Should consumers be offered more options?

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Jun 20, 2005
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When I required a new axle Swift were unable to confirm the specification and part number and asked me to contact Alko. I got under the caravan and photographed the Alko label with bar code and serial number. Alko would not supply a replacement against that information. They sent me a part drawing and asked me to check the actual fitted axle’s dimensions against the supplied drawing. This required the van to be lifted by a hydraulic workshop lift to measure the required interface dimensions.
So on something as critical as the axle neither Swift nor Alko were effectively able to demonstrate the required level of configuration control as required by ISO.
As a matter of interest did the new one‘s bar code etc match the original?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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As a matter of interest did the new one‘s bar code etc match the original?
I didn't bother checking that, and hopefully never have to. But that's an interesting point nevertheless. The new axle being made in 2018 has developed the infamous brake squeal. So when the caravan goes in for its service at the end of November I will ask them to see if its due to the oft discussed problem that seems to arise in that year. I've still got the invoices plus CRA 2015 :):)
 
Nov 11, 2009
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As a matter of interest did the new one‘s bar code etc match the original?

Heres the photo of the Alko type label. Dont you find it surprising that neither Swift nor Alko could identify the axle without the "aged" customer having to crawl underneath and photograph it. And then for Alko to supply a drawing and ask for key dimensions to be measured and confirmed. before manufacture would commence. Not easy on a caravan measuring dimensions with a tape measure and a darned defective axle in the way! And it was some weeks late in delivery too.

SDC10658 copy.jpg
 
Jan 31, 2018
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I find it VERY worrying if not verging on negligence. Very very odd. Bit like a car maker saying they cannot identify a set of brake pads or a wheel bearing for a car. Would it happen, no , even Eurocarparts et al can give you a list of replacements from the reg plate. As many will attest I try never to complain re poor service and build in the caravan World but this really does take the biscuit, More so as it is such a safety critical thing.
 
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Nov 6, 2005
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I find it VERY worrying if not verging on negligence. Very very odd. Bit like a car maker saying they cannot identify a set of brake pads or a wheel bearing for a car. Would it happen, no , even Eurocarparts et al can give you a list of replacements from the reg plate. As many will attest I try never to complain re poor service and build in the caravan World but this really does take the biscuit, More so as it is such a safety critical thing.
I too find it strange that Alko couldn't identify the axle from their own data label.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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I too find it strange that Alko couldn't identify the axle from their own data label.
What about Swift too as the label shows it was manufactured for the Swift Group and it gives a Type number as well as the barcode. So much for configuration control.

PS the Swift Group identifier is on another photo. I had to take a few in order to ensure all information was captured. So unavoidably clarity of bar code and numerics diminishes as the lens went higher around the curve of the axle.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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All these issue point to a very poor parts control programme. Heaven help customer is a recall is issued for a chassis problem.
Agreed but unlike DVSA who has cars on the register and you can check online for recalls against your Reg Plate, the caravan business has no such facility. They would have to advertise and publicise in journals, forums etc.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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Agreed but unlike DVSA who has cars on the register and you can check online for recalls against your Reg Plate, the caravan business has no such facility. They would have to advertise and publicise in journals, forums etc.
But once a recalled car is presented at a franchised dealer, they have no trouble establishing whether the affected part is fitted to a specific vehicle - it seems like no such parallel exists for caravans if neither the maker or the component supplier can determine what was fitted.
 
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Jun 20, 2005
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I appreciate the Alko chassis components arrive at the manufacturer like a Meccano kit. They are then bolted together using different holes and bolts to suit the model size. I guess the likes of Swift then choose which axle??
Clive, I hadn‘t appreciated your new axle came with all the braking system. More cost? What was wrong with transferring the old brakes??
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I appreciate the Alko chassis components arrive at the manufacturer like a Meccano kit. They are then bolted together using different holes and bolts to suit the model size. I guess the likes of Swift then choose which axle??
Clive, I hadn‘t appreciated your new axle came with all the braking system. More cost? What was wrong with transferring the old brakes??
That’s the way they are now supplied. Saves the caravan makers installation time.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I didn't bother checking that, and hopefully never have to. But that's an interesting point nevertheless. The new axle being made in 2018 has developed the infamous brake squeal. So when the caravan goes in for its service at the end of November I will ask them to see if its due to the oft discussed problem that seems to arise in that year. I've still got the invoices plus CRA 2015 :):)
It took a couple of thousand miles or several months before our 2018 started squealing and it was really embarassing when on site. LOL!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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It took a couple of thousand miles or several months before our 2018 started squealing and it was really embarassing when on site. LOL!
Cheers. Ours has probably done half that. Did your get repaired via Alko or was the van still under warranty.
 
