high price countered by its quality
For More Than 60 years the Thomson family and staff have
been building in Scotland 'T-Line' caravans, a marquee which
has now reached the stage where it is world famous. This year
the range comprises 10 tourers, four of which are two-berths,
with prices that slot into the middle-upper bracket of the
The subject of this month's test, the T Line Clansman
is a luxury two-berth tourer which is now just one year
old. It has two features which clearly distinguish it from
the rest of the range. The first is its top-of-the range £1.094.50
ex works (inc. VAT) price tag and the second is the absence
of the magic prefix 'Glen' which for many years has been
associated with all Thomson tourers.
The 16 cwt. (ex-works) 13 ft. 9in x 6ft. 9in. Clansman shell incorporates
a shallow Vee-roof which offers 6ft. 4in. of headroom in the centre
of the van The Thomson shape should, by reducing drag, be a petrol
saver and it also minimizes the chances of Side winds deflecting the
van from a straight course.
Front and rear panels above and below the waist level in the pre finished
22 swg aluminium exterior are raked inwards to produce the quite distinctive
Thomson 'T'-line. The hard wood interior framework in which all joints
are half-lapped and screwed has a particularly rigid feel and there
were no ripples anywhere on the exterior walls.
Mineral wool, 25mm thick, is used to fill wall and roof cavities between
the metal exterior and the 2.7mm printed-ply. Fine-limed oak interior.
One inch thick expanded poly styrene which is standard insulation on
the underside of the ½in. tongued and grooved floor can be fitted
to the walls and roof instead of fiberglass wool for an additional
sum of £5 10.
Including the fixed unit in the stable door the van has six anodized
windows by Ellbee. Only two of these can be fully opened. These are
the units at the front of the side wails which also include drop back
vents at the top. Apart from louver vents fitted into the windows along
the rear wall all other windows are fixed. Purchasers are not given
the option of having an opening window fitted into the front wall.
The van is mounted on a B & B chassis including B&B Mark III
independent suspension, a Sigma coupling (when available), 9in. rod
operated Lockheed brakes and 6.70 x 13 (4 ply) tyres on 4½J
x 13, 4 stud wheels. Thomson recommend a maximum load, without restriction
of speed, of 20 cwt. The tyres will certainly cope with an additional
1¼cwt at speeds below 62 m.p.h.
The hitch height to the centre of the coup ling for level ride is a
rather low I5½ in and nose weight ex works is 112lbs. Thomson
recommend a touring nose weight of 142lbs which might be heavy for
Other external features of note include a compact drawbar gas bottle
chest with lock, a drawbar shroud, a stone guard along the front wall,
awning and part side wall channel, number plate, rubbing strakes and
four inlet outlet sockets in the rear wall to supply water ser vices
to the kitchen and toilet room at the rear of the van.
Nothing new here as the Clansman incorporates all the well-proven traditional
ideas in its layout. These include two full-length single beds separated
by a bedside chest of drawers at the front, cocktail cabinet with fridge
unit below on the nearside wall and the wardrobe on the offside wall.
The kitchen and self contained toilet room is along the rear wall.
Pre-finished limed-oak printed plywood walls and an all - white ceiling
make a striking contrast to the darker polyester 'Teak' finished surfaces
of the table, working tops, refrigerator door and fronts of certain
shelves. Man-made tweed mattress and backrest covers and looped pile
floor carpet were in a rather bright purple and red with curtains to
Although the curtains do not have overlap ping rails they are
generously cut to ensure complete window coverage. The curtains are
attached to rather ornately patterned nylon rails. However, it is good
to note that stout plastic curtain retainers are fitted to each window
instead of the time consuming cords found in so many vans.
The five inch thick single beds measure 75in x 24 in and 72 in x 24
in on the near and offside respectively. They are comfortable for sleeping
and seating and have cleverly raked backrests which at night fall back
flat to the walls. The Melamine surfaced 36in x 27in table hooks on
to the bedside cabinet so that its length is effectively increased
by another two feet.
Dining space for four is generous and when not in use the table is
stored in a special toilet room wall rack. The settees will seat six
in comfort and with a little bit of ingenuity it is possible to arrange
them laterally to make up a double bed.
Life can be difficult in a caravan with poor or inaccessible storage
facilities. The arrangements in the Clansman are virtually faultless.
Bedding locker tops in ¼in thick chipboard are sensibly hinged
to allow easy access with the mattresses resting parallel to the side
walls. The locker floors are covered with PVC and very thoughtfully
Thomson insulate sections of the wheel box that fall in here with carpet.
No fewer than seven head lockers encircle the front half of the van,
from the doorway on the nearside to the wardrobe attached to the opposite
wall. Two short gaps that are left between the front and side wall
lockers serve as 'library' space.
As the side wall lockers do not touch the ceiling there is additional
shelf space above. Each fall-front lid, like most Thomson doors has
a piano hinge and a strong anti-spill catch. The lockers are an aid
to tidiness on site but care must be taken not to overload them with
heavy items that could upset stability when on the move.
Number of berths, 2;
shipping length, 17ft, 3in.; exterior body length, 13ft.
9in,; exterior width, 6ft. 9in.; interior width max, 6ft.
