Howdy Jim, just finished reading all your posts, great reading. Your mate John had some very good points, espially about the rusty springs, also your idea of easy replacement if something goes wrong with them. I've recently purchased an 11ft Modern & the springs under that are rusty. Looks lke they will be replaced now. I worked in Franklins back in about '79 / '80. My memory is not great, but I remember the walls being built on a bench & then stood onto the chassis as a complete finished wall. Before working there, I worked at Coronet Caravans, they built the frame with the inside ply on, then stood the walls on the chassis. Us fitters would then fit all the cupboards etc. to the standing walls. You've never seen so many staples going into use. Would hate to pull cupboards out of a Coronet.
Again, thankyou for your posts & I for one have found them very interesting & have learned several things from them. Keep on posting & cheers, Bryan
I like your glue experiment. I just used Sika-bond PVA external on my own resto and it's reassuring to know it works so well.
Hi Pete, How are you using the Sika PVA?
There was more info I meant to add and forgot. If you look at the results of my testing, you'll see the last two, Sika-Bond Polyurethane and PVA are pretty close in how well they work. The primary difference was cost. PVA was substantially cheaper and with the area I need to glue that's a definite factor.
The polyurethane however impressed the hell out of me. it's a very very strong glue, particularly if one of the surfaces is porous. it actually foams up as it sets and fills in any gaps in the joint.
I've used it to repair the rubbers on my windows and its good stuff. I'm already on my second bottle and I'd say it's one of those glues I'll always keep on hand in the future.
Thanks Jim, yeah, I did read that link. About the only thing I remember is the large amount of Vaseline the electrician used to use to drag the wires through that routed channel. Look forward to more of your story, cheers, Bryan
Post by King Fisher on Oct 2, 2014 17:54:04 GMT 10
That's interesting about the sicka PVA doing such a good job. We've used a product called bondcrete in fisher's resto to seal the wood (watered down 1 bc to 4 water), and some others have since tried it. Basically bondcrete is a bulk version of PVA and is probably very similar. Would be interesting to see if bondcrete performed just as well.
I agree with you 100% King Fisher, Bondcrete was on my list of possibilities. The only reason why I didn't include it was that the smallest size available was going to cost more than I could comfortably afford on my budget at the time. To anyone else contemplating this job, I believe Bondcrete would be worth a look. Cheers Jim
Post by thekidcaravan on Jan 27, 2015 23:28:07 GMT 10
Hi Jim, Really enjoying reading your posts. They're a great trove of info to draw on as I embark on a reno with my dad. We picked up this little guy just over a week ago. Was told it was a 1965 Franklin mini but the fellow we got it from wasn't too sure. The project certainly feels less daunting after reading your post. Thanks.
G'day mate, I saw your van on eBay and was hoping someone on the forum would grab it. So glad that happened. Congratulations.
If I can make out the number on the drawbar from the original photos I think it says 80-6. There might be another number before the 8. Either way, that means it was built in 1966. If the 80 is correct that will mean its the 80th van built by Franklin that year so fairly early on in the year. Jan or Feb maybe?
Your resto looks like it need not be anywhere near as extensive as mine and will be made much easier by not having the sandwich wall construction I'm dealing with. Franklin opened their new factory for wall construction in Wendouree in 1967. Before that their vans had the traditional timber frame. That means if need be you can just remove the outer cladding and access the frame for repairs (If needed) and for wiring and insulation. Much much easier and there are numerous threads here on people doing just that on other makes.
Pay attention to the ceiling as unless Franklin did things different in 1966 they had a bad condensation issue due to it being single skin. Most, if not all of the rot in The Pumpkin was the result of this rather than any real leak. Your interior looks in much better shape than mine was to start.
Please consider starting a thread of your own starting with heaps and heaps of "Before" photos from every angle. A couple of people here have worked on earlier Minis with the 10" wheels. They may well have more specific info for you.
What are your plans for your Mini? I'm really looking forward to reading more. And welcome to the forum.
Post by thekidcaravan on Jan 29, 2015 9:29:18 GMT 10
At this early stage we are still scratching our heads a lot and researching. The chassis looks to be in pretty bad condition so I'm guessing we'll need to lift the body off and restore that first. Apart from that I was hoping to keep as much original material as I can and just replace what needs replacing. I'm thinking of keeping the interior layout original as well. I'll try to take a better look at the draw bar number when I'm there on the weekend.
I'll definitely check out the other Mini resto's on here as well. Thanks for your advice.
Ok, I believe in our last episode we had removed the internal ply and done some experimenting on various adhesives. And, the floor had been coated and safely stored away.
So, now on with the show.
I purchased 6 sheets of ply from a local supplier. These were NOS of caravan ply in various colours. Of the handful of colours available the least offensive was this one.
Definitely straight out of the 1970’s but I thought I could do something with it.
Once I got them home I made the interesting discovery that the reverse side was actually quite attractive and was real timber, not a placky look-a-like.
Ah hah!!! That’s better. A nice coat of oil and they’ll look great. Problem was, if I flipped them over would the glue I had already purchased still adhere to the plastic surface??
A quick experiment and I had my answer. No!
