Older Abbey Iona or newer Lunar Ariva?

May 24, 2022
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Hi guys
I am looking at 2 private sales of 2 berth caravans at the moment
One is a 2003 abbey Iona
The other is a 2011 lunar ariva
I cannot easily get to see the caravans so I am working off photos at the moment and both look clean

My friend has a 2000 Abbey Iona and it has damp in the roof, and the last 2006 lunar ariva I went to look at had damp in the bathroom, (I have a damp meter)
We currently own a 30 year old abi marauder and it has been a wonderful little van and the build quality is very good compared to the last lunar ariva we viewed but the bed is a bit too small and there is no hot water and these are things we would like.
My question is, would a 3003 abbey Iona be built better than a 2011 lunar ariva??
I know it’s a difficult question to answer but I am looking for some real life experience?
Thanks in advance for anyone taking the time to answer

Cheers
Bryan
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Bryan,

Welcome to the forum.

I notice you have post the same question in two sections, This can cause problems as it becomes confusing when trying answer or to follow threads.

Im sure if you ask the moderators they will combine both threads into just one location.

Regarding an answer to your question, as you suggest its almost impossible to give a cast iron answer to it, as all UK caravan manufacturers have amply demonstrated consistently they are unable to maintain product consistency on their production lines, to the point where no manufacturer can be assumed to offer more reliable products than another, especially as the age of the product increases. It is poor state of affairs, and unfortunately it doesn't really help.

For what it's worth, most of the major manufacturers finally began to acknowledge their products had very poor life expectancies due to damp issues, and from about 2010 onwards they changed teh construction of the walls to remove organic materials that can rot. But despite these changes, there are enough damp caravans to show they haven't solved the problem completely, but at least the damage may be less severe when it does occur. For that reason alone I would suggest looking at the younger caravan.

But for general buying advice, if a caravan has a damp issue its normally advised to walk away. as until teh area has been fully exposed your really don't know how bad the problem or hidden damage might be.

You can also run into problems finding spares for older caravans, so a younger one is usually a better bet.

It is definitely money well spent to have a caravan that you think is going to be good for you independently inspected before you agree to buy it. You can find a list of AWS engineers on line who can undertake these inspections.
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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be aware that Lunar no longer exist, but spares should not be a problem. We have owned several Lunars in the past, but only one of them suffered badly from damp and that was the 2011 Delta.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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Most of the kit fitted ( heaters, loo, fridge, cooker etc) to the lunar will be the same as other caravan makes, but Lunar specific items such as body panels, internal fittings etc may be difficult to obtain if required at any time.
 
May 24, 2022
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Thank you for your helpful and detailed reply, I am sorry to have posted the question in more than one thread, I’m not a regular user of forums and made an error there.
Maybe the mods could resolve this? I’m not sure how to go about that though?
I am grateful for your response and it has helped me make up my mind
Kind Regards
Bryan

Moderator Note: I have removed the duplicate posting to save having the two identicaltopics running. There were no replies on the deleted posting.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Nov 11, 2009
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Thank you for your helpful and detailed reply, I am sorry to have posted the question in more than one thread, I’m not a regular user of forums and made an error there.
Maybe the mods could resolve this? I’m not sure how to go about that though?
I am grateful for your response and it has helped me make up my mind
Kind Regards
Bryan
What is your decision on the caravan?
 
May 24, 2022
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I am aware Lunar are no longer running as a business, could the same be said for the abbey Iona as that model is no longer made too?
cheers
Bryan
 
May 7, 2012
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The answer to your question is probably more to do with the way the two have been looked after and the extent of any damp. I would certainly try to establish the extent of any damp in both and probably go for the one with the least apparent. Do be aware the full extent can often be worse though when a repair is attempted.
The Iona is of an age when spares for even the working parts may now be scarce, so if everything was even the Lunar might be a safer option on that basis.
Personally I would be very wary of any caravan with damp, but a lot depends on your ability to deal with this, as if you have to employ someone to do the work it will be expensive.
Most other makers would certainly have a caravan similar to the Iona in there range so possibly I would look for a dry version of one of those. I cannot remember anything else similar to the Lunar though as this had a market all of its own, they did do a Quasar though of standard size and also very light. The Iona was made by Swift and they were also made as Sprites and Sterling under the different model names but the difference was generally the interior colour scheme.
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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I am leaning more towards the newer one, apart from anything else it has a motor mover and full awning, the older abbey doesn’t have either of these
Thanks
Bryan
The Lunars are generally light weight with a higher payload. The question is of course the car that you will be using to tow a caravan. Auto or manual. maximum tow ing weight etc.
 
