Hi Cobber, I was contacted about six months ago by someone who was going to have to organise selling his fathers old van, he told me that it was called a DeeJay and that his father and I think his uncles had built a small number of them. His mother lives close to West Brunswick, I think at Preston, so I wonder if this all ties in together. Graeme will contact me when family matters are sorted out, I will take my camera when we are able to view it, so fingers crossed that we will have located another low volume build van.
PS.This is the second time someone has chased us up after seeing our cars and vans on an episode of Cruisin' T.V , the first was Smiles van ;D ;D
Hi, Hate to cast negative aspertions.....the Franklin reference makes me wonder, looking at the shape of the van and front window style. Wonder if they bought shells from franklin and then fitted them out as more of a luxury van - i.e. brakes, venetians which were not on franklins of the day. Also Franklin did use Alfab windows (i know, i know, so did many other manufacturers). I recently discovered that Franklin built tandem axle vans around that era too......... Just a thought. Cheers, Gristy
It's worth chasing up alright Kris, don't forget to ask where the “Franklin” connection comes in because in the “Caravan Trade Directory”, in the back of that magazine, “Dee-Jay” are listed as “Manufacturers”.
You would think this indicates they made the 'vans from go to whoa... but like Gristy, I'm beginning to suspect it might be applied sometimes to some firms who finished kit 'vans like “Carapark” or “Highway Caravans” to a customers requirements .
I might post that “Trade Directory” somewhere someday... it's got good info in it.
Post by Don Ricardo on Sept 30, 2009 21:29:26 GMT 10
1956/7 Dee-Jay caravan offered for sale in For Sale/Wanted section by deejay on 1 September 2009:
"Interested in selling a 1956/7 bondwood caravan built by David Jones in Northcote under the tradename DEEJAY. Van is 16' X 7'. Wheels 6:95:14. 240v Thorn Triumph fridge. Parkinson 2 burner gas stove top. Cutlery, crockery, cookware etc all 30+ years old. Table converts to a second double bed. Van is in original condition and is excellent all over. It has been continuously garaged since 1981 - not moved out of the garage. Prior use was 1957 - 1971 - 5 weeks Xmas at West Rosebud and then garaged for rest of year. After 1971 the van was taken to Qld on about 4 occasions for up to 2 months at a time and then garaged. Van is currently garaged in Melbourne and is unregistered."
Post by Franklin1 on Sept 30, 2009 21:57:24 GMT 10
DonR, just to add a bit of "useless information", the hubcap showing on the van above is from a mid-1970s Millard. I have them on my '77 Millard pop-top in the same black painted version. There was also a gold version for full sized Millards from the same '70s period.
Thanks to complete co incidence, hopefully more of the history of the "Deejay" vans will soon be made available.
A few days back, Brendan ( 2 Supremes) did a mechanical repair on a vehicle . He's on the Sunshine Coast, & had the green & white tandem Viscount Supreme at Cowra, & on our recent "Toads & Roaches" northern NSW tour. The guy got talking about old vans, & mentioned he worked with David Jones ( Deejay) in West Brunswick as a young guy, while he went out with David's daughter. They eventually married, & are still together. They have (supposedly) a lot of history & memoriabilia still in their possesion. So they were surprised when Brendan told them he knew of a Deejay Tandem, our van.
So they then joined the Forum, & contacted me.
So hopefully they can fit there travel into a visit to us, to look at our (pretty original) Deejay. Who knows, I might be able to copy &/or record some of the history of these vans.
I google earthed the adress they were built, & it still has a big house, with a large backyard shed. I guess thats were the vans were built.
Interesting that many vans in the 50's were built in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, & a lot in close proximity to one another. Even more of a co incidence, is that when we stay at our daughters house in Coburg, we are pretty close to where Deejay was built, in West Brunswick. I guess its a small world.
A caravan partially rolled out at 38 Whitby St, West Bruswick. DeeJay, (Grandad) and my 2 younger brothers (to my left) looking over the fence behind where caravans were built. Photo courtesy my Uncle. Dec-71.
