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Urgent Legal Help Needed


CadmannUK
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Hi All,

 

I really need some advice on what to do next.

 

Last year we wanted to get a new caravan and a new car. We decided to buy either a new Bailey Ranger 500/5 or a new Bailey Ranger 550/6, and placed an order for the 550/6 in October 2004 as we like the layout better. We were totally naive about caravans at that time, but asked what we thought were the right questions to two local Bailey dealers regarding weights and possible car choices. Caravan arrived in February 2005. During that time, with advice from the two Bailey dealers, we choose a new Renault Grand Scenic 7 seater to pull it with. Both dealers told us that it would be fine. Ordered new car in December 2004 for collection 1st March 2005. (New Reg 05), after again checking with Renault dealer that it would be OK for our 550/6. We even checked the 85% bit and we happy that our chosen outfit was at 80% from the WhatTowCar web site.

 

In June 2004 after a few trips out to Wales and France, and having the car sway quite a bit, I decided to buy a nose weight gauge to just check our outfit out. That was we I was horrified to find out that the reading went straight off the gauge. Had to do a check with the bathroom scale and had a reading of over 130Kgs.

 

Up until that time no one had even mentioned nose weights to us, and I didn't expect to find out that the caravan I had chosen could not even be towed with nearly all the cars on the UK market.

 

I have since asked Bailey, and they have told me that my van has a nose weight of 92kgs, and then add the spare wheel (19kgs), gas bottles (6kg Propane size weighing 14Kgs each), which the dealer fitted bring this to 92+19+14+14=139Kgs. ..

 

Now I checked with Al-Ko who make the chassis, and I have an Al-Ko AK160/300 coupling device and overrun device. They have written back to me to inform me that the AK160/300 has a nose capacity of up to 120Kgs, and the overrun device would only operate up to 100Kgs. This is an extremely serious situation !!!

 

This means to me that I have been putting not only my life at risk, but that of my wife and children as well.

 

Bailey have told me to:-

 

"It is suggested to load appropriately throughout the caravan although items can be loaded suitably towards the rear of the axle to lighten the nose area.

 

Nose weight can vary between models, dependant on the layout and this particular model has gradually increased over the seasons."

 

I don't agree with this and after going on the Caravan Club's towing course, it also contradicts everything I was taught on the course.

 

The next 6 birth that Bailey do, the Bretagne, which has an almost identical layout is only 58Kgs.

 

I have also now acquired the nose weights of all the Ranger and Pageant ranges, and none of them go above the standard tow ball weight of 75Kgs except the 550/6.

 

Never during any of our talk, discussions etc with any of the van or car dealers was the nose weight mentioned.

 

I only purchased the Renault and the Ranger as I was told by three different salesmen that it was fine. (2 Caravan, 1 Car). The Renault dealer was even about to purchase the exact same caravan as us, and we spent ages chatting to him about Baileys, caravan etc in general.

 

Also I now find out that Renault have a limit of 75Kgs on the towing nose weights, and a figure of 1300Kgs max braked trailer weight with the driver, but only 950Kgs for any other situation. (As picked up in the Caravan Club Magazine this month). So in fact my car can't pull the Bailey 550/6, and the Bailey is way way over the safe limits of the Al-Ko chassis components.

 

Now I have spoken to the legal advice line of the Caravan club who has given me some pointers on what to do next, but I am really very very angry that I am now in a situation where I might have to resort to the courts.

 

I am going to see our local caravan dealer tomorrow (Saturday), as up till now he has been very good, but I don't know what he is going to say about all this. Then I'm going to be seeing Renault as well.

 

Do any of you have some help you could give me. If I remember rightly, someone sent back the Pageant as it was not 'Fit for Purpose', but I did a quick search but didn't find it.

 

How the hell do I get out of this situation?, so far the car and van have cost me over £30,000.

