workability in Scottish 13-footer
are few makers jostling for position in the niche which Thomson
have carved out for themselves. The Scottish firm could so
easily spend the difference between cheap construction and
their moderate price levels on eye-catching gimmickry and
flash decoration; instead, they choose to work for steady
improvement in specification details which add to real,
rather than apparent, value. Above all, they have the knack
of providing good workability-a kitchen which never irritates
the cook, with ample and well divided storage space, good
table arrangements, planned floor area, and better clothes
and general storage accommodation than in many vans of the
same size at prices even higher than Thomsons.
remarks, although general, apply particularly to the
13ft. Glenelg : the body is, in fact, a little longer
but the extra length is taken up by the projecting razor-edge
bay front and rear which typifies the T-line style introduced
throughout the range last year. A four-berth in this
size suggests an element of restriction on space, of
making-do by the user, under cramped conditions for the
sake of a van small enough for the car. But thanks partly
to public and trade acceptance of bunk beds and partly
to good design, one has the feeling of enjoying a van
a foot or eighteen inches longer. In short, the team
enjoyed using the Glenelg.
built their 1964 prototype in June, Thomson were able
to meet us halfway by delivering it for test to Yorkshire
Caravans of Bawtry Ltd., where we were able to study
1964 improvements achieved with only a £10
increase to £350. Anodised aluminium
window frames, a feature associated usually with much
more expensive makes, were introduced at the last Show.
Now we find B & B Beta damper-controlled overrun
braking, independent suspension, an extra nearside
window, greatly improved bedding locker lids, foamed
plastic mattresses with (a pleasant surprise) the cotton
tapestry top and bottom, better mountings for the upper
bunk, a valuable extra cupboard and, finally, an alternative
rear mounting for the hook-on table. One or two other
improvements are being made following our test
comments to Thomson.
present T-line body style is smart and appeals whether
on tow or on site. The huge front window is all in
one piece and neatly fills the area between the projecting
eaves of the vee roof and the sharp edge of the bay
projection. The anodised window frames are fitted with
the Ellbee twist-to-lock tubular stay on side and rear
windows but the big front unit has conventional sliding
stays. All windows open high. The sills are swaged
with anti-condensation lips. Among other body features
which deserve emphasis are roof and wall insulation
by glass- fibre , bitumen treatment of the floor and
joists, a stable door and no fewer than four roof vents.
Regrettably the roof vents have only two friction stays
each and, on the test van, they tilted easily out of
position when open.
new window on the nearside gives welcome light and extra
ventilation to the kitchen. It is only l2in. deep but
the photograph shows that any more would be wasted when the
hotplate top is open. The window opposite has been reduced
to a similar depth, thus reducing the risk of the occupant
of the top bunk getting wet from condensation on the glass
or breaking it in a nightmare. The three-light rear window
opens only in the centre and if the obscured portion in the
toilet room opened too it would improve the ventilation;
this compartment relies on a low wall vent and one of the
we have implied already, the impression inside is one
of surprising spaciousness considering the size of the
Glenelg and what is inside it. It looks light and airy
too. If there is anything wrong it is the overall anaemia
of the decor. Even the plain cotton curtains in a reddy
orange (and even these seem a little timid and gutless)
are nullified by the overall biscuit tones of the furniture,
cream wall and ceiling paint, beige-based tapestry and
the fawn and brown carpet. The traditional tapestry pattern
makes it difficult for the owner to enliven the decor
with bold splashes of colour but that is what is needed.
To be fair, one must wonder how much this might reduce
the light and spacious look.
foam mattresses were a little firm but proved comfortable
for sleeping and sitting. Buttoning prevents the covers creeping.
The front end dinette makes a double bed of good length although
rather restricted width. The seat lockers are now hinged,
and of plywood, instead of loose pieces of hardboard. They
give a long opening and are hinged away from the wall but,
on the test van, not far enough to allow both seat and backrest
mattresses to stand on edge. This is being rectified following
double bed platform is completed by the hook-on table.
For dining, it is easily attached by spring-loaded
bolts and provides ample space with firmness.
The Formica surface will be appreciated. When out of
use or on tow the table is stowed safely in the toilet
compartment. An alternative table mounting is on the
rear wall between the single bed and the toilet. We
were bothered at night by the curtains to the sloping
end windows overhanging not only the bay window shelves
and, at the rear, the upper bunk, but also a part of
the table. As a result the makers are now providing
bottom strainers to prevent this. The curtains throughout
are hung on overlapping strainers.
the wardrobe and the offside rear single bed there
is a new shelved cupboard, deep, narrow and waist
high. Apart from its obvious usefulness, it serves
to make a much better and stronger mounting for
the upper bunk. The bunk is a stretcher type which
forms a padded backrest to the single bed by day.
