Post by hilldweller on Dec 9, 2012 11:28:57 GMT 10
You guys are good! To be honest I hadn't even noticed the striping but you're right, it's very similar in style to the fabric on that chair. The covers are in good condition; apparently they had been covered with something else. They do seem very dark for a caravan - think I need to become more attuned to late thirties/forties styling
Post by hilldweller on Dec 13, 2012 16:50:10 GMT 10
Yay got the bearings replaced with no trouble at all. Whew! And the seized up jockey wheel is now turning again. Mechanic confirmed the chassis and springs are good and the tow hitch is an engineering marvel She makes clunking noises though when going over bumps, like the sound trains (well NZ trains anyway LOL) make. Should I be worried?
Realised I'm going to need some long extension mirrors too in due course; the Caravelle is see-through but with Mabel all I can see through all the mirrors is flaking green and cream paint! I wouldn't be surprised if Mabel is heavier too, despite being only 10/11 ft (as an aside, where exactly are you supposed to measure?). Steel chassis plus hardboard inside and out plus solid floor boards most likely in a native hard wood makes her a pretty sturdy girl! Great ground clearance though, unlike the Caravelle which often scrapes in and out of service station forecourts and the like. Mabel was built for rough old roads!
Put the new reg plate on for the drive (here you have to have a current reg before they'll do a WoF test) and removed the previous (but not original) one which confirmed Heather's suspicion that the current green paint is not original. Should have been glaringly obvious to me really given the extent to which the paint is chipped and flaking. So under the current green is a greener green, and under that a sort of tan colour. And on the steps there are those three plus a sort of maroon!
I think I'm still adjusting to her age: things can be really old and still not original!
One hurdle over aye ?..... A few more to go but stick with it.
Regarding the clunk noise from the coupling...... How about you try a 2" ball and see if that fits into it, and apply plenty of chassis grease especially to the top of the ball.
What do you intend doing about that aluminium front window? doesn't belong that's for certain sure ...... And the clearance between the axle and the chassis looks to be a bit of a problem too, that is another indicator that she is a home made job. But not to worry .. Mabel can be fixed up to preserve an example of "New Zealand's Touring Heritage" .... What could be more satisfying and important than that ....aye
And the clearance between the axle and the chassis looks to be a bit of a problem too, that is another indicator that she is a home made job.
Hi Cobber Can you explain what you mean in words of one syllable or so? Anything below floor level is a mystery to me! Do you think the chassis would be home made?
Will try a 2in towball when I get the chance. Was that the norm back then?
And yep those aluminium front and rear windows have to go. They're just plain WRONG, though they work perfectly and would look entirely appropriate in a 60s van. I'm hoping that when I take the cladding off, which won't be any time soon, it'll be obvious what size the original wooden ones were and they can be recreated. I'm guessing perhaps a little smaller. I'm wondering why someone felt the need to replace them.
Back in those days...... 1 7/8" or 2" balls were pretty much the norm. If you have a 50mm ball in it and it rattles chances are it may be a bit small....2" might take up the slack.
The photo you have shown us under the van of the wheel spring and axle appear to show very small clearance between the axle and the chassis... In fact it looks like the axle has hammered a bit of a dent in the chassis rail If the axle were mounted under the springs it would fix the problem except for the presence of that frame work at present under the axle..... I don't think the van would fall apart if that bit was removed Other forum members may have a different take on the situation
I was expecting somebody else to come in with another alternative regarding the suspension on this van of yours. When you've done everything else you need to do.... Take it to a suspension expert and see if he can reset the springs for you to give you more clearance between the axle and the chassis.... That could be all it needs
Post by hilldweller on Dec 19, 2012 6:22:10 GMT 10
Thanks Cobber. Yep I'll definitely need to discuss it with someone who knows about these things and can see Mabel in real life. I've just checked and there's a matching dent in the rail on the other side, so she's evenly balanced LOL. I'm thinking that since, at a minimum, she needs a new roof and cladding (and who knows what I'll find when the water damaged hardboard comes off) it would be worthwhile getting the chassis sandblasted and repainted so she's set up well for her next few decades . The need for any work on the springs etc could be investigated at that time. Having said that, the dents have probably been there for years and haven't affected roadworthiness so I'm not panicking.
