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Toy Hauler

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 8:48:57 PM EST by John Beattie

Southern Cross ‘Adventurer’ toy hauler.

Toy Hauler

I have been in the family business, building trailers for over 22 years... and have built various types of trailers, from small box trailers, right through to 4.5 tonne 5th Wheelers. Over this period, I noticed an increasing demand for trailers that could be multifunctional. Trailers that could be used for work during the week, and for camping with the toys on the weekends with all the creature comforts..

If you’re out every weekend, you soon get sick of setting up tents and tarps, especially if there’s bad weather around. It doesn’t take long before you start missing some of the comforts of home, like a ready made bed, kitchen with a fridge etc, or even a shower and toilet.

Back in 2007 I went to the United States to check out what was going on in this industry, and I was amazed at just how many types of ‘toy haulers’ there were. This was something that Australia was lacking in, and there were only a couple of manufacturers building for this market. One other Aussie style i had noticed, was the ‘home made’ version, and some I’ve seen were absolute Doozies!

We had been building 5th Wheelers for the ‘Grey Nomads’ now for several years, and I thought it was about time we started to broaden our range, and also cater for the younger adventurous types. So...I sat down on my computer, and designed a new chassis, modified our airbag suspension, then designed a new body and optional floor plans to suit, while incorporating a multi-functional ‘garage’ style room in the rear.

The first van in this range was going to be my own personal toy hauler, so I could test, travel and take everything I wanted with me. The trick of course, was to build the van with the options I needed, but to also be at the correct weight to suit the tow vehicle and still put all my gear and the toys in the back.

So my van was built, and since then we have built several other customised variations from its concept and design. The beauty of this is the room (Garage) in the rear, as it can be used for almost anything ; To date, I have had Quad bikes, Canoes, Push bikes, Dirt bikes, Road bikes (Sports & Harley Davidson), and Go-carts in the back...The only item yet to put in the back, is a Jet ski!

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Two of the best standard inclusions we fitted are the; Fibreglass composite body, and the ‘GEN 3 Independent trailing arm airbag suspension’.  I call this “Our Esky on Airbags”. This is by far the best body and trailer suspension on the market. The suspension gives the softest, gentlest ride to the van and its contents. If you’re familiar with transporting motorbikes, you will know that everything has to be strapped firm so nothing moves or falls over. Well...I can load my Harley Davidson, sit it on its side stand, strap the front (with absolute minimal pressure to compress the suspension), then strap the rear chassis, just so the bike doesn’t roll forward.  Basically, the vans suspension does all the work, so the contents don’t move much at all. Yet another great function of the airbags is that I can raise, lower, load, and unload at the flick of a switch! Perfect for camping on uneven ground too...no blocks or ramps...just raise and lower the suspension...Great stuff! And I would never consider going back to the antiquated ‘leaf springs’ ever again.

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I have done lots of small weekend trips away, and a few longer trips over school holidays. On the longer trips we have been fully loaded, with 2 Adults and 5 children, all their pushbikes, scooters, skateboards, clothes, golf gear, food, and even the pets. I have travelled on all types of roads as well, from tarmac, through to corrugated rough gravel...and I know my suspension will never let me down. The van flows behind the vehicle with ease, to the stage you forget it’s even there... I have to keep watching my Speedo, to keep it below 100k’s/p/hr.

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Ultimately, I am very happy with my van, it suits me and my family down to the ground. I always feel safe and comfortable when towing, and I’m confident everything will be just the way I loaded it when I arrive at my destination.

 

 

johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

Queensland Caravan Parks

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:12:11 PM EST by

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In a previous blog post we toured around Australia looking from state to state at some marvelous sites this nation has to offer. In conjunction with those posts we will now look at popular caravan parks scattered throughout each state.

This week we look at the sunshine state, and home of Southern Cross Caravans, Queensland.

Dicky Beach Family Holiday Park

Dicky Beach is a truly spectacular beach, suited for all ages it makes for a perfect family stopover for a night or a week.

There are playgrounds and tennis courts as well as a nearby skate park. This park is made up of 84 powered tourist caravan sites, and if you’re lucky you can score one of the 11 sites with absolute water views. It also has 53 unpowered tent sites and 12 self-contained motel style units. The park also has free wi-fi connection and has direct access to a patrolled beach.

