Spot The Boo-Boo

Submitted: Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:05
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I was just thumbing through some caravan magazines and looking at some of the other products.
Amazing how many vans have basic design errors.
spotted several where if the door is open then you can't open the window.
Another had the wind out awning post over the side loading hatch. You would need to open the awning to open the hatch.
And another had the awning pole over an awning type window. Can't open the window unless awning is out.

These vans were all reviewed by "caravan experts" and amazingly none of the reviewers commented on these stupid faults.
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Reply By: Wadefarers - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:07

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:07
Couldn't agree more Bob. A friend has just bought another van and he can't open his window if the door is open. Also, have you noticed those that haven't got awnings that can't fit add awnings (Aussie Traveller) and annexes because of the window configuration. As you said rather stupid planning. You would think that these people would have enough foresight after years (?) in the business. At least I'd have to say BTI usually get it right. Regards Jeff
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Reply By: Turist - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:08

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:08
Here's another from an "expert reviewer" doing a write up on smaller off road type vans.
One model got a great wrap from the journo because "The narror width gave it substantial advantages when travelling narrow tracks" (Advantages over the other reviewed models that is.)

When reading the published specs the favoured van was actually a whole 25mm skinnier than the others.
Must be a great bush driver to be able to take advantage of that.

Or did the journalist get looked after by the manufacturer.
Very suspicious about the independence of these reviews when they do not point out the very obvious shortcomings.
Advertising revenue must have an influence.

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Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:09

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:09
Turist wrote.
>Amazing how many vans have basic design errors spotted
>several where if the door is open then you can't open the window.

Sometimes this is not a boo boo..... we dislike sliding windows and
deliberately choose to have windout Galaxy windows on awning side.
Regarding the door/window problem, just make a longer hook/s to hold the
door open to desired angle and all works fine for/suits us.

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Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:10

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:10
G'day Graham, Doors on a caravan should open around 135 degrees as a safety issue to allow full access to the steps as the doorway is narrow. Get someone to hold the door at 90 degrees and walk in and out a few times ..... Yuck !!! Whatever the cause if the door doesnt open this far its a basic design flaw ...... the manufacturer can always change from left opening to right opening in some cases to solve this window open door closed problem. Regards Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
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Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:11

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:11
Thanks for the info Anthony, but as your now doubt aware caravan doors
open way past 135deg. probably much closer tp 155/160deg. and yes if
one was to only lock it open at 90deg it would be a problem, but lock it
open around 130deg+or so and no problem getting in out the van , and the
(ours anyway) opens around 50%...
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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:12

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:12
I think the reason every caravan has a hinge on the left side, is so that if it should come open while in transit, the wind will keep it shut. If it was hinged on the right it would blow open quickly and possibly rip it off the hinges. When we were buying our van I designed it with a large window on each side at the front, and then Steve to his credit pointed out that if we ever wanted to put an annex on, the support had to go down the middle of where we had the window. He suggested 2 small width windows with room in the middle for the annex wall. It is a pity that a lot of other manufacturers don't put the same amount of thought into their vans. Brian
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Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:13

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:13
Motorhomes are no better. One van that I actually saw had the battery installed before the outer vehicle's outer skin was attached. It was literally impossible to remove this battery without something like a chainsaw. And that was just one out of scores of problems with the plus $135,000 unit. Like self-tapping screws protuding through the rear wheel arches where they'd shred a tyre. And about 300 kg to spare for all personal effects., water etc. Do agree about BTs being well made. Collyn Rivers
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Reply By: Turist - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:14

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:14
This "Spot the Boo Boo" must be becoming a fetish with me.
New magazines just out publish reviews of vans that have the gas cooktop positioned beneath the window that is surrounded by nice lace curtain material.
Havn't these builders considered fire hazards let alone the problem with the gas flame when the window is open.
And again, no adverse comment from the "expert caravan reviewer".
Seems that the reviewers only point out the advantages of the vans (most likely supplied by the builder) and never bring the readers attention to problem areas.
So what's the point of the review, waste of time if they don't do the job properly.
Most likely they are more concerned about the possible loss of advertising revenue if they conduct a totally independent and honest review.
The publishers of motoring magazines seem to be more honest in thier findings, they quickly point out any shortcomings when testing new cars.
Time the caravan mag editors showed some guts.

Another gripe off my chest, must be time to take my pills.
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Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:15

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:15
Turist I spent some 15 years starting and running magazines in a range of areas, and finally ran all of Kerry Packer's technical and scientific magazines worldwide. What you say is dead right - but it's substantially a 'culture' thing and depends very much on whether the magazine hierachy is ex-advertising or ex-editorial. The former tend to see editorial as a necessary nuisance that fills the gaps between the advts and by and large is an extension of the advertisers promotions dept (see typical housing magazines). The latter tend to see advertisers as seeking to dictate the editorial content. Neither view is 100% right - but can get close to it! Motoring magazines by and large have a tradition of maverick editors who mostly tell it as it is - and if that upsets Volcerdes - so be it. I tended to run my magazines (such as Electronics Today International, Sonics, Hi-Fi Review) that way to and had some memorable batteles with one or advertisers quoite literally seeking to have adverse reviews 'corrected'. Here's an example of what can and really did happen. One particular loudspeaker received totally rave reviews in several local publications. Our own review (of the self-same unit that had received the raves) was undertaken independent by a reknowned acoustical consultant (Louise Challis & Associates). He found that when playing something like a flute concerto - there was no discernable flute. We reported exactly what he found. Fortunatly we retained the test product for a bit longer. We were descended upon by the irate vendor and his lawyers demanding why this very product that had received totally rave reviews was described by us seriouisly defective. But we knew something that the vendor did not. The treble loudspeaker had been wired back to front and was thus being 'cancelled out'. But the issue is the one posed by Turist. The loudspeaker was clearly and massively defective - but had still received rave reviews. It is not unknown for journalists to receive bribes hidden as 'gifts'. Once when one of magazines sought to reviewed a car - the journalist was presented with an electronic typewriter (it's a fair time ago). To that car company's surprise we reviewed the typewriter and sent it back afterwards. You can often spot advertiser-driven editorial when the copy starts to rave on (because of sloppy editing) something like 'we pride ourselves on excellent customer service' etc. (The give away is the 'we'). Frankly I'd see being a caravan reviewer as an even worse task than reviewing TV (the latter being like floating slowly down a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat). What can one meaningfully say about products that are as close to identical as makes no odds - and mostly look as if they have been designed by a Serbian fishmongers co-op during an exceptionally low point in a Five-Year Plan (BTs, Phoenix and one or two others excepted of course). Good - I've got that out of my hair! Off on holiday - back in a month. Have a good Xmas. Collyn Rivers
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Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:16

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:16

I'm sure I speak for everyone on this forum in thanking you for your input and wishing you a happy and safe Christmas.

Your editorial comments are timely as I've just flipped through one of the rv magazines (you know, the one that irritatingly refers to vans as "jobbies" that have "bits and bobs" in/on them) which has proudly announced its 2003 winners in various catagories.

Several manufacturers will now claim to have the 2003 winner of best-of-its-type when in fact winners were simply the best of the few that the magazine reviewed. How, for instance, can something be declared the Best Dirt-road Caravan when the generally acknowledged category leader has not been reviewed?

And despite the fact that the whole purpose of the exercise is to evaluate finished goods that are for sale, price is often deemed too sensitive a subject for publication. How can any consumer product be declared the best if nobody knows its price? The frequent substitution of "won't break the bank", "not specified" or "dealer set" is a cop-out.

But it gets better. One Best Luxury Caravan contender was considered by the reviewer to be "a cut above your average" because, amongst other features, it has (wait for it...) "insulation in the roof and walls". Hello?

The winner of the luxury category is declared to be not "ridiculously expensive", has gone "the extra mile without hiking the price up" and is "not as pricey as some". So what's the price? It's "Not specified".

