Hi there. This is my first post. I recently purchased a little bond wood caravan known as little atom. I was hoping i might be able to find out more about the history of this little van renamed Ethel. she is 2.5m long and 1.8m wide and as cute as a button. Any advise would be great,y appreciated!
Post by Don Ricardo on Jul 10, 2015 23:44:20 GMT 10
Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your acquisition.
Am I correct in thinking this is your caravan? (Photo from the Ebuy or Gumtree listing, I'm not sure which)
I think a photo of Little Atom - now Ethel - may have been posted on the forum previously, but I don't think much info emerged. Hopefully someone will be able to tell you something this time around.
It may help work out its identify if you can post some photos of the back and front, and the interior. There are instructions on how to post photos in the 'Forum Guidelines & Helpful Hints' section of the forum. We generally recommend that you post photos via Photobucket, but there are other ways as well, depending on how and where you store photos.
We look forward to hearing more about your adventures with Ethel.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jul 11, 2015 12:58:42 GMT 10
Yep, that worked. Well done!
You can go one step further if you wish by clicking on each photo, which will open the photo up to a larger size. Then click on the URL address shown against 'IMG' in the top right corner. 'Copied' will briefly show over the address. You can then paste the address into your post on the forum and the photo will display in the post like the photo I posted of your van. You can copy and paste the addresses for as many photos as you want to in the one post, but just press 'Enter' once or twice on your keyboard after each photo address so that they display in a vertical line not a horizontal line.
Hopefully, seeing the photos of your van, someone on the forum will recognise something about its design and/or some of the fixtures and fittings that will enable you to work out its origins. A few caravan manufacturers built small vans (8 or 9 feet), mainly in NSW as it happens. I haven't worked out if Ethel may be one of their vans yet. However, one thing I did notice and that was her mini sized wheels which were fairly uncommon in the vintage era (ie up to 1969). I am therefore wondering whether your van may have been homebuilt? If so, it has been very well done. Anyway, let's see what others think.
In the Sydney Morning Herald archives, edition Wednesday 14 March, 1956, a classified advertisement lists the following Supalite caravans:
Atom 4 cwt Week-ender 5 cwt (note the spelling shown as "-ender") Viking 71/2 cwt Cadet 81/2 cwt Atlas 10 cwt Spacemaster 111/2 cwt
...The rest of the advert is not shown...
To answer my own question...
Yes, there was a Supalite model smaller than the Week-ender (or Weekenda) and it was called...the Atom!
I don't have the 1956 Winser, but I do have a 1960 Winser which indicates that the Supalite Atom was still available and that it was an 8 footer suitable for towing behind "a light sports sedan or tourer like a Fiat or Renault". No photos though unfortunately. (By that date Supalite were also producing a 9 ft model called the Viking.)
As Hughdeani has said, the cupboards in Ethel1's van look very similar to the Weekenda shown above - especially the sliding cupboard doors. Off the top of my head I can't think of anybody else that had sliding doors for their under sink/bench cupboards (as opposed to head high cupboards) at that stage. So that is probably another strong indicator.
Looks like you are on right on target with your identification Hughdeani, and looks like you have a Supalite Atom, Ethel1. Congratulations on having a really unusual van.
I'm thinking that originally your little van would have had the little red wings on the sides just above the wheels as shown in the advert I posted above. That was Supalite's little insignia.
If it's OK with you Ethel1, we'll copy the photos of your van to the Supalite thread in the Down History Lane section?
Wow! Thank you! Such a wealth of knowledge. I'm more than happy for you to use the images in the down history lane section. I was told when I purchased Ethel that she may be from the 1950's. Do you think that might be right? Also, is it unusual or to have a sink in the van? Thanks agains
Hi again I've been looking on the vintage caravan posts and saw a members post from 2007 (Phargan) and his van looked a lot like Ethel in shape and interior was almost identical. It was listed as a Caravan Park Lt, Hunter Minor.
It's not a Hunter Minor - the chassis/axle/wheels and wheel arch is different. It is also a bigger van than yours. The interior setup is also quite different. I suspect that your van may be a home-built, possibly based on the Supalite.
Last Edit: Jul 13, 2015 12:26:39 GMT 10 by Roehm3108
Post by Don Ricardo on Jul 13, 2015 0:50:39 GMT 10
Your van is virtually 100% certain a factory-built Supalite Atom. It has a number of distinctive Supalite features which enable us to identify it as such.
As Roehm has said we can also be certain it isn't a Carapark Hunter Minor. He referred to Superlite, but I think he meant Supalite. Superlite is a different brand again. Check out the info in the Down History Lane section via the index to see what we mean.
In terms of age, we have found references to the Atom model for both 1956 and 1960 so that indicates the age range for your van.
Re the sink - I'm not sure whether you're saying that your van has one or not, but it would be unusual for a factory-built full size van (even 8ft!) not to have a sink but probably not unknown.