Post by Don Ricardo on Oct 7, 2009 23:01:21 GMT 10
C H Gray Port Wakefield Road, Cavan SA Response to a post by Olfarts - since deleted - seeking info about caravans built by C H Gray:
The name C H Gray, rings a very, very faint bell in my brain, but after quite a bit of time spent searching for something on the forum I can't find anything at all. Cobber is pretty good at finding bits and pieces, so maybe he will be able to come up with something? Or if it is a South Oz van - as the nameplate indicates - perhaps Lazza or Raym will be able to tell us something?
However, perhaps you've pulled off a repeat of your Road Cruiser coup earlier this year - found a van builder we haven't listed on the forum yet!
Do you have any pics of the front of the van? Interestingly it doesn't seem to have any of the typically South OZ van design elements. What about the inside ceiling? Does it have exposed ribs?
I note that Cavan is a northern suburb (?) of Adelaide. Possibly in an industrial or light industry area?
I searched through the “Trade Directories” Etc. I have in these Keith Winser manuals...... as well as searching the forum... and found nothing. So instead of admitting defeat I thought I would leave the question for Don R. to answer
Dave... is the 'van in the same yard as the “Roadmaster and “Alelma” 'vans you put in the For Sale forum yesterday....... they had no clues ?
Post by Don Ricardo on Nov 4, 2012 22:28:02 GMT 10
This thread was started in 2009 and quickly petered out because we couldn't find any info on C H Gray and his caravans.
Following a recent email I received seeking information about C H Gray, I revisited the topic and found the following comment in Trevor Gill's book, Still Swinging the Billy, which was published earlier this year:
"The name Norm Harris became synonymous with caravan hire, but when a man called Colin Gray offered to build Norm his own brand, he could not resist the move. Harris Caravans Pty Ltd was based at Regency Road, Sefton park with its aluminium clad Harris Vans becoming a popular choice" (p 67).
The previous paragraph indicates that this occurred sometime after Norm Harris' marriage in 1955.
I think there is a good possibility that the 'Colin Gray' referred to by Trevor Gill was C H Gray. If so, we now know that Gray produced vans for Harris (as did Schrader), but we don't know whether he also produced and sold vans under his own name or for another caravan brand as well.
If anyone has pics of a C H Gray van, it would be great to see them. They might provide valuable clues about Gray's activities.
Following a recent email I received seeking information about C H Gray...
As I posted in November 2012, I received an email from Chris enquiring about caravans built by C H Gray. Chris also emailed me some photos of her C H Gray van, but for some reason I didn't post them at the time. We haven't received any further information about C H Gray's vans since then, but I thought I might post the photos in the hope it may trigger a memory from someone. I am sure that Chris would still like to find out more about her van.
Some of the fittings and furnishings:
The external view of Chris' van shows some similarities to the Harris vans built by Schrader. Given the comment from Trevor Gill quoted in the post immediately above that C H Gray built vans for Harris, it is possible that Chris' van is one of the vans built for Harris by Colin Gray. The Schrader built vans also had a similar Schrader manufacturer plate on them as the Gray plate on Chris' van.
Don Ricardo Postcript - 22 February 2016: This van has now been beautifully restored by Jp63 (see also post below on this thread). For the story of the restoration and other photos of the van click here.
Below is a photo taken by Jp63 showing the Harris Van logo from the front of the caravan prior to restoration:
Post by Don Ricardo on Jul 29, 2014 19:13:43 GMT 10
Yesterday I posted some photos of a C H Gray built van, and voila - today Mark T emailed me some photos he received of another C H Gray van from a correspondent earlier in the day. Perhaps it was by chance, or perhaps Mark's correspondent saw the post yesterday and was prompted to write to Mark, I don't know. However, it is fascinating to see some pics of the van:
This van looks a little less like a Schrader built Harris van in shape, than Chris' van in the post immediately above. This van also has painted cupboard doors rather than the varnished doors in Chris' van. The varnished doors were commonly used in earlier Harris vans. So maybe Chris' van was built for Harris, and this van wasn't?
So, some more information on C H Gray's caravan building activities, but still a lot of questions to be answered!