Its free edge is hemmed round a steel tube, longer
than the bed, which tucks behind the seat mattress
and into a small space between the narrow cupboard
and the wall. Removable brackets engage in bushed
holes in the cupboard top and the rear window shelf
and pegs on the brackets locate the drilled ends of the bunk tube; the
tube ends are rubber buffered. As the data panel shows, the
dimensions of the bunk earmark it for children only although
it was strong enough for one of the testing adults. The sleeper's
weight reduces the nominal width between the bunk supports
by an inch. There is nothing at either end to stop pillows
falling off the bunk on to the window shelf or cupboard top.
The seat and bunk heights and the clearance between are acceptable.
Finish of the furniture, which is in a creamy-polished Japanese veneer, is rather better than might be expected at the price. It is a marked improvement, especially inside lockers and behind opened doors, on Thomsons of about four or five years ago. All locker doors have piano hinges.
Four hooks, as well as a sliding rail, are inside the wardrobe and the area of this unit is generous enough for the hooks to be useful without interfering with clothes on hangers. All the carpeted floor space under the shelf at the bottom is usable storage space. On site the flat top of the wardrobe has its uses. A mirror is fitted on the outside of the door which, for towing security, has a throw-over catch.
second leaf to the wardrobe door on the test van formed
a partition running to the forward edge of the kitchen
unit. This separated the parents, at the forward dinette,
from the toilet compartment and the kitchen which were
then both on the children's side and we suggested a curtain
partition to the makers. Curtains are widely accepted,
as are two-tier bunks, nowadays and there is a good weight
saving and the further advantage that clothes in the wardrobe
need not be exposed when the partition is in use. This
suggestion has been taken up and the photograph we now
use shows the curtain which screens the bunk beds.
from various lipped roof shelves, a pair of roof lockers
above the bunk beds is provided. The fall-front doors slope
forwards towards the top and stay shut on tow. The lockers
are roomier than their appearance suggests.
star feature of the Glenelg is the kitchen. It is basically
the same unit fitted in the larger Glenalmond , which has
been praised in an earlier report. Little things which
make for cook satisfaction include the division of the
lower storage space into three cupboards, all shelved,
a plate rack, cutlery and crockery storage, a good roof
locker and adequate work space. All kitchen lids are topped
and lined with Formica; a splash-panel of Formica is stuck
beside the hotplate on the toilet room bulkhead but heat
was beginning to pull this away by the end of our test.
More secure fixing is needed.
the left the cook has an Argyll hotplate in a metal-lined
recess; the fall front can be chained in the horizontal
position for added work space. Like this it interfered
with the opening of the toilet room door on the test van
but this is being attended to. The folding plate rack on
the lid to the hotplate is a good one of its kind and,
as we have often remarked, its value is out of all proportion
to its cost. The window behind the hotplate and the roof
vent above the cook combine to get rid of cooking smells
of the hotplate is a Perspex sink and drainer, the bowl
being on the cook's right next to a panel of work space
big enough to take a water pump. Below working level there
is a big, shelved cupboard under the hotplate; floor vents
were omitted from this in error. Next, a narrow cupboard
under the drainer with a cutlery drawer at the top and
a shelf high enough for the space on top of the wheel arch
to be used ; finally, under the sink another cupboard with
its shelf right down on the wheelarch.
of the wheelarch , there is no room for a gas locker within
the kitchen as there is on the Glenalmond and the cylinder
must be carried in the boot and connected at the drawbar;
there is no gas cradle. The wheel arch also interfered with
the waste water hose but suspension changes in production
offer the hope of something better. On test we were unable
to get a bucket under the waste outlet pipe. A roof locker
spanning the width of the kitchen is fitted with a china
rack occupying about a third of the total space or less.
The rack has a 16-piece china set included ; there are no
tea plates. Illumination is good from the two lights which
are the Morco type with spring-loaded mantle and globe carriers.