For further information, visit the Dicky Beach Family Holiday Park website.

Noosa River Holiday Park

Right on the banks of the Noosa River, this holiday park is a short stroll away from the popular Hastings Street whilst still providing a private camping site. This park has 92 powered caravan sites and 43 un-powered tent sites with a large under cover BBQ/dining area and a fully stocked kiosk to top up the esky.

Visitors often find themselves hiring a small tinny or a couple of paddle boats to explore the Noosa River or take a bike ride along one of the many bike paths. Only minutes from the amazing Noosa Headland this Holiday Park is perfect for grey nomads spending their grandchildren’s inheritance or a family taking the weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For further information, visit the Noosa River Holiday Park website.

Tamborine Mountain Caravan & Camping

Located right near the breath-taking Cedar Creek Falls, the Tamborine Mountain Caravan & Camping ground is an ideal getaway for those who want to embrace the atmosphere of the rainforest.

From this site you can enjoy horse-riding and a visit to the adventure park. A short drive up the mountain will let you enjoy a plethora of arts and crafts stores and not to mention delicious fudge shops like Granny Mac’s. While you’re on the mountain you might as well enjoy the glow worm caves and also take a walk on the Skywalk.

This site has many large shady sites (some with power, some without power), safari tents, a kiosk and a coin-operated laundry.

For more information, visit the Tamborine Mountain Caravan & Camping Ground website.

Airlie Cove Resort and Van Park

Situated on 28 acres of tranquil land, this tourist park embraces the natural environment. There is a range of camping options from powered sites for your caravan and fifth wheeler to a deluxe Bali Villa.

A bird watchers paradise, this park is close to tourist attractions and surrounded by national parks.

For more information, visit the Airlie Cove Resort and Van Park website. 


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

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Caravan Buyers Guide

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:14:12 PM EST by

Southern Cross Caravans gives you a comfortable lifestyle.

Practicality and simplicity coupled with stylish design is at the heart of every Southern Cross Caravan.

We strive to give you what you need. We make your caravan exclusively for you. We have access to a good range of appliances and inclusions that can be added or removed to suit your needs.

With Southern Cross you deal directly with the manufacturer. You want to enjoy the lifestyle that a caravan brings so we make sure that we take the time to give you one on one service with a walk through of our factory to see all stages of production, “warts and all”. This gives people an amazing insight into exactly how our vans are built. We are proud of what we have achieved with our products and it shows in our workmanship and quality. People that come in to see us are pleasantly impressed with the style, design and attention to detail.

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Follow this easy five step program to help you live the dream.

  1. Choose a Model and suitable Tow Vehicle.
  2. Choose one of our floor plan templates.
  3. Choose your appliances and inclusions from our list.
  4. Choose from our extensive range of interior/exterior colour schemes.
  5. Receive your new personalised caravan and enjoy the ultimate travelling experience.

Now is the time to get out on the road and enjoy life in a Southern Cross Caravan. See what makes this country so special, relax in comfort and travel this great southern land in style.

Southern Cross customers don’t just buy a caravan; they buy into a family.

We have customers all over this great nation just like you that are eager to meet up with other members of the Southern Cross family. This is what being a Southern Cross customer is about.

We build our caravans and fifth wheelers with longevity and quality as our main focus. Through our interaction with clients we create an atmosphere of family that makes us an industry leader in customer service.


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

Caravan Buyers Guide - Fifth Wheelers vs Motorhomes

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:22:01 PM EST by

What is the difference between a Fifth Wheeler and a Motorhome? 

This is a subject that really does come down to personal choice. Everybody has their own individual situation and needs for travelling. One thing we have learned over time is that most people are persuaded into something they don’t fully understand or really need. This is normally first time travelers that have been influenced by their friends or maybe family.

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There is a general characterization that a motorhome is better for the Nomads who move frequently, and that a fifth wheeler is better for those who stay in one place for a longer period of time. This may or may not be true for everyone. However, if your regular routine is to park the RV for months at a time in a single location, think twice about paying to maintain a motorhome engine. Motorhomes are designed to be driven.

Other things to consider include clearance height, capacity for towing and carrying belongings, water tank capacity, storage areas and the quality and reputation of the manufacturer. There is a wide range of designs, brands and models within each type of motorhome, trailers, trucks, fifth wheelers, campers and so on.

