Post by Don Ricardo on Sept 7, 2008 22:55:56 GMT 10
J Anderson of 1 Pleasant Street, Pascoe Vale, Victoria - the manufacturer of Aerolite caravans - was listed as the manufacturer of Superlite caravans in the 1954 edition of Winser's Australian Caravan & Touring Manual: click here
By comparing the photographs of the two, it is possible to see how the design of the Superlite may have evolved into the Aerolite. To my eye the Aerolite reflects very much late 50's - and perhaps American? - styling. Comments welcome on this suggestion.
I remember Aerolites well, they were so light because they had an perimeter frame only,called a single frame (there was no air gap or insulation between inner and outer walls) all furniture was framed in 1"woodwork and cupboard doors were only 3 ply,single frame wooden window frames too.Amazing to see one in the flesh,great big van on a single axle. Did anyone see the 23' restored one at the Melbourne caravan show in April this year? Magnificent! Cheers Hughdeani
Hi Don, No probs!It is an aerolite that has been butchered,was one of the last ones judging by the wrap around front windows.You can tell by the cupboards doors,they are a piece of 3 ply with a single frame of 1x1 on the back. Supalites had the same method with their overhead cupboards,extremely light and strong. Cheers hughdeani
I looked at it as something that if I got reasonably priced I could paint & get registered, & use whichever van I wanted. I had 2 for a few years , & used both at different times.
Not greatly worried by missing out, obviously wasn't meant to be. As I'm starting to get back to feeling OK, I guess I've got heaps to do as I feel up to it, with my Dodge sitting patiently waiting, & things I want to do on Deejay.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jan 7, 2012 21:42:16 GMT 10
The moderators have received an email from the son-in-law of Jack Anderson, the founder and driving force behind Aerolite caravans. With the email came a series of wonderful photos of various Aerolites. Some of the pics are colour versions of the the B&W photos used in various editions of Winser. I'm not sure what order they should go in - in terms of build date - but here goes...
Single axle 20 ft model as shown in 1956 Winser (as per the post leading this thread above)
Aerolite 22, dual axle as shown in 1961 Winser (Reply #4 above)
Aerolite 25 Safari, dual axle as shown in the 1961 Winser (Reply #4 above)
Larger model(s)?, dual axle
Single axle models - the photo on the left was used for the front cover of the promotional leaflet shown in Reply #2 above
Aerolite 12 (after an accident??)
Other pics - this seems to be a similar model to the one shown in Reply #7 above and is possibly later than the others...
And don't you just love the tow cars that Aerolite used. A couple of Fords there, not to mention the Fiat 800!
We don't know a lot about Aerolite except that they kept building vans for longer than most of the relatively early builders. They were still building vans in the late 60's when a lot of other manufacturers had given up the ghost or had just become distributors for some of the firms using mass production methods.
Hopefully Jack Anderson's son-in-law or another family member will come on to the forum and tell us a bit more about Jack's activities.
My sentiments exactly, love the look and style of them. Would have been interesting seeing that 600cc Fiat Mulipla trying to tow that van no matter how small and light it was. Where we are we get a lot of people coming for water or stopping to cool down after overheating on the big hill. The other day there was a German guy and his missus towing a van of about 15' with a Renault Scenic, needless to say their clutch and car got very hot and heaven knows what damage they didi, so i towed it up the hill with the truck. When that poor little reggie cooled down they hitched on the van again and were heading for Melbourne.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jan 29, 2012 17:15:46 GMT 10
The family of Jack Anderson, who built Aerolite caravans, has very kindly provided a brief biography of Jack as well as some more photos of his various activities:
"A little about Jack Anderson
"Born June 1918, Jack’s only formal training was as an RAAF Pilot in 1941/2. Even as a young man, he believed in finding his own solutions.
"He made and sold sheepskin jackets to the other trainee pilots, rebuilt wrecked cars – usually converting them to convertibles – and built his own houses in Coburg (Westgate Street) & later Pascoe Vale (1 Pleasant Street)."
Jack's house in Pleasant Street, Pascoe Vale:
A selection of the cars re-built and/or converted to convertibles:
"He designed and built caravans under the “Superlite” name, but quickly changed to the “Aerolite” name and only ever built them of waterproof ply. His goal was always based on his Tiger Moth experience that they should be strong but lightweight. Where possible, a complete sheet of plywood formed the front, roof and back of the van joined to the chassis at the ends. The built–in furniture strengthening the timber wall frame. In the early years he built them at the rear of Pleasant Street, but eventually in a factory (Fawkner Rd.) near Pascoe Vale station. His wife, Joyce, made the cushion covers and curtains. Jack never employed any assistants. He was always a one-man show."
Van chassis assembled at Pleasant Street:
"Jack usually worked seven days a week to build up stock for Christmas then sold them all and knocked off to go to Wilsons Prom, or Queensland for the seven weeks school holidays."
Three Aerolites camped at Tidal River, Wilson's Promontory:
Caravanning in an Aerolite:
"He travelled extensively. He had two six months around the world trips in 1964 and 1968. On his return he travelled months around Australia with his 25’ van:"
"He loved South America and his favourite sight in the whole world was the Iguassu Falls.
"Eventually he chose to close the business rather than compete with the aluminium caravan producers and retired to Southport Queensland in 1970. He purchased a run down Queenslander for $10,000 and set about renovating it."