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Hi All Again,

 

Also someone sent me this today:-

 

From the 'TheCaravan. net website'

http://www. thecaravan. net/home/index. asp?id=2&nid=22

 

Towsafe

 

Caravan weight is a major factor in the buying decision and you need the best advice. For example:

Did you know that a caravan with a body in excess of 2. 3 metres wide or 7 metres long can only be towed by a heavy motor vehicle (over 3500 kg Gross Vehicle Weight)? Not even a Transit van, nor the biggest 4x4, can lawfully tow a caravan that exceeds these dimensions!

 

Bailey lists my 550/6 as 7. 077m long, so that makes a bad situation even worse, or does the word 'Body' in the above only mean the lenght of the habitable bit. .

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First of all - don't panic!

 

Your car can easily pull your caravan, all you have to do is as Bailey says, redistribute the load over the axle.

I don't know of any caravan that can be pulled by your average family car with all the bits and pieces you can fit in the front locker. I don't know why the manufacturers insist on fitting holders for two gas bottles and the spare wheel in there, it will take the nose weight of virtually all caravans over this magic 75kg figure.

 

This figure of 75kg has been chosen by most car manufacturers, some acually have a slightly lower figure, 4x4's a heavier figure. My old Maverick was 100kg.

This is to protect the car's rear suspension/axle and stop its back end falling off through time1

 

Both my present and previous caravans could only be pulled with one gas bottle being carried in the washroom over the axle, and the spare wheel in the boot of the car. One gas bottle and some light articles in the locker gave me 75kg.

 

If the dealer fitted two bottles and the spare in the locker and waved you away, he needs his knuckles rapped. He should have known better than this, and advised you accordingly.

 

As I've said at the beginning, dont panic, the Caravan Club book will give you advise on loading, follow there advise and enjoy your caravan.

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Me again.

 

There is legislation regarding the width of vans as stated, but only a few foreign vans exceed this figure and only specific models. Hobby comes to mind.

 

As for length, if 7metres is the maximum 'shipping length' ie. including the A frame, most caravans on the road are illegal! I thik it must mean internal length, allthough this is the first time I have heard of a max. length restriction for caravans.

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First of all - don't panic!

 

Your car can easily pull your caravan, all you have to do is as Bailey says, redistribute the load over the axle.

I don't know of any caravan that can be pulled by your average family car with all the bits and pieces you can fit in the front locker. I don't know why the manufacturers insist on fitting holders for two gas bottles and the spare wheel in there, it will take the nose weight of virtually all caravans over this magic 75kg figure.

 

This figure of 75kg has been chosen by most car manufacturers, some acually have a slightly lower figure, 4x4's a heavier figure. My old Maverick was 100kg.

This is to protect the car's rear suspension/axle and stop its back end falling off through time1

 

Both my present and previous caravans could only be pulled with one gas bottle being carried in the washroom over the axle, and the spare wheel in the boot of the car. One gas bottle and some light articles in the locker gave me 75kg.

 

If the dealer fitted two bottles and the spare in the locker and waved you away, he needs his knuckles rapped. He should have known better than this, and advised you accordingly.

 

As I've said at the beginning, dont panic, the Caravan Club book will give you advise on loading, follow there advise and enjoy your caravan.

42010[/snapback]

 

Yes, but even with only one gas bottle fitted and the spare in the front locker, I have no where else to put these two items, the nose weight is still 125Kgs. That is still over the safety limits from Al-Ko set at 120kgs and 100Kgs. Also if I put the wife and kids in the car, Renault are saying I can only tow 950Kgs. ......

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I think you'll find that the ‘body’ is the habitable bit. The shipping length is always longer. The shipping length of my caravan is 8m and my 4x4 is ok to tow it.

As for the Scenic and Bailey:

 

The Bailey's M. T. P. L. M. is 1326kg / 26. 1cwt and the M. R. O. is 1053kg / 20. 7cwt

 

The max tow of the Scenic is 1300kg, don't know about the train weight or max hitch weight.

 

With this in mind you should be able to distribute the weight of the payload between the car and caravan to get within the quoted tolerances.

