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Abbey A to E
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Touring caravans wanted for my clients in Australia and New Zealand. Most vans considered! Cash on collection of course. Give me a ring on 01202 576351. 07857 602090  or email for honest advice

 Once again we have seen a good year for touring Caravan sales, with purchasers feeling more comfortable trading up to 2nd hand vans over £12,000 and increasingly difficult to find decent caravans in the £5,000 to £9,000 range, which can be over 10 years old and showing wear and damp probems. Though I expect the market to slow down for the winter prices becoming more reasonable. New touring vans with top spec now are often priced over £25,000, fuelled by the pension giveaway. I am still looking for decent vans especially island bed models .

As we approach new season for purchasing touring caravans in anticipation of better weather and Easter Hols, I have noticed that main dealers have increased  prices on second hand caravans , this causes small dealers who get most of the stock they sell from main dealers to increases prices. Private sellers see dealer prices compared, and increase their selling price.

Always remember to haggle this is what sellers expect and why they advertise selling price high.

Winter valuations now completed, 1/11/2016,

time to revalue touring caravans as they become 1 year older on 1st September, 2015 has been a good year for sales, helped by a section of purchasers raiding the pension pot, allowing purchase of high value motorhomes and caravans.

Before towing your  caravan just spend a little time checking your caravan, make sure any weight stowed in the caravan , like an awning is positioned at front of caravan  or over axle, weight stored at rear can help cause swaying movements.

Towing  at speeds over 60mph can be risky, especially if avoiding action is suddenly required. Check that the breakaway cable is rust free and attached to a suitable bracket on the tow car. Carry spare bulbs for rear lights and indicators and check that all windows and sky lights are secured.

Finally stop after a few yards towing and check hitch is sure on tow ball with the green on indicator is clearly visible 

Another year, with spring around the corner, now is the time to organise your touring caravan ready for the forthcoming season, Get your touring caravan serviced by a qualified engineer, may well be best money spent.

Failing that at least remove tyres and check for cracks and perishing, adjust brakes and hand brake, Grease all running gear and try rear lights and indicators. Look for leaks and water ingress, test gas pressure, look at pad resistance on stabilising hitch, and finally inspect and check 7 pin towing plug. 11/03/15

 In 2006 when I first started exporting touring caravans to New Zealand I was paying about £6,000 for a 2002 model. In 2015 a decent 2002 4 berth touring caravan will cost in region of £4,000. In 9 years values have only dropped £2,000 , staggering really. The reason! Cost of new vans today, and higher demand for many reasons.

In 2002 a new Coachman Pastiche 520 as example, cost £13,450 inc delivery. today same van would cost  about £22,000. This is the main reason why second hand caravans have held their price so well. Sales of new touring caravans have held up well and broadly similar in volume sales as 2002.



winter 2014/15 valuations now complete

 Touring and static caravans are one of the few manufacturing industries we in the UK excel at, forget all the nonsense about Eu vans better build. Our touring caravans have flair and style at reasonable prices. We will look at how some of the manufacturers amalgamated in the recession of 2008/9, unfortunately some important names never survived, and we will delve into the history of how some of the famous caravan marques started  and evolved, together with motivation of why and how.

Abbey Caravans, bought out ABI formally Colsalt who in turn were bought out by Swift, and after a few years of duplicating models, the last Abbey marque was made in 2009..

Ace Caravans, Purchased by the Swift group who phased out the range in 2009, recently reintroduced limited range under the Ace banner, to confuse; Wanderhomes main dealers have introduced an Ace dealer special based on the Sprite range.

Avondale Caravans , perhaps the saddest demise of this popular manufacturer, to this day I do not know why the factory was closed and ceased production in 2009. I recently purchased a caravan from someone who worked there, he said every caravan they made was sold. Innovative use of space with gas compartment built into side of caravan and spare wheel in floor, utilising every possible inch of interior space.

Bailey Caravans One of Uk most popular and best selling caravan companies , based in Bristol.

