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Lozzyf
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Anyone want to talk me through the build of the various makes of caravans?

Who's is wood, part wood and then part not!!!

Can I have the simple versions I'm not interested in the chemical makeup, just what it actually "means" to a long term purchase ( or not as the case maybe)

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As far as I can tell:

Bailey: wood floor, rest aluminium

Swift: mostly plastic, depending on range

Elddis: wood but no screws

Lunar: conventional

Coachman: don't know

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New Baileys are bonded GRP sandwich (no wood) with wood floors - I think they've done away with aluminium except in the framing.

 

Try having a trawl around YouTube, some manufacturers or the Caravan Channel have made videos in the factories showing the different building processes

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I've not seen any evidence that any of the different construction methods makes any real difference to build quality or water ingress - short-term or long term.

 

It's all rubbish, smoke and mirrors with a liberal dosing of internet urban myth.

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I've not seen any evidence that any of the different construction methods makes any real difference to build quality or water ingress - short-term or long term.

 

It's all rubbish, smoke and mirrors with a liberal dosing of internet urban myth.

Of course you have not seen any evidence of long term difference, none of these new construction methods have been around long enough! Bailey started the ball rolling in about 2010, and all are still refining the details. It will be another 10 years or so before we can truly tell, when vans of these constructions are seldom (we hope!) found damp.

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Depends on Age of model as well.

 

Bailey. Early Alu-tech were a sandwich of Alloy outside and GRP walls inside with plastic battens and the walls and ceiling contain no wood at all. Later all Models have been refined to GRP outer walls still with GRP inner walls and ceiling. They have so far retained a conventional Wood / Foam sandwich for their floors. Good Video on Utube showing the mark 1s being put together. Glued together bolts are just to hold the frame until it cures (floor is different). No ABS used for panels. Totally open about how the vans are put together and what they are made of.

 

Swift. Gets more complicated and sometimes their advertising was a little shall we say misleading.

 

Current

SMART HT No wood at all in the structure (other than furniture) Outer now GRP and GRP based inner wall board. Composite Floor and Glued together. GRP front and rear panels. Some Videos on their web site.

 

Last year similar except that roof was alloy and rear panel was advertised as a reinforced ABS, They got shirty when I asked for more detail on the rear panel.

 

They also do SMART without the HT. Started off as walls and ceiling outers Alloy and and they advertised it as wood/timber free. Yea. The wall board was still ply and the floors were still wood/foam sandwich - when challenged they replied they consider Wood - Ply and Wall board as different materials. Soon withdrew the wood free advert though. Rear panels were ABS this year I believe they are GRP throughout the range. Outers now some alloy and some GRP.

 

Explorer. SOLID.

 

Wooden structure but now glued together. make your own judgement. It's wood it'll rot is water gets in end of story. Outer alloy as far as I am aware, but to be honest with the way they put the furniture together I walked away anyway. Rear ABS panel. Not sure about the front.

 

Lunar - you will have to check as they advertise new construction but short on detail when I asked at the show.

 

Coachman Ditto. Lots of claims at the show but no detail.

 

It's a mine field and the detail keeps changing. Some adverts / brochures claim new constructions etc but give no detail so how do you know what you are investing in.

 

Hopefully some others will have detail on the other makes.

Edited by Alan Stanley
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Oh and one point not mentioned is that on the Bailey Alutech system the majority of the roof and the front panel of the van is all one panel. I believe all other makes have a front panel that's separate. The Bailey system reduces the joints up on the roof.

 

I also believe I'm right in saying both Lunar and Coachman have used plastic moulded ribs etc in place of wood for the last couple of years. However neither shouts too much about it and is their blurb is obfuscatory. That's not to say that either don't use wood somewhere in their structures

 

You have to remember that after Bailey launched Alutech they were followed by Elddis and SOLID and it became fashionable to have a brand name for your construction system. Swift Group launched SMART and that left Lunar and Coachman feeling left out. Lunar then came up with their brand name for construction, which I can't remember and which hardly, if ever, appears these days. I think Coachman coined a term, but again I can't remember it.

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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Of course you have not seen any evidence of long term difference, none of these new construction methods have been around long enough! Bailey started the ball rolling in about 2010, and all are still refining the details. It will be another 10 years or so before we can truly tell, when vans of these constructions are seldom (we hope!) found damp.

Bailey have certainly had their teething problems with Alutec. Waiting another 10 years will take those early vans into the "old banger" category of caravan where condition has always been everything, regardless of brand.

