Bailey Motorhome Crash Testing At Millbrook
Bailey Motorhomes successfully completes crash test programme at Millbrook
Safety considerations are of paramount importance in any new motorhome design and Bailey has given a great deal of thought to this aspect of product development. As a result key features, such as an ABS braking system plus driver and passenger airbags are specified as standard in the cab and four three-point seatbelts are fitted for all dedicated rear passenger seats.
Bailey has looked to take this thought process to the next stage by investigating the strength of the motorhome bodyshell and furniture in a simulated crash test. This was carried out using the HyGe Sled facilities at Millbrook Proving Ground, one of Europe’s leading test and development facilities for whole vehicles, systems and components.
Following their recommendation Bailey committed to a series of three 30 mph or 50 kmph frontal impact tests on a cell containing the dedicated rear passenger seating area. For authenticity this was mounted on a dummy cab and chassis to best represent what would happen in this type of impact.
Throughout the testing the Alu-Tech bodyshell stood up well to the examination and required very little in the way of modification highlighting the unrivalled strength and durability of vehicles built using this construction method. Following the results of the first test Bailey added the optional AL-KO AMC chassis outriggers underneath the dedicated rear passenger seats to provide the floor with additional support in this area of the motorhome – which proved very successful. The outriggers were therefore included as standard specification on all Approach SE models featuring dedicated rear passenger seats. AL-KO also took the opportunity to review the performance of its seat belt frames during the test sequence and the results provided them with valuable feedback to assist with the on-going development and approval of their products for their customers.
The motorhome furniture was the area which required the most development in order to successfully complete the test sequence. Initially Bailey employed the conventional furniture construction methods used in caravan assembly, however this did not prove to be appropriate for this particular application and consequently this became the main focus for the Design Team in subsequent tests.
Initially consideration was given to areas of hazard avoidance such as: the anchoring of heavy appliances including the fridge and oven to the floor to prevent movement after impact; the re-location of under locker lighting away from the immediate headroom space of rear passengers and the decision to include a dedicated stowage location for side mounted tables whilst in transit as these proved to be a significant hazard if left in situ in the event of an collision.
Attention was then given to the habitation area furniture itself, starting with the seats themselves which were strengthened using u-shaped metal frames and fitted with velcro secured cushions to provide passengers with a more secure base.
The successful re-design of the bulk head separating the rear passenger seats from the cab proved the “toughest nut to crack” and took a further three tests to get right.
In a motorhome built using the Alu-Tech construction method this is already a structural component of the shell, making it much more solid than a standard furniture panel used in some other vehicles, however even this required extra strengthening with a steel frame support and a steel brace mounted through the floor before it met our final test targets.
This research project is the first of its kind carried out on coachbuilt motorhomes. It took place over a period of twenty-one months (from March 2011 to December 2012), included five separate crash test simulations all of which were carried out in the presence of leading technical industry journalists and cost Bailey in the region of £40,000 to complete.
Footage from the Millbrook videos of the crash test simulations will be published on www.baileyalu-tech.co.uk shortly. For more information on Millbrook Proving Ground and the services they provide please visit www.millbrook.co.uk
The resulting enhancements are now incorporated into all Bailey production models which set them apart from any other products in terms of motorhome safety. However given the importance of this issue rather than trying to gain competitive advantage, the company will make the research findings available, via the National Caravan Council, to all manufacturers in the hope that this will mean safer vehicles for everybody – which can only be of benefit to the industry as a whole.
Bailey Motorhomes – choose a new direction: www.baileyofbristol.co.uk
Frontal Impact Tests at Millbrook