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Alu-tech V Solid V Smart Ht

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#1 nicoflinta

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 02:53 pm

Hi All,

 

Looking to upgrade my caravan and was wondering which one of these new constructions is 'best' to reduce water ingress and structural integrity and warranty. Looking to get a used caravan but can only afford models between 2011 to 2014 (if I stretch my budget to its limits for a twin axle)

 

Any suggestions?



#2 Ern

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 03:09 pm

2011 - 2014 is precisely the period when most of the UK caravan producers seemed to go through a very bad patch for water ingress. I'm not saying they were all leakers, but just be careful what you buy. I would want to see the service report for each and every annual service before a thorough damp test by my own NCC mobile service person. I don't know whether manufacturers warranty is transferrable to a second user 


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#3 xtrailman

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 03:28 pm

I have a 6 year old alutec with no body panel problems, so to me the construction is proven.

 

Unfortunately lack of attention to sealing the floor joints has lead to leaks onto the WOOD floor, ok it was sorted in the first 18 months, but only on the third attempt. Not all caravans were affected.

 

Bailey quickly changed to a U2, but again leaks to the WOOD floor from primarily shower leaks caused some owners problems.

 

On attempt three Bailey brought out a U3, while some would say this is the best yet, my opinion is the U1 was easily the best, more equipment for a start.

But again because Bailey decided to introduce a ROOF joint, not present on a U1, this in turn has lead to leaks into the caravan, it also appears that all caravans can be affected as the joints are being replaced at service.

 

Moving onto Swift HT construction my next caravan on order. The construction is simular to the U3, but the floor is WOODLESS, being a composite construction.

It has however only been around since about 2015, so no fully proved long term.

 

The front and rear panels are also GRP with complicated to me joints to the side walls and roof, so only time will tell.

Positive points are very few if any reports of leaks through the body, and on the top models even the interior furniture is a part sandwich construction, with a woodless interior.

 

Price wise i think you are looking at an Alutech. But ensure you use a damp meter to all the floor area.

My caravan is on sale on this site if that's the layout you want.


2011 - 2014 is precisely the period when most of the UK caravan producers seemed to go through a very bad patch for water ingress. I'm not saying they were all leakers, but just be careful what you buy. I would want to see the service report for each and every annual service before a thorough damp test by my own NCC mobile service person. I don't know whether manufacturers warranty is transferrable to a second user 

 

My Bailey came with a 10 year body warranty, later models only 6 with an option of 4 more, fully transferable providing service has been maintained.


Don't even consider SOLID.



#4 Tuningdrew

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 03:51 pm

Was a toss up between a U3 Cartegena or a Swift Conqueror 645. Went for the Swift in the end even though there were a lot of things going for the Bailey the numerous tales of water leaks, a wooden floor and, to me, ugly exterior and graphics swayed us towards the Swift even though it was more expensive. I stand to be corrected on this but the age range you are talking about Smart HT was only available on the Conqueror and Elegance ranges and Stirling Elite?



#5 nicoflinta

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:00 pm

Sorry guys, what is U1, U2 and U3? I'm between a Unicorn Barcelona and a Buccaneer Schooner, but wife wants a Cartagena. Haven't considered Swift/Sterling options yet
Is that Unicorn Series 123?

#6 xtrailman

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:08 pm

Yes U1 was the first range, we are now on the third.



#7 Tuningdrew

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:27 pm

Schooner, lovely vans but just too expensive for us. Later ones had hydraulic self levelling.. ... ..bliss.

Independent caravan engineer warned us off SoLiD. Said construction too rigid leading to end panels cracking and leaking?



#8 Wozerp

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:55 pm

I believe the Elddis rear panel issue was down to a design fault on the first generation of panels that has now been fixed, not to do with the construction rigidity.  To me SoLiD makes more sense. If it's a good enough technique to hold airliner winds on with all the stresses they incur then it's good enough for me.  My van is first gen SoliD from 2013 and it remains bone dry.


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#9 Pickled Onion

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 05:01 pm

Sorry guys, what is U1, U2 and U3?

 

Is that Unicorn Series 123?

 

Yes, just a bit of shorthand when posting I presume.

 

Dave.



#10 Stevan

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 06:20 pm

Too early to be absolutely certain, needs another 10 years! Alu-tech got off to a bit of a bad start with front lockers.