Once you have travelled, you soon work out what suits and what doesn’t. There are both positives and negatives to Motorhomes and Fifth Wheelers, so we have noted some of the key differences for you to scrutinise below:

MOTORHOME

 

FIFTH WHEELER

 A motor home, if too big, can’t easily be driven to the shops or parked in a supermarket if you need to get supplies.

 

 A Fifth Wheelers Ute can be detached and driven anywhere a car can go, anytime. It can also tow other things, such as trailers and horse floats.

 With a larger Motor home you may need a medium rigid license.

 

 Only requires a standard car license.

Passenger can move around inside motorhome while travelling (only when stationary).

 

No access to trailer while travelling.

It would not be practical for a reasonable sized motor home to be used as a daily driver when at home.

 

Tow vehicle can easily be used as a daily driver when at home.

Can tow a fuel economical vehicle for sightseeing/errands.

 

Large tow vehicle may be fuel hog.

With a motorhome you have to fuel two vehicles; the motorhome and your tow car.

 

With a Fifth wheeler you only fuel your tow vehicle.

With a motorhome you need to change the oil and maintain the engines of two vehicles.

 

With a Fifth wheeler you only need to maintain one vehicle.

 Oil changes in a motorhome may run to $300 or more.

 

 Oil changes for a diesel engine in a typical fifth wheeler tow vehicle may run to about $75.

A large Motorhome with a trailer and a small vehicle could equal Truck, Trailer and Car registration.

 

A Fifth wheeler and tow vehicle is standard trailer and car registration.

 In most cases, you can move about in a motorhome with slides closed

 

Often closed slides means no access to the interior of the Fifth wheeler

 Insurance costs are much higher for a motorized vehicle

 

 Insurance costs are less since there is no engine in a trailer

 Motorhomes lose living area with dashboard/driver's area

 

 Trailers are all living space

 Living room TVs are placed overhead over the windshield

 

 TVs are placed at a reasonable height and angle

Motorhomes are a much more expensive outlay

 

Fifth wheelers are more reasonably priced while equipped the same as a motorhome

It can be difficult to find a repair location based on the size of the Motorhome

 

Most truck or car dealers can work on your tow vehicle

If engine repairs are needed, you will probably need to stay in a motel

 

You can stay in your Fifth wheeler while your truck is being worked on

Many motorhomes are affected by the draft created by passing semis and high winds

 

Trucks pulling fifth wheel trailers are normally not affected by drafts and are much more stable traveling on roadways under high wind conditions

As a motorized vehicle, some states may require your motorhome be inspected for annual registration purposes.

 

Trailers usually don't need to be inspected for registration purposes.

Motorhome tyres are larger and therefore more expensive than trailer tires.

 

Even if you have a triple axle trailer your tyre expense will still be less than that of a motorhome.

Travelling This Great Southern Land in Style

We have designed a range of Fifth Wheelers that have gone places we never expected. Strong yet lightweight designs mean you don't need large gas guzzler tow vehicles. The ball style coupling allows for better flexibility in rough terrain, the soft, long travel air suspension gives a fantastic ride. The well-appointed practical durable design of the Southern Cross Fifth Wheeler enables a luxurious worry free holiday experience.

If you haven’t yet signed up to tour our factory, now is your chance.
See various vans at different stages of production being built right before your eyes.

factory_tour_main_button


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

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Caravan Buyers Guide - Fifth Wheelers vs Caravans

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:22:53 PM EST by

The original concept of the fifth wheel has been around since around 1000 B.C. and was used to steer wagons and carriages. Over the years it has progressed to tractors, trucks and RV’s. The device allows the front axle assembly to pivot in the horizontal plane, to facilitate turning. Basically, a wheel was placed on the rear frame section of the truck, the wheel that was placed on the frame was the "fifth wheel" hence the name. There is also another coupling that can be used in the same manner, but with better ‘side to side’ articulation. This is a ball style coupling, and has been widely used in the farming and horse gooseneck industries.

The Australian public is now getting used to the whole idea of the fifth wheel concept in a caravan form. They are realising you don’t need a huge tow vehicle or a huge Fifth Wheeler, as seen before with most imported models. There are now many Australian companies building quality Fifth Wheelers to suit the Australian market and smaller tow vehicles.

Why Buy a Fifth Wheeler Instead of a Caravan?

