Friday, 21 February 2014

Work Resumes On "Jennifer"!

Yes, you read that correctly! Having not really touched my 1963 Sprite Alpine ("Jennifer") since last September when a steady stream of other Sprites came my way and took priority, work is now resuming to finish her.

A friend contacted me to give me a place on a special caravan rally in March and I was faced with a problem: I didn't have a complete classic caravan to take! I'd just parted with the 1969 Sprite 400 and the replacement 1964 Sprite 400 has no road lights (which I've been finding it impossible to get replacements) and the 1962 Sprite Musketeer is even further away from being completed. As I looked at the empty shell of Jennifer on my driveway, a quick venture inside revealed that I had just about everything that I could possibly need to finish her. On the basis that the Musketeer hadn't even been started on, and I am waiting to source genuine original Sprite road lights for my 100% original 1964 Sprite 400, I decided, what the heck, lets finish the Alpine. BUT, and this is a big but, I had just five weeks to finish her!

If you missed part one of the restoration (collecting the caravan), CLICK HERE
If you missed part two of the restoration (removing the interior), CLICK HERE
If you missed part three of the restoration, CLICK HERE
If you missed part four of the restoration, CLICK HERE


Given an impossible schedule of just five weeks, I immediately started on the exterior. I stripped down the front end (using a hand held sander, with around 120 grit sand paper, gradually swapping the pad for finer grades) and dismantling it for painting by removing the windows and any fittings such as lights and grab handles. I applied the paint with a roller and got a perfect finish. As with anything that seems too easy, that's because it shouldn't be. That night the heavens opened and washed most of the paint off, so the mad search began to find a barn to paint her in.

The decision to move her meant packing her up and getting her ready to move for the first time in six months, minus her road lights! I fitted the immaculately restored hitch (courtesy of my AMAZING Grandad), re-attached the brakes, put back on the wheels and spent two days chasing the black wires underneath to fix up the road lights. I intended to remove them and fit original 1960's roadlights, so stupidly just cut the wires. This proved to be very annoying as Sprite didn't use colour coded wiring on 1963 models! 

Holding my breath, I set off for the 20 mile journey to a friend's barn! Luckily she towed like a dream and made it to the barn in one piece.

Once in place, work started intensively to get her stripped down ready to paint.

One of the other jobs that I managed to do was source and fit a replacement roof light/skylight. The original was cracked/split in three places and new ones aren't available. I sourced this charming retro orange one (see on the roof, left) from Coventry Caravan Breakers who, unlike most caravan breakers yards, keep an excellent stock of parts for classic (pre-1982) caravans. Be sure to give them a call if you need anything! The new roof light was an exact replacement, and during the day gives the interior an nice orange glow!

The original bits of trim that were removed were all resealed and riveted back on.

And when I removed the windows to sand and paint, I polished the frames up. My tip is to use Brasso and lots of elbow grease! Has them looking like new in around 10 minutes.

Now for one of those clever before and after shots:

Amazing what a lick of paint can do, isn't it?! She looks really smart (even if I do say so myself!) and is painted the original two-tone Sprite colours. The paint used is Duluxe Exterior Non-Drip Gloss and I applied it *sparingly* in many coats with a foam roller.

But the painting didn't stop there! I've completely painted the interior too:

And that's it for now. I've used two out of my five week allowance. Work will continue in ernest next week and I'll post another update at the end of next week. The exterior needs some finishing off and the interior needs a total fit out. I've some amazing fittings and furniture for the interior though, so keep posted!

In the mean time, I'd like to thank: my Grandad Stephen for all his help, Rob & Liz for letting me use their barn, Christopher Beresford, Coventry Caravan Breakers and the nice paint lady at Homebase who wanted to hear all about Jennifer!


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