I think it would be...illuminating! Cheers Seeshell
You know ..... this is the sort of vintage caravan trivia subject I like to play with..... and think is worth recording .
For starters... may I offer the “Campbell” light fittings as they are on my Newcastle caravan.... original and “made in Australia” in the late 1950's and 1960's (somebody may be able to provide more accurate dating for them)
The chrome ring and the base plate is real metal and is subject to rust... so as many of them as you can find in this condition the richer you are.
This subject probably lends itself to a bit of artistic expression too, as shown in bondwoodvans thread and avatar, I've liked this photo since it first appeared.
I mean to say.......... one light fitting after another light fitting could get to be about as interesting as one tea towel rail after another tea towel rail .
Post by mgandwartz on Jan 28, 2012 12:41:35 GMT 10
Hey Cobber thanks for your bit above, they are the same as on my 54 bondwood. Now I know what to call them I just have to search for some in better nick. Decided to restore the old girl just as she is on the outside, inside is another issue. Keeping what was left and trying to make the rest sympathetically. Also looking for period inside lights. Saw the ones I want in a van at Whyalla. Note to self look for thread on inside lights. But its all gonna slow to hell this week for a month or two. Something to do with ageing and once playing union.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jan 28, 2012 17:03:38 GMT 10
A new show and tell thread! I do love a good show and tell. Except that in this case - as Seeshell has observed - it involves the back end of caravans, which lots of people tend to ignore when they are taking happy snaps...my neglectful self included...
Like most(?) caravans built in the early 50's and before, leadlight window Dons like ours had a single combined tail/brake/number plate light positioned on a number plate board on the right hand side of the rear of the van, as can be seen on this Don from around 1950/1 belonging to Mark T:
As I remember it, it was a round single lens light using a two element globe which just glowed brighter when the tail light was on and the brake was applied. There was also the standard round red reflector on each side, as can be seen.
The following enlargement is fairly pixilated, but may give you a better idea of the light:
When registration for caravans and trailers was introduced in Victoria in the mid-60's, it was also compulsory to have tail/brake and turn lights installed on each side of the van. Our Don had a couple of fairly large (for the time) round Hella lights installed on the back of it, as can be seen here (sort of):
Yep, that's Dona Ricardo and Sons No 1, 2 and 3 having a snack at the Badger Creek Holiday Park, Healesville in 1986. The Sons are a bit bigger now, but Dona Ricardo doesn't look any different - to me anyway!
It's a bit hard to make out the lights, but essentially they were half red and half orange, looking like this:
The round lights stayed on the van from 1967 until 1988 when they met with an unfortunate accident, or at least one of them did... Ahem, I actually backed the van into a power pole in Forbes, NSW. Well, hey - it's hard to see a power pole when you've got a van attached!
Anyway the lights were replaced by the Hella lights which are on the van now:
The reflectors are original - note the slot head screws. The Philips head screws in the lights are original too, so I can't replace them with anything else...can I?
The round lights were sold as a pair, one with a little clear window in the side to light up the number plate, and the other with no window. However, the current lights are ambidextrous! ;D ;D ;D They came with two little slide in windows - one clear, the other red:
Given that the current lights are "new", I guess I shouldn't even be posting the pics. However, it does raise an interesting question: When does a modification to a caravan graduate to becoming a 'period modification'? Would our 1967 lights be regarded as a period modification because they were 'vintage lights' installed before 1970? Can our current lights be regarded as 'period modifications' because they are not LED's? Maybe not. But if the lights had been modified, say, in 1951 instead of 1988 would they then have been period modifications? What do you think, Cobber and Seeshell?
Just to finish off my post, and get us back on the question of truly rooly vintage caravan lights, here's a pic of the tail/stop/number plate light on a 1955 Don:
I don't think the reflectors look original and to be truthful, I don't know whether the light is original equipment or not. But at least it looks vintage!
Regarding our van, I've thought about trying to find a period correct round tail/brake light to put on the number plate board, then taking off the current lights and replacing them with tail/brake and turn lights like the ones Cobber has on his Newcastle van on each side. (They'd be underneath the number plate board.) Opinions?
2. These Hella combination lamps were used by the major caravan manufacturers from 1965 up to the mid-1970s...
They are still available, although you'd have to hunt around for them. Check availability from Hella in New Zealand. Part No. is...
I'm fairly sure the early models have a stainless steel bezel (surround) around the plastic lens. Later versions got chrome plated plastic. If you ever have the need to take these lights off your van, have a look for a date stamped on the rubber backing plate...
DonR, I'm not a stickler for originality, but I'd encourage you to search for some suitable age-appropriate lights for your Don, and ditch those mid-70s square things you've got there. I think your van is far too historically valuable to be carrying those imposter lights at the back. I have a few of the real old metal round lights that have the beehive glass lens in them. Not enough to make a full set, but certainly enough for you to use as "berley" to attract some more. You could start a "Turn The Lights On For Don" campaign, and ask people to donate an old light or two. Count me in.