Bessacarr Caravans, Top of the range touring caravans ceased production in 2007, Couplands continued building the brand in 2008.

Buccaneer  Caravans, another top quality touring caravan now owned by the Explorer group.

Coachman Caravans, my favourite model is the Laser 650 , in my opinion one of the best made caravans available. Independent.

Compass Caravans , part of the Explorer group. with many dealer specials under their umbrella ,Rambler, Magnum and Liberte to name 3. Dealer specials are caravans made by the manufacturers for large dealerships and sold under different names with slight variation to trim and decals

Elddis Caravans was Elddis then part of Explorer group and now Elddis again. Makes the Crusader range, Avante, and Xplore together with many dealer specials.

Fleetwood Caravans, Purchased by Adria Caravans and Motorhomes  approx. 2008, who moved production to Slovenia and promptly closed then down, never to be seen again

Lunar Caravans, Old established independent manufacturers , build the famous Lexon and the quality Clubman

Sprite Caravans  , built by Swift, famous name offering value for money touring caravans

Sterling Caravans, again part of the Swift group, Now quality well made tourers with liberal use of light wood interiors and stand out decals.

Swift Caravans,  Make the well known Challenger range and the top of the range Conqueror.

Vanmaster Caravans Prestige hand made top draw touring caravans,



 Flood Damaged Caravans 01/04/14


There will be many flood damaged caravans on the market for sale soon, last time in 2007 this happened with some shocking results. Some went to New Zealand sold by dodgy dealers who buy the caravans from insurance companies. Worst of all not all insurance companies added the vin number of salvage vans to cris for registration in order to identify them

Flood damaged caravans will perish the electrical wiring that is situated round the floor and bottom of the walls, worst case . a fire. Do not buy a flood damaged salvage caravan  at any price!




  1. If it sounds too good to miss, swerve! It is often the case that private sellers undervalue their caravans which enables the eagle-eyed buyer to hurriedly jump in and buy at a bargain price. That is where the fraudster comes in. In fraud, a person will attempt to fool you into believing that he or she is a legitimate seller with a bargain. The trap is most often, to defraud you out of your money. The goods often do not exist, are nothing like their description or simply do not belong to the seller. Sometimes, particularly where you are selling, the fraudster will want to make off with your caravan by the use of counterfeit cheques, money or a stolen part exchange.
  2. Think hard before sending any money! Always be suspicious no matter how good a deal it seems, no matter how convincing the seller is and no matter how small an amount. A fraudster will be collecting deposits, and often the full purchase price of the caravan from a number of different people. Yet, once again, the goods often do not exist, are nothing like their description or simply do not belong to the seller. Even when the seller uses a legitimate home address and name, that can be verified, they can still belong to an innocent third party that the fraudster is pretending to be. The fraudster may also be using a well known high street bank to fool you into being reassured. Many fraudsters will talk to you on the phone, but quite often the phone number does not work and they seek to groom you out of your money by email. "Sorry been called away… bereavement… working overseas… on holiday… send a deposit…" etc etc.
  3. A fraudster needs to make you think they genuinely have the caravan. Some fraudsters are hardened criminals and can be involved in all sorts of crimes. They may also be ex caravan salesman, mechanics, or failed entrepeneurs. They may know a lot about the caravan they are pretending to sell, they may be able to go into its history and even talk about the caravan club and shows. Don't be overawed or outwitted.
  4. If you are selling a caravan and you are offered cash why not insist upon the person drawing the cash out in front of you at an agreed bank branch. Get it authorised with the local branch and make arrangements to pay it back in on the spot. You could of course arrange an electronic transfer of the money with the purchaser in front of the cashier at the till in a branch of the buyers bank. Always be suspicious of cheques, bankers drafts or large amounts of cash as you have a right to refuse them. They can be and often are, fraudulent. If the buyer or seller cannot meet you at a bank branch during banking hours consider finding another buyer. Often a fraudster will say that the transaction will be done through paypal and they will pay straight away. They may say that they have over paid a 3rd party like Paypal and require you to pay back the shipping costs etc. They may also produce evidence of the over payment on official looking paper or emails. Don't be fooled into paying out to help someone buy your caravan. In all cases why not insist upon proof of the buyers identity, a passport, driving licence or utility bill, or all three. Jot down the  registration the buyer turns up in. You cannot be too careful.
  5. Fraudsters often use email address that are easy to get. A typical address might be a name which is followed by several numbers for example:, and They will use any number of email providers.
  6. When buying obtain the caravan cris details and get a caravan data check. Simply call cris,020328121000 and for a small fee they will confirm history 
  7. When buying why not ask for particular pictures of the caravan to be taken and sent to you. But don't rely on them alone, they may have access to the caravan whilst not owning it. Study the back ground of the  pictures. What time of year was the picture taken? What country was the picture taken in? Road markings, road signs, traffic direction and foliage and fauna will all give you a clue.
  8. Do not allow yourself to be brow beaten or bullied and do not feel compelled to buy or sell. The fact that there are other people looking at the caravan, with great interest, could be an act or scam. Often fraudsters will use female names in adverts or emails as people often tend to be more trusting of women.
  9. Do remember that the overwhelming majority of caravan sales are successful and legitimate deals particularly when buying or selling through an established  dealer. In the majority it is a reasonably honest world. The fraudster often needs to act his or her part well to defraud you. If something does not seem right to you, or you sense the individual may be less than honest, excuse yourself and walk away

