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Alko Axle / Bailey Caravan Problems


Sleekpony
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I am trying to find out and share details of the problem and outcome from anyone who has suffered problems with an Alko chassis, particularly on a Bailey caravan.

 

We currently have such a problem and are battling it out with Bailey I think that there is a problem which should be covered under warranty, but am being blamed for causing the problem.

 

We were due to pick up our 2 year old Bailey Unicorn Vigo from its service last week. They called us to say it was ready, then called us 10 minutes later to say that it was unfit to drive!!!!!

 

The word 'axle' was mentioned, as were the words 'overload' and 'probably your fault and not covered under warranty' although we had to wait for an Alko engineer to confirm that the arms on the axle are bent to double the angle that they should be, causing the suspension to sink.

 

The good news is that they have discovered the cause of the caravan flooding when we towed in the rain. There is a huge hole in the wheel box caused by the tyre rubbing against it. A huge hole that they didn't find when they went over the caravan with a fine toothcomb to look for the source of the leak at the end of last year! Holes in the wheelbox caused by tyres rubbing is a problem that I found in a 10 minute web search that others have suffered. The dealer said they had never come accross it before.

 

We stand accused of overloading the caravan. Funny, because we tow with a van to carry all the heavy items for the exact reason that we don't want to overload the caravan! But we also weighed every item, even teaspoons, and have a spreadsheet (I know!) which tells us the total weight of everything we originally put the caravan. We were very confident that it was not overloaded!

 

Alko accused us of a 98kg overload. We have been back to the caravan today, emptied it and weighed every single item in it. Unsurprisingly, the payload was under the 1500kg permitted, but the dealer doesn't accept that our scales are accurate enough to account for the nearly 100kg discrepancy between what Alko weighed (caravan + contents) and our contents weight.

 

My husband was formerly a senior fleet manager for an international haulage company and knows a thing or two about loading. It is worth noting that the margin of error on portable weighbridges is plus or minus 100kg! There is also a lot of red tape involved in the calibration of the area where they are used. We have asked for all the supporting documentation.

 

One of Baileys own advertising photos shows a Bailey caravan with a car and a man standing on the roof, claiming a load of 1600kg. I know that the caravan is stationary and not being towed, but there must be a tolerance on the axle that means that it won't collapse if you pop in an extra teaspoon while you are towing!

 

We spoke to an independent engineer who has dealt with several similar cases and he said that it was insulting to our intelligence to suggest that an overload of 98kg would cause the axle to collapse (even though we are now satisfied that it was NOT overloaded!) He suggested that we pursue it through the small claims court - the same advice that we got when we took some legal advice through our insurers. We are starting a warranty claim against Bailey.

 

I believe that there is a problem with the axles that is being avoided by the manufacturer. From the research that I have done on the web, axle problems are not uncommon or unknown, but Bailey and Alko don't want to know. The only way to make them take responsibility is to prove that these are not isolated incidents caused by lots of irresponsible owners overloading their vans.

 

My worst fear is that we will have the repair and be in the same position and accused of overloading this time next year.

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Had the same issue on our Orion, rubbed the wheel box but didn't quite make a hole.

 

It was on the kitchen side and was 20mm lower than the other side. They said this was within tolerance and the problem was the wheel box as it was too low.

 

Never found out what happened as I part exchanged it shortly after.

 

Personally I think the axle had dropped but the dealer said it was due to the kitchen being the heavy side?

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I'm not by any means a legal expert but believe you have to sue your supplying dealer as they are responsible under the Sale of Goods Act. I believe the term is Not Fit For Purpose.

I'm sure others will reply & advise as necessary.

Best of luck, I feel Alko should accept responsibility, it has happened to others. Do you have a local weighbridge you could take your caravan to?

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Alko accused us of a 98kg overload. We have been back to the caravan today, emptied it and weighed every single item in it. Unsurprisingly, the payload was under the 1500kg permitted, but the dealer doesn't accept that our scales are accurate enough to account for the nearly 100kg discrepancy between what Alko weighed (caravan + contents) and our contents weight.

