Buy a secondhand caravan.

Submitted: Monday, May 07, 2012 at 13:42
ThreadID: 95414 Views:3316 Replies:5 FollowUps:1
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A lot of post lately about caravans. I myself is looking for my first one, but as finances a not great, need to look at some older ones. Around the 10grand or less. Seels this price covers those from the 80's.

What are some opinions on what brands to look at?
What are some not to look at?
Windsors are a common brand in this price range. Any good, or are they getting a little old?
Is there such a thing as to old?

I drive a GQ Patrol with the 2.8turbo diesel. While it is rated at 2750 I think that weight would be to much for the smaller motor, so less thann 1000kg would be better.
3/4 berth would be needed for the over night stays, but on the longer stays, my son sleeps in his own tent. As a foster carer I often have other kids travelling with me with one not being able to sleep in a tent(handicap).
Mostly free/cheap camping. Not as much off road anymore.

Currently use a soft floor camper, but as I also have a disability, it's getting harder to set up and put away. Especially when canvas is wet.

Time to upgrade.
Must be getting old.

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Reply By: Geoff in SA - Monday, May 07, 2012 at 16:29

Monday, May 07, 2012 at 16:29

The 2.8 patrol will tow a reasonable load BUT its the small clutch that will give you the problem
Cars have bigger ones
AnswerID: 485208

Follow Up By: SDG - Monday, May 07, 2012 at 18:18

Monday, May 07, 2012 at 18:18
Hi Geoff.
Is that with the GQ or the GU?
Have heard a few people complain the gear box and clutch on the GU is weak, but not heard anything on the GQ.

Thanks for the reply.
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Reply By: Bill BD - Monday, May 07, 2012 at 19:01

Monday, May 07, 2012 at 19:01
SDG, I just went from a camper to a van for the same reason. You can get a good van 1980's vintage for $10,000 or under. I went for a 1967 Olympic but accepted it needed a bit of work. It cost me $5000 with solar/ 2 batteries fitted and a new engel fridge.... but it has cost me another $700 to do some repairs and modifications. It had met with water tank filler failure and the floor was delaminating at one end..... so I fixed that, modified beds, etc.

I wouldn't worry about brands. Its all about how well maintained the van is. Any older van is going to give you good service if it has been looked after and been well maintained. Look for vans that live in sheds. Sniff the interior all over the place looking for a damp mildew smell. Always look at the floor in the out of the way places and under windows, hatches, and doors..... looking for water staining. If there is staining or smell don't buy it. The vintage caravans and classic caravans guys often sell off fully restored projects, which I think are sometimes very good value.

Poptops from that era seem to be the cheapest but you have to make sure the canvas is good (or factor in the cost of replacing it). Sometimes it is worth getting all the widow and door seals replaced on an old van, just so you know they are good..... not too expensive or do it yourself.

AnswerID: 485227

Reply By: disco driver - Monday, May 07, 2012 at 19:28

Monday, May 07, 2012 at 19:28
There are plenty of good old vans out there, you just have to find one.
Models that spring to mind are Viscount "Grand Tourer", Millard, Jayco, but there are others as well.
I'd keep away from the so called Ultralites.

I looked at these three when I bought my 84 Viscount GT a few years ago.

Things to look for;
General appearance neat and tidy, no dents or tears in panelling, all road lights (Stop tail indicators) work
NO evidence of water leaks internally.
No musty smells but a van closed up for a long while may smell a bit stale anyway. Check under the seat cushions, mattresses for mould
Reasonable paint job, be wary of resprays that may hide damage
No evidence of major rust on chassis or springs, minor surface rust is acceptable.
All internal lights, windows etc work correctly .
Internal fittings, cupboards, drawers etc close and secure properly.
Check that the fridge and stove are plumbed in correctly and working, there should be approval stickers somewhere near the door.
Check that the unit is legally towable by your tow vehicle in terms of weight , towbar download and GCM (the total weight of your van and tug ready for the road).

Take your time but be aware that the good ones change hands quickly as there are others like you with the same idea of buying an older unit. It saves money that can then pay for your next trip.

Good Luck in your search.


AnswerID: 485231

Reply By: jacent - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 at 01:22

Wednesday, May 09, 2012 at 01:22
Hey mate, I've had three vans, all older, a franklin freeway, newlands deluxe and currently a 89 jayco. All have been good vans, two of which I have towed from melbourne to western australia a few times, nothing wrong with the older vans as long as you dont get jealous when a brand new one sets up next to you!
As said above, make sure the fridge works on gas and 240v if 2 way ( bear in mind 2 way fridges take around 3 hrs to get cold) so when looking ask them to pre plug the fridge in before your arrival so you can ensure is is working. Caravan Fridges are around the thousand dollar plus mark to replace. Get them to hook the van up to their car and test the 12v lighting and any 12 accessories fitted to the van, at the same time to can check the clearance lights, brake/ indicator ect. If some dont work it can be as simple as roughing up the contacts on the terminals as most vans this age sit around for a long time. I would highly recommend you get one that has electric brakes, my first two had hydraulic brakes which were ok but my jayco has electric and there is no comparison. If you found a van that was awesome but had hydraulic brakes its not the end of the world as electric are quite cheap to fit, around $500 dIY. You will need a brake controller if not already fitted to your car, around $300 bucks. The wind down support legs are worth winding all down to ensure they are not siezed,ask about how old wheel bearings and tyres are. Take the hub caps off and inspect the grease, any white grease and it indicates water log. for free camping you would want one with a battery in the van so you dont have to run off your car battery, getting all this fitted can get costly if your not DIY. and an annex. If your having difficulties with your camper i would recommend a roll out awning/ annex not a slide on rigid one as they can be a bit of work to set up. this all seems a bit unrealistic for an older van in your price range but if you buy a good base van at the right price it will leave you a few bucks to spend on some mods to suit your style! There are alot of bargains out there, two of mine have been from caravan parks closing down.
AnswerID: 485325

Reply By: snailbait (Blue mntns) - Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 20:04

Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 20:04

Good luck IN YOUR Endeverious

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