The Tinderbox

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The phone rang and with it an unusual and surprising question

Could we build a Classic Teardrop fitted with a genuine, clay, wood burning oven?

First thoughts were, mmmmm……is this for real?

We were half expecting the ‘You’ve been framed’ team to burst through the barn doors.

We politely asked the couple if they could possibly call in to see us. It would be good, better, to be able to physically show our Classic Teardrop and chat more in person about this very unique idea.

The lovely couple duly arrived, they were soon to become good friends to us and the plan was then put into place.

We were to build a Classic Teardrop and at a scheduled time, the couple would arrange for the delivery of the oven to our workshop where we would install it and complete this original and special trailer.

Speaking to many specialist suppliers over many weeks, we sourced fire resistant paints, sealants and sheet material that could be used in close proximity to a wood burning oven that potentially could have an internal temperature approaching 400 degrees C.

We learnt about ventilation techniques, heat losses, fire resistant insulations and much about regulations all relevant to such a trailer.

The chassis was custom built to carry the 350kg oven and the axle located precisely to preserve a nose/hitch weight of around 55kg. Making it perfectly balanced and subsequently easily manoeuvrable and safe.

To the inside rear, under the tail hatch, we fitted an antibacterial man made granite worktop. Especially suited for food preparation. In the front we fitted the on board battery under the removable worktop into which we fitted two stainless steel sinks. These were fed by a 12v water pump activated by a microswitch switch in the tap.

Access to the main clay oven would be through a half moon hatch on the nearside, just above the wheel arch.

We remember very well the day the oven was delivered to the workshop. We used a forklift to take the oven from the rear of the delivery van and then lowered it onto the bench. WOW! 350kg of clay and concrete, such a dead weight, it’s actually surprising how something of this size can weigh so much!


Positioning the Teardrop first, we then lifted the oven off the bench with the forklift and manoeuvred the oven and it’s base to the rear of the Teardrop. In addition to the strengthened chassis we’d built another steel sub frame for the oven to sit on. This would keep the oven floor as high as possible making access height to the oven more comfortable to use. The oven, base and subframe would all be bolted down through the chassis using high tensile bolts. This all would then become one very solid unit. The whole should not, could not move out of place at anytime. It was built very strong, it had to be.

Tentatively we eased the gently swaying mass of clay, concrete and steel through the rear of the Teardrop. Minimal but precise clearance allowed this heart of this unique trailer to slide in once, perfectly. Bolt holes all lined up and everything in place, bolts all fitted and torqued up, it was in. Phew!

Once Tinderbox was complete, we agreed it would be fitting to trial this unique trailer at a party in our workshop. There had been much interest all through the project from friends and neighbours in the village as well as all the suppliers that had been involved along the way. Everyone was invited. It was fantastic evening and the Tinderbox owners fed us all with delicious fresh home made pizza and wonderful roasted plums.

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Tinderbox is unique. It has been a wonderful success due to it’s two very special owners. All three have been on some great adventures and had some memorable times. They’ve appeared on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and have been featured in editorials in several wedding magazines. It has been a huge success at many weddings and also at corporate events and regularly at a local town market. Even teaching children how to make pizza and learn about cooking at special workshops. All this success was justifiably acknowledged as Tinderbox went on to win ‘Best Looking Mobiler at the British Street Food Awards 2013.


Long may Tinderbox and her owners continue in their success.

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This is how it all began.


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We are Richard and Lyn, we are…… The English Caravan Company.

We’ve both been in the construction and property maintenance world for more years than we care to remember. Collectively we have more than 50 years of experience in carpentry and joinery, we love working with wood.

We wanted to move out of the general construction world and be back at a workbench in our own joinery shop, where we could use our experience and skills to build something different, something special, something unique.

An idea was born,  to build a Teardrop Toyhauler caravan. A caravan that can also be used to carry a motorbike, or a jet ski or similar sized ‘toys’.

It took some time to come up with the style and shape we liked and eventually created and produced drawings for four different models. Three Teardrop drop shaped but of different sizes and the fourth of a unique and individual style.

The Classic Teardrop, the smallest, is a two berth Teardrop caravan.

The Toyhauler, another Teardrop shape caravan but larger and designed to carry a motorbike or similar and sleep two or possibly three.

The Classic, a full size caravan, either a two berth or four berth. Again, Teardrop styled and with a huge panoramic skylight roof panel.

And then there’s the fourth, the flagship and the largest, a four berth model.

Although the initial idea was to build the Toyhauler, it became clear it would be better to start with the Classic, the smallest. We needed to learn more about specific materials and suppliers so thought it better to start small.

No sooner had we finished the Classic then we had a call from Granada TV asking if they could visit us in the workshop as they would like to take a closer look at our first Teardrop caravan. From that first meeting they said they wanted to use our Classic Teardrop in a new series TV called Ade in Britain which was to be presented by Ade Edmondson. We were so excited!

They had the caravan for around 4 months, the series was a great success. So much so they asked to use the Teardrop for a second series and had it for around 5 months as the second series was longer.

We were then invited to be part of the Crabbies TV advertising campaign where our Teardrop was used in their spring promotion TV adverts.

On stage with the Alan Titchmarsh show was our next venture, filmed at the south bank TV studios.

We then joined up with Good Morning TV with Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen and were filmed in a beautiful park in Reading over two days but this time using the Toyhauler.

We were then on live TV with Sunday Brunch on channel 4 with the Classic Teardrop.

A wonderful couple then approached us to ask if we could build them a Classic Teardrop and fit/build in a genuine and authentic clay wood burning pizza oven. This was quite a challenge. It all worked out beautifully and went on to win Best Looking Mobiler at the British Street Food Awards in Sept 2013.

We have also been asked and have converted a vintage caravan into a catering caravan.

Since then we have carried out various refurbishments on many classic English caravans.

Which is where we are now.

We still build new Teardrop caravans to order, building them to customers own specifications and colours. Along side this work we repair, refurbish and restore classic and vintage English caravans.

This blog will be about and our life and passion working with caravans, our experiences and about the wonderful people we have met along the way.

This will be ‘thestarksnaked’ blog, the rough and the smooth, the fun and the pressures. The challenges and the lessons we have learnt and continue to learn as we live, sleep and breathe this colourful and exciting world of caravans and their owners.