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  • AL-KO test track in Germany

30/07/2012

A Bailey Unicorn Alu-Tech caravan has successfully completed a marathon endurance test on the AL-KO test track in Germany

Testing was undertaken to assess the suitability of the vehicle for Australian road conditions which are perceived to be tougher than those in Europe. Bailey Alu-Tech caravans and motorhomes proto types have already been subjected to a comprehensive product validation programme including a series of accelerated life tests at the internationally renowned Millbrook Proving Ground. However it was felt that additional testing over and above that carried out on UK products would be required in order to satisfy the demands of the Australian market.

The test vehicle was a Unicorn Cabrera built to Australian specification featuring an AL-KO chassis, axle and running gear and the Bailey Alu-Tech bodyshell. In terms of construction the only significant difference is that that the caravan it is covered with a GRP outer skin, as featured on our Orion caravan and Approach SE motorhome ranges, rather than the aluminium skin currently used on domestic Unicorn models.

All Bailey caravans and motorhomes ranges now are built using the state of the art Alu-Tech body shell construction system. The result of the most comprehensive product design programme ever undertaken Alu-tech leisure vehicles are more robust, more durable and yet lighter than those manufactured using conventional methods to provide a completely new level of product performance.

This claim was put to the test at the AL-KO test track in Markbronn Germany – a circuit renowned for its severity and is known in the industry as the ‘caravan graveyard’. The track itself is one kilometre in length and the features a number of different road surfaces to thoroughly test vehicle endurance.

Potholes

The pothole test is designed to prove that the vehicle will meet the challenges of real-life usage. Potholes are believed to cause up to 1 in 5 mechanical failures of all types of vehicles on UK roads at a cost estimated at £320 million per year. The potholes vary in size, shape and are up to a maximum depth of about 78mm. The test simulates repeated forceful impacts placing large stresses on every part of the vehicle and proves the quality of the design and engineering of the chassis and body structure of the caravan.

Belgian Pave

This test is designed to prove the quality of the vehicle build when used on road surfaces more closely linked to general driving conditions including undulating and uneven road conditions. It ensures that the axle, suspension and the joint between chassis and bodywork are capable of withstanding the continual vibration from driving on these types of road surfaces.

Rumble Strip

The final test is over a roughly undulating surface similar to a rumble strip. Here the road surface is a series of peaks and hollows at different distances, widths and heights. This test applies stresses to the chassis and running gear through continuous vibration which places greater pressure on the different components of the chassis and tests the integrity of the joints between chassis members and the bodywork of the caravan.

Test Conditions

After every twenty lap series on the track the caravan was returned to the workshop to examine all major chassis joints and inspect both the exterior and interior of the caravan for any changes in condition. Checks to ensure all bolt torques are maintained were also carried out on a daily basis with all information recorded in the final test report.

In total the Unicorn Cabrera successfully completed 1,000 laps of the track which, based on AL-KO calculations, simulates a performance of 100,000 kms of usage. This is the first time a UK-made caravan has been tested to this level on this punishing circuit and is further proof of the superior performance and durability of a vehicle built using the combination of an AL-KO chassis and an Alu-Tech bodyshell.