From the Road: Vintage Ice Chest Conversion

Susan and Keith Hall — 8 January 2011

VINTAGE CARAVAN ENTHUSIASTS these days face a problem when it comes to the retro ice chests in their vans.

We take it for granted that even the most basic caravan will have a refrigerator, but obviously, it wasn’t always like that. Until the mid-20th century most caravans had ice chests. These are bare shelves well insulated and designed to work much like the modern-day Esky.

Owners of vans still with their original ice chests take different avenues with this particular accessory. Some opt for convenience and replace the ice chest with a small refrigerator — arguably a practical solution. Others, those who prefer to keep the original look of their caravan, turn the ice chest into a display piece by filling it with vintage soft drink bottles.

But the real heroes are the owners who actually use the ice chest to keep their food cold. That sounds easy enough, but where do you get the ice?

Since ice-works are a thing of the past, you can’t buy blocks of ice to put in the ice chest any more. And modern chopped ice that you can buy at service stations just isn’t the same – it melts too fast. So the real die-hards make their own block of ice in the freezer at home, and then use that to “power” the ice chest.

Susan and Keith Hall are regular contributors to Caravan World magazine.


Vintage vans retro tips From the road


Susan and Keith Hall