Jack's Southport home:
"He took up documentary film making and made three commercial films – “Why go to the moon”, “South from Mexico” and “Caravan on Highway one” which he exhibited in halls himself. Through this he became a friend of Ben Cropp and when Ben entered into a lease of the sugar cane terminal on the Jetty at Port Douglas, Ben contracted Jack to build his home and the “Shipwreck Museum” in the building/Jetty.
"His sporting passions were water-skiing, surfing on giant surfboards and land yachting. He designed and built his own surfboards and land yacht.
Sandyacht in use at Wilson's Promontory:
"His greatest interest was in all motor vehicles; especially the large American V8’s and his favourite book was the monthly American used car motor magazine.
"He was adventurous and fearless, and lived frugally so as to spend any savings on travel and life experiences.
"Jack died July 2009 aged 91. His wife, Joyce, turned 90 in December 2011. He has two daughters."
Below are some further photos and details provided by Roy:
"The long [caravan] with the stripe on it was built for the Victorian Railways as a prototype for providing accommodation to the gangs on the site. I think they only ever bought the one Aerolite bondwood, and went on to buy aluminium one's"
Photos of a 1967 27 ft Aerolite taken at the Melbourne Caravan Show in the Royal Exhibition Buildings, as well as a coloured photo of the interior of the same or similar van:
The black & white photos above were used for the Aerolite promotional items in Keith Winser's 1967 caravan publication:
(Source: K Winser, Caravan Manual & Tourist Park Guide, 1967, pp 156-7)
Thanks to Jack Anderson's two sons-in-law, Geoff and Roy, for providing such a wonderful insight into Jack Anderson's life. Amazing to think that he built all those vans on his own without additional workers, apart from his wife, Joyce, who made the cushions and curtains. Looking at the designs of the caravans also underlines that Jack trod his own path and wasn't one who simply followed the crowd in terms of styling.
Unfortunately, too many of our Australian caravanning pioneers left us before the V V movement really got going, and before their stories could be recorded. So I reckon we are very fortunate to be able to learn a bit about the story of Aerolite caravans, and by doing so to honour Jack Anderson's contribution to Australia's touring heritage. So thanks again Geoff and Roy - please give the greetings and thanks of the Vintage Caravans forum to Joyce and Jack's daughters, your wives.
I should add that the headings given to the photos in black type above, and the placement of the photos, is based on my understanding of how they fit in to the story. My apologies to the Anderson family if I have made any errors.
In cobbers post, in the advertisement, noticed the up to date Pye t.v.... had one when we first married...ah the memories... full screen (almost) no bulky cabinet.... great, used to sit on top of our old fridge ...ha ha very cool.....?
That kind of information from family is invaluable in giving us an insight into the builders of these caravans we strive to preserve. Thanks to Jack Anderson's family for going to the trouble of providing this lot.
We have been fortunate to get a lot of information about John Jennison and a little bit about John and Iris Walsh of "Newcastle caravans" from family...and there have been others, but it would be good to get even more.
Post by aeroliteej on Oct 20, 2012 10:44:49 GMT 10
Finally,am posting photos of our most favorite van. I now know it to be an Aerolite,because of the name which is written across the front under the windows. I have not been able to find any other identifying numbers or names. I only happened across this name because l was sanding/scraping off the old paint.
A mate found this van for me. It was pushed into the back of a shed and used as a storage for all sorts of stuff. The owner who bought it maybe 20 years earlier,said that the previous owner was a chiropractor from Albury. This could explain the fitment of the heavy looking ratchet-type jockey wheel. It has a large-type ball coupling,which l guess would be original.
The wheels are attached with bolts rather than nuts onto a thread,which,l guess is indicative/typical of the era.
I met up with Geoff and Jude at the Cowra nationals earlier this year, and, being fellow Aerolite owners, got talking about all things" Aerolite". I thought that the multi-colored door fronts in our van may have been a 1970s modification, however,lo-and-behold, they were the same color inside G and Js Aerolite. So we will be leaving these as original. It also still has, what l would guess is the original ice-box fridge. This will be staying as well.
It would be great to hear from anyone else with an Aerolite,or any other info on same. Im not sure of the year of our van,but am guessing late 50's.
Last Edit: Sept 24, 2017 15:08:39 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
Post by Geoff & Jude on Oct 20, 2012 17:21:58 GMT 10
interesting to see the pics of the inside of your aerolite.
the layout is so different from our 15 footer.
when we took the paint off our van, we found that as well as having the "aerolite" 15' sign stenciled on the ply, it also had red stenciling the shape where the tail lights were, clearance lights were, towel rail fitting were etc.
not sure why it was done because it was all unseen when it was painted over.
it will be interesting to see if yours is the same when you take the paint from where the tail lights etc are. i think i can see a red "background" where the towel rail brackets were screwed on above the curl in the aerolite "a" and next to the "6" in the 12'6" sign.
i really do wonder what these stencils are all about.
anyhow, nice to see it and jude and i look forward to tracking your progress.
Post by aeroliteej on Oct 21, 2012 13:14:07 GMT 10
Howdy Geoff+Jude,thanks for the reply,(l thought you might have had some interest). Im not sure on the paint under the original fittings. But will definately be looking for more odd/peculiar things. As l uncover more ,l will update with photos. One thing which came with the van, was a stripey canvas which pushed onto press studs and covered the 3 front windows. It could well be original, and is in great condition. Was just going over some photos, and isnt the panorama option on yours a beauty and unique/rare as well. " Australias lightest caravans". I dont doubt it, but watch out for wind gusts. All the best-Pete.