 

My best guess would put the leaderboard:-  1.Smart HT, 2.Smart, 3. Alu-tech, then again, at the price and weight HT should be in front.

 

Of course, you could also take price and condition of individual vans into account. And if you are really fussy you might want to consider layout and style!

 

Sterling every time for me, on the very last point!



#11 Llew

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 11:43 pm


I have a 6 year old alutec with no body panel problems, so to me the construction is proven.
 
Unfortunately lack of attention to sealing the floor joints has lead to leaks onto the WOOD floor, ok it was sorted in the first 18 months, but only on the third attempt. Not all caravans were affected.
 
Bailey quickly changed to a U2, but again leaks to the WOOD floor from primarily shower leaks caused some owners problems.
 
On attempt three Bailey brought out a U3, while some would say this is the best yet, my opinion is the U1 was easily the best, more equipment for a start.
But again because Bailey decided to introduce a ROOF joint, not present on a U1, this in turn has lead to leaks into the caravan, it also appears that all caravans can be affected as the joints are being replaced at service.
 
Moving onto Swift HT construction my next caravan on order. The construction is simular to the U3, but the floor is WOODLESS, being a composite construction.
It has however only been around since about 2015, so no fully proved long term.
 
The front and rear panels are also GRP with complicated to me joints to the side walls and roof, so only time will tell.
Positive points are very few if any reports of leaks through the body, and on the top models even the interior furniture is a part sandwich construction, with a woodless interior.
 
Price wise i think you are looking at an Alutech. But ensure you use a damp meter to all the floor area.
My caravan is on sale on this site if that's the layout you want.

 
My Bailey came with a 10 year body warranty, later models only 6 with an option of 4 more, fully transferable providing service has been maintained.Don't even consider SOLID.



"Don't even consider Solid" bit of a sweeping statement to make, have you owned one then?
I appreciate that they have had their problems, which have been well documented on here, but there are also many, many owners who are more than happy with their Solid built van.
If it wasn't for the fact that the 8ft wide Avante 840 was too heavy for our car, it would have been one of those that we would have been waiting for to be delivered instead of the Swift.



#12 xtrailman

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 06:39 am

Do I have to own one to have an opinion?



#13 Schooneralan

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 11:28 am

Everyone is entitled to an opinion but it would be helpful if it was stated that it was only an opinion, and that you had no personnel experience with the product.


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#14 xtrailman

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 12:34 pm

Everyone is entitled to an opinion but it would be helpful if it was stated that it was only an opinion, and that you had no personnel experience with the product.

 
When i last checked the solid construction it still contained wood.
Why would anyone want a construction containing water absorbing materials?

Edited by xtrailman, 11 January 2017 - 12:35 pm.


#15 Alan Stanley

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 01:00 pm

This question could be the subject of a book but where money is involved we ain't got time to write it.  We have to ignore styling and equipment etc only you know what you want

 

I have owned Unicorn series 1 - 2 - 3 all Valencia.

 

Short version.

 

The Series 1 had problems with water ingress to the front lockers via the Grab handles.  A simple assembly error that should never have happened.  There were and are very few reports of leaks past the Alu-tech system of joining the panels.  The body was soft alloy on the outside and can suffer with denting.  It's cosmetic only.  There were and are still remarkably few reports of things like roof lights or windows leaking etc.  Many of the Mark 1 have been properly repaired and have happy owners.  Some reports of problems on the wall floor joint should have also been repaired under warranty.  A simple damp test on the floor all round will tell you.  Colder bathrooms due to Alde heating not having enough output in the bathroom  (an easy fix at less than £200 by Alde who will fit a radiator)

 

The Series 2 had different handles and no front lockers anyway so that problem solved.  It also has GRP exterior which is very tough and front / rear bumpers that don't fit that well but are indestructable.  Inside the cold bathroom was improved.  Biggest problem came from the circular shower.  It leaks and some of us will say it will always leak.  It's a rubbish design and needs a very careful examination of the wood floor before parting with your cash.

 

The Series 3.  Is a different beast altogether.  Better spec.  Better Alde.  Simple square shower.  Improved inside layouts etc.  The Roof construction has changed and some reports of the roof join leaking have been made. Far to many most would say.  Good news is that it is a simple fix and the walls and roof are not compromised.  Why is any ones guess.  The same joint has been in use for years from the Orion on wards with little reported.  Again no problems of note reported with the basic Alu-tech construction.  The mark 3 is by far the best option if you can stretch to it.

