From the CCC we grant everyone the purchase of a beautiful Constructam. Demand for the classic caravans has increased over the last few years so that more and more money has to be paid for a Constructam. To prevent that you pay too much or that unexpected defects and therefore high costs appear after purchase, it is wise to examine the caravan on a number of points before purchase. Many defects are easy to repair and a nice way to do that yourself is during the work days with professional guidance and fellow members.
Most Constructams have a so called overrun brake which can easily be tested by pushing it in where sufficient resistance must be felt. You can also test this by hanging the caravan behind the car and drive and brake a little bit. It is also easy to test the hand brake. The overrun and handbrake can be adjusted by a specialist.
Another important part, and potentially large cost, is the axis. Virtually every axis has to be reconditioned once. When looking at the caravan, ask if and when this was done. If in doubt, have the axle examined by a specialist. If the caravan is standing on its wheels, the wheel support arms should be almost horizontal. If they point upwards, the springs are too weak or the torsion is weak and worn. It may also be stuck due to poor maintenance.
If possible, jack up the caravan a little to feel if there is play on the wheels. If the wheels move, this may indicate worn bearings. These can easily be replaced. Turn the wheels around to feel if they run smoothly and if they are not hindered by an incorrectly adjusted (hand) brake. Also look at the age of the tires. For safety reasons they should not be older than 6 years. On the bands are four digits of which the first two stand for the week number and the last two for the year. The number 3601 stands for week 36 of the year 2001. Older bands have a different code. If you come across these you know for sure that they are too old. Check this also for the spare wheel that needs to be present.
The bottom and chassis
One of the most important things to investigate is the quality of the bottom. Take the time to look under the caravan with a flashlight and knock with your hand or prick with a screwdriver in several places to feel if the bottom is still hard. Superficial repairs caused by, for example, a piece of wood that has been put over a rotten spot may look cosmetically good, but often the wood under the plank simply rots. Also pay attention to the presence of woodworm. This can be recognized by small holes and when the worm is active, there is wood powder under the caravan or it comes loose when knocking. The bottom of the models until 1972 is relatively easy to replace because it is built inside the walls so that the structure can remain in place during replacement. The bottom of models after 1972 is much more difficult to replace because the whole structure has to be lifted.
A potential weak spot of the chassis is where the drawbar body is on the chassis beam. Moisture accumulation can cause heavy corrosion in this area. Do not hesitate to pierce it with a screwdriver or scrape away some corrosion. Also check the rest of the chassis beams with a flashlight for corrosion.
Also try turning out the four legs. See if they are still tight and the twisting and turning in and out is still running smoothly.
In the drawbar box is often the connection of the gas-bottle located, that consists of a hose and a pressure regulator. On the hose and pressure regulator is a date. They may not be older than 5 years.
In the drawbar box is generally the 230 volt connection. Check if this is modern enough. A CEE wall infeed box is better and safer!
Connect the caravan lights to the car and check that all lights are working. Corrosion in the plug may cause certain functions to refuse. Also unscrew the rear lights to look at the quality of for example the small reflectors. These are often rusty which reduces the light output a lot. Also take a look at the quality of the caps. These are sometimes slightly torn and bleached out, making the colors less clear. This can cause problems during a check on the way.
The upper side of the models until 1972 consists of a polyester upper side and a aluminium underside. At the aluminum plating corrosion at the bottom attention to the transition to the bottom. If the cladding has dents or deep scratches, it can nowadays be replaced fairly easily for models up to 1971.
In older models, the polyester hood osmose may show. This is a physical reaction in which small cracks appear. Osmosis can be recognized by small blisters and cracks. In case of osmosis, the damaged surface should be cleaned and removed immediately and filled after proper drying. This takes some time but it is easy to do.
Another vulnerability of the older models is the door. Because of its light construction and exposure to moisture, the inside of the door may have started to rot. Feel especially at the bottom and around the place where the hinges are. If this feels soft, there is a good chance that the wood on the inside will need to be replaced. This is quite a difficult job. Check if the door closes properly and ask if there are any extra keys.
Windows and rubbers
Most windows of the older models are made of real glass. Later the windows are made of plastic. The curved windows of the older models can become blurred over time or cracks can appear. These windows can easily be replaced by new ones, also the window rubbers and white tendons can be replaced. Due to dehydration of the rubbers, cracks can occur or the rubber does not connect properly anymore, which can lead to leakage. Via the CCC all new rubbers and tendons for the models up to and including 1972 can be purchased.
Check the window hinges and open the windows to feel if this goes smoothly. The window hinges of the older models may have cracks or pieces may have broken off, so there is a danger that they will come loose when opened. Nowadays, new hinges are available by means of 3D printing.
The characteristic round and square orange roof hatches. By exposure to sunlight these can be completely faded. At the moment new skylights can be ordered. For up to date information mail with: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sunlight can also cause the plastic window expanders for the round skylights to yellow strongly and become hard, causing them to tear or crumble. Also these can nowadays be replaced in different ways. For current information mail with: email@example.com.
The interior of the caravan
Besides the characteristic design of the outside of the caravan, a lot of attention was paid to the design of the interior. Check the quality of the cladding of the walls and roof. Is the cladding still tight or does it show holes and cracks? Open the cabinets and look at the closures and hinges. In certain years the cabinet doors are made of plastic hinges that will tear over time. These can also be replaced by new ones.
Feel and smell the cushions on the sofas and see if they still have the original upholstery. If possible, unzip the cushions to see if the foam is not falling apart. Replacing all cushions and upholstery can be quite a cost. Check if the inside lighting is working properly. The caravan may need to be connected to 230 volts for this. A part of the lighting works on 230 volts and a part on 12 volts. For the 12 volt lights a battery or an inverter may have been used. Check the state of the wiring at, for example, the place where the electricity enters the caravan.
Some models are equipped with a (Sibir) refrigerator. Ask if the refrigerator is still working and check if there is enough ventilation in the wall to cool the fridge. If the caravan is connected to electricity, it is also good to check the electric water pump. The pumps can corrode a little over time and get stuck. Replacing a pump is generally simple and inexpensive. The older models still have gas lights. Sometimes these are still connected. Because of (fire) safety we recommend to close these. The gas lamps can easily be replaced by for example an LED light.
Most of the connections on the older models are in the right back of the bank cabinet. The kitchen contains a fixed or loose gascomfoor of which the gaspipe runs to the bottle in the drawbar bin. Check the gas line for damage and have it checked during the inspection or by a specialist! Ask the owner if and when the gas line has been checked.
The presence of a registration certificate is important. If you are absent, call the Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer and ask (using the chassis number) whether the caravan is registered. All Constructams over 750 kg must have their own registration number. This also applies to a Coral that weighs only 650 kg empty but with a loading capacity of 150 kg this is also 800 kg. It must therefore also have its own license plate. The Condor models are much lighter and can be marked on the license plate of the car. The models of the last few years also have their own license plate because of their weight.
For questions or more information you can contact the Constructam Caravan club: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A lot of succes when buying a Constructam!
FOLLOWING THESE TIPS DOES NOT GUARANTEE A GOOD CARAVAN, BUT ONLY HELPS TO BETTER PREPARE YOUR PURCHASE. THE CCC ACCEPTS NO LIABILITY FOR ANY HIDDEN DEFECTS WHEN PURCHASING A CARAVAN.