Clueless beginner and his young growing family

Jun 18, 2020
4
2
15
Visit site
Hello folks, I’m 34 and my partner and I have decided instead of putting some inheritance money into savings that we will buy a touring caravan. Having worked at Elddis for 2 years I do understand the workings of a caravan and how they’re built etc however this is totally different to actually spending precious money and buying one. I’ve joined this website to hopefully get some advice and look through posts to help me decide on layout and brand. From my initial research and visiting Kimberley caravans in Darlington we are favouring a coachman 860 however we cannot decide on fixed bed vs bunk bed as we have an almost 3 year and another on the way. If anyone with a young family and a tourer could tell me why they went for the layout they went for it might be useful for our decision. Thanks, Dan
 
Jan 19, 2002
1,533
440
19,935
Visit site
Presumably you have done the maths with the kerbweight and checked any towing limit for your proposed tow car. Also that you have a B+E category on your driving licences. I note the Acadia 860 is plated at 1870 but can be uprated to 2000Kg MPLM, a long twin axle 8' width van is a 'big beast' in all respects and will need a hefty towcar to manage it! Also ensure it will fit where you plan to store it! Looking to the future if you intend to keep the van, say 5 years, you will then have an 8 year old and a 4 year old or thereabouts to accommodate, so you can imagine that single beds might suit them better with different sleep patterns and expectations rather than sharing a double? Also whatever layout that the adults will want to stay up later than the children.. and this also applies to the situation of the bathroom/toilet in the van, for night errands for either age group! Perhaps your dealership will make up the beds in night mode so you can evaluate the convenience of the layout - or the layout of the convenience!
That's a start for you, and I am sure others will be adding their advice for you too!
 
Oct 8, 2006
1,807
564
19,935
Visit site
Been there, done that, etc etc
I would suggest you don't go for a big van initially - if you don't like it or caravanning then you will have a large lump of unused metal on your drive. Its the same with cameras - try several out and the one that <feels> right is the one to buy irrespective of the bells and whistles.
From personal experience I would suggest you look at a four-berth with independent beds if you can. Remember when you have a new baby they need feeding etc at all hours and having your wife getting out of bed in the middle of the night - let alone having to climb over you! - is very disturbing.
Living in Darlington you have several dealers worth visiting:
Barrons on the A68 just west of the A1
Teesside Caravans at Thornaby
Catterick Caravans and Ropers almost next to each other in Catterick (technically Brompton on Swale I think.) (Leave A1 at Scotch Corner and follow A6055

Good luck
 
Jan 3, 2012
9,779
2,108
30,935
Visit site
Hi Dan
You might need go a Caravan Towing Course with the Caravan Club to get the feel of a van on the back Reversing into a pitch or (Caravan Mover)
 
Jun 18, 2020
4
2
15
Visit site
Hi folks, Thanks for your replies and making me feel welcome. I'm quite confident about the driving however i am going to be doing the B&E course and test required for my license. Buying a new car is also part of this process as i'm not allowed to use my works vehicle to tow and my partners peugeot 308 won't tow anything substantial. We are looking at BMW X3 as an acadia 830 owner told me he pulls it with that and it is excellent he just doesnt use the full 179kg payload within the van to maintain closer to 85%.
The more i think about it maybe bunk beds would be best for us. We have stayed in caravans quite a few times and my 2 year old loved the area at the back of the elddis avante 866 we stayed in. We do intend to keep the van for a long time so the pressure is on to get the decision right. We loved the build quality and standard kit of the coachman acadia range and the 630 looks like an option for us. The issue i have is elddis have a new model the 868 which has the best of both worlds as far as we are concerned as it has a french bed and bunks with mid washroom. I personally just wouldn't buy an elddis van now that I've seen the quality of other brands. The swift sprite super quattro db is also something im looking at.
 
Jun 18, 2020
4
2
15
Visit site
just to update. We have been to UBC in newcastle and looked at several model of swift and bailey and decided we prefer swift, mostly down to gut feel and upholstery colour. We like the swift sprite super quattro db. We are going back to kimberley tomorrow to look at the coachman 580 as we feel a smaller van is all we need if we purchase an awning also
 
  • Like
Reactions: JezzerB
Jun 18, 2020
4
2
15
Visit site
Well if we go for the Acadia 580 it has a MTPLM of 1594kg so it opens up a lot more options for cars. I love how practical the Skoda kodiaq is on reviews and I’ve owned a Mazda CX-5 before so I know they’re a good car. To be honest there’s now so much choice I could spend days researching online 🥴
 
  • Like
Reactions: JezzerB
Nov 16, 2015
10,771
3,074
40,935
Visit site
I have a Sante fe, but the Kodiaq look like a very good car, good weight and strong build history.
The Coachman Vans are good on my second one now, I think build quality depends on the people in the factorys, they are not all dedicated people, unfortunatly. In any of the companys.
 
