Friday, 18 October 2013

Oh Dear, Another One...

I've been busy enough with my 1963 Sprite Alpine ("Jennifer") for the past month [update coming soon!] but this week I found this 1969 Sprite 400 laid up in someone's garden. A friend of mine, Chris Beresford, spotted it said it looked like a lot of work and it had not moved in 15 years - but here's the deal: the house it was next to had been derelict for two years, and renovations were due to start next week, so the caravan would be scrapped at the weekend. Luckily, the neighbour that was asked to scrap it came into contact with my friend and said he could take it for free! So I found out about it and decided, it's free, why not?!


I drove 100 miles to meet Chris and go to see it (from near where I found my Alpine) and it looked to be in quite a sorry state. But, after spending an hour cleaning out the interior, it looked very presentable and all the rubbish inside was hiding a good, solid caravan! All the furniture has been remade in 1980's pine and the cushions recovered and curtains replaced, none of it to my taste. I think the wood is growing on me slightly, but it's very heavy! Luckily, it's all very well made and solid, so no worries there. That said, because of the weight of the wood (the cupboard doors alone are 1cm thick solid wood, the originals were 4mm thick!) I think I'll be replacing it all.

Curtains open and the daylight flooding in and suddenly the Sprite looked to be in very good condition indeed! I found a receipt from 1998 for a campsite, which must have been the last time that it was used. There's some damp in the lower door panel and damp around the roof light, but both of these are straightforward fixes. Other than that, hand on heart, it's ready to use as is with a bit of a clean!

Inside there was a lot of junk (four bin bags full, to be precise!) but some of it was useful to keep - two porta-pottis, a bag of old maps, some kitchenware, retro sleeping bags and yes, that is a globe lamp that you see placed in the sink!

The outside was pretty much the same story - look beneath the grime and it's a good, solid caravan. The hitch gear was all in good order (it had been covered with a bin bag, so wasn't even rusty!), when we removed the wheels the hubs turned freely, so the brakes hadn't stuck on and overall, it looked to be in great shape for a 44 year old caravan!

I sourced two new part-worn tyres that were supplied and fitted for just £13 each! So with those fitted, the caravan could be removed from the driveway. Me and Chris persevered as the driveway was tight, but we got it out in under 20 minutes! After hitching up to my car, we were amazed to find that the original road lights worked straight away - all of them! And on setting off, we discovered that the brakes were working too.

We then began a short tour of the midlands meeting some of our caravnning friends whom we've met through Facebook for the first time. One of them, Susan Loasby, kindly offered to let me keep the Sprite on her land until I got storage place. So Susan, I cannot thank you enough! Because of our two visits on the way, it was dark by the time we got to Chris' storage facility to wash the caravan!

Our solution? Point our cars at the caravan with the headlights on - a novelty for me at least!

Underneath the green grime, the original green paint looks great! I was really impressed with how good it looked after a basic wash. A bit of elbow grease and polish and it will look amazing!

Fairly clean and ready to hit the road to Susan's house to store it - a 40 mile drive on country roads in the dark! It was okay though.

So there you go, another caravan! I'm now up to three. I'm absolutely stoked to get this, as I've wanted a Sprite 400 ever since my Grandparents told me about theirs. So now I can experience one and see how it compares to their stories about how fun it was! It's a straightforward enough fix, I just need to get on with it.

No names as of yet, I'm thinking maybe she's a girl. Nothing inspiring has popped up though yet. I'll keep you posted though when I decide!

PS, I'd like to thank Susan Loasby for being such a wonderful host and letting me keep the caravan at her house, Carole Averill and Valerie Morgan and especially to Christopher Beresford, whom without I couldn't have got this caravan, such a massive help and I'm eternally grateful!

PPS, sorry I didn't get more photos and in the daylight too, got distracted by visiting people! I will take more and upload them when I bring the Sprite 400 home.

Now, back to working on the Alpine...!