Fitting out your motorhome: All the trades
 #87563  by Nod&jez
 Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:14 pm
We are looking at purchasing a second hand imported uk caravan from a dealer here in NZ but there seems to be a few articles on why not to buy them. What are the opinions/experiences of people who have brought them vs buying an old nz made caravan.
 #87566  by Derb
 Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:23 am
Hi Boss. This is a very polarising subject comprising two teams. Those whom have brought one and 1/have had a good experience, 2/have had a bad experience both of whom wont pass a bad comment on them for fear of affecting their resale value. Those who have witnessed the heartbreaking grief caused when these vans fall to bits or leak (frequently combination) or have had a bad experience and are not too embarrassed to talk about it. I have seen a half dozen bad vans and I wouldn't touch an older 2nd hand English van with a bargepole. Having said that, The newer Bailey, Eldiss, Swift and other UK vans have a pretty good warranty now although they still don't have much underneath to hang decent tanks onto. They are all very light (typically a tonne lighter on a 25 ft van) due to the construction methods used. Don't buy into the argument that the older UK vans are better insulated than other vans - I have seen the skin off a couple and they can be very dodgey. The floor is where the insulation is very good due to the sandwich construction and herein lies one of their major issues - "when" water gets into the floor (and it does) the floors get spongy and eventually fall to bits. Use the search function thoroughly - there is a mine of information on this topic. You have to remember that these vans have left the UK shores for a very good reason - no-one wants them any more and for a very good reason whereas a large number of NZ vans are still bringing good money 30 and 40 years later - speaks for itself. Good Luck. ( I fully expect to cop a lot of fallout as a result of this reply but I looked very seriously at these 2nd-hand vans before buying 1stly Australian then NZ vans and I stand by my comments)
 #87567  by Nut17
 Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:39 am
I will second all Brian (Derb) has said. Have done the research and for most of the reasons reasons above, I would not go down that track.
 #87572  by mattn
 Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:39 am
I have posted many times in favour of UK caravans countering the unbalanced statements made out of ignorance or bias by the other camp. I stand by them with a proviso - there is a lot of rubbish being imported into New Zealand. Some Kiwi buyers and ignorant and know nothing about the product, and do not do any research, import stuff they bough for nothing from the UK, and wonder why it falls apart. Some importers and dealers are importing crap and selling for a huge profit to those ignorant buyers. Just remember, no one talks about the ones that don't have problems.

Also consider your tug - you can pull a UK van with a medium car, any reasonable sized Aussie vans needs a big, rear wheel drive or 4x4 to pull it. Notice the popularity of Utes for pulling Aussie/Kiwi vans - it's because there few cars capable of doing the job. If you already have and/or would like a 4x4/Ute or Big car, great, Aussie van is a goer. If you do not want one for you daily car, a UK van may be better. For instance I tow a UK behind a Bighorn. The Bighorn could pull over 2000kg caravan, but it is hard work for the car and driver.

Do your home work and do not rush in. Do not expect a 1400kg Euro van to as 'robust' as a 2000kg van, but the question is not 'which is more robust?', it's 'is it robust enough for you and how you intend to use it?'. Consider resale - your UK van will probably depreciate faster than its Aussie counterpart - but you will spend less to start with.

Compare today's caravan market with the 1980's Used car imports. Show me an Aussi van that can comfortable sleep a family of 4 with shower and toilet, Heating an insulation to maintain 25degrees above outside temperature, can be comfortable and safely towed by a 2.0L medium size car. Show me the $$$... Over the last 5 years the UK Caravan market has evolved along very similar lines to the Jap Car market.

In 10 years time, the Kiwi van makers will be around filling a smaller and smaller niche market. I expect the Aussie caravan makers will go the same way as the Aussie car industry. With the demise of the big heavy Aussie V8's and lack of RWD cars, the market over there will dry up for 2500kg caravans with 250kg pushing down on the tow ball. Only those that really need a full ladder chassis for off road use will be buying. Everyone else will switch to light weight vans. - but I have been known to be wrong.
 #87582  by Teardrop
 Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:01 pm
I think Derb is exactly right. I have also come across quite a few with issues, and the difficulty for any purchaser is knowing how to avoid the problem vans if you come across one. This applies to any van - older NZ ones that have remained as touring vans and are regularly used and well maintained would be my preference, but again you have to be careful. Australian vans are hit and miss, there are many variations in construction quality.

Many of the older UK caravans (if not all) have poor insulation. This was very apparent when Barrons first set up in Taupo about 14 years ago or so, and for a while sold UK vans alongside NZ vans (Oxford). When you entered a closed up British van in Summer, it was invariably hot and stuffy. When you entered an Oxford, it was quite liveable. The difference was remarkable. The attached photos of a 2005 UK van that literally fell apart in the container during transit here shows just how flimsy the construction can be, and the very limited insulation, if any in places. You can also see where it has been leaking - this is not isolated to UK vans and a thorough moisture test would be advisable.

UK vans with ultra light aluminium sheet cladding dent very easily and can be difficult to repair properly - the original profile can be difficult if not impossible to get. Many also come in with existing dents, so it becomes a matter of how tolerant you are to that cosmetic feature.

A friend of ours has just purchased a small motorhome as he got sick of maintenance issues with his early 2000's English van - both sidewalls were starting to droop - I'm not sure if he was worried he was about to lose headroom in the bathroom :) .

Claims that UK vans have all the bells and whistles that NZ and Aussie vans don't have make me wonder exactly what those are.

In the last 4-5 years, there has been a change of construction and modernisation of UK vans, hopefully for the better. So this is an era thing. Personally, I would be very careful with any second hand van to get it checked, but especially with an older UK one.


 #87593  by mattn
 Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:36 pm
In response to those images, that look more like impact damage than anything else.....

Super Strong Aussie caravan A Frames.....

A well attached Axle assembly on an Aussi caravan

Aussie caravans are really well insulated......

And they do not rot and fall apart......

(The full story can be seen here)

Past time this BS stopped and the facts were made available in a way the balances the discussion.

Any Caravan that is poorly build can fall apart, leak and rot/rust/corrode\. Any caravan that is well maintained will last a long time.

Its trivially easy to find photos of bad caravans on the internet. Me posting those photos is not because I believe Aussie caravans are rubbish - they are not - Its because I wanted to show how easy it was to post up some horrifying photos and make generalisations based on them. Putting it in perspective, there are over 500,000 touring caravans in the UK alone, many times more that in Europe. No wonder its easy to find photos of dud's
 #87597  by WoodyZ
 Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:58 pm
There are crap builders of crap vans all over just as there are good builders of good vans. Sometimes a good builder manages to build a crap van and no doubt the occasional crap builder will build a van which is well built.

Some vans are built for conditions which may suit one user but not another.

Do your due diligence and you should be ok but first you do need to identify what you need in a van, not what someone else needs. Get your needs sorted then you can start narrowing your search but above all, get a prospective purchase checked out by someone who knows what they are on about.
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