 

For example I carry as much as I can in the towing vehicle to increase the ratio between the towing and towed!!!

 

So it may not be all doom and gloom. :(

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I think you'll find that the ‘body’ is the habitable bit. The shipping length is always longer. The shipping length of my caravan is 8m and my 4x4 is ok to tow it.

As for the Scenic and Bailey:

 

The Bailey's M. T. P. L. M. is 1326kg / 26. 1cwt and the M. R. O. is 1053kg / 20. 7cwt

 

The max tow of the Scenic is 1300kg, don't know about the train weight or max hitch weight.

 

With this in mind you should be able to distribute the weight of the payload between the car and caravan to get within the quoted tolerances.

 

For example I carry as much as I can in the towing vehicle to increase the ratio between the towing and towed!!!

 

So it may not be all doom and gloom. :(

42013[/snapback]

 

Gizmoman,

 

As above, yes the Renault max tow is 1300Kgs, and the Max hitch weight is 75Kgs, I'll post the GTW when I get home. But in the Renault's manual, the max tow weight is 'Driver Only' and 'Any other situations' is 950Kgs. Renault are getting bad press about this at the moment as it means I'm not legal.

 

Cad

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Gizmoman,

 

As above, yes the Renault max tow is 1300Kgs, and the Max hitch weight is 75Kgs, I'll post the GTW when I get home. But in the Renault's manual, the max tow weight is 'Driver Only' and 'Any other situations' is 950Kgs. Renault are getting bad press about this at the moment as it means I'm not legal.

 

Cad

42014[/snapback]

It seems strange, I had a 'baby' scenic 1600 and towed a Swift Accord whose M. T. P. L. M. was 1170kg. It was a bit of a struggle but not too bad. The quoted towing weights etc are much the same for the grand with, I would think a lot more power, what’s happening :huh:

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Yes Renault really are confusing when it comes to stating weights.

 

The kerbweight they state does not include the driver. I understand the figure to be used when calculating kerb weights, the 'Euro Norm?' should include the driver, 68kg, some luggage, 7kg and,a high percentage of fluids, including fuel.

 

I think I have seen in other threads where owners have approached Renault over this 950kg figure and have had it increased by means of a 'Letter of Comfort', I think this is the legaleese! It might be worth doing a search.

 

How can you pull 1300kg sitting in the car on your own, then if your wife gets in you are suddenly illegal! Does Renault assume your wife weighs 350kg!

 

It might also be worth moving the thread to the main page, more viewers, some possibly having experienced your problem.

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the renault was also a runner up in the 2005 midi mpv towcar of the year awar. ..

 

http://www. caravantrekker. nl/tavhj/pdf/NEW. ..rAwards2005. pdf

 

 

why would the max tow go down when the car is fully loaded - is the drivetrain/clutch/gearbox not strong enough? The car retails at almost 20 grand (more than my C8)!

 

As for the nose weigth - this should be easy to correct - doesn't the 550/6 have fixed bunks at the back? Careful loading under the rear bunk will reduce the nose weight.

 

In our sterling the rear bunk area has a max load of 75kg (the rear bunk folds up to create a garage and our outfit tows better with a little weight here - all on the floor.

 

You could also buy a roof box and store some of the boot contents on the roof = although sorting the car position out first looks more important - a 950kg tow limit = no useable towing ability at all.

 

good luck

 

Ian

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You say if you take the 950kg limit you are not legal.

 

I don't think this is actually the case. The only legal figure to work to is the gross train weight, ie kerbweight of car, max. allowable load in car and tow weight.

For my Passat, kerbweight around 1560kg, max load 450kg, giving gross vehicle weight of around 2000kg, gross train weight is around 3400kg,

 

The 1300kg/950kg weights Renault are giving are the maximum weight you can pull and restart on a 12% incline. Some manufacuturers give a higher towing figure for an 8%incline. I don't think you will be breaking the law exceeding the 950kg tow limit, you may only find starting on a hill more difficult.

 

I am sure I may be corrected on this.

