Info on caravans

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 28, 2004 at 18:43
ThreadID: 10085 Views:1809 Replies:6 FollowUps:2
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A question to all you caravan owners. We are looking to buy a 2nd hand van soon and we are a little confused (actually a lot confused) by all the stories, pros and cons of the wide variety of makes/models etc. Would appreciate all comments/recommendations/warnings about the various manufacturers. Look forward to all your replies.
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Reply By: Mark - Wednesday, Jan 28, 2004 at 19:31

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2004 at 19:31
What sort of camping do you do? Onroad/offroad/gravel, weekends/week/month long trips etc... Do you plan to bush camp, or caravan parks or a bit of both (or not sure!)

Huge difference depending on what you plan to do. Also, are you a retired couple or a family with young kids/teenagers etc... make a huge difference to what you need. Don't forget what tow vehicle, do you already have one, or plan to buy one to suit.

Other things like approx price range as 2nd hand start at next to nothing and the skys the limit.

Once you have narrowed that down a bit, it may make advise a bit easier.

Cheers

Mark
AnswerID: 44656

Reply By: Mark - Wednesday, Jan 28, 2004 at 19:31

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2004 at 19:31
What sort of camping do you do? Onroad/offroad/gravel, weekends/week/month long trips etc... Do you plan to bush camp, or caravan parks or a bit of both (or not sure!)

Huge difference depending on what you plan to do. Also, are you a retired couple or a family with young kids/teenagers etc... make a huge difference to what you need. Don't forget what tow vehicle, do you already have one, or plan to buy one to suit.

Other things like approx price range as 2nd hand start at next to nothing and the skys the limit.

Once you have narrowed that down a bit, it may make recommendations a bit easier.

Cheers

Mark
AnswerID: 44657

Follow Up By: travel79 - Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 07:52

Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 07:52
dear Mark
Please check response 4 to my question. I clicked on the wrong thing and responded to my post instead of yours. Thanks Julie
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FollowupID: 306838

Reply By: Space Bastard - Wednesday, Jan 28, 2004 at 21:29

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2004 at 21:29
My girlfriend and I have done a bit of caravanning in my parents' van - its a 14 ft fiberglass van of early 1960s origins and its great!

We only payed about $1000 for it without rego, and it took a few days to get it ready - a new wheel and a new tow hitch and the brake drums fixed/replaced, and it hasn't let us down after touring the east coast of NSW annually now for 3 years! The interior is as new, except a bit of fading on the lino floor.

The only problem is that its a 14ft van - its a little cosy with 2, and even though there are bunks for another 2, you'd be hard pressed to do anything more than overnight. On the upside, because its only 14 ft its a breeze to tow, and I have had no problems behind things as small as a mitsubishi sigma (only to the rego check mind you).

You may want something a bit more upmarket than a 60s van, but for touring on black top, its perfect for 2, and would thoroughly reccomend a fiberglass van, if one is after a classic!
AnswerID: 44669

Reply By: travel79 - Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 07:48

Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 07:48
To Mark
Thanks to your response. Mainly on/road. We have 100 series Landcruiser and we are near to retirement couple. We are planning a three month trip through Qld middle of this year as our first venture. We pretty much know what we want but our main confusion is all the different makes, Jayco, Coromal, Roadstar, Regal etc. Which of these should we be concentrating on. Which ones should we not consider. It is a big investment and it will also be our home for long periods at a time so it is important we are not buying problems. We are thinking about 19footer at least. Look forward to your response.
Julie
AnswerID: 44697

Follow Up By: flappan - Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 09:11

Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 09:11
Generally Speaking , I doubt you would have probs with the Major brands. I guess , like vehicles, it always possible to get a dud.

My Parents have owned 2 Jayco's and a Corrimal prior to their new offroad van.

The first Jayco (a pop top) had a slight water leak, that never seemed to be able to be corrected properly. No probs at all with the 2nd one, or the Corrimal (which was my favourite). All of these travelled around Aus. The Corrimal was only ditched because they decided to buy a proper offroad van.

My personal view of this is . . . don't so much worry about the brands . . . look for the ones that REALLY suit your requirements and budget.
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FollowupID: 306843

Reply By: Douglas C - Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 09:10

Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 09:10
Dear Julie L,
We are nearly retired and looked for a couple of years for what we felt was appropriate , taking into consideration we wanted comfort , space and were not going offroad to any major extent . We chose a Jayco Westport ( near new ) with the configuration we wanted and eventually one came on the market at the price we wished to pay .
We chose a 20 ft shower/toilet model and we have been absolutely thrilled with it. We tow with a 60 series Toyota Sahara diesel auto and we love it . We did not choose Coromal ( thoug very good vans ) as they were wider than others ( 8 ft ) but there is nothing wrong with the Regals , we have had experince in one as well, but cannot really comment on Roadstar .
Jayco seem to have good dealer network for service/parts etc and that is important we feel .
We chose a shower /toilet model and we have found this a real boon , we do not use the shower very often but it is sooooohandy to have atoilet close at hand , in the middle of the night !!!
Any questions you may have I am happy to respond.
Douglas C
AnswerID: 44703

Reply By: Mark - Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 16:24

Thursday, Jan 29, 2004 at 16:24
As mentioned earlier, the actual brand of van is not that important as all "big" brands meet minimum quality standards. Some of the bigger differences in price, but not readily seen, are the types of suspension and chassis used.

IMHO an independent suspension is well worth the extra $$$ on a single axle van, but not important on a tandem. But, a tandem should be a "load sharing" design, not simply two single independent axles slung under the chassis.

If you are going on any gravel roads, make sure its got a decent chassis. The chassis literally holds up the van walls and any flex is transferred into the walls. Note that corragated gravel roads are harder on a van than "mere" 4WD tracks where ground clearance etc... is more of an issue.

Coil springs are generally better than leafs, but a good leaf design is better than a poor coil design. Airbags are considered the best, but are expensive - only required for extended offroad IMHO.

I would not take a van on long gravel roads that did not have shock absorbers on the suspension, but many may disagree with that. But corrugations are such a killer I would not do it to my van.

There is much made about aluminium vs wood frames for vans. Aluminium is seen as better, but I believe a well made wood frame is better than many aluminium frames being offered on some vans. An aluminium frame has to be designed well as aluminium suffers badly from stress fatigue. Wood is naturally better for stress fatigue, but its bogie is moisture. A leak in a wooden frame van will kill it over time (years) if not fixed.

As for the interior, most vans have more than enough interior cupboard space, but its not always "useable". Look for things like sliding draws, as bending down into cupboards gets harder as you get older. And the article you want will always roll to the very back of the cupboard!

Features like shower/toilet are almost mandatory for longer trips if you want to really enjoy the experience!!! Its OK using van park amenities for the week long trips, but you will soon desire your own (even if only for midnight nature calls).

Other things like A/C make the trip just more enjoyable, especially in the humid areas of QLD. But this all adds cost and weight, and can only be used if in a van park or you have your own (quiet) generator. Othe things like onboard batterys are great as they make the van "useable" when away from a van park (for lights, fridge etc...)

I would always use a compressor fridge (12/240V) as opposed to the common 3 way (gas/12/240) as a compressor fridge will always be able to freeze. 3 way firdges are notorious for being warm when in hot areas. But once again many people may disagree with this.

Well, thats a "short" list of things to start to look at. There are many things that are trade-offs, some for cost, others for weight and some for simple comfort. And different people will have different opinions depending on what they see as important. A van is a very personal thing and it takes a lot of "talk" to find the right one for yourself. I hope my thoughts may assist.

Cheers

Mark
AnswerID: 44761

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