Posts Tagged ‘caravan’

Cool campers hit the road

June 11, 2011
  • Jill Hocking, The Australian.

“HEY, aren’t you a little cutie?” Is the woman on the bush path speaking to me, rubbing sleep out of my eyes as I emerge from our caravan? Or is she addressing my partner, Andrew, who’s lying in the shade of a coastal banksia, reading?

She approaches and peers into our little mobile abode. “Come and have a look at this!” she calls to her husband. “Does it pop up? What’s in there? Can you stand up? What do you do in there?”

Our caravan is different to others cruising Australian roads: it is low-slung and streamlined and features art-deco curves that resemble the shape of a tear. It is called a Teardrop.

We are exploring the beaches of far eastern Victoria for a few days, road-testing the second-hand Teardrop we bought from an advertisement in our local paper.

On this maiden voyage we’ll pitch up in a caravan park in Lakes Entrance and bush camp at Cape Conran Coastal Park.

 

This is an opportunity for us two caravan rookies to find our towing legs.

We give the woman and her husband a guided tour of the “little cutie”. Inside the Teardrop, a double mattress takes up the whole floor space. (Unless you are of Lilliputian proportions, you cannot stand up.)

Doors on both sides mean an easy exit in the middle of the night. There’s clothes storage above the foot of the bed and more stowing space behind our heads. A central fluorescent light and neat LED reading lights take care of night-time illumination.

Outside, at the back of the van, we lift the hatch to reveal the natty kitchenette: fridge, gas cooktop, sink, space for food preparation and storage for crockery, cutlery and pots and pans.

Fixed to the front is a capacious metal box for the wet-weather awning and non-perishable food. At the caravan park we pitch at a powered site and in the bush we use the battery. The Teardrop is light and manoeuvrable and needs neither stick-out mirrors nor the grunt of a 4WD to tow.

Teardrop trailers-for-two first hit the road in the US in the 1930s but it wasn’t until after World War II that the phenomenon properly took off. The September 1947 edition of Mechanix Illustrated: The How-To-Do Magazine featured building instructions for a double bed on wheels in the shape of a teardrop.

Teardrops went hand in hand with Americans’ desire for a simpler life after years of wartime austerity. The backwoods and the water beckoned; what better way to experience the romance of the open road than in a trim caravan with fetching retro curves?

Early models were built from salvaged World War II Jeep axles and wheels. Exterior skins came from the wings of wartime bombers.

Americans’ love affair with the classic teardrop waned in the 1950s. They wanted bigger and better in their mobile homes, and over the years got what they wished for: chunky caravans featuring not only a kitchen sink but dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, top-end entertainment systems and more.

At the caravan park in Lakes Entrance, our Teardrop stands out in a crowd of big rigs resembling aircraft carriers on wheels.

Curious campers sidle past our van and stop to chat. They soon work out its kitchenette is exposed to the elements and that, no, you can’t stand up inside. One couple, with a glance at our snug sleeping quarters, say wistfully, “Oh, you must love each other.” They reminisce about cosy caravan holidays of times past, all the family piled in together.

We point out its features to another couple, who look at us as if we have lost our minds. “It’s all you need,” they declare, appraising the van’s basic comforts. But is it relief I see flickering across their faces as they scuttle back to their luxury tourer, overflowing with bells and whistles?

A holiday in our jaunty little van reduces life to its simplest terms. At Marlo we pull over, raise the kitchen hatch and within minutes are sipping an alfresco coffee by the mouth of the Snowy River. We trundle into the camping area at Cape Conran at dusk, unhitch, crank the prop stands down and still have time for a swim before nightfall. In the morning we wake to the screech of rosellas high in the trees.

A Teardrop holiday might be a smallish step up from camping, but when the skies open we count our lucky stars that we are above the ground, warm and dry, and not in a tent. The LED lights cast a warm glow as we read in bed.

At Cann River we discover that our Teardrop is by no means the cutest of the pack. We stop for a picnic in the park and are approached by the local police officer. His wife is mad about Teardrops, he tells us. In his backyard shed we gaze at the sweetest, most minuscule van we’ve seen: porthole windows, shelves and a pint-sized bed. (They must really love each other.)