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Hi All,

 

Thanks for all the replies, but what about the safety issue with the Bailey?

 

Cad

42020[/snapback]

 

 

Sort the car and move the contents in the van - when I first weighed my sterling nose it was well above the 76kg limit for our car - moving items out of the locker and using the rear area of the van got the nose weight down to 67kg (with 2 4. 5kg butane bottles) - it didn't take very long - every item you remove from the front and put behind the axle reduces the nose weight by approx 1. 5 times.

 

ie move a 10kg tire from the front to just rear of the axle will reduce the front by 10kg and increase the rear by 10kg - taking into account the different distance from the axle you will save around 15 to 16kg on the nose.

 

load other items like cloths etc further back to make additional savings and move other things into the car). I put my kids bikes at the back of the van under the bunks plus some chairs/kids table etc and the groundsheet etc - awning goes in roof box) and put all the bedding on the top rear bunk - nothing to worry about if it falls off. Our cloths go into the under seat area of the side dinette - over the wheels.

 

Also make sure the water heater tank and toilet etc is empty.

 

I really think the caravan is a side issue - the car is the problem at the moment.

 

Ian

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I think some of you are missing the point.

The gas bottle locker is meant to house the gas bottle's the spare wheel and other general items.

Bailey's web site has this quote

"Re-engineered gas bottle locker with improved access and storage"

Moving equipment in side the caravan into places that weren’t designed to house them

i. e. spare wheel above the axle (what would you do if you had a blow out where do you put the blacked burnt remains of the old 1?) and the gas bottles left to roll around in bed boxes is not safe.

Also by moving equipment into the back of the caravan to reduce the nose weight can cause a pendulum effect.

Also if the Alko hitch is not up to the job of carrying the weight been expected of it.

The "get up and go caravan" would not be get up and go if the poor chap has to do some of the things that have been suggested.

I am sorry i have no positive reply but i do hope you can salvage some think out of this

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Nose weight is always a hot subject. We got an ALKO spare wheel carrier which fits just behind the caravan axle to hold the spare wheel. It is amazing the effect it can have on the nose weight by carefully loading the van. But dont back load the van to reduce this nose weight as that is extreemly dangerous. We managed to reduce the nose weight of our van from 140kg t0 95 by resiting the spare wheel, clearing out a lot of junk (amazing how quick you acumulate stuff) and reloading the van.

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Out of interest as I have never checked :o where do Baileys show their nose weights? :rolleyes:

42033[/snapback]

 

Hi Roadrunner,

 

THEY DON'T.

 

Its not even on any of their brochures or the plates on the caravans either. I had to phone and write to Bailey after I got the van to find them out.

 

I have collected loads of other makes brouches as well, and none of them show any nose weight data anywhere that I can see. ......

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We used to have a 2003 Bailey 550/6 and the noseweight issue cropped up. I phoned Bailey for the offical noseweight and they confirmed it in writing to me. This particular Bailey model noseweight query has been covered before on here or another Forum (I'll do a search later) and I answered then and can't remember the figure quoted. I'll try and find their letter for you. For us it wasn't such a problem as we had a vehicle with a 100kg noseweight capacity. As regarding the locker loading, yes one might assume you put in various standard items but in reality, the noseweight is all important so that comes first and what you can't put in the locker because of it is secondary, although a pain in the ass and nonsencical.

 

EDIT

I've just been thinking. I used to tow our 550/6 with NOTHING except crockery, cutlery and food and duvets in it and exactly as it left the factory. Nothing in the front locker at all - I put everything in the tow vehicle and the caravan didn't tow well at all. It tended to sway at around 65mph.

 

We now tow a 510/4 and load everything into it including gas etc in the front locker. Most weight is forward of the axle with light stuff behind it - this caravan tows much much better than the 550/6.

 

So possibly, by getting some of your weight SLIGHTLY behind the axle will make the van tow better and you'll not need to load the front and locker so much. Just a thought.

