Recent Caravan and Camping shows on both sides of the Tasman have competitive, original recreational vehicles on offer.
But for buyers it is not all about lowest price. Quality equals value and prestige supplier Geist has integrated its building systems to handle the toughest caravanning conditions. The result is innovativation for Australasia.
The Geist range is also particularly easy on the eye and exceptionally well done inside and out. It is lightweight for size and something of an engineering surprise packet. The range has real claims to the "Geist for Life" marketing message it rides on.
BPW Product Specialist Norbert Kuckat explains Geist design
Which is where Norbert Kuckat BPW Transpec Product Specialist - Trailer Equipment Division comes in.
Norbert works with Geist Australasia boss Wayne Moller at keeping weight down and strength up.
It is a balancing act all Recreational Vehicle builders face as they meet exacting requirements from buyers for less weight, more comfort and a constant demand for design changes. The base for Geist strength is the AUS-chassis and V-tech axles mounted in rubber.
The benefit, as Norbert says is weight saving combined with clever strength retaining engineering means more comfort can be added to the caravan interior.
Light weight combined with great strength comes from the shape and pressing of the Geist chassis up through the 40mm section of the fastened and glued floor to the roof which is said to have been the grandstand for 12 members of Geist cheer squad at a recent supercar event.
Single-lever controls towing functions
This is not something we suggest you try at home, but it is an encouraging story.
More to the point fears that European designs don't cut it in Australasian caravanning conditions have been addressed by much more than grandstanding on a caravan roof.
The current completely integrated designs comefrom testing Geist caravans to destruction and then going back to the factory with solutions.
For example computer design makes certain that everything fitted inside an Australasian Geist has a solid wood base. And when Norbert and Wayne get down to nuts and bolts the solutions come from two engineers.
In an earlier life Wayne's family company built machinery for farmers.
When they got an offer they could not refuse for their company it was sold and Wayne saw an opportunity in recreational vehicles.
He laughs about it as a form of madness, but there is precise logic in the approach he takes to keeping Geist owners tracking. We have requests from Forum users to talk to Geist about its unique towball coupling system and prefence for mechanical braking so we did.
Wayne Moller shows Geist strength. Floor section left and walls right
Wayne says he believes mechanical braking is best overall because it delivers all the time regardless of the caravan owner's abilities and caravanning knowledge level.
He does not think that the majority of caravan owners understand how to get the best from electric braking systems.
Nor is he confident that some break-away braking system cables will actually trigger a stop should the need come up.
In the Geist range if the caravan comes off the towball the breakaway cable brings the brakes into play and the caravan stops.
There is no battery involved as there is in electric systems. This means forgetting to keep an independent breakaway brake system battery charged is not an issue. Wayne's mechanical brake preference is based in his belief that if things go badly wrong it is better for tow vehicle and caravan to part company, each stopping under its own braking.
This removes the danger of a caravan coming off the towball, but being held by its safety chains and potentially involving both itself and the tow vehicle in a situation which might lead to both rolling over, he says.
The jockey wheel is a permanent part of the safety system
The Geist dolly wheel is permanently part of the towing system. It winds up just proud of a housing in the tow-head structure and acts as a landing wheel if the Geist should come adrift.
For static use there is a particularly easy to use hand-brake which once pulled on will automatically increase its grip if there is any caravan brake slippage.
Norbert Kuckat weighed in for an interesting insight into the Geist coupling and towball engineering. This is towing ball coupling and stablising gear combined.
There are friction pads in the coupling. When the single-lever locking system is used the pads press against the tow ball of the towing vehicle under high spring pressure. A + to - gauge also allows easy maintenance checks.
This is via a clip system which allows the pads to be easily replaced.