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Old 11-16-2005, 06:20 PM   #1
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European Trailers

I was just looking at the trailers made by Avondale, a British Co. I don't know what the overall quality is like but the interiors look pretty nice. Cabinets, fabrics and fit and finish is something that most everyone knows, Airstream needs to work on. The interiors of the Classics just a few years ago looked like Aunt Bea was the interior designer. Seems like the European makers might be just a step ahead.
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Old 11-16-2005, 11:55 PM   #2
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I like the fact that they have "sprung" seating rather than the foam slabs we are accustomed to. Interiors are quite attractive and even the fabric choices are good.

When I was working in England, I took every opportunity to look over every "caravan" I came across. I even walked to a dealer to look some over (don't remember the marque) and talk to the sales folks. Generally, I don't think most of what I saw would be a hit on this side of the pond.

The good thing is that they are quite light. Tongue weight is especially low which would make me fret about sway at our highway speeds. The bad part is that they are narrow and , except for the largest, sleeping is in the "lounge".

The light weight makes me think of my late TrailManor. It looked great when I bought it, but it didn't hold up well, Cabinets looked really nice until you looked inside and found the plastic drawers and low grade framing. Screwing the cabinets back onto the walls was an ongoing process.

English roads are generally quite smooth and towing speeds are moderate. I remember all to well following a caravan for many miles up hill and down in Scotland. Average speed was probably 25 and there was quite a queue following it.

Would the English caravans hold up well in our environment? I don't know, but I would be a bit suspicious. Would they be a hit based on other features. Again, I don't know whether folks here would choose beds that must be made up every night and the general lack of privacy in most models.
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Old 11-17-2005, 09:11 AM   #3
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Towing speeds in most of Europe are about 60mph. ( 80km/h is the legal limit in most places). Caravans are built to be light and nimble, and tongue weights are kept low so that the trailer can be pulled with cars and small SUV's.
Their top of the line 30 footers often weigh less than 4000lbs. We went looking a year or so ago, as my sister's family wanted to buy a trailer.
We did find the quality and craftsmanship amazingly good, with nicely made interiors. Much better than an equivalent US white box.
Here's a floor plan for a Tabbert high end product. I see no lack of privacy there.
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Old 11-17-2005, 10:13 AM   #4
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Check this out:
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Old 11-17-2005, 10:26 AM   #5
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I would guess that part of the rationale for smaller, lighter etc has to do with fuel efficiency when towing. Europe has been way ahead of us in that department and having a better feeling for just what is "necessary" in terms of personal transportation. I fear our "gravy train" is over as far as fossil fuels go.

Has anyone noticed the advertisements of some of the big oil companies lately? BP, Beyond Petroleum". What utter BS!!!!!!!
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Old 11-17-2005, 10:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhsl8
I would guess that part of the rationale for smaller, lighter etc has to do with fuel efficiency when towing. Europe has been way ahead of us in that department and having a better feeling for just what is "necessary" in terms of personal transportation. I fear our "gravy train" is over as far as fossil fuels go.
It seems that their high end product is not necessarily smaller, at 30ft long and 8ft wide, it's not a small trailer to tow. However, they have a huge offering of very small, efficient trailers, that can be towed easily with 4 cyl unibody cars.
I believe that their trailers have fewer systems in them, like no roof top A/C, small holding tanks, cassette type toilets, etc.etc. Most of the weight savings come from just that. One can make smaller frames, and save weight that way, if the frame is not required to hold up a potential 800lbs of liquids, with all tanks full.
I believe that the future of mass RV'ing lies in similar designs as the Europeans have now, perhaps with slight adaptations for the American consumer's taste.
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Old 11-17-2005, 10:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhsl8
I would guess that part of the rationale for smaller, lighter etc has to do with fuel efficiency when towing.
Brouk, you're right, and this is partly caused by our high fuel prices. We now pay $9 an english gallon (about $7.20 for aUSA gallon, IIRC). We thus need to use light, fuel efficient vehicles, and hence light travel trailers. Another aspect is the history of our legislation. I posted about this a year ago:
In England, non-comercial towing has long been inefficient in comparison with U.S practice. We've been in a bit of a logical loop. For many decades, travel trailers were restricted to 40 mph. (yes, 40!) Because of this, trailer hitches were low-tech simple 2" balls, with no anti-sway or load distribution, as, at 40 mph, a simple ball was deemed sufficient. There were still plenty of trailer accidents because of insufficient tongue weight. Legislators therefore kept the speed limit at 40. You can see the loop! Eventually, trailers up to a certain max % of the tow vehicle's weight were permitted to do 50 (wow!), with certain other restrictions. Much later, travel trailers were permitted to travel at 60 mph. However, hitches are still elementary. On the long downgrade on the main highway near us (Haldon Hill, A38, Exeter,Devon), every year we see wrecked travel trailers, with family possessions scattered far away. Historically, English travel trailers have not had a premium grade luxury image in the same way as some do in the USA. Hence a reluctance to spend much cash on accessories such as a sophisticated hitch, when the trailer is seen as an economical way to have a vacation, rather than as an end in itself. Any change will take a long time!