'Just wanted to mention that I saw another vintage c'van like this one, Mabel, on the NZ TradeMe site a few weeks ago. It looked the same, except it was cream and tan in color if I recall correctly. I just looked through NZ TradeMe the other day and it is no longer listed. If I'd made the connection then, I'd have posted it for you then.
So it looks like it was either made from plans or was commercially made, not a one-off.
Post by hilldweller on Jan 11, 2013 15:06:24 GMT 10
Yes you can search expired TM listings. On the homepage there's the box where you type in what you're looking for from the current listings, and then to the right of that box there's a thing that looks vaguely like a magnifying glass and if you click on the dropdown arrow to the right of that you can select expired listings. Can you remember any words from the listing you saw?
I'm not even sure what a 'typical' 30s (or 40s) van looks like! Old pics I've seen vary a lot and often they're undated, or only loosely dated, or dated with the date the pic was taken, all of which adds to the confusion. I'm pretty sure most NZ vans of that era would have been homebuilt (with or without a commercial plan and chassis as a starting point) so a fair bit of variation wouldn't be surprising and even amongst the manufactured ones there may have been quite a lot of experimentation going on at that time. What did US vans of that era look like?
I am really hoping to find some evidence of a firm date for Mabel when I take the cladding off, but realistically that will be a job for next summer, not this one.
Hi hilldweller, It's hard to say 'exactly' what a 1930s caravan [aka as trailer, travel trailer, camper (over here)], looks like since there is quite a variety of shapes and styles, hybrid styles of those, and original and unique designs, even back then. It's one of those "you know it when you see it" things - just like if you've seen a few 1930s autos you get the feeling for what a 1930s car is - in general. I'll try to give a few links so you can start to get an idea. The 1920s was a starting time for trailers here, but they really took off in the 1930s.
Our vintage trailer types here are generally referred to by enthusiasts by these 'categories':
Canned Hams - the body's front and rear walls [roofs too at times] are curved when looking at them from the side and they don't have any compound curves. Side walls are flat. The name is taken from how a canned ham can looks like if tipped on its side. The edges where wall and roof panels join are usually sharp, i.e. 90 degrees, later on there was some minor 'radiussing' on some brands at the panel joining edges. This style was around from the get-go until about the 1970s.
Bread Loafs - the body's panel joins definitely have a large curve or radius in the transition from walls to roofs, sometimes also on the vertical wall corners/edges too. The trailer body resembles a loaf of baked bread in its general shape. This style generally died out by the mid 1950s.
Aircraft style - With these the trailer body resembles an aircraft fuselage, very self evident. most were built with aluminum framing and skins, but there were some early ones that used the early aircraft technologies of wood trusses and wire and doped fabric skins , most notably the Curtiss Wright Aero Car Fifth Wheel trailers by the airplane pioneer. A lot of compound curves show up in these. Aircraft techniques and material were used at times by some makers of the other styles, but not commonly. The fuselage shape is the main identifier here.
Modern Style - These started from the 1950s on, generally flat sides and roof planes with fewer curves on the front and rear walls, often using a couple or more flat sections angled instead of or with a small to moderate radius curve at the top front and rear wall joins. The wall panel edges/joins would often have small radiussed profiles at the edge/join, generally less than a 3in radius - i.e., the upper side wall does not itself curve into the roof, just the outside edge bears the radius.
And there were various combinations/hybrids of these main styles, but the above are the most common or prevalent. And there were also some very original/unique designs but these are usually more of a one-of-a-kind thing. There were plenty of home-built units too, as trailer plans were plentifully advertised in the How-To magazines of the day in the early years. That seems to have declined by the 1940s. The advent of commercially manufactured units had the effect of generally simplifying designs to ease assembly/build. WWII saw trailers used as housing, both pro curred by the government for the war effort, as well as by private individuals in the course of their life/job seeking or requirements. By the 1950s, the trailer industry here split into the travel trailer[and other RVs] industry for travel/camping use and the house trailer/mobile home industry for housing purposes.
