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Buying An 8M+ Caravan And Re-Fitting For Three?


luckycat
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Hi all

 

First, please be gentle I am a caravanning newbie.

 

Our plan is to go caravaning around Europe for a year - probably in 2016. There is me, my wife and our kid who will be 2. 8 years old then - idea is to take time out before she starts school.

 

I'm fixated on what could be a stupid idea at the moment and would love to hear your input. Given the amount of time we're travelling, I'd like to make our living environment as efficient as possible. I have seen quite a few fairly large caravans (around the 8m mark) which are all 6 berth caravans.

 

The size looks good, and the plan would be to refit the caravan with one double bed and a child's bed, giving us more floor space for, e. g. a "play area"/"mobile office". Add to that an awning and I think that'd be ample room for us to live in for a year.

 

The issue (as always) is money. Does anyone have any idea how much it would cost to get a carvan refitted? I'd guess that we could buy perhaps an older caravan in need of updating for cheaper, but then spend the money saved on refitting. Or are there 3-person large caravans for sale already somewhere?

 

The caravan will be towed by an X5 so can be quite heavy.

 

Please let me know your thoughts - please feel free to give advice on things I might have not even considered!

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It must be remembered that once you carry out extensive modifications on a caravan there is a possibility that a new certificate of Compliance may be needed to insure it as it is no longer standard. Are you talking about shipping length of 8m or body length of 8m. If the latter you may have issues towing as the X5 will not be suitable. More importantly do you have a B+E driving licence otherwise you are restricted to a maximum of 3500kg gross train weight or a caravan with a MTPLM of less than 800kgs.

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Being in Hong Kong, check the local regulations. They might differ from ours.

2011 Land Rover Freelander 2, Lago grey 2013 Freelander Dynamic Black, followed by a 2013 Elddis 574 Magnum GT white

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Thanks Delta. I meant shipping length (I think).

 

I never realised there is a driving licence consequence actually so really appreciate the heads up. I'll therefore stick with a max of 8m body length. That MTPLM threshold sounds very low. I'm guessing on a standard driving licence you don't get B and E, so a further test will be required?

 

A lot of the 6 seaters I have seen have beds both front and back, with the back having double bunk bed arrangements. If we were to remove the beds from the front, would that be "extensive modifications"?

 

We're living in HK at the moment, so will need to plan carefully if we also need to take driving tests etc!


Thanks Gravon - we're Brits, just working abroad for a few years.

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The max length you can tow with a vehicle up to 3500kg is 7M body length.

 

If you took your driving licence after 1 Jan 1997, then you are limited to towing a combined max plated weight of 3500kg. Anything above that requires you to take a towing test to obtain a B+E licence.

 

Brian

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Hello luckycat. Sorry to ask such personal questions but we need to know these points before we can offer advice. Are you a UK/EU resident because insurance may be tricky if not. Have you a British or EU driving licence? What does it permit you to drive and tow? Do you already have the tow car or do you have to buy it when you come to Europe? Do you plan to buy the caravan in Europe? There are many caravans available without modification that would be quite suitable for your needs, but you will have to learn to live with a fairly small space inside the caravan, but utilising the outside space too. If you are caravanning in Europe for a year you should plan to be located in the nicest climates/seasons (you don't want to be in Southern Spain in August nor Scotland in January).

Ern

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Hi guys.

 

Yes we're British citizens. We moved to Hong Kong a few years ago but now are planning our return back to the UK (via a year travelling).

 

We both took our standard driving tests after 1997, though our licences are in the UK so I can't immediately check what we're entitled to drive.

 

Sorry if I'm being stupid but all the different weight terminologies is now beginning to confuse me. Is the 3500kg inclusive of the car towing the caravan?

 

We will be buying the car at the same time as the caravan - X5 seems to get good reviews as a good and comfortable towing vehicle - but please feel free to tell me I'm wrong!

 

We're following the seasons, do north Europe in summer all e way down to Portugal at winter, then back up again.

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If you intend to drive a UK registered towcar, you would be restricted to a caravan with a body length of 7m (not 8m). This restriction would not apply if the towcar is registered elsewhere.

 

So long as only interior modifications are made, they would not normally affect type approval, so you would be relatively free to carry these out.

 

Yes, on a Category B licence, without the B+E extension, the sum of the max. allowable weight of the towcar and that of the caravan must not exceed 3500kg. This condition would hardly be fulfilled with an X5 towing a caravan of the size that you are looking at.

Edited by Lutz
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Sorry if I'm being stupid but all the different weight terminologies is now beginning to confuse me. Is the 3500kg inclusive of the car towing the caravan?.

Yes 3500kg is the limit and it's the max, or gross weight, of the car plus caravan added together.

Brian

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We met a couple and their 4 kids travelling through Europe in a std Bailey Pagent, they are both working Doctors who've taken a year sabbatical, the size of ' van didn't seem to hamper them. In the interest of saving money, maybe you could look at standard 'vans.

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I thought it was a vehicle upto 3500kg and a trailer upto 750 kg and over 750kg then the limit is a confined weight under 3500kg. ?

 

 

Dave

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I thought it was a vehicle upto 3500kg and a trailer upto 750 kg and over 750kg then the limit is a confined weight under 3500kg. ?

 

 

Dave

Yes Dave, that's correct :)

 

https://www. gov. uk/driving-licence-categories

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I thought it was a vehicle upto 3500kg and a trailer upto 750 kg and over 750kg then the limit is a confined weight under 3500kg. ?

