How do I collect & store my Composite Panel Kit?

Composite Panels are not really suitable for general freight –

  • they are often large in size
  • have a very high quality finish on each side
  • they can easily get damaged if not handled correctly
  • they are not suitable for loading with other items
  • they need to be handled with care

Besides the inevitable high cost of freight there is also a risk of damage and you may have waited several months for your panels to be manufactured. In addition most DIY customers have a chassis or similiar on which they can collect the panel kit.

As a result at DIY Caravans we do not ship panels. We have specialist Panel Manufacturers in four States (WA, Vic, Qld and NSW) and we find our customers are the best people to get them home safely and at an affordable cost. The vehicles that are usually used are the chassis for the build project itself or a hire vehicle or hire trailer – one customer found a flat bed hire trailer 8 metres long in Brisbane which was perfect. If interested please contact Budjet Trailers on 0434 995814 for rates.

Customers are advised to plan how they will collect their panels when they are ordered and you get a target despatch date. When the Manufacturer is close to completing the job – you will then receive the contact and address details for collecting your panel kit from DIY Caravans.

Since our Manufacturers have limited space it is best to collect the panels as soon as they are ready if possible.

You will need to arrange for the following:

  • A vehicle or trailer with a flat area large enough to support the largest panel in your order. If for example the hire trailer has wheel arches you may need a timber frame or styrene slabs to support the panels above the wheel arches
  • The vehicle surface should be flat and protected such that it does not damage the gel-coat layer of the bottom panel
  • Sufficient long straps to secure the load – at least 6-8 are usually required
  • Lengths of cardboard angle to prevent straps from cutting into the top panel edge
  • If you are also collecting Panel Joiners – please be aware these are 6.5m long and will need wrapping/protecting for transport

On the day of Collection

Our Manufacturer will help load the panels on to your vehicle as this may need 4 people.

You will need to ensure the flat surface where you intend to load the panels is prepared and has protection to prevent damage to the bottom panel. We recommend the customer discusses how they would like the panels loaded – for example the order of the panels. If a floor panel is part of the kit it is often wise to load it first with the B side downwards. You may also want a large panel on the top to help with strapping them all down.

Whilst it is often not possible to inspect and measure each panel in detail as you load them, it is the customer’s responsibility to check the points below

  1. The total number of panels is correct and matches what you ordered
  2. The cut-outs are included if you want them
  3. Any additional skin eg for covering the kerfing area is included (if required)

This will save you having to return to collect a second time.

When you get home

  1. Ensure you have enough pairs of hands to unload the kit safely
  2. Make sure you have prepared a suitable storage area for the panel kit

The panels will still be curing if they have just come off the production line and if they are not stored properly they will lose their flat shape.

Here are a few guidelines to Storing and Handling composite panels.

Once the panels have been manufactured they will continue to cure for some time (weeks) and during this period it is very important that they are stored such that they keep their shape and avoid exposure to sunlight, moisture and excess temperature changes

  • Composite Panels should always be stored either directly vertical with regular supports or preferably laid on a flat horizontal surface free from contaminants
  • Do not allow moisture to be trapped in between the panels or protective coverings
  • Avoid storing Composite Panels in direct sunlight as post curing and warping could occur prior to permanently mechanically / adhesive fixing the panel into position
  • Composite Panels should never be dragged on edge as delamination can occur due to excessive force tearing the laminate away from the core
  • Appropriate personal safety equipment should be worn when handling Composite Panels

Customers regularly travel up to 2000 kms to collect the panel kit of their choice, often with a partner or buddy and make a trip of it. As far as we know every single one transported their kit home without incident.