Renovating Vintage Caravans
May we introduce to you Jonathan Solly, furniture maker, father and more recently vintage caravan enthusiast and renovator?
I've been a furniture maker now for 14 years and operate business from a local farm just outside Thame. A while ago we started taking our annual summer family holiday in France. We loved the experience but grew weary of the seemingly constant grind of putting up and taking down tents.
My wife, Lynn, had spent many happy childhood holidays caravanning and was keen to suggest this as an alternative. I didn't share this enthusiasm. The closest I had got to a caravanning holiday was getting stuck behind one on some interminably long drive to Cornwall. I needed persuading and a lot of it.
I did weaken slightly at the sight of the odd old caravan we would occasionally see in France. They seemed quite stylish, small and well built. This glimmer of hope was enough for Lynn who disappeared one weekend only to reappear towing a 1968 Eriba Puck bought via eBay.
I remained to be convinced but, one afternoon, started doing some research. It turned out these were a quality product with a fanatical following, especially in the Netherlands and their homeland, Germany. A tubular steel frame encased a plywood floor, with a fiberglass top and the whole thing wrapped in a sheet of aluminum. Something to do with the founder of Eriba being an aeronautical engineer.
My curiosity aroused I started looking inside our new vintage caravan. It quickly became apparent that though over 30 years old our Eriba Puck was in very good condition. Not only did it look good, it was also very well made. Inspired I launched myself into a spot of renovation. I left the outside largely alone, although I did strip and respray the towing parts and gave the whole caravan a T cut and polish. This made it infinitely less tired looking.
The inside was more suited to my skills.
- Part of the floor was rotten so I removed all the units, cut in a new piece of ply and put down some new rubber flooring.
- The original fittings were all ply covered in a fake wood foil veneer. I stripped them and veneered them with real wood.
- Totally remade the cooker and fridge units.
- Removed a cupboard to give the interior more work surface.
- Re-upholstered the soft furnishings.
- Rewired the electrics.
- Put in safety a fuse box with contact breakers.
- Altered the ventilation system for the fridge.
After all that we were ready to take our Puck out.
Since then we have had many a happy caravanning experience. The Puck is fantastic, being so small it is very easy to tow and we have breezed down to the south of France with it. The awning keeps the sun off, the interior converts to a very comfortable double bed and the whole thing looks terrific. See our video here.