Bailey Rangefinder Nebula: Video Review
The new Bailey Rangefinder Nebula is locally designed and built, making it an ideal companion for Australia’s unique conditions.
On first glance, there’s no mistaking the Nebula for a Bailey. The angular, all-fibreglass body with its gently-sloped, one-piece, three-window facade and long, flat roof is a signature look of Britain’s most popular caravans. But a closer look reveals this is simply the ultra-strong shell for a uniquely-Australian caravan.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The new, quad-locking Dometic security door with its separate security screen is the first giveaway, along with the large Dometic roll-out awning, folding aluminium step and the distinctive 360° digital UFO-X TV antenna. But if you put the British and Aussie Baileys side-by-side you would see the more significant differences.
For a start, while the Rangefinder utilises the same patented Alu-Tech shell construction of interlocking aluminium extrusions cloaked in 35mm-thick fibreglass composite body panels, it is nearly 6in wider than its UK counterpart at 2.49m (8ft 2in). This has necessitated distinctive new front and rear impact-resistant lower body mouldings made out of Bear-X in its first Australian caravan application. Full tunnel boots, front and rear, are other features exclusive to this new Rangefinder that allow you to easily access your camping essentials from the outside.
But you need to lower your gaze to the Nebula’s underpinnings to really understand how this Bailey has become a ‘true blue’ Aussie. The meaty, locally designed and sourced Australian steel Austrail RV DuraGal chassis is the first giveaway. Topped, in the case of the prototype reviewed, by an optional Vehicle Components DO35 offroad hitch, it looks more than up to the task of carrying this large 6.93m (22ft 9in) caravan across the cocktail of road surfaces that local caravans encounter.
Even more reassuring is that the drawbar on all Rangefinder models is being upsized from the prototype’s 100x50mm beam size to the 150x50mm dimensions normally seen on dedicated offroad caravans – surely more than adequate for an on-road van with a total permissible laden weight of less than 2500kg!
Look underneath and you’ll be doubly impressed by the Nebula’s standard Australian seven-leaf spring, tandem-axle suspension. Locally designed and manufactured Vehicle Components independent tandem coil spring and shock absorber Country Road Suspension is an option. Standard wheels are 15in alloy, shod with 205/70R15 Light Truck tyres, with wider 235/75 treads an option.
There’s also some surprises up the back; the first being the wind-down spare wheel, tucked neatly away above the axle line, while the other is the fibreglass skin that protects the entire under-floor from water and stone-strike – a first on an Australian caravan. Look harder and you will see the twin 105L fresh water tanks tucked above the axle out of stone’s way. Offering a 210L capacity, they are wedge-shaped to ensure that every last litre of fresh water can be harvested from them.
The other thing those accustomed to looking under caravans will note is that there is much less chassis steel than the average large local caravan. This is because the massive 44mm-thick insulated floor used in the Bailey five-part body also serves as an important structural aspect of the caravan, reducing the amount of steel bracing beneath. Impressively, this combination of floor and chassis has resulted in an average saving of around 400kg in Bailey Rangefinder models over an equivalent-sized and conventionally-built Australian caravan, with no loss of structural integrity.
HITS & MISSES
- Huge front ‘entertainer’ lounge
- Clever layout
- Proven build strength
- Lightweight construction
- Larger than usual payload
- Only one AGM battery as standard
- No roof-mounted solar panel
- Fixing for lower cupboard hinges didn’t last the journey
BAILEY RANGEFINDER NEBULA SPECS
Weights and measures
- Overall length 8.42m (27ft 8in)
- External body length 6.93m (22ft 9in)
- External body width 2.49m (8ft 2in)
- Travel height 2.88m (9ft 5in)
- Internal height 1.96m (6ft 5in)
- Tare 1970kg
- ATM 2470kg
- Ball weight 160kg
- Frame Patented structural Alu-Tech interlocking aluminium extrusion
- Cladding Body panels with waterproof and impact resistant fibreglass outer skin; fibreglass under-floor sheeting for water and stone protection
- Chassis Austrail DuraGal 100x50mm steel
- Suspension Roller-rocker seven-leaf spring tandem with Dexter axles
- Brakes 10in Dexter electric
- Wheels/tyres Alloy 15in with 205/70R15 Light Truck tyres
- Water 2x105L
- Battery 1x100Ah deep-cycle
- Solar Provision only
- Air-conditioner Dometic FreshJet 3200
- Gas 2x9kg
- Sway control Dexter Sway Control
- Cooking Thetford Minigrill Mk3 combo four-burner cooktop with grill
- Microwave Sphere 900W
- Fridge Thetford 185L three-way
- Toilet Thetford cassette
- Shower Full-height, one-piece moulded fibreglass
- Lighting LED strip lighting
- Hot water 23L Atwood gas/electric
- Heating Truma E2400 (gas optional)
- Front stone cover ($1000); Dexter Sway Control ($1100); leather upholstery ($2500); Vehicle Components DO35 offroad hitch ($399)
Price as shown
The full test appears in Caravan World #544 December 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!