Little did we know when we set eyes on this second little cutie that our two Teardrops are part of a zeitgeist in retro caravanning. Across the globe classic caravans are becoming cool.

And how does the Teardrop fare on its inaugural odyssey? We hit our towing straps by day three; bumping in and out of campsites is a breeze. But the next day we come undone when we stop for a picnic on a rutted bush track and discover that a spring has shattered. (It’s not until later that we learn our double bed on wheels, built by a DIY enthusiast in 2004, was assembled on a 1970s trailer base.)

We are rescued after dark by a chain-smoking panelbeater who winches the van on to his tray truck, where it slips and slides its way back to town.

After we’ve spent two nights in a motel, the Teardrop is repaired and we are back on the road. We decide this gives a new meaning to the term “tearing up”.

mycoolcaravan.com

vintagecaravans.com

Original Article

 

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World’s smallest caravan can be towed by scooter

April 21, 2011

 

It can be towed by a mobility scooter, measures just 2m by 75cm and is being suggested as a way of bagging a spot for the Royal Wedding… meet the world’s smallest caravan.

Despite the diminutive measurements the £5,500 QTvan caravan still boasts a full-sized bed, a 19 inch television, a drinks cabinet and tea making facilities.

Optional extras include solar roof panels, a SKY TV satellite dish, a games console, extra-wide wing mirror for mobility scooter and custom paint jobs.

And makers say the mini caravan is so small that if you need anything else, you could even tow it into a supermarket… though don’t expect to get there too quickly, it has a top speed of 6mph.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “Elderly spectators hoping to bag the best spot on the Royal Wedding procession route, but unwilling to spend a night camping on the pavement, can now buy a caravan designed to be towed by a mobility scooter.

“The QTvan is the world’s most environmentally-friendly caravan. Using a conventional caravan for a ‘staycation’ within Britain remains a relatively green way of taking a holiday.

“But if the electricity used to charge the mobility scooter is bought from a green provider, the QTvan is entirely carbon neutral.”

Developed by Environmental Transport Agency (ETA), the caravan was designed to highlight the 220,000 people who use a mobility scooter without breakdown cover.
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Article

It’s What Lies Beneath

January 12, 2011

JARED MORGAN – The Southland Times

They hark back to a time when holidaying was done at a different pace, but sometimes the retro beauty of a caravan is only skin deep, according to Otatara businessman David Horsham.

Mr Horsham, who runs DH Caravan Repairs Ltd, said as the holiday season wound down it was the perfect time to check the bones of caravans.

“By the time you see any sign of a leak, it’s too late.”

Most of his six-year-old business is removing the outer shell of caravans to expose the often rotten wooden frame underneath.

It was a common problem people were not aware of, Mr Horsham said.

Most mass production of caravans stopped in New Zealand in the early 1980s, meaning maintenance, particularly of the joins in a caravan’s shell that potentially leak, was becoming increasingly important.

The only way effectively to ensure the joints were watertight was to remove and reseal them, he said.

“It’s about preventive maintenance … we had one caravan brought in that had broken at each corner after hitting a pothole. The frame had rotted and the impact broke its back.”

The work cost up to $1000 to fix a rotted-out corner but, in some cases, the extent of the hidden rot meant a complete rebuild, Mr Horsham said.

And it was at the rebuild and custom-build stage that his business came into its own, he said.

“We pride ourselves on doing things that are a bit outside the square.”

That included projects, such as building a replica classic “teardrop” caravan, through to complete restoration.

Teardrop caravans first appeared in the 1930s. Their popularity soared in the late 1940s, fuelled by plenty of war surplus aluminum.

At the restoration stage, most work involved stripping a caravan back to parts because of the way they were built, Mr Horsham said.

“If you liken it to a house, a caravan is built back-to-front.”

That meant much of the interior including floor coverings was fitted before the outer shell of the caravan, he said.

One of his latest projects was restoring a 1961 Starliner from the ground up, keeping as much of its original chrome and Formica interior fittings intact as possible.

Mr Horsham said word of mouth meant his customers came from across New Zealand and internationally.

“Mine and my father’s name is pretty well known.”

His father operated a similar business from Ryal Bush for 25 years, before retiring 11 years ago, he said.

