Article Comment: Fifth Wheel Caravans

Looking at buying a 2009 Keystone Laredo 265RLS as am being medically retired so time for me to see this island I call home. not my first choice but Right price and need to change tow vehicle (ouch) ands believe smallest choice would be the Toyota 70 series Cab chassis. but my main concern is the integrity of the Laredo build on Aussie roads as I do want to venture of the main bitumen and onto some of our country roads and including our major dirt road which are communally corrugated or of bulldust. not planning any serious 4x4 action with the Laredo hitched up "That's a no brainer". But getting this Laredo for the Right price and sacrificing my 4x4 of choice is going to be of no benefit if I destroy it in Travels. So any comments in regards to this dilemma I have would be help full as so far my advise has come from dealers etc. which include rubbish all that they don't sell or I'm told to drive to the conditions which again is a no brainer. But I don't want to have be following a major dirt road for 1000km at 10km/h I'm sure you get the picture. Cheers Phil T2
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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 00:15

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 00:15
My personal opinion is that anyone who buys an American-built caravan, and uses it on Australian roads, is just looking for trouble.
They are built for American roads and conditions that are vastly different to Australia's roads and conditions.
Just a quick read of the number of Americans disappointed in the build quality, the lack of company backup, and the number of faults in Keystone 'vans, would be enough to make me remove Keystone from the 'van shopping list.
Then there's the simple conflicts between our standards and American standards.
American pipe threads are NPT, ours are BSP. Simple fittings such as hinges and catches are often brands and styles unknown in Oz.
The American vans are built to inch measures in every component. If something needs repair, you have to find a close metric equivalent locally.
Frames in American vans use American softwoods that cope poorly with our harsh climate.
Braking systems are quite often peculiarly American. It goes on an on.
Some people are happy to cope with the differences - to others such as myself, it's too much to have to deal with, to try and chase up some oddball component that no-one has ever seen, and which is unavailable locally.

Dissatisfied Keystone 'van owners in the U.S.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 593997

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 09:13

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 09:13
The "naughty words trap" in EO corrupted Ron's link.

If you enter "" (no quotes) in a google search you will get a few results, or enter
"" (no quotes and substitute the letter s for 5) into your browser's address bar.


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Reply By: wholehog - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 07:33

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 07:33
Agree with the above post. Australia is not that well served by a reasonable local 5th wheel industry..but partly because of the relatively low demand.

We are thinking of that type of van later on, but mostly even the caravan manufacturing in Australia and what comes out of Campbellfield VIC is about as good as the low quality you see in the States, and timber framing still...thats still the horse and coach technology for most manufacturers.

Buying US unit is probably going to buy problems and grief at some point as described above.

A good way to see the garbage being mostly sold in Australia if you don't know a lot about caravans under the skins is to visit damaged ones in salvage/auction yards.

Good luck.
AnswerID: 593998

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 10:42

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 10:42
Not only salvage yards but repairers. Some have websites focussing on the shocking workmanship under those pretty skins. Like "fully insulated" means bits of polystyrene from old veg boxes which stick when thrown at the van from 20 paces, not purpose made and cut and placed to actually cover the whole under skin area.
Our own van suffered very badly from tyre wear and many other problems and it turned out to be crap wheels so badly bent during manufacture they couldn't possibly be balanced. Van was shaking to pieces.
Retailer and maker refused to do anything until we took court action.
Van industry standards amount to whatever they can get away with and blank refusals to fix things afterwards.
Don't forget as well if buying American the doors will be on the wrong side if previous owners haven't changed them.
Hope you get something suits you.
FollowupID: 862332

Reply By: Kenell - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 10:50

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 10:50
I have been researching camper trailers and caravans in an effort to add a little more luxury beyond my current setup for more than 5 years. Fifth wheelers aren't in scope for me but nevertheless my research has led me to appreciate that the more luxury internally the less capable off road they tend to be. I am not sure where you mean in reference to "our major dirt road" but you are correct in suggesting that corrugations and bull dust are common on limited maintenance roads. Off road caravans from my observations are designed with better clearance and to vastly varying degrees better dirt road travelling. Beyond that I haven't seen many I would take too far from the black top. I saw a few on Cape York recently who had experienced minor to significant damage on what really was pretty good road - with corrugations but not too bad. Fifth wheelers generally struggle in many of the "off the beaten track" caravan parks because of their sheer size. Others have already mentioned the draw backs in buying an American unit for use in Oz. Something they haven't mentioned is that the door is on the wrong side too I think - sounds trivial perhaps but it would be a real nuisance. If you were prepared to forfeit the luxury of the Laredo for some capability and reliability you might not have to change cars. Bushtracker and Trakmaster are two that come to mind but there are others. If you offer more info on your planned travels and vehicle there are many on this forum who can offer very experienced advice.
Good luck with your research.
AnswerID: 594006

Follow Up By: TomH - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 12:12

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 12:12
Think we did mention doors in that I said it must have a rear or Left hand side door.

You dont have to block off the suicide one just preferably dont use it

IMHO they should be made to be blocked in and not be useable at all.

It is not only a nuisance it is illegal to have only that one.
FollowupID: 862334

Reply By: TomH - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 11:00

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 11:00
After going to the link and reading more than 10 pages about poor construction and worse service I would run a mile from it.

Other things to consider. Has it been complianced properly for Australia It would need to be rewired, have double pole electrical sockets. 240 volt appliances Gas lines changed to comply with our regs.
It must have a fully functioning door either on the left side or the rear.

Check how wide it is Most USA vans are overwidth in Australia even without the awning which is included in the measurement.

If it was privately imported it could have had a stepdown tranny to run the appliances but that is not legal for onsale to someone else.

On reading the complaints about build quality I would be worried about taking one off a concrete parking lot LOL

Some good Aus built ones which you dont see problems with such as Travelhome. Despite some doing it I would never consider a USA import unless it was new and built to Aussie specs.%29%26]Look at this one Others available on that site
AnswerID: 594008

Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 19:45

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 19:45
You can remove Travelhome from the "trouble free" list!
My brother's Macquarie 25 snapped the suspension trailing arm complete with hub, brakes & wheel. Turned out that the suspension was way underrated & non compliant to ADRs.
FollowupID: 862344

Reply By: TomH - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 11:16

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 11:16
These look OK

%29%26%28%28%28S]First one

[/url] 2nd one

%29%26%28%28%]3rd one
AnswerID: 594009

Reply By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 11:46

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 11:46
Met a bloke with a fifth wheeler on the Birdsville Track a few years ago. The road was in fair condition but had nearly shaken his US built unit to pieces.
Cupboards falling off, windows shaken loose etc.
He was not a happy chappie but he should perhaps have expected it
Not for me
Ross N

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AnswerID: 594010

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 18:53

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015 at 18:53
Sounds like the problems we had with our G+++++++++ and the steel wheels we ordered specifically as we knew we'd go off road. As I said above they were crap and couldn't possibly be balanced.
Drawers opening, cupboards opening, fridge opening chucking contents everywhere but after different wheels fitted (maker paid for them with threat of court action) troubles have disappeared.
All documented with every email sent kept, and all communications with the retailer kept...... not a bad attitude from them to people who've spent a hundred grand with them over 3 purchases, 2 from the same maker.

FollowupID: 862342

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