US Imports

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 23:37
ThreadID: 101770 Views:2897 Replies:8 FollowUps:10
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Ive been reading a lot about imported fifth wheelers, from owners and dealers and local manufactures. So called experts saying they do not comply with our strict standards. What a load of bulll bleep e. Have our so called experts, engineers or caravan builders actuallly had a look at how well constructed some of these american trailers are. I doubt it?
One American builder video in particular shows ground up construction, starting with fully powder coated one piece chassis rail and draw bar, air bag suspension, waterproof under floor panel with alum floor joists separate on top of the welded chassis spars, therefore a cavity floor but insulated and then a heated one piece floor panel goes on top. Composite sandwich wall construction with alum box section fully welded frame inside and solid foam isulation. The damn roof looks strong enough to carry a small car on top, I mean proper stamped and pressed out galv steel trusses
that are bowed for strengh and water run off, and are of substantial height to allow room for A/C ducting and wiring to pass thru.Then more sheet insulation, the a One piece fibreglass panel with waterproof membrane for weather protection, I mean the list goes on and on. Obviously these vans are going to be heavy, and I know american utes are bigger than ours with more power, but the yanks do not compromise on the build quality, Like we do. And they are a bleep load more affordable too. So, how can the american vans not be "as good as ours" I ask you? C`mon Aussie caravan builders, stop knocking the yanks and start learning from them.
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 00:34

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 00:34
The body work is generally OK. The problems are elsewhere.

Many are over width, the ones that are not are too wide to put a roll out awning on and still be within the width limit. Many of them have excessive overhang behind the axle group to be registered here. To be registered here they must have their access door on the LHS or rear of the van. There are dodgy converters here that just put a cosmetic door on the LHS ad tell you things are OK.

They make two lots of units over there. One with light suspension and are intended to be located in trailer parks. The other lot are intended for touring and cost a fair bit more. Guess what is being shipped over here.

They come with steel gas lines, these are not allowed in Oz. None of their electrical and gas appliances have been tested for approval in Oz. Those last two, it does not matter whether you consider them suitable for use here the regs are such you can not use them here.

The 110 V wiring is in wrong colours for our 240 V. Our regs do not permit the use of 240/110 step down transformers in portable dwellings.

I have only reported on some things. There are other hurdles to getting them registered here. One of the problems of purchasing an imported model is the industry is self regulated. The importers don't do the job properly in many cases. They get them registered in their state and when you try to register them in other states it costs heaps to rectify the bodgy certification work.
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Follow Up By: blown4by - Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 11:58

Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 11:58
Hear, Hear! Good to read a post from a person who obviously knows his stuff. Couldn't agree more and I have personally closely inspected 100's of them from the US as well as motorhomes and boat trailers. As stated, the problem is not always poor quality but there are no ADRs in the US hence the non-compliance issues in AUS. mountindoctor if you think everything that comes from USA is good quality you must still believe in the tooth fairy. Why do you think their car industry is stuffed e.g Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler even the yanks won't buy them.
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Follow Up By: mountindoctor - Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 17:29

Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 17:29
In response to blown4x4, you're missing my point mate, But I agree with you about Chrysler-Jeep, they are crap vehicle, but I only used the Toyota car theme to put my point across, I am not interested in owning an American car, (especially a Jeep). And aside from the ADR issues, Im saying that the averaged US built Van (RV) is far more well equipped that ours, built here. Our van manufactures need to look at what they are offering us compared to to what the US companies offer the American consumers. Furthermore, the issue on profit margins, market and sales demand is only an excuse for our manufactures to rip us off, or, in other words, so as not to "offend" the anti-American readers, is for our van builders to offer us a cheap as possible (basic model) van at an un-realistic and excessive price!!! No wonder they cant sell enough.....its like me trying to sell a tray of mangoes on the side of the road from the back of me ute for twice the price woolies are selling them for, how many will I sell? Our local industries are forcing us to look at imports because of their own greed and cut backs in quality and/or refinements and appointments.
FollowupID: 787247

Follow Up By: blown4by - Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 21:40

Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 21:40
Mate I don't think I missed your point. "So called experts saying they do not comply with our strict standards. What a load of bull" Well the facts are and as stated by others here: 'Many do fail to meet the standards' e.g. ADRs, Australian Standards, Gas regulations and Electrical wiring standards. I can't see any mention of equipment levels in your initial post. To be fair, many AUS made trailers do not comply either. Regarding the equipment offered by the AUS manufacturers, maybe they have to offer a 'poverty pack' base model here to be able to compete witto h the cheaper imports. Having to compete with countries where the workers work 17 hour days 7 days/week and sleep on the workshop floor with no minimum wage protection and no safety or environmental rules is hardly a level playing field. I would say if you do your homework and check them out technically as well as do your sums and then add an amount to do some re-work when they arrive to meet the compliance aspect, if they stack up then go ahead and buy one. Just be sure the quality is there though because as may have already found out, there is often a reason for the price difference. The Gibb River Road is littered with failures.
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Follow Up By: mountindoctor - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 20:39

