Another segment of our Caravan Show 2017 tale…
Frank, the last surviving parental figure in our lives was a caravan enthusiast. Towing a caravan, he travelled around Australia with his family in the mid-70s stopping in each destination for only a short time as they endeavoured to make the journey in three months in the days before all of the roads were sealed. Later in his life, Frank and his partner would often disappear for months on end as they toured around the northern areas of Australia to escape the cold chill of the Victorian winter. He was also a gadget man. An electronics enthusiast who built his own speakers, could fix most electrical equipment and was a licensed HAM radio operator.
Now, imagine those two things combined. Frank loved to build bits and pieces to improve his caravan experience but he also liked to save money. We were all on the look-out for junk he could use during hard-rubbish drive season. He was the king of converting an old discarded TV antenna and adapting it for caravan use. He did the same with computer fans. Removing them from their cases, he’d make a few changes and they would become the perfect fan for cooling caravan refrigerators.
Many years ago he stated that he did this because the products on the market were rubbish and he could make a cheaper product at a fraction of the cost of the commercially available ones. Which, to be fair, makes sense considering most of the fellow caravan enthusiasts he encountered were self-funded retirees or pensioners.
In the days before the Internet was readily available, he would insist we printed off an exceeding long document detailing all of the TV and radio transmitters in the area to which he was traveling so he didn’t have to spend hours upon arriving adjusting the antenna. With his exceeding long list, he could just turn to the appropriate page and quickly make the adjustment. He took great delight, when someone complained about poor TV reception, in selling them his custom designed antennas. He wouldn’t charge much and he often later sold them a fan for their fridge.
Moving forward to 2017. Frank passed away a few years ago but his legacy lives on. As we walked around one of the “all the gadgets you didn’t know you needed” sections we spotted a few things that turned our thoughts to Frank. We have no idea if these specific products were around when he was making his versions but I can see why it was important to him to help others save money and have a better caravan experience. The prices were crazy!
The omnidirectional antenna is quite expensive. Really, expensive. Frank with his exceeding long list and his custom antenna achieved the same results for around $30-$50.
And the refrigerator fans. How overpriced are these?! Upcycling the fans from computer towers meant Frank could sell you one of these for around $10.
We live in a crazy time where people think it’s easier to pay huge prices for products just because society in general has lost the skills to make our own objects from recycled and reclaimed material. Every time I see a TV aerial or computer tower on the side of the road during hard-rubbish pickup, I think of Frank and how he was into recycling and upcycling before it was cool.