Interest in a 20+ ft. trailer w/ slideout from U.S.?

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 05:36
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Glad to be a part of this forum! I am a new member and would love to improve my knowledge of what you guys prefer.

I am working on converting a caravan from the U.S. to be shipped to Australia. It will feature 1-2 slideouts. What length does everyone commonly buy and would a trailer that is over 25 ft. too big to tow for vehicles?
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Reply By: salt n peper nomad - Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 07:26

Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 07:26
G’day Mate,
just make sure that the width is under the legal limit here in Australia, some of the American vans are a little wider, also make sure you can put a door some where in the left hand side, it's an Australian requirement to have a door in the left or back of a van,
I took delivery of my new 24ft keystone outback 230rs in December, haven’t had a chance to do the work on it to bring it up to Australian standard yet due to a death in the family, but I hope to start soon.
Good luck, Garth

If you can have the aircon removed and the hole covered prior to shipping that will save quite a few headaches with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
AnswerID: 480068

Follow Up By: njblaze307 - Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 17:27

Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 17:27
Thanks a lot! I was aware of the door requirement. Do you know if it is required to have all of the doors on the left side? It's somewhat common in the US to see caravans with 2 doors.

I did not believe it was possible to bring a vehicle into Australia without first bringing it to standard.
From my research it seemed that if the caravan does not meet Australian Design Standards and Vehicle Standards Bulletin number 1 (VSB1) it cannot enter the country.
May I ask how you were planning on doing the work to bring it up to standard?

Will an American produced aircon not meet Australian government standards?

Thanks. You're knowledge is really valuable to me.
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Follow Up By: salt n peper nomad - Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 18:15

Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 18:15
Send me your email address if you like and I will tell you what I know, I usually get a lot of flack talking about this subject, from experts that haven’t actually imported a van
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Follow Up By: njblaze307 - Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 at 13:35

Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 at 13:35
It would not let me message you so I made a temp email you can contact me at. Thanks :)
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Reply By: Bush Wanderer - Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 12:50

Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 12:50
I know a person that purchased an American made sundance 5th wheeler. Cost was $135k.
This has steered me off American made products. Build quality is atrocious.
It was converted to Australian compliance by a QLD mob.
1. It still had a 110v hot water element.
2. Blow up mattress for couch had a 240v aus fitting, but motor was still 110v. It went bang when plugged in.
3. Slide outs both needed adjustment. They rattled loose and luckily they did not fall out on the road.
4. Furnace for heating was not hooked up.
5. DVD player would not play DVDs from Australia.
6. Gas connections were illegal. Did not have a gas outlet for leaks in door or anywhere else.
7. Tow hitch was not approved in Australia.
8. Awnings took width over the legal Australian width.
9. Back of trailer leaked when it rained. All timber in frame has rotted causing about $10k worth of damage.
10. After sales service non existent.

It looks nice, but they are not designed for Australian roads. Two other brands were towed across the Nullabour two years ago for the caravan and camping show in Perth, and both were trucked back without putting them on display....they were wrecked.

Two caravan repair places that it was taken to here in Perth, had a number of American made fifth wheel trailers. They said they are great business for them for repairs. They said if you ever decided to purchase a bumper pull or fifth wheel, stick with Australian products.

Best to talk to caravan repair places and they well tell you it straight.
AnswerID: 480078

Follow Up By: njblaze307 - Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 17:51

Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 17:51
Thanks for the all the detailed info! I was very interested in 5th wheels as they are fairly heavy and easily can exceed the maximum Australian import weight limit.

You mentioned that American caravans are not designed for Australian roads. What are Australian roads commonly like?

And along with what I had mentioned with my concern about weight, it seems as though caravans on sale in Australia are smaller. Is this because of popularity, weight concern, cost concern, or some combination of those factors?

Additionally, was the American 5th wheel purchased at $135k with the mods already done?
Thank you!
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Follow Up By: Bush Wanderer - Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 19:24

Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 19:24
Just spoke to the owner. Only thing he added by the people that import the trailer is batteries, and solar.....135k all up.

When I was in the US in the early noughties, roads seem to be significantly better than ours. Don't recall coming across roads too often with pot holes that were filled in, etc. They were quite amazing.....but I may have missed the secondary roads.

The trailer in question fully loaded is 4.9 tonne. It's towed by a little truck. This one is 32 foot.

The usual fifth wheelers in Aus would be smaller due to our smaller vehicles. This one is too heavy for an F250.