4tn,; overall height, 7ft. 11in.; maximum interior height,
6ft. 4in.; window sill height, front/rear, 44in. and 46in.
respectively; floor height, 16½ in.; height to centre
of coupling for level ride, 15½ in.; weight ex-works,
16 cwt: recommended gross weight, 20 cwt; nose weight ex-works,
112 lbs; touring nose weight, 142 lbs; tyres. 6.70 x 13 (4~ply);
coupling. Automatic Sigma 'back-up'; brakes, Lockheed 9in.
Rod- operated; wheels, 4½ J-13, 4-stud, ½in.
diameter; extras, 'Export' polystyrene insulation, £5,10;
Carver Trumatic heater with thermostat £77; Holt Rogers
Mini Continental Flued Heater, £39.80; Prices include
VAT and are ex-factory; price of van, £1.094.50 ex-works;
maker. Thomson T-Line Caravans, Thomson (Carron) Ltd. Carron,
Falkirk , FK2 8ED , Scotland .
The locker closest to the kitchen is sub-divided
for crockery and a small Melaware set is provided as standard
The bedside cabinet has four lift-to-open drawers but why do these have
to be three inches shorter than the available space? Some space too appears
to have been lost below the bottom drawer.
A wardrobe of moderate size includes four very useful shelves, a mirror
on the door and hanging space of 4ft, from a correctly sited rail to
a plywood shelf below. With the shelf removed there is a 4ft 10in drop
to the carpet- insulated wheel box below. Plenty of useful space remains
around the wheel-box for items such as tins or shoes,
The rear wall section of the kitchen has two Teak-grain worktops which
cover a stainless steel sink unit and a Calor B600 full oven. A metal
quadrant-shaped heat shield and a folding plate rack are attached to
the underside of the oven worktop. When both lids are raised working
surface is restricted to the top of the adjacent refrigerator cabinet.
The kitchen includes a single drawer (shorter than is necessary), a floor
locker with a fall-front door and a massive two-door cabinet with a single
shelf. A Whale Tip-toe pump and the spout at this point are linked to
external sockets which are fitted well away from the awning.
A RAM24 Electrolux 2ft. 3" refrigerator which weighs 61lbs plus
is housed in a cabinet sited slightly behind the axle and just forward
of the main door which is on the nearside wall. Layout-wise this is about
the only position where it is possible to site a fridge but I some how
wonder if wall ventilation, so essential to good refrigeration in hot
climates, might not be impaired by the main door when it is opened and
clipped back parallel with the exterior wall. A very useful cocktail
cabinet links the top of the fridge with the crockery cabinet above.
Although headroom is restricted to 5ft. 11 in. in the Clansman's 24in.
wide x 43in. deep self-contained toilet room, it still merits very high
marks for being such a well-planned affair. The PVC floor covering is
hygienic and practical.
Other plus points include the use of lined walls, a fitted washbasin
fed by a Whale pump, a glass and toothbrush rack, a vanity unit with
mirror, a toilet roll holder, an 8-watt fluorescent light and a useful
shelf along the end wall,
A mirror in the loo is particularly useful as it makes shaving possible
without continual disturbance by the fairer sex which I find in evitable
when forced to use mirrors attached to wardrobe doors.
The rear window has louvers and a curtain, and further ventilation is
provided by means of vents in the roof, floor, and side wall. Additional
light reaches the compartment via two borrowed-light panels fitted into
the door and the side wall adjacent to the kitchen.
The fluorescent light in the loo is backed up by no fewer than five other
sensibly sited lights. Two of these are gas-operated Morco No. 2's and
the remainder are Morley F8-8 watt units similar to the unit in the loo.
A questionable feature is the inclusion of a gas point at the base of
In any case if this type of appliance is still approved why was the nozzle
pointing upwards so that it can act as a trap for sand and dirt?
The highly efficient and completely safe Carver Trumatic Flued heater
with thermo-static control, or the Holt Rogers Mini Continental Flued
heater can be fitted as optional extras at the factory for £77
and £39.60 respectively.
The price to be paid for the excellent kitchen working heights at the
rear of the van is rather limited through-the-van driving vision. However,
Winguard long-arm doors restore complete confidence when it is time to
overtake. With a hitch height of only 15in to the centre of the
coupling for level ride many owners will be forced to fit a drop
plate or to take other steps to achieve level ride.
On public roads the outfit was steady at speeds up to the legal limit
but at higher speeds on the track one became increasingly aware of the
amount of heavy-weight equipment sited aft of the axle.
When fully laden for Continental tour it would seem sensible for the
heavier items to be placed well forward. Due to certain difficulties
with the earlier models of the new Sigma "back up' hitch, the test
van was equipped with a B&B Beta IV hitch. By the time this article
goes to press the Sigma problems will have been overcome.
The van has an ex-works weight that might deter some purchasers and sun-seeking
Continental enthusiasts might be happier if more windows could be fully
opened. However, if the above points are disregarded, the 2 berth Clansman
is in my opinion a tough, good-looking van with a completely practical
layout and a specification that is comprehensive enough to justify its
rather high asking price.
THE TEST WAS VERY KINDLY ARRANGED IN CONJUNCTION WITH EASTBOURNE CARAVANS
LIMITED, MAPLE ROAD , LOTTBRIDGE DROVE, EASTBOURNE , BN23 6NY.
|"Reproduced from an article fin the January 1974 edition of EN ROUTE"
|Download the original in PDF Format