1920s campervan at Christies museum, Tocumwal NSW:
(source: posted by firefighter, Oct 19, 2007, who wrote: what a ripper of a museum this is ,4 vintage vans 1 of them is a very early 1920s camper van on wooden spoke wheels this museum was at kinglake vic and mr christie retired and moved it to Tocumwal)
Last Edit: Sept 18, 2017 11:21:26 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
Post by Don Ricardo on Jun 3, 2009 22:23:05 GMT 10
Report in the Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) of Wednesday, 27 November 1929, page 5, of a caravan used by two church workers in Victoria and New South Wales. The little hood or overhang that can be seen at the left hand end of the caravan seems to indicate that it is a 'motor caravan' (ie a 'motorhome' style caravan) rather than a 'trailer caravan':
Sisters Kathleen and Lorraine of the Church Bush Aid Society have travelled about 6,000 miles in Victoria and New South Wales in their caravan, dispensing aid in country districts. They gave a demonstration of their methods at St John's Church of England, Toorak, yesterday.
Last Edit: Sept 18, 2017 11:28:07 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
In the 1920's 'motor caravans' were more common on Australian roads than 'trailer caravans'. Note the comment:
"The touring caravan is an innovation in South Australia, and the success of the tour just completed is an indication that this kind of holiday-making is sure to become more popular."
Also note that this motor caravan predated "Pop" Kaesler's motor caravan (see Reply #4 onwards) by at least two, and most probably more years, although "Pop" Kaesler's first van - built on a 1924 Dodge chassis - is often referred to as the first of its type to have been built in Australia (and was almost certainly the first and close to the last to be built looking like an actual house).
Chevrolet Caravan Competition & Kaesler's Motor Caravan.
I found this item particularly interesting in light of some articles about the Chevrolet Caravan Competition I found while researching in the The Coach and Motor Body Builder magazines at the library.
This competition was organised in Melbourne by S.A. Cheney who was the Chevrolet distributor for Victoria and the Riverina at the time, according to his advertisement which targets the Chevrolet one ton chassis for use as a touring caravan. He went on to become probably the biggest Vauxhall Dealer in Australia, starting in the early 1930s. Cheney was a very good salesman and came up with lots of ways to promote his products over the years; his Caravan Competition is the earliest I’ve run across though. Given a similar contest was conducted in Adelaide it may have been more a 'Corporate' idea?
The article gives a plan of the winning arrangement and lots of descriptions as well as details of other contestant’s ideas that didn’t make the grade and it all makes for an interesting read. I tend to agree with you in regard to Kaesler’s Motor Caravan, I think because it survived and it looks like a house it has received more credit than it may be due and while the chassis was 1924 I doubt if it was new when converted. The first article I have found on his creation was published in The Australian Motorist, March 1, 1933 with a photograph and details given. I’ll attach it too. Another early item I found was in The Argus, January 1, 1922 and gave an account of a trip in a motor caravan through Gippsland over the preceding Christmas. Part of the article gives this description. “The vehicle used was a "Karrier" chassis, on which was mounted the "house" a roomy, covered-in-van body with wide spring-cushion seats at the sides that were converted into sleeping-bunks at night. Underneath these were conveniently stowed cooking utensils, food, spare clothing, &c, on the one side, and on the other were bedding, petrol, oil, and spares, while on the walls 'were secured guns and fishing tackle.' Drinking water and dry firewood were also carried in case of emergency. The dimensions of the body were as follow: Width ?ft. 4in.; length, 10ft. Oin.; height, ?ft. 4in., and, fitted with drop curtain back and front, completely enclosed them in case of wet and rough weather. Food was purchased en route, but the larder was also replenished with hares and rabbits, both of which were plentiful in the districts traversed. Wherever the caravan was halted it was the object of many inquiries, in fact, many motorists pulled up to inspect the "travelling house," and without exception all agreed that it was comfortable, and conveyed a sense of independence.”
I couldn't determine some of the dimensions hence the? The effort certainly seems to predate Kaesler by a good few years.
