1964 Sprite 400

A Series of Photographs showing the restoration carried by Cameron Burns,
The Club Treasurer.

I bought my 1964 Sprite 400 in January 2014. It had allegedly been laid up since 1972! Inside was virtually untouched, with the original blue spring cushions still present and in good condition. Just the curtains were missing but everything else was there. Outside, the caravan was green with algae, the tyres appeared to still be the originals and none of the road lights worked. I unscrewed the lenses to inspect the bulbs and a pile of rust fell out onto the ground! I purchased a light board locally and got the tyres changed. Despite not being towed for so long, the 400 towed beautifully from Essex to Coventry. 

I got stuck in with the interior first as the sky light was leaking. It turned out, the bolts that go through the sky light to secure the opening mechanism had rubber washers in them which had perished and shrunk over the years. So I tightened up the nuts and the leak stopped. Unfortunately, the water had damaged the kitchen cupboards below. I was able to sand back the wood, re-stain it and finally re-varnish it with a low shine satin varnish. Also damaged by the leak was the original blue lino floor. It had began to crack below the sky light. Having removed the seat bases and wardrobe to restore them as I had done the kitchen, the floor was all on show and I could see where it had aged in the exposed walk ways. I cleaned the floor with a non-bio laundry detergent and white vinegar. This got any stains out of the lino. Finally, I gave the lino a coat of varnish, which deepened the colour and made it look as good as new. 

In the mean time, I'd sent the spring cushions to be professionally cleaned and these came up like new. I also made some curtains out of genuine 1960's material. At some point in the 400's life, the interior walls had been painted a very light pink. I re-painted this in the original off white colour, using eggshell paint, as this allows the wood to breathe. 

Finally, I turned to the outside. All the trim was stripped off and the paint sanded flat. A coat of primer was applied and then a top coat of blue - it was originally blue in 1964, though my paint match turned out to be much bolder than expected! It still looked good though. I also added an awning rail at this point as Sprite didn't fit them as standard until 1965. We felt an awning on a 10ft caravan is essential. I was lucky to find a genuine 1960's 10ft Salou awning in matching blu. Once the re-spray was finished, I re-attached all the trim. I also purchased all new road lights, matching the originals as best as I could. They actually came from a Hillman Imp, but weren't cheap at £120 for the set. It was worth it though to keep the caravan looking original and authentic. Last of all, I stripped back the chassis, adjusted the brakes (luckily the brake shoes had minimal wear) and painted the chassis white. 

I'm so glad that I took a chance on the old 400, it restored really well. I believe it to be the last 1964 Sprite 400 on the road that is exactly as it left the factory when new. It's never been modified at all other than me adding a 12v light as I was getting frustrated with the gas mantles constantly breaking. I also added a gas tap by th wardrobe for a gas heater, which was an original option in 1964. I may add a Whale water foot pump, as this was also an original option and Sprite left a hole by the sink for the tap. It's great to keep caravans original, but sometimes you have to tweak them to make them usable!
 
*Click on the photos to enlarge them*

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