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Old 11-17-2005, 11:14 AM   #8
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Great information gentlemen. Different situations and histories evolving in different places for different reasons. I would prefer to be a constructive part of the evolution as opposed to one that is swallowed up by it and spit out. I fear way less time on the road with my 15,000 lb of metal being fed by oil products and more time working on it. That is just the opposite of want I want.
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Old 11-19-2005, 12:01 AM   #9
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I think the aerodynamic design for the iconic American Airstream is perhaps the most ďEuropeanĒ looking trailer in the world.

The best European trailer designs have the promise of their sleek, flowing exteriors met on the inside.

This was what the early Airstreams had before the company got lost in what Craftsman so aptly called ďAunt Bea interior designĒ. Recently, until the CCD International line brought the promise of the outside back to the inside again, Airstream interiors looked not much different than any ordinary White Box trailer.

Europeans tend to use space expanding light cloured woods with lots of rounded and curved surfaces and flush mounted closing devices on their cabinetry. Many of the appliances, mostly made by the same companies that put out North American versions, appear to be better designed than ours are.

There are also technical design differences that undoubtedly reflect the differences in our cultures, attitudes and local conditions.

We are used to wide open spaces and cheap fuel; they to congestion, stiffer conservation rules and higher prices.

We will probably move toward their example in these areas but we will never have their narrow streets and urban campgrounds.

But vested interests also make for many of the technical differences between us.

Just as the American makers of cheap and inefficient residential hot water heaters donít see any benefit to themselves in advocating the much more common sense in-line heaters used in Europe, international RV appliance manufacturers like Dometic and Thetford probably are content to sell 98% cassette toilets in Europe and let us get by with what weíve always had here.

They control both markets so why stir up the sh_?

European equipment seems better built than ours although that may just be my perception. One thing for sure about here is that many equipment suppliers seem infected with the industry wide tendency toward cheapness. Whether you have a cheap White Box trailer or an $80,000 well built Airstream, youíre gonna have the same sardine can door on your Atwood Water Heater.

Itís a shame. Or maybe Airstream should shame them into doing something better by retrofitting a durable one instead of using the tin can door Atwood ships.

Last summer I saw the new Winnebago VIEW at their plant in Iowa. This is a class C motor home built on the Dodge Sprinter Mercedes Benz diesel truck cab and chassis.

It must surely be the best attempt at a European vehicle ever made by Americans. I suspect that Winnebago went to Germany or Italy, shipped a motor home back, then disassembled and copied it for the US market.

It had clean lined good looks that matched the sophisticated German built truck, bells and whistles for Americans like electric stairways and a slide-out and a very nice European looking, light flooded interior. There was a wonderful skylight so big that you could crawl out on the roof from it.

The price was less than the Airstream Interstate. Iíve been told that B and C class are not the same markets but I canít understand why anyone would pay Airstream more for less space, less well designed.

Winnebagoís mass production techniques achieve this. You cannot match the cost when you stick build inside a panel van as Airstream and other converters must.

Sergei
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