Friday, 2 August 2013

My 'New' Caravan!

Meet "Jennifer"! She's a 1961/2 Sprite Alpine 12ft four berth. To say she's at least 51 years old, she's in great shape! The previous owner had started work on her but sold her as he had just acquired an Eriba Puck and no longer has somewhere to store both caravans, so he wanted rid of it ASAP. Admittedly, he had repaired some damp and painted the inside of the caravan with matt emulsion paint - which isn't breathable and cause mould to appear. So I have to strip all the paint off and repaint her. Anyway, she was an absolute steal at £60!


Day one: 01/08/2013: Picked her up from just south of Birmingham. Here we are at the first services as her indicator light had stopped working - luckily only the bulb had come loose. She towed like a dream on the way home, a completely faultless and 120 miles seemed like a breeze.

Here's a view of her other side - look how green she is! She'd been sat under a tree for two years before being moved out into a yard; but she was never cleaned after being removed from under a tree so the green algae is well and truly stuck on! Lots of elbow grease needed to remove it.

Back home. I gave the front a quick clean and doesn't she look better already?! I'll be spending the next few days thoroughly cleaning her to get a better idea of what condition she's in and what needs doing.

The old hitch. Thankfully it's a metric 50mm hitch, but the jockeywheel is imperial. It's the original "Alperson Sprite" branded one that you raise and lower by using the corner steady winder on the nut at the top! Annoyingly, the jockeywheel doesn't pivot. Also the tightening lever is seised. Even though it's original, for the sake of convenience I want to source a better jockeywheel: but finding an imperial sized one is going to be difficult! Because of the jockeywheel's lack of manoeuvrability, I had to reverse the caravan myself with the car - terrifying as there's only about 20cm clearance either side! I managed it though.    
NOTE: It turns out that the hitch is a rare hydraulic "special order" hitch. This means that it uses the modern brake overrun system, as opposed to a spring which was the standard hitch. This hydraulic system is much more effective.

The Sprite is full of quirky features. One of my favourites is this door lock - complete with a proper key! When you open the door, the door catch catches on the handle to hold it open. Great, simple design.

The interior. There's a dinette in the front corner that turns into a double bed, a wardrobe next to it, bench seats at the rear that also turn into a double bed, a kitchen and in the front corner there was originally a washroom.

Showing you the front corner and kitchen. Where the table and cushions are should be a washroom. At some point this was removed. I will be putting it back in place. The kitchen is all there but is loose. The previous owner took it out to relay the floor. All the gas and water connections have been cut but they all remain. I will remake this unit and the cupboards as they've warped and been damaged over the years. Another feature I love is the floor mounted foot pump to pump water to the sink!

The wardrobe is original on the outside, but inside has been modified tastefully to feature a couple of drawers. I'm going to take the wardrobe out and give it an overhaul to restore it as it's looking a bit tired.

The front dinette area. Here and the rear dinette the table drops down to form the bed base for the seat cushions. I will re-make the tables as the tops have warped. I wish to keep the tops though, see photo below...

Here's the very 1950's/1960's 'Atomic' patterned formica table and work tops that are present throughout the caravan. Great design! I'm going to clean up all of these and keep them. I'm going for that new age atomic mid century look throughout the caravan for its restoration.

Finally the seat cushions. These are not original, but are charming nonetheless. They came from a later Sprite (late 1960's or early 1970's) but none of the cushions quite fit properly. I love the material but will have to make new cushions. I'd like to salvage the material but I might not be able to.



  1. thanks for the pictures! Great buy. Looks like enough to do to make it yours but not a total tear down. You should be able to find similar fabric if you aren't able to salvage the current. Can't wait to see the progress of the re-do!

  2. She's gorgeous! Just a question - you mention that you have to strip off the matt emulsion paint because it's not breathable. I always thought emulsion was water based, and therefore breathable ... What do you use instead on the interior?

    1. Thank you! I can't wait to get stuck in with her restoration. Modern Matt Emulsion is actually a mixture of water base and acrylic base. The acrylic base is the trouble causer! Eggshell paint is what I've been recommended as this paint is specifically engineered for wood. I'm sure there are other alternatives but I've yet to get to the painting stage!