Oct 8, 2006
1,807
564
19,935
Visit site
A note to the OP: when you do eventually buy a towcar and have a towbar fitted - either factory (expensive) or after market (much cheaper and fitted by fitters that know what they are fitting) - make sure you make it clear <in writing>* that it must have fridge wiring. Most continental towbar kits do not have fridge wiring as standard.

*In writing can just be by means of it being worded in the contract, or you agree it with the dealer and you write it across the contract document and sign it. Then it is part of the contract and if they either don't fit it or fit it incorrectly you have them over a legal barrel for Breach of Contract. It might sound forceful but sadly is necessary especially when you are spending that much money.

For the record: my Passat Estate factory fitted £1000++, dealer fitted just about £1000, specialist towbar fitter £600 inc ECU update for a Westfalia detachable.
 
Nov 11, 2009
20,847
6,513
50,935
Visit site
I’ve always had aftermarket tow bars and the last four cars have been Witter or Westfalia. Same company these days. But I ensure that the wiring harness is car specific and not generic. As cars are more electronically complex you might need the software recoded. But using authorised Witter/Westfalia technicians has always been satisfactory.
 
Nov 6, 2005
7,529
2,195
30,935
Visit site
A note to the OP: when you do eventually buy a towcar and have a towbar fitted - either factory (expensive) or after market (much cheaper and fitted by fitters that know what they are fitting) - make sure you make it clear <in writing>* that it must have fridge wiring. Most continental towbar kits do not have fridge wiring as standard.

*In writing can just be by means of it being worded in the contract, or you agree it with the dealer and you write it across the contract document and sign it. Then it is part of the contract and if they either don't fit it or fit it incorrectly you have them over a legal barrel for Breach of Contract. It might sound forceful but sadly is necessary especially when you are spending that much money.

For the record: my Passat Estate factory fitted £1000++, dealer fitted just about £1000, specialist towbar fitter £600 inc ECU update for a Westfalia detachable.

Sadly, there's great variation in knowledge and competence among towbar fitters - after decades of DIY fitment without any issues I had a new car fitted by "specialists" who made a poor job of the electrics, needing rewiring by a proper auto electrician - my present car has a factory-fit electrically-deployable towbar, literally fitted at the factory during normal production, £750 with fridge/battery charging as standard and uprated engine cooling.

Most VW Group models now get fridge wiring as standard on factory-fit towbars.
 
May 7, 2012
8,598
1,816
30,935
Visit site
Looking at the tow cars proposed I do think that some may be a little light. Both the two main clubs and the industry suggest that for those new to towing caravans you should have a caravan with an MTPLM of no more than 85% of the kerb weight of the caravan. This is possibly somewhat dated but even given the improvement in cars and caravans since then I would be reluctant to go beyond 90% when starting out. It is also against advice to exceed the kerb weight of the car.
Do not go by the manufacturers towing limit as this is based on the ability to restart on a 12% incline and is not a measure of the towing ability. Towing a caravan with large flat sides on fact roads does mean you are susceptible to side winds so you need the weight to control the caravan. Provided you get the weights right this should not be a problem.
Having had three children I would say go for bunks. Children love them and they save space and at the ages you are looking at length, which can be a problem for older ones will not be a problem.
For quality, I would go for the Coachman, as they are easily the top UK brand for customer satisfaction in the magazines annual survey. The one make that can beat them is Adria, but they are very individual and can be heavy. What you feel about the interior of the different makes though might be the deciding factor.
 
Nov 6, 2005
7,529
2,195
30,935
Visit site
Do not go by the manufacturers towing limit as this is based on the ability to restart on a 12% incline and is not a measure of the towing ability.

Unless the towing limit is low, in which case it has to be observed rather than the Towing Ratio.
 
Jan 3, 2012
9,779
2,108
30,935
Visit site
Well if we go for the Acadia 580 it has a MTPLM of 1594kg so it opens up a lot more options for cars. I love how practical the Skoda kodiaq is on reviews and I’ve owned a Mazda CX-5 before so I know they’re a good car. To be honest there’s now so much choice I could spend days researching online 🥴
If you searching online for a good car make sure you get the right one that can pull the caravan with ease also you are beginner you should stick to the 85% until you have more experience under your belt
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts