useful links
A week in caravanning
Caravans for sale/wanted
Contact us
Abbey A to E
Abbey F to S

11th March 2008

Caravan Insurance Claims and Implications


Insurance companies organise claims on damaged insured caravans into four groups., they are;


Category A. Caravans must be crushed. The caravans are considered dangerous


Category B. Caravans should only be used for spares, and can not be reregistered with a new Cris number.


Category C. Caravans can be repaired but will require an independant engineers report sent to the Cris organization stating satisfactory repairs, road worthiness and safety.


Category D. Minor damage such as hailstones with no safety issues but still requires an engineers report.


Cris will not issue a new registration number unless the caravan has been inspected by an independant engineer and a written report submitted to the cris organisation.


All caravans bought from dealers who have purchased directly from insurance companies should have the correct documentation from the insurance companies, together with engineers report. no exception.


It is my experience Insurance companies will not insure a caravan without a valid Cris number registered. Together with other information such as outstanding finance, stolen/recovered, the cris organization will confirm the caravan’s status regarding any previous insurance claims.


Each year caravans including nearly new expensive models are sold with history unknown to the purchaser. At the best your caravan will be worth a lot less than you thought when the time comes to sell, at worst your family may be at risk.


There are many flood damaged and insurance claimed caravans coming on the market at the moment , some dodgy dealers are offering them for sale without telling purchasers about previous history.



Spending thousands , then spend 9,95 to find the facts of the caravan you are buying. 


Caravan Road Safety
When purchasing a second hand caravan we all concentrate on bodywork, damp and the interior, Taking a little time in inspecting Tyres, Brakes and Towing components should not be overlooked
I recently purchased a Elddis Vogue single axle for resale from main dealers. Going through my inspection routine I checked the tyres and was quite shocked to see the state of them, badly cracked all over the tyre walls. An accident waiting to happen. A blown out tyre at 60 miles an hour will almost certainly cause loss of control of the caravan and the tow car!
The Elddis had been sited on a permanent pitch for the last three years causing the tyres to  slowly deflate and crack. If not in regular use caravan tyres should be supported by angles or blocks.
Most caravan tyres are reinforced 6 ply as apposed to the usual 4 ply car tyres, and cost about 50 each. Use a torch to check for cracks especially the back of tyres.
There is a damper fitted immediately behind the ball hitch, when the tow vehicle brakes it forces the damper to engage the caravan braking system . In time, or when not used the damper can seize , telltail signs are; caravan jolting when brakes are released on tow car.  The damper should be replaced.
Make sure the safety wire is in good condition not rusted, attach securely to car hitch. When jolted the safety wire engages the caravan brakes and helps slow the caravan down.
Check brake linkage for excessive rust. Brake drums should be removed and pads adjusted.
Lastly get a pre season service prior to use, it will be money well spent

NEC Caravan show  October 2007
I spent three days working on the Avondale Stand representing my friends Southern Caravans. Avondale sold about 160 caravans during the exhibition, quite amazing! Two thoughts struck me.
1. As there were over 15 different sales people on the stand representing different main dealers around the country, the competition was fierce, resulting in huge discounts offered or trade in prices much higher than normal. It was not unusual for customers to be offered up to 1500 off the recommended list price of some models, providing a deposit is paid there and then, usually 500.Try getting that much off at the dealers showroom and they will laugh at you.
Delivery for most models were quoted three to four months. I would suggest that anybody looking for a new caravan buys at trade shows for the best deal.
2. I was surprised that dealers sold to anybody in the country with promises of free delivery. Resulting in dealers from the north selling to customers in the south 200 miles away and visa versa. This practice is plain stupid, and potentially harmful. I have known dealers refuse to honour warranties and provide servicing or just put them at the back of the queue if they have not sold the caravan, resulting in the caravan off the road for long periods  especially during busy times. The customer then suffers the choice of having to travel long distances for warranty work. Always buy your new caravan from a dealer who is within reasonable distance.
The Avondale Argente sold very well, especially the end bathroom model, good quality at a fair price! This model can be seen at Southern Caravans site in Chichester.

