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James Reed

The Toad was the final straw!

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Hi all!

 

First time post and having read through the posts with interest I thought i would pose my question in the hopes that the combined experiences here would help us get the best start to our caravaning...

 

And it all started with a Toad!

 

Last year we were packing up our tent at the end of a beautiful week of weather in the rain after a horrid night! We woke up to a pond in the tent, we kept our sense of humour until I fished the toad out and at which point project caravan was born!

 

In terms of van we are looking for something 4 Berth at less than £4K as this is our first entry in to this and there is not a lot of spare cash around at the moment.

 

My question to the collective is quite simple. What piece of advise would you offer a caravan newbie that might help us avoid the newbie errors? Any advice greatfully recevied and looking forward to making lots more memories with the family!

 

Thanks all!

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:welcome: to the Forum, you could start by reading here first.

Good luck with your new hobby. 

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Consider buying cheaper first. But the most important is to understand what you can tow with licence and tow car.

Once that is sorted you need to work out what layout as this can make or break it.

The best thing to do is to look at as many as you can.

We have ended up with bunks and dinette opposite so in poor weather the kids have their own room. The compromise for us is small bathroom and no fixed bed.

You need to really take some time and work this out.

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Check for damp more than anything.

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3 hours ago, WispMan said:

Check for damp more than anything.

:goodpost:

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3 hours ago, WispMan said:

Check for damp more than anything.

 

If there are toads inside the caravan then it's definitely damp.

 

 

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Thanks all! Check for damp, read the manual and don't squash the toad!

 

:D:Thankyou:

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Something else which does not get mentioned often regarding damp.

 

As mentioned - Check for damp with a meter - but more than that, have a good look around, press the walls, floor  and around the windows and if you can, everywhere in the van. If it feels soft or spongy - walk away.  

 

The reason for doing this is because the seller might have had damp and maybe rot, and then dried it out to the extent that a damp meter might show a low reading leading you to think there is no damp. Pay particular attention to where the roof joints are. If its an ABS plastic front and rear its a good chance the roof joint will be leaking. Coachman Pastiches were famous for this in the trade.

 

Make no mistake, fixing rotten or damp wood WILL cost more money to fix - more than what you paid for the caravan in fact.

 

As well as the above, here are some more considerations.

 

One important thing is for you to consider layout. Think carefully of the practicalities. ie.  Would you prefer and end bathroom cum shower / dressing room / loo. Privacy is important to us and an end bathroom was ideal.  

 

Is the bed sited to your liking. Whats the eating area like. Is there room to get dressed etc etc.

 

Sit on the loo and see if its comfortable too. The Bailey Oklahoma had a loo that when you sat on it our feet were in midair and pins and needles set in quickly.

 

I recommend you go to a caravan dealer and have a look at second hand ones and get an idea of  whats good and bad with layouts - but take your time. 

 

It took us 12 years to find our perfect layout and that was in a VERY leaky Coachman Pastiche 460.

 

Good luck

 

 

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So so without all the issues you 'may' come across here are my thoughts on the most important points when moving from tent to caravan..

1. what can you tow?   no point getting a huge twin axle if you have a small car.

2. how many adult size beds? you say 4 so guessing 2 adults, 2 young children or teenagers 

3. layout, do you plan to stay in a field or luxury campsite... so consider importance of toilet, shower, cooking

4. Storage, do you have room at home?

5.  don't forget leave some cash for insurance...and also locks, water containers, awning etc ..unless included in a sale..  

 

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Candidate for most interesting header! certainly got my attention! :D

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Excellent title for a book!

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So you£4k will turn into £8k after you have bought nessasary items,so try to find 1 with all the goodies thrown in.maybe someone giving up.

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On 10/06/2019 at 22:48, BOAC said:

Something else which does not get mentioned often regarding damp.

 

As mentioned - Check for damp with a meter - but more than that, have a good look around, press the walls, floor  and around the windows and if you can, everywhere in the van. If it feels soft or spongy - walk away.  