There is no fire point.
area in the toilet is adequate. It gives a slightly misleading
impression because the shaping of the end walls
provides extra space. Thomson have agreed with our suggestion
that a glazed panel be fitted in the compartment
door for borrowed light at night (see photograph).
test, for internal reasons, had to be fitted in with
other arrangements which compelled us to use an MG 1100,
kindly provided from their test fleet by Nuffield before
our own was available, as the towing vehicle. The ex
works weight of the Glenelg , fractionally over l4cwt.,
is in itself within the limits of the 1100 but the as-tested
l6¼cwt. is excessive. We cannot emphasise this
too strongly, because, for regular towing, this is too
much and a heavier car is recommended. But since
circumstances forced us into it, it is gratifying to
be able to record that the combination towed extremely
well with no indication of the unfavourable weight
ratio. The MG 1100 managed a 1 in 7 restart without troubling
speed reached on the speed test was 58 mph and
even from this deceleration was, if not the peak of perfection,
quite straightforward. The Beta braking was, as usual,
reassuringly powerful. However, it must be recorded
that the undergear , and particularly the brake assembly,
needed lubrication badly when we collected the test van
and, here, the service department of Yorkshire Caravans
were able to provide thorough and efficient service.
only criticism of the road behaviour is probably no longer
valid. The prototype on test was fitted with Boden independent
suspension of the type employing long trailing arms with
relatively soft coil springs some way behind the stub
axles, and simple rubber bump and rebound damping. The
suspension was a little noisy on bumpy surfaces but,
more important, tended to hop and tramp on medium fast
bends. Production models, as the data panel shows, have
the Rubery Owen torsion bar independent system used for
the past two years on the Glen and now also being fitted
to the Glendale. Whatever the suspension, obviously the
Glenelg has its weight distribution and balance correct
if taken only on the basis of materials and workmanship,
this newest of the Thomsons in its 1964 version is good
value. This value is enhanced by qualities discovered
on tow and on site so that it will undoubtedly give
satisfying pleasure to many owners.
|1963 Thomson Glenelg Data
Dimensions : Length,
body 13ft. 4½in. inc. bays, shipping l6ft. 4in., interior
12ft. 5in. plus two 4in. bays. Width overall 6ft. 10in.,
interior 6ft. 4in. Height overall 8ft. 1in., max. headroom
6ft. 5in., floor height 18in. Window sill height from ground
47in. front, 48in. rear.
|Weight : Ex-works 14cwt. 10Ib. As tested
16¼ cwt., nose weight 1¼cwt.
Undergear : Boden
Trailers welded steel chassis. A 3½ x 1½ x
10g. channel, boxed at points of max. stress. B 2½ x
1½ x 10g, angle, C 1¾ x 1¾ x 1¼in.
angle (also outriggers amidships). Independent suspension
(production models) by Rubery Owen torsion bars, trailing
arms, no shock absorbers. Brakes Sin. Lockheed centre
pull, rod-operated. Wheel five-stud, tyres 5.20-15 Pirelli
Extraflex , 4PR. Coupling 50mm B & B Beta III, telescopic
jockey wheel, four brace-operated legs.
Body construction : Meranti
hardwood framing, joints halved, screwed and glued. Exterior
panelling 20g.aluminium, interior painted hardboard. Insulation,
walls and roof, Rocksil . Floor ½in. t. and g., bitumen
treated. Stable door 61½ x 21in. Windows anodised
aluminium , round cornered, by Ellbee , high-opening stays,
one 69 x 24in., two 30 x 20in., two 26 x 12in., all opening,
triple unit 69 x 24in. with 30 x 24in. opening light. Four
frameless Perspex roof vents 9½in. square, two friction
stays each ; three permanent wall vents. Four grab handles.
double bed 74 x 44in., single bed 72 x 24in., top access
bedding lockers, 4in. foamed plastic mattresses, covered
both sides cotton tapestry ; stretcher bunk 68½ x
21in. between supports, 36in. high, 16in. clearance to bed
below. Hook-on table 35½ x 27½ in., Formica-topped,
alternative mountings. Furniture Tamo veneered, piano-hinged.
Wardrobe 24 x 18in., 50in. hanging space, shelf, sliding
rail, four hooks, mirror. Shelved cupboard 10 x 23in. Double
roof locker, roof shelves. Formica-topped kitchen, Argyll
hotplate, Perspex sink and drainer, plate rack ; three shelved
cupboards inc. ventilated larder, cutlery drawer; double
roof locker with rack and 16-piece china set. Toilet compartment,
floor area 28 x 26in. tapering to l7in., window shelf. low
wall and roof vents, borrowed light panel. Fitted carpet,
plain cotton curtains on overlapping strainers. Curtain partition.
Exterior gas stub, two Morco spring loaded No. 1 gas lights,
no fire point. Full road lights and indicators, five pin
plug and socket.
Layout: AA double bed
dinette, B1, B2 alternative hook-on table positions, C wardrobe,
D waist-high cupboard, E roof lockers, F roof shelf, G single
bed, bunk over, H toilet compartment, J hot. plate, K sink
|Makers : Thomsons (Carron) Ltd. Falkirk,
|Towing car for test : MG 1100, 1098c.c.,
weight inc. two crew 20cwt.
|"Reproduced from an article in
the October 1963 issue of The Caravan"
|2008©Thomson Caravans History