This is an email I received from a first time caravan buyer.  I hope my reply is of help to all prospective caravan purchasers
"what make or model of caravan, or what makes are the best, we are looking for 4/5 berth tourer, can you point us in the right direction, what do we look for when viewing caravans??
jim Edit Text

Thanks for your email, without knowing your circumstances it is difficult to give advice. but here goes;
1. Get a budget and stick to it.
2. Buy the newest caravan within your budget. I would never buy anything older than 1996.
3. Decide on layout. for instance side bunk beds are good with young children but offer little privacy compared to beds at either side of the caravan with a partition. Fixed beds are convienient but not as big as the  front seats when made up
4. Check for damp. this is difficult without a damp meter , but look at all the wallboards around the windows and seals for discolouration, and under the front seats and bathroom , do not forget the ceiling, dealers are the worst for forgetting to mention damp problems.
5 Buy a good awning. caravans are used mainly for sleeping and cooking.
6. Get a cris check which will confirm the caravans history and year.
7. Insist that the seller shows everything working, hot water, fridge ,oven heating etc. It is a good idea to telephone this request before hand and arrange to meet during daylight.
8. When buying privately always organise payment at the sellers home. 
9. Check the extras and items like battery ,cassette toilet, hook up lead.
gas bottle and water pump. sometimes these items go missing.
10. Buyer beware.

Q. Why do our caravans have damp problems!
A.  Because they are not built well enough!
In my business I buy and sell caravans for myself, and other people. I have looked at quite a few caravans just lately and am dismayed at the amount of damp I have found, and indeed the porky pies people tell, but thats another story, though sometimes owners of caravans  with damp have no idea.  I have come to the conclusion that some  british caravans are not up to the quality expected from the great British engineers.
I recently was asked to inspect a caravan, a Swift Archway Barnwell, dealer special. 2005. The caravan had comprehensive damp around most of the window seals. Water gets into the wooden framework and slowly rots the frame. There is nothing that can be done without cutting out the offending timber and wall board and either drying out or  replacing it.  Damp wood will not dry out without dry air circulation, and once the wooden frame reaches saturation point, there is no hope of improvement.
All caravans without exception should be resealed every 3/4 years. It is a simple job with a sealant  gun, but the problem is windows and awning rails, they need to be removed to do the job properly. To remove the windows one has to remove the aluminimn strips which are secured to the side of the caravan frame, this is not an easy job. Removing awning rails is also a caravan engineers job.
Contrary to common belief, one can not always smell very bad damp, or indeed sometimes see it , but you will.  I always look outside first because serious damp can be seen from the outside. Look carefully for small blistering bubbles and what looks like small stains under the windows and joins on the side of the caravan and top end side plus bathroom area Try removing these blisters and stains by cleaning. If they  can not be removed by cleaning,  together with any visable protruding bumps not flush with the bodywork then I sense problems. This shows the damp in the frame is attacking the GRP from inside. In severe cases  the frame may become weak where it is fixed to the chassis. The caravan may become dangerous to tow.  People disguise interior damp with items like mirrrors , wooden and metal sheets and transfers. Disguising exterior signs of damp  is much harder and is usually obvious.
Damp caravans are unhealthy to sleep in ,especially for children, because bacterial spores are growing within the framework and could affect breathing.
Qualified engineers can repair damp if the damp has not taken hold, but the problem is; apart from costs,  the offending caravan will be off the road for at least a month.
As I have said many time beforehand; spending a lot of hard earned money on a caravan then spend a little hard earned money on a good damp meter.
I am not usually as serious in my articles, in this instance it is justified

Buying a new Caravan. 28.07.2007
Oh the delight of buying a brand new caravan direct from main dealers, never before used, the object of pride and joy. New models hit the dealers forecourt in September, and indeed orders are taken sometimes months before. It always annoys myself that the caravan industry is very much a closed shop, new caravans can only be bought at main dealers , I have never  seen discounted models offered third party on the internet for instance. The dealer must have the ability to service the caravan before they are allowed to sell them, unlike cars where virtually anybody can sell them at discounted price which can then  be serviced at any dealership.
The price advertised on the new caravan is not the price paid, Oh no! they add on delivery charge, up to 495. Dealers do not even supply a battery, mean I say!
All new caravans come with warranties, and like cars they vary in length and whats included. For instance some models are offered with 5 year water ingress [ damp ] guarentee, but heres the sting sometimes these warranties are not transferable. In other words if a 12 month old caravan is purchased from a dealers only a 3/6 month warranty may be included.
When purchasing a new caravan always ask questions, and make an offer, sometimes they will knock off the delvery charge.
 Generosity depends on the time of the year, depending on the price of the caravan, they can loose up to 5,000 in value in the first year. Dealers get nervous  from August onwards and will almost certanly haggle knowing their stock will soon be one year older and prices will most certanly be written down
Remember: when buying a new caravan take your head as well as your heart with you.

