Retro or Vintage Caravan Gas and Plumbing Upgrade

Do you own a retro caravan and would like to upgrade the plumbing and gas?

Retro caravans, they’re actually a thing now. At first we didn’t really get it. Those dark musty interiors, the single hand pump over the kitchen sink, and the methylated spirits stove… Not really our thing. But then if you modernised them a bit and pimp them out, well they become uber cool!

Watch until the end to find out the amazing result!

The Request

We were approached by the owner of a retro caravan after he watched a couple of case study videos about gas installations that we did on a few campers. Now he asked if we were willing to do the gas on his retro caravan. He needed some 4.5 kilo bottles put in his front storage box, a gas main run underneath, a barbecue bayonet for the rear of the camper, and also a hot plate hooked up inside the camper.

We agreed to do it and a few days later he dropped the retro van around to our workshop. It was then he asked if we could maybe fit a water tank and also set up the plumbing so he could hook up one of those Joolca hot water systems.

Now the solar and battery system on this van have an amazing set up, perfect for free camping. When we asked him what size of the tank he wanted, whether 50, 60 or 80, he asked if it was possible to get two tanks instead. We thought it would be worth a try.

One thing we were very grateful for is that he asked to install the two water tanks even before we started the gas work. This is great because then we could really plan out where all the parts were going. Nothing was going to clash. Also on the filler pipes of the water tanks we could have beautiful seeping bends, and so it was so easy to fill them up. This not only saved so much time, but also meant we could keep everything really neat and tidy.

The Gas

The owner installed a toolbox on the front of the caravan for us. Inside we had to create a partition to separate the gas chamber from the general storage. So if there’s ever a malfunction or a gas leak, the gas can’t get into the general storage because you could keep a battery-operated drill or something in there that might be a source of ignition. Also we had to make sure to seal the whole way around the front box so when the lid was shut it was totally sealed off.

Now we also installed two Oztrail 4.5 kilogram bottle holders. These are great quality and really easy to install the bottles. We also installed a single regulator as well as a very important vent on the bottom of the gas storage compartment, so if there’s ever a gas leak or a malfunction the gas can escape.

There’s also the new hot plate along with a permanent roof vent to comply with the regulations. We also installed a bayonet on the passenger side of the van that’s for the barbecue. On the driver’s side of the van we installed another bayonet that was to service the new Joolca hot water system. Of course on each bayonet we installed the very important dust plugs.

The Plumbing

Because the owner wanted two tanks installed, we had to remove the retro single filler from the van and install what they call the triple filler.

In the video, we explain each part. One of them takes the main from your caravan park water. You can just plug it straight in and it’ll run the van. Then you’ve got the filler for the rear tank and the filler for the front tank.  Also the two breathers that all have to be plumbed up to the rear of this, so as you’re filling the tank, the air in the top of the tank can escape.

We installed a 70 liter retro mold water tank up in front of the van and about 90 liter on the rear of the van. Under the kitchen sink, we put in a little pre-filter before the pump and also a beautiful retro mixer. We also used those great quality fittings from John Guest for the water pipes and also for the filler pumps and the breather pipes for the water tanks.

We made up one of these dual filters that are high-flow with quick connect fittings as well. So you fill up the tanks in the caravan all the time with great tasting clean water. It keeps you nice and healthy wherever you are.


Topargee Flow Meter

Let us introduce you to an awesome invention and it’s a must for free camping. It is a flow meter that you need to install just after the pump on your caravan or camper.

Now this is the flush mount version. It’s connected to the 12 volt system of your caravan. Now don’t stress if the power gets turned off to this. It still remembers the reading, what it was last on.

There’s also a surface mount which is just battery operated. Instead of having water gauges on each tank, which aren’t that accurate, what this does is it keeps track of how much water you actually use. The best thing about it is it counts down.

So for example, this retro van has about 160 liters on board. So you get the top of the flow meter to count down from 160 so you’ll know exactly how much water you have left so you can maybe stay an extra night.


So how easy is it to hook up your Weber gas barbecue when Beautiful Plumbing has done the gas work? And to delete pain points, we have made the connections tool-less by using quick release fittings on the hose.

To connect up your BBQ all you have to do is

  • grab the hose
  • remove the dust plugs from the bayonet
  • stick the bayonet fitting into the caravan
  • give it a slight twist to lock it in
  • remember, no gas will come out of this fitting even though the hose is live because there’s a safety valve here that stops it out
  • grab the end of this and clip it, snap it onto your BBQ.

Now you’re cooking with gas!


Hot Water System

Now for the Joolca hot water system. It has to be quick and easy to hook up without tools. So how long does it take to hook up your Joolca hot water system when Beautiful Plumbing has done the plumbing and the gas? Well, less than a minute.

First of all, you just need to hang your Joolca hot water system onto the side of the van. Now we installed some pinch weld on the back of it here so when it rests up against the van it doesn’t scratch it.

First up, just remove all your gas plugs from your gas bayonet and the quick release fittings. Grab your gas hose, grab the bayonet end, stick that in your bayonet. Give it a slight twist, lock it in there. Now remember, no gas is going to come out of this even with the plug in it because it’s got a safety valve on that. You clip that onto the gas side of your hot water system. Grab your little hot hose, whack that on the outlet of the hot water system, straight into the hot line quick connect under the caravan.

Same with the cold. Always put the cold onto the inlet first. Then as you plug it in you’ll hear the pump jump into action and start getting water flowing through the hot water system.

How quick and easy was that? Didn’t even have to use tools.

Are you interested?

So we’ve got a large workshop.

Now many years ago, Ben worked as a plumber at a company called Heeshen Shipyards over in Holland. Now they build these luxury aluminium super yachts. It was there he was taught how to tig weld because he had to make up brackets sometimes where there weren’t any support for the pipes that he was putting in. So it’s very easy for him to fabricate brackets to hold bayonets or water connectors or something for your caravan or camper, to protect them from branches, bushes, or just to support them.

So if you, like us, live in the best city in Australia, and you would like an extra gas bayonet put in your caravan or need to fix a gas leak. Or you just need the gas certified on your camper or caravan. You might even be thinking, “Oh, I wouldn’t mind having a little hot water system plumbed in, or an extra water tank!” Give Beautiful Plumbing a call. We’ll be happy to help.