Jun 16, 2020
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My axle was renewed on my Baily Unicorn in 2014. I do not know if there was the issues that Otherclive had with identification as Chipping Sodbury caravans took care of it all for me. The Axle was ordered, from Alko UK, Same day they knew the date and the time that it would be built in Germany, they also knew the date it would be in the UK. And that's how it happened.

As I had had a wheel detachment I discussed the possible reasons with the service manager. He told me that there is no logical reason why this happens more to Bailey caravans than any other with an Alko chassis as they are all essentially the same with the exception of loading. Possibly they have higher rated brakes on the axles at the higher end of the range than the lower. But apart from that possibility, the only difference is either the length or nature of the 3 rubbers inserted into each end of the axle.

They seem to be categorised in 50kg increments.

John
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Agreed but unlike DVSA who has cars on the register and you can check online for recalls against your Reg Plate, the caravan business has no such facility. They would have to advertise and publicise in journals, forums etc.
That is exactly what happened when a gas valve manufacture changed a critical part in a valve which resulted in a nationwide recall notices in news papers and caravan related magazines abut 30 years ago.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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My axle was renewed on my Baily Unicorn in 2014. I do not know if there was the issues that Otherclive had with identification as Chipping Sodbury caravans took care of it all for me. The Axle was ordered, from Alko UK, Same day they knew the date and the time that it would be built in Germany, they also knew the date it would be in the UK. And that's how it happened.

As I had had a wheel detachment I discussed the possible reasons with the service manager. He told me that there is no logical reason why this happens more to Bailey caravans than any other with an Alko chassis as they are all essentially the same with the exception of loading. Possibly they have higher rated brakes on the axles at the higher end of the range than the lower. But apart from that possibility, the only difference is either the length or nature of the 3 rubbers inserted into each end of the axle.

They seem to be categorised in 50kg increments.

John
I bought my Bailey S5 from Chipping Sodbury Caravans and they were excellent so I kept its servicing with them until we sold it in 2014. However given Baileys wheel issues around the time that you had a new axle I suspect that Bailey and Alko were up to speed on remedial actions. My van was 6 years old at the time that the suspension failure was discovered during servicing, so well out of warranty, and Swift did not seem to have the problems exhibited by some Baileys. However, the dealer who was dealing with it was a local Swift main dealer with a long standing association with the brand. After not getting anywhere with Swift the dealer asked me to take the photos of the axle label, so it could be sent to Swift. After drawing a blank there the dealer contacted Alko who after receipt of the label photographs still sent an engineering drawing for measurements to be taken before an order would be accepted. I too received the manufacturing dates and delivery information, but issued by Enid Blyton. Delivery was twice delayed.
 
Jun 16, 2020
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I bought my Bailey S5 from Chipping Sodbury Caravans and they were excellent so I kept its servicing with them until we sold it in 2014. However given Baileys wheel issues around the time that you had a new axle I suspect that Bailey and Alko were up to speed on remedial actions. My van was 6 years old at the time that the suspension failure was discovered during servicing, so well out of warranty, and Swift did not seem to have the problems exhibited by some Baileys. However, the dealer who was dealing with it was a local Swift main dealer with a long standing association with the brand. After not getting anywhere with Swift the dealer asked me to take the photos of the axle label, so it could be sent to Swift. After drawing a blank there the dealer contacted Alko who after receipt of the label photographs still sent an engineering drawing for measurements to be taken before an order would be accepted. I too received the manufacturing dates and delivery information, but issued by Enid Blyton. Delivery was twice delayed.
I know that you have said before of your problems with the axle. In my case all seemed to go smoothly but then I was not involved with the ordering.

Perhaps its just that downhill after mine was done.

The service manager at Chipping Sodbury said that as all manufacturers use the same chassis there is no logic in Bailey wheels detaching anymore that other makes. He even had a board full of photos of swift detachments. He thought is just seems that Bailey looked worse as they had a bigger share of the market.

When I bought my Lunar, I asked Lunar if I could fit WSL bolts. They told me that they do not fit them because Lunar don't have a problem with detachment. that made no sense to me so I fitted them anyway, after getting their agreement for warrantee purposes.

When they did my axle, 3 other vans were having their axles done at the same time!

