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CHELTENHAM OWNER'S CLUB
 Maintenance Tips 

 

Lucy Jayne Vintage Caravans are a specialist vintage caravan workshop offering repairs, servicing, resprays etc…50% of the work we carry out is to Cheltenhams so we are very familiar with them. We offer COC club members a discount of 10% off our services. There is nothing we can’t repair with them and specialise in resprays. Members will be able to get a quote and must show proof of membership in order to gain the discount. Visit the website http://www.lucyjaynecaravans.com/ email:info@lucyjaynecaravans.com

 

The spares situation for Cheltenham Caravans - 10 years on.  (updated February 15)                      submitted by  Jack Salter 

It is now 10 years since the then specialist in Cheltenham Caravans retired and, in response to members concerns as to where they would get their spares from in the future, that I wrote the Suppliers of Spares pages for this webpage. I am pleased to report that the spare parts situation is still healthy (but quite different) and that we will be able to continue enjoying our caravans for many years.  

Alasdair Robb has become the main supplier of used, new old stock and remanufactured parts for our caravans, Alasdair has had suspension bushes, and adjustable shock absorbers re manufactured and has clear Moorlight roofs made when he has sufficient orders for a batch and is able to satisfy most needs from either new or second-hand stock. 

The club has purchased the remaining Cheltenham factory stock of spares, this includes badges for 1970’s vans, available via the Treasurer. These items are available at club rallies by prior arrangement.

The remaining stock of B&B chassis spares has transferred from Jonnie Longden to Peak trailers of Bidford upon Avon  

The caravan wholesalers Burdens have been bought by the Unipart Group & no longer seem to offer components for van of our era.  

A club member has the moulds for corner spouts, mudguards and drawbar fairings, these are not currently being produced, as needs can still be met by second-hand items but the moulds are in safe keeping ready for when they are required.  

You can no longer expect caravan dealers or breakers to have items in stock to suit our vans, indeed when I visited my local breaker last week he was breaking a caravan that was new when I first wrote my list!  Auto jumbles have become the most likely source of components and wheels from caravans of our era.

However we have seen the growth of the internet and in particular E bay! For items still manufactured, such as the white plastic side window surround, you can look for the cheapest price, new old stock of items such as B& B hitch springs and gas mantles can also be located.

I suggest that members buy items such as hitch springs, brake shoes, rear lights and door catches as and when they are available, so each van has a spares package with it, if you don’t need the item some other member will!  

I am sure that with members continued enthusiasm to use our vans and to help each other out with spare sources, that as and when any spares shortages appear that there will sufficient demand to justify  remanufacturing of any essential items. 

Looking forward to the next 10 years.  Jack Salter

Information Sheets

Suppliers of Spares

Awning Sizes

Chassis Numbers

Dating Your Caravan

Flavel Cooker

Parts Interchange Guide

Poulard Awning 1

Poulard Awning 2

Wheel Specification

Owners Handbook

 

 

Topics

5 berth Cheltenham
Brake Shoes
Corner Steady Nuts
Corner Steady Winding Handle 
Exterior Trim on Late Cheltenhams
Front Transverse Bunk Bed

Handbrake Lever Repair
Interior Wood
Late Rear Lights
Mains Appliances
Rear Lights Lens Repair
Replacing Glass in Opening Windows 
Rubber Window Seals
Stainless Steel Screws
Suspension Brushes
Toilet Light
 
Tyres and Inner Tubes
Tyre Selection
Ventilating Modern Refrigerators
Pre 1966 Wheels
Window Surrounds

Wiring for Reverse Lock Out

 

Repair and Maintenance Instructions 
The repair and maintenance of caravans of our era were well covered in the caravan section of an illustrated book published in 1973 "Readers Digest Repair Manual". Items of direct interest to Cheltenham owners include hitch overhaul, brake shoe replacement, gas light overhaul, replacement of rubber seals on opening windows and hand and foot water pump reconditioning. This 2" thick A4 landscape book seems widely available in second hand book shops for a few pounds. 

Wiring for Reverse Lock out
Many Cheltenham caravans are fitted with an electric reverse lock out (either Marwood or Cheltenham’s own design) to disconnect the caravan brakes when reversing, this avoid the need to place the “shoe” on the hitch.
I have come across members who did not realise that their van was equipped with one of these devices, when the Cheltenham auto reverse is fitted there is a “fin” on top of the drawbar cover with a round Bakelite knob protruding through the top, the aftermarket Marwood device looks like a thin shock absorber fitted in the middle of the brake actuating rod.
However these devices require non-standard wiring on the tow car and there is a particular danger in that if a tow car with modern wiring is used on a caravan equipped with reverse lock out then the brakes will not function!