The oldest organization over here from that era, and continuing up to today, is the Tin Can Tourists. They have a lot of info going back into the beginnings of trailer travel here.
This is a web site done by Juergen Eichermueller who has an extensive collection of trailer brochures/mags etc. and sells CDs of them. Truly well worth the price if you are into American vintage trailers etc.. [He may have other country's brochures too.] Probably the fastest look at early US trailers in one place.
Covered Wagon was the first large US travel trailer manufacturer. It's first unit was basically a small box with a drop down rear floor after the axle. This is a later version of that. They generally built more traditional style units for the most part.
The website for the Bowlus, the predecessor of the Airstream. It was gone by the mid 1930s. It was the most advanced travel trailer of its time. Airstream's founder, Wally Byam, had worked for them, and bought their assets at the bankruptcy sale and rehired some of their workers to start Airstream. [This had a server error when I tried to open it, hopefully it will be resolved as it is very interesting.]
G'day Mesmo, I don't often browse US sites because I am of the opinion that the American vintage scene is not very relevant to the history of vintage caravans in Oz , we owe our heritage to the UK style. However ... I found the link you posted to "Repairing yesterday's trailers" very interesting, particularly the index on the discussion forum which had a heap of interesting links. repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/forums/70#.UPS4uXwaySM
Post by hilldweller on Feb 24, 2013 13:19:59 GMT 10
Hello all Well I haven't actually done anything to Mabel since my last post other than pump a slowly deflating tyre, but I've done a bit of research into her origins. Still no firm builder or build date but what I now know is the man who wrote his name and address in the 1934 touring guide lived at that address in Bluff from before 1922 until at least 1948 - I suspect probably his entire working life but the library's microfiche reader was having a strange effect on my eyes that made me want to throw up so I stopped at 1948 .
He was David Joseph Conway and was a sailor, working his way up, as recorded in electoral rolls and a local directory, from labourer to boatswain between those dates. He was born in 1893, married Bertha in 1922, and died at a ripe old age in 1979 (and Bertha at an equally impressive age the following year).
By the time of his death he had moved from Bluff to Coal Creek/Flat near Roxburgh in central Otago and was described as a retired seaman. Now that is interesting because I bought Mabel in late 2012, the person I bought her from had owned her for 'four or five' years, and she had bought her from someone who kept her in a shed in Roxburgh for 30ish years, which would go back to around the time of the Conways' deaths. Roxburgh is a tiny place and it would be quite a coincidence if both they and Mabel had ended up there independently, so I'm now wondering if she remained in the Conways' ownership for all those years until David Conway passed away. That would explain how the touring guide remained with her well past the time it would have been of any practical use, and seems consistent with her being in such good condition for her age. It's also consistent with notes on distances from Bluff to Central in the touring guide, and with the two 1960s maps of the region which also came with her - she's definitely a lower South van.
I have so far drawn a blank on vehicle registration records, which may of course provide more conclusive answers. The local archives tell me I have to go to Wellington for that and even then may not uncover anything useful. I will do that, but probably not any time soon.
On the age front, now that I know what to look for I've noticed several 1930s lounge suites with very similar fabric to Mabel's. I've also been looking at pics of wheels and am pretty sure Mabel's (pic at reply #12 of this thread) are Ford, introduced in 1940. Need to get that confirmed but assuming the wheels are from that date, and original to Mabel, they plus the fabric, other art deco styling and the 1934 touring guide would make her most likely built early 40s. That's the current theory anyway LOL!
It's interesting what you can find out from public records! Feels a little like snooping almost.
Post by hilldweller on Apr 14, 2013 11:04:54 GMT 10
I feel like posting but really don't have a great deal to report .