Safety

The Fifth Wheeler offers the best of both the caravan and motorhome worlds and is designed to be pulled by a ute. Unlike conventional caravan towing, however, the hitch and weight of the front section of the Fifth Wheeler is over the tow vehicles rear axle, delivering fantastic on-road stability. Not like a Caravan hanging off the rear of your cars bumper which works as a counter leaver and can create sway, pitching and in-stability.

The overall length of the fully-hitched rig is also significantly shorter than the average car-caravan combination making it easier to overtake other vehicles safely. When towing for the first time, you will notice the smooth trailing of the Fifth Wheeler, it almost feels like there is nothing behind you. As for a caravan, you can be constantly counteracting the steering which can create a certain level of discomfort and stress for the driver.

Manoeuvring

A Fifth Wheeler can be bigger than a caravan, but shorter in over-all length. Without the extra metre or two a caravan needs for a towbar. This means you can have a bigger living area with more floor space, storage and still be more manoeuvrable and approach at much tighter angles to squeeze into tight spots. The articulation point on a Fifth Wheeler is further forward than a caravans hitch, so this enables a better, direct control when reversing.

Weight

The weight of a Fifth Wheeler is basically divided into thirds, with one third of the weight above the rear axle of the tow vehicle, and two thirds on the trailers suspension. Because the weight is distributed this way, the towing capacity is calculated in a different manor to a trailer or caravan. The crucial weight to take note of is the vehicles Gross Combined Mass (GCM). For example: A Nissan Navara Duel Cab Turbo Diesel has a GCM of 5805kg. The Nissan’s Kerb Weight is 1985kg. Allow 400kg for people, fuel etc. 5805 – 1985 = 3820 - 400 = 3420kg fully loaded 5th Wheeler.

Hitching Up

Hooking up to a Fifth Wheeler is generally an easy task. In most cases there is no need to get out of your car to see if you’re lined up. You can normally see the hitch in your rear-vision mirror, making it a one person hook-up. Duel cabs can sometimes have limited vision, but with the options of Remote Control Electric legs and Reversing Cameras, you can do it even easier.

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Above: Hitching a Fifth Wheeler is easy & safe.

The Southern Cross Advantage

Smaller Tow Vehicles

We build strong yet lightweight Fifth Wheelers with spacious layouts to suit a larger range of tow vehicles.

Leveling Up

With the independently controlled 200mm travel airbag suspension along with the individually controlled electric remote front legs, gone are the days of wasting time to set up camp, bending your back, chocking under tyres, and using wind up jacks. We know you would rather be sitting in your comfy chair with a glass of your favourite beverage.

Travelling This Great Southern Land in Style

We have designed a range of Fifth Wheelers that have gone places we never expected. The ball style coupling allows for better flexibility in rough terrain, the soft, long travel air suspension gives a fantastic ride. The well-appointed practical durable design of the Southern Cross Fifth Wheeler enables a luxurious worry free holiday experience.

If you haven't yet signed up to tour our factory, now is your chance.
See various vans at different stages of production being built right before your eyes.

factory_tour_main_button


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

Caravan Buyers Guide - Hitches & Couplings

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:23:47 PM EST by

Vehicle Compliance and Customisation.

We will be talking about 5th Wheel hitches in this article, and we will go through the process of how we fit a ball type coupling to your ute.

If you already have a vehicle or you wish to purchase a vehicle to tow a fifth wheel caravan, it’s very important to understand all the legalities and performance of the vehicle. All vehicles have ratings based on power, torque, towing capacity and payload capacity, etc specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Vehicles should also have what’s called a Gross Combined Mass (GCM) limit, which is the total allowed weight of the tow vehicle plus the fifth wheel caravan when both are fully laden. The crucial weight to take note of is the vehicles Gross Combined Mass (GCM).

For example, a Nissan Navara Dual Cab Turbo Diesel has a GCM of 5805kg. The Kerb Weight is 1985kg. Allow 400kg for people etc. The math looks like this:

5805 (GCM) – 1985 (kerb weight) = 3820 kg

3820 - 400 (passengers) = 3420 kg

Therefore 3420 kg is the maximum weight allowed for a fully loaded 5th Wheeler.

All of these specifications need to be taken into account with the fifth wheel caravan manufacturer when working out whether the vehicle is suitable for towing a van of the desired size.

The trailers size and fitted options determine its ‘tare weight’. We strive to always keep a big margin between the tare and the Aggregate Trailer Mass (the total mass of a fully laden trailer). On average we end up with around 900kg of free weight for an average 25 foot 5th Wheeler.

Being in this industry for as long as we have, you see all types of bodgy work. Ultimately it is your life, or even another persons life on the line. Regulations are getting stricter because safety is paramount. Gone are the days you could get away with something like the home-made hitch below!

'DON'T BE A MUPPET'

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As you can see, this is a classic example of 'what not to do'.

Check out the 'back yard' engineer designed timber support from the towbar supporting the tailgate. Notice the extra chain support as well, apparently for extra peace of mind!

I think the exhaust fumes got to this guy way before he fitted this hitch.

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Look Ma, I don't need power steering anymore, and we can now spot the animals in the trees while driving at night!


We can setup your vehicle and the 5th Wheeler to complement each other.

Click here to go to TOW VEHICLE ENGINEERING APPROVALS AND TRAY MODIFICATIONS. Page on our website.


At Southern Cross, our fifth wheelers have been specifically designed to be legally towed by the smaller Aussie utes. We even allow the coupling to be installed over the rear axle in dual cab versions, whilst still retaining enough clearance to be able to do a U-turn. Other advantages for considering a smaller fifth wheel caravan is that they are lighter and shorter in towing length. This not only provides a safer and more fuel efficient tow, but will also be welcomed in standard-size caravan parks.

Some of the smaller tow vehicles are listed below;

  • Nissan Navara
  • Ford Ranger 
  • Mazda BT-50
  • Holden Rodeo / Colorado
  • Holden Ute One-Tonner
  • Ford Falcon One-Tonner
  • Mitsubishi Triton
  • Great Wall
  • Toyota Hilux

The installation of the hitch is not an easy job, and should always be done by trained professionals; this takes time and has to be done right. A hitch has many lateral forces working in all directions against it. There are structural steel supports and bracing that have to be made from scratch to suit your individual vehicle and tray, as some have more obstructions than others. Hi tensile rated bolts have to be installed in specific positions along with crush tubes to meet engineering standards as well. Generally, we will assume you will be driving on rough or corrugated roads as most of our customers have, so we design accordingly.

There are two types of ADR Approved ‘Ball couplings’ we use.

  • Drop down ball. (folds down flush with tray)
  • Fixed ball. (bolted through a machined bush)
 hitch1 hitch2  hitch3 

 

These 75mm balls are 10 Tonne rated and don’t take up much room on the vehicles tray.  At this point you may be asking yourself, why a Ball coupling and not a conventional Skid plate. We can do both, but we have found the Ball coupling to be easy to use, it is very compact, economical, and it gives good horizontal articulation in all directions. Ideal for those twisted positions you can get into both off-road and on-road.

During the build procedure, we have to remove the tray, modify, and then re-fit it in the process. We generally try to keep the tray to a standard size and height to allow for articulated clearances with the fifth wheeler. This is normally set up when the tray comes off the vehicle along with any other modifications or extras.

Once everything has been completed we can organise the electrics needed to suit the trailer along with the Break controller, Anderson charge cables and optional reversing cameras. Upgrades to the rear suspension can also be fitted at this stage, generally air bags are a good choice for a soft ride no matter what the weight, and they are also height adjustable.

We then have the vehicle Engineer Approved to specification and modification tagged for the Department of Transport once we are done.

below; One of our own custom steel trays fitted to a Mazda BT50 Freestyle Extra cab.

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below; Framework on another ute, ready to be sheeted with ally checker plate.

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below; Nissan Navara duel cab with a custom tray.

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below; finished product of framework photo above.

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 If you havn't yet signed up to tour our factory, nows your chance.

See various vans at different stages of production being built right before your eyes.

 factory_tour_button


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

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Caravan Buyers Guide - Technology in Design

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:24:36 PM EST by

What gives life to a Caravan?

Modern caravans have a complicated system of electrical cables, gas lines, hoses and pipes. These components give the caravan life, just like you would find in a house or even a vehicle. Without these systems in place your caravan would not have life.

Each of these systems has an individual purpose.

12 volt Wiring

Under Floor Caravan Electrical

12 volt wiring gives power from the batteries to control panels, then to lights and various appliances. Just like electric pulses in the human brain, sending regulated information to where it is needed. There are hundreds of meters of different types of wires and cables that run throughout a van to do many different tasks. Some wires connect sensors that give life to gauges so we can monitor energy and water levels. Some wires run to the tow vehicle to charge the batteries while driving, while others light up the trailer lights. The whole system can also be set up to be self-sufficient and self-charging as well.

240 Volt Power

240 volt power cables also run throughout, giving life to plug in household appliances and the air conditioner. This system has strict regulations. It is double insulated and is always checked and signed off by a qualified electrician. These standards are stricter than household regulations because of vibrations that can be transferred from the road.

Gas Systems

Gas lines run throughout a van as well. These lines connect gas bottles to various appliances. This has always been a popular economical choice and is a self-supporting system. There are strict safety regulations for fitting a gas system, similar to the electrical system, to make sure approved gas appliances are being used and there is appropriate ventilation. All of this work has to be installed, tested and approved by a qualified gas installer. Every time you register, sell or transfer a van, the gas has to be certified. There are different regulations and rules in other states as well so be sure to check your states requirements.

Fresh Hot & Cold Running Water

There are hot and cold water pipes running throughout the caravan, connecting to fresh water tanks. Pipes can also run from the mains connection to feed taps, hot water system and shower, or even the toilet. Having water on tap is a great convenience that I think we take for granted.

Drainage of Grey & Toilet Water

Under Floor Caravan Plumbing

One system that can be called ‘the bowels of the van’ is the drainage system. Although there are no real regulations with caravan drainage, it should always be set up to a strict standard. At Southern Cross we always use 40mm household PVC for good, fast drainage, and we always allow for as much fall as possible. Grey water tanks are the only regulated part of this system, but even that can change from state to state. Regulations are becoming stricter now with containing waste water, particularly in National parks.

Smooth Suspension

Another system to add to this list is the air spring or ’airbag’ suspension system. Not all caravans have airbags, but the ones that do, have several meters of air lines that run under the chassis from the air control system to the suspension. There are many ways to set up this system, from the very basic, to a fully self-levelling system. Another big advantage is that this superior suspension leads to far less wear and tear on all of the other electrical, gas, and water systems mentioned above!

No matter what, all these systems are the ‘life blood’ of any van. They allow everything to work in unison. So remember, hidden away in cavities, behind cupboards, in the roof, in overheads, under the floor, in the chassis, behind false panels, and also in visible places is what’s giving life to your ‘home away from home’.

Before you buy a caravan check list:

  • Check that all appliances comply with mandatory Australian safety standards.
  • Make sure you get a qualified gas certificate.
  • Ask how the 240 power has been installed and ensure it has been signed off by qualified trademen.
  • Check all visible wiring and plumbing for the quality of materials and quality of fitment.
  • Don’t take anything for granted!

johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

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Caravan Buyers Guide - Caravan Accessories

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:25:46 PM EST by

The Caravan industry has come a long way since its early, humble beginnings.

If you were to go back to some of the first caravans built in Australia, you would find that most were home-built and there were no mod-cons like today. My father himself had built several caravans over the years for friends and family. He built his first caravan when he was 18 years old, roughly 48 years ago.

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I remember back to when I was a little kid; my grandfather had an old plywood ‘teardrop’ style caravan that my father had built. Internally, only the basics were fitted, such as;

  • Bed
  • Dinette
  • Sink and Cupboard
  • Gas Stove
  • Ice Box
  • 6 volt lights.

Externally, it only had a light and an annex. He had fitted timber framed glass windows, along with a timber pop-up roof hatch for ventilation.

Back then, if you wanted all out luxury, you could fit fly screens as an accessory.

The caravanning industry has come a long way since those early years.

Now there is an extensive range of accessories available to us that come through several different avenues of suppliers. We are given so many choices with optional extras and accessories that now, can be added to your caravan.

Caravan accessory suppliers alone have everything you could possibly need, plus more. The best thing is that everything has been designed and made directly for the caravan industry. The focus on those products is to keep down the weight and cost. The only down side is that sometimes, some of these products can look and feel plastic or ‘cheap’.

Other avenues of supplies can also come from the housing or automotive industries. The trick is to find a balance by adding some luxuries of home to your caravan while not increasing the weight too much.