 

The reason for doing this is because the seller might have had damp and maybe rot, and then dried it out to the extent that a damp meter might show a low reading leading you to think there is no damp. Pay particular attention to where the roof joints are. If its an ABS plastic front and rear its a good chance the roof joint will be leaking. Coachman Pastiches were famous for this in the trade.

 

Make no mistake, fixing rotten or damp wood WILL cost more money to fix - more than what you paid for the caravan in fact.

 

As well as the above, here are some more considerations.

 

One important thing is for you to consider layout. Think carefully of the practicalities. ie.  Would you prefer and end bathroom cum shower / dressing room / loo. Privacy is important to us and an end bathroom was ideal.  

 

Is the bed sited to your liking. Whats the eating area like. Is there room to get dressed etc etc.

 

Sit on the loo and see if its comfortable too. The Bailey Oklahoma had a loo that when you sat on it our feet were in midair and pins and needles set in quickly.

 

I recommend you go to a caravan dealer and have a look at second hand ones and get an idea of  whats good and bad with layouts - but take your time. 

 

It took us 12 years to find our perfect layout and that was in a VERY leaky Coachman Pastiche 460.

 

Good luck

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to compose such a useful post! We had started to consider the best layouts so your points are well noted! Tents are not know for their privacy!

 

😀

4 hours ago, smino0_1 said:

So you£4k will turn into £8k after you have bought nessasary items,so try to find 1 with all the goodies thrown in.maybe someone giving up.

 

Yes, ain't that always the way!

 

Budget adjustment under review!

On 10/06/2019 at 23:19, Les666 said:

So so without all the issues you 'may' come across here are my thoughts on the most important points when moving from tent to caravan..

1. what can you tow?   no point getting a huge twin axle if you have a small car.

2. how many adult size beds? you say 4 so guessing 2 adults, 2 young children or teenagers 

3. layout, do you plan to stay in a field or luxury campsite... so consider importance of toilet, shower, cooking

4. Storage, do you have room at home?

5.  don't forget leave some cash for insurance...and also locks, water containers, awning etc ..unless included in a sale..  

 

 

The sleeping arrangements are a good point. There are two adults, one teenager who is taller than her Dad! Plus the youngest who is rapidly catching up too!

 

Would anyone have thoughts on practicalities of the dinenette style bunks and how long they are? Or would we be better looking for a fixed bed and dining area singles?

 

sorry if I have not thanked/quoted people! All advice is very gratefully received.

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On 09/06/2019 at 17:26, WispMan said:

Check for damp more than anything.

 

+1

Dampness in a £4000 caravan has got to be the biggest consideration by a country mile!

Its now June so I presume you want to buy the caravan and use it almost immediately.

Dampness could render the caravan unusable all summer while you D-I-Y the repair.

Lots of good advice already.

I would only go for a caravan with GRP front and back avoid ABS( moulded plastic)

4 wheels mean 4 tyres at £60 each if more than 6 years old-learn how to read tyre date codes.

a full size awning would be handy-budget £200-£400 2nd hand.

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10 minutes ago, ancell said:

 

I would only go for a caravan with GRP front and back avoid ABS( moulded plastic)

 

 

 

Aint that the truth. 

 

Avoid ABS caravans like the mother in law and the plague :angry:

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9 hours ago, James Reed said:

Would anyone have thoughts on practicalities of the dinenette style bunks and how long they are? Or would we be better looking for a fixed bed and dining area singles?

 

We have a six berth for four people. Two of the bunks are fixed the other two make up from a dinette.

 

In ours the made up bunks are very slightly shorter but, I think, a little wider (UK fixed bunks trends to be quite narrow on normal width vans, Adria and 8 ft vans have wider bunks normally). However the made up bunks aren't as comfy  due to the cushions and there's less of a gap between the two (so less head room on the lower bunk).

 

We were looking second hand for a twin fixed bunk model but there weren't many around at a sensible price so bit the bullet and bought new. I wouldn't recommend the same if it's your first van though. But second hand and you are unlikely to lose too much cash when you swap unless the van gets damp.