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 20:39
Yes, I do agree, our adr`s are strict and much different to comparable US standards. Although our adr`s are strict for safety reasons, there comes a point where govt regulation and red-tape becomes over the top in regards to so called "safety" and points more towards revenue or "$$$". However, I did in my initial post make reference to the build quality of the US unit compared to ours. I have visited the US and looked at the finer points of detail in their RV`s, even right down to the
material of the upholstery, and the panelling they use. Options are almost endless. Most brands even give you a real bleep ter for gods sake to sit on, instead of a tin or plastic bucket bowl that most of ours use. Also, yes, the cost of re-work, may well exceed the economics. I dont beleive I will purchase a 2nd hand unit, but I am looking into getting a new unit built (thru a dealer over here) for fit-out here, which still works out cheaper than a Aussie built unit, sad as it may be. The only issue I am concerned about is warranty and back-up if there is a problem. Then again I have heard about issues with some locally built vans and warranty problems. I would much rather walk into a local caravan yard and purchase a locally built product and keep Aussies working. But im getting better value going to an overseas builder. What I would like to see is our manufactures to wake up a bit, and get back into the game and spirit of competing for business (like the Americans do) rather than thinking of how much can we rip off the local consumers.
And, to your last reference to the Gibb river, any dick head that takes a sealed road type van across that terrain deserves to get "stuck". I am not planning to get off -road with my fifth wheeler. If i did, I would buy a heavy-duty off road van. And even some of those I have used in the past (when working out bush) have fallen to bits (if not maintained and repaired regularly)
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Reply By: DiscoTourer - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 00:46

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 00:46
From first hand experience with two expensive American brands....absolute rubbish!

Water leaks coming in from the rear, burst pipes inside flooding and writing off the trailer, 120 v hot water heaters not converted at stated, slide outs not retracting fully needing ratchets strap over the van to hold them in place, tyre packages that are not available in Australia, under floor had heating furnaces failing, width with awning was over the legal width in Australia, hitches supplied not Australian approved, tow point on trailer falling off the frame that sits below the bed....and the list goes on. And these were from so called reputable qld importers/Australian conversion businesses.

Should have realised after two were brought across from Vic for the 4wd and camping show 4 years ago, both of which had to be trucked back by my brother, they could not show them due to the interior damage from the trip across the paddock.

Also would be worthwhile talking to caravan repair places. One of which turned the business away due to the nightmares of fixing them.

Got no idea what the Aussie ones are like...but the two from the US that I was involved with were rubbish!

AnswerID: 509296

Reply By: graham B9 - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 07:00

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 07:00
Sir, Like the 2 other posts above, I would agree with them. Quality is not the same as they are not made for the same conditions. This generally speaking.

Perhaps you might like to do some further research.
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Reply By: olcoolone - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 08:23

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 08:23
QUOTE "So called experts saying they do not comply with our strict standards. What a load of bulll bleep e. Have our so called experts, engineers or caravan builders actually had a look at how well constructed some of these american trailers are. I doubt it?"

Have to disagree with that...... while they do build good quality gear they also build a lot of bad stuff and it's to do with how Americans use and purchase some stuff.

Then again I have seen some below standard gear from some Aussie based manufactures..... come to think of it I think they also manufacture in the USA.

I think the thing what these "so called experts" are saying is they do not meet our ADR's for weight distribution, axle spacing, lighting, gas and electrical standards...... especially in a fifth wheeler...... so if you spend the money you could get it compiled but how much??????

You're making comments of how good they are as per the video but I'm sure if you bought a Kedron, Bush Tracker and some of the other higher end quality brands they would be built much the same.

The thing is Australians don't see the point in paying top dollar for something if they can get it cheaper for less....... as long as it's shiny and looks the part.

Most of the fifth wheelers over here would be made overseas as our market for them is so small and would make them too dear....... some of the USA manufactures would be making thousands of fifth wheelers a year compared with how many here....... so of course they would be cheaper and offer more.

Yanks are just as bad as use on compromising on build quality as us.
AnswerID: 509306

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 11:20

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 11:20
Hi Mountain doctor
Re Quote"Ive been reading a lot about imported fifth wheelers, from owners and dealers and local manufactures. So called experts saying they do not comply with our strict standards. What a load of bulll bleep e. Have our so called experts, engineers or caravan builders actuallly had a look at how well constructed some of these american trailers are. I doubt it?"[end quote]

Perhaps you should investigate a lot further, before rubbishing "'SO CALLED EXPERTS"
Have YOU read the relevant AUSTRALIAN standards, on which many "so called experts" base their comments
Others based on actual experience
The shonks had a wide open go with bringing in non compliant units ,but NOW the Authorities are awake to what has been going on.
Many many so called compliance documents are not worth the paper they are written on
Made out by either non caring or incompetent persons knowing, in these days of self regulation, there would be little chance of a cross check being done & so being caught out

The standard US made van ,5th wheelers /motor homes fail in many aspects to meet the requirements of the various AUSTRALIAN STANDARDS & the ADRS

Many owners of those or purchasers of 2nd /3rd hand units could find themselves with very expensive requirements to bring the units up to AUS Standards

Nomadic Navara's post above lays out some of the problems

IF thinking of buying such units Take great care
Specify ALL must comply with AUS Standards & regulation
Make sure it ALL does when you receive it

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Follow Up By: mountindoctor - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 22:47

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 22:47
Im hearing you on the ADR standards about gas, electrical, hitches, axles, width etc etc .............sure their approval standards will be different to ours. Im not really knocking our safety regs. However I am standing firm on the American built vans. I Mean like most Americans, they love bells and whistles. Who doesnt? Example, look at lets say a Toyota Camry built in japan, one for our market and the other for the US, which one has more appointments as standard features hey? Yep not ours. We get the poverty pack. American consumers are way more demanding than us. We just seem to cop whatever bleep e is thrown at us, and we just buy it. But, if I am paying 120,000 large (or more) for decent size van, why shouldnt I expect the same as an American consumer? Why cant I have 3 or 4 slideouts instead of 1 or 2 and full size beds and reasonable size and appointed bathroom? Why cant ours have fully ducted heating and air conditioning? Yes, agreed there will be low, average and high quality van builders in the US, same as here in Oz. Just because we have only a tiny market compared to the US shouldnt mean we meekly accept a cheaper or an inferior product and pay more for it. I don't believe the US safety standards arent safe, they are just different to ours. What Im saying is Aussie manufacturers need to lift their game a peg or 2 or 3 and take note of what the yanks are building compared to what our builders offer us here down under. It just seems to me, that the yanks build their vans to a standard and we build ours to a price, and a damn expensive one too compared to theirs.

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Reply By: Notso - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 08:31

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 08:31
Friend is getting one built now in the US, they build them to comply with Aust Design Rules etc.

I'll be interested to see it when it arrives. He isn't financially challenged so I imagine it'll be pretty special!
AnswerID: 509307

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 10:57

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 10:57

I hope he has also specified
[1]All electrical appliances& accessories to be 220/240V & have Australian Approval
[2]ALL electrical wiring to comply to AS/NZS 3000:2007 & AS/NZS 3001:2008
[3]All gas Installation to be to AUS Standards
[4]ALL gas appliances to have AUS approval

The old days with getting away with 110V system supplied by a step down transformer ;WHICH WAS NEVER LEGAL OR APPROVED are gone!!!

FollowupID: 787124

Follow Up By: Notso - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 11:22

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 11:22
Hope so too! He's a switched on(pardon the pun)kinda guy!
FollowupID: 787131

Follow Up By: Jeff P - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 16:13

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 16:13
Your friend is smart after seeing some of the crap built here in Australia Iam not surprised he is going overseas. I have a story to tell about a caravan maker in Australia (vic),a so called top end van that we have had built but I will wait until they have had a chance to make good on their product ,they make claims of "the rolls royce of caravans"
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Follow Up By: mountindoctor - Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 17:47

Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 17:47
I agree with Jeff P, I see far too many brand new vans with very average and often poor or sub-standard workmanship ( one example; beads of silicone sealant applied and wiped by fingers in shower cubicles) at caravan and camping shows, where you would think the company would ensure display models were none less than perfect at least for display purposes.
FollowupID: 787248

Reply By: Lyn W3 - Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 15:11

Friday, Apr 19, 2013 at 15:11
You will find that just as in Australia there are crap Travel Trailer/caravan makers in the USA and there are some excellent quality makers. The problem is that instead of being $120,000 as in Australia they are $60,000 in the USA.

The USA manufactures about 250,000 travel trailers and 5th wheels each year (2012 figures) and they are not all crap, you will probably find that some of the ones coming into Australia are the cheaper ones $12,000-$15,000 which are at the bottom end of the quality range.

Last time I was at the Import Agent we use in Brisbane there were five caravans there from the USA, All manufactured to ADR standards (minus appliances) Doors on the left. McHitch's etc. The floorplans had simply been reversed from the USA models.
AnswerID: 509330

Reply By: Candace S. - Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 01:02

Saturday, Apr 20, 2013 at 01:02
In the past, I've seen posts in this forum from people who have imported/converted American caravans and even a motor home. I'm surprised none of them have commented here!
AnswerID: 509356

Reply By: Life Member-Doug T NSW-Ex NT - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 04:00

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 04:00
Did someone open this can ...

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