 

Caravan forums seem to have just as many posts about damp or water ingress under warranty as they always did, with no one brand standing out - then or now.

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I've not seen any evidence that any of the different construction methods makes any real difference to build quality or water ingress - short-term or long term.

 

It's all rubbish, smoke and mirrors with a liberal dosing of internet urban myth.

I doubt that anyone will ever do away with water ingress, what they can do and have been doing is getting rid of wood in the walls and making the bonding process better which together mean that any water ingress causes no structural damage. As log as there is a wooden framework and screw holes in the outer layer water will get into the walls, the framework will rot and the caravan fall to bits long term.

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No wonder I'M confused, . . None of the manufacturers seem to be upfront about " what" their build actually is and their customers are not overly confidant . I read the elddis blurp and was sure that they were not made with wood as they keep saying "bonded" this, bonded, that .

We ran into a couple at the NEC who had caravaned for years and they wasn't getting any answers from the dealers either

I thought stupidly there may have been an easy answer. It seems that when buying its

1/ layout

2/weight

3/part ex

4/ what the hell, let's go for it.

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No wonder I'M confused, . . None of the manufacturers seem to be upfront about " what" their build actually is and their customers are not overly confidant . I read the elddis blurp and was sure that they were not made with wood as they keep saying "bonded" this, bonded, that .

We ran into a couple at the NEC who had caravaned for years and they wasn't getting any answers from the dealers either

I thought stupidly there may have been an easy answer. It seems that when buying its

1/ layout

2/weight

3/part ex

4/ what the hell, let's go for it.

In theory, the new contruction techniques should eventually result in more old vans remaining dry and therefore retain their value better. This should work back to nearly new vans being worth more, and better p/x offers for buyers of new vans.

 

Only time will tell if the "theory" and "should" actually come to pass. So far there has only been time for some of the new techniques to be seen as less than ideal, but hopefully the makers are continually learning and improving.

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No wonder I'M confused, . . None of the manufacturers seem to be upfront about " what" their build actually is and their customers are not overly confidant . I read the elddis blurp and was sure that they were not made with wood as they keep saying "bonded" this, bonded, that .

We ran into a couple at the NEC who had caravaned for years and they wasn't getting any answers from the dealers either

I thought stupidly there may have been an easy answer. It seems that when buying its

1/ layout

2/weight

3/part ex

4/ what the hell, let's go for it.

1) and 2) together with a visual evaluation of "attention to detail" in the build quality were my thoughts exactly 3 years ago when deciding where to spend my £20,000.

 

I've had Aces, now part of Swift, and Baileys in the past, couldn't find any evidence that Coachman are better built than the others, just heavier, and aware of the "leaky Lunar" reputation but could find just as much evidence of damp and water ingress in other brands. Foreign brands never got past 1) for us.

 

Caravans are like cars, everyone's got a strong opinion but no-one's got any hard facts or real figures other than their own statistically insignificant experience - having just spent £50,000 on a car I could have spent £10,000 and got no worse reliablity and if I'd spent £100,000 I'd get no better reliability.

 

Cars and caravans, it comes down to what you want, what you can afford and then go for it.

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I can't see why anyone who is seriously interested in buying a new caravan should have a problem in understanding what 'vans are made of. Swift, Bailey and Elddis are clear enough in their advertising and technical stuff. We have recently placed an order for a new 'van after weighing up what's available and what we're prepared to pay. As one gets closer to choosing the product, questions are asked so that everything is clear. It's basically a matter of reading the makers technical stuff.

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I agree Ern.

I bought a Swift SMART construction caravan the year they launched it 2014.

After having researched widely, I was looking for construction that wouldn't rot the structure if or when damp did get in. Other facets considered were furniture not falling off walls etc and a little bit of modernity and of course vfm. My previous new van was a Coachman but when I tried asking what their construction methods were I just hit walls of silence and statements like modern construction methods etc etc.

Btw I have previously owned two leaky Swifts but despite their problems, Swift were the company willing to talk. Things have moved on with SMART + and HT but I'm hoping that SMART will do it for me.

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They also do SMART without the HT. Started off as walls and ceiling outers Alloy and and they advertised it as wood/timber free. Yea. The wall board was still ply and the floors were still wood/foam sandwich - when challenged they replied they consider Wood - Ply and Wall board as different materials. Soon withdrew the wood free advert though. Rear panels were ABS this year I believe they are GRP throughout the range. Outers now some alloy and some GRP.

