What Caravan to Buy

Submitted: Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 11:59
ThreadID: 130572 Views:1683 Replies:5 FollowUps:3
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Guys,

I keen to hear what brand of second hand caravan to buy or to stay away from.
We are planning to do a "lap of the map" to start our retirement and I don't want one that falls to bits at the sight of the first dirt road.

Regards

Gazza
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Reply By: lancie49 - Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 12:26

Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 12:26
What are your requirements regarding layout and fittings ?
Do you have a budget and van size in mind ?
What are you towing with ?
Have you caravanned before ?
AnswerID: 591489

Follow Up By: Gazza11 - Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 13:33

Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 13:33
Lancie,

I'm thinking of an island double bed, toilet, fridge and cooking gear, maybe a roll out annex.

We already have a shower and HWS fitted to our 4wd.

Something small enough to be towed by a Nissan Patrol, budget is open at this stage.

I had a caravan years ago but sold it when I got into 4WDing.

I currently have a Challenge Camper and hold a Heavy Rigid Truck licence.

I am fairly flexible at this stage and just collecting info.

Gazza
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015 at 07:36

Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015 at 07:36
Quote "Something small enough to be towed by a Nissan Patrol,"

When you say small enough, does that mean you have an auto gear box (autos only can tow 2500 kg where as manuals can tow more.)
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 20:08

Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 20:08
G'day Gazza,

It depends largely on the size of the van you need and what your budget is.

For a good quality mid sized pop top van (which won't take a lot of setting up) I believe you should be looking at The Goldstream (Vic) or Coromal (WA) brands of vans.

We chose a Goldstream Vacationer when we upgraded from our previous Camper Trailer.
This unit is a "wind up" style where you pull the beds out each end, to end up with a large living area inside. We liked this style because of the flexibility of two queens size beds, plus the table converting to another double bed, which suited our future idea of taking the grand kids (one at present) away with us.
This model has a low profile when towing and fitted under the enclosed carport without the need to modify anything and seats six around the table if eating inside.

If there is only the two of you, a pop top van keeps the profile reasonably low but you "sacrifice" living space as the queen size or twin bed options are internal to the overall length.
Again, the Goldstream and Coromal brands have excellent reputations which are perhaps a level above the more "budget" oriented, but popular Jayco brand of van.

There are several other brands around and it is probably a matter of deciding on the size of the van you want and the features they have, then visit some dealers to help narrow your choice.

The chances are when choosing a "pre-loved" van, most if not all "problem areas" have been sorted by the previous owners, but beware of that occasional "lemon".

Just as an example, I bought our van brand new to order and therefore have the options available to suit our lifestyle. Even though it is an excellent product, I have modified two "problem" areas I didn't like. The water tank breather system was not quite designed to my liking and I have added a separate breather hose out the back, which has fixed the water supply problem. I now can both fill the tank quickly and draw the water out of the holding tank, without experiencing water flow problems due to a positive pressure that restricted flow.
Another "problem" I had, was the inability of the sink draining in a reasonable matter, as the outlet hose traversed across the other side of the van before the downward outlet and waste water was retained in the "undulations" of the pipe run across to the other side. A simple fix was to reroute the outlet pipe back to the sink side of the van and add a right angle elbow to the shortened pipe run, which has fixed the problem.
These "problems" where easy to fix (for me at least) and hopefully buying a pre-owned van, all of the similar encountered problems, (regardless of the brand) have had them sorted out.

I have a good mate who has invested in a big hi-end, off-road caravan, with all the bells and whistles, including an on-board shower and toilet and even a washing machine.
When we were invited to view his new "mobile house", the first thing we thought was that it was designed as two person accommodation only. The two big upholstered chairs either side of the "dining" table left no room for any other "guests" to sit down and "chew the fat."
Their choice of course, but the features didn't tick any of our boxes for mobile accommodation.
They are good friends but hell, when one decides that the on-board toilet is only for "number ones" we think they have lost the plot somewhere:-)
We can choose to leave our porta-potti inside the van, (if there is just the two of us) or put it in a pop up tent if bush camping. As for showers, again the pop up tent is enployed, unless we are in a caravan park, where the park facilities are employed.

Good luck with your quest. You will find that regardless of your choice of van and the features you include to narrow that search, you will end up with a compromise of some sort or another.



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Reply By: Member - Will 76 Series - Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 20:22

Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 20:22
Gazza, if your not sure of your needs and brand then a good place to start is some of these 4x4 caravan and camping shows. There is a huge variety and you will get a feel for what you like and dislike as well as costs and brands. Once you narrow it down a bit then you can explore the 2nd hand market. It is hard to put a certain brand down or above another as some don't leave the blacktop, are comfortable and do the job at a good price with all the comforts you need. Other brands will take a beating and cop the rough tracks, corrugations etc. but you pay top dollar for them. It is interesting looking at the 2nd hand market as sometimes the prices are not value for money compared to a new van. An example is a few years ago I was looking at Kimberley campers and 10 & 15 yr old campers were on the market for sometimes $4,000 less than a brand new van, why would you buy 2nd hand in cases like that? There are also some good 2nd hand bargains where people have done the great lap, ticked that box and want to upgrade or get rid of their rig.
Happy hunting & research.
AnswerID: 591515

Reply By: Member - Barry W (VIC) - Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015 at 15:08

Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015 at 15:08
We have had an Evernew 18ft. van for ten years and could not recommend them highly enough.
A good secondhand Evernew suitable to your towing vehicle would be a good choice.
AnswerID: 591549

Follow Up By: Tim F3 - Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015 at 17:39

Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015 at 17:39
Join the...caravanners forum... there is a wealth of info there..
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Oct 14, 2015 at 00:40

Wednesday, Oct 14, 2015 at 00:40
To ensure the caravan does not fall to bits you would choose from dedicated off road brands not a beefed up exterior on a black top caravan. These are mostly heavy. However many caravanners do a lap on sealed roads, and use a tent for exploring places where the caravan cannot or should not go.

A three litre Nissan Patrol with auto as Peter D points out can only tow up to 2.5 tonne and this dictates a light caravan, not a dirt or off roader. Even at 3.2 tonne for a manual three litre, you would be on the limits; not a good situation for a three litre. Bear in mind all you will need to pack and stock up with for the big lap. A 4.2 litre Patrol can pull, but may be slow.

A good start to your research would be to invest $30 on Caravan Buyers Guide, written by caravanners not the industry.

Next stage is to go camping and talk to those who's rigs appeal. You will learn so much more one to one than anyone will say on the internet, and most are happy to show of what they chose and what they have done to their rigs. You will hear their stories "warts and all".

Then choose the caravan that meets your requirements without getting hung up about brands. Check it thoroughly for structural soundness. Walk away if there are any problems, even if your wife loves the layout and décor. The right one will be out there somewhere for you, but you may need a different tow vehicle.
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