Annie - A 1977 11ft Millard York @my_tiny_caravan and @eugenie_the_royal
Eugenie - Winter Getaways
Coming out of Covid and it's travel restrictions combined with the wettest of autumn/ winters in NSW history was challenging to say the least. So many trips away were booked and then either cancelled or postponed due to flooding or severe weather systems hitting the east coast.
Abstobys Retreat - Bob's Farm Port Stephens
I had previously booked this Hipcamp property inbetween lockdowns last year but the trip was thwarted by a sudden change of govt stance on travel and it went on the travel back burner.
With much needed left knee replacement surgery coming up I secured 4 days of almost rain free weather and had a restful, relaxing winter getaway in the princess.
Fitting right in 👌💚💛
The new addition.
Renovating Annie was probably one of the most rewarding activities that Shane and I have enjoyed doing together. So much so that my head has been full of bigger and better ideas for potentially another reno at some stage in the future.
As a member of a number of Facebook Groups, I was exposed to so many other makes and models of vintage vans that I never knew existed. I was a York gal through and through or so I thought.
That was until I set my sights on the 70's Viscount range. The ones with the curved windows. Didn't I just want to go up and hug them.
I started about 6 months ago checking out the online sales of the 15 - 16ft range. We inspected a few vans advertised locally and were shocked at the prices some owners were asking for their leaky rusting and broken old vans.
I was intrigued with some of the reno's fellow Instagrammers were doing on their Viscounts and recently, the problems many were having with replacing and/or maintaining those lovable curvy windows.
My desire for this model van was waning but the Viscounts still had me at "hello".
Over the last couple of months a number of Viscount Royals have come up for sale online. Just as I was getting organised to call or email the owners to have an inspection, the vans were sold. The majority of vans were in Victoria and I was getting to the point of buying "sight unseen" and paying the $1000 dollar shipping fee to NSW, just to secure one of these gems for myself.
So I logged into Gumtree and set my account to "email me immediately" when any 15ft Viscount Royals come up for sale.
Well, in true Gumtree fashion, they did send me an email, I did respond to that email and thankyou Lord, the van in question was living in the next suburb. Within 24 hrs, she was mine. 🙃🤪😀
Introducing Eugenie the Royal
Follow me @eugenie_the_royal
Let the reno begin
Once Eugenie was home safe in our driveway we took a closer look at what makes her tick.
She had no evidence of leaks, or stains where leaks had once been and were fixed. Some areas of the ceiling looked like they may have had water damage at one time but the new paint job covered them.
We were also very impressed with how well the previous owner adapted her to running totally "off the grid" Apparently he fancied a spot of trout fishing 🎣 in the winter months and had installed an insulated stainless steel cabinet with chimney where the wardrobe once was, to house a pot belly stove fireplace 🔥.
We have no need for this dandy piece of caravanning architecture so it was the first thing to hit the skip bin. Shane kept one of the panels to use as a top for his work bench.
Always expect the unexpected . . . .
For the last 2 years Eugenie has been a spare room, only having been towed twice. Her third road trip was a 10 minute drive from our adjoining suburb.
She was in our driveway for 5 days when we had a 6 hour rainstorm which finished at 6am in the morning. That night around 9.00pm I was doing some measuring up for new cabinets when I heard a tapping sound. I sat on the dinette bench to listen when I felt water on my wrist.
Eugenie was crying real tears . . . . .
24 hours later, she had dried out and the damage had been done. Poor little princess. We were totally blindsided by this leak. We can only fathom that in the short trip home that her solar panels had shifted on the roof and created a gap just big enough for moisture to get in. As a matter of course, even if she hadn't leaked we would have had to seal all her joins before doing any reno work on her. It would just have to be done sooner than later.🤔
Solar Panels and Silicone
Eugenie has had a number of owners in her 42 years. It would appear that her biggest conversion was undertaken about 25 years ago when her trout fishing/viscount devotee converted her to 12 volt everything.
You can tell a lot from the roof of a caravan. Her clean, dry (how things change in a heartbeat - or rainstorm) and straight interior had my creative juices flowing. Her clean, straight panels and underbody were what sealed the deal for Shane. You don't always get to climb on the roof when inspecting a van for sale. Her then owners had given us a brief rundown on her conversion history and did mention something in passing about a messy sealant job on the roof.
So, up on the roof we went.
So, down the left side of this photo you can see on the joins a brown bubbly line. It would appear that when Mr Trout carried out his 12 volt conversion, he removed the entire side wall, did what needed to be done (he did a lot - hope we never have to repair anything) re attached the wall using a lot of sealant and never bothered smoothing it out or cutting off the excess.
It's along this join or around the solar panels that our leak is . . . . we think
We found the leak !
Weekend is here and we are going hunting for leaks. We started by cutting away the old silicone from down the sides. It was stuck nice and solid. After pushing down with the stanley knife I notice some water at the side of the front solar panel. Another shove and the floodgates opened. The panel was full of water. So how did it get in there ? After removing the casing from one side of the panel we poured a little water along the join and a trickle of water ran under the panel. There is also a ceiling panel join that runs across the roof and under this panel. On the two front corners of the solar panel there appeared to be holes which had been filled with silicone by the previous owner, not Mr Trout. They were drainage holes. Brilliant. So water leaked in and couldn't get out. Problem solved.
