Post by shaneandsimoen on Aug 18, 2011 22:58:09 GMT 10
Sunliners from Geelong
I put this on the Vintage Van forum.
Back in 2009, I wrote about a bloke I know, down here in Geelong who does fibreglassing. I was looking at the V/Van web site at work on Sunliners when he came into work. Saw the Sunliner and said that his dad ran a business building them here in Geelong, they made the whole van had a number of employees cabinet makers, etc.
He told me that he still had the mould and finally I have got around to having a look and take some photos of it. He they are, currently covered in dust. The mould pictured is a 14 foot van; they also made 18foot vans that were single axle.
If you look at the mould you will see the join running length ways where the mould came apart after fibreglassing. The frame on the out side enabled it to rotate while fibreglassing.
Info from son of one of the partners.
During the course of company one bought the other share and then the son brought the business, unfortunately his father passed away early this year.
The company Filam, were two partners who did fibreglassing. Their factory took up a fairly large area of buildings and employed approx 22 people in its heyday. They made boats up to 20 feet in length, tractor cabins, agricultural tanks, caravans (plus Franklin hatches and wheel covers) and truck bodies.
In late 1972 Filam was bought by Franklin Caravans / Freighter Trucks, their equipment went to Ballarat. Couple of years latter someone got the mould off Franklin and asked his father to make a couple of fibreglass vans; they were then taken to the Antarctica. Best way to describe them was they were like an esky, bright orange, and 2 inch thick walls for insulation and on skids.
Post by millard1399 on Aug 19, 2011 10:00:05 GMT 10
Wow, Shane, that's an interesting story!
I know Franklin made the fibreglass vans in the mid-1960s, and then I understand one of the Franklin employees bought the moulds and continued to make them with the "Kennedy" name on them. I've seen plenty of examples of the 14-footer, but never anything larger, so it would be really interesting to see one of the 18-footers.
In late 1969, Franklin released a fibreglass version of the Regent model, but it wasn't on the market for very long for some reason. If the Franklin/Freighter business had the moulds in 1972, I'm not aware of any Franklin vans that were produced from them. Franklin vans by that time were all the aluminium variety.
After reading your post, I did a search of the internet, and found the following information which comes from the "Woodwork Forum" in 2009, and which relates to a speedboat someone had bought...
"Great to see some still appreciates Filam boats!! My father Keith Smith and his partner Doug Russell formed Filam Manufacturing Company in the mid to early 50's and the "ski sport" was just one of the products they made. To my recollections there were two versions of the ski sport. The first was produced until the late sixties and had a flat style deck similar to the pics posted above. The second one was had a much sleeker bow and a "modernised" bulkier deck modeled after the then current vehicle stylings such as the XY falcon with a "shoulder" some 3 to 4 feet forward of the transome. Looking at the photos above, this model does have a sleek bow entry but also has the flat deck so I am inclined to think it may even be a smaller model called the "Tiger Sport" of which which far less of them were produced so it would be fairly rare today. I would need to see a well lit pic taken from the side square on to be able to identify which model it is. The original post in this thread says it was a wooden boat however this is not possible as they never made the original ski sport in timber. In stead they extensivly adapted and modified an externally built timber clinker hull to their own specifiations and cast from that. I note it is fitted with the radially new (at the time) V drive. Many of Filams boats were fitted out with these by Ian Nankervis of Nankervis Marine on the shores of Lake Epaloch. The factory took up nearly all of the old mills at the end of Old Mill Road in Fyansford and employed up to about 20 people in its heyday. They argueablely made the first fibreglass boat in Australia in 1956 I think. (Savage Fibreglass made one that year too) They made anything from model boats to boats up to 20 feet in length, tractor cabins, agricultural tanks, caravans (plus franklin hatches and wheel covers) and truck bodies. In late 1972 Filam was bought by Franklin Caravans / Freighter Trucks and Doug Russell continued to do fibreglass in the premises as Russell Fibreglass Industries, later on selling to this to his son Scott Russell who now it however he ONLY deals in industrial applications nowadays. Sadly Keith Smith died on 28/09/09 but I believe Doug Russell is still alive today."