My Week in caravanning.  Like a blog but I call it a diary.   
I deal with  the largest leisure company in the country. When caravanners get fed up of touring they buy a static caravan. Sometimes they part exchange, I buy the part ex.
Last week I bought an ABI Dalesman 1997, a nice caravan and I sold it to a very nice man. It included a newish awning and every bit and bob needed for caravanning.  I was happy and so was he. What he did not know was; when I collected it and I must admit I felt it best not to divulge, one of the wheels fell off.  I started towing the caravan  and got on to the dual carriageway, then the nearside wheel fell off and just disapeared  into the hedgerow. At first I thought I had a puncture. This is why it happened.
The site where I bought the caravan  due to thieving  removes the wheels of the tourers they take in on part exchange.  When I arrived I asked the maintenance team to refit the wheels whilst I was sorting out the paperwork. I found out later they did not have a proper jack and used the caravan steady legs to lift the caravan whilst they fitted the wheel.  The problem is the steady legs do not quite go up high enough unless you put blocks underneath and have the muscles of a  body builder, due to the weight ratio pressure on the legs. They used the caravan steady leg handle to tighten the wheel nuts which went on askew  and not properly tightened. As soon as there  was any movement and pressure on the wheel they started to loosen.
When I was standing on the side of the duel carriageway quietly fuming and  surveying the damage, I phoned the caravan site and asked for help, they sent the same two  maintenace men who had fitted the wheels. I challenged them on arrival and told them I could have been killed or worse wreaked the caravan. The man turned round and said it was my fault for not checking the wheels. I will not repeat what I said but suffice to say action was later taken.
I was lucky the spare wheel was good and because I was going slow no damage was done. The moral to the story is always check everything yourself, make sure your caravan is safe to tow and  always carry a spare wheel that can be used.
I went back to collect another caravan a few days later and had the bright idea to try and find the lost wheel. Well somewhere just outside Clacton is a caravan wheel if anybodies interested. It  would also be a crime to call the two herberts maintenance men.
                                          25 02 07
Went to the caravanning show this week at the NEC. Met a few old friends and had a good look around. Opinion seems to be that we are in for a good year for caravan sales, providing Gorden Brown keeps his hands out of our pockets, Imposible I hear you shout!.  New caravan prices have held steady and fixed bed options still seem to be the most popular. I have noticed that the Caravan manufacturers are streamlining there models with fewer options. For instance Bailey have dropped the Moselle from their Pageant range.
The caravan club were displaying a concept caravan [ see photos ], described as cool and aspirational, whatever that means. I think it is  the ugliest thing I have ever seen ,apparantly it can be towed by a push bike it is so light. Interesting pull out canvas bunks concept, ideal if your in the Med or aged 15. not to good in Scotland.
I went to the show with my wife as she was going to the girlie Crafts exhibition and as usual wanted a free lift and all expenses paid. The car parking for the caravan show was 7 'bloody cheek' on top of the 14 to get in. My wife said parking at the trade exhibitions was free so we went there it was only round the corner, and saved 7. There is an escalater and walkway through to the public exhibitions and was only a 10 minute walk. There is always trade exhibitions on as well as public exhibitions so park there nobody knows and save money. Serves them right for being greedy.
I voted the Hot roast pork roll stand the best of exhibition closely followed by the beer hall.
  Edit Text

Hobbies and the law of towing.
Got a telephone call this week from a salesmen at one of the caravan parks on the IOW. He said he had a bargain priced Hobby 650UMF. Now bargains and salesmen do not usually go together,but I fancied a trip to the IOW and duly booked my ferry. I booked from Lymington to Yarmouth. 85 return bringing back a caravan. Rip off! it is so close you could swim across.
Anyway, I arrived and starting inspecting the caravan. Continental caravans are not part of the NCC or Cris schemes, checking the plate number I telephoned the Hobby UK importers who are based in Derbyshire. They told me it was a 1999 model and was illegal to tow with any vehicle under 3.5 ton kerbside weight.  The road transport act clearly states the maximum width that a vehicle under 3.5 tons kerbside weight can tow is 2.3m or just under 7ft 6inches. This model was 8ft wide.
All the 4+4 vehicles and most of the transit vans towing the wider continental caravans are illigal. Not all European models , including Hobby are in excess of 2.3m. usually in general it appears to be the longer 6 berth models.  It does appear that the police may well turn a blind eye under normal curcumstances, but I would be concerned about insurance problems in the event of an accident especially if the police become involved.
I turned the Hobby down ,it was poor anyway. The moral to the story is; if in doubt, telephone the importers with the plate number .
  Edit Text

11_classified_67_1_b.jpg Edit Picture


Went to the Caravan auctions this week, Situated in Measham, run by British car Auctions. The caravan auction is held the second friday of each month. Well there were over 150 caravans to be sold coming from such sources as Finance houses, dealers and jack the ladd.
I decided to do some research and checked a few of the caravans up for auction, without fail they all had problems which fair enough is down to the purchase price.
One has to consider that all the caravans for sale I checked had, no battery, or external pump or any extras whatsoever. I also found problems within all the caravans I checked which included; damp,broken furniture, poor tyres and excess exterior damage.
The process is quite brutal, as soon as the bidding is over the caravan keys are removed and 500 in cash is required instantly as deposit. The balance can be paid by debit card later.
I was also shocked to find the buyer had to stump up a buyers premium, 'bloody check' usually between 200 and 300 but the car parking is free, and you get a good breakfast for about 4
After consideration, my conclusion is, do not buy from auctions unless, you can Identify problems and deal with them. There is always a reason why they are auctioned Edit Text

Below is a list of some caravans  hammer prices.
described as  G. good. F. fair C.crap
Adria Adora                       532LD    06               7,100   F
Lunar Lexon                       FB           04               8,600   F
Sterling Eccle Tracker      6B           04               8875    G
Bailey Discovery               4b            04              4870     F
Bailey Auverge                  4b            94              2350    G
Baily Louisiana                  4b            05             10000  G
Avondale Malvern              4b            93              1000    F
Bailey Ranger                    6b            05             7150    F
Avondale Osprey               4b            02              6175    G
Avondale Dart                    4b            02             3250     C
Bailey Montana                  4b            04             7750     F
Lunar Premier                    4b            96             2450     F

15.04.07. Caravan ID and Cris Registration
Went to view a caravan today, it was just round the corner which makes a change. The caravan was a Compass Raylle, nice caravan but what was surprising, and I have never seen this before, was the vin number etched on the windows also known as the cris registration number. The 10th digit confirms the year the caravan was built, this said W confirming1998. To my astonishment the owner produced documentation proving the caravan was bought in 1997. The only explanation possible is that the caravan was built at the end of the year and bought from a dealer almost immidiately, causing a slight overlap between registration and documentation.
All UK caravans produced from 1992 have 17 digit vin numbers which are then placed on the cris register [ Caravan register ] This also provides means for valuation as the caravan gets older. Dealers value caravans by their age with a slight variation based on condition.
Private buyers should always check the cris number to confirm the caravans age, pretending a 1995 caravan is a1997 model is the oldest trick in the book. The caravans status can also be confirmed. For instance Insurance write off, stolen recovered or indeed just stolen and HPI check to confirm no outstanding finance.
The cris phone number is 01722 411430. There is a charge for this service.
10th Digit codes are;
1992.  N
1993.  P
1994.  R
1995.  S
1996.  T
1997.  V
1998.  W
1999.  X
2000.  Y
2001.  1
2002.  2 AND SO ON. A bit like car reg.