“That was pretty much my apprenticeship. Every time I went home at the weekend it was ‘hey lad you’ve come at the right time’,” he said.

Original article

Vintage Trailers Invade Old Town this Weekend

September 24, 2010

If you have ever been seduced by the siren call of the road, this weekend you’ll get a chance to see how the early nomads of the highways found comfort as they traveled. Some 35 old-school trailers will be setting up an overnight camp in the Juror’s parking lot at Auburn Folsom Rd. and Lincoln Way for Old Town Auburn’s Vintage Trailer Classic.

 

This free event will be open on Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and all trailers will be open for viewing. The show is sponsored by the Old Town Business Association and Carpe Vino, and will include more than a dozen Airstream trailers, the iconic “silver bullet” rigs that first appeared on American highways in the 1930s. Other fully restored trailers include brands such as Shasta, Boles Aero, Silver Streak, Argosy, Streamline, Airfloat and many more.

“So many people love these old rigs,” said Gary Moffat, organizer of the event, “and this is an unusual opportunity to get an up-close look at a wide spectrum of restored trailers, many of which are more than 50 years old.”

The oldest trailer on display is a 1937 Gypsy Caravan Teardrop, a compact little unit with just enough room to sleep two adults, with a pop-up kitchen unit. In contrast, a 2010 American Teardrop from American River Sales in Auburn will set up.

For more information, go to www.vintagehighway.com.

Original Article

Wane’s Wheels: Replica teardrop replaces the tent

September 10, 2010
Greg Wane 

10th September 2010 03:04:00 PM

FED UP with having to sleep in a tent during trips up country, Wayne Isbister was considering a caravan but was reluctant about having to tow around a full-size van.

“On the Queen’s Birthday weekend when we were driving back from up country I saw a little Morris Minor towing a replica teardrop caravan,” he remembered.

“That’s what I wanted.”

Wayne had always used tents overnight when travelling for his gigs as a singer at venues around Victorian and interstate.

“It was always a hassle setting the tent up and packing up next day,” he said.

Since then Wayne has built a scaled-down teardrop-shape camper reminiscent of the caravans of the 1940s and’ 50s.

“The frame is made from 25mm square tube and the hardest part was bending the tube to the shape I wanted,” he said.

“I actually hand-bent the tube. I tried to do it in a jig and pipe bender but it actually creased it.”

 

Wayne said he spent three days searching the internet for plans and ideas before starting building the little van.

“I sketched out the design I wanted after researching on the internet.

“I used the Auto Cad program on the computer to work out how strong it was going to be. The van’s 2.4 metres long by 1.5 metres wide and it weighs 275 kilograms.”

Wayne used Colorbond steel as the outer-cladding and checker plate.

“I built it from the outside in. I started with the interior plywood lining on first then the polystyrene insulation goes in and finally the outer skin of Colorbond sheet,” he said.

“The polystyrene insulates the van and it doesn’t sound like a hollow piece of tin. It acts like a solid core door in a house.

“The foam also stops the tin flapping in the wind and also avoids having any ripples in the metal on the outside.”

The teardrop caravan was introduced to Australia in the mid-1940s amid growing demand for lightweight caravans. In America they called them a cabin car.

The earlier, teardrop-shaped caravans were built using a timber frame and a plywood outer skin.

The teardrop became larger during the 1950s with inside kitchens and could sleep as many as five people. The 1950s version was heavier, still with a timber frame but the outer-cladding was polished aluminium used for aircraft production.

When Wayne planned his caravan he wanted a better weight ratio on the drawbar.

“Usually a normal trailer has a 60:40 ratio but I changed that so it has better balance. I can actually unhook it from a car and I can stand on the whole back end and jump up and down without it tipping up.

“I have also reinforced the drawbar and I’ve put in an extra bar down the centre to the axle and directly above it I have a diagonal support roll bar, so it is effectively a roll cage.”

Wayne said the idea was that the van could be towed at speed without twisting.

“I can also put more weight on it, too.”

Wayne has designed the van to fit a double bed or, when a side cupboard is removed, a queen-size mattress.

“I looked at a couple of other designs where people have put the mattress in below the door but I made the doors bigger so people can get in.

“I also did away with the bulkhead at the end of the bed. It felt like I was in a coffin when I slept in it.

