Post by aussieambo on Dec 26, 2007 14:17:37 GMT 10
I thought I would start this little thread as I remeber sometime back there were some questions and general info on the VV site regarding this type and make of caravan. I will leave it to the moderator as to whether this is a suitable place to place information regarding the Expandavan. Thanks Graem
Post by aussieambo on Dec 27, 2007 11:12:57 GMT 10
Well as promised, I found another article on the Expandavan. This one was taken from 'caravan Tests No 3 which was published in the Summer of 71-72. I scanned this article at home and my scanner is old so I hope the quality is OK. Should anyone require a better copy of either (or both) of these articles, please drop me an email with your address and I will gladly forward on a photocopy to you. Thanks and enjoy. Graem PS - Special thanks to Don R for his encouragement & support
Production of the Expandavan was started in the Mid 1960's at Alexandra in Victoria. The designer and builder was Mr. Cliff Mintern who was reputed to be a perfectionist in every thing he did....... he was by trade a signwriter. His partner in the Expandavan project was Mr. Doug Lister, both gentlemen are now deceased but I recently had the pleasure of talking to Doug's widow Alice, and Cliff's daughter Julie at Alexandra regarding the history of the Expandavan. The chassis on the original 'vans was made by Mr. Les Battesey. (Battersby ?)
There is some doubt as to what year production actually started, around 1964 or 1965 the ladies thought and this appears to be confirmed by the above article in the “Australian Caravan Tests” magazine. And again it is not known exactly how many plywood 'vans were made. The suggestion is that only eight, or maybe ten, were made at Alexandra before the license was granted, around 1970, to “Helmsman Industries” who were boat builders in the Lake Eildon area near Alexandra and had experience working with fibreglass, in fact it was they who had made the mudguards for the original plywood 'vans. It is not known how many were made by them but it became evident very quickly that production costs were so high as to make them uncompetitive in the market place.
The patent was then aquired by “Camperman”, a division of “Peters Ice Cream”, who were at the corner of Elonera Rd. & Princes Highway Dandenong. They made the aluminium single fold out version and later the fibre glass model refered to in the “Australian Caravan Tests” magazine articles above. It would appear that they also made a double fold out model known as the “Petersville Tag-A-Long Expandavan” as shown further down this page. It has been suggested that in order to cut costs very thin layers of fibreglass were used by them resulting in cracks appearing which in the end brought failure to the project.
Back to the original 1965 plywood version of the Expandavan.
The first ones had only one expanding bed on the off side of the 'van, the kitchen was placed at the front, a wardrobe at the rear and a fridge and bench on the opposite side of the 'van to the bed. Later models had two expanding double beds, one each side, the kitchen was again at the front with the wardrobe beside it closest to the door, a fold down table was placed at the rear between the beds that served as seats when they were extended out. Cliff refused to make a third expanding section at the rear insisting that this would make the 'van unstable both on the road and when pitched. The bedding in all models Cliff made was of foam rubber. The photos below show a two bed version that is still used occasionally. There is another plywood Expandavan known to be in good condition in Tasmania.
The shed where original Expandavans were made On the building the Expandavans were made are the names Payne-----Whitington Mintern EXPANDAVAN
The plywood Expandavan closed up
With one of the beds expanded.
There is another thread on this forum started in August 2005 regarding the fibreglass version of this model. If the information I have been given is correct it would not have been made until early 1970 if it was a “Helmsman” model and more likely 1971 if it was made by “Camperman”. See it @
There is an uncanny similarity in the concept and construction of the fold out sections of the Expandavan and the 'van fellow member “Sutcac” has that is affectionally called “Fugly”. It is reputed to have been made by Mr. Ken Scharf of Melbourne, in the late sixties. This 'van has two fold out beds, one on the off side and another at the front with a third fold out at the rear of the 'van, the front fold out would have overcome the percieved stability problems that worried Cliff. This third fold out provides for an eating area, the kitchen is on the near side of the 'van. The fold out arrangements are very similar but the appearance of the 'van is very different.... see photos @.
Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 14, 2009 23:37:20 GMT 10
Tag-a-long Expandavan advertised on Ebay, October 2008.
Note that this is the aluminium clad, more angular, Petersville version shown in the Australian Caravan Tests No5 (see Firefighter's post immediately above):
Comments by the seller:
"Up for auction is this rare and unique opportunity to own a Petersville "Tagalong expandavan". "This van is aluminium and is an ingenius design with the beds folding out and protected by folding walls. It is similar in concept to a camper trailer but with the beds pulling out from the sides and with aluminium folding walls rather than canvas.
"Unsure of exact build date but think late 60's.
"Dimensions are approx. 11ft in length by 5ft.6ins. in width and an overall height of 8ft.2ins. When the bedroom extensions are locked in position, it expands to a width of 14ft.
"This is a restoration project. It was started by someone else and I purchased it with the intention of restoring it to its former glory but like too many of my ideas, it has not come to fruition. I have decided to instead allow someone else the pleasure of resoring this rare caravan.
"An added bonus of this van is that it includes a 3-way fridge that has been tested on 240volt and works well. Also in the van is a gas stove, sink and usual caravan fittings. There was originally two of these vans so there are still spare items such as sink, external aluminium panels etc. So there is plenty to get your restoration underway!
"Not towable. Pick-up only and will fit on tandem car trailer..."
Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 14, 2009 23:56:46 GMT 10
This van belongs to forum contributor Anthology
It is an example of the earlier style aluminium clad Expandavan similar to the Mini Expandavan featured in Australian Caravan Tests No 2 which more closely reflected Cliff Mintern's original design (see Reply #2 above).
For more information and photos of this van, including internal photos, click here
Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 15, 2009 20:49:19 GMT 10
Post by Cobber on 27 October 2008:
Recently sold on Ebay for $137 (to hwyman0-3..... we have a member named hwyman, if you are the same fella you have an interesting purchase there ) was a very different Petersville “Tag-a-long”...... a Camper Trailer with a very clear indication that there was a connection with the “Peters Ice Cream” company, just look at the way “Petersville” is written.
There was no age given for the Tag-a-long camper trailer..... it has 13 inch wheels .... 1950s .
Hi All VVers I have decided to compile a register for the Expandavan, similar to the register I have for the Olympic vans. These vans are very unique,so much so that I will be an owner soon. So all you VVers who own an Expandavan would like to forward me your details and those of the van to me I will put them on the register Maybe you may know of someone who owns one of these vans ,feel free to pass on my details so that we can make contact. I would be very keen to make contact with the owner of the van featured by DR in reply 10. I am trying to contact the former CEO of Petersville who was there at the time they were producing these little vans. Chassis no's I currently have are,22 bought new in 1976, FF26, FF39, FF44, 118. I am awaiting confirmation of three others My email firstname.lastname@example.org . Mb 0428 850 666 and live in the Tweed / Coolangatta area. I should mention that I have a copy of the Patent Specification as issused by the Commonwealth of Australia, application No. 48 668/64 lodged on 28th Aug. 1964, an improved collapsible annex or shelter lodged on 26th Aug.1965, Accepted 7th May 1969 and published 2nd March 1967. Patent No. 290,795. (this is a nine page document) Cheers boblor
Post by Don Ricardo on Jun 30, 2010 23:17:52 GMT 10
Boblor - the King of 'Glass ;D ;D ;D - has sent me some fascinating material to post about Expandavan caravans. Because of the number of items I will break it into several posts.
The first item is the original patent documentation submitted by Cliff Mintern in 1965 for his Expandavan design, which resulted in the issuing of Patent No.290,795 (see post above). Quite interesting to see that he described his device as a 'collapsible annex or shelter', given that it forms an integral part of his caravan, rather than a detachable caravan accessory as implied by the word 'annex'.