For those not familiar with a Karrier it was a British truck built at Huddersfield. They were eventually incorporated into the Rootes Group. Advertisements I have for the make in 1922 show it was still equipped with solid rubber tyres and again I would assume the vehicle used for this caravan was unlikely to be new so it would have been a slow, firm ride no doubt.
As I’m not a Photobucket user you will have to suffer the attachments over separate posts. Apologies for the quality of some copies, they are done using my own digital camera, much cheaper that a $1 a page from the overhead scanner which in most cases provides a poorer copy anyway. Unfortunately the lighting is not even but the result is readable.
I tend to agree with you in regard to Kaesler’s Motor Caravan, I think because it survived and it looks like a house it has received more credit than it may be due George
GEORGE !..... are you saying Pop Kaesler's motor homes are "overrated"..... that puts them in a very exclusive club
Thanks for posting that stuff.... So it looks like two S.A Chevrolet dealers were competing to see who could come up with the best "Motor Caravan" design based on a Chev truck way back in 1925, or as you suggested was it the Chevrolet Company ?.
It would appear as though they had some success as this photo of the 1934 Chev "single unit caravan" (as they called it) used by Captain C.A.S. Mansbridge shows. Captain Mansbridge was on the road for about two and half years and received quite a bit of publicity for himself and his Chevrolet. Notice the two "Kennels" underneath for the dogs
Just in case you thought I was pulling your leg about the dog kennels.... here's proof positive
Last Edit: Sept 18, 2017 11:36:36 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
Post by Don Ricardo on Apr 18, 2011 15:41:59 GMT 10
Thanks for your posts on the Chevrolet touring caravan competition. Some fascinating additional background to the Adelaide article I posted. I thought it was interesting that the competition rules required separate sleeping compartments for men and women, whereas we normally think of there being separate sleeping areas for parents and children (if at all).
The Adelaide version strikes me as being a better design, but it is a bit difficult to know unless you could actually see them both.
Regarding "Pop" Kaesler, it is clear that he built his van four or five years after the Adelaide Chevrolet competition (which I presume was decided in 1924 since Mr Ridge was using the van for a holiday in January 1925).
I am fortunate enough to have an original document from Kaesler which states that he decided to build his first motor caravan after a less than happy holiday in Easter 1928 when the family had to sleep in a shed because no other accommodation was available at McLaren Vale. He then states that his "Home from Home" was 'almost complete by Easter 1929'. So 1929 is the build date for the first of two motor caravans.
It is incredible to think of how the van looked - a tiled roof, and weighing two tons! You would have to think that progress would have been slow!
I certainly don't wish to distract in any way from Mr. Kaesler's achievements, I'm sure he never claimed to build the first motor home, it's others in more recent history distorting the facts as happens so many times. I'd be happy to have his motor home in my shed and take it out for the occasional spin.
I wonder if this American creation for horses in 1924 may have given him inspiration.
The division of male and female occupants also amused me but I suppose those who devised the competition were products of the late Victorian era and may have felt such stipulations were in the interest of public decency.
I have several other similar items relating to Australian Motor Homes of this period I will post in due course.
This was a great little unit, I particularly liked the fact you could take the roof off and use it as a skiff, how inventive.
I wonder if this "Bean Cruiser" was the first commercially produced motor caravan offered in Australia. Plenty were built prior to this one in 1927 but this is the first one I've run across specifically offered by an agent ready to roll as it were. It's a great bit of advertising with all the right images to entice you to go touring about Australia.
A photo and short article was published about it in early 1928 when one was exhibited at the Sydney Motor Show but I'm still trying to figure out how to combine the two images to post it.
This photo of a 'Cruiser' extended for use was published in the Sunday Times (Perth) on 4-3-1928 and while it does not say it is a Bean 'Cruiser' the various features are identical and I've no doubt it is. Wonderful engineering to get it all to fold out as required, it took Winnebago a few years to catch on.
For those not familiar with the name, Bean was an English company that produced cars and trucks for a relatively short time, truck production ended in 1931. Francis Birtles made the car famous driving one from England to Australia and it now resides in the National Museum in Canberra.
Post by Don Ricardo on Nov 15, 2011 22:27:14 GMT 10
G'day Griffin and Cobber,
Great items you've posted Griffin!