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Parksy

Moderator
Nov 12, 2009
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Hi Astrodude, welcome to the forum.
In your original post you mentioned that you haven't looked at either caravan, but that you are relying on photographs to see the caravans.
I'd strongly advise against buying a caravan that you haven't seen, photographs can be deceptive.
I once met a couple who bought a used caravan from an online auction website based on photographs and the private sellers description.
What wasn't apparent from the advert was the terrible smell, the caravan looked ok but it absolutely reeked of urine when they bought it.
They had agreed to buy it so they were stuck with it, and it cost them more money to replace carpets and upholstery as well as the damp that wasn't shown in the photos.
Don't base your decision on similar caravans that were owned by friends, every caravan can be different depending on how well it was built and how well it's been looked after and maintained over its lifetime.
To buy a caravan sight unseen from a private vendor is asking for trouble in my opinion, they all look ok in photographs.
 
May 24, 2022
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Hi Astrodude, welcome to the forum.
In your original post you mentioned that you haven't looked at either caravan, but that you are relying on photographs to see the caravans.
I'd strongly advise against buying a caravan that you haven't seen, photographs can be deceptive.
I once met a couple who bought a used caravan from an online auction website based on photographs and the private sellers description.
What wasn't apparent from the advert was the terrible smell, the caravan looked ok but it absolutely reeked of urine when they bought it.
They had agreed to buy it so they were stuck with it, and it cost them more money to replace carpets and upholstery as well as the damp that wasn't shown in the photos.
Don't base your decision on similar caravans that were owned by friends, every caravan can be different depending on how well it was built and how well it's been looked after and maintained over its lifetime.
To buy a caravan sight unseen from a private vendor is asking for trouble in my opinion, they all look ok in photographs.
Thank you for the input
I will be looking at the one I’ve decided to concentrate on before I buy it and I will be armed with a damp meter to make sure there are no nasty surprises!
thanks again
Bryan
 
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May 24, 2022
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The Lunars are generally light weight with a higher payload. The question is of course the car that you will be using to tow a caravan. Auto or manual. maximum tow ing weight etc.
Thanks for the response!
The Lunar was on the shortlist due to its lighter weight
I’ve checked the weight ratio and I’m well in the 85% (I think that’s the number used?)
We have a diesel 1.6 dci manual Nissan qashqai
Thanks again
Bryan
 
May 24, 2022
26
17
35
The answer to your question is probably more to do with the way the two have been looked after and the extent of any damp. I would certainly try to establish the extent of any damp in both and probably go for the one with the least apparent. Do be aware the full extent can often be worse though when a repair is attempted.
The Iona is of an age when spares for even the working parts may now be scarce, so if everything was even the Lunar might be a safer option on that basis.
Personally I would be very wary of any caravan with damp, but a lot depends on your ability to deal with this, as if you have to employ someone to do the work it will be expensive.
Most other makers would certainly have a caravan similar to the Iona in there range so possibly I would look for a dry version of one of those. I cannot remember anything else similar to the Lunar though as this had a market all of its own, they did do a Quasar though of standard size and also very light. The Iona was made by Swift and they were also made as Sprites and Sterling under the different model names but the difference was generally the interior colour scheme.
Thanks for your reply
I am due to look at the Lunar this weekend and I will be armed with a damp meter, I believe I should be looking for a measurement less than 15%?
We looked at a 2006 lunar last weekend and you could smell the damp in the bathroom and I was getting readings of 30% from the wall at the side of the toilet. We walked away from that one without even trying to reduce the price as I don’t want to buy a van that already has a damp issue
If I find any damp in this one I’m looking at at the weekend, I will probably just inform the seller and walk away!
Thanks
Bryan
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Thanks for the response!
The Lunar was on the shortlist due to its lighter weight
I’ve checked the weight ratio and I’m well in the 85% (I think that’s the number used?)
We have a diesel 1.6 dci manual Nissan qashqai
Thanks again
Bryan
I think the Nissan dci 1.6 110 can tow up to 1350kg however kerbweight is 1365kg. However do not get too hung up on the 85%. Towing a caravan at 1200kg should be okay as it is about 88% so not a huge difference. Also gives you more options.
 
