We visit the Elddis factory and watch the birth of new caravans and motorhomes.
As you may know, we were challenged to travel the country with a caravan. We've been long-time tent campers, and so the world of caravanning was all very new to us.
The caravan is a Compass Casita, made by the Elddis Group, and has proved to be a great little home on wheels.
We were invited to look around the Elddis factory while staying in the North East (in the caravan, of course).
Now factories aren't something we usually feature on Get Out With The Kids, but the production took us by surprise. So, if you've ever wondered what goes into making a modern caravan or motorhome, here are a few pictures...
The Naked Motorhome
It is a factory. Parts go in one end; finished caravans and motorhomes come out the other.
One of the parts that go into a motorhome is the basic vehicle. Here are 'naked' Peugeot vans waiting to be transformed into modern motorhomes.
With caravans, of course, there's no van chassis. The whole thing has to be built from scratch...
Creating the Pieces
In the first part of the production process, the main components are made.
They use a mix of machines and traditional craftsmanship. Machines precision cut parts so that everything is built to the precise specification, but it still needs people to craft the final results.
The SoLiD Construction method they use relies on bonding components together rather than screwing things together. This makes things stronger and puts much fewer holes in the caravan or motorhome...which sounds like a great idea!
This machine applies the resin to bond the wooden panel with its waterproof shell.
When dealing with caravans and motorhomes you need large machines. This one is cutting out the windows in a side panel.
The Birth of a Caravan
With all the parts created, it's time for a new caravan to be born.
At this factory, it takes only around 20 minutes to assemble a caravan. If they had more space, they said they could do it even quicker!
Below is a really impressive machine designed to turn a normal person into a superhuman, with the ability to singlehandedly pick up an entire side of a caravan!
For the caravans, it is easier to fit the furniture inside, before it's actually inside! To do this, they fit the furniture to the sides of the caravan and then bring the sides onto the base.
With the furniture fitted to the caravan's walls, the sides are brought up into place.
Once all the big items are fitted inside the van, the back, roof, and front can be fitted.
Final fitting out of the interior to get the finished product requires a lot of skills from carpentry to electricians.
Once finished, the caravans go through a number of tests and quality control inspections. Anything not right is fixed before things leave the factory.
Finally, there are lots of new shiny caravans ready to become little homes on wheels for families.
What we took away from the visit
We were really impressed with the factory and got a much greater appreciation to how caravans and motorhomes are made, and how much effort goes into the construction to make them light enough so that they can be towed by family cars.
For example, the worktops in the kitchen look, feel, and behave like the work surfaces in your kitchen at home. However, these are all custom built and have a foam core to make them lightweight. Using the same construction and materials you found in the home would make the caravan's too heavy to tow.
Although I had seen the SoLiD Construction logos, I really hadn't appreciated just how much and why it is used.
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. A traditional assembly would put a lot of screw holes into the caravan's skin, which are places where water can come in over time. Also, the caravan is a little bit heavier with the extra re-enforcement required.
With the SoLiD Construction, everything is bonded together, creating a watertight and strong unit.
If we were to buy a second-hand caravan, I think I'd be looking at one of these modern constructed ones, now I know about the risk with older models.