A look at caravan construction…

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The way that caravans are constructed has changed greatly over the years, particularly as technology and the availability of materials has increased over time.

When caravans first became widely available in the 1940s, they were made from wood, with just a few small windows, but the introduction of new materials such as plastics, fiberglass and aluminium have seen caravan construction trends change vastly.

caravan construction

This change in construction has increased the usability and desirability of caravans, with the new materials and the new technologies incorporated within them, making them greatly improved vehicles that can be utilised for longer periods of time and in all-weathers which is hugely beneficial.

At Winchester Caravans and Motorhomes, we’re an approved dealership for both Bailey and Swift caravans, so we’ll examine the different types of construction used by these two leading manufacturers within this blog.


Bailey Alu-Tech construction

Bailey introduced Alu-Tech construction in 2009, when they utilised it for their new Pegasus range, and it was soon used on the rest of their ranges too. Over 65,000 Bailey leisure vehicles have now been built using this ground-breaking technology, which is so advanced that it has five patents registered to it!

Using a unique interlocking aluminium framework to clamp the body panels together, Bailey was able to create a shell that was more robust and durable. Alu-Tech construction means fewer external joints and fixing points and this, along with the use of timber-free components in the upper bodyshell panels, results in greater protection against the elements. 

Bailey caravans undergo rigorous testing to ensure their strength and durability as well as climatic chamber trials to ensure it is weatherproof in all conditions. Thicker, better-insulated panels, cloaked in impact resistant GRP (glass reinforced plastic) greatly improve the thermal performance for genuine four-season performance. 

Alu-Tech has achieved the highest classification (Grade III for EN1645-I & EN1646-I) of thermal insulation, which not only makes the caravans more economical, but also ensures that owners are kept warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Other benefits of Alu-Tech include:

  • A lighter bodyshell and more balanced weight distribution.

  • As the caravans are lighter, they can be towed by a wider range of cars and by owners with towing weight restrictions on their licence.

  • Increased stability and improved road handling for safer driving and towing.

  • Customers receive caravans made with advanced technology at no extra cost!

All Bailey caravans come with a 6-year transferable bodyshell integrity warranty and a 3-year transferable manufacturers warranty (extensions are available to both of these warranties for a charge).


Swift SMART construction

Swift’s SMART construction was introduced for the 2014 season and meant that Swift’s caravans would thereafter be built using PURe (a type of polyurethane) instead of wood to create the framework. Swift said at the time that there were five key benefits of the new technology and that related back to the name:

Strong timberless body frame

Modern desirable looks 

Aerodynamic shape 

Resilient to moisture

Testing that the caravan has undergone is highly comprehensive

Caravan frames have to withstand significant forces at the corners and joints and Swift’s engineering team has analysed the forces  and calculated the optimal structure needed to support the caravan. Because these forces have been identified, it has enabled the team to reduce the amount of materials used, reducing the overall weight of the caravan. The benefit of this is that fuel consumption is lower and it also allows the caravans to be towed by a broader range of cars.

Swift undertakes testing, not only at component level, but also on the finished models. They take the caravans onto the test track for rigorous testing - much more than any normal usage - and then put it in a climatic chamber at very hot and very cold temperatures to test the expansion qualities and how the materials will perform under those conditions. They conclude with a monsoon rain test to make sure everything is still watertight.

And not forgetting that Swift offers a full 10-year body warranty on all caravans for complete peace of mind!

The latest Swift models offer SMART construction with GRP (glass reinforced plastic) body panels. Key features include:

  • Strong, moisture proof ‘PURe’ polyurethane timber-less framed bodyshell with polystyrene insulation core (25mm in sidewalls, 32mm in roof)

  • Robust balanced panel side walls with GRP outer and inner skin

  • 44mm ‘sandwich’ floor construction with GRP outer skin, ply upper and high rigidity Ravatherm core

  • Hail resistant exterior GRP roof, fully bonded for extra strength and flatness

  • Sweeping front panel in GRP with triple flush fitting opening windows and exclusive LED front marker lights

Browse our Bailey and Swift ranges online today or pop into our showroom to explore further and ask us any questions you may have regarding Alu-Tech Technology or SMART Construction!


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