 

 

Dave

 

I don't think anyone was disagreeing with that. However, the combined weight is the sum of the maximum allowable weights, not the gross train weight.

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We met a couple and their 4 kids travelling through Europe in a std Bailey Pagent, they are both working Doctors who've taken a year sabbatical, the size of ' van didn't seem to hamper them. In the interest of saving money, maybe you could look at standard 'vans.

 

A good second hand caravan that needs no work done to it would seem a much better idea, to me anyway. :)

2007 Bailey Series 5 Senator Arizona (4 berth, rear bathroom, side dinette) towed by a 57 Kia Sorento XS Auto with Kumho KL17 tyres, Reich Mover, Kampa Rally 390, Caravan Tyres : GT Radial Maxmiler CX 185/80 R14 102R.

 

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Wow. Lots of food for thought already and thanks for all the sage advice guys. I really want to get as prepared as possible so I really appreciate the advice you guys are giving.

 

So the options are to either:

 

1. Compromise on the size of the car and caravan to keep the weight under 3500kg; or

2. Arrange for me and the wife to take our B and E licences.

 

I think option 2 would be better, but does anyone have any experience of what this would entail? How do you go about getting lessons for the test, and what does the test entail? Could it be completed in a couple of months?

 

I'd like our budget to be about 20,000/25,000 for both the car and the caravan, so buying second hand would be a necessity but I would hope that for that kind of money we could get something decent.

 

Ideally, I'd like something like this: http://www. ebay. co. uk/itm/Elddis-Crusader-Superstorm-2006-6-Berth-Twin-Axle-Touring-Caravan-/171437016905?pt=UK_Campers_Caravans_Motorhomes&hash=item27ea714749 . If we wanted this, we'd need a hefty car (that's the thinking behind an X5, but if you guys have any better suggestions please let me hear them).

 

If I wanted that setup, we'd have to get those driving licence extensions, right?

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If I wanted that setup, we'd have to get those driving licence extensions, right?

Right - According to the link, it has a gross mass (MTPLM) of 1900kg.

Add the X5 mass of 2905kg comes to 4805kg, well over the 3500kg limit.

 

I have no experience of doing a towing test so will let others comment on that.

 

Brian

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Hi Luckycat - where about in HK are you? I lived in Tuen Mun Gold coast for a year or so while working at Chek lap kok.

 

As far as the van goes, have a look at the Bailey Senator Wyoming. We had one for 5 years & it was superb. End bedroom, large washroom. Tows really well. Only sold it as we wanted a motorhome. be in your price range i would have thought. You will need to have passed your B + E to tow it though as its a fairly big van, twin axle @ 25' 11". Fully loaded from memory its about 1700kgs.

X5 would tow it easily, or a similar size car.

I refer you to the Rt Hon Member for the 19th Century.....................pictured just to the left of your screen..................

 

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Hi Woodie, we live in Sai Kung, so the other side, but we adopted our kid who was in a foster home in Tuen Mun (Sam Shing, if you remember it? Where all the fish restaurants are!). Small world. Thanks, I'll check out your suggestion.

 

I am having a play around with what I could get to satisfy the 3500kg threshold (both in terms of a comfortable car and a nice caravan) and I"m really struggling.

 

Is this type of research already carried out somewhere? You input the car make and the caravan make and it'll do its mathematical magic? Or is the only way with good old pen, paper and calculator?

 

At the moment, my feeling is we should try and tow as big a caravan as possible, but maybe the answer is to find a good sub-3500kg combo and save the hassle of arranging driving tests when all we will want to do is get our gear on the road and on our way.

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That's a real eye opener - I was aware of the 3500kg limit, but wasn't aware that it referred to MAM (the actual wording regarding B category is ambiguous but other government websites confirm that Brian is spot on). I'm old enough not to be affected, but I'm surprised how constraining it is. My relatively modest outfit (Superb plus GT65 Verona) would be 150kg over.

 

If you can't get the B/E test sorted, you might want to get a nice awning ;-)

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This page summarises the driving licence rules in simple terms

 

https://www. gov. uk/towing-with-car/driving-licence-rules-and-what-you-can-tow

 

Brian

 

There are errors in that page. I suggests, for example, that there are differences in what one can drive with a Category B licence if it was issued after the 1st January 1997 compared to one issued after the 19th January 2013. If whoever published that information had read the text of the legislation involved he would have realised that the changes introduced in 2013 apply to licences issued before that date, too.

 

Also, it does not make it absolutely clear that the weights referred to are maximum allowable, not actual.

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I have done my b and e and although not a given it is not that difficult. No theory test just a few show me tell me questions. Need to correctly hitch and unhitch a trailer. Reverse the trailer into a space and the rest is a drive to test standard with the trailer although no 3 point turn etc.

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I think option 2 would be better, but does anyone have any experience of what this would entail? How do you go about getting lessons for the test, and what does the test entail? Could it be completed in a couple of months?

 

You could complete the training and test in a few days. You don't need to do any training (I didn't B)), but it gives you a much better chance of passing if you do.

Suggest you talk to a B+E trainer in the area in the UK where you'll be based from initially.

They can usually provide a suitable vehicle and trailer to do the test in, also.

 

Once you have the +E entitlement, you can pretty much use any car + caravan combo, as long as the 'body' length is under 7m.

Note the 'shipping' length (including drawbar at the front) can be longer.

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