I have been reluctant to pass judgement on your unfortunate choice of tail lights because.... as they say in the classics....”Let he without inappropriate tail lights on his van chuck the first goolie”
I too have made a grave error of judgement I fear by installing two triangle reflectors on the rear of Ol' 36 in an effort to display some British DNA which she may...or may not have
However................. you will notice that I have not defaced her by screwing electric lights to her person that she was not born with, but instead have attached a “trailer board” with “stop” and “turn indicator” lights on it which, by the way, were not required for registration purposes.
I'm afraid to say Donald R. that there is probably not a combined Stop/tail/turn light fitting worthy of screwing on to your truly vintage 1949 Don caravan, and the only alternative to my mind, is a trailer board.
Thanks Don for the pictoral history, and your own recollection of the timeline. I was amazed thatt vans clearly didn't even need to be registered! But does it follow there were no regulations or even guidelines? If those two Dons had a light near the licence plate that acted as a light as well as a break light and they had no indicators, how did they signal other drivers about changes or turns? Surely the two old Historians know.
I'm aware many of the cars of the vintage still had flags or required hand signals - or if indicators existed they were also red (rarely amber) and part of the break light assembly.
Are there any references to "safe driving" or signalling in any of the old Weisner magazines or alternate publications of the era that provided helpful hints when towing? That might provide a clue, and would probably be as interesting as reading the advice to housewives of the day!
As for what qualifies as a "legit" period modification - gosh, who knows? Best left to people who know a great deal more than me. Surely it would be ok if it were old stock, new old stock, or a reproduction piece to replace something broken. After all, things need to be functional.
When should you consider a modification "vintage"? Don's idea of a year cutoff seems reasonable. After all, vans were working sculpture - people did modify them to suit their own vacationing needs - and surely that too is part of their history and charm? If it's meant to be reflective of "vintage", and that's been defined as pre-1970, maybe your old lights would just squeak in Don!
But what about people who interpret what a period modification could or might have been to their own taste? For example building a van of the period off the plan, versus an interpretation of a van of the period. Or people who want to restore / take the van back to something more sympathetic, but have no detail on what might have been there before and make a reasonable guess about what might have been available? Is that legit?
And how much renovation can you do before it's Ceasar's Axe - three handles and two heads later is it original?
The scenarios above are not identical to but smack of the hot rod versus restore debate. It's a quagmire, and I'm not sure I want to wade into it! Both sides have passionate supporters, and really good rationalles.
Last Edit: Jan 30, 2012 12:47:42 GMT 10 by seeshell
The Blue Flyer - 1951 Homemade Bondwood
Chryssi - 1966 VC Valiant Safari
The Seeshell - 1969 Olympic Riviera (deceased)
The questions you pose have been well and truly debated over the years, and I don't think one single answer will ever be formulated.
When I painted Rubik's Kube with funky colours, I also added LED tail, number plate and asterisk shaped clearance lights. I'm sure many purists on here shook their heads. But what was important to me was that I LIKED IT, whoever I met in my travels LOVED it and the van gave them and me a lot of joy.
Until the time comes when some government department sits down and defines what constitutes a vintage caravan, we will never agree on what the limits can be. Hopefully, it will never come to that.
Cobber took the steps he did with ol'37 for safety's sake. He uses a trailer board when he travels. Others upgrade their lights directly onto the van for the same reasons.
I think it's a case of what you're happy with, while still staying within the realms of what this site is all about. Within those guidelines, individuality is to be lauded.
I imagine that those issues have been hotly debated - and I do agree you need to do what makes you happy. For some that's being a purist, and for others it's adapting it to keep something old having a current useful life.
I don't really have a view, I'm just glad to see them in use and being enjoyed however people want to do that. Other than teasing Don about his lights of course.
Last Edit: Jan 30, 2012 15:41:25 GMT 10 by seeshell
The Blue Flyer - 1951 Homemade Bondwood
Chryssi - 1966 VC Valiant Safari
The Seeshell - 1969 Olympic Riviera (deceased)
Go early enough and there's more or less no rules on rear lighting (other than what you feel safe driving with). We have Edwardian cars in the family, they can be registered with nothing but headlights - no brake lights, certainly no turn signals. I'm not even sure the headlights have to be present or operational (though you'd need them to be legal at night, and I'd never drive a car with no rear lights at night even if it was legal).
The 1930s vehicles in the family have included those that have nothing at the rear bar a single brake light, and that was fully road registered. It was also driven (legally, I believe) during the day with no headlights fitted at all (we didn't put them on if we were driving to and from the racetrack during the day). This was the 80's, not sure if it's still legal - but the general rule is that you have to comply with the rules of the time when your car was built, so I'd expect it is.