It is a longish document, so apologies to those on dial-up.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jul 1, 2010 23:30:16 GMT 10
The following Expandavan adverts are posted on behalf of Boblor.
They rather neatly pinpoint the major steps in the history of Cliff Mintern's rather imaginative caravan design.
The first advert from 1968 is for the original MINTERN version of the Expandavan, manufactured in Alexandra, Vic - see Cobber's Reply #3 above for more details on this. This version of the Expandavan has ply sides and fibreglass covered roof (as opposed to being all ply, as was the case initially).
(Source: Keith Winser, Caravan Manual and Tourist Park Guide, 1968 edition, p 215)
It is also notable that the van in this first advertisement has three expandable sections - one on either side, and one at the rear. Cobber's post above (Reply #3) records that Cliff Mintern refused to make a "triple-expanda" van, but this first advert clearly refers to the van as being manufactured by, and called a 'Mintern Expandavan'. Perhaps Mr Mintern relented in his opposition to the "triple-expanda"? In any case, the triple version was later manufactured as a fully fibreglass model by Helmsman Industries in Eildon. The specifications for the HELMSMAN version of the Expandavan are shown in the third leaflet in Firefighter's post above (Reply #6).
The second advert from 1970 is for the CAMPERLAND version of the Expandavan, manufactured in Dandenong, Vic. This version is all fibreglass and has only two expandable sections. (This advert also posted by Firefighter above.)
(Source: Australian Motor Manual, October 1970, p 39)
The third advert or item is an article from 1972 and shows the CAMPERMAN version of the Expandavan, manufactured in Noble Park, Vic. The significance of this article is that not only does it show yet another change of ownership of the design, but that it is now available in three models:
Expandavan Deluxe - all fibreglass and 4-berth (ie 2 expandable sections)
Mini Expandavan - aluminium and 2-berth (ie 1 expandable section). This model was apparently also available at some point as a 4-berth see Anthology's Expandavan at Reply #9 above.
Microvan - aluminium 2-berth with drop floor.
(Source: 1972 Caravan Buyers Manual, p 29)
The final advert is also from 1972, and is for the PETERS TAG-ALONG version of the Expandavan, built after Camperman was taken over by Petersville. This version is aluminium clad.
(Source: Australian Motor Manual, September 1972, p 70)
Note that this advert also refers to the Tag-Along camper trailer, an example of which can be seen in Reply #11 above.
The Peters Tag-Along advert shows that the Expandavan distributor in South Australia was Wartz Products Pty Ltd. This helps explain one of the mysteries from the V V Nationals in Mildura, which is why Toffeeman's Expandavan - seen below at the Nationals - is registered as a WARTZ:
On a final note, those among you who are V V purists, may be wondering why adverts for caravans built in 1970 and 1972 are being displayed on a forum for pre-1970 caravans. That's because on this thread, the year 1969 is preceded by 1970 and 1972, as follows: 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1969. Hope that clarifies the situation. ;D ;D ;D
Thanks for sharing the results of your research Boblor.
Don Ricardo Addendum - May 2020:. It seems likely that the Microvan two-berth caravan with the drop-down floor mentioned in the Camperman advert above was a reference to the Bri-Ray Microvan rather than an Expandavan style van - see here.
Hi All VVers I have recorded the following chassis no's. FF No. 12, 16, 21,(1975 model) ,22(bought new in 1976 rego Vic. J58-356),26 (our van), 39, 44, 118, 128,. We have photographs of others but no details. Rego Plates recorded, -- Vic J16-057, J54-724, J58-356, J59-489, J62-640,B38-980, K80-531(chassis no. 128). SA TPC-043, TNM-161(1970), NSW K-73154. If any of you can put a year the issue period of these plates it would assist in identifying approximate period of manufacture. My guess is J16-057 is '70,J58-356 is '76, K80-531 maybe '78 model if they built one van per week ??. If any of you enthuisists can offer any suggestions it will help. Cheers boblor
Post by Don Ricardo on Jan 28, 2011 21:01:20 GMT 10
Dona Ricardo and I spent part of Australia Day having a very pleasant brunch with some neighbours. At some stage, the conversation turned to vintage caravans (doesn't every conversation? , and our neighbour commented that his family used to be in the caravan game. "Oh yes" said I, "tell me more."
