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Restoring a Vintage Caravan
It's the classic Aussie holiday – load up the car, hook up the caravan and set off with the family for a summer break.
The caravans of today are a long way from those from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when the 'mod cons' were basic, but those little vans still have their own appeal. Vintage caravans can be found on sites like gumtree and e-bay and many DIY enthusiasts are keen to have a go at restoring one. They make good 'pop-up' coffee stalls or similar businesses.
If you are thinking about doing this, please stop and think before you begin – could there be asbestos in situ? An older caravan may be reasonably well-kept and only require a new paint job and new surfaces but beware of caravans that require a lot of structural work. Some of these old vans may contain asbestos which requires advice from a professional removalist.-
Asbestos was used in caravan construction because this was the standard building practice at the time. Caravans had power, plumbing, internal frames and linings, insulation, and windows, just as a house did. As a result there are as many places to find asbestos in an older caravan as in a house from that period.
- 1.Floor tiles: The original floor tiles may have asbestos in them (used to make them more hard-wearing). This also applies to linoleum or vinyl flooring.
- 2.Sealants: asbestos was bonded into the mastic (i.e. around windows) - common practice for all sealants and putties of this era.
- 3.Insulation in the wall cavity could contain asbestos
- 4.Electrical components like flash guards in fuses.
- 5.Heat insulation: often there is a heat shield at the back of the stove top (or gas burner stove). The heat shield is a metal cover, but behind the metal cover there may be a small sheet of "fibro-type" material which is likely to contain asbestos.
- 6.Fridge insulation: If there is an old fridge in the van, the insulation used within the shell of the fridge body may contain asbestos.
- 7.Brake linings (shoes): If the brake linings are the original ones, it's almost certain they will contain asbestos.
- 8.And if that wasn't enough to worry about – the original mattresses could be manufactured from horsehair and asbestos (to make them inflammable).
Just as with houses, it is worth getting a pre-purchase inspection. Can you imagine your children being diagnosed with an asbestos disease in later life as a result of exposure from the caravan? Calling in asbestos experts and getting lab tests of suspected asbestos can save lives and help you make informed decisions about asbestos and asbestos removal in caravans.