My 1950s Jag has combined brake & indicator lights at the rear - the stop-light flashes to act as an indicator. This was quite common for British cars of the 50's - Lucas made a special relay to combine brake & indicator functions. These replaced the trafficators of the 40's and 50s (the things that popped out of your B pillar).
By the 1960s, an seperate amber indicator was the norm for British vehicles.
All that said: It was vey common to replace Trafficators with Indicators (or to add them) as they are quite confusing to modern motorists. I'm very strongly tempted to upgrade my Mk 8 to Mk 9 rear lights (with separate indicators) as I'm worried someone is going to spear into me when they don't realise what a flashing stop light means.
Personally I lean to safety over originality - the Jag has upgraded lights, seat-belts, child-restraint anchors, upgraded brakes. My 1929 Austin 7 will have dual stop lights (instead of a single) and discreet indicators (instead of none at all). I I ever end up driving the truly ancient cars on the road (very likely if I inherit them) then they'll be upgraded (as subtly as possible) to have modern lighting - stop lights & indicators, probably better headlights than the acetylene ones (though only if I can do that in a reversible fashion or find reproduction lights - I'd rather skip driving at night than wreck the original headlights).
On a van, you do have the option of doing a trailer-board, which is great compromise - but I'd do something better than a single rear light, even if it's legal.
But (again, in my opinion) better that it's on the road with whatever rear lights make you feel safe than it not being on the road at all.
If you're looking for reproduction old-style lights, you could try: Complete Automobilist. They do a lot of early Lucas reproductions, including 30's & 40s stuff that would look correct on a '49 Don.
They're easily found - here's another source of one that would look good.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jan 30, 2012 21:18:54 GMT 10
Hi Seeshell, Roehm and Cobber,
"I was amazed thatt vans clearly didn't even need to be registered!" I've just checked my facts (to make sure I know what I'm talking about - for once ) and caravan registration only came in in Victoria in 1967. Before that certain kinds of trailers had to be separately registered (eg 4-wheel ones towed behind trucks, etc), but not caravans. Before 1967 Victorian caravans only required the rego number of the tow vehicle to be displayed. It's still the same for small trailers in Victoria.
The rules were different in other states, and I think separate caravan registration came in earlier in some states.
"But does it follow there were no regulations or even guidelines?" No, there were very specific regulations and requirements about lighting, the placement of lights, brakes and couplings, and indeed each edition of Winser contained a summary of the requirements for different states. One of the rules I've just found in the 1967 Winser tickles me... At that time in NSW and WA the maximum speed for caravans on the open road was 45 mph, ie 72 kmh. That would be a bit restrictive for some of our V V'ers who talking about sitting on 100 kmh! ;D ;D ;D Other states had no speed restrictions, including us in Victoria, Seeshell.
"...and they had no indicators, how did they signal other drivers about changes or turns?" Good old arm out the window! Reading Winser it appears that even in 1967 there were no requirements for turn signals on caravans in any state.
Period Modifications Roehm is right, the issue re modification has been hotly debated on the forum in relation to restoration vs hot rodding, and many of us (including me) studiously steer clear of this issue now. For this reason I should have been very, very, very clear when I posed my question about what constitutes a period modification that I was asking this only in the context of those of us who choose to restore a V V to its original state, and or choose to maintain a V V in its original state. I was not in any way criticising anyone who has chosen not to do so with their V V. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa!
In an attempt to bring this thread back to the original topic - sorry for dragging it off topic Seeshell - here is a 1967 advert for Hella lights. Note, no turn lights!
(Source: K Winser, Caravan Manual & Tourist Park Guide, 1967, p 221)
Now that Don R. has got the discussion back on topic
Here are a few more vintage caravan lights.
These photos show the off side and near side lights on “Janaway II” built in 1950.
The off side shows the combined tail/number plate light.. beside it is the turn indicator which would have been a later addition . Above that is a WHITE reflector ..... maybe it's faded over the years because even back in the '50 red was the required colour.... above the reflector is the stop light.
On the near side we have the non-vintage looking turn indicator, above it a tail light, then another WHITE reflector and last, another stop light.
The regulations in the 1953 Motor Traffic Handbook (NSW) state that a trailer was only required to have a number plate light and a rear light.... that's all.
UNLESS... it was going to be used between sunset and sunrise AND it is wider than the towing vehicle or is more than 7 feet wide, in which case it must have two red clearance lights or reflectors at the rear, and two white clearance lights at the front.
This one of the two front clearance lights fitted to Janaway II, Lucas 289..... if anybody has a spare one..... Mark needs it
Among the optional lights you could fit were.... not more than two red or amber stop lights...... not more than two continuous red rear lights; and/or not more than two red rear reflectors. So it looks as though Janaway II was built with the maximum number of lights permissible.