I remember very fondly playing around Grandad's wood-work shop and running around a caravan that was always being built out the back. I also remeber very fondly all the holidays we had in the DeeJay the Grandad built for us.
Geoff Harris (Jones)
Last Edit: Jul 18, 2013 23:49:05 GMT 10 by garris2
Had a visit from Keith & Bev Harris yesterday on their way back to Melbourne from a qld holiday. Bev was David Jones daughter, & remembers the vans being built in their backyard.
Everything except the bought in items, like aluminium windows, wheels, axles & springs, & the steel bits of the chassis, was built by her father in the shed.
She thinks he started building them in the early 1950's, & stopped in 1967. They bought the last ply van he built in 1967, & owned it 15 years. Keith remembers putting an aluminium skin over it when it was in need of painting. Apparent David built his last van using aluminium cladding on the exterior. He built about 3 or occassionly 4 vans each year, depending on the size of them. Bev is certain he only built 2 tandems like ours, as they were nearly too big to get out of the shed after they were built.
So its possible that around 70 vans in total were produced.
Everything was made using mostly hand tools, & every joint was glued with the old style hot glue ( kept in a heated pot on the workbench normally ) then screwed. Apparently David spray painted everything himself, using the enamel paints of the day. Its a testament to his work when you see the quality of the interior finish in ours today.
Accounts from their memory will be always subject to them being just that. For example Bev was certain that our van would never have been painted in two tone, but the Deejay advertisement clearly shows it was.
Both thought the interior of our van had been altered at some stage as they have no memory of any Deejays with a shower,but agree that the workmanship in the shower area was typical of Davids work.
Hopefully they may have some photos at home, which I have asked them to get scanned & emailed to me when they get a chance.
Keith & Bev are members of this Forum as " stickydot" so may contribute in the future if they wish to. It was a real buzz seeing them, & they wer happy to see our Deejay in its storage shed, & impressed with its current condition.
I dont know that this has added much, but I now know that the chassis was not made in England like I had thought. It was a 100% Melbourne designed & built van.
Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 20, 2013 23:45:08 GMT 10
Hi JBJ and Stickydot,
Thanks for your post JBJ, and for telling us about your meeting with Keith and Bev. It's fantastic also to have both Stickydot and Garris2 on the forum, and I trust that you feel welcome. As often mentioned the passing of time has meant that we have missed the opportunity to talk to some of the people who directly contributed to the development of the Australian caravan industry. For that reason it's a great privilege to have some input from their descendants. Even to hear a few little facts like the ones mentioned in JBJ's post help us to understand a bit more about the history of caravan brands such as Dee-Jay.
Following are some further pics of the 1957 16 ft Dee-Jay caravan shown in Reply #4 above. These photos show a few more details of the van:
From memory, these photos were from an Ebay advert in 2012, and it appears that there were some changes to the interior decor in between the first photos and these.
Looking at this group of photos, David Jones' craftsmanship is very evident.
Received a few photos recently from Keith Harris, so here they are with his comments attached.
Behind Davids FE in Brunswick
This is one of the earliest builds
Another early build
These are 2 later vans
Keith's notes "Two views you will recognise. Note the small side window on this (the van I have) is not part of original build (which we were pretty certain of). Also on picture has a note on the back "biggest van made by grandad". One picture has David's daughter & Keith's wife Beverly in the Chrysler Royal. Dad's work sheds are in the background"
David Jones aged 85 in 1993
One photo shows David & wife Dulcie most likely at Moree with the last van he built which was the only aluminium clad van he built. The other photo is the same van This was the only van he ever kept for himself. & we think it was built in the very late 1960's
The next photos are of the caravan we bought from david. This was the last bondwood he built, finished in 1966. You can see there is no aluminium on the edges, & it was fitted with Valiant wheels, later changed to Holden. Aluminium edging was added later, then aluminium cladding fitted to roof even later again. Even later the sides were clad with aluminium. We had this van about 15 years, took it to Queensland several times, & many years to Pambula. We took it to WA in 1972, & to Darwin via Alice Springs & back around the East Coast in 1976. We used to go away almost every school term & Christmas holiday.
