Getting in and out of your caravan is much easier with a grab handle, says Tony Brown.

Caravans are not normally equipped with grab handles by the door, although even able-bodied caravanners can find it a little tricky to get in and out.

However, if you are of limited mobility, I think you would be especially well advised to fit the large, fixed, metal handles made specifically for the purpose.

Car roof handle

I spent some time searching on the internet for a suitable general-use handle, but those I came across all tended to have a domestic appearance.

I eventually realised that a car ceiling grab handle would be ideal - compact, comfortable, folding, neutral grey in colour and blending in well with the rest of the caravan décor.

A typical car ceiling handle might cost around £50 new, but on the internet, I found a pack of three reclaimed Hyundai i10 roof handles for under £12, including postage.

If you are reclaiming them from a car yourself, it is simple to flip up the screwhead cover at each end and use a cross-point or Torx screwdriver to remove the fixing bolts.

On removal, you'll probably find plastic bulges on the back of the two end fixing plates, which fitted into recesses in the car framework.

These bulges would obstruct their refitting to a flat surface, but the problem can be solved by securing this plastic in the vice and cutting it off with a hacksaw, before sanding down.

Strength test

At this point, vigorously test the strength of the modified handle by bolting it to a large plywood offcut and giving it a good tug, before committing yourself to drilling a fixing hole in the caravan's woodwork.

Before fixing in place, give your handles a good clean with T-Cut, to remove discolouration from age and use.

After they are cleaned and dried, check the hinges and folding springs work easily. If there is any doubt, a blast of silicone spray will help.

Select a washer to spread the load over the interior of the fixing recess and, if necessary, drill out this washer to the hole size required and file down the sides to get a good fit in the recess. You will probably use the largest size wood screw for refixing, as you need hidden access to the rear of the panel for putting nuts on bolts.

If you plan to fix your grab handles horizontally, and you choose a rear seat handle with a coat hook, you will also have a serviceable coat hook!

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