 

 

According to the Swift website, Smart Plus (the basic Smart now) is timberless in the body and has GRP under the floor. ABS panels front and rear. Text below. I must admit that I forgot to look underneath when we were ordering ours yesterday.

 

SMART Plus takes the proven technology which provides a Strong timber-less body frame with Modern desirable looks and a leading Aerodynamic shape that is highly Resilient to moisture, all wrapped up in a caravan that has undergone the most comprehensive Testing; and adds a new sandwich floor construction with a GRP outer skin providing greater durability from the elements. The roof has also been upgraded and is now in hail resistant GRP.

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For the "neds" like me 😱😱😱😱

 

 

ABS is a terpolymer made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the . ... headgear, whitewater canoes, buffer edging for furniture and joinery panels, . ..

 

Other common names for fiberglass are glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), glass- fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) or GFK (from German: Glasfaserverstärkter . ..

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As far as Bailey goes,Alu-Tech is explained fully here:-

 

http://www. baileyalu-tech. co. uk/index. php

 

Ian

This is just a perfect example of why people get confused. I clicked the link and there was a write up with no actual details other than the usual " we've been working on this for years" fluff. So I looked for the bit at the end that said " click below for more information" and went to their products. Scroll down to " alu- tech" link, and hey presto you back to " we've been working on this for years"!!!!!!

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According to the Swift website, Smart Plus (the basic Smart now) is timberless in the body and has GRP under the floor. ABS panels front and rear. Text below. I must admit that I forgot to look underneath when we were ordering ours yesterday.

 

SMART Plus takes the proven technology which provides a Strong timber-less body frame with Modern desirable looks and a leading Aerodynamic shape that is highly Resilient to moisture, all wrapped up in a caravan that has undergone the most comprehensive Testing; and adds a new sandwich floor construction with a GRP outer skin providing greater durability from the elements. The roof has also been upgraded and is now in hail resistant GRP.

Oops. I a was Wrong. Study are not GRP panels front and rear. Sorry BOAC!

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Oops. I a was Wrong. Study are not GRP panels front and rear. Sorry BOAC!

'Study'?

 

And Sprite floors are still wood, but with a GRP outer laminated skin.

 

What makes all this worse is that manufacturers marketing wonks weave words around the subject as if wood is the word that dare not speak its name.

 

If only they all had to list the materials used in a formal format panel, like finance companies, it would make it easier to understand what you were buying.

 

As a for instance Sprite literature makes a big play about the body having no timber and the floor having a GRP laminated skin, but no mention the floor is still timber. Anyone would think the floor isn't part of a caravan body.

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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'Study'?

 

And Sprite floors are still wood, but with a GRP outer laminated skin.

 

What makes all this worse is that manufacturers marketing wonks weave words around the subject as if wood is the word that dare not speak its name.

 

If only they all had to list the materials used in a formal format panel, like finance companies, it would make it easier to understand what you were buying.

 

As a for instance Sprite literature makes a big play about the body having no timber and the floor having a GRP laminated skin, but no mention the floor is still timber. Anyone would think the floor isn't part of a caravan body.

I hate auto correct. I swear it changes the words even after you have reviewed them!

 

I think it's reasonably obvious on the Sprite (not study!). They tell you about the timberless body and plastic end panels then the "sandwich" floor. If there was no wood on there they would (!) Be including it in the timberless bit.

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And Sprite floors are still wood, but with a GRP outer laminated skin.

 

What makes all this worse is that manufacturers marketing wonks weave words around the subject as if wood is the word that dare not speak its name.

 

If only they all had to list the materials used in a formal format panel, like finance companies, it would make it easier to understand what you were buying.

 

As a for instance Sprite literature makes a big play about the body having no timber and the floor having a GRP laminated skin, but no mention the floor is still timber. Anyone would think the floor isn't part of a caravan body.

 

But how can they have got away with it for years????!!! Other industries wouldn't tolerate it

Edited by Lozzyf
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Laminated timber can be misleading, it really depends on how it is laminated, in the marine industry yachts are made using thin strips of wood soaked in epoxy and stapled together, in cases like this the wood is just a material like glass mat or roving and is completely sealed against water ingress and will last for decades without maintenance. Should the floors be constructed in this manner I see no problem, depends where the floor laminate is purchased from as they are bought in, wood is one of the more stronger laminates with fairly good insulation properties.

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