 

You may find a lot of triple bunk vans on the market. We were turned off from these as we just have two kids. However, if you find one, see if the lower or mid bunk folds as it may suit your two kids.

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On 12/06/2019 at 23:32, BOAC said:

 

 

Aint that the truth. 

 

Avoid ABS caravans like the mother in law and the plague :angry:

If the OP was buying a newer van, options would be limited as Coachman and Elddis certainly use ABS front and rear panels. Swift have changed back to GRP but not sure about Lunar and Bailey. 

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when you eventually find the 'van you want  get it checked by an engineer before you part with the £4k

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On ‎12‎/‎06‎/‎2019 at 22:44, James Reed said:

Thank you for taking the time to compose such a useful post! We had started to consider the best layouts so your points are well noted! Tents are not know for their privacy!

 

😀

 

Yes, ain't that always the way!

 

Budget adjustment under review!

 

The sleeping arrangements are a good point. There are two adults, one teenager who is taller than her Dad! Plus the youngest who is rapidly catching up too!

 

Would anyone have thoughts on practicalities of the dinenette style bunks and how long they are? Or would we be better looking for a fixed bed and dining area singles?

 

sorry if I have not thanked/quoted people! All advice is very gratefully received.

Or go for a smaller unit and leave the kids at home:D

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As a rough rule go for at least one more berth that you need (space required for 4 people is often on really offered in a 5 berth etc etc.

 

Easy way to check for damp is to use your nails and drum them against all the hard to reach places where air does not move like under seats, back of storage lockers esp at the top and bottom corners front and back. IT should all sound the same, if any of it does not then LEAVE it as most likely soft or damp. Its not fool proof BUT a good indicator.

 

As mentioned look for one with all the extras included (OR look on the likes of Gumtree for someone selling of as they have sold up) most things second hand are fine. 

 

We started with a 1K van and have changed up in years and value 3 times to get the current one (more or less perfect for us with sensible budget constraints)

 

Good luck and Enjoy

 

 

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On 20/06/2019 at 12:32, Benny65 said:

If the OP was buying a newer van, options would be limited as Coachman and Elddis certainly use ABS front and rear panels. Swift have changed back to GRP but not sure about Lunar and Bailey. 

 

The OP has a£4000 budget.

I emphasise avoid ABS it is not up to the job-based on my experience and my cynical and knowledgable mobile caravan technician.

On 20/06/2019 at 14:11, joanie said:

when you eventually find the 'van you want  get it checked by an engineer before you part with the £4k

 +1 the £60-£150 spent could save your £4000😀

On 20/06/2019 at 18:55, baddon said:

As a rough rule go for at least one more berth that you need (space required for 4 people is often on really offered in a 5 berth etc etc.

 

Easy way to check for damp is to use your nails and drum them against all the hard to reach places where air does not move like under seats, back of storage lockers esp at the top and bottom corners front and back. IT should all sound the same, if any of it does not then LEAVE it as most likely soft or damp. Its not fool proof BUT a good indicator.

 

As mentioned look for one with all the extras included (OR look on the likes of Gumtree for someone selling of as they have sold up) most things second hand are fine. 

 

We started with a 1K van and have changed up in years and value 3 times to get the current one (more or less perfect for us with sensible budget constraints)

 

Good luck and Enjoy

 

 

 

A dampness meter costs £8.49 inc p&p on eBay the OP should get one

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Speaking from experience, don't trust anyone, you'll be amazed at what people will try and fob you off with . Look in every nook and cranny inside and out, ask loads of questions. Get them to hook it up to check all systems work on 240v and 12v. 

 

Good luck 😊

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Many years ago I went through all the complexities of trying to fit 2 adults and growing kids into a limited space that we could all feel comfortable. At first the children were small enough to enjoy demountable bunks in the middle of the van ( Award TriStar) ,but as they grew and wanted their own space a bigger Bailey was purchased, and then the final insult for us was that they wanted to be alone in the AWNING. So two inner tents were purchased ,which were used once, as Ibiza beconed the kids.

So there's your answer my friend ,just be prepared to be flexible...cos your kids won't be.

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