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We used to have a 2003 Bailey 550/6 and the noseweight issue cropped up. I phoned Bailey for the offical noseweight and they confirmed it in writing to me. This particular Bailey model noseweight query has been covered before on here or another Forum (I'll do a search later) and I answered then and can't remember the figure quoted. I'll try and find their letter for you. For us it wasn't such a problem as we had a vehicle with a 100kg noseweight capacity. As regarding the locker loading, yes one might assume you put in various standard items but in reality, the noseweight is all important so that comes first and what you can't put in the locker because of it is secondary, although a pain in the ass and nonsencical.

 

EDIT

I've just been thinking. I used to tow our 550/6 with NOTHING except crockery, cutlery and food and duvets in it and exactly as it left the factory. Nothing in the front locker at all - I put everything in the tow vehicle and the caravan didn't tow well at all. It tended to sway at around 65mph.

 

We now tow a 510/4 and load everything into it including gas etc in the front locker. Most weight is forward of the axle with light stuff behind it - this caravan tows much much better than the 550/6.

 

So possibly, by getting some of your weight SLIGHTLY behind the axle will make the van tow better and you'll not need to load the front and locker so much. Just a thought.

42038[/snapback]

 

Hi,

 

When I have tried to reduce the nose weight to anything near the 75Kgs that the Renault can handle, I've had to put things like the awning, poles, food crate, spare wheel just in front of the rear bunks, remove one gas bottle etc etc and the nose weight was STILL 85Kgs, and I couldn't take the van over 50-55 as it was really unstable.

 

I was always told to 'balance' the van, with heavy item only over the axle, and equal weight put to the front and rear, or you do end up with the pendulum motion that none of us want

 

Also what about the law that states I can't go above the max towing figure for the car.

 

From Desperado on this link:-

http://www. caravantalk. org. uk/forums/index. ..?showtopic=4267

 

CadmannUK I think you are in trouble.

 

I presume the 1300kg you refer to is the maximum towing weight in the cars handbook

 

This particular topic has been discussed many times on this forum and My understanding of the laws as regards to towing (gleaned from this forum) is you are able to tow a caravan with a MTPLM up to the maximum towing limit in your manufactures handbook (ever if this is greater than the kerb weight of the car!).

The 85% MTPLM to car kerb weight is only a recommendation for a safe rig.

 

So as the law stands you are technically illegal even though you may be towing at below your MTPLM.

 

Cad

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Hi Again,

 

Also note that on the Bailey 550/6, the front locker is designed to have two gas bottles fitted as well as carry the spare wheel. All the brackets, mouldings and tie downs are all in the front locker.

You don't get the Al-Ko underslung spare wheel carrier until you venture into the Pageant range.

 

Cad :(

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What Towcar shows your combination as good with only an 80% weight/ratio rating (as recommended by the CC) so you have a 5% margin for novice level and a 20% margin for experienced people.

 

So if the Caravan people, the car people and What Towcar say it is OK then it sounds to me as though you are inadvertently doing something wrong - have you taken advice from the CC - they have some excellent literature on the subject - or anyone else on how to load your vehicles AND I am not having a go at you because I am new to caravans (although not towing) and I read everything I could lay my hands on before going on my first trip.

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have you taken advice from the CC - they have some excellent literature on the subject - or anyone else on how to load your vehicles

42055[/snapback]

 

You could also try the C&CC technical support dept, they provided me with lots of good advice when I was shopping around for a tow car last year, hopefully they may come up with something positive for you.

 

Good luck,

 

Steve

                                                           Fiat Rimor Europeo 69P Motorhome

 

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You could also try the C&CC technical support dept, they provided me with lots of good advice when I was shopping around for a tow car last year, hopefully they may come up with something positive for you.

 

Good luck,

 

Steve

42058[/snapback]

 

Yep been there as well. It's after I spoke to the Caravan Club's legal department I realised how serious the situation is.

