozen hours of counting, measuring, and thinking, I came up with a rough design that I stuck to until the end. We hope some technical data will be helpful. The outboard convoy has a length of 4650 mm, a width of 2080 mm and a height of 1996 mm. This is followed by an internal length of 3,620 mm, a width of 1,920 mm, and a height of 1,380 mm. The weight of the empty caravan is 940 kg.
And if all goes well? I would say yes. The worst work was with the aluminum roll, which I used to cover the entire caravan and make the furniture. I’ve never done this before, so this was my first time.
Let’s proceed directly to the construction of the caravan. What is the technical construction of the trailer, what materials is it made of, and our readers will undoubtedly be interested in how the whole construction proceeds?
How did it start? I bought a dilapidated caravan from locals, dismantled it and kept only the chassis with axle and towbar. The length was 6.7 m, which was unsatisfactory, so I unscrewed the entire hull, cut it, moved the axle forward and removed the center of the hull to make it 4.5 m long. In principle, the chassis is original and only modified in length.
The body structure is made entirely of plywood and insulation, everything is glued and screwed. The floor and walls are made of three plywood, while the central part is lightweight. The walls and ceiling are covered with aluminum with a thickness of 0.8 mm, and the corners are polished with an aluminum angle. Everything is painted in Skoda White Moon Pearl and Skoda Race Blue. But the shades are different as you can see in the pictures. I prefer not to comment on where the error occurred.
How is the trailer equipped, how many people can sleep in it, how is ventilation and heating arranged, does it have its own kitchen and bathroom? How clean and ‘gray’ water can be?
The caravan is equipped with a bed of 1992 mm length and 1600 mm width and a comfortable 7-zone mattress. I made it for myself, my wife and our pet dog Meggie. It is an airport for two people, suitable for three people. In addition, the caravan is equipped with a kitchen with stove, sink, Dometic 12V compressor refrigerator with a volume of 65 liters and freezer that can be powered by a solar panel. I used a Truma Combi 4E heater, the heat distribution is hot air, and at the same time there is a boiler for 10 liters of water inside the heater. The system heats and heats water at the same time and can also be used for gas or electric.
There is a 70-liter clean water tank hidden under the bed, where you can get it in two ways – on the side there is a connection for an external pump and a hole for pouring. On the roof there is a 375-watt Victoron solar panel, feeding two traction batteries with a total capacity of 240 hectares. The caravan is completely self-sufficient, but at the same time the batteries can be charged from the camping hook with a Victron charger. There are also voltage converters from 12 to 220 volts in the caravan. One is Victoron and the other is Chinese for economic reasons.
There is no toilet or shower in the caravan, but the caravan is still there. The outside bathroom has hot and cold water, I bought a tent which I will put on the side of the caravan and we can shower and use the chemical toilet in it without any problems. Waste water then flows under the caravan into an external tank with a capacity of 40 liters.
And just for fun. Above the kitchen there is a window with an extractor or exhaust fan, and another window with a curtain and a net that flies over the bed. There is an open side window next to the kitchen and another window on the door, I equipped everything with curtains. There is ventilation and air intake for heating in the floors under the furniture and the bed.
You tow the camper trailer with the Škoda Kodiaq RS engine, which is very popular here in the Czech Republic, and I think the version with the 2.0 BiTDI engine. How the entire ride kit works from a driving point of view. Can the most powerful Kodiaq diesel, now discontinued, handle the weight of a caravan? What is the impact of the convoy on fuel consumption?
Yes, it’s a Kodiaq vRS (RS model designation for Ireland, editor’s note). I’ve towed a 1.5 ton camper behind a 150bhp (110kW) Kodiaq diesel in the past and it was plenty of power without a problem. In the most powerful version of vRS, it’s a different story, and in quotes you can even race a convoy. The convoy’s driving characteristics are also problem-free. Consumption in a small caravan is about 9 liters of diesel per 100 km, with a large caravan with a tonnage of 1.5 tons it is about 11 liters. Of course, it depends on conditions such as highways, neighborhoods, mountains, unpaved roads, and the like.
And our last question is mainly about travel experiences. Have you already gone on any trips with your own caravan and approximately how many kilometers have you traveled? At the same time, the question comes to my mind, did you come across any deficiencies during “severe” camping that you will gradually improve?
I finished the little camper at the end of this spring, with a total of 645 hours of work to build. So far we’ve been on a trip with him five times, mostly just over the weekend. So far it is about 1,000 kilometers long and called it “Viking 360”.
While camping, I really discovered one flaw. The tail lights had a slight flicker and were almost invisible, only Chinese lights. The solution was immediately replaced by the entire spotlight. Otherwise, I haven’t discovered anything else yet.
So it appears to be a good job, with minimal flaws detected. Thank you for the interview and we wish you an enjoyable camping and adventure trip in each of your RVs.
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