Funny you should mention Francis Birtles - I was just digging up an article I'd read about him (see below). I would guess that Dalgetys almost certainly decided to act as agents for the Bean "Cruiser" (or maybe even arranged for a local coachbuilder to build them) off the back of Birtles' long distance feats, some of which were completed in a Bean motor car.
Birtles was a remarkable man, to say the least - a real adventurer, and you'd have to think a bit of a loner. Amongst other things he:
Circumnavigated Australia twice on a bicycle in the first decade of the 1900's;
By 1912 had crossed the continent seven times (from memory all by bicycle);
Was the first person to travel from west to east by motor vehicle;
In 1912 drove from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria and back;
In 1915, drove the route taken by Burke and Wills and filmed the journey;
In 1926 drove from Darwin to Melbourne in just over eight and half days in a Bean;
Drove from London to Melbourne in a Bean car commencing in October 1927 and arriving in July 1928. (This is the trip you wrote about Griffin, also made in a Bean);
By 1927 had made 70 trans-continental trips across Australia.
I would guess that the Dalgety advert showing the Bean "Cruiser" against the map of Australia was alluding to Birtles' trans-continental expeditions, the sub-text being "you can trust a Bean to take you across the continent"...
Reading about him, Birtles continued his expeditions for almost all his life (he died in 1941). The following newspaper extracts report on a honeymoon he took with his wife in 1935 in a specially built 'Ford caravan', not unlike the Bean "Cruiser" in some ways.
You know there was a unit just like this ( or very close to it from memory) in brisbane 18-20 years ago.. It used to live in commercial rd newstead/tennerrife near the ferry terminal ( for anybody who knows brisbane and may have seen it)...... It was browwn in colour.. like some left over railway colour... When i used to see it it was outside this guys house.. but i did see it driving once or twice..and think it was still all registered etc.. Many people offered him to buy it.... but he never wanted to sell.... then one day they started to redevelop the area and then the van..and possibly the owner... left the area.... It was a really cool van and certainly evoked images of a bygone era and gypsies etc,... I would love to know what happened to it.. do any of the members know the one I am talkng about???
TitleTitle Francis Birtles' carCreatorHood, Sam, 1872-1953 Level of DescriptionItemDate of Work9/5/1935Type of MaterialGraphic MaterialsCall NumberHome and Away - 12179Physical DescriptionPhotographs : 1 film photonegative (copied from original nitrate photonegative) ; 35 mm. Administrative / Biographical NoteTHE CARAVAN
Plainly the apple of his eye, Mr Birtles was proud to show the "POST" representative over his caravan which, although it had just traversed several thousands of miles, had hardly a mark and looked spick and span. Mounted on a Ford V-8 chassis, the caravan is the last word in comfort and utility. Truly it was a home on wheels and bore out the contention of its owner that there was no need for them ever to worry about the hotels. The design which was Mr. Birtles's own, was not evolved over-night nor was its execution a matter of merely days. Such conveniences as mosquito proof windows, a floor that could be taken out revealing further mosquito proofing, an electric radiator with a small motor to supply current for it and a seven valve wireless set with which they could have music wherever they went were added to collapsible tables and what was even mere attractive a latex rubber mattressed bed wide and long enough for two. Height has been sacrificed to some extent to prevent the roof striking trees and branches in the rough going but the ceiling was insulated to make for pleasant conditions in all weathers. Hunting gear of all kinds, including a specially prepared line for crocodiles, was included in the equipment, while in lockers specially contrived to take up the minimum space is carried enough food to last three months. Tanks to hold 80 gallons of water are also part of the equipment. "
Reference: Cairns Post, 7 August 1935, p.6Supplementary IdentifiersOriginal item no. NCY33/569NamesBirtles, Francis, 1881-1941 Birtles, Nea, Mrs Topicsexplorers touring cars PlaceDomain, The (Sydney, N.S.W.) Public Library of New South Wales (Macquarie Street, Sydney, N.S.W.) PersonAdult Males Adult Females Digital order no.hood_12179
Last Edit: Sept 18, 2017 11:51:33 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo