New Caravan Quality

Dec 16, 2003
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New to caravanning and have decided to buy a new 2 berth van in time for next spring.Have had a look and come up with a short list which includes Swift Charisma 230 and Bailey Pageant Monarch. Both seem to offer all the facilities we need , but I would love to know how people percieve these manufacturers in terms of quality and reliability.

Be grateful for any thoughts that people may have.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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We've had 3 Swift Challengers, the last one new. We've always compared Bailey with Swift and found that workmanship/build quality is superior in all Swift models including the Charisma. The materials seem stronger on Swift vans but they do cost more than Baileys. Better layouts too.

Alan
 
Mar 14, 2005
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i have two challengers in the past both good vans but suffering from damp, at present i have a 2004 bailey senator which i chose over the swift. i am very happy with its lack of problems compared to the swift, and was prompted to buy one by the caravan club surveys. both swifts had damp after 5 years.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I am in a similar position, I will buy a van soon. I intend to visit a show, in my case Earls court in Nov., to check on the build quality of various vans. The advantage to this is that you will see almost all of the vans available in the IK at one place and time. So you will have an oportunity to compare without memory. I am going to check on the build quality of German made vans.
 
Feb 21, 2005
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Hi - I'm afraid that I have to dissagree somewhat with a posting from Graham. Bailey have a very respectable name in all aspects. As to the workmanship and build quality, there is little to choose from, if there were to be a comparison between Swift, Bailey and a Bessacar, perhaps I would agree to a point. As to the cost, the dearest isn't always necessarily the best!!!! Swift have been in the market place for many years and as we all know,so to establish presence in the manufacturing market, strategies do play a part. With regards to better layouts, well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man's meat is another's poison. Just because there may not be a layout to suit Graham, it does not mean to say that there won't be one to suit you. Baileys are and have been sold out for quite sometime with deliveries not until next March 2005, or April by now. That surely must say something. Quote, "materials seem stronger" what materials? have any tests been carried out or reports issued? I have been a caravanner since 1970 and have had a number of caravans since then as you can imagine. I am waiting for delivery or my first Bailey series five, the only caravan to have ever scored 10/10 by one of the National Caravan Magazines. So I can only suggest looking seriously at as many caravans and to get a gut feeling yourself. The trouble with talking to "people" is that they can be extremely biased and it is difficult to get an unbiased opinion. Its what "YOU" like that counts not what someone else tries to sway you into. Anyway, good luck in whatever you decide and happy caravanning to one and all.

Rob.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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It does not matter when you judge quality of these caravans. Firstly, you can get horror stories from both about quality and construction; just make sure your PDI is thorough. Don't be afraid to poke around and open everything, your paying a lot of money so be as sure as you can. Secondly, I would agree, the Swifts do seem more substantial, however their weights are higher too, meaning increased tow car size and higher mpg etc.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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i have been caravaning for 18 years .first of all welcome to what is a great pass time . ihave had ace , lunar ,all of which have had problems ,mior i must admit .Ihave just ordered a bailey pageant bordeaux .bailey came top in the build qualty test carried out by the caravan club ,thereis also a waiting time for delivery of them, which should tell you something.With bailey you get a three year /five year waranty on damp ingress both swift and bailey are well made caravans but they all have the odd rogue friday afternoon van.My personal choice is bailey . Which ever one you choose good luck,join one of the clubs, reed practical caravan forum it has awealth of knowledge and experience
 
Dec 16, 2003
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Thanks to all those of you who responded. The variety of opinions offered reinforce the need to look around well. At present we are favouring the Bailey Pageant or Ranger , but am hoping to checkout the Hobby range before making a decision. Will keep you posted.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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If you do not live too far away why donn't you visit the caravan show at Three Counties Showground in Malvern - excellent show with all models on display and many dealers present with good discount offers. Starts this Friday 15/10/04 for a week. good luck and happy caravaning.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Graham

Before you buy, sit in the caravan, where you think you might normally park yourself. Unless Swift have radically altered their upholstery, quality you could find you 'bottom' in about 15-20 minutes, feeling the bed slats through the cushions. No such troubles with Bailey. We had 3 Swift, friend has 2 Baileys, we have experienced both. Swift Owner's Club mambers have all the dodges, like laying a campers bedroll under the cushions etc but we have changed away from Swift.

Peter T
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Graham, I presume that you are a little apprehensive, after all, it is a fair chunk of money to lay out and you will need to make your own mind up. We have only been caravanning for 3 years now and started with a Bailey Moselle, then changed to a Vendee because of the fixed bed layout and have now taken delivery of a Series5 Vendee - as you can see all Baileys and all bought new - they seemed to offer good value for money and the layouts and upholstery was agreeable. The Series 5 does seem to be the best. The changes made to the Series 5 make it far better. The more upright front panel gives more room inside, the shower is improved with plastic liners and more storage space inside. As you can see, I cannot comment on the other makes although we did look (including at a Swift with a similar layout but preferred the Bailey without taking into account that it was far cheaper). The only thing you might wish to consider is whether to go for a 2 berth or for a fixed bed 4 berth. We went for the Moselle (there are only two of us) on the basis there was more room and, if one person wished to lie in then the other could read the paper at the dinette. Making the bed each night quickly proved tiresome and the Vendee has greatly improved our enjoyment of caravanning. In terms of delivery, our first Vendee was bought at the Earls Court show in November and we tok delivery on 7 December. Our second was ordered at the end of July and delivery end of August. If you go to the Bailey website you can access some of the dealers websites and some of these will give details of availability. Best of luck.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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We are now on our third Bailey, all purchased new. First was a 2-berth Pageant Cabriolet, then a 2-berth Pageant Magenta and now a 4-berth Senator Oklahoma with fixed bed collected last November. It is wonderfull but maybe a bit heavy for your average car. We tow with a 4*4 as we often go to Braemar in winter - 4 inches of snow and minus 13 deg in Jan 04. We did consider the fixed bed Bordeaux but decided to go for the Oklahoma with the longer front bunks. Don't think there is the same difference with the Series 5 Bordeaux. Prior to the Cabriolet, we had a Swift Challenger and I, too, bottomed out on the benches which took some time to recover.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I am laughing! Having had 2 Swifts (newer models) I have never, ever, 'bottomed' yet!

