Imported camper trailers

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 07:54
ThreadID: 102742 Views:16263 Replies:8 FollowUps:11
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I would be interested in anyones experiences with the cheaper imported camper trailers. Good? or bad? Thanks
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:34

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 08:34
Hi Luke, I have been looking, and there are as many cheaper Chinese type trailers and tents out there, as there are Aussie made. Actually, maybe more :/

Of course prices are generally relative to quality, but I feel the importers of cheap campers are making more markup profit than most Aussie manufacturers.

Quality is going to vary sooo much between imports and Aussie made . . . quality control in China is vital to a good product, if there's no one on the ground there to firstly instruct the process, or to keep an eye on things, then it can be awful on QC.
Aussie made isn't always better, sadly.

I feel you'd HAVE to go and look for yourself, don't buy off ebay sight unseen.
Look for good drawbar design well under main frame of trailer, look at weld quality, wiring looms, nuts & bolts used vs small tack welds, axle size / strength, if you can if steel is galv before paint / powdercoat, internal arm hinges look solid, vitually look at the whole thing.

There are plenty of good, well made and cared for second hand campers on the market, many around $10k, about the same as a cheap import (that's fo a hard floor I am looking at buying).

Good luck with your research and choice.
AnswerID: 513029

Follow Up By: Member - Terry W4 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 09:20

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 09:20
Also read on another site about one guys experience where he checked wheel bearings and there was no grease. Was not checked by the Oz reseller and could have been disacterous.
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Reply By: KevinE - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 09:19

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 09:19
Hi Luke,

Yes, I have one; we researched a lot before buying & the variation in price & build quality between the various Chinese imports offered for sale is enormous!

The guy I bought mine off actually visits China to source higher quality parts prior to importing them, as does his workshop manager. I'm sure this improves the overall quality of the product, but like anything, it's not perfect. We did a few shakedown trips starting with a 5 hour return trip on bitumen, an 8 hour return trip with some dirt, then a 1,500km round trip that included the Gawler Ranges. This highlighted a few minor, easy to fix problems, such as sealing the tack welds around the inside floor of the trailer with silicone & sicking some foam seals in places on the tailgate.

For my peace of mind I also took it to get the welds on the draw-bar bolstered before we took it on a long outback trip ($100) & I replaced the Chinese bolts in the tow hitch with some from Repco for about $8. All the other mods I made were to suit us & how we camp, not to improve reliabilty & I would most likely have done them on any trailer.

Then, off we went in Oct last year - 5,000 km on some of the roughest roads in the country & definitely some places one shouldn't take a CT & it lapped it up!

My biggest concern was it had cheap Chinese tyres on it, but I decided to run them & replace them as they failed. However, they didn't fail! So, they're still on the CT & it's done several trips since then.

The first thing I did when I got back was to pull the swing out kitchen off the CT! We never used it once & it takes up valuable storage space.

Ours is an off road soft floor & cost $6,990 in Jan 2012.

At the end of the day, they are just a tent on a trailer with a comfy bed. There is absolutely no way on this earth that I would ever pay upwards of $30K for a tent on a trailer, but that's just me.

Good luck with it mate! Most of the criticism you'll read about them on the net is from people who've never owned one.

Cheers,

Kevin.
AnswerID: 513035

Follow Up By: Luke F1 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:17

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:17
Many of the forums I read rubbish the chinese campers but it seems that not all are great quality but some are a pretty good standard for what you pay. Maybe some need some minor adjustments when you initially purchase them. What brand is your camper Kevin? and is there any brands I should steer clear of.

Thanks

Luke
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Follow Up By: KevinE - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 15:24

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 15:24
I think you're pretty spot on there Luke!

I don't really want to name the brand in a public forum mate, but it's blue & it's from SA.

We were approached by a guy at Easter who'd spent big $$$ on an eastern states manufactured CT at Easter who thought ours was the same brand as his. You should have seen his face when I said ours was Chinese lol! ;) Poor bugger!

I'd stay away from anyone trying to hide the fact the trailer is Chinese. There is a mob here in Adelaide who try & make out that theirs are made by them here at their factory. No way I'd buy off someone who was trying to con me!

I also always google "problem with" (& then insert the product or service name) when I'm researching something I'm thinking of buying. You'd be surprised what you find out!

As I say, good luck with it Luke!

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Reply By: glids - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:20

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:20
My son recently bought one from Market Direct Campers, and I must say that overall it appears reasonable value for money. I'm with Kev, I just cannot see the value in some of the local camper trailers at 20-30 (or more) thousand bucks.

