Review: Winjana RV Ravenbsourne 915

Malcolm Street — 16 January 2014

THE TOOWOOMBA-BASED manufacturer Winjana RV might be a new name to many in the RV world, but the company's fifth wheelers will certainly be more familiar, having been produced for another RV company for a number of years.

Under the direction of Andrew and Louise Brennen, Winjana produces fifth wheeler layouts in lengths ranging from 6.1m (20ft) to 9.75m (32ft). They are all built the same way and designed with ute-sized vehicles in mind.

Our review fifth wheeler, the Ravensbourne 915, is one of the latest designs to come out of the Winjana factory. Its external length of 9.75m (32ft) gives the designers plenty of room to play with. However, this also means an ATM of 3000kg, which puts it at the high end of ute-sized vehicles. Something like an Isuzu D-Max or Holden Colorado, with a GCM of 5900kg and a payload of slightly more than 1100kg, are good candidates for towing. Even a Toyota Landcruiser 70 Series could be suitable.

The Ravensbourne 915 is built on a 125x50mm powder-coated steel chassis. It has the usual tandem axles for a rig of this size, which come fitted with Al-Ko independent suspension. Fresh water capacity of 160L is fitted between the chassis rails, as is 102L of grey water.

One slightly unusual feature about this design is that the chassis frames extend forward and up to the underside of the overhang. Apart from a slightly less streamlined look, this means the gas cylinders sit on the extended frame and are weather-protected by the overhang, as well as remaining ventilated. It's not hard to see how a few modifications could result in
an effective rack for hoses, etc.

Above the chassis, the frame walls are constructed using 25.4x12mm Canadian spruce timber, while the roof uses larger 38x38mm beams. They are filled with 25mm insulation and covered by aluminium cladding.

Most fifth wheelers have an under-overhang storage area, but because of its external frame the Ravensbourne has a front side bin instead. Further external storage is available via two bins at the rear of the nearside. Adjoining that, the small bin has both a 12V socket and a gas connection, along with the usual 240V outlet.

The Ravensbourne features a slightly unusual layout. It does have a bedroom in the overhang, but neatly worked into the area between the bedroom and the dining area is a small lounge, and across the rear is a full-width bathroom. Although the Ravensbourne has a white ceiling, a light timber look is found through the rest of the rig. Large windows and two Four Seasons hatches maintain good ventilation.

In the bathroom, instead of the vanity being along the rear wall (the more conventional position for a vanity in most caravans and fifth wheelers), it is set along the nearside wall. This setup gives room for plenty of benchtop space with a two-door cupboard underneath, and a good-sized wall mirror. There could be more bench space, but the forward corner is taken up by a front-loading washing machine. Although it looks like a bit of an add-on, it does mean no bending over to do the washing.

The sideways vanity means the Dometic cassette toilet occupies the rear offside corner and the shower cubicle fills the adjoining space. The result is a spacious bathroom with a different layout.

The living area has kitchen facilities along the nearside wall and part of the offside wall, with a dinette occupying the rest of that wall. The latter is comfortable for two people, but a bit squeezy for any visitors. The adjoining window gives a good view of the world - several inquisitive horses in our case. Floor hatch doors provide access to both under-seat areas.

Cooking facilities include a four-burner cooktop/grill, along with a stainless steel sink avec drainer. A microwave is fitted into the cabinetry above the cooktop. Underneath the benchtop are two cupboards and three drawers.

Additional storage space, a pantry plus two drawers and a cupboard is provided on the opposite side between the 150L fridge and bathroom.

Like the washing machine, the fridge sits well off the floor, reducing the need to bend down.

Having a separate lounge in an RV is something of a novel idea. In the case of our Winjana, it comes with two swivelling recliners that sit opposite a large cabinet, part of which contains a flatscreen TV, which unfortunately can't really be seen from the bed.

The bedroom steps are large enough to be easily negotiated and removable tops mean they can be used as storage. The space adjacent to the TV cabinet is enough for two large wardrobes and three good-sized drawers.

Bed height in smaller fifth wheelers is sometimes an issue, but at 1m (3ft 3in) this one is not unreasonable. A queen-size innerspring mattress fills most of the bedroom, but there is room for bedside cabinets.

Large side windows and a Four Seasons hatch offer sufficient cross-ventilation.

The Ravensbourne 915 is a nice addition to the growing Australian fifth wheeler market. It's slightly larger than most ute-sized fifth wheelers and offers a very spacious interior, which includes everything the average traveller might desire, but it remains a relatively easy rig to tow.

Source: Caravan World Jan 2011


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Malcolm Street