So, back to having them the right way around. The more I looked at the fake wood finish the more I began to realise I can’t live with that.
I tried painting straight over the plastic. Nup! No good! Tried some ESP (Easy Surface Prep). Better, but still not good enough. Wall paper perhaps? Bugger! No! Scuff the plastic up with a sander first? Yup. That did it. Looks like I’ll be sanding the whole wall.
Ah well. At least I’m moving forward again. Should have given the whole ply thing more thought before jumping in and buying supplies.
Last Edit: May 18, 2020 16:29:16 GMT 10 by grandad
Next step was to sort out exactly what electrical cables I needed to run and from where to where. So, more head scratching. (No wonder I’m getting more than a bit thin up top).
I came up with this.
A close up.
The grey conduit contains 12VDC and the orange the 240VAC. Bought myself a 19mm straight router bit to do the job and some Sika-Bond to glue it firmly in place. Now let’s just hope I’ve thought of everything.
I was really envious of people restoring caravans with proper frames so you can remove the outer cladding and run cables anywhere you want. So much easier.
Last Edit: May 18, 2020 16:29:58 GMT 10 by grandad
Right-E-Oh! After quite some time tossing the next job around in my head and trying to come up with possible problems I may face and how to deal with them if they did I bite the bullet and started the process of gluing the internal sheets to the polystyrene.
Should be straightforward, right? Probably, but that doesn’t stop me from having some concerns. Often things work great on a small scale like my adhesive test but then don’t translate quite as well when you go full scale.
Shouldn’t have worried. It all went smoothly.
I have a large table here so set that up and leveled it so I knew the top surface was flat. Then laid a couple of long lengths of RHS I had laying around to increase the size of the top closer to the 3 metre length of my walls.
If you don’t have a suitable table I seriously considered using my chassis. So long as the mudguards and wheels are off it would present a very suitable work surface.
I’ve been also tossing ideas around in my head about the mounting of the finished walls back onto the chassis and holding them both securely upright while installing the roof ply. I came up with a method that entailed buying 8 lengths of stud pine.
I bought them now so I could use them as cleats for clamping the sheets on. Armed with them, and an extra dozen or so clamps from the next door neighbour I started pouring the PVA onto one section of the wall.
Spread that evenly around with a notched trowel and lay the first sheet down. A pic is worth a 1000 words.
By judicious use of clamps and cleats I satisfied myself that the wall was dead flat in all directions and snugly clamped down. I decided to do one sheet at a time and let the glue set for 24 hours before moving on to the next one.
So, 6 sheets and therefore 6 days later, I have two complete walls.
Sanded them both and applied a coat of primer and they’re now tucked away safely ready for the time everything is ready for mounting back onto the chassis.
Won’t be long now, and I’ll have a 3 dimensional caravan once more. Next step is the rebuilding of new window frames for front and back.
They’re being made out of redgum……..because I can………….. and they’re looking good so far. More later…….
Last Edit: May 18, 2020 16:30:47 GMT 10 by grandad
Wow Jim as a sparky I'm impressed with the use of conduit your not mucking around! By the looks of things it merely to hold it all in place ? A great " full blown" resto! Keep up the good work Cheers Andrew
Thanks Andrew. I was originally going to just lay the cable in trenches in the polystyrene, in the same manner as Franklin originally did. After a bit of research on the matter however I started to believe that despite the fact that very few if any modern caravan manufacturers use conduit its definitely advisable to do so. As confirmed for me by several sparkies on a mainstream caravan forum.
It would seem the main reason preventing the use of conduit in manufacture is the drilling of the hole to feed it through the frame of the van weakens the frame substantially so no conduit is considered the lesser of two evils. That plus saving a few more dollars and labour cost.
I don't have a frame to worry about so for the sake of literally a few dollars extra why wouldn't I do it?
The project moves in spits and spurts. I can go for months only doing tiny details or just thinking about the next stage. When the stars all align......Read: When money and time both appear at the same time.....I do the next stage.
That stage at this time is remounting the body back onto the chassis. I'm quite excited by that prospect. Not only is it a milestone, but it means I'm into the fun part.
As promised to our new member, Vic, we now have progress.
Just a couple of things I attended to prior to todays work but hadn’t detailed here.
Window Frames My original window frames were sound enough to reuse but I decided I could do better. So on the principle of “Because I can”…I rebuilt them.
Actually, I had recently been given some very old red gum. This stuff had air dried (Masquerading as floor joists in a hundred year old home) for many decades. The trouble was, I really didn’t have a use for it so; windows for the Pumpkin seemed a good idea at the time. Surprisingly enough, the finished weight only ended up a couple of kilos each more than the originals. I reckon they look the goods. What do you think?
I also attended to some pop riveting that was vital to the whole exercise.
Continuing my quest to help in any way I can, any other VV’ers that want to rebuild a Mini, I’ll detail the job.
The outer edge of both wall panels is an extruded aluminium channel. Let me refresh your memory.
This is what the plywood ceiling and the outer aluminium cladding is pop riveted to. But what holds that extrusion to the body itself? At the point my walls were with the new inner skin glued into place, nothing more than a tiny little bit of PVA glue between the channel and the polystyrene.
