Reno Rescue: 1969 Franklin

Article by · 6 May 2017 ·

After years of vowing never to buy a caravan, Dave & Margie Williams found a little Franklin they just couldn’t live without.

Where did you find your van and how did you come to buy it?

David & I have been involved with Custom Cars for a number of years but have always vowed that we would never tow a caravan. A number of our friends have old/vintage vans and reckoned we should also have one. We told them if we had one at all it had to be small. Friends told us about a little van for sale just north of Gympie, so we headed off with money in our pockets (just in case) and ended up with it hooked on behind for our drive back home.

Exterior before image (1)

What shape was it in?

It was intact and complete but had the usual wood rot from the windows, which had been leaking over the years. The floor was spongy as we stepped in through the door so we knew there was quite a job ahead of us. The spare tyre and the near new striped annexe were stored inside the van.

Before interior shot showing the extent of work required for the reno

What did you need to do to restore it?

Once we had her home we pretty much gutted her from the windows down. All of the windows were removed and resealed. Most of the flooring had to be replaced as well as the timber surrounding the windows and door. While he had the flooring out we extended the drawbar by welding new steel in place. The longer drawbar was not only to make it easier for towing/reversing but also to fit the trunk to store the annexe, poles and other ‘stuff’ you have to have. The van came with the original stove and 2-way fridge, but we replaced the fridge with a 3-way one instead.

In progress

What were the biggest challenges in the restoration? 

David remade the storage boxes and the seats and we had new cupboard doors made as the original doors were ‘dog-eared’. The walls were originally a greyish woodgrain laminated ply. Some of it had to go due to water damage and because we couldn’t match it (and we didn’t like the look of it) we painted the whole van interior. We replaced all of the bench tops with a black slightly speckled laminate. We tried to find a similar laminate for the period but that proved unsuccessful. We were able to get aluminium edging to put around the table and this gave us the ‘Diner’ look we wanted.

After reno interior 2

How long did the project take?

The restoration project took us three months and was completed in September 2012. We had our maiden voyage to Maroochydore with our group of vintage/custom van friends the day after the last curtain was hung. We have since taken her on a 5500km road trip to Echuca and back up the coast road, a trip north to Bundaberg, and a few trips to the beach at Maroochydore.

The family Left to right Margie Megan Tom & David

Are you caravan converts now?

We now look for any opportunity to get away in our little ‘home away from home’ and wherever we go anywhere we are usually bombarded by people who want to have a closer inspection, take photos and find out all about it. It’s a great way to meet fellow travellers and we are more than happy to chat to anyone about our little Franklin.

Link: See the fully story in Issue 14

Do you have a Reno Rescue you’d like to submit? Email us at [email protected]

Love this van? Check out the history of Franklin Caravans.


About Time To Roam

Australia's premier magazine focused on the people and culture of caravanning and camping.

1 Comment

  • comment-avatar


    I’d love to see the photos, but they aren’t working!

Leave a comment