Your permitted payload is actually 154 kg - the difference betweem the Mass in Running Order (MIRO) of 1346 kg and the Maximum Technical Permitted Laden Weight (MTPLM) of 1500 kg.

 

Not sure 98 kg overweight would collapse a stationary axle but running over a large pothole or some of the more 'violent' traffic calming installations???

 

It is unlikely to have been caused by anything Bailey have done to the chassis directly of course and I believe that the chassis is rated at a max 1500 kg with no optional weight upgrade offered.

 

Good luck with your claim against Bailey but with the Chassis Maker as Bailey's 'expert' chassis engineer you may struggle without good solid evidence of previous failures not attributable to overloading.

Edited by happynomad
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Forgive me if I'm a bit vague. There have been quite a few Bailey caravans with disputed claims for axle failure reported on this forum. From memory, the failures have involved collapsed suspension (the suspension has allowed the suspension arm to drop and the caravan body to tilt to one side, so the wheel arch gets very close to the wheel, possibly involving tyre rubbing on wheel arch) and Bailey and ALKO have denied responsibility. Customers have been informed that they must have have caused the damage. I think some cases have involved litigation, and it is quite common for the exchange of information on web sites to dry up under those circumstances. You should dig and dig on this forum because I'm sure there is a load of information here albeit here say but it may help you. I remember posting myself as an observer on the subject. It all sounds like a game of "pass the parcel" where neither ALKO or Bailey want to get caught holding the damn thing. I have a hunch that with the laterally off set loading caused by the design of the caravan, the caravan is simply too heavy on one side for the design of the axle. It is common practice for caravan constructors to design caravans which are easy and economic to build with all the services and therefore weight on one side (Kitchen side). This means the customer shouldn't really add any weight at all to the "heavy " side as it is already up to its limit when it leaves the factory. Any accessories like battery and motor mover are bound to take the wheel loading over the axle limit. Our caravan is a Swift Group product and is severely offset in this way. We have a cupboard on the kitchen side which cannot have anything put in it for this reason. Please speak up if I haven't explained my point well enough.

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Well I've noticed our caravan leaning over towards the appliance side, One side I can get a closed fist in-between the top of the wheel and arch but the other side I can not. it's ever so slight but noticeable and we are 95KG underweight.

 

it's going back to the dealer on Friday for it's frst service and I have mentioned this in an e-mail to them to look at.

 

So that's 2 baileys up to now. + the ones below.

 

It's only been towed 8 times and the same route (we stay for a few weeks at a time) and only travel about 70 miles round trip 98% motorway.

 

http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/topic/117019-dropped-axle-on-bailey-pegasus/

 

http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/topic/107067-alko-axle-problem/

 

http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/topic/102891-suspected-al-ko-suspension-problem/

 

https://www. caravanclub. co. uk/club-together/discussions/information-technical-tips-advice/caravans/alko-axle-problems-2/?p=3 <<<<<<<<<<<<<< this link has a lot of info

 

http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/topic/52161-alko-suspension-problems/

 

http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/index. php?app=core&module=search&do=search&fromMainBar=1

 

Apparently the term is the axle is suffering from a relaxed axle, unlike the owners.

 

. in one report this was found, The engineers opinion is that partial collapse of the axle is due to premature failure of the preloaded bush on that side of the axle.

 

Posted on 18/10/2016 14:25

Hello everyone,

Have a Bailey unicorn Vigo, and yes we have just had to have a new axle fitted, £940 inc labour. Only had it 16months. We were told by the dealer it's been overloaded, this is our third bailey and we have never had this issue, the side were the the cooker, microwave, gas bottles and water system is, had no clearance hardly above the tyre, having had the new axle fitted I have noticed that that same side as less of a gap than the door side, and the van is empty.
The farther in law Also has a Vigo and it looks like he has got the same issue and Carrys little in the van, it looks like his may have dropped on the same side. It's in for its first service at the beginning of November, so let's see. Looks like a bad design on the unicorns, having the gas bottles over the axle, cooker, microwave and water and heating system.

 

Another one told it was overloaded.

 

 

I will be showing this thread to my dealer.