On caravans fitted with only a single black 7  pin plug the usual way of freeing up a connection for the electric reverse cut out is to join both tail lights to the LH (pin 7) and connect  pin 5 to the reversing lights. This means that if such a caravan is connected up to a car wired to modern standards then the caravan brakes are disconnected whenever the cars sidelights are on!

How did I discover this? When towing my daughters newly acquired Fawn home with my car fitted with daytime running lights…. 

If you have a second, grey, plug there is a pin allocated for reversing catches (pin 1), however this wire is often not connected when cars are wired for towing as very few trailers have these devices fitted.  
Tow bar electrics are now part of the car MOT test, so you might be worried that you might fail with the non-standard wiring required if you are using single electrics, however this part of the test only applies to the latest 13 pin sockets, 7 pin connectors are not tested whatever the age of the tow car.

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Table Lamps and other Mains appliances.
I recently purchased a Sable that the previous owners had extensively toured with for many years.
As the owners were retiring from caravanning they Included with the caravan a table lamp for use when on mains hook up, as I know many owners use.
These items are primarily designed for use in a domestic environment rather than in a trailer for thousands of miles.
On checking the lamp over the earth screw was loose inside the plug and the live wire was nearly worn through in the metal bulb holder, a 13 amp
rather than 3 amp fuse was fitted - an accident about to happen.
Upon further inspection there were similar problems with all four appliances included with the van.
When did you last inspect your mains plug in items in your Cheltenham?
 

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Interior Wood

Lifting Veneers - If you have oak veneer starting to lift in your Cheltenham and are not yet ready to replace the whole panel it is worth trying spraying gently between the 2 panels with “Bostik Fast Tak” spray adhesive, letting dry for a few minutes and pressing together with a wallpaper seam roller.This adhesive is available from branches of Wilkinsons/Wilko.

White patches - If you have white patches on the wood in a Cheltenham with medium oak veneer (usually where the wood has got wet & then dried out) I suggest Pledge Extra Care scratch & colour restorer Light/ Medium wood, this brings the colour back to the wood. This is available from branches of Wilkinsons/Wilko.

Dry Wood - The interior wood in a Cheltenham dries with age, life can be bought back to the wood with Danish oil, this is available from branches of Wilkinsons/Wilko or at a lower price from Toolstation.

Worktops - Stains & marks can be removed from the Formica worktops in the kitchen area using Autosol metal polish (the same as I recommend for aluminium window frames), I purchase mine from motorcycle shops.

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Corner Steady Nuts
Rounded nuts on corner steadies appear to be a common problem. As the steadies are welded in place and riveted together on Cheltenhams, replacement of the entire steady or leadscrew are not easy jobs, even if spares were available.

My solution, which works well, and does not look out of place was to weld another nut in front of the originals, I used a 19mm nut (12mm-thread size). 

I ground the dome on front of original nut flat, leaving enough chamfer for weld penetration and then clamped nut in front of the existing
and arc welded in place.A piece of cardboard protects the paintwork on the fibreglass panel above from damage by sparks from the angle grinder or welding.
To fill the hole in on the new nut and to retain original looks, I took a piece of threaded rod hacksawed it nearly through at a length equivalent to the thickness of the nut, tightened into the nut and then snapped off. A bead of weld around the thread secures in place. A tidy up with an angle grinder and a coat of paint (White Smoothrite) leave it looking like new. 

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Front Transverse Bunk Bed
My Springbok came fitted with an extra removable bunk bed across the front of the van. The woodwork and screws appear to be original Cheltenham, perhaps this rather neat solution, which would appear to apply equally to other models, might be of interest to other members.

Two pieces of solid oak 3 1/2” x7/8” x 25” are fitted immediately above and resting on the support for the hinged seat backrests, set back 1” measured on the lower edge from the front of the caravan. These are each secured with 2 off No 10 x 1 ¾ “ raised countersunk chrome screws going into each main front upright where the fibreglass front joins the aluminium sides.

Remarkably a bunk bead kit of the same dimensions as the original is still available from Burdens, the main caravan spares and accessory wholesaler, your local caravan dealer will be able to order under part number 350570. The aluminium poles may need trimming to length to suit the interior width of your van.

An L shaped cut out to fit the dimensions of the poles in the kit is cut into the front top corner of each piece of wood to accept the front pole and a U shaped cut out is made to accept the second pole towards the rear of each piece, this dimension is determined but putting the poles in the canvas and stretching in place.

On my caravan a small piece of aluminium is fitted behind the U shaped cut out to prevent the pole sliding and damaging the nearside glass window.

If you wish to store the rolled up bunk under the long front bed locker it will be necessary to cut an oval shaped hole to put the ends of the poles through into the next cupboard.

I am at most Cheltenham Rallies if any member wishes to examine this arrangement in my Springbok.