 

We have three close friends with Swift smart HT .  Two Elegances and one Conqueror.  The early Elegance has been back to the factory for new interior panels and extra insulation in the corners.  No issues with actual Structure.  The other Elegance has been plagued with the front window that curves over the roof.  1st recalled for a replacement as Swift had a bad batch.  The new one leaked months later and they had to cut short a trip.  The third is OK to date.  Again no Structural problems.

 

The Conqueror which is less that 12 months old is a disaster.  Just about anything that could go wrong has and the dealer has been rubbish at fixing it.  Most serious is that the van is about to go off to Swift for a new floor.  I has been diagnosed as the floor delaminating and the whole body shell is distorting.  The interior wall of the bathroom has a bend in it where the floor and roof are crushing it for example.  They have been told that there is a batch of vans where the floor was not bonded long enough and that this is the cause.  No idea if that is true and I wouldn't trust a word that dealer said.  But the damage to the van is plain to see.  

 

Also I find some of the Swift restrictions in their warranty very questionable.

 

Solid - I'm with X trail man.  I thought and still think the concept is wrong.  Its wood end of story.  Things like the windows etc are still put in the same old way and will leak.  When they do it will rot.  The horror stories of cracked panels etc also weigh against it.  As does the Warranty which is quite frankly a criminal deception.  To say 10 years in banner headlines, then put in the small print that plastic panels i.e. the front and rear for example is only 12 months beggars belief in my book.

 

Tin hat on now I suspect.


Edited by Alan Stanley, 11 January 2017 - 01:02 pm.

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#16 nicoflinta

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 01:18 pm

 

 

I have owned Unicorn series 1 - 2 - 3 all Valencia.

 

 

May I ask why you owned all versions? were that bad that you got rid of them?



#17 xtrailman

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 01:46 pm

This question could be the subject of a book but where money is involved we ain't got time to write it.  We have to ignore styling and equipment etc only you know what you want
 
I have owned Unicorn series 1 - 2 - 3 all Valencia.
 
Short version.
 
The Series 1 had problems with water ingress to the front lockers via the Grab handles.  A simple assembly error that should never have happened.  There were and are very few reports of leaks past the Alu-tech system of joining the panels.  The body was soft alloy on the outside and can suffer with denting.  It's cosmetic only.  There were and are still remarkably few reports of things like roof lights or windows leaking etc.  Many of the Mark 1 have been properly repaired and have happy owners.  Some reports of problems on the wall floor joint should have also been repaired under warranty.  A simple damp test on the floor all round will tell you.  Colder bathrooms due to Alde heating not having enough output in the bathroom  (an easy fix at less than £200 by Alde who will fit a radiator)
 
The Series 2 had different handles and no front lockers anyway so that problem solved.  It also has GRP exterior which is very tough and front / rear bumpers that don't fit that well but are indestructable.  Inside the cold bathroom was improved.  Biggest problem came from the circular shower.  It leaks and some of us will say it will always leak.  It's a rubbish design and needs a very careful examination of the wood floor before parting with your cash.
 
The Series 3.  Is a different beast altogether.  Better spec.  Better Alde.  Simple square shower.  Improved inside layouts etc.  The Roof construction has changed and some reports of the roof join leaking have been made. Far to many most would say.  Good news is that it is a simple fix and the walls and roof are not compromised.  Why is any ones guess.  The same joint has been in use for years from the Orion on wards with little reported.  Again no problems of note reported with the basic Alu-tech construction.  The mark 3 is by far the best option if you can stretch to it.
 
We have three close friends with Swift smart HT .  Two Elegances and one Conqueror.  The early Elegance has been back to the factory for new interior panels and extra insulation in the corners.  No issues with actual Structure.  The other Elegance has been plagued with the front window that curves over the roof.  1st recalled for a replacement as Swift had a bad batch.  The new one leaked months later and they had to cut short a trip.  The third is OK to date.  Again no Structural problems.
 