A contender for Best Touring Caravan is declared to have a "large dinette to suit two". Yikes! How will BT survive in the face of this sort of design innovation? (wink)

I can't help wondering where we would be without forums like this one where design, engineering and safety issues can be openly debated without commercial niceties getting in the way.
AnswerID: 560362

Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:17

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:17
Imagine me reviewing a caravan .... the truth cant handle the truth ! I will always remember when I first got the F250 and 4x4 Aust Magazine had huge headlines for it ..... NOT TOW EASY ..... this classic piece of pro-toyota propaganda was coined because it wouldnt pull a 4 tonne boat up a range in overdrive. Around 30% more nM per Kg than a turbo cruiser it must be a real slug of a towing machine. And what a crap piece of towing equipment the F250 turned out to be ....... Shheeeessshhhhhh !!! ] Collyn, All the best for the season you deserve a good holiday !! Charge your batteries (no pun intended) because there is a million questions coming in 2004. Regards Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
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Reply By: Turist - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:18

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:18
Here we go again.
Went out & got a copy of the C & M yearbook to read about the BT rally.
Nice little article, should bring more members to the forum. Thanks "Bill" Fox for sending them the info.

Now turn to page 33 and the photo of the underside of a van.
Brake and light cables secured by what appears to be plastic insulation tape.
Electric brake cables connected by non waterproof crimp fasteners and left to dangle in the breeze.
What will fail first, the tape holding the harness or the crimp fastenings due to corrosion?

The "U" bolts securing the axle are not fitted with lock nuts. Once this was a mandatory practice, perhaps it still is.

The above construction errors should not be permitted and I am sure that a diligent examiner of motor vehicles would reject this van at inspection time. (But where do you find a diligent examiner. "Turn the lights on sir, check the tyres, $25.00, thank you")
But not a single comment from the expert reviewer in the biggest selling magazine.
With ethics like these from the people that are looked to by the consumer for honest opinions what chance does a buyer without the appropriate knowledge have.
And further, even though this is a budget price van this is a serious safety issue.
Who ensures that a new van, whatever the make, is sold in a condition where it meets required standards?
Does the manufacturer of a van have to meet standards? (As with motor vehicles)

Regards and best to all in the new year.
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Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:19

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:19
Bob, Have a look in the top right corner of that photo and you will see a bolt welded to an angle going across between the chassis. As you can see that bolt holds the water tank strap ...check the nut holding the strap. Its not only not done up against anything its not even any form of locking nut ... say nyloc, indented or castellated. You could take the weight of this tank with your hand and undo nut with other ! Doesnt even look like the sheetmetal stone guard is captive either ... Wait til that tank drops at 90 kph with cars following !! Could be just a preproduction model ... and it does say it is a budget beater. [smile] Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
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Reply By: Turist - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:20

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 01:20
I've been trying to research the "Standards" issue.
Seems that the only standard is a National Code Of Practice, title, Building Small Trailers.
This covers all trailers up to 4.5 tonnes including caravans.
To me it seems to be a document without any real substance, more concerned with the positioning of lamps etc.
Here is an extract dealing with trailer wiring.

".....Trailer wiring must meet the following requirements:
· all wiring must be anchored to the chassis at intervals of not more than 600 millimetres along its length;
· all wiring must be insulated at joints;
· all wiring must be located in such a position that it can neither become overheated nor contact moving parts;
· all wiring must be protected from chafing;
· an earth return wire must be provided between the trailer and its hauling vehicle; it is not acceptable to use the trailer coupling as an earth.

So it seems that securing wiring with plastic tape is acceptable, that's a worry.

Anyhow the authorities have thier usual cop out phrase incorporated into the code'

The ADRs do not address all areas of safety of vehicles. Manufacturers should note that they have a responsibility for the overall safety of their trailers. Manufacturers should also be aware that the Trade Practices Act provides for goods with any safety related defects to be recalled and the problem rectified.

So if your wiring falls off or your water tank drops out or your shackle bolts come undone too bad, not a problem for the "Authorities" responsible for ensuring vehicle safety.
Maybe a reason why so many van producers close the doors after a few years, when the problems start to show.

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