Turns out his father - John Bury - was the proprietor of Camperman, which every Expandavan afficionado will tell you was the retailer for Expandavans at one point. In the late 60's, Camperman was also the retailer for the Microvan. The Microvan was an unusual little van which had a 'drop down floor', as opposed to a 'pop top roof'. Further info can be found in an article posted by Cobber here (see Reply #1). In addition to selling these vans, his father built a range of camper trailers, including one called the 'Corvette'.
I showed our neighbour the info we had on the forum about the Expandavan and the Microvan and he queried the accuracy of some of it, particularly regarding the relationship between Camperman and Petersville. As far as he is aware his father never manufactured the Expandavan, but acted as a retail outlet for Petersville.
He's going to show the info we have to his father and see if his dad can clarify things. He talked about some photos in a filing cabinet at well. Here's hoping.
Hi Don Ricardo Have you had a response to the above post,, John would be a very interesting person to speak to about the Expandavans. I have been researching the material I have on file and find if difficult to establish the real history and who made what and when. On the 22/10/'10 I had a phone call from Phil Ruthven who was CEO with Peters from about August 1969 until around May 1972, and states he knew little about the Caravan Division of the Company. This Division was run by a chap whos name he could not remember, but though that he was a Canadian and was in charge of the Refridgeration Department of Peters. I believe this person was Ron Hunt a Senior Refridgeration Executive, who run the Peters design team and had the co-operation of Cliff Mintern to build their own version of the Expandavan. In early 1972 a new Chairman was appointed to Peters and he decided that Peters should stick with food line type products and therefore the Caravan Division and IBUS had to go. Phil Ruthven went with IBUSWorld where he is Chairman still today. Someone has mentioned Buyer Guide no.5 that there is an article in it on Expandavan, I would like a copy of this if someone can provide me with one. Also Camperman mention a 16 page brochure being availiable in 1973 , I would love a copy of this document. In summary it would be nice to be able to have a chat to John Bury who owned Camperland, and Ron Hunt from the Peters days. Thats my two bobs worth for today. By the way our fibreglass Expandavan measures 3400 (11' 2") o/a the cabin x 1710 (5' 7") wide, Int. floor 2600 (8'6") x 1260 (4'2") and the chassis no. is FF26, this is different to those measurements shown in the write ups. Cheers boblor
Hi All Further to my above post, in Ausgust 2001 in Barcaldine Q'ld we met a Keith Taylor from the Dandenong Vic., who had an Expandavan chassis no. 22 which stated he bought brand new in 1976 and he referred to the van as a'Falcon'. Keith also stated that only about 50 vans were produced. Chassis no. 21 is located in WA and the owner maintains hers is a 1975 model. I am referring to the fibreglass models here. My info on files only takes me to 1973, so surely something would have been written / advertised after this, so if anyone can help ,please make contact. Cheers boblor
These are cool...I saw one of them on the trading post website when I first started looking for old vans, in really nice condition... I liked how you don't have to make the bed at the end of a long day's travel.... It was a bit expensive, and heavy, for me.
(The only thing I don't like about Penny is haveing to make the bed when you set her up.)
Post by shesgotthelook on Jul 14, 2012 14:17:07 GMT 10
Bills van weight for registration is 500kg & all up weight with water, gas bottle & spare wheel etc is 750kg. Many years ago he changed the suspension from 3 leaf to 10? & it's travelled like a dream ever since.
They really are a terrific design don't you think?