The trailer looks nice enough inside and out, and is bloody huge, but is very poorly built. It's only been from QLD across to NT, then down to Perth (one year since purchase). It has only been on highway 1. And this enough for the slide outs to come loose. The issue with it leaking just shows poor build quality.

I think if you buy American (the same thing you do when you buy Australian) is to research the brand. There is no after sales service with this QLD importer....he won't even repair the things that he did put in. Also, it was sold as new, but was 2 years old....just a small technicality.

I can't recall the brand that fell apart across the Nullabour, but my mate who carried them back to Vic, said that they were both around 32 to 34 foot and both built in the US.

I am also involved in the equestrian world, and there is a brand of floats call Lacota. Look real nice. Was going to buy one, then heard about the fifth wheelers, so changed my mind. Since then I have come across one person with a Lakota. Wiring had to be replaced, more welding and structural work had to be done. They have now sold it, and would never touch them again.

Just makes me think twice when I have now come across 3 fifth wheelers and an american horse float, that have been poorly built, or not designed for Australian roads.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:23

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:23
Quote "You mentioned that American caravans are not designed for Australian roads. What are Australian roads commonly like? "

There was a report on other forums that there are two grades of vans made for the USA market. One that is made cheaply for being used in trailer parks. The other is a much more robust model (with price to match) and is made for touring.

Guess which model is being foisted onto the mug Ozzies.

I can believe this report. I have since met up with the reporter. He gleaned this info whilst tyre kicking in sales yards whilst on a visit over there.

I suggest that if you are going to select and import one of those leviathans then don't do it remotely. Go over there and do your own selection.

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Follow Up By: Bush Wanderer - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 10:36

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 10:36
Two grades are probably quite possible.
You think you could rely on the Australian importers to bring the quality grades in and look after their own people.....I guess that they don't care.
When you look at the price of bush trackers for example, the us trailers look cheap.....I guess they are.
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Reply By: disco driver - Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 19:52

Sunday, Mar 11, 2012 at 19:52
Just to help you in your decision making, your import willhave to comply with all Aust design rules.
It will require a total electrical rewire which has to be done by a suitably qualified electrician and then certified as compliant with Aust standards.
Similarly any gas lines must be replaced and certified to Aust standards for caravan/mobile home/5th wheeler.
You will have to provide a weigh bridge certificate for tare weight and probably an engineers report for gross weight and towbar weight
Your Tow vehicle must be suitable to tow the trailer and must comply with the tow vehicle's GCM figures with the trailer attached.

It's not really that easy, perhaps a locally built unit may be a better option when you weigh up all the changes required to the import.

AnswerID: 480103

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:31

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:31
Here is some extra reading to assist you:

Importing Fifth Wheelers - Imported RV's mains cabling risk - Imported RV Electrics - Fifth Wheelers and Stability - Fifth Wheel Caravan Suspension
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Follow Up By: toffytrailertrash - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:49

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:49
We have just had a good look at these sold au at the Melbourne Caravan/Camping show and were very impressed. But one of the questions that I had was would they stand up to the toughness of the our Aussi outback particularly the Tanami etc. Prices ranged from 96k for a 24 footer up.
So when you look at what is available out here already....for the price, why import.
Nearly changed my mind on the Kedron.

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Follow Up By: njblaze307 - Thursday, Mar 22, 2012 at 02:52

Thursday, Mar 22, 2012 at 02:52
Nomadic Navara. Great links! The one about the electrics concerns me the most. Seems like a potentially complicated endeavor.

I did find a company in Melbourne, RoadTrek - - that will do a full conversion including:
* Internal fit outs and cabinetry work
* Customised paint work & respray
* 12 Volt & 24 Volt electrical repairs
* Air-conditioning repairs
* Plumbing repairs & modifications
* Gas & Diesel heater installation
* Corrosion both structural and body panel refurbishment
* VASS Certification
* Complete body panel replacement
* Remodelling & modernisation of front & rear fibreglass
* Roof Raising
* Interior trim refurbishments – fabric’s, floor coverings
* ADR68 Seat body modifications for seat replacement.
* Structural modification including VASS Engineers Certification
* TV / Video/ Sound systems, Air conditioning. ADR Seating.
* Wheelchair access equipment

I believe it would be easier to do the conversion in Australia than the States and I heard it was possible to import a US trailer before meeting ADR. Is that true or am I just getting my hopes up?

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