Following Cobber's suggestion a few posts ago I have found some people who make and service leaf springs and are happy to take a look at Mabel when I can get her in there (need to arrange time off work). Have also had a proper look at those dented rails and they're actually not the chassis rails, just the inside edge of the wheel arch cover, which seems less of an issue. Still sounds like a good idea to get someone to look at the springs though as I suspect they're pretty much fused solid. Am hoping to get the chassis sandblasted and undercoated on the same outing, then back home and into the garage after lots of useful advice about how to get her through the doorway Have cleaned out the garage in preparation and invested $2.50 in an old chest of drawers for some of the miscellaneous caravan-related 'stuff' and tools previously strewn all over the bench
Went and had a look at this, another lower South Island homebuilt and from about the same era (this one is '47/48): f1.ehive.com/3242/1/f64nah_hk5_l.jpg Something of a Rolls Royce to Mabel's Morris Minor lol but I like to think they met each other on the road at some stage The curved body on the black van is stunning. I squatted down to have a look at the chassis and you can't see it! It's hidden from view by a curved 'floor' below the floor proper. The back end of the van is hinged along the top to open out similar to the way teardrops do. You could sit at the table and look straight out through the open wall. Very very cool and beautifully preserved
I was interested to see the black van has a wood/coal stove and chimney, as do a couple of other '40s NZ vans I've found reference to on the internet. That lends weight to my suspicions that that's what Mabel would have had originally so I'm keeping my eye out for something suitable. There are a couple of brands with the right measurements.
Hi HD That's a nice looking van for sure - hope its given you inspiration to get into Mabel. Wouldn't be too many times you'd want to open up the back with the weather you have on your island, unless it's just an excuse for drinking more wine to keep the cold out ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D Ray
Great bit of detective work, there, hilldweller! Isn't it fascinating delving into the history of these old vans? If only each of these vans could speak for themselves, ay?!
I was quite astonished to read on the internet news recently that the whole of the North Island has been "drought declared"! Worst drought in 30 years, they say. Gosh, I thought you could only get one colour in NZ...everything green.
That van you posted pictures of surely is a "Black Beauty". How interesting about the convertible rear to allow for some alfresco dining.
I'm not surprised about the coal heater - they were also reasonably common in US models (though often gas fired). Anywhere where you've got weather that at least 6-8 months of the year will frost the tootsies warrants this kind of amenity. Otherwise I guess people would never really use them!
While sometimes it's true there can be nothing PHYSICAL to post pictures of, gathering information, working something out, or generally just muddling through how you're going to tackle something is just as interesting to us readers. Feel free!
Glad to see you're deep into the mental space needed to renovate Miss Mabel.
The Blue Flyer - 1951 Homemade Bondwood
Chryssi - 1966 VC Valiant Safari
The Seeshell - 1969 Olympic Riviera (deceased)
Can't believe I've only just seen this thread! What a great looking van. Wheels appear to be 40-48 Ford. You can get 15" and 16" versions of these wheels. cheers Graeme
Wow thanks for that (and glad you like Mabel ;D )! I was thinking Ford based on pictures but I really don't know and do want to find out so that (a) I can look out for a spare and (b) to help narrow down build date.
Al - yep it's been pretty bad up north. I'm lucky to live in one of the few areas to have had a good growing season. Most places are in for some rain this week though, thank goodness.
Post by hilldweller on May 9, 2013 15:57:39 GMT 10
Took Mabel for a little drive today. I'm rather nervous towing her in her present state but we stuck to the back roads and went slowly and it was all very uneventful.
First stop was the tyre place. The person manning the shop was completely stumped and said to hang around until the owner returned. Owner knew what he was looking at, muttered about cross plys, leafed through his brochures and eventually said to give him a few days to make some inquiries. Fingers crossed. Doesn't sound like they'll be cheap unless he can track down some second hand ones.
Then we went to a sandblasting place and booked her in to get all the metal parts blasted, undercoated with some sort of rust deterring paint and also topcoated if I can choose a colour by next Friday He reckoned $350-400 which seems very reasonable to me if he does a good job.
Last stop was the place that makes leaf springs. Helpful guy crawled around underneath, had a really good look, and said they don't need any attention at all and could be blasted and painted along with the rest of her nether regions
So that was a good little excursion Mabel even got her picture taken once
All going well the next post will have pics of the cleaned and painted chassis
All sounds good HD. If you go down the second had tyre track, make sure you check the age of the tyre - it should be stamped on them. They may look good, but tyre experts will tell you that despite good tread etc, tyres have a limited life span.