Edited by J1966
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Well Alko have a facebook Page

 

Interesting post

 

Below is a post I've placed on The AL-KO Facebook page:

My Lunar Clubman has an AL-KO axle which has failed, in less than two years, and this, apparently, is due to overloading. My van has been replated by Lunar and should be capable of handling 1345kg and when I measured it recently it came out at 1270kg

If my van were to be loaded at 1345kg and I hit a patch of uneven road (not potholes) would that not be capable of causing axle failure?

If my van were to be loaded at 1345kg and I stepped into it with my 110kg and was joined by my good lady at 80kg would that not be capable of causing axle damage? How about if I invited a few friends in for a glass of wine?

What technical evidence would lead to a verdict of overloading, as opposed either of the above, because I have a suspicion that the axle in my van was poorly specified, or assembled, and that I have had to pay for a construction which is really not fit for purpose?

Looking on the Caravan Club forums there are numerous examples of unhappy Bailey owners with failed axles and plenty on the Lunar Facebook group.

Bailey have made goodwill payments to some of their owners but Lunar are not being as generous. I'm over £600 out of pocket and I'm wondering if I should budget for two axles and two tyres every two years. . .

this chap repairs them

http://www. fraserbrowneng. co. uk/index. php?c=al-ko-axle-repair

Edited by J1966
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I purchased a Bailey Vigo from new 2 years ago. Within 3 months the axle collapsed and put a hole in the plastic wheel liner allowing water in the van.

I was first told that I had either gone down a pot hole or overloaded. Neither of these were found to be true.

The axle was removed and sent to Al-ko for testing. New rubbers were fitted and the axle returned and put back on the van. All this was covered on warranty.

I have Travelled many miles since then and the van is perfect with no further issues.

 

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Were my van to suffer such a failure then I would be pursuing the dealer post haste. How much they claim back from Bailey would as far as I am concerned be irrelevant. That aside, If I were paying for it out of my own pocket then after consultation with Alko I think I may be inclined to up the axle rating say from a 1500kgs to 1600 kgs to give a greater margin for the future. Most Bailey vans can be uprated as well. the Vigo 3 can be upgraded to 1550 kgs I believe. The some total done to it is to stick another sticker on it as the axle is already at this weight.

 

Arguments about pot holes etc I do not think would stand up in court. For the following.

 

1. Your word that you have not hit a 'big un' is just as good or better than the dealer hypothesis that was the cause. Yours is a statement of fact. His is a guess at best.

 

2. Fit for purpose. The roads are full of pot holes and manufacturers know this. They make a huge play in their advertising of how strong the chassis is. Videos show vans being hammered over pot hole simulations etc for accelerated wear testing.

So they have provided us with a defence anyway against this allegation.

 

3. Overloading. Again your word is a factual statement. Unless the dealer was their how can they make this assertion.

 

Nor is this a maker a. verses maker b. argument. All those that use Alko products use the same ones. The rating of an axle is plainly labeled on it. About the only variable would be layouts that stress one side more than the other. If you can prove by a simple test that your Off side wheel is carrying such a higher portion of the load (van empty) than the nearside then you have a simple ' Not fit for purpose' claim.

 

By the way the pictures of the car on the roof etc. Did not show that the chassis / axle was supported under the van with solid supports. It was not on the axle rubbers.

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Well Alko have a facebook Page

 

Interesting post

 

Below is a post I've placed on The AL-KO Facebook page:

My Lunar Clubman has an AL-KO axle which has failed, in less than two years, and this, apparently, is due to overloading. My van has been replated by Lunar and should be capable of handling 1345kg and when I measured it recently it came out at 1270kg

If my van were to be loaded at 1345kg and I hit a patch of uneven road (not potholes) would that not be capable of causing axle failure?

If my van were to be loaded at 1345kg and I stepped into it with my 110kg and was joined by my good lady at 80kg would that not be capable of causing axle damage? How about if I invited a few friends in for a glass of wine?

What technical evidence would lead to a verdict of overloading, as opposed either of the above, because I have a suspicion that the axle in my van was poorly specified, or assembled, and that I have had to pay for a construction which is really not fit for purpose?

Looking on the Caravan Club forums there are numerous examples of unhappy Bailey owners with failed axles and plenty on the Lunar Facebook group.