“The way the shape is I can actually lie in there and you can’t touch the roof.”

Wayne said he was planning to customise and hand-build a few vans each year.

He has used Camec wind-out windows with screens and the back of the van has a lift-up section that reveals a camp kitchen.

Wayne said older people became nostalgic when they saw the van, remembering camping holidays in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Wayne towed his van behind his Commodore Crewman ute on a recent trip up the Hume Highway, estimating he used just two per cent more fuel.

“On the same trip it rained all weekend and I thought ‘At least we won’t get wet’. It’s much better than trying to pitch a tent in the rain and we weren’t sleeping on the ground.

“It took me 162 hours to build the caravan and I was making jigs to make the next one easier.

“I originally thought I could build this in two weeks but I was way off.”

Original Article

If you ride to the left you will lose your horse, if you ride to the right you will lose your head.

August 18, 2010

  Have you ever wondered what inspired people to start building their trailers?

 After all mention the words teardrop trailer to most people and 9 outof 10  won’t have a clue what you’re talking about.  So how is it that thousands of people accross the world, became so enthusiastically engulfed in an obsession that means  that many will devote the majority of their spare time building, sleeping, cooking and crawling in and out of a 4ft high can on wheels? 

 Bob Henry is a member of the Hoosier chapter of Tearjerkers and a regular contributor to T&TTT forum. Here he tells us how he was seduced and a love affair began.

The Fork In The Road

January of  2007 was just like any frozen cold month in the construction business, slow , slow , slow.

I was at my desk “Just in case “ but there just wasn’t much happening. Our company pre builds residential and commercial buildings.  It simply becomes a follow the numbers build.  Stand wall number one then  attach to wall number two etc. you just follow the instructional layout that is provided. 

I am in charge of estimating , inventory control and shipping and with nothing happening thanks in large part to a  –8 wind chill most of the week I was doing a whole lot of nothing.

The cads designer was surfing the internet and hollered at me to “come look at this” !

This moment was to change my life it was a tiny little tear shaped trailer. I had just seen my very first “Teardrop trailer”

In the cold, slow, weeks to follow I searched and searched everything on every search engine I could find about the little trailers. I found several links to a site www.mikenchell.com  a rather unlikely sounding site but I dropped in.

 It is referred to, by the members, as t&ttt . (short for Teardrops and tiny travel trailers)

I had hit the main vein in the gold mine. This was a site dedicated to the building of the teardrop and other style small campers. The main criteria seemed to be that the minuscule units measured  somewhere between  8  and 12 feet in length. It was not a hard fast rule but that was more the general feel of the members.  I  looked in and learned a great deal and on Feb 7th 2007 I  became an active member of the site.

In late March I came out of the closet and informed my wife I was going to build a tiny trailer. My very first effort was a super simple little 3×5 cargo trailer to be pulled by my motorcycle. It was a quick build and only server to whet my appetite for a larger more lavish camping size model.

So with this first little trailer build under my belt I now felt that I could construct a very serviceable full sized teardrop. At 56, and being a two job workaholic most of my adult life, I was done burning my candle at both ends. I asked for the wife’s blessing to start on my new project of building a full size teardrop trailer so we could play on weekends instead of working them away.  I felt it was the time in our lives to slow down and start enjoying the peace , quiet and tranquility of  camping.

So, appropriately , on April fools day of 2007 I drove 45 miles to pay for and pick up a used Harbor Freight brand kit trailer I had purchased on E-Bay for $75.00.

The build was officially underway.

During the month of April I assembled the frame and constructed the floor.

The walls went up in the month of  May.

The month of June was spent designing and building the galley

                     ( the little kitchen in the rear ).

Storage cabinets were installed in the front sleeping area as well.

July was roughing in all the electrical and installing insulation and then the  interior paneling. At mid month I was still scratching my head about what to install for the roof , 

Then one day I answered an ad in the newspaper for “Plastic panels” Turns out they were bronze tinted lexan that had been remover from large commercial skylites. I had found my roof material !  The bonus would be a see thru roof !