                                                  Buyer Beware

Just because you decide to buy a touring caravan from a dealer, please do not think your purchase will be perfect. Recently I have inspected two vans for sale from dealers for clients and both vans had significant damp areas , Especially small dealers buy their stock from main dealers , Caravan  main dealers  feel caravans not suitable to sell on their forecourt, trade these vans to small dealers. Always ask to see and indeed be explained, how everything works, fridge, gas and electric, hot water heater , and water pump, all taps; as they may leak as they get older , heating and lighting system.
Insist on warranty that include damp, { water ingress ] for at least six months and within that time have the van damp tested .
Work Hard for your money , then get the caravan dealers to work hard for their money.

 buying a touring caravan then use my price guide to indicate correct price to pay. Valuations are based on the year of manufacture indicated by the cris number etched on all windows and the chassis. Second hand caravans invariably have damaged and broken items. Replacing a cracked window can cost up to eight hundred pounds depending on size, even a small window can be three hundred pounds, New water inlet, taps ,water heater etc can add much more to cost of purchase. If you know nothing about caravans then find and pay someone who does, most caravan engineers will inspect for a small fee.

Selling your caravan.
Caravaning; once  a summer hobby is now much more a year round enjoyment. Hot water central heating, sky tv and all the comforts of home make winter touring a much more popular pastime.
I often hear people say they will wait until spring  to sell their tourer indeed hoping for a better response and price, I find tourers sell just as well in winter as summer, indeed wait until the new  year and your pride and joy will be one year older and valued accordingly.

At the moment I am looking to purchase  twin axle caravans and small end kitchen 2 berths. Most vans considered. 06/08/2012.

Recently viewed a caravan to purchase from elderly couple who had owned the van last 4 years. I cris checked the vin number which is 17 digits positioned bottom right of all windows. The check came back as a Abbey Aventura, the van I was looking at was a Swift Challenger! Turned out that the last but one digit had been changed from 9 into 8, and the Challenger had been stolen 9 years ago.  Vin number is etched onto the plastic windows in a series of dots and can be difficult to read as they wear and fade. A good tip is to put a piece of white paper inside the caravan window behind the vin number which then stands out better showing if a digit has been tampered with.
The owners were mortified, he even had the van insured by the caravan club, [ perhaps they should have checked the vin number] however a little negotiating with the loss adjusters and the situation was resolved. The caravan has been removed from the stolen register and can now be sold legally.

5 top tips when inspecting a caravan to purchase.

1. Ask the seller to plug the caravan into electric prior to arrival ,enabling fridge, hot water and all other appliances to be tested.
2. Take a damp meter with you.
3. Make sure there is a good spare wheel and all tyres are roadworthy.
4. Call cris with 17 digit vin number which is etched on all windows and stamped on chassis, to confirm   caravan status. 01722 411430
5. Ask to see service record.


Caravan tyres should be changed every five years. Just because millage is low and plenty of tread showing , tyres are often neglected.  They have to be removed to inspect properly, look carefully for cracks on the tyre walls and blemishes within the tread. Look especially at caravans that have been left on site for the season without moving.
A shredded tyre at 60 miles per hour can cause serious damage to your caravan.

I recently viewed a Swift Conqueror 645 2005, with a view to purchase. Cris checked it came back as a Abbey Aventura 340 on the cris register. Turns out the Conqueror was purchased by a well known dealer in Essex from insurance company which had been  registered as stolen/ recovered. the theives had changed the last but 1 digit from 0 to 8. The dealers did not inform the new purchasers and indeed did not bother to change the 17 digit vin number back to original.
Of course the present owners were shocked, and so was I that a large caravan dealer can behave so badly. Problem was solved by ordering new stencil kit and re registering van to existing owners. and now the van is off to NZ. Good job they never had a accident with the van as insurance company would not have paid out.
Moral to story, always check the vin number which is 17 digits etched on all the windows, even when purchasing from dealers.

Once again a busy year in caravan sales with no sign of any slowdown in demand. The last two years in particular has seen manufacturers increase the factory gate prices by as much as 10% a year on their models. This has helped fuel the demand for good second hand models, increasing prices considerably. 

Purchased a 2 berth caravan recently for a client. I forgot to take my own advice with reference to carefull inspection. No cassette in toilet compartment. Doh!
I find it helps to make a list of items to check and tick them off as the van is inspected.  Also try pushing in the damper which controls the brakes, it should slowly release back to original position, especially important on older vans or if they have not been towed for a while. Might save a problem when towing.
Well the silly season is here and once again prices for private vans are too high, in some instances more than dealers prices without the benifits of servicing and warranty.

Had the misfortune to visit a dealer in the west country on behalf of one of my clients in Australlia. Van was advertised as a 2000 model, on inspection of cris number which is etched on all windows bottom right 17digits, I found it to be a 1999. The Dealer tried to explain that caravan registration went from September 1st to August 31st of each year, which is quite correct. I pointed out that a 1999 van was registered between ist September 1998 and August 31st 199. Impossible to be a 2000 model, regardless of when first sold. Oldest trick in the book. The only way to value caravans is by the age shown by the cris registration number.

Oh so cold, should be in Australia watching the cricket. If you are considering buying a touring caravan now is the time, even the dealers are offering fairer prices and willing to negotiate. not for long I guess,
Consider that 1997 / 1998 models are now up to 14 years old, would you spend  £4,000 on a car that old.

Looking to buy a brand new touring caravan!

Best place to buy new is at the forthcoming Caravan and Motorhome  show at the NEC near Birmingham. Show starts early October.

Dealers will offer huge discounts to entice purchasers on the day or give generous part ex allowance.

On a personal note I have just returned from France and Spain on holiday with a touring caravan, I was somewhat surprised at cost of some of the bigger campsites with facilities. Top price I paid was 45 Eueos a night which included electricity, paultry 6amps. wifes hairdryer blew the trip switch. Add on class 2 toll fees, fuel not much cheaper than our prices and hefty ferry charge, certainly not cheap holiday anymore.  mind you the red wine helped blunt the pain, together with 30plus degree sunshine. Even the wife called a truce on moaning.

The website price guide is up to date , though I am finding fluctuations in sales prices of touring caravans. As we draw towards the end of the season, caravans will become easier to purchase at more reasonable prices.
Best time to buy a caravan is November. worst time April just before Easter and July just before school holidays.

Buying; drive a hard bargain with hard cash.

Selling; throw in a few extras like awning to tempt any buyers around

6 tips to help you buy a touring caravan and save money.

1. check the tyre walls for cracks, as cracked tyres will be a problem sooner or later, and could be fatal.

2. Quickest way to check if fridge is working is to feel if warm air is coming out of fridge vent on outside. if no electric ask to try on gas.

3. Walk in van and check for bouncy floor, though not serious, its a pain cutting out carpet to repair delaminated floor. Look underneath van make sure no 4x4 timber wedged in chassis. I have seen that before.

4.Buy a damp meter, failing that look for soft, stained or uneven wallboard. damp repair always costs hundreds of pounds and takes ages to repair as the van needs to be dried out ,regardless of what the seller says about leak stopped now and damp no worse or simple repair, damp always gets worse, if  the wood structure frame is not rotton, it soon will be

5 Once inspected van, pause and then recheck all the little things like blinds, heater, tap and water pump.

6. Always cris check a van. cris number stamped on all windows from 1992, simple call costing a few pounds will tell you everything you need to know. 01722 526911

No good buying a bargain if the bargains costs hundreds of pounds to repair. or indeed not really a bargain.

Times they are a changing.

It does seem to me that the days of the overpriced touring caravan are over , Always I am amazed at prices people pay for load of trouble. Buying a van , do you damp check the van! Do you ask for electric to be supplied to check fridge, £700 for new one at least.
Ask yourself the question would you buy a second hand car without checking the log book or starting the engine.


Good News for Hobby caravan owners

The law has recently changed regarding towing caravans over 7ft 6in wide . Now you do not need a towing vehicle with kerbsite weight of 3.5cwt or over to tow them. They can be towed by any vehicle which is up to the job, The police took no notice before but I have heard of insurance companies refusing to pay out on claims using the law as an excuse, insurance companies don't you just love them.

I find the hobby range of caravans the most difficult to value, usually they are not included in the cris scheme and can be buggers to identify the year of manufacture. would be a good place for information


CRIS  [Caravan Registration Identification Scheme]

All UK touring caravans from 1992 have a 17 digit ID number etched on all windows, this process is done before the van leaves the factory by the manufacturers,  A telephone call to the Cris organization  will allow them to check for stolen , outstanding HP, previous  insurance claims and  former keepers and year of manufacture. The 10th digit denotes the year and is the most important.

Caravan year runs from September 1st to August 31st. As an example a van with 6 as the 10th digit for valuation purposes is a 2006 model even if the van is purchased in September 2005. There are times when vans are at dealers for quite a while for various reasons , a van used as a demonstrator is one of them. If that van is bought in this example new in January 2007. it is still a 2006 model and valued the same as a van bought in Sept 2005.

The oldest trick in the book is to advertise a van newer than what it really is, usually sellers say they are selling on behalf of friend with no internet access, yea right! sellers always know what they are selling.

Always check 10th digit on all windows, No digits on any windows mean windows have been changed, and at approx £200 a go there must be a good reason, usually stolen in the past.

10TH DIGIT Code is;

N 1992
P 1993
R 1994
S 1995
T 1996
V 1997
W 1998
X 1999
Y 2000
1 2001
2 2002
3 2003
4 2004
5 2005
6 2006
7 2007
8 2008
9 2009
A 2010


Why go on Holiday when it is worse than home!

From approx year 2000, touring caravans have improved with smarter more modern upholtery, better heating, improved showers and digital arials. to name a few improvments.  The British caravan is one of the few manufacturing industeries left which we excell and revered all round the world, I know because the demand for our caravans in places like New Zealand and Australia is huge. People go on about EU vans as better built , load of rubbish! they may have better insulation when visiting the Alps in winter, but I find them boring, lacking flair and sometimes down right  ugly.

Buy the newest caravan your budget can stretch to, add a good  awning , hey presto great holidays for years to come.


Merry Xmas and happy new year.

It has been a difficult year to buy a touring caravan with very high prices. It does appear that start of 2010 may be just as difficult. To be honest I really do not understand the market at the moment, lets consider; we have credit crunch, high unemployment and terrible weather and still heaps of junk are selling for over inflated prices. 

What I do know is buyer beware!, I know I bang on about it, but why the hell buy an old caravan without damp checking the van and making sure all appliances are working. My email is full of horror stories, with damp, damaged and broken vans bought with regret.

Dealers are asking daft money , always make offer,and reach an agreeable deal.


How to buy or sell a caravan

I recently had the privilage to buy an Abbey Aventura 318 2003 fixed bed model from Sutton on Sea, in between Grimsby and Skegness on the Lincolnshire coast, it was a bracing day but not raining. Now consider I live in Bournemouth, a long day. The gentleman who I bought the van from was 82 and ex army boxing champion of the army. He has been caravanning for over 50 years. Time to retire he said.

I was so impressed , he laid out all the extras inc awning, had the power on to check all the appliances, gas and electric, cooled down the fridge and demonstrated the motor mover  He had the cris document at hand and really made an effort to show the caravan .

I have been to buy caravans so many times when I can not check equipment or no documentation, with unhelpful sellers usually because they has something to hide. If you are selling  a caravan do what this gentleman done, if buying insist on checking all appliances and documentaion.

Ask the question would you buy a car without starting the engine or looking at the log book.



Have you ever thought what might happen if you buy a caravan with no spare wheel, and you have a puncture. Well it is a bloody nightmare. This unfortunate incident happened to me a couple of years ago when I bought a caravan without a spare wheel. Punctures always happen miles away on motorways at night never outside your home.
RAC could not help, motorway breakdown could, for £350. Caravan wheels are reinforced and usually 5 stud a pain in the neck to replace.

Always check before purchase that there is a spare wheel, where it is and that it  is ok.


I can smell damp!
Well, you can not usually smell damp when the wood frame has rotted, what you can smell is the musty material on the seats. Water penetrates the seals over time on a caravan, usually one corner or side facing the prevailing wind and rain, and eventually saturates the wood frame and wall board. The saturated wood sits tight against the metal exterior of the van and slowly corrodes the metal, tell tale signs are small blisters on the metal, under windows, bathroom ,behind the fridge and worst of all where the sides are  joined to the floor, all areas to examine.
At this stage the integrity and strength of the van has been compromised, the van is good only for spares and potentially a death trap when towed unless expensive repairs are carried out.
Owners who keep their vans inside are just as much at risk, especially if the van is kept inside during the summer. The sealant can dry and crack during warm weather, first trip out in the rain and the leaks start appearing, sometimes without your knowlage.
Caravans should be resealed every 4 years, this is an engineers job as the awning rail has to be removed not an easy job. Believe me the only way to treat damp in a caravan is to remove the wall board cut out the rotton wood, and replace, not a quick or easy job especially if the damp is behind appliances or furniture.  I do smile when I see caravans advertised with damp but now dry, or damp with simple repair job!
Remember the saying; Buyer Beware!

Rock and Roll
Just spent a great few days at blues on the farm Festival, most performers were older than me. makes a change.
Got me thinking about caravans rocking and rolling , towing in general. The tow ball should be greased if using an ordinary tow hitch [ metal friction] and dry if using an stabilising hitch [ grease counters the friction pads]
The safty chain is not there to keep the caravan on the back of the tow vehicle , it is used to help stop the caravan in a straight line.  To fit a new safety chain requires a special spanner, no idea why the job is made so difficult
Providing the outfit meets the weight ratio guidelines of never towing more than 85% of the tow vehicle, keeping within the towing speed limit of 60 miles an hour max on motorways , less on other speed limited roads, and no sudden manouveres are undertaken when towing ,and of course no tornados, there is no practical reason why caravans should start rocking and rolling.
Always check lights and indicaters, condition of tyres  and spare wheel , no spare! big problems'
Lastly drive 10 yards stop! go round checking everything is closed tight and safe.