Bailey have made goodwill payments to some of their owners but Lunar are not being as generous. I'm over £600 out of pocket and I'm wondering if I should budget for two axles and two tyres every two years. . .

this chap repairs them

http://www. fraserbrowneng. co. uk/index. php?c=al-ko-axle-repair

 

 

It seems they only repair torsion bar axles (on motorhomes?) so are Bailey fitting this type of axle to caravans?

 

The Alko sagging rubbers problem goes back many years!

 

Back in 2000 after severe problems with a new ABI Monza that I sold after a year I bought a Burstner but the Alko axle with rubber suspension was seriously overloaded on one side because of all the heavy fittings on that side in the UK specific model layout. Burstner and Alko arranged for heavy duty rubbers to be fitted which was done whilst I was on holiday and I waited at their service centre in Germany the only place capable of such work at the time but now also done in the UK. That van was also traded after a year as, even then, I was never happy with the weight distribution. It did however have the most desirable full width end dressing room with completely watertight shower unit, toilet and wardrobe.

 

A number of foreign manufacturers use torsion bar axles which is why I then changed to Hobby caravans with BPW axles.

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I can remember one thread about a leaning caravan.

 

The fault was the shaped rubber inside the axle had been fitted the wrong way.

 

Goes to show that Alko do make mistakes and their quality control isn't perfect.

Edited by Simple Life
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I spoke to the service manager this morning and apparently baileys do lean a little because all the appliances are on one side, this was a verbal comment so I' going to try and get them to put this in writing.

 

I'll be lucky.

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The OP has a U3 Vigo. That's got the (tall) fridge, spare wheel & PSU on one side, cooker & Alde boiler on the other. The battery is central, marginally to the side having the cooker, under the floor. I believe the comments about the weight being unbalanced side-side are misplaced in this case - thought has gone into the weight balance of the case.

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I spoke to the service manager this morning and apparently baileys do lean a little because all the appliances are on one side, this was a verbal comment so I' going to try and get them to put this in writing.

 

I'll be lucky.

Suggesting Bailey's 'lean' is a tad disingenuous as:

 

a. It would depend on the layout and distribution of weight within that layout. Bailey produce about 20 different model caravans, all with different weight distribution.

 

b. Virtually all UK caravan manufacturers use AlKo chassis and if Bailey's lean then so do Lunars, Swifts, Coachman and Compass vans.

 

As to potholes etc, how does the dealer or the OP know whether a van has been potholed or not? It can happen before delivery or afterwards and nobody can provide definitive proof either way. The same goes for overloading. Declaring yourselves to be innocent on a forum may be good for the soul but isn't the proof a judge would require.

 

I suggest working with the dealer to find out exactly what is wrong and how it could have been caused. As said, incorrect assembly by AlKo is not unknown.

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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Suggesting Bailey's 'lean' is a tad disingenuous as:

 

a. It would depend on the layout and distribution of weight within that layout. Bailey produce about 20 different model caravans, all with different weight distribution.

 

b. Virtually all UK caravan manufacturers use AlKo chassis and if Bailey's lean then so do Lunars, Swifts, Coachman and Compass vans.

 

As to potholes etc, how does the dealer or the OP know whether a van has been potholed or not? It can happen before delivery or afterwards and nobody can provide definitive proof either way. The same goes for overloading. Declaring yourselves to be innocent on a forum may be good for the soul but isn't the proof a judge would require.

 

I suggest working with the dealer to find out exactly what is wrong and how it could have been caused. As said, incorrect assembly by AlKo is not unknown.

 

 

I don't think it's disingenuous as such, more like a fob off, but I will follow this line of explanation like a sheep into the wolfs jaws.

 

I will first ask them to get Alko to inspect it, depending on the reply, I will also arrange for my own inspector one who deals with suspension issues. I will give them the option first then take it from there.

 

I am already gathering evidence from the web about issues, you only have to take apart there defense bit by bit, until you reach the point when there credibility fails.

 

I will begin with some E-mails this afternoon.

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I've never heard of this on any other manufacturer other than Bailey. Is it possible the axles used are under specced by Bailey? In other words the axle rating is only just sufficient for the weight of the caravan with not enough margin left to cope with normal towing?