27.04.07 Price Guide Changes
The time has come to review the caravanprice guide.
Most models have been revalued downwards, with the odd model unchanged. I have never known a second hand model go up in price!
The losers once again are luxury 2 berths together with nearly new  twin axle models.
The market seems quite busy at the moment with the sun shining, everybody and their dog want a caravan therefore it may prove difficult to purchase a caravan at the guide price quoted, but I am sure the market will settle down in the next two months and I do fear the recent vehicle road tax inexplicable large increases, will also have an effect on caravanning in general and twin axle heavy models in particular, together with recent and future interest rates predicted during the next few months.
The brand new price of mid range caravans such as the Bailey Pageants are very competitive, this further adds downward pressure to late used models.
Remember these prices are only a guide, and do not forget to haggle especially with dealers even if they whinge.

A trip to the Loire Valley 15.06.2007
Got a call about a caravan for sale in the Loire Valley, now I know it is a long way to go to buy a caravan but I fancied the trip. Unfortunately the wife wanted to come with me, there goes the budget and any chance of making a profit, and we went for 5 days. Got the ferry from Poole to Cherbourg on the fastcat, just 2 hours 15 minutes. 140 returning on the slow ferry. I did not tell them I was bringing back a caravan ,thought I would blag it, anyway their computer said no!
The trip down to Blois was uneventful, about 250 miles and 5 hours. The rain came down in buckets non stop all the way until we reached Blois on the river Loire, and then a miracle! the sun come out, and stayed out for 5 days. Now I have been told that the loire is the point where the weather gets better and now I truly believe it.
The caravan was a Swift Challenger 2 berth 1999, everything was fine except about a 3 foot area of the floor by the door did not feel right. The problem can be called various names delamination, bouncy, springy, soft etc. What happens is the floor which is attached to the chassis starts breaking up on the surface.
 Repair is surprisingly simple and not that expensive. Holes are drilled int the floor and resin is injected, left to set and then sanded smooth. 150 to 200 for small 2 to 4 foot areas at caravan repair centres.
I can always tell when the seller has something to hide as they try to get the sale over with as fast as possible, anyway I explained the problem to the seller who said he forgot to tell me , yea right! and I got 250 knocked off the price. We stayed at a small simple campsite in Cellettes right on a river, it was delightful until the wife said she wanted to go shopping. Back at the port I tried to explain I was returning the caravan on a mercy mission for my brother who was really very ill, but the ferry company had no compassion and charged me an extra 80. 

Sharing a few of my cockups, I hope helps others  not to repeat my mistakes. Remember the prices mentioned here are now out of date. Edit Text

Although I have been caravanning for over 30 years and took a caravan to Istanbul in 1992 through Romania  for a holiday during the revolution , I only first started buying touring caravans three years ago. My idea was to hire out tourers based in Normandie France, saving caravan ferry charges. I bought five. My first purchase was an Abbey Maurader1993. It was for sale in Lincolnshire which is the most boring place in the world. I paid 2,500 and I was robbed. There was only one tap ,which I now know means no hot water, no toilet and the back electrics did not work, he checked them for me and shouted fine. The police stopped me and I got a 60 fine and 3 points. I told them they were fine when I started out , must be a fuse gone . I think they had heard it before.I  had to buy a trailer board. He also had not cleaned the outside so you do not see all the bumps dinks and scratches. When polished you can see everything. beware the dirty caravan. I used this as my spare caravan as I realised it was not good enough to hire out. 
The second caravan was a Sprite Major advertised 1996 3,600 after a bit of haggling we agreed on 3,300. what a bargain. I found out later it was a 1993. He must have made a simple mistake. I had no idea by simply checking the vin number, the year of manufacture was literally staring me in the face.
The bookings were coming in thick and fast for my  caravan hire business but I had no decent caravans. I upped the anti and splashed out on a Bailey Moselle 1998 4,800, from a dealer to be on the safe side. When I viewed it there was a load of flat cardboard boxes on the floor, to keep the carpet clean he said, fair enough! good idea. When I got it over to France and started sorting it out I noticed the floor was very bouncy. The floor had come a way from the chassis and it cost 450 to repair it.
I sold my hire business in France and started buying and selling caravans to earn a little extra. I bought a Elldis Avante from a nice man in Newcastle. He gave me a cup of tea and directions home. A nicer man you would not meet. When I got the caravan  home, I found he had taken out the battery, water pump, gas bottle, cassette toilet ,spare wheel ,leg winder and electric lead. When I telephoned him he said they were not advertised with the caravan and I did not ask for them. He was right.
I looked at another Elldis Avante, a real bargain! it had been vandalised and there were nasty scratches on all the windows and bodywork, but the seller was really very helpful and said they would all rub out easilly with wet and dry, he said he would do it himself but he was far too busy and said I bet you will make a nice profit out of this. I thought what could be easier, piece of cake and a nice profit. I spent two weeks with that bloody wet and dry,  got soaked and ended up with a bad shoulder. If you can feel scratches with your finger believe me they do not rub out. I made a loss on this one.
I have learned the hard way and heres a few caravans I did not buy.  Lunar Clubman 1995 ,the carpet was screwed to the floor so you could not inspect the hole in the floor packed with hardboard. The seller said, and I love this; the damage is reflected in the price.
Bessecar Elan,1993. advertised as 1998 when I pointed this out to them they disagreed.  I was a conman trying to fiddle them they said.
Bailey Ranger 1996. with serious damp hidden under the front seat by the free awning wedged in. [ clever idea]. The seller said it did not bother him or affect the caravan, and what do you expect from a second hand caravan.
The Bailey Senator with a 2 foot gash in the bodywork partially hidden by a B and Q  plastic ventilation lid. Described as cosmetic. When challenged he got nasty and said 'People like you always want something for nothing'. Honestly you could not make it up.
Buying a caravan can be hit and miss ,most new purchasers do not know what to look for, or the correct price a caravan should be. This is the reason I set up caravanprice guide. a website that provides free information for everybody,
Always check everything and beware the nice helpful man. Edit Text

Your having a laugh
Well the budget was a shocker for caravanners! 400 a year road tax. Seems us car owners are responsible for everything. I have a suspicion this is just another tax fiddle for the government.
Only 28 percent of vehicles in the top tax bracket are 4x4. What about people carriers for large families and estate cars for engineers etc etc. Try getting a family in a smart car! It may be possible to exist on public transport if one lives and works in a city, almost imposible living in the country or a small village.
Consider the most efficient method of a family taking their holidays, and caravanning comes out pretty well.  A family holiday away with the children is most important, and helps sustain values. Yes I do know moms and dads end up fighting sooner or later on holiday, but thats not the point. More importantly the economies of areas such as Cornwall depend on the holiday season for economic reasons. Why spend our money in France or Spain. with the odd exception they don't even smile when they take our money. Heaven forbid your the owner of a twin axle caravan arriving at a campsite in France. Must be a gypsy.
Manufacturers of touring caravans must respond with lighter models. This of course means less luxury. I am sure lighter wood and upholstery is possible, and who needs a full oven, hob, grill and microwave are sufficient. Fridges are essential but should be designed to be lighter. More use of carbon fibre would greatly reduce weight. I am sure that caravans will reduce in weight by over 200kg in the next few years.
Awnings with inner tents are ideal to increase space required, allowing purchase of smaller caravans and smaller cars.
Finally we could all sit at home and do nothing, becoming miserable fat and stressed, with feral kids but saving a load of carbon, [to help out China ] but I do feel we may end up costing the health service a packet one way or the other. Mabe government likes ordering us what to do

31.03.07 Damp in Caravans.
A friend of mine who lives up in the frozen north telephoned last week to say he had just bought an Elddis Avante 2002 model, out of one of the ad papers. He knows about caravans and was satisfied it was all working ,free of bad history and looked great. Unfortunately the caravan had damp at the back end, quite bad he said. He has been quoted 600 for repair and even worse has to wait 6 weeks before he can get the job done.
I asked him if he had checked the caravan with a damp meter and he said yes to my surprise! I asked about the damp meter and he said he had bought it off ebay for 8. Well, he heard my stiffled laughter.
My damp meter is a Protimeter and cost 135. but it will pick up everything and shows the percentage of moisture within the frame.
When inspecting a caravan for damp check all joins and seals especially at the back where the sides are joined to the back of the caravan. Under the seats is also a favourite spot. Look on the outside for any slight bubbling, this indicated serious damp which is affecting the structure.
Most damp can be repaired, and older caravans can have a bit of damp here and there but is manageable. The problem is apart from the cost waiting for repairs from specialist, is the time the caravan is not available for use especially when the sun is out.
Looking to spend thousands on a caravan! then spend 135 on a protimeter, and always carefully inspect the whole caravan.