MDC have a wide range of styles of trailer (powder coated, galvanized, highway, off-road etc) and also a wide range of tent layouts. My son and his wife liked one particular layout on a demo unit in the showroom, but would have preferred to have it 'the other way round', or mirrored. No problems, they ordered one in with the preferred orientation.

My son wanted the galvanized off-road trailer, which looks well put together, but we think MDC have overlooked something there - the tent doesn't quite pull down properly to the ground around the trailer and we think it is due to the higher suspension of the off-road trailer. It looks ok on the standard trailer. This problem is exacerbated on sloping ground if you need to raise one wheel on ramp blocks to level the trailer as that side will be even worse. I think this is my lad's greatest gripe with the unit.

There were some poorly fitted bits and pieces on my son's unit, such as the following:
* The 'T' spirit level was way off level. We set the trailer up to the level on nearly flat ground and one wheel was 2" off the ground and the trailer obviously not level. Easily fixed, but frustrating that it wasn't a lot closer.
* The locking mechanism for the swing-out rear tailgate kitchen is poorly designed and far too weak. If you leaned on the kitchen the locking bar would simply bend. I fixed that by installing a strut rod.
* The catches on the two front storage boxes were poorly constructed and aligned. The MDC sales guy said 'don't let the lids drop to close them, always lower them down and press down to lock'. Why not improve the locking catch? I did!

Overall, the quality of the 'canvas' work was very good in my opinion. I think the weight of material was higher (ie stronger) than some of the local builders. I have heard (not confirmed) that no canvas (or synthetic equiv) is made in Australia anymore - I expect all (or most) camper trailer manufacturers will be using imported (read Chinese) material. We compared the MDC product to one of the local well known and respected manufacturers, and it compared very well - and exceeded in some ways.

I think the MDC price for installing a 12V electrical system is too high, and we are doing our own system. However, if you don't have the time or expertise to do your own then maybe there is little choice. I expect if you took it to an Auto Electrician it would work out more expensive than MDC's price.

One thing I would pass on, and this came from the MDC salesman... some people want to install a fridge in the trailer, and MDC can sell a slide mechanism for a 12V/240V fridge. However, the fridge cannot 'breathe' inside the wrapped up and sealed trailer, and therefore cannot operate efficiently. This does not only relate to MDC's camper trailers, it would be the same for other brands. If you want/need a fridge, put it in the back of your vehicle.

So, cheaper camper trailers...
No, they are not perfect, but some can still be reasonably good value for money.
Have a good look at campers on the showroom floor, or at camping shows etc, or do the rounds of local caravan parks and talk to owners. Don't buy 'sight-unseen'.
I am in no way connected to MDC, but can make comments on what we have experienced and seen. They definitely have their faults, but I expect that will be the case with most manufacturers. Even manufacturers of $70,000 caravans have their problems. You just need to balance what you get against what you pay for it, and determine if you are happy with the balance.
My son and his family will get a lot of enjoyment out of their relatively modest investment. They may have been able to buy a better known brand second-hand for similar money, but then not had the choice of layout etc.
They are happy, and I reckon they did alright.

Happy hunting.
glids
AnswerID: 513038

Follow Up By: KevinE - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 15:07

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 15:07
Hi Glids,

"There were some poorly fitted bits and pieces on my son's unit, such as the following:
* The 'T' spirit level was way off level. We set the trailer up to the level on nearly flat ground and one wheel was 2" off the ground and the trailer obviously not level. Easily fixed, but frustrating that it wasn't a lot closer.
* The locking mechanism for the swing-out rear tailgate kitchen is poorly designed and far too weak. If you leaned on the kitchen the locking bar would simply bend. I fixed that by installing a strut rod.
* The catches on the two front storage boxes were poorly constructed and aligned. The MDC sales guy said 'don't let the lids drop to close them, always lower them down and press down to lock'. Why not improve the locking catch? I did!"

We had the same issue with the tailgate kitchen (different brand, but likely out of the same factory in China) I fixed it in a similar way to you.

Luckily for us, someone else had complained about the latches on the toolbox before we bought ours & to his credit, the distributor we bought ours off had them modified prior to our picking up the trailer. These are working fine & I have no complaints about them.