I can post a copy of these regulations if anybody is interested
Those clearance lights can be found on Morris Minors circa 50/55.
Fibreglass fantasia!....a Sunliner, a Carlight Continental plus one for spares (fibreglass roof & ends)... 52 homemade plywood and a Fibreglass Kennedy lookalike awaiting a brand/name (might be Skyline?) ................. EH Premier S/Wagon & '56 FORD Country Sedan for my towcars
I have to agree with Richard that safety comes first in todays traffic. My Edwardian Vauxhall catalogues list head lights as an extra and there seems to have been no requirement to actually have them.
My 37 only had its original D light for years until I succumbed and put a brake light in the rear window, mainly because the fools drive too close to see the light which sits at bumper height. Fitting the blinkers meant I didn't get nearly as many friendly waves as I did when giving a hand signal
I recently picked up this lovely Lucas accessory light with stop, tail and reverse as well as direction indicators. It is from the mid 1930s and will eventually grace the back of my 34 roadster, replacing the Lucas Owl's Head.
It would look great on the back of a caravan, unfortunately it took 40 years to find this one so a second one might be asking a bit. Apart from that I still don't have an old enough van but these sorts of accessories were available. Believe it or not the small (25mm) light in the centre is the tail light I bet reflective tape was a good seller back then.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jan 31, 2012 22:10:10 GMT 10
Cobber: I have thought about using a light board on the Don like yours on Ol' 36, which I might say I have always considered quite an elegant solution. However, I think the shape of the Don's tail means that I can't put one at chassis level like yours, partly because it would almost be hidden, and partly because I don't think it would meet the regulations about height and being close enough to the actual end of the van.
Then when I thought about suspending a light board roughly at number plate height I reckon it would look a bit tacked on and makeshift, not elegant at all...and I'd have to install something to attach it to which would be a modification in itself! And I couldn't possibly get away with that, could I?
One question about the light board: The regulations you posted plus all the stuff in the 1967 Winser say that you can have a maximum of two tail lights and two brake lights. If you use a light board, you actually end up with three of each (assuming the single original light is left in working order). Do you think that is a problem? (That is intended as a serious question.)
Firefighter: Don't worry about my eyesight - I did see the flasher unit. I was referring to the fact that it appears that turn lights were not actually a requirement as such in 1967, and that there were no actual turn lights or tail/brake/turn lights in the advert, but maybe you are right - they were in the box.
Any idea how the flasher unit would have worked and why you would need it? Why couldn't you just connect your van turn lights to the wiring for the car turn lights like we do now (or at least I'm presuming we do)?
Richard: Thanks for the link to the two British websites. They certainly provide some options, and it's good to know they are there. The oyster lights with the orange and red lenses are quite a clever compromise between period look and modern requirements.
One further question for all my advisers: Does all this discussion about period appropriate lights for the Don also mean that I have to paint the number plate board black? Or even beyond that, carefully apply paint remover until I get back to the dinky di original paint and rego number? I think I probably shouldn't have asked that question, because I already know your answer! ;D ;D ;D
For the record..... because it seems to be the thing to say... I believe in “safety first”. That is why I drive the way I do
Don R. I agree it would be difficult to fit a trailer board to the Don. I was fortunate in having the timber “bumper bar” thing that looks as though it was put there for just that purpose.
As for having one more tail light and one more stop light than the regulations in 1953 allowed for......you are half right
The number plate light on Ol' 36 is a single filament bulb, that is it lights up the number plate and at the same time provides for a red light to the rear. NO STOP LIGHT !, can you believe that? It was only optional to fit a stop light in 1953 if the vehicle was going to be used between sunset and sunrise. In daylight hours you were required to give hand signals
So.... I only have two stop lights BUT....I do have three tail lights, it probably means I am safer than those who only have two tail lights.
About the flasher units. Older flasher units worked on a thermal principal, contacts closed... current flowed... metal heated and bent... contacts separated.. current flow ceased. When trailer lights were added to the equation more current flowed....the metal spring heated quicker and the lights flashed too quickly and eventually the units burned out. The flasher unit in the conversion kits was made to handle the extra current flow.
Mate...I wouldn't worry too much about the number plate board....just concentrate on getting some period lights for the poor old Don.... you do love her don't you ? And it won't compromise the “safety first” business that we all believe in .
Humpty2 Thanks for the info regarding the Lucas # 489 light, actually all we need is the rubber boot the light fits into. I have a Lucas # 488 which looks the same but is larger. This is the Lucas #489
And this is the Lucas #488
Just thought I would show you all some lights a bloke offered me a few years back, just before I bought Ol' 36..... I said “no thanks mate..I've got all the lights I need”