Hi, My husband and l purchased this caravan over the weekend. i have been searching for something like this for so long - and was so happy to seal a deal! l was wondering if anyone could help me work out what year this is, and if it is in fact a Gracemur? or a sunliner?
we have a little work to do to her but i'm intending on keeping it as original as possible. The vinyl lining on the interior ceiling has a few holes etc and I'm wondering if its worth keeping this aspect or just starting from scratch ? Any advice or ideas on her restoration and age etc would be greatly appreciated.
Hi, My guess is its a Gracemur, with the corner windows removed & filled in. The side windows & shape, etc, are same as early 60's Sunliner. But only the Gracemur had a central front window, with side fixed panels. Sunliner had 2 fixed panels, with a divider piece in the middle. That divider continued thru the roof of the van, as joining part of the moulds
Your internal fitout appears different from Sunliners I have seen, but I haven't looked at a Gracemur inside. The fabric roof lining is the same as a Sunliner, but Gracemur could be the same.
So I believe you have a 61 or 62 Gracemur, modified in the front window area.
Now all the knowledgeable others will come on & correct me. Eventually you may learn its something different to what I think it is. Thats one of the fun bits of this Forum.
Nice van pico I painted our roof lining by brush with quality vynle paint and a patch.filled some tiny holes with white no more gaps came up like new. Check out my photoes on wwwsunnystays.com.au and our face book page.looks like we have the same clolour cupboards
Post by Don Ricardo on Apr 15, 2015 20:28:53 GMT 10
Congratulations on your purchase. Quite intriguing about its origins, eh?
I think JBJ is right on the button about the dating of your van: 1960 to 62. However, while JBJ knows more about Sunliners than me, and despite the central front window which does look like the central window from a Gracemur, I reckon it might be a modified Sunliner. My reasons for saying that are that I don't believe we've seen a Gracemur with the 'spears' moulded in the sides, nor with the 'eyebrows' over the side windows. Another factor is that your van doesn't have the Gracemur wheel spats, nor would it be possible to attach them because of the moulding around the wheel arch. As far as all the evidence so far tells us, Gracemur used a modified version of the Sunliner 1958/9 type 1 body, and never graduated to the Sunliner 1960-62 type 2 body (which yours appears to be), or the Sunliner 1963-70 type 3 body.
You can compare your van with other Sunliners on the 'Down History Lane' section Sunliner thread by clicking on this link. There's info on Gracemur caravans including photos here. And there's a detailed explanation of how to distinguish the difference between the various Sunliner body types on this website.
Modification to Sunliners like the front window of your van are not unknown. Here's a Sunliner with a similar modification belonging to forum member Sunny62, and seen at the 2014 Vintage Caravan Nationals at Broken Hill:
I thought Sunliners died in 1965. I know of the first model, & the second model, but have never heard of anything after 1965 until your post. If they were built after 65, where were they built?? What did they look like??? The factory in Forster closed in 65, to the best of my knowledge. So they weren't built there I believe. Humpty knows more than I do about this.
Idon't know if Gracemur may have used the second model moulds, but thats beyond my direct experience
I also believe the van you showed is more likely to be a modified Gracemur, as early Sunliners did not use aluminium windows. The side windows on early Sunliners had fibreglass frames, not aluminium.
But they have been modified so much by owners over the years, & there are no accurate records that anyone can compare with. Whatever they are, they are a pretty good van for their age
Post by Don Ricardo on Apr 15, 2015 22:07:03 GMT 10
I understood the same as you about the closure of the Forster factory in 1965, but if you have a look at the third link I provided in my earlier post there is some alternative info there which appears to have come from the Tickner family. That's why I referred to the type 3 body going though to 1970. In any case, Sunliners were still being advertised in Winser in 1967, so they must have been being produced somewhere still at that point.
I agree that the central front window and the side windows seeming to fit much better with Gracemur vans, but I have never seen a Gracemur with a type 2 body, and the Gracemur advertisements in 1967 still show a van with a type 1 body. I reckon if they'd upgraded to a type 2 body surely they would be showing that in their advertisements by that stage? Well, that's what I was thinking anyway.
If the front window on Pico's van has been modified, perhaps the side windows have been changed as well? I will be interested to hear back from Pico once she has had a look at some of the pics I provided links to. As you say, some of the vans have been much modified and it can be difficult to find an 'original' van in some makes to use for comparison.
All I can say is that this Sunliner history stuff is certainly a bit 'grace-murky'!
By the way I should point out that my terminology of 'type 1,2 and 3 bodies' is not official - it's just my shorthand way of referring to the three body types used by Sunliner.
hi , nice to see another van being saved, if you can find the chassis number on draw bar this will determine whether your van is a gracemurr or sunliner... with out seeing the van i would say it is a sunliner...mainly because of the spears on the sides and when i was looking for a van i could only find sunliners and i live in the home of gracemurrs bundaberg... murphies law i guess... happy vintage vanning...
I have a Sunliner Gracemur just like yours same exterior except my side windows are not closed off and very similar interior I am the forth owner i bought it off a gentleman in Gunnadah who had it for 30 + years he bought it off his sister who had it for 10 years and she bought it off her best friend I am told mine is a 1965 or 66 it was one of the last built i have attached a pic not sure how this pic thing works Download Attachment
Looking closely at your van, everything points to a 63/64 Victory. Check for the chassis number.....usually about 12 inches back from the coupling. it should read MMYY/number (under 400) you have an all tube chassis....most gracemur's have square section on the top rail and if you look hard you can see where the window line has been filled in. Also....the single window at the front appears to be a different type to the rest. Did they make Sunliners after 65/66....not in Forster I think. I have heard rumors of them being made in South Nowra, but haven' t bothered to follow that up. The Moulds ended up in Newcastle rubbish dump (Shortland)...Alan Curtis who had the Motor Museum got rid of them when he closesd the Museum in Forster. Trying to help Humpty
Fibreglass fantasia!....a Sunliner, a Carlight Continental plus one for spares (fibreglass roof & ends)... 52 homemade plywood and a Fibreglass Kennedy lookalike awaiting a brand/name (might be Skyline?) ................. EH Premier S/Wagon & '56 FORD Country Sedan for my towcars
Thank you so much to everyone who is helping me try to solve this mystery. Don Richardo, I've had a good look through the links you sent - really interesting and so nice to see all the beautiful vans. its making me very excited about the restoration thats for sure. i took some more photos this morning. It looks to me as though there has definitely been some modifications to the windows. All but one window is openable, and the two ends of the van look as though they once had the larger windows, as there is a white vinyl, with foam underneath that looks like where windows once were. We are taking it to a shed this weekend to pull the shell off and fix flooring and get chassis sandblasted etc. i'll keep an eye out for a chassis number. here are some more pics to help with my mystery
Post by Don Ricardo on Apr 18, 2015 13:12:31 GMT 10
Pico: Glad you found the links and photos I referred you to of interest. The additional photos you posted of your van are also very interesting, especially learning that the back windows of your van have also been modified by replacing the two perspex windows with a single smaller window, as at the front. So I reckon that's a bit more evidence that your van is a modified Sunliner and not a Gracemur. Also, looking at your photos again, I realised that the side window to the left of the door is fixed (ie doesn't open), and your photo of the ceiling lining shows that it is diamond pattern vinyl - both indicators of a type 3 Sunliner body and further confirmation of Humpty's dating of your van as being 1963/4, not the earlier date suggested.
Humpty2: Great to read your post on Pico's van. A bit confusing regarding the winding up of the manufacturing of Sunliners, isn't it? Vantoura says that Sunliners were produced up to 1970, but I'm not sure of the basis for that. As I said earlier, Sunliners were still being advertised in the 1967 Winser. Perhaps that could have been a mistaken carryover from previous caravan manuals, but then I wouldn't have thought that Winser would include the info on the vans unless someone was paying for it to be included??
There were obviously more than one set of moulds. You mention the ones used at Forster that were taken to the tip, and there must have been another set used for manufacturing Sunliners in Geelong, and there was the modified set used in Bundaberg for Gracemurs. But then there was a set which seem to have gone over to New Zealand for the production of Concord caravans which appeared to have started up around the time Sunliner wound up. Perhaps there was more than one set at Forster and one was shipped to NZ??
Hopefully, one day someone will come on the forum that can explain all this to us, but regrettably the chances of that diminish as time goes by.
Heywok: Thanks for posting the photos of your van for us to see. It certainly seems to have the Gracemur front window setup on a type 2 body, so that possibly sets the cat amongst the pigeons in relation to Gracemurs. What can you tell us about the history of your van? How long have you had it for, and where was it located before you got it? Do you know what the livery (ie paintwork) looked like prior to its current (rather attractive) paint job? Do you know what the serial number is? Does it start with a Q?
Sorry, lots of questions, but your van is really intriguing!
Hi Don My van spent its life in and around Gunnadah N.S.W. the guy who had it for 30 years stored it in a shed when not in use and the condition of the interior and exterior was testament to this when i purchased this van back in May 2014. When i bought the van it was dark Charcoal grey with white top.My interior is exactly like the pics above of the interior of Pico's above right down to the ribbed piece of trim on the shelf my hood lining is blue and is in great condition it has some very minor rips in places that are not generally seen inside the wardrobe.I have just replaced the original fridge and put some vents in the side wall new gas lines and certificate new mattress new vinyl on the floor painted the outside bottom yellow and cut and polished the top section. my intention is to keep as original as i can just brighten up the interior with red 2 pac paint on the cupboard doors and trim and just brush paint gloss on the rest of the cupboards and recover the original inner spring cushions i have just bought a new annex for it and am giving the original annex to a mate for his van i have also put new axle and brakes on the van and had it engineered for 1.2 ton large trailer so i could put personal number plates on it SUNNI and just generally tart it up 60's era it is towed behind yellow 29 ford Tudor Hotrod not sure about the serial number as it does not make sense and the guy i bought it off says that the number was on there when he bought it it is not stamped it is welded on it is X44 we are not so much a Vintage Vaner's as we are car people that attend weekend events and need somewhere to sleep and it looks good to.Happy to say giday and chat if i see you at any of the events Maidenwell is the Vans next outing.