Post by shaneandsimoen on Aug 19, 2011 11:40:46 GMT 10
Yes Scott's father Doug passes away early this year, his mum is still alive and Scott knows some of the history. He think he might have some old brochuer tucked away somewhere, he might come across them one day. There was an article in the RACV Royal Auto about their caravan in the last 15 months, I don't have a copy.
Thanks for getting back to me with the chassis number. No, I don't dispute that it's a 1977 model, but I'm still looking for definite information to say the X-series of chassis numbers is definitely 1977. The numbers after the 'X' are the consecutive number of chassis that were built with that X prefix. Therefore, you have the 5,492nd chassis built that year. If in fact the van is actually from 1977, that would mean it was probably built just after the middle of that year. Franklin were building up towards 10,000 units per year at that time. If the van has been continuously registered since new, I would expect the rego to be due around the middle of the year.
It doesn't surprise me that the FranklinRV mob know nothing about the original Franklins. They only bought the rights to the name about 10 years ago (or maybe less). They wouldn't have a clue what happened with Franklin vans 35 years ago or longer.
ps. If you go back up to the 1977 section above, I've just put the advert in for the Franklin Truline.
Last Edit: Oct 23, 2013 19:58:00 GMT 10 by ForumMod
Post by atefooterz on Jul 16, 2014 15:24:46 GMT 10
Can someone please point me to where the chassis number is? Mine is a 70s Arrow 17-18ft it has a weld number on top of the drawbar with w8566. Was last rego in Vic expired 85, sticker "sol & serviced by Goulburn Valley Motors, farmer guy i bought it from said his Dad bought it from a caravan park years ago, all plug & play hose for water & 240V inlet for power (ATM)
Post by ForumMod on 16 Jul 2014 at 10:26pm
The W8566 number is the chassis number. You've got the 8,566th chassis built in 1975, which would be pretty close to the end of that year.
Post by filam and franklin caravans on Aug 10, 2014 0:52:08 GMT 10
I realise this thread spans back over a few years but I just found it by searching images for "filam fibreglass caravan" which brought up the pics by shane. I am Lindsay Smith, son of one of the partners and I wrote that section quoted from woodwork forums. Since that post the interest in the old boats continually has grown and we now have a facebook page for the boats www.facebook.com/filam.boats but there's only one original pic of a 14' van just out of the mould. I do not have any pics of the 18 foot van. Sorry.
BTW. 3 of the the orange vans on sleds made were made for Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition by Keith in Ocean Grove around 1974 after he resigned from managing the Franklin fibreglass section (shortly after Geoff Robertson resigned). I think other people made some too and apparently those vans are still used down there but only as store rooms. I might be able to dig out some photos of those if anyone was interested. Anyways, an interesting thread, thanks to all contributors.
1972 Franklin caravans: Hi All, here's a van I picked up in my neighbourhood. Really liked the shape. Its a Franklin Regent - 1972 I think as the serial number says 8426-2. Needs work and is missing the bed set up at one end of the caravan and missing the table and seating around it at the other end. Anyone with pics or floor plans for this model, I would appreciate you posting them. Given the double windows at the bed end I am gathering it was a bunk configuration but am not sure how I can tell for sure. I think it is a 15 footer but havent measured yet. If I do I am not sure where to take the measurements from so guidance on that welcome too!
Hi jimbob, Nice little van you have found. Originally it would have had 4 bunks in the back with a dressing table in between,and a cafe style dinette across the front. It's classed as a 14ft 6x7ft. Legal measurement of a caravan is taken from one foot(12inches) above the floor line end to end. Cheers hughdeani
Interesting reading. Thanks for the post. Like nearly every guy that lived in Ballarat back then, I worked at Franklin's for a short time. Started an apprenticeship with Coronet Caravans (also in Ballarat)in about January '77 until they closed (about '78) & then went to Franklins. Great pics of the factory. Again, thanks & cheers, Bryan