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The Caravan reports on Road and Site Test no. 152
Space and workability in Scottish 13-footer

spacerThere 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.
spacerThese 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.
spacerHaving 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.
spacerThe 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.

1963 Thomson Glenelg

spacerThe 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 roof vents.
spacerAs 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.

Huge front windows
spacerThe 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 our comments.
spacerThe 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.
spacerBetween 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.
spacerFinish 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.
spacerFour 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.
spacerA 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.
spacerApart 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.
spacerA 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.
spacerOn 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 efficiently.
spacerForward 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.

changes made in bathroom door since the test.

spacerBecause 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.
spacerFloor 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).
spacerOur 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 the clutch.
spacerMaximum 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.
spacerThe 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 for towing.
spacerEven 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 Sheet
layout diagram
Price: £350.
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.
Equipment: Dinette 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 and drainer.
Makers : Thomsons (Carron) Ltd. Falkirk, Scotland.
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"

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