WE ASKED MARTY LEDWICH , WHO HAS SPENT YEARS TRAVELLING AROUND AUSTRALIA FULL TIME WITH HIS WIFE , FOR HIS OPINION ON COMPOSITE SANDWICH PANEL CONSTRUCTION …
After owning a van with a wooden frame and another with an aluminium frame , we have chosen to build our next van using a full composite construction .
There are several reasons for this . First , because there is no internal frame , there is a significant weight advantage with composite construction over more traditional methods . And just because there is no frame doesn ' t mean the van will be less rigid .
In fact , a properly constructed composite van will actually be more rigid than a framed van . This is due largely to the way the individual walls and roof are bonded together as large single pieces rather than lots of small bits nailed , screwed and glued together .
The lack of joins results in a very flat , clean surface on which all the external features such as windows and hatches can be fixed to . This aids sealing and greatly reduces the risk of water ingress .
While all these advantages are fantastic in their own right , two major considerations sold us on composite construction . It offers significantly better insulation against extreme hot and cold weather . When travelling this country year-round , as we do , you encounter weather extremes very often . Air-conditioners and internal heaters work much more efficiently . Composite vans are just nicer to live in regardless of what ' s happening outside .
Finally , composite vans last much longer than aluminiumclad vans . They are less prone to damage from slight knocks and bumps , and particularly from hail . In fact , this durability and long life often results in lower insurance premiums .
As an example , CIL Insurance offers composite van owners a 10 per cent discount premium for caravans with full composite walls and fibreglass exterior cladding . That sort of confidence was enough to convince us of our decision .