(The above photo is tagged 'Geoffrey at Corryong 1967')
(The above photo is tagged 'Robert Camperdown 1970')
Most of the previous notes are transcribed from Keith's emails, & I thank him for his taking the time to find the old photos & email them to me to put on this Forum.
After looking at those photos, I believe our Deejay is not as old as we were lead to believe. We thought it was built in 1956, but the Chrysler Royal towcar is a 1957 model, so I believe the van would be probably 1958 at earliest. Also there have been some external changes, mainly the left hand central side window was added, & the aluminium across the front was changed from corner bits to full width.
Also I think it was probably the only one built in this size & format, based on several comments Keith has made. We also know from Keith that all of the components including chassis were sourced from local tradesmen, built in the surrounding suburbs of Melbourne & delivered to Davids yard to be used.
Its still a great van, & in very good condition for its age, & in reality pretty original.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jan 19, 2014 21:45:02 GMT 10
Thanks for posting Keith Harris's DeeJay photos, and also special thanks to Keith for providing them. They are fascinating and really add to our understanding of David Jones' caravan building activities.
Looking at the photos it seems that, because David was producing only a (relatively) small number of vans and more or less one after the other, he was able to develop and modify his design as he went along - little changes, van by van, or perhaps every several vans. You can see the same development process happening with Herbert Pruser's Roadhaven vans. It might almost be the case that no two vans were exactly the same. I would be interested in Keith's comments on this.
The process with manufacturers of larger volumes of vans was obviously different. They would bang out a number of identical vans by the hundreds, then introduce an updated model or an entirely new model with all the changes included at once. The difference between mass production methods and what we might call 'boutique' production methods I guess. I think 'boutique' is quite a good description for both DeeJay and Roadhaven vans now that I think about it.
By the bye, I notice that we don't have any pics of your actual DeeJay tandem on this thread, which is a pity. Would you like to post some?
After your post, I looked thru some pix & realised we have owned Deejay nearly 3 years.
It was bought in Melbourne, & towed to Brisbane where it lived under cover until 2003. It was used every year to go to Kingscliff caravan park in Northern NSW. It was towed by a Chrysler Royal.
Then a group of Caravan Industry people bought it, intending to restore it & put in a museum they hoped to open.
That situation changed, & Neil & Cheryl bought it.
The original owners had changed it a bit, including painting externally.
Neil put new electric brakes & new axles under it, then repainted it to as close to original colours as possible.
Where the photos have pink curtains, they are as we bought it.
The van had a shower recess. Keith believes that would not have been from the factory, but all the joinery work & paint match remainder of van, so who knows.
The shower works by filling the tank with water to the temperature you desire, then turning it on & getting wet.
The shower door & opposing cupboard door meet to provide privacy for the main bed. We removed the quilted upholstery around the single bed.
The original gas stove/oven is still useable, but we prefer not to cook inside our vans unless necessary
There is a wind up vent over the stove, & the cupboard housing it has mesh shelves for airflow
The fridge is reasonably large, & not original. It runs on 240 volt & gas. Its too big to remove without dismantling, so we kept it. Note the cupboard above has an angled mirror to allow hair styling.
Front of van inside
The access door to the rear storage. I had to replace it when I forgot to secure it properly. The fitting alongside is a gas outlet bayonet fitting I had installed
The new flooring we had fitted
The original tow hitch & jockey wheel
Changes I have made include new mattresses, floor covering, fitting the spare wheel on the rear, putting a roll out drawer in the rear storage area, having gas tested & certified, installing aluminium D mould to outline external colours, & installing full wheel hubcaps (50’s Dodge/Chrysler) I also strengthened the drawbar as it flexed to much for my liking. The chassis is quite light for a big van. The van weighs 1720 fully loaded with our stuff.
