Caravan construction techniques

Submitted: Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 16:59
ThreadID: 89426 Views:5869 Replies:6 FollowUps:4
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Can anybody supply me with accurate information regarding pro's and cons of caravan frames being built using maranti as apposed to aluminum, I am in the market for a caravan that can accommodate 2 adults + 2 kids, their doesn't seem to be much out there that suits my needs and budget.
NOVA has come close but I am concerned about the Maranti construction quality.
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Reply By: Cruiser .- Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 17:07

Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 17:07

The majority of vans are made with Meranti frames.

Dont know why this is so, I am sure someone wiser than me will tell us.


AnswerID: 467022

Follow Up By: Hilly64 - Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 17:29

Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 17:29

I guess I am looking for positive feedback in this style of construction, I do have some experience with 2 older caravans that I have repaired and we use them as base camps at our favorite fishing spot.

They both had over their lifetime received water damage and the Meranti had rotted extensively in all the lower corners where the water pooled and couldn't escape, so I would imagine that build quality has improved over the last 25 years.

FollowupID: 741127

Follow Up By: mike39 - Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 19:32

Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 19:32
Smaller, dedicated "off road" vans use meranti framing because it allows flexure without fatigue stress/frame cracking.

For a larger, more general road use van it is not an issue whether meranti, aluminium alloy frame or composite sheet construction.

We have a 1997, small (15'x6'6") pop top "off road" van which has travelled on pretty well all the rough tracks on offer plus cross country travel where no track exists.
Meranti framed, there is absolutely no movement with the internal fitout, no dust or water leaks but it does need new shocks now after this years trip.
FollowupID: 741138

Reply By: Geepeem - Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 18:21

Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 18:21

Just to throw another option out there - there appears to be an increasing trend by manufacturers to make some models or in some cases all their models without frames. Instead they use a foam amd fibreglass sandwich (2 fibreglass sheets with foam between them) which apparently is very strong and chip resistent (outside fibreglass is a gel coat similar to that used on yachts). One advantage of this method is that it ends up a lighter van. I first saw this with gem hunter caravans but now other manufacturers are using this technique as well.
I have no association with gem hunter.....but was very impressed with this construction method and would be my personal choice if I ever can afford a new van.
AnswerID: 467030

Reply By: Notso - Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 19:25

Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 19:25
I think the most important thing is the quality of the construction rather than the materials used in the frame.

I've had my first van with a Meranti Frame and a then a Van with Aluminium, both were very good vans. My latest van has Meranti.

AnswerID: 467031

Reply By: OutBack Wanderers - Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 20:46

Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 20:46
If going for meranti, I'd ask the manufacturer to use yellow-meranti as opposed to red

Yellow is termite resistant whilst all other colours are not, red, pink

May cost more but will double the life of van

There is Pacific Maple which is very close to Meranti, but the latter is harder for more rigid building frames

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AnswerID: 467037

Follow Up By: Mark C - Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 21:57

Friday, Oct 07, 2011 at 21:57
Meranti is of the genus shorea a tropical hardwood found imported as luan, meranti and pacific maple it is unsuitable for outside use as it rots easily. Meranti is used in vans because it is easily worked good if it doesnt get wet.
FollowupID: 741148

Follow Up By: hazo - Saturday, Oct 08, 2011 at 14:09

Saturday, Oct 08, 2011 at 14:09
As Mark C posted Meranti is a Generic name of several imported timbers. All are very prone to rot (both wet & dry rot ) once a leak finds its way into the frame cavity, with no ventilation the conditions are perfect for the rot spores to multiply, which they do !

The way forward is some sort of composite material for the walls, structrally very strong, light and excellent insulation (unlike many so called Fully Insulated) offerings now! with a bit of polystyrene stuck in between the frames !

We have just returned from Europe and all the RVs there are made with composites.

FollowupID: 741188

Reply By: deserter - Saturday, Oct 08, 2011 at 10:24

Saturday, Oct 08, 2011 at 10:24
I was at a caravan repairers recently and was shown 8 vans that had leaked and were in for repairs. Top brand names too !! External panels had been removed and all had wood rot.
AnswerID: 467081

Reply By: paulnsw - Saturday, Oct 08, 2011 at 20:49

Saturday, Oct 08, 2011 at 20:49
Buy a Jayco so you won't have any leak problems or timber issues. With Jayco you have a well insulated van for summer and winter and quality Australia wide backup.
AnswerID: 467134

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