Over the next few blog posts, we will take you back to our Caravan Buyers Guide and take a look at the important aspects of buying a caravan or fifth wheeler.
This is the starting point in this series of valuable tips because the body is the first thing you notice when looking at a van. The body is the ‘shell’ of the van – the walls, ceiling, doors and windows.
But did you know that most caravans built today are constructed using the same techniques from 30 years ago?
Most caravans made today have these characteristics:
- Timber or aluminum frame with cladding riveted to the exterior
- Thin ply sheeting on the interior, with insulation shoved in between
- This is a cheap method to build a caravan. The problem is that this results in:
- No tensile strength - all joins have movement and are a potential weak spot. This could cause breakage between panels.
- External and internal panels are only fixed to the frame, not the whole panel surface.
- Joins in cladding and rivets mean the caravan doesn’t have a smooth, flush exterior to mount hatches and windows. Not having these flush fittings causes leaks which can damage the internals of your caravan meaning you spend more money.
- External cladding that is easily damaged or dinted, leaving you with an expensive bill to get everything repaired.
- Framework that can warp, rot or crack, usually drilled into for wiring to pass through, creating weak spots.
- Insulation that can move and work its way down the bottom of the walls leaving cavities. These cavities make for ineffective insulation costing you more to make yourself comfortable.
- Interior wall panels that can be easily damaged or scratched. These panels can also rot, peel, stain and warp.
You may have already seen some caravans that have these exact issues.
Some years ago, an innovative solution was becoming popular in motor home construction and truck fit-outs.
This innovation was utilising full size, pre-insulated, fiberglass panels in the construction process. After trialing this new material extensively, and testing products from various suppliers, we were convinced that this was indeed a much better solution for caravan construction than the standard methods still in wide use today.
The benefits of using insulated fiberglass panels are:
- Superior, quality tested materials, so you know it will last.
- Excellent year-round temperature control.
- Water and fire resistant Dow Styrofoam core.
- Absolute maximum tensile strength.
- Light weight, requiring less weight needed in the chassis.
- Fully insulated roof, walls, and floor.
- Great soundproofing qualities.
- Durable, glossy and easy to clean in and out.
- High impact resistance and easily repairable.
- Joins on edges only - ideal resistance to leaks.
- Aesthetically pleasing, clean look.
- Longevity with fewer problems.
- Better long term quality and therefore, better resale value.
As you can see, there are many reasons why fiberglass panels should be your preferred method for construction.
So when you are buying a caravan, ask the manufacturer for a caravan that is built from fiberglass. For a quick solution have a tour around the Southern Cross Caravans factory and see how we put together our fiberglass caravans and fifth wheelers.
About the Author : John Beattie
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.