You have just as much chance of loving whichever manufacturer you choose, (there will always be a rogue van in there, whether it is a Bailey or Swift).
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I have recently bought a Utopia 470 (an own brand version of the Swift Challenger 470) from Broad Lane Leisure and cannot find any fault with it. It is spacious (for 2), the beds are large enough for my 6'2" 13 stone body and, contrary to what someone else has said the slats do not affect the comfort. The kitchen layout would do justice to some houses, as would the washroom/toilet. The price, including extras such as remote control alarm system and Sony radio/cassette/CD, was lower than any other comparable make of caravan I saw. Good luck.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I think there has been a general improvement over the last 13 years since i bought my first new van (Swift)

Have a look at Coachman - since leaving Explorer group build has improved and detailed finish seems to be better than the Baileys I have seen.

They are, I think, a little heavier for their size than some others.

Agree you should be very severe on the PDI - for example insist that they remove the front cover of the Carver room heater - my Swift came complete with wood shavings here which would inevitably have caught fire had I not checked - and this had been PDI'd by a dealer with BS 5750 quality approval !
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Just some information for Ray Smith, I would be immediately suspicious of your dealer claimimg to be BS 5750 approved, as that standard was superceded 8 years ago! They should be accreded with meeting the requirements of BS EN ISO 9001:2000 a much improved model for good management. Perhaps you should point out to your dealer that it is actually a missresentaion and should be removed from thier correspondence.
 
Mar 26, 2005
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I have owned a Bailey for 6 yrs and changed it for the new Series 5 Pageant Monarch in January 2005 (ordered in July 2004). It took six months to get the caravan due to dealer error in order.

At pdi instead of one hour suggested time to check over it took 3 hours to have items we noticed corrected or recorded for replacement(lights not working, tarnished light fittings, no carpet fixings to floor, missing cover caps to wall panels in bathroom area, and this does not include the problems of extras I had fitted that were left unfinished). I thought after 20 years of caravanning that I would have been able to carry out the pdi inspection quite well. Be warned, Baileys quality control is not as good as it used to be. Within the first three weeks I noticed a bulge in the side of the van where I am informed the floor and the wall panels are not properly lined up. My dealer and Bailey 'advise' me that this is not a problem, and pointed out that if there was a problem it would be covered by the 6 year warranty ( not much confidence in their opinion). Bailey state that this is not a common problem, but they had also indicated via the Dealer that this may occur in say 1 in 60 new caravans ( I assume of any of their range). I have also found one fixing clamp holding a high level cupboard onto the wall was broken and had not been repaired during manucature, the cover cap having been placed in position, hiding the broken fixing. Also when opening the table for the first time found that the stays were bent and the table would not stay up.

If you do buy a Bailey (and I suppose this would also apply to any caravan make), check the condition thoroughly, check every piece of equipment to see that it works, and if necessary take every cover piece of every fixing bracket to check whether it is broken.

I will next week when I go and collect the caravan to see if everything has been corrected.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Another satisfied Bailey ownere here! I looked at a Swift too and the Bailey suited me better. Will keep with Bailey when I change my Ranger to a Pageant.

No quality issues from me- just go with the one you prefer and find whats right for you.
 
Mar 26, 2005
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I have owned a Bailey for 6 yrs and changed it for the new Series 5 Pageant Monarch in January 2005 (ordered in July 2004). It took six months to get the caravan due to dealer error in order.

At pdi instead of one hour suggested time to check over it took 3 hours to have items we noticed corrected or recorded for replacement(lights not working, tarnished light fittings, no carpet fixings to floor, missing cover caps to wall panels in bathroom area, and this does not include the problems of extras I had fitted that were left unfinished). I thought after 20 years of caravanning that I would have been able to carry out the pdi inspection quite well. Be warned, Baileys quality control is not as good as it used to be. Within the first three weeks I noticed a bulge in the side of the van where I am informed the floor and the wall panels are not properly lined up. My dealer and Bailey 'advise' me that this is not a problem, and pointed out that if there was a problem it would be covered by the 6 year warranty ( not much confidence in their opinion). Bailey state that this is not a common problem, but they had also indicated via the Dealer that this may occur in say 1 in 60 new caravans ( I assume of any of their range). I have also found one fixing clamp holding a high level cupboard onto the wall was broken and had not been repaired during manucature, the cover cap having been placed in position, hiding the broken fixing. Also when opening the table for the first time found that the stays were bent and the table would not stay up.

If you do buy a Bailey (and I suppose this would also apply to any caravan make), check the condition thoroughly, check every piece of equipment to see that it works, and if necessary take every cover piece of every fixing bracket to check whether it is broken.

I will next week when I go and collect the caravan to see if everything has been corrected.
I've collected my caravan, still not everything corrected. Next time I will go by my intuition and use a better dealer, trouble is in Norwich there is not much choice of a Bailey dealer, only one at Dereham.
 

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