Caravan cladding - fibreglass or aluminium ? Pros & cons.I see

Submitted: Friday, May 02, 2014 at 21:22
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I see a lot of flash new van with fibreglass panels.

I am thinking the noise and heat insulating qualities of fibreglass would be good and it might be more resistant to hail damage. It cerainly looks very nice.

Does anybody know about how good it is ? Weight issues ? Sealing / joining the panels etc ?

I wonder if we will see a fibreglass BT in the near future.

Willie.
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Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Friday, May 02, 2014 at 21:31

Friday, May 02, 2014 at 21:31
Well based on my boat owning experience - fibreglass can be a bitch to keep in pristine condition over a period of time when exposed to dirty water algae etc etc. The gel coats fade and powder and in a caravan I am told that a small area of damage requires the replacement of the entire side/front etc. The repairers will not patch - don't have the skills?- to effectively repair a damaged moulding.

My nine years old Bushtracker which we live in full time on the road still looks great - when I get around to washing it. Roll on the wet season!

John

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Reply By: Googs & Zelda - Sunday, May 04, 2014 at 18:24

Sunday, May 04, 2014 at 18:24
You hit the nail on the head G B. Way to much for repairs when the time comes.
At least with the B/T if you need any repairs you can remove only one sheet at a time.
I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list.

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Reply By: Willie - Monday, May 05, 2014 at 18:53

Monday, May 05, 2014 at 18:53
So the repair issue could be a problem, but does anybody know about weight, resitance to hale damage, insulation etc etc ?
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Follow Up By: Googs & Zelda - Wednesday, May 07, 2014 at 02:14

Wednesday, May 07, 2014 at 02:14
Willie, the repair cost would be above average , because if you damaged one corner of the van, the repairer would probably replace both panels,the F/G panels are one full sheet cut to the profile of the van as oposed to the B/T he would only have to replace one sheet on each corner, if you get the picture.
Hail problems, the F/Glass sandwich panels that are now used on the newer vans are stronger depending on the hail stones. This is a hard question to answer, The chook or the egg?
I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list.

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Reply By: Les N Sally - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 02:45

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 02:45
Saw this today!
Bushtracker forced to go fibreglass!

words - Chris Fincham


Off-road specialist builds super-strong fibreglass van yet admits old-fashioned aluminium cladding remains a better option



Bushtracker is releasing its first fibreglass-bodied caravans at this week’s Queensland Caravan & Camping Show, despite admitting the increasingly popular construction method is inferior to the traditional aluminium cladding it has used on its custom off-road vans for the past 18 years.

In fact, Bushtracker director Steven Gibbs said fibreglass vans are generally harder and more costly to repair than aluminium vans, and appeal most for their glossy good looks.

Commenting on Bushtracker's online owners' forum, he said Bushtracker was now introducing fibreglass construction as an option, along with a new composite floor as a way to offset criticism its construction methods are “old-fashioned”.

“This style, is just that style. (Fibreglass construction) is not necessary, or even advised. I am only doing it, because others are touting and hawking it as a superior construction method, and it is not,” the straight-talking Bushtracker boss said.

“I am doing it, because the public are being sold ‘cosmetics’ at the shows, and some people are sold the idea and have to have it. In reality our standard alloy panelling is cheaper, lighter, accessible, easily repaired, and is still our preferred standard,” he said.

Like the box-section aluminium frames used for its heavy-duty caravans, Gibbs claims the new fibreglass walls with their press fit insulation and wiring in conduit, are “the strongest in the industry”.

“You will see less deformation and ripples than you can see on others, and it is far stronger than the real thin skinned over foam core boxes some are building,” he said.

“Yes, we will build the fibreglass… but it is not better. You can have it, rather than go buy an inferior brand just because they offer it, but we will tell you what is wrong with it.”

Bushtracker is also set to replace its traditional “epoxy coated marine glue ply flooring” with a tougher, fibreglass-covered PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) flooring, which will also be on display at Queensland.

“There is nothing wrong with (our ply flooring). The problem is some of our so called competitors have touted a foam core flooring, and used it as a gimmick to discredit us as being old fashioned,” Gibbs said.

“They are using a polyurethane foam filled floor that has a long term compression problem that we were not willing to inflict on our Bushtracker owners. (Over time it) internally starts to crumble, and can prove to ruin the structural integrity of the flooring,” he said.

Standard on all Bushtracker vans from about mid- July, Gibbs said the new flooring has been extensively tested, is fully water resistant and is resin pillar injected every 50 sq mm, “to provide added structural compression strength”.

“Is it necessary? In a word no, but it will be appealing to many as it feels a little firmer and will have an insulation factor,” he said.

The new floor and fibreglass walls will be among “six major new innovations” unveiled at the 2014 Queensland Caravan and Camping Show, which runs June 4-10 at Brisbane Showgrounds.

Bushtracker will also display an 'exclusive' 220 litre Danfoss ‘Isotherm’ compressor fridge, rated for five degrees hotter ambient temperature than the equivalent sized Waeco fridge, and new bullet-proof 4140 Tool Steel axle stubs, with a shear rating of 60 tons per axle stub, that will be fitted as standard to all Bushtracker caravans.

The two new fibreglass caravans on display at Queensland will include a 21ft tandem axle, full ensuite model, fitted with 30 optional extras including 300aH lithium battery pack and 360 litre water storage, with a pricetag of $142,100, and a smaller 17ft tandem axle, combined shower/toilet model with 17 options fitted, priced at $109,859.

Also on display will be Bushtracker’s latest 15ft pop-top caravan with new marine-grade electrical control panel and fully automatic, remote controlled electric roof.

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Follow Up By: Willie - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 at 05:14

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 at 05:14
Great info. Thanks very much.
Willie.
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