I have just 'inherited' this amazing little caravan, but I cant find out anything about it. I believed it was bond wood until closer inspection and now believe its riveted aluminum - a little bit of surface corrosion is evident but in pretty good nick I think. it has a riveted draw bar rather than welded. internally it is pretty clean with a lot of what I would think are original features. As you can see by the photos she is stored under cover but a bit dusty! I am not sure if the badge on the front is a makers emblem or if this was a home build - can anyone help with any information or point me in the right direction to get information! thanks - Sonja
Wow, that's a very interesting looking van. The art deco fittings say late 30's very early 40's. What is on the door to the right of the sink? Are they just decorative fittings?? AND, how about the hot and cold running water taps!!!!! Don't tell me there is a hot water system on board!!
Thanks, Yes I think the items on the door appear to be decorative, although there is a toggle switch on it - but not connected to anything. without going out to look at it again I cant confirm the hot water system - will look tonight! Unfortunately I cant find Cobbers thread 'little aluminium van'...probably due to my inability to negotiate my way around the site at this stage. Am I to understand home made vans were pretty common for the era?
Just noticed your post after I composed this post, so... I modify this post
Yes home made or 'Non Propriety' as the poms call 'em or 'Custom made' as some of us call 'em were very common in the early days in Australia.... the 1940s and 1950s in particular.
The link to my van is HERE there are not many similarities apart from the fact that they are both full of questions
As others have said your van is different and very interesting. There are maybe indications that it was built by somebody with access to military equipment and skills... maybe
In our DHL (Down History Lane ) part of the forum there is a thread on Caravans built out of Aircraft Components and I also have just recently acquired THIS VAN that I am pretty sure is also in that camp..... getting proof positive or any details about who actually made it is very difficult.
In our icebox thread (can you believe somebody started a thread on iceboxes) there was discussion about an 'air lock' system, does that thing on the back of your ice box look like it could be part of such an arrangement ?
Download AttachmentDownload AttachmentDownload Attachment Hi, I don't believe the thing in the back of the ice box is an air lock - it appears to be more like a straight drain ? unfortunately the hot water tap is in line with the same supply as the cold water tap and runs out to the draw bar so single supply only. I will certainly peruse the aircraft component thread - that would be very interesting to us as we both have an aviation background.
My husband tells me (I'm not brave enough to crawl around underneath it!) the steel draw bar only runs back as far as the front spring mounts, the main floor structure is timber. Dragon
A post I maybe should have referred you to is THIS ONE where we had a discussion about a similar looking setup to what you appear to have. Where do you think drain hose from your ice compartment tray , if you had one , would run to ? Into that cup looking thing maybe ? Sorry to be a nuisance but....... this is important
HI Cobber I am guessing that the drain from the ice compartment tray (which I haven't got but imagine would sit on the two top rails) would run directly into the cup/funnel. it looks like the funnel is just simply clamped onto the back of the box with a saddle clamp. there doesn't appear to be any dual layers or overflow compartments involved. No nuisance..but why is it important??? I have no issues with copying photos over- thanks
Post by Don Ricardo on Feb 3, 2015 20:39:05 GMT 10
What a fascinating van with such a lot of interesting features.
I can't quite see the roofline on the side of the van from your photos, but from what I can see, the shape looks to me to be similar to that of many caravans built in the 1930's, such as this Windmill caravan. If you are able to post a photo showing the side view I would be most interested. (I realise it may be a little difficult because of the side of the carport.)
Not so long ago we thought that people only started to build metal clad vans using aluminium, tin or steel after World War II. However, we have now come across quite a few newspaper articles and adverts from the 1930's describing various metal clad vans. An example of a metal clad van built using a 1930's shape/design is Cardygeorge's Gertie. So it is quite possible that your van could be from the 30's, or the alternative could also be true - your van might have been built later but to an earlier (ie 30's) design.
What are your plans for your van? Are you intending to dust it off and use it?
One question from your photos: Is your van lined with (say) masonite or is it unlined? One of your internal shots seems to show some lining whereas another shot seems to show bare metal.
Post by Don Ricardo on Feb 3, 2015 21:12:15 GMT 10
Hi Cobber and Dragon,
The ice box is an interesting one isn't it?
Do you reckon it's a Kelvinator ice box that's been adapted for the purpose, or just a Kelvinator nameplate put on the door as a humorous gesture? I can't find any reference to Kelvinator producing ice boxes as opposed to refrigerators, but who knows? All the same I'm thinking the van builder probably just added the Kelvinator badge because they also decorated the van with the upside down Chev badge. Maybe the builder just thought it would be fun to incorporate some cultural references into the van?
Incidentally, the history of Kelvinator is quite interesting, including the origins of the corporate name and the links to the automotive industry - click here.
Lots of interesting info. Thanks!!! Would be super exciting if it turned out to be a 1930's build.
Its fully lined internally, but not sure of the material. Has a bit of a texture - almost like pinboard material - but feels hard like masonite. Will try and get a decent roofline photo tomorrow.
Not sure about the Kelvinator bit. The inside of the icebox appears to be more of a fabricated design than manufactured (rods with threaded ends and lots of rivets) but maybe that was how they were built at the time.
At this stage we're not really sure what we will do with it, as we really don't have the time/skills for a major restoration but think it probably needs more than just a polish up and air in the tyres
Post by Don Ricardo on Feb 4, 2015 16:45:45 GMT 10
The internal lining of your van may be cane-ite, which was/is made from sugar cane fibre, and was used extensively for lining caravans (particularly ceilings) in the 40's and 50's. It sounds like it fits your description of "Has a bit of a texture - almost like pinboard material". The cane-ite board is about 5 or 10 mm thick, and is flexible enough to bend two ways.
There is more info on this thread - see Cobber's post of 11 February 2013 and onwards.
Yes I think you are right Don about the Cane-ite - I tried to photograph it but not successfully, it is quite like pin board material and slightly squishy if pushed hard. I took a couple of photos of the roof of the van as much as possible and also the badge on the fridge it also has a slightly curved extractor fan above the portable stove which I thought was interesting (photo taken from below?) dont know how useful electrical fuse panel photos are either but have added one in case anyone is interested! Thanks for your continued interest and comments.
Post by Don Ricardo on Feb 4, 2015 19:14:57 GMT 10
G'day again Dragon,
Yes, if the lining feels squishy if pushed hard, I am almost certain it is cane-ite. It is a quite soft material really, but durable enough when painted. (Just be careful when you've using a broom though - I've put more than one dent in the cane-ite ceiling of our van when sweeping the floor and not watching where the the top of the handle was. )
The lining may help to narrow down the date of your van a bit (assuming it is original of course). Having seen your additional photos, I'm still thinking it's a 30's shape. However, as you've seen, Cobber has discovered that cane-ite was introduced around 1938. So that may suggest that your van was built in the late 30's, or possibly early 40's? Hopefully you'll find something else in the van that helps with the dating process. With the various furnishings, the exhaust fan, ice box and aluminium cladding, etc, it certainly is quite a unique van and worth looking after.
Regarding the electrical switches, they look reasonably modern in design, so presumably have replaced or augmented the originals at some point.
Just as I was about to press 'post', I thought of another bit of history you might be interested in: an aluminium clad van built in 1934 - click here. You'll see the general similarity in shape, although yours is a bit more typical 30's to my mind.