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Bailey crash tests motorhomes to improve safety


Bailey, which entered the motorhome market just two years ago, has made important advances in motorhome safety

Bailey has completed a series of crash tests of its coachbuilt motorhomes aimed at improving passenger safety, especially of those travelling in the rear seats.

Through 2011 and 2012, the company carried out five crash tests at the Millbrook Vehicle Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, which simulated a full frontal crash at 30mph.

A dummy coachbuilt motorhome ready for the first crash test

For the tests, Bailey used a life-like motorhome made from a dummy cab (it had no engine or front seats for most of the tests) with an Al-Ko chassis upon which was built a motorhome structure that included within it both forward and rear-facing seats with three-point seatbelts, a full motorhome kitchen, including oven, hob, microwave and fridge, as well as cupboards, doors, lockers and light fittings.

Four crash tests dummies – both adult and child size – were positioned and secured using the seatbelts into the rear seats of the test motorhome.

Crash test dummies were used to test passenger safety

The first crash test, which was carried out early 2011, revealed that the rear seat passengers, despite being secured, were subjected to life-threatening conditions after the seats collapsed and both the rear facing passengers were thrown free.

You can watch the first crash test video by clicking on the video below. There is also the opportunity to watch all the videos in sequence at the end of this article.

As soon as the first test was complete, Bailey modified its motorhomes.

The floor and seating collapsed

While it found that throughout the testing, its Alu-Tech bodyshell stood up well, it was found that Al-Ko chassis outriggers were needed to reinforce the floor underneath the rear passenger seats and kitchen area.

Outriggers are now fitted as standard to prevent the floor from collapsing

These outriggers are now included on all Bailey motorhomes.

During the first test, both the fridge and the oven came free and flew out of the front of the motorhome.

The fridge flew out of the front of the cab

Bailey now anchors ovens and the fridges in all of its motorhomes to the floor.

The furniture also needed significant modification and dedicated storage was made for the table after three of the four rear seat passengers were hit by the flying table after it came loose. The table leg also broke and the table’s rail broke free and flew out of the window. The manufacturer has also now relocated its under-locker lighting after it was found the lights could injure the passengers.

You can view the third crash test by clicking on the video below

However, it was the motorhome’s bulkhead, which separates the rear passenger seats from the cab, that proved the toughest nut to crack and took a further three tests to get right.

In a motorhome built using Bailey’s Alu-Tech, the bulkhead is already a structural component of the shell, making it much more solid than a standard furniture panel used in some other motorhomes. However, even this required extra strengthening with a steel frame support and a steel brace mounted through the floor before it met the final test targets.

The bulkhead protects the rear-facing passengers and supports their backs. If it gives way, the passenger’s body can twist and he can be thrown free from the seatbelts. Indeed, during the first of the Bailey tests, the rear-facing passenger closest to the aisle ended up in the cab.

The bulkhead broke and the rear-facing passenger ended up on the cab floor

Despite its importance in protecting rear passengers, some motorhome manufacturers currently only use a standard furniture panel for the bulkhead.

Following the completion of its crash tests, Bailey has now made its findings and the engineering changes it has made as a result of the crash tests available free and without patent protection to other motorhome manufacturers through the National Caravan Council (NCC). It is hoped that other manufacturers will adapt their own production processes to make their motorhomes safer using Bailey’s findings.

Another British manufacturer, Swift, is also now carrying out similar crash tests on its coachbuilt motorhomes.

Read more on this story, with comments from the NCC and the VCA, in the May issue of MMM magazine –
order your copy here

You can view all five crash tests by clicking on the videos below

Bailey motorhome crash test video 1

Bailey motorhome crash test video 2

Bailey motorhome crash test video 3

Bailey motorhome crash test video 4

Bailey motorhome crash test video 5

Or you can also watch the videos by going to the 'staying safe' channel on motorhomesTV

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