Post by Don Ricardo on Apr 25, 2015 13:45:19 GMT 10
G'day Pico and Heywok,
Thanks Heywok for providing that additional information about your van, including about the serial number. All most interesting. I think from what I can find out that your serial number is a partial Gracemur serial number, with the 'X' possibly indicating that it was Gracemur's equivalent to the Sunliner Thriftmaster model.
I also want to thank Pico for initiating this conversation, and to you both for posting photos of your interesting vans. Your contributions have brought to light something that had not previously been recorded on this forum - namely that Gracemur produced vans using Sunliner type 3 bodies. Heywok's van is an example of that, showing the features of the type 3 bodies including the moulded spears on the side, etc, but also incorporating the Gracemur three part windows at the front (with the opening window being noticeably larger than the window on the previous model based on the Sunliner type 1 body), and opening windows all around (in contrast to type 3 Sunliners).
In contrast, even though Heywok's and Pico's vans have some similarities, I am still pretty convinced at this stage that Pico's van is a modified Sunliner and not a Gracemur for three reasons: (1) Both the front and rear windows have been modified indicating that the front window is almost certainly not original; (2) The opening window at the front is smaller than the opening window used on the Gracemur version of the Sunliner type 3 body; (3) The side window adjacent to the door is non-opening which was the case with the Sunliners but not the Gracemurs.
Heywok, I will copy the photos of your van to the Gracemur thread in the Down History Lane section. Hope that's OK?
Don, Thanks so much for the feedback and thoughts on the van. We had a pretty bad storm here last week and the poor thing got a bit battered and cracked the fibreglass on the window area. But surprisingly this just exposed the original wrap around window recess... So definite window modifications. I would love to restore the van to have original wrap around windows and was wondering if anyone knows of where I can get these made? Or what l can do ?
My husband and l officially started stripping the van today. Will update with some pics of Reno rescue- she is looking a lot worse than we anticipated! Thanks again for the feedbaCk
Post by Don Ricardo on May 18, 2015 18:10:53 GMT 10
I am reluctant ever to question your views on anything to do with a fibreglass vintage van - particularly on your birthday of all days - given that you are the acknowledged guru of fibreglass, and rightly so. But... And you knew there was a 'but' coming didn't you?
Like you I understood until recently that Gracemur only ever produced vans using what I call the Sunliner type 1 body, and I felt fairly sure of that because the latest Gracemur advert I have, which is from 1967, quite clearly shows a Gracemur based on a Sunliner type 1 body. Case closed I thought. That was until I saw Heywok's van and started digging around. My research led me to this webpage, which convinced me that at some stage, Gracemur began to build vans based on what I have called the Sunliner type 3 bodies, like Heywok's van.
Part of the reason for me being convinced is that I have now seen four separate examples of the 'Gracemur type 3' van. If we only had one example of a van like Heywok's I would tend to think that it was just an instance of a Sunliner having been modified at some point. But it seems unlikely that there would be so many examples around if someone was just doing an aftermarket modification.
Another reason I was convinced that Gracemur built vans based on the Sunliner type 3 bodies was the partial serial number Heywok was able to provide, which fits in with what you have said was the pattern for Gracemur serial numbers, but does not fit in (as far as I can work out) with the pattern for Sunliner serial numbers.
The only other explanation for the various vans like Heywok's that I can think of, is that Sunliner itself began to build vans with the triple front windows, or that there was somebody out there who modified existing Sunliners to give them the triple front windows. Given everything, the Gracemur theory seems to be the most likely?
I am most interested on your further thoughts on all this. You have collected a heap of information about various fibreglass vans over the years that may help solve this puzzle, and I am certainly open to correction in terms of my current conclusion.
And by the way - a very happy birthday from Dona Ricardo and me. It is great to know that you have reached this new milestone in your life's journey, and we are really hoping and praying that there can be further milestones ahead. We note that you've booked for the 2016 Nationals, so that is a good sign!!
Hi don ricardo I will get my records out and go through them, and make comments accordingly.I do remember interviewing a family member from the Forster Sunliner, and her father was given one of the last vans produced as part payment when the factory when'belly up' and they took this van to Gracmur and had a centre front window fitted. I have photos of this van I have taken myself. This tells me forster did produce centre window models. Now await until I do some reading of my notes. Cheers boblor
Post by Don Ricardo on May 19, 2015 22:10:33 GMT 10
Thanks for your reply. I'll look forward to hearing what more you can tell us once you've had a chance to go through your records, and I will be really interested to see photos of the van you mentioned to see if the triple front windows have been done in the same way as on Heywok's van.
Hi don ricardo I think tucys van is a Foster unit with conventional chassis and elliptical springs. Also the panel above the 'A' frame appears to moulded with the body and not a separate unit. I think the front centre window has been an addition. Cheers boblor
Hi Bob,your right about the box tube chassis and leave spring suspension and the panel above the drawbar was part of the front of the van but I don't recall the front opening window looking like it had been a modification. tucky