This is why I had mine done.
1.jpg

My axle label after a Frenchman ripped it off!
2.jpg

And after I retrieved it from him, (long story).

3.jpg

John

Big apologies, just gone so far off topic. :unsure:
 
May 7, 2012
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Not sure I would agree with the idea that bailey had the biggest problem because they have the biggest share of the market as Swift are also of similar size and there seems to be no reports. They all use the same components, so what went wrong seems to be a mystery.
 
Jun 16, 2020
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Not sure I would agree with the idea that bailey had the biggest problem because they have the biggest share of the market as Swift are also of similar size and there seems to be no reports. They all use the same components, so what went wrong seems to be a mystery.
As said earlier, the service manager actually had press cutting of other makes detachments. But as Bailey dealers they may have been defending them.

I would like to know if Bailey detachments have significantly reduced since they started using WSL bolts about 6 years ago.

John
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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As said earlier, the service manager actually had press cutting of other makes detachments. But as Bailey dealers they may have been defending them.

I would like to know if Bailey detachments have significantly reduced since theY started using WSL bolts about 6 years ago.

John
Certainly there does not seem any reports of any using WSL bolts, but I wouldn't expect there to be as the WSL bolt gives a far higher clamping force. Looking at wheel detachment web reports from Forums, tech press etc theres precious little relating to other makes. Clearly some wheels may come adrift but its rarely known why, but inadequate torque, dirty contact faces, or failure to check torque a second time. The saga of bailey never revealed what the fundamental problem was and why Bailey seemed to be highlighted with the problem. Was it the alloy wheels?

I've been looking at Swifts 2021 brochure and tech specs but they dont mention WSL bolts fitted, but perhaps they feel buyers dont want to drill down that far. However for around £50 a set (SA) plus a free WSL digital pressure gauge they aren't expensive to retrofit.

Back to OP question. Swift 2021 do not show any payload upgrades and 125kg for a two berth is woefully low, with no upgrade potential shown in the brochure.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Back in 2000 I was contracted to do some Quality Management work for a company that was involved amongst other specialist machining in other industries with rough machining aluminium parts for Airbus.

The level of traceability they required was incredibly detailed. The rough cast parts had a documentation trail that could be used to show date, time and where and when the Bauxite ore was mined, the smelting plant and machinery used to refine the ore, and all the processes used to get the product to where it was. We had to record the warehouse locations we used storage and transport conditions. The machining had to be carried out only by approved named personnel, using specific machines, and security controlled programming sets.

Basically Airbus could invoke an audit trail on any safety critical part right back to the raw materials if it wanted to. And periodically the did test the traceability system to verify compliance with their standards. You can bet they knew the serial number of every engine, seat and dial against the each aircrafts serial number.

I'm not suggesting caravan manufacturers should have such detailed record for the rivets and screws they use, but for major subassemblies like axles and chassis components, and appliance's most have accessible serial number or batch barcodes, and it would not be hard to have each item scanned when its fitted and recorded against the caravans Vin number.

But hey this is the caravan industry and they still have difficulty in making caravans rain proof!
 
Jan 31, 2018
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I'll throw this in to the mix; no idea if it true or not-a teccy visited where I worked every month or so and he found out I was a caravanner like him; he said he'd been to the NEC caravan show where Coachman 'bespoke' was advertised-so he went to enquire. Bascially he designed his own caravan -layout I think he said was standard ie you chose which shell and layout you wanted but alde flow, underfloor heating worktop colours upholstery colours TV built in curtains and cupboard colours were all up for alteration-he said he spent over 40k having exactly what he wanted inc alde flo water. How much of this is true I hav e no idea=no reason to doubt him but have never heard of this ever before-anyone else?
 
Jun 16, 2020
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I'll throw this in to the mix; no idea if it true or not-a teccy visited where I worked every month or so and he found out I was a caravanner like him; he said he'd been to the NEC caravan show where Coachman 'bespoke' was advertised-so he went to enquire. Bascially he designed his own caravan -layout I think he said was standard ie you chose which shell and layout you wanted but alde flow, underfloor heating worktop colours upholstery colours TV built in curtains and cupboard colours were all up for alteration-he said he spent over 40k having exactly what he wanted inc alde flo water. How much of this is true I hav e no idea=no reason to doubt him but have never heard of this ever before-anyone else?
Reading that I just Googled ‘Coachman Bespoke’ and got this! Bargain at £40.

But anything is out there for a price.

Barefoot

Or Vanmaster

And £40,000 plus is probably correct.


John
 
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