 

With regard to the WhatTowCar web page. If you adjust the figures so that the Baileys actual laden weight is up to the MTPLM you see that it tells you the caravan is actually 28Kgs too heavy for the Renault. We have found it hard to keep the van down to the MTPLM anyway. (Don't forget, the reason we got the 6 birth is because there are 5 in my family.

 

Its all well and good trying to find someway to make the van match the car, but the facts as they stand are this.

1. Bailey's MTPLM at 1326Kgs is too heavy for the cars 1300Kgs max tow figure

2. Bailey's nose weight of 139Kgs as supplied is way over the cars 75Kgs limit

3. Bailey's nose weight of 139Kgs exceeds Al-Ko safety limits on the hitch and overrun device.

4. Renault's 1300Kgs max tow figure is just for me or 950Kgs with anyone else in the car.

5. All salespeople told me it was all OK. Al-Ko have already written to me to say it is not.

6. On page 2-1 of the Bailey Handbook its states; "The maximum static nose weight for all Bailey caravans is 100Kgs. This should never be exceeded regardless of whether the towing vehicle's limit is greater"

 

As I have stated in this thread above, even with just one gas bottle and the spare wheel in the front locker, and nothing else in the caravan, the static nose weight is 125Kgs. That to me means that Bailey are overloading the chassis, or do they think it is reasonable to then carry a gas bottle in the car along with the vans spare.

 

As the Caravan Clubs legal advice team has said. The caravan is really 'Not fit for Purpose'

 

The Pageant Bretagne (Same layout) is only 58Kgs. Add one gas bottle and its 72Kgs, add the spare wheel in the rear underslung holder and you then have the facility to put the second gas bottle in the front locker and keep the nose weight under 75Kgs.

 

What have Bailey done to make a van with a nose weight of 92Kgs coming off the production line. It's absolute lunacy.

 

Cad

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You have mentioned taking advice from salesmen before making your purchases. I'm certain I would want adivce about the car's towing ability to come from the car dealer not the caravan dealer. If you quoted the the MTPLM of your van (1326kg from what I can make out) to the car salesman and he stated that the car could tow it (inspite of technical data stating 1300kg- driver only) then you discussion about the mis-match should be with the car salesman. In fact I wolud suggest it is the car that is not fit for purpose; if you clearly stated the weight of the van.

 

As far as the nose weight issue goes, I can't believe that excessive nose weight wasn't spotted at the time you picked the van up. I'm not familiar with Bailey van's but it seems very odd that 'as delivered' the nose weight was so high. I'm sure majority of folks would understand that a typical nose weight rating for most cars is 70-75kg's. I'm sure that amount of excess would be felt when manouvering the van to hitch up.

 

I'm very concerned that the whole matter of nose weight didn't gain your attention until you had towed and experienced problems, as you say by this time you family had already be put at risk. For this matter I really would be looking at the caravan dealer. If noseweight is a known problem with this model of Bailey (I don't know, I'm picking this up from your comments) then I really would have expected the dealer to highlight weight/balance issues to you.

 

In terms of balancing the van placing weight at the extremes (front or rear) will have a destabilising, or pendulum, effect; where the same weight positioned close to the axle will not (polar moments of inertia if I remember rightly from college days) But with the nose weight you are talking about then trying to balance this with with heavy items in the van just behind the axle line would probably require so much weight that you'd be way over the MTPLM. This all seems very strange given the popularity of Bailey vans.

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EDIT. ..... You have mentioned taking advice from salesmen before making your purchases. I'm certain I would want adivce about the car's towing ability to come from the car dealer not the caravan dealer. If you  quoted the the MTPLM of your van (1326kg from what I can make out) to the car salesman and he stated that the car could tow it (inspite of technical data stating 1300kg- driver only) then you discussion about the mis-match should be with the car salesman. In fact I wolud suggest it is the car that is not fit for purpose; if you clearly stated the weight of the van.

 

42082[/snapback]

 

You haven't mentioned who supplied the towbar, I guess you could take this stance further if the dealer fitted it.

                                                           Fiat Rimor Europeo 69P Motorhome

 

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