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Why are caravan manufactures making the same mistakes?

Hello, today I want to discuss an issue that's been on my mind for a while regarding the current state of new caravans. A few years ago, I posted a review titled "Why a New Caravan's Rubbish," and my perspective has evolved since then. Initially, I believed manufacturers like Swift and Bailey were being unfairly criticized by customers who didn't fully understand the complexities of caravan construction. Customers often questioned why caravans couldn't be more robust without realizing that making a caravan with all the desired features and durability would significantly increase its weight and cost.

Back then, a £50,000 caravan seemed excessive, yet today's models often exceed that price due to various factors like Brexit, the cost of living, and increased production costs. However, it's not just the price that's concerning; it's the persistent issues that aren't being addressed.

Having visited factories and seen the hand-built nature of caravans, it's clear that achieving precision in such an intricate process is challenging. Hand-built products naturally come with some level of inconsistency. Years ago, I believed that new construction methods would eventually iron out these issues. Yet, several years down the line, I find myself questioning the manufacturers' approaches.

Let's take Swift as an example, though this applies broadly across the industry, including Bailey and Elddis. Persistent issues such as leaking can rails continue to plague these caravans. Despite improvements and changes over the years, such as the switch to full GRP (glass-reinforced plastic) and polyurethane materials, we still see failures. For instance, sealant issues leading to water ingress should have been resolved by now, yet they persist.

One of the major problems is the reliance on sealant as the first line of defense against water ingress. Sealants can and do fail, leading to leaks that damage integral parts of the caravan, such as the front shelf, which are extremely difficult to replace once damaged.

Similarly, with window rubbers, replacements sent by manufacturers sometimes fail within a year or two. This ongoing cycle of replacing like-for-like components that are prone to the same failures is frustrating. Instead of addressing the root causes, temporary fixes seem to be the norm.

Elddis, for example, has had significant issues with their 8ft wide models, where the structural integrity of the roof is compromised, leading to cracks and water damage. The fundamental issue here is not upgrading materials to handle the increased stress from the wider design.

Bailey's use of sealant as a primary defense also results in frequent wet floor problems. Despite their long experience in the industry, these recurring issues indicate that the R&D processes are not effectively solving the underlying problems.

What I propose is greater transparency from manufacturers. They need to openly acknowledge these issues and communicate what steps are being taken to address them. This transparency could help rebuild customer trust and show a commitment to improvement.

Manufacturers should also consider removing problematic features, like sunroofs, which are a common source of leaks, unless they can find a reliable solution. It's better to have a slightly less luxurious caravan that doesn't leak than one with all the bells and whistles that customers can't rely on.

In conclusion, it's time for caravan manufacturers to innovate beyond temporary fixes and truly address the systemic issues in their production processes. Customers deserve reliable products, and manufacturers need to step up and show they are committed to providing just that. Let's start a conversation about these problems and push for the improvements we all want to see.


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