If we were to fit nothing but caravan accessories, it would feel just like a caravan. If you add a household kitchen sink with flick mixer, a glass shower screen, or a china vanity for example, you start to bring in the familiarity of a home.  So when you are out shopping for a new caravan or fifth wheeler, take a look at the extras list. Will you be able to enjoy the comforts of home whilst you’re on the road? Ultimately, this is what we strive for at Southern Cross Caravans.

When it comes to fitting out a van, we realise that everyone is individual in what they may want or need fitted.

If you only want to frequent caravan parks, you won’t necessarily need to be set up for free camping. You may on the other hand, want all the convenient mod-cons that fold away out of site. Accessories like a fold-away ironing board or an external fold away table, maybe even a dinette that converts to a second bed. You may even go for larger roof hatches or external speakers and TV added to the entertainment system.

If you plan on travelling and camping in the outback, that’s a different situation again. You might want several different power options, like, solar panels or a generator. You could even have extra water tanks fitted, or maybe a filtered drinking water tap. You may even go for a satellite dish, external folding aluminum ladder or self-leveling air bag suspension.

The choice of accessories that can be fitted to your van is almost limitless, it really comes down to being as practical as possible with what you need to be comfortable.

At Southern Cross we will help you to make the right decisions regarding your new investment.  We want you to be comfortable, and enjoy your travels in this great southern land!


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

Caravan Buyers Guide – Innovative Floor Plans

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:26:31 PM EST by

If you don’t have a floor plan that suits your needs or lifestyle, you could end up towing something half way around Australia that you’re not happy with.

Practicality plays a major role in this and you need to be sure you are making all the right decisions when choosing a caravan. After all, this is your ‘home away from home’ and it has to be right.

In the past in order get the comforts of home into a caravan you would end up towing a huge super-sized, heavy thing. That is if you have a gas guzzler to tow it.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you are constantly bashing your head on overheads, tripping over wheel boxes, elbowing one another during dinner, or just not being able to wash the dirty bits while in the shower. You won’t appreciate your caravanning holiday. The real challenge is to find a ‘happy medium’. You deserve a caravan that has the floor space, storage capacity and the comfort of home; without it being too big and heavy.

However, there are smarter alternatives to save on space and weight and still have the comforts of home.

Experienced caravan enthusiasts know that the weight of your caravan is one of the most important aspects of towing and travelling. With vehicles downsizing their towing capacity, towing safety, and the ever rising cost of fuel, it comes down to ‘size does matter’.

Often what comes to mind when you think of a 5th Wheeler, is a huge three storey high, football field length piece of metal being hauled by a truck that drinks like a fish. Something like this won’t last travelling through the outback of this great southern land. This has already been proven with many horror stories on imports that just aren’t built for our conditions.

Over the years we have strived to fix this problem. At the same time, also educate the public that what you may have seen in the past isn’t necessarily how things are done today. You don’t necessarily need a huge, heavy caravan to fit in all the things you need. You don’t need the burden of heavy slide-outs to create more room either.

All you need is a dedicated, experienced team of designers that can design a ‘smart plan’ to suit your needs.

When you buy your caravan from Southern Cross Caravans you will have the choice of several different floor plans that we have designed over the years. All of these plans have the customers comfort and practicality in mind. You can choose from a large variety of floor plans in many different sizes and models. You can also move things around, add, change, or take things out. We will sit down with you and work out a practical solution to your needs and ultimately, a floor plan that you feel at home in. We are constantly evolving in all aspects of our manufacturing process with great benefits to the customer.

One of the great features people notice with our floor plans is the great use of space. The Dinette is at the front, over the tray (in our 5th Wheelers) and we don’t have internal wheel arches to get in the way. This opens up a larger variety of layouts that can be used. We often receive good positive reactions from the public when they first see inside. It’s like seeing a light bulb pop up above their head. It just works so well.

Here is a template of a popular 25 foot fifth wheeler.floorplanLegend:

A. Dinette area (over vehicle tray).

B. Large kitchen bench with household sink. Large window, television, dvd and cd player, overhead storage and control panel. 

C. Large kitchen bench with cooktop, window range hood and large overhead storage. Optional extra under bench bank of drawers, oven and washing machine can also be fitted.

D. Full height module with large fridge and microwave, plus storage cupboard and 240V comtrol.

E. Electric entry step with secret motorized shelf above, LED downlight, fire extinguisher, isolating switched and light up external handle.

