Along with our two solar panels, spare tyre and hot water system, we wanted some space on the roof to be able to carry our BBQ, fire wood and bikes. We enlisted the help of Zsu’s family friend and asked if he could make us some bars; to run the length of the roof and a basket to take up half the space of the roof at the front.
We bought three standard, second hand roof racks and had the family friend make the bars and basket.
We spaced out the first two solar panels so that we could fit the bathroom ventilator in the middle – in hindsight this was not necessary as the ventilator would have easily fitted under the panels. We allowed enough room for a third panel (in case we need it in the future), although it’s currently looking very unlikely as we have not struggled at all for power, especially with the VSR as a back-up – see more on a VSR and everything else electrical in our electrics blog.
We really wanted an awning to shelter us from the sun and rain, and we thought long and hard on how to attach this. It was very simple in the end and cost about 4000 HUF (€12).
We got a 3m by 2m tarpaulin and nailed the 3m side to a piece of wood that was 2.4m long (long enough to stretch half way over the passenger door and two thirds the way down the van), folding the tarpaulin where needed. In each end we drilled a hole for the legs – which were simply long pieces of dowel – to fit in. We then attached string to each dowel as stays – four in total, running down at 90 degrees, front and sides, with tent pegs on the end of each one.
The idea for transport was to roll this up and attach to the roof rack. To achieve this we attached a piece of wood, the same size and shape as the other one, to the roof rack with wire and some cable ties and fixed, with very short nails and washers, the other side of the tarpaulin to this.
To cover the roof rack, we tried two different tarpaulins and both failed. In the end we had a custom sized piece of canvas cut for us and attached to the bottom of the basket all around with short bungy cords. This works an absolute treat! Worth the €50 we paid for it – over the €3 we paid for the other ones!