August arrived and  I fine tuned doors and  built the galley hatch lid and veneered the outside of the tiny trailer with luan panels and applied 6 coats of marine spar varnish.  I was finally ready to install the roof  but one final thing had to happen first , a queen sized pillow top mattress needed to be inserted thru the roof spars and into the sleepy side of the tiny trailer.

September arrived and the folks I had been talking with on the teardrops and tiny trailers forum  had planned a local Indiana “Gathering”  for the 17th of  the month. I so wanted to go. I worked frantically but by the date I was still attempting to finish the roof.  As it turned out we had to settle for a ride thru the park on my motorcycle and to stop and visit with the folks and look over their little trailers. 

I would like to point out a home built teardrop is never really finished ! We refer to a functioning trailer as “Campable”  This generally means all the important parts function and that nothing is likely to fall off.

In mid October, with camping season all but gone, we finally got the tiny  trailer fully functional.  We driveway camped at home.  I was heartbroken we had not been able to camp with our new found friends in 2007.

And then………

 Someone got the bright idea our little Hoosier group should be the first group in the nation to go camping in 2008. We planned for the 1st weekend after new years and 8 intrepid campers braved the snow and cold for bragging rights. We dressed heavily and stood near the campfire and visited and ate and as the sun went down so did the temps. So we retreated to the comfort of our little trailers.

       That night’s temperatures went to  –1 with a –15 wind chill index but all parties were warm an safe in their little trailers by them. Equipped with small electric heaters everyone was comfortable. This get together was our maiden camping outing we encountered several rough edges with forgotten items and learned to make do and borrow from the neighbors when necessary.

Now, well into the close of  or 2nd year of camping, we have camped in 5 states and have attended some 17 gatherings as well as 5 or 6 solo excursions.  The camping group has developed into an extended family and we have gained quite a few real close friends. Not a nodding acquaintance but a true friend, one you can call in the middle of the night broke down somewhere and they will rescue you. That kind of friend you can not put a price tag on.

Soon to enter into my 60’s I never expected to develop into a camper type but both my wife and myself look forward to each outing and arrive home at the end  of each tired and happy.

Looking back to that cold wintry day in January of 2007  I feel  so blessed that I found a small picture of a “Teardrop trailer” . It  sounds a bit corny but it was a fork in the road for us and luckily it led us down a serene wooded path to the joys of camping in comfort.

Street Fashion: Margo Cheroutes at First Friday, Art District on Santa Fe

August 9, 2010

Susan Froyd, Mon., Aug. 9 2010

Some people just stand out. Whether their style is cutting-edge, quirky or just well-executed, they make you want to know: How do they do it? Because we work for you, we’re finding out. Each day, we’ll hit the streets and talk to one person who catches our eye and makes us look twice. On Friday, we caught up with Margo Cheroutes, who was selling vintage-inspired jewelry in a trailer at 8th Avenue and Inca Street. With Rose Whitlock (who had a variety of antiques, vintage clothing and re-purposed hair ornaments in her own Airstream), she’s the proprietress of Cha Cha Muchacha, a traveling store that, not unlike a food truck, goes to the customers, rather than the other way around. Her Mexican-themed circle skirt and vintage dangling cherry earrings had us charmed. Learn more after the jump.

Name: Margo Cheroutes
Age: 39

Westword: What’s the deal with the trailers?

Margo Cheroutes: It’s a streamlined life! I got the idea to use my trailer as a vintage flash venue. I love vintage clothes and accessories, and I thought it would be fun to have a bunch of trailers – I have a teardrop that I might use for jewelry, and I could use one for clothes and another for baby stuff. Denver is a stylish town. I think people here would support this.

WW: Tell us about what you’re wearing.

MC: Tonight is a themed evening, so I wore this traditional circle skirt. I’m wearing sort of a ’40s-’50s mix. I got these earrings from a woman from Paris. They’re real Bakelite.

WW: How would you describe your own personal sense of style?

MC: I would say I’m eclectic. I like to mix it up a little: sometimes I like to wear something classic, but sometimes I’ll wear a circle skirt. It depends on my mood.

WW: What’s your favorite article of clothing you own?

MC: My favorite dress is my grandmother’s. It was her first wedding anniversary dress from the ’50s, and it has this beautiful ivory and white lace overlay. I wore it when I was in high school and I can still wear it now. I consider it an honor to wear it.

Original Article