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May 24, 2022
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I think the Nissan dci 1.6 110 can tow up to 1350kg however kerbweight is 1365kg. However do not get too hung up on the 85%. Towing a caravan at 1200kg should be okay as it is about 88% so not a huge difference. Also gives you more options.
Thanks for the info, size is also a consideration, our current van (abi marauder 400ct) just and so fits on our drive where we park it for a few days whilst preparing for a trip, most of the time I park it at my mothers house where there is more space.
I will miss the extra internal space we have with the change to a more compact van but we will hopefully sleep better with the larger bed!
Thanks again
Bryan
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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As you have a damp meter, you do need to be sure you understand how they work and how caravan wall construction can distort the readings you may get. Most inner wall surfaces have a vinyl type of paper covering them. If you have a penetrating meter, it needs to go through the covering to the wood. If there is any surface moisture on the vinyl, that can corrupt the reading.

Before using your meter on a caravan you do not own, you must seek the owners permission, and must not to leave any new visible marks, otherwise they could legitimately say you have damaged the caravan.
 
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May 24, 2022
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As you have a damp meter, you do need to be sure you understand how they work and how caravan wall construction can distort the readings you may get. Most inner wall surfaces have a vinyl type of paper covering them. If you have a penetrating meter, it needs to go through the covering to the wood. If there is any surface moisture on the vinyl, that can corrupt the reading.

Before using your meter on a caravan you do not own, you must seek the owners permission, and must not to leave any new visible marks, otherwise they could legitimately say you have damaged the caravan.
Thanks for the advice

I did ask for permission the last time I used it, and was very careful to not leave any marks in visible places.
I have just bought a non penetrating meter too although I’m not sure how accurate that will be, I will have to practice on my van first!
cheers
Bryan
 
May 7, 2012
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The dealers normally use the non penetrating type and they seem to be happy with them. Provided it is a good one it should work although you could try the first test with both and see how they compare.
 
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May 24, 2022
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Hi anyone interested
I have just viewed the lunar ariva
It was a beautiful van, everything we are looking for but it had damp in the walls below the sink area which could be due to the design flaw of the outside rails that track water into the floor at the back
However, I was getting damp readings of 44% in places on that back wall so we regrettably walked away.
And so the search continues 😢
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I think that was probably a wise decision. If you find damp in a second hand caravan, it raises so many questions, such how far does it spread, how long has it been damp, and therefore how much permanent damage has it caused, and how much damage is there that you cant detect without stripping the area down. Too many unknowns....

And also whilst you would hope every seller answers your questions honestly, if they are trying to sell a caravan with with undeclared damp, can you really trust what they might be telling you about the condition or its history. At least if its a dealer you do have some protection under the Consumer Rights Act, but the act has less leverage in private sales.
 
May 24, 2022
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I think that was probably a wise decision. If you find damp in a second hand caravan, it raises so many questions, such how far does it spread, how long has it been damp, and therefore how much permanent damage has it caused, and how much damage is there that you cant detect without stripping the area down. Too many unknowns....

And also whilst you would hope every seller answers your questions honestly, if they are trying to sell a caravan with with undeclared damp, can you really trust what they might be telling you about the condition or its history. At least if its a dealer you do have some protection under the Consumer Rights Act, but the act has less leverage in private sales.
Thanks for the reply
The owner did declare the fact that the inherent design flaw had been pointed out to them once they posted it for sale and had taken steps to resolve the issue by installing extra plating underneath and siliconing the “gap” that causes the water to track into the floor at the back but as the wall was still showing such high readings, we couldn’t be confident the issue was resolved.

We then did a quick search in the area for any other vans for sale and ended up buying a 2000 Bailey 380/2 that needed a bit of internal tlc but was dry and tidy! saving £5500 in the process!
it’s a real shame the lunar wasn’t dry as it was a beautiful van, immaculate and came with all the extras but as our 30 year old marauder, which has a small moisture ingress issue was significantly drier than the 10 year old lunar we had a “no damp” red line and had to stick to it
I’ll now be asking a lot of questions here about how to work certain things on my new(er) van as the chap who sold it, wasn’t able to demonstrate most things! He was a car sales man who had taken it as a px for a camper he had sold. We checked as much as we could but couldn’t check everything. The main thing it was a clean, dry, used caravan!
Cheers
Bryan
 
May 7, 2012
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I agree it was wide to leave the Lunar alone and hope the Bailey works out well. There is plenty of experience on here if you need help, so just ask and someone will have the answer.
 
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