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White PVC window surrounds

The white plastic window surrounds fitted to the side window openings on 1968 onwards Cheltenham caravans seem to crack & need replacing around every 8 years. Fortunately this trim is still readily available, easy to replace & inexpensive.  

Choose a warm day, or warm the new plastic with a hairdryer to enable it to bend around the lower corner, remove window fittings and the nails or screws securing the trim, cut to length & refit window fittings. Originally these trims were secured with 2 nails, I generally replace these with either stainless steel pan head screws or countersunk screws and cup washers.  

These white PVC trims are available in various widths, the sizing is confusing, the old plastic trim on my 1981 Puku measures as an inside width of 39mm but the same replacement is called 37mm! I bought my trim via E bay from Camping Online at a total cost including postage of £14.20 for a full roll, which is more than enough to replace around all the windows on a Cheltenham.
This is one spare part that I would not advocate holding in stock, the remainder of my last roll went so brittle that it fell to pieces when I tried to unroll it after about 5 years.

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Toilet Light
A strange omission in most Cheltenhams is a light in the toilet compartment. I resolved this by fitting a white plastic Britax awning light with integral switch, on the side if the compartment, so that the screws and wires run into the rear upper locker above the cooker.
Being designed for exterior use this unit is waterproof, if you are one of the fortunate few with a shower!

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Corner Steady Winder Handle
An improvement in comfort out of all proportion to the work involved is achieved by painting the corner steady winder in a glossy paint.
I have successfully used Humbrol enamel, yacht enamel and Smoothrite.
The legs seem to move much easier when the winder glides through your hands!

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Suspension Brushes
Our Oribi had been used as a static van for many years prior to our purchase, at first it towed well, but soon became a 'handful' hopping over bumps and snaking when passed by large vehicles.  The rubber bushes at either end of the shock absorber had broken up.  Inexpensive replacements from Bradleys transformed the towing qualities.
These are straight forward to fit but require as a minimum a 1 1/8 inch combination spanner and ideally this size in a 3/4 inch drive socket set.  If you do not have the tools to replace these yourself I suggest you approach your local agricultural engineers (difficult in a city!) or commercial vehicle maintenance depot as they will be equipped to deal with rusty nuts of this size. 

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Rear Light Lens Repair
My Oribi had a 1 inch diameter hole in a rear light lens. As  replacement lenses are not readily available for Hella lights fitted to late Cheltenhams, I carried out the following repair which may be of use to other owners. To fill the hole I cut and shaped a piece from a scrap car light lens of similar pattern and colour to the original (mini metro). his was then held in place with sticky tape on the outside of the lens. With the lens face down on the bench. I filled the gap round the repair with a mixture of fibreglass resin (from car spares shops) tinted red with cellulose paint. result once hardened on removing the sticky tape (which gives the smooth exterior surface) an invisible repair. 

Rear light cluster available from an ebay seller (correct Sept 14) almost identical to lights on 1972 Waterbuck & others) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TRAILER-CARAVAN-ANY-VEHICLE-12-VOLT-REAR-LIGHT-UNITS-X-2-NEW-/261569209566?pt=UK_CarsParts_Vehicles_CarParts_SM&hash=item3ce6bd64de

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Stainless Steel Screws
The appearance of my Oribi was marred by rusty screws breaking through the paint prior to re-spraying. I replaced all the exterior screws with stainless steel ones. These can be difficult to obtain locally but are available inexpensively by mail order from Screwfix who will send you a free catalogue on request if you ring 0500 414141. I am gradually replacing the tarnished screws inside my van with stainless steel. 

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Exterior Trim on Late Cheltenhams 

The side trims with a black stripe down the middle fitted to late Cheltenhams is from Hillman Super Imp motor cars. These are becoming rare in scrap yards, so fellow owners might consider it wise to obtain some spare lengths before it becomes extinct!

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5 Berth Cheltenham
I thought it might be useful to put on record the method I adopted to increase the number of births in the Oribi from 4 to 5, which may well be applicable to other models. this is only possible on Cheltenhams due to the strength of the hard wood frame. I made a copy of the existing bunk from galvanised water pipe; this is the same outside diameter as the electrical conduit used by Cheltenham but stronger (and heavier!). The fabric hammock was copied by a local marquee company. the wall mounted section of the hinges were made 6 inches longer than the originals so they could use the existing screw holes in the wall whilst lowering the height of the bunk by this amount. I refixed the original bunk level with the top of the window, giving a triple bunk bed that still folds away as normal. This description is only meant to describe the concept. If any member wishes to replicate the idea please feel free to ring me on 01405 785327  to discuss details. 

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Hand Brake Lever Repair
The hand-brake lever assembly fitted to Cheltenhams from approx. 1963 to 1971 uses the same components as many small cars of the period. On my 1964 Sable the pawl had worn, the spring was broken and the operating button missing. I replaced these with components from a Hillman Imp hand brake lever by drilling out the pawl pivot rivet and reassembling using a suitable sized bolt with a castleated nut and split pin.

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Late Rear Lights
The Hella rear lights fitted to late Cheltenhams (1972 - 1975) seem prone to the back plates rusting (after 25 years!). Whilst these lights appear to be no longer available the awning light version of the same lamp (clear glass) is still readily available from caravan dealers (Your local dealer can order these lights from the wholesaler Burden under reference number 070000). These lights come with a new seal and plastic chrome surround which are identical to the original Cheltenham parts, and remarkably the back plate has the holes ready drilled for the 2 additional bulb holders fitted to Cheltenhams. These bulb holders can be removed from the old back plate by drilling out the rivets and fixed to the new back plate with brass rivets.

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Brake Shoes
Caravan dealers no longer stock the brake shoes for the Lockheed brakes fitted to Cheltenhams, one local dealers assured me the Alco shoes they held fitted all caravans! The brake shoes fitted to most Cheltenhams (not Springboks) are identical to those fitted to the front of Morris Minors with 1098cc engines, these were available from my local car spares shop under reference Mintex MLR4 or EBC 5147.  
Caravan dealers no longer stock the brake shoes for the Lockheed brakes fitted to Cheltenhams, one local dealer assured me the Alco shoes they held fitted all caravans! The brake shoes fitted to most Cheltenhams (not Springboks) are identical to those fitted to the front of Morris Minors with 1098cc engines, these were available from my local car spares shop under reference Mintex MLR4 or EBC 5147

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Tyre Selection
The Caravan Club and British Rubber Manufactures Association have recently amended their guidance on tyre load ratings for caravans following widely reported tyre failures on modern caravans. Now instead of a 10% bonus load being allowed above the tyres rating for use at speeds below 62mph (never legal in France) the recommendation is that tyres on caravans should not be loaded beyond 85% of their maximum rating. Fortunately most Cheltenhams were generously tyred for high speed continental touring compared with their contemporaries, so only Springboks on 13" wheels are affected by these changes. The new recommended tyre for a fully loaded Springbok is 175R13 C 6PR at a pressure of 47psi. Cheltenham wheels should always be fitted with inner tubes even with tubeless tyres as there are no retaining humps on the wheels.

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Tyres & Inner Tubes (update Jan16)

I hope that all members know that caravan tyres should be replaced every 5 years as they fail structurally after 7 years and that pre 1978 caravan wheels  must be fitted with inner tubes, so some additional info.  

The full profile tyres we use on our caravans were once common sizes fitted to Ford Cortinas and the like, however as these cars have disappeared from the roads I have found that the tyres we require are no longer held in stock at local tyre depots, so when replacing tyres allow a few days for them to be ordered in.

Inner tubes are similarly not normally stocked, so I carry a spare tube in each of my caravans. Michelin tubes are higher quality than the relatively readily available Chinese brands, but are even harder to find.  

Pre 1966 wheels

The wheels fitted to pre approx. 1966 caravans had a larger valve hole than required for more modern inner tubes, I used to find that the oldest fitter in the tyre shop had some of the required spacers in their toolbox, these fitters are now retiring, so I suggest that if your van needs these spacers that you buy some spares to take with you when having tyres fitted. These are available on e bay as inner tube ferrules, prices at £2.99 for 4, the spec is plastic grommet designed to slip over a TR13 valve to convert it to the width of a TR15 valve by increasing the base and thickness of the valve outer by 2mm. These are also used on older Land Rovers so might be available from your local independent Land Rover specialist.

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Ventilating Modern Refrigerators
The new 3 way fridges now being fitted to many Cheltenhams are designed to be sealed from the inside of the caravan unlike the originals. this means the ventilation louvres at the rear of the caravan are inadequate for effective operation in warm climates. Not wishing to spoil the looks of my Oribi by installing modern vents on the outside I looked for another solution. I found that a 9" x 3" domestic louvered plastic gas vent from Whickes just fitted in the floor behind the fridge diagonally across the rear of the caravan. When purchasing a vent check to ensure it incorporates a flyscreen, the version sold by B&Q does not! The vent requires a rectangle hole to be cut in the floor, the vent being fixed from below. By having the vent in the floor rather than the rear panel of the caravan it also acts as a substantial gas drop hole for any leaks. We found this worked well whilst touring France this summer in temperatures reaching 35 degrees Centigrade.  

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Rubber Window Seals
A tip that may be useful to members is that the rubber seals for the fixed side front windows is identical to that on the rear side windows on a land rover and as such is readily available by the metre, the only difference being the filler strip which is black on the landrover but white on the Cheltenham but this hadn't deteriorated anyway so was reused.                                
information provided by Dave Wynn