...The external view of Chris' van shows some similarities to the Harris vans built by Schrader. Given the comment from Trevor Gill quoted in the post immediately above that C H Gray built vans for Harris, it is possible that Chris' van is one of the vans built for Harris by Colin Gray. The Schrader built vans also had a similar Schrader manufacturer plate on them as the Gray plate on Chris' van.
On 20 October 2015, Jp63 - the new owner of the van shown above and higher up this thead - confirmed here that the C H Gray-built van in question is branded as a Harris Van:
...According to the rego papers she is a 1962 12 ft Harris Van. She has previously been...on the forum as she was built by C H Gray for Harris (you can just make out the faint outline of the Harris Van sticker above the front windows)...
Post by Don Ricardo on Mar 9, 2016 20:52:06 GMT 10
At the Maldon Vintage Caravan Weekend in February 2016, one of the caravans attending (with its owners!) was the following caravan which is registered with Vicroads as a 'Gray':
I didn't have a chance to chat to the owners of the van about its history or the basis for its registration as a 'Gray', but Jp63 - who has recently rebuilt a Harris Van built by C H Gray - has suggested that the van has a number of the hallmarks of a C H Gray caravan. These include the overall shape of the van, the step and the wheel arch. I would add to that the floorline which is very typical of a Gray van. For this reason I have posted the photos on this C H Gray thread.
The profile of the cladding and the front window are different to the usual C H Gray van, but then we don't know how long Gray built vans and/or how he might have modified his design over time. The cladding is typical of a lot of vans built in the mid to late 60's, so not much later than we know Gray was active in South Australia, and the cladding has very possibly been painted at some stage.
If anybody is in contact with the owners and can find out a bit about the history of the van, and whether or not it has a C H Gray nameplate on it somewhere, or anybody who has some internal photos, we would love to hear about it. And if there is anybody else who can throw some light on the origins of the van, we would also love to hear from them.
In the meantime Jp63, seeing the photo of the rear of the van, what do you think?
In the meantime Jp63, seeing the photo of the rear of the van, what do you think?
The shape is certainly very similar to ours, but the main difference I can see is that the van has a single opening rear window where as the other CH Gray vans I have seen all have fixed split rear windows. As with the cladding maybe the rear window design was changed or as some point in its life maybe it has been replaced... Who knows?
also on a different note, over the weekend we had a conversation with a couple who are in the process of restoring a CH Gray built van, and according to them across the front of their van there are remnants of a "grayline" sticker. There van has the port hole window like one of the vans posted above, and has 2 thick stripes across the bottom of the van between the wheel arch and the rear of the van.
Post by Don Ricardo on Mar 19, 2016 21:36:33 GMT 10
Thanks for your comments on the van at Maldon. As you say about the differences we've noted between this van and those - or perhaps I'll stick my kneck out and say others - built by C H Gray, "Who knows?". But hopefully as we collate more information about Gray's caravans here, we will gradually be able to put a picture together on his activities.
It was interesting to read your observations about the back window in the Maldon van, and perhaps as you've suggested the various things we've noted about the van have been later updates. However, I'm inclined to think that they may reflect that this van is a later model caravan than yours or others on this thread.
I was also really intrigued to read about the Gray van you heard about at Nuriootpa, and the fact that it has a 'Grayline' sticker on it. Presuming that there's no sign of any 'Harris Van' markings on it, that would seem to indicate that in addition to building vans for Harris, Gray probably also sold vans under his own Grayline brand. Very interesting to hear. Hopefully we might see some photos of the van and the sticker at some point, particularly given that it sounds as if the Grayline livery may have been different to that on the Harris Vans. In the meantime, I'll add a reference to Grayline to the DHL index.
Hi, Just thought I would show you my little caravan that I bought a few months ago and hope to renovate in time for our October Long Weekend Market. I will be keeping the inside as original as possible Door is getting fixed atm) as I will be having all my retro/vintage stuff and cakes etc displayed under an appropriate annex(I hope!!). I am very excited to be the owner of a C.H. Gray!!!!
Oh I'm so happy to your little van on here (and on FB too) Do you have any photos of the inside? I would love to see them if you do! Also Good luck with the renovation and please keep us all posted on your progress.