Forgive me, it's been a while since I've posted, my 1972 York rebuild was completed and is now being enjoyed by a lovely couple who bought her shortly after completion.
I bought another 10ft caravan to restore as I love how cute these little 70s vans are. She barely made it home, hanging off the very rusted chassis and no door frame or back window. Thankfully the door was sitting on the floor inside as well as replacement windows for those too damaged to salvage.
For those who aren't aware, 70s Franklins are made from Thermopanel which is basically 3mm plywood/styrofoam/thin aluminium cladding sandwiched together to make the walls/ceiling. The only timber framing is across the bottom of the walls, around windows, door and vents, take away the ply lining and there isn't much holding the roof up. Add to that, most of the timber across the bottom of the wall on the door side had rotted away and the entire door frame was gone. The only way to properly restore her was to flatpack and do it from the ground up.
We originally intended to fix the chassis up, paint and re-use but it was extremely heavy and not that well built so husband Geoff felt it was better to build a new one than try and work with the old.
Geoff is a boilermaker by trade and I'm a self taught DIYer, he does all the mechanical and heavy metal stuff while I do most work above the chassis (he won't touch timber lol). We also have great neighbours who have helped with the heavy lifts as needed when flipping the chassis, putting the walls back on and the roof back up and don't complain about all the noise I make 🤣
Thank you so much for the update and photos. Wow! What an amazing restoration. Just out of curiosity, what materials did you use for the thermopanel walls? Did you end up re-using all of the metal skin or did you have to buy extra panels? I can't wait to see the final look when you've painted it. I'm sure a lot of our members will find this project inspirational. I would love to give this a go, unfortunately, I don't have the garage space.
Please keep us updated with your progress, we look forward to the unveiling of the restored caravan.
Again, thank you so much for sharing your project.
I salvaged most of the walls, just relined and added new ply lining, 2.7mm poly coated caravan ply from ForestOne.
The walls are 25mm thick so I replaced the framing with 2 layers of 12mm Tassie Oak and the bottom rail with 19mm Tassie Oak with 4mm bracing ply to make up the difference. All timber was coated with linseed/turps mix. I also ran new wiring (with permission from my electrician who will connect it all later) and added some framing. I had to think very far ahead due to no access to the walls once the lining goes on.
I used Tassie Oak for the above but have used 12x30 and 18x30 meranti for the front and rear framing to give me 30x30 lengths and 18 x 41mm meranti for the ceiling ribs with 16x3mm aluminium flatbar screwed to either side to prevent sag. My Bunnings doesn't stock Meranti so I ordered it in via Special Orders.I use 5.4m lengths of pine for cabinetry as it's not exposed like framing timber and more accessible for me (and no wait time to buy).
Minor repairs to exterior required -
Wow you have done so much!!
And I have totally learnt so much just from your one Post! 😄 I have seen the thermopanel "sandwich" and was wondering what the story was...... it's definitely good to know that's what's holding the roof up.
My Franklin is in a bit better shape than yours was at the beginning. It was registered and being used when I got it, although no longer registered now. There is definitely some rot in it but I'm just concentrating on covering it and sealing initially.
It is great to see your little van coming together so well from such a tragic beginning.
You have done an amazing job! I would love to do this to mine however my husband refuses to! I think the best and proper way to restore it is to take it all apart and rebuild but we honestly do not have the space. We don’t have any undercover area, she is currently inside our garage so she is protected but we don’t have the space to remove the roof etc. As I mentioned in another post, I was going to replace the rotted and removed frame with new wood, and add in some new insulation and board where it needs replacing. However, the wall where the door is also needs replacing but the beautiful gold trim I was hoping to keep is locked in by the ceiling so i can’t remove it to replace the walls. It’s quite the conundrum and it starting to put me off the project however I feel like too far invested now eeek!
Don't be discouraged, I believe that it's all a matter of planning. Perhaps you can put up a Marquee 3 x 6m Deluxe Easy Up Non-Permanent Gazebo and use that as a temporary assembly shed? Once you have a spot where you can repair the caravan it all comes down which section will you start with first.
If you have any other questions we can help with, please let us know.
Thanks Eric, I think that might be the way to go! I really do want to do it properly!
I have responded on your original post 😊 Don't be discouraged by no undercover area, my first caravan reno was a 23ft Viscount (also sandwich panel construction) and all I had was a giant tarp and caravan cover. Thankfully we were in a high block house so I had a work area under it to cut up all my panels etc.