The Conqueror which is less that 12 months old is a disaster.  Just about anything that could go wrong has and the dealer has been rubbish at fixing it.  Most serious is that the van is about to go off to Swift for a new floor.  I has been diagnosed as the floor delaminating and the whole body shell is distorting.  The interior wall of the bathroom has a bend in it where the floor and roof are crushing it for example.  They have been told that there is a batch of vans where the floor was not bonded long enough and that this is the cause.  No idea if that is true and I wouldn't trust a word that dealer said.  But the damage to the van is plain to see.  
 
Also I find some of the Swift restrictions in their warranty very questionable.
 
Solid - I'm with X trail man.  I thought and still think the concept is wrong.  Its wood end of story.  Things like the windows etc are still put in the same old way and will leak.  When they do it will rot.  The horror stories of cracked panels etc also weigh against it.  As does the Warranty which is quite frankly a criminal deception.  To say 10 years in banner headlines, then put in the small print that plastic panels i.e. the front and rear for example is only 12 months beggars belief in my book.
 
Tin hat on now I suspect.


  :goodpost: Good post Alan.

You forgot to mention the 2016 Conqueror with the opaque "see through" roof which requires a covering added to the roof to keep out the light, unless you don't mind seeing the roof joints.

I didn't know about the 1 year warranty for the front and rear panels, just assumed they would be 3years. Hopefully swift have addressesd this for the 2016 model, its put weight on so i'm hoping mods have been made.


Edited by xtrailman, 11 January 2017 - 01:49 pm.

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#18 Alan Stanley

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:31 pm

 

May I ask why you owned all versions? were that bad that you got rid of them?

Nope.  like many if us I have a SWMBO at home.  She has an account that handles these sort of things.

 

The conversations went something like.

 

Unicorn 1 -  After sitting in it for a couple of hours. " I absolutely love this. (Other van a Lunar EB was with us for 8 years) We're having one."  I'm brave but not that brave. So I signed where indicated.  

 

Unicorn 2 -  After sitting in it for a couple of hours.  "You'd better come and sign this as I have just brought one."  like I said Brave but not that Brave.

 

Unicorn 3 -  It was simple.  We worked out what we would like to do to our Mk 2  which were Square Shower, Solar, Better heating.  Longer bed.  Lighter.  The big fridge and a few others.  All were already there in the Mk 3.  and it cost us very little in real terms to change.  It is by far the best living space we have ever had in a van.

 

I would if circumstances dictated happily go back to either ( I would rip out the Mk 2 shower and fit the Mark 3 tray and door - a simple mod for me.) but fortunately they do not.  As it happens it looks like the Mk 3 suits us so well that it will probably stay for the next few years ( assuming I live that long).  Bailey approach to electrics and making things simple as opposed to complicated Bling happens to suit us best.  It would be easier to nail jelly to a wall whilst platting fog than attempt to teach her the ins and outs of say the Swift Command system.

 

On the other hand we are off to the show in February.  Would you be brave enough to predict what a woman will decide and it's her money, apparently I gave it to her some years back.  Tricky thing memory.


Edited by Alan Stanley, 11 January 2017 - 02:35 pm.

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#19 Alan Stanley

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:45 pm

  :goodpost: Good post Alan.

You forgot to mention the 2016 Conqueror with the opaque "see through" roof which requires a covering added to the roof to keep out the light, unless you don't mind seeing the roof joints.

I didn't know about the 1 year warranty for the front and rear panels, just assumed they would be 3years. Hopefully swift have addressesd this for the 2016 model, its put weight on so i'm hoping mods have been made.

True I forgot the roof.  That is one of the faults on the Conqueror.  

 

The warranty I2 months thing was for the explorer (solid) group.  Not sure about Swift plastics.  

 

When I put my Furniture Designer head on I can see where some of the extra weight in the Swift v Bailey comes from.  Put simply Swifts methods and designs are usually inherently more complex and therefore heavier.  Swift body designs are more Aero dynamic with all the advantages that brings.  But it is at the expense of weight and complexity in body construction.  Probably balances out would be my guess.  The purest in me loves the Alu-Tech concept for it's simplicity and strength.  If they had the tooling to make the front - roof - rear a one piece panel then fitted a composite floor then the cheque book would come out one last time I suspect.


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#20 xtrailman

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 03:56 pm

The Swift is a little longer as well at 24' 7". Which will also help add weight, but it does offer a small TV space.





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