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Taken logically, it's likely something in the suspension on the AlKo chassis is bent or has failed. It's unlikely that the Bailey wheelarch has been incorrectly positioned in the body panel. Given that is the situation it's also unlikely that the AlKo components designed, tested and fitted to hundreds of thousands of caravans and trailers would deform unless subject to much higher tensions than those for which they were designed. Presumably that's why the default position is overloading/potholing.

 

There remains the possibility of poor assembly by AlKo and anecdotally this has occasionally occurred, though given the rate of failure is so low you can understand their reluctance to immediately accept that may be the issue in a single case.

 

As to loading a van with people taking it over it's payload limit, this would only occur when all four corner steadies and the wheels are in contact with the ground and sharing the load bearing. A completely different set of stresses and weights to the towing situation when the van's loaded weight is shared by the hitch and the axle(s).

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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One other point

Last year I was following a low loader with swift vans on it plus one on the hook. The driver was hammering it and the van on the back was literally bouncing from the road surface. God help the proud recipient of that one.

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The axle has failed for whatever reason so how does the manufacturer prove the caravan was overloaded ?

 

 

Dave

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The axle has failed for whatever reason so how does the manufacturer prove the caravan was overloaded ?

 

 

Dave

Not my area of regulation, but I thought under consumer protection legislation the burden of proof that there is/isn't a manufacturing defect shifts from supplier to customer at 6 months.

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The axle has failed for whatever reason so how does the manufacturer prove the caravan was overloaded ?

 

 

Dave

It is the legal default position for corporate bodies. The position will be defended by the organisation and its insurers until it becomes evident, often on the steps of the court, that their position is untenable. They will then settle with the litigant on condition of not accepting liability and the use of a non disclosure clause, such as in the recent settlement in different circumstances but the same principle, between Cliff Richard and the Old Bill.

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Not my area of regulation, but I thought under consumer protection legislation the burden of proof that there is/isn't a manufacturing defect shifts from supplier to customer at 6 months.

 

Correct . My evidence would the axle has failed which has been evidenced by the dealer and damage caused to wheel arch and a manufacturing company are quoting it is overloaded which they would need to prove in law .

 

A manufacturing company by law under Construction and Use has to build in a 10% safety margin so you would need to exceed that as well to overload .

 

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave
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One other point

Last year I was following a low loader with swift vans on it plus one on the hook. The driver was hammering it and the van on the back was literally bouncing from the road surface. God help the proud recipient of that one.

 

I've witnessed it myself, with various makes bouncing along the road network. It's all too easy for dealers and manufacturers to blame us for hitting potholes etc, but they also need to take responsibility for the way they are delivered. They all make a big point in their handbooks about the van not being towed behind a commercial vehicle, yet this is what they actually do.

 

When we ordered our van last November, we were having an AWD motorhomes fitted to it, so I asked for the weight to be upgraded due to the mover taking up a few kilo's. The MTPLM of our van before the upgrade was 1610KG, it shot up to 1800KG with the upgrade. It will never be loaded to that weight, not even close, but I suppose it's peace of mind to know that it can take that weight.

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The axle has failed for whatever reason so how does the manufacturer prove the caravan was overloaded ?

 

 

Dave

And how does an owner prove that it wasn't overloaded.

 

In such a situation and providing there weren't any other extenuating circumstances, I suspect a judge would either split the cost 50/50 or say that because so many identical installations haven't failed the fault cannot lie with the manufacturer.

 

As to the method of delivery, the thought of rough handling had crossed my mind, but, again, how can anyone prove it?

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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And how does an owner prove that it wasn't overloaded.

In such a situation and providing there weren't any other extenuating circumstances, I suspect a judge would either split the cost 50/50 or say that because so many identical installations haven't failed the fault cannot lie with the manufacturer.

As to the method of delivery, the thought of rough handling had crossed my mind, but, again, how can anyone prove it?

 

The manufacturer would need to prove that overloading has caused the axle to fail and it is not a manufacturing fault .

 

If they make an accusation they need to prove it

 

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave
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