Does that fill you with confidence with the oh so nicely curved roof of the Mini acting as a very good substitute for an airplane wing? Franklin originally overcame this by pop riveting the plywood to the channel. With the timeframe involved it would be very easy to overlook replacing them.
So, because we haven’t had a tip for new players for a long time,
Tip No 6 Don’t neglect those rivets or you may find your roof going west while you’re travelling east one day. They are important.
One last job to attend to was the plywood for the ceiling. Straight out of the Franklin factory these were installed in three separate sheets. That meant there was two visible joins inside. They overcame this by putting two nicely finished pieces of timber to disguise these joints. I don’t have a pic of them but Mini owners will know the ones I mean. And they were a perfectly acceptable choice. As my sister once taught me …. “If you can’t hide something, make a feature of it” Maybe she worked for Franklin at some stage because this is what they appear to have done.
In my usual manner, I thought I was smarter than Franklin. So, I rebated the three sheets I had so they overlapped about 100mm and glued them all together into one BIG sheet. This meant coming up with the worlds largest clamp.
The end result was a very, very awkward sheet to handle with the constant fear of it twisting or getting picked up by the slightest breeze to try and get it up onto the roof. Was it worth it? Probably not. So Tip No 7…Not all of my ideas are good ones.
Ok, now onto the refitting of the walls.
It dragged on my mind for a very long time, how exactly I was going to juggle two rather large wall panels balanced precariously on four little lengths of angle iron whilst jigging them back and forth so they are both exactly equal with each other and not end up with one slightly further ahead on the chassis then its opposite number on the other side and then holding them both in place while I manhandle the (now) rather large piece of floppy plywood onto the roof and fastening that sheet to the walls. Phew…that was one hell of a sentence. Hope you followed it.
I mentioned the solution I came up with back when I was gluing the internal sheets onto the walls. Remember this pic?
Well, here’s how I used those studs. The internal measurement from inside wall to inside wall on my Mini is 2040mm. So, I made up two mini stud walls approx 1400mm high and 2040mm wide. I took my time to ensure they were accurate and square. I probably should have taken a pic of them attached to the floor on their own but I forgot.
So here’s a pic of them in place.
As you can see, they are positioned so I can clamp the walls to them through the windows. Franklin was so considerate to position their windows opposite each other.
Using these my helper could easily hold the wall in place while I placed clamps under the bottom of the wall and through the windows to hold it upright.
With both walls in place like this we could clamp the window frames in place and then check everything for square and nudge one wall forward or back a smidge, (or a poofteenth in metric)
One interesting discovery. I checked the body for square by measuring the diagonals inside the body. I was about 6mm out of square and no matter how we tried it wouldn’t come any better. I measured the length of both walls and guess that? One is 5mm longer than the other. How can that happen when the walls are made in jigs? I have no idea.
So without further ado, here’s the Pumpkin back to a 3 dimensional vehicle again.
I sent a pic to my daughter and she replied “The Pumpkin is Back!!!”
Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Now the fun starts. I think I’ll be starting with the bed and move forward. Hopefully you won’t have to wait as long as last time for more progress.
Last Edit: May 18, 2020 16:32:09 GMT 10 by grandad
Hi everyone, It’s now noon on the day after the body was refitted to the chassis. My mind is now turning to future jobs and how and in what order those jobs will be done. It occurred to me that I’m now at the point where chronicling my work could be counter productive to the Vintage Van scene.
My reason for posting here in the first place was because of a lack of any real information on the rebuilding of a Franklin Mini. In particular any Franklin built with their composite wall construction. VV‘ers with this type of Franklin may find my experiences helpful. I believe I’ve made that desire quite obvious in most of my posts. Several PM’s from mostly new members seems to show that goal has been achieved to a greater or lesser extent.
Any job after today on a genuine faithful restore of a Mini is quite simple to anyone who has followed my steps so far. If you can do that, you are more than capable of finishing the job without pics etc from me.
What comes now in my case has nothing to do with Vintage Vans. The pumpkin from this point on bears no resemblance to anything rolling out of Ballarat. It will be an all electric van, including cooking, with 21st century Lithium power source. The power supply will be self sustaining for an indefinite period of time so long as I can park the tow vehicle in the sun. There will be no generator or LPG. The Pumpkin has been designed to comply with all the “Leave No Trace” requirements and apart from power I should be self contained for up to 14 days. Then I’m going to have to find a dump point.
I explain all this just to show that my future jobs will be of no interest to any genuine vintage aficionado. Detailing what I do would be similar to someone here detailing a conversion of a vintage bondwood to a food van. It could actually harm the VV movement.
So, with that in mind I think it’s now time to close this thread. Unless I come across something that may actually help someone doing a faithful restore of a Franklin Mini, or if I discover a better way to do something I’ve already done, yesterdays post will be my last build post on this thread.
Thank you for all your kind words through this journey. I’m not leaving the forum. I still enjoy reading about all your builds and I’d like the PM system to remain available if I can help anyone with a Mini of their own.
Cheers guys and gals.
Last Edit: Feb 21, 2016 11:12:20 GMT 10 by grandad