Cheers mate,

Kevin.
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Reply By: Member - nick b - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:22

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:22
Luke : I dont think u need to buy imported ........ theres plenty of choices in aus & keep some of our money in aus .... the cheap imports are never as good as well made Aus
Cheers Nick b
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AnswerID: 513039

Follow Up By: Nigel Migraine - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:03

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:03
I'm not terribly good at vehicle identification but your's would seem to have been manufactured in Japan, is that correct?
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Follow Up By: Member - Ian H (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:35

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:35
BOOM BOOM
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Follow Up By: Lloyd W1 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 23:06

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 23:06
Unfortunately I don't think a Jackeroo, Colorado or Ranger is going to hold up too well in the outback compared to the imported alternatives
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Friday, Jun 14, 2013 at 10:04

Friday, Jun 14, 2013 at 10:04
If you are talking about my camper !!!! Its a sar major trailer made in south aus but has a imported top NOT the quality of there own tops .
We did over 1200 ks last year NT, Kimberly's GRR cape Leveque & so on also have done finders rangers & out back SA & have never had a problem with the trailer . I have been camping out back for over 40 years & IMO this type of camper is fine for 90% of us .

Sar Major campers

My point was that you don't need to go and import every thing we need to save a few $$$$ , when are we going to start looking after ourselves , local jobs etc .
Cheers Nick b
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Reply By: Member -Ted (Vic) - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:48

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:48
Luke

It really depends on where you intend to take your camper, there are questionable quality issues with some of the cheapies. They are probably fine for some off roading but I would not take one on some of the classic tracks (CSR, Anne Beadell, etc) Here is one
on the Anne Beadell,

Good luck with your purchase
AnswerID: 513041

Follow Up By: KevinE - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 15:37

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 15:37
Hi Ted,

Thanks for posting those pics! That looks like someone seriously not driving to the conditions! Those are some serious corros mate!

I had a guy rip past me towing a CT on the access road out of the Bungles one time. The CT was bouncing from wheel to wheel as he was driving (way to fast!) About 12km later I saw him again, stopped on the road & his CT looked a lot like the one in your photos. I waved nicely as I drove on past lol!

Do you recall if it was a snapped axle, or did the suspension/wheel bearings let go? I don't suppose you managed to get the brand name off of that one by chance, it looks to be built differently to a Chinese CT? (not that it matters when they don't drive to the conditions)

Cheers,

Kevin.
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Follow Up By: Member -Ted (Vic) - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 18:05

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 18:05
Hi Kevin

Dont know what brand it was but trailer had slipper springs they literally ripped the mounts off the chassis and the whole axle assembly turned almost a right angle to where it should have been. They took the tent and anything removable and left it as you see it. They passed us the day before, as you say not driving to the conditions and the trailer not up to the task

Cheers
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FollowupID: 791709

Reply By: Krooznalong - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 13:08

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 13:08
Have a Pinnacle hard floor. Cost us $9K. Sure there were some quality control issues - but none that any handyman couldn't fix. Don't know if it would survive the Canning or other such tracks but I have no intention of towing it to such places anyway. We have a tent for those trips where towing anything is a questionable practice.
I consider the value for money aspect to be totally met with what we have.
AnswerID: 513046

Reply By: Luke F1 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 13:16

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 13:16
Thanks for all your replys. I have had a look at the MDC campers and they look to be good value for money. I own and know how to use a manual metal arc welder so will not have a problem repairing or modifying the trailer if it needs it. I figure that if i get some good use out of the tent section and it eventually fails, i can un-bolt it and throw it away and put an new Chinese or locally made tent on it. Im looking at the T-Box V3 for $7999 and the same trailer in other brands is 25K plus. Dont think i can justify that sort of money for weekend or week long trips away to national parks etc at this stage.
AnswerID: 513047

Follow Up By: Ben & Cath - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:21

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:21
Luke we have that exact trailer and are 6 weeks into our trip from Perth across the nullabor then up the centre before making our way home down the WA cost. I have been happy with the trailer so far. A few minor issues like sealing the side boxes up that I didn't pick up before we left home and only noticed after going thru some red dust. Nothing that a $15 trip to bunnings didn't sort out. We have been mainly on the bitumen but have been out to Dalhousie springs and thru mt Dare as well as the Meenie track. We drove to the conditions and the trailer was fine. The only thing I would look at replacing would be the rivets holding the bed mattress clamp. I popped two on the Meenie track after hitting some rough stuff a little quick.The tent itself has been great no water in at any point. For us the market direct campers suited our budget and needs this trip. In future when the kids have left we will look at other options but I don't have any problem recommending these trailers based on my experience.
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Reply By: Jos - Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:40

Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 at 20:40
I've seen the MDC and all I can say is that the quality seems to vary from trailer to trailer. Not bad for the price, but I'd want to inspect the trailer and tent from top to toe before purchasing. I've seen a brand new one with a major fault in the canvas (on the roof) that MDC seemed oblivious to.

I've also seen a almost new cheap Chinese import completely collapse on a sealed road. I think there were just bolts holding it together. As others have mentioned, quality does vary greatly between the imports.
AnswerID: 513070

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