It’s a great old van, & I still keep it under cover when not being used
We recently put both our vans on historic rego. Saves heaps of money, & when you only use the van occasionly there’s no need to have full rego. Costs $21 per year rego, & about $45 for plate. Just need to be a member of a club acceptable to RMS.
DEEJAY Caravans DEEJAY Caravans were built by David Jones (28/1/1908 - 3/7/1998) who was a first class cabinet maker but did not have a great mechanical knowledge. Before starting on caravans David built quite a bit of furniture. Mostly lounge & bedroom suites which were French Polished. He also made cases for Grandfather Clocks. He once made a small jewellery box which was used to hold two gold nuggets which were presented to the Queen at Bendigo. His home at 38 Whitby St West Brunswick was fully furnished with his own hand made furniture. This is where all the DEEJAY caravans were built and all parts were locally sourced. He had a stand at the Caravan Show in the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne for several years but could not produce enough vans to fill the orders taken. Some van were sold through a yard in Burke Rd Camberwell not far from the Toorak Rd intersection. Each Xmas he would take his family to camp on the foreshore at Rosebud in a partly built van. Usually extremely basic & not ready until the last moment. The interior of the van would then be fitted out & all painting done after the holiday. The caravan designs evolved over time & there were many plywood patterns stored around the workshop. David is survived by three daughters, Gwenda, Beverley and Valma. I started chasing after Beverley about 1956 and assisted David most weekends until Beverley & I married in 1962. As an electrical apprentice & then tradesman I installed the wiring into most of the caravans built during those years. We bought the last bondwood van David built about 1966/67. It was 15ft 6in & is shown partly in David's shed about 1971 with David and my boys looking over the fence. The van was being fitted with aluminium edgeing which had not been applied when new. The last & only aluminium clad van (also shown in the above pictures) was the only van David ever kept for himself. This van was purchased by David's eldest daughter when David felt he was too old to manage towing, but has since been sold. It was all a long time ago. Keith
I am posting on behalf of a mate with whom I went on a road trip from Sydney to collect an old van from Phillip Island (Vic) that he had "won" on Ebay. The van was almost empty, and needed work, and as my mate's plan is to gut the van and turn it into a food van, cutting most of one side out, it seemed ideal. On arrival, the van was not fit to be towed with more rust than steel in the drawbars and structure, so we left and started heading north.
On the way home we stumbled across an old caravan and purchased it. It is in great shape and towed nearly 900kms with no worries, no leaks etc (and we hit some big rain).
The reason I am posting here is that the caravan he purchased is a Deejay, which meant nothing to us until I arrived home and found this website and this thread. It looks a lot like the one pictured with Mr. Jones in Moree above. It is badged on the back right corner from memory with Deejay brand, Brunswick address and phone number.
So, he is reluctant to proceed with his food van plans on the Deejay, now knowing it's history, and asked me to post a message here to ascertain whether anyone is interested in purchasing the van.
I'm new to the forum obviously and apologise if I'm posting in the wrong section or making other mistakes.
Post by Don Ricardo on Dec 10, 2014 23:06:07 GMT 10
I'm really glad that your friend decided not to turn his Dee-Jay into a food van! It's fairly rare in the vintage caravan world to be able to say "we know exactly what that van is, and we know it's history", but your friend's van is one of those rare vans!.
As Hughdeani has indicated in the post above, your friend's van was a one-off which David Jones (the builder of Dee-Jay vans) built for his own use. That makes it a pretty special van. You've probably already worked that out from the posts and photos above?
All I can say is "Wow!" - what an amazing and significant find!
We were pretty surprised to say the least when I found the thread and history of the van - it came as a complete surprise that some of these older vans have such a rich heritage. I think we were incredibly lucky to find photos and history of the caravan so readily available and commend those that have contributed to this site.
Though I am not 100% sure it is Mr. Jones' van, it certainly appears to be so. It seems like a big claim to make, so I'd like to reserve judgement until some more pics are viewed and forum members with knowledge (we have none) might comment. Some more pictures of the van will be posted soon.