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Barrel top waggon restoration.

An acquaintance of a friend who I sometimes do work for, wanted to know if I could restore a gypsy bowtop caravan for him.  In fact all he had was the framework and a flat dray or cart to put it on.  So a price was agreed and the work duly started.

The front and back end was plywood and needed to be covered in v-groove match boarding.  The structure inside and out was then painted with red oxide, as a primer and undercoat.

It was now time to make all the interior furniture.  The bed which was single, extending to double, by sliding the base forwards on runners, a small chest of drawers, and a cupboard on either side of the front door, one being a display cabinet, the other a wardrobe, and cupboards to fit under the seats on either side. There was also the need of a door, which on a gypsy waggon should always be stable type, with two top doors, and always opening outwards. 

All this was constructed in the workshop and painted again in red oxide, and burgundy gloss.  Traditionally the gypsies like their waggons to be decorated in scrolls and lines, this was done using sign writing paint.

Now it was time to assemble the waggon, a canvas cover was purchased to go over the bows, but before this was put on, a floor carpet was placed over the bows, with the pattern on the inside of the van, for extra insulation,.  The canvas cover goes on,  is stretched tight and temporarily stapled down.  After a couple of days, the canvas is re stretched and stapled again, this is because the canvas does stretch a little.

With the canvas on, the furniture  can now be fitted inside, the door hung and the final decoration done on the outside of the waggon.

All that remains is one or two finishing touches and the restoration is complete.  Time taken, about six weeks from start to finish.     


Ted Yates