After much deliberating about what to do in regards to our leaky roof we decided to re seal everything. This caravan had been wired to be self sufficient off the grid. It has a huge battery and it is connected throughout the van to 7 interior lights and one exterior light. Two of the interior lights are still able to be reconnected to 240V. There are 5 12v outlets and 3 TV ports as well as 4 power points. Since we have had Eugenie, she has never been without 12v power. There is a meter box installed with a radio and cd player. There is a gizmo included that tells you how much power you have in your battery. It has been consistently high. Is this because the solar panels are topping it up or is the battery just holding it's charge through us not using much 12 volt energy.
We don't even know if the solar panels are working. Do we really need them ?Probably not. So we'll leave them as is. We spent 2 days cutting away and removing all the old silicone from the sides, around the panels and hatches. Sooooo much silicone. Then we filled all the joins with fresh silicone. If there is a leak under the solar panel hopefully with the panels now re sealed, there won't be any water getting into them to leak.
Everything old is new again
When renovating Annie, I decided pretty much straight away to have everything new. Her door and drawer handles & hinges (all original 😥), sink and cooker and even her internal lights had to go.
Had I realised at the time that someone out there would kill for those handles & hinges, I would have kept them for re-homing. The rest I did sell on ebay and they did go to good homes.
Lesson learnt and also the cost of replacing all that hardware had me cleaning up this precious cargo and giving it a second lease on life.
The door knobs came in an assortment of colours from white to silver and what I think was their original dirty brassy colour, depending on what colour the cupboards had been painted over the last 40 years. They needed a good scrub !
The hinges also had an assortment of colours. White, gold and brassy brown. These would need to be sanded back before new paint was applied. The upper cupboard doors are in excellent condition and I'll be re-using them. They have dandy little push button locks which will also need sanding along with all the screws, for respraying.
The onsite tradie suggested the following solution to get the job done in the most efficient way possible.
A window box for the princess
I saw a photo on Pinterest of an Airstream with a really cool window box. Eugenie's rear side windows are single paned and I thought they would be perfect for something like that.
My mum crocheted a beautiful lace tablecloth when I was young and she had it on a circular side table in our living room.
When I left home she handed it down to me. It's been in and out of my linen cupboard a number of times over the years but not recently.
It would be just perfect for my window box project.
Mum. . . . This is for you 😘
This is for you mum❤
To keep or not to keep
At the start of this reno, my plan was to reuse as much of Eugenies original cabinetry. The dinette framework and sides and one of the twin beds at the rear. The kitchen cabinets would need to be replaced. I'd keep the sink, fridge and the cooker.We started with the kitchen and it all came out so easily that we moved on to the rear bed. Great work. Very happy with the outcome. Nice to have something go right.
The Keeping Pile
What to do next . . . .
My head is so full of ideas and layouts. I change my mind daily as to the flooring, the wall colours, tiles, ceiling. It's quite overwhelming. The flooring that I purchased 3 months ago would definitely have to be returned. It was the perfect colour but not the perfect material. Way too heavy for a caravan. Fortunately the flooring shop gave me a full refund. The hunt was on for new flooring. I couldn't find the right colour anywhere. With suggestions from Facebook and Instagram groups plus Google reviews and a dining table loaded up with samples from different suppliers, I still came out of the search clueless and floorless.
I was working near home a few days later and remembered a Homemaker Centre in a nearby suburb. I swung the car into the carpark and found 2 flooring stores. Neither had anything remotely like what I was looking for. Disheartened, I decided to get a cup of tea and reflect on what I had gotten myself into. I sat down at the cafe and noticed a very small flooring store near the exit door. I walked over and right smack bang at the entrance was a display of laminated planks. The colour Rustic Oak screamed out at me. This was my flooring and at and excellent price. I ordered it on the spot. It would arrive from China in 2 weeks.
Pinterest had given me an insight into Pressed Tin Ceilings. I'd seen some amazing Airstream vans and I so wanted the same for Eugenie. Unfortunately in our state there is only one supplier of these works of art who on sells to a handful of stores, who charge an arm and a leg plus a horrendous delivery fee. I tried to convince myself that I could cut back costs elsewhere to absorb the cost but then realised that installing these panels was going to be way out of our league.
I remembered seeing a van similar in size to Eugenie on Instagram with Tin Ceilings. I found the post and contacted the owner who provided me with some wonderful information. Her ceiling was made of Faux Pressed Tin. Light as a feather, made from plastic and easy to install. God love her and Ebay who managed to deliver the panels from China in under 2 weeks.
12.12 | 01:04
love your trailer- I'm currently in the middle of a renovation, might have to steal the little shelf on the outside
17.09 | 21:12
Hi Emma. I have a post devoted to Annie's Awning. Check it out in the Menu 👍
14.09 | 21:39
Hi there Where did you get your lovely fabric for the annex? Did you make these yourself?
13.07 | 14:48
What a wonderful story and pictures to wake up to. The camper is wonderful and the park is perfect! Love the spoiled little doggy too. Keep making memories!