F. Wardrobes above bedside drawers with bench top. Large overhead storage with LED spotlights.

G. Lift up queen bed with optional bolster. Extra Large storage, battery and charger component. Two-tone LED light and roof hatch. Window above bed head and extra-large window at foot of bed.

H. Large floor space, fiber-glass, insulated floor with durable household poly tiles.  Above; two-tone LED lighting, smoke alarm and roof air conditioning.

I. Tall Cupboard.

J. Large built in sealed shower.

K. Vanity cupboard with shelves under bench.

L. Storage cabinet or optional washing machine with lift up bench top. Other options available.

M. Cassette toilet with window above

N. Optional lockable storage box on hitch (available in different sizes).

O. Step up into dining (has lift up lid for storage).

P. Spacious ensuites with full sliding door, dual towel rack, toilet roll holder, hand towel ring, two-tone LED light and fan hatch in roof.

For more information about innovative floor plans please contact the team at Southern Cross Caravans.


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

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Caravan Buyer’s Guide - Interior Fit Outs and Designs

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 1:27:15 PM EST by

Over the decades not much has changed in the interior designs or recreational vehicles. Most brands of caravans and RV’s tend to have the same interior layouts and floor plans as the next manufacturer. Colour schemes haven’t changed much either, with 99% of the RV's throughout the country having a timber style fit out. There have been some slight variations with this, along with upholstery and floor coverings, but things are still made the same way they have been for years.

How many vans have you seen with a timber fit out?

Not much has changed with the fabrication or style of cabinetry either. Timber stick framework with thin ply sheeting stapled to it. Standard basic hinges, locks, stays and handles. Floor coverings that are easily damaged or torn. Upholstery and foam that aren’t comfortable and loses its shape after a year or so. This is the cheap, quick and easy way to mass produce caravans and roll them out the door. This is still the most used system in caravans today.

Thankfully, there is an alternative.

redlounge 4035

Quality manufacturers, such as Southern Cross Caravans, have changed the way people look at the RV industry. With new innovations, technology and practical luxury, quality and durability is paramount. A quality manufacturer will stay away from the ‘stick-framed’ interiors.

The materials we use at Southern Cross are the latest in technology, with the use of composite panel drawer and door fronts that are strong, yet very lightweight. All of the Expeditions hinges and stays are the same as the latest adjustable household kitchen chandlery you would find used with the heavy doors in housing today. Just imagine being able to adjust your hinges with a slight tweak of a screwdriver and it’s done. We use heavy duty vinyl floor tiles, the same you would find in your house. The innovative use of solid colours throughout our vans, changes the whole effect, from dark to light. Cleaning up has been made easier as well. All benches, walls, doors, draws and floors are a breeze to keep clean. Just a quick wipe with a soft soapy cloth and it’s clean.                                                                                                       

When you’re out travelling in your caravan, enjoying life, we realise that the last thing you want to be doing is fixing problems and cleaning.

People are amazed when they see our caravans, and there are a couple of reasons.

The first is the clean, airy, spacious feel. The interior walls and roof are glossy white fiberglass that enhances light reflections and is very easy to clean. To add to this, you have some control of customizing, with your own choice of appliances and a large range of colour schemes to your own design if required. To date, we have used so many different colour combinations for our customers that no two vans are the same.

The second feature people notice is the great use of space. The Dinette is at the front, over the tray (in our 5th Wheelers) and we don’t have internal wheel arches to get in the way. This opens up a larger variety of floor plans that can be used. We have a large variety of floor plans designed as templates that can also be adapted to suit your needs. We often receive good positive reactions from the public when they first see inside. It’s like seeing a light bulb light up above their head. It just works so well.

When you are buying a caravan or fifth wheeler, always take the quality of work into account. If you have any questions, give us a call and we can lend a hand.


johnbeattie_author

About the Author : John Beattie Google Plus

John is the Manager at Southern Cross Caravans. Australia's Premier Manufacturer of 5th Wheelers. He and his father Barry have travelled the length and breadth of Australia including some of Australia's most ruggered 4WD off-road tracks. All the time towing one of their ruggered Southern Cross Caravans. This field testing has led to Southern Cross Caravans being one of the sturdiest yet most comfortable 5th Wheeler Caravans in the world... Nice Work if you can get it.

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