Purpose-designed hitches make Tractors ideal for holiday homes' movement
Two Kubota Grand L4630 tractors with specially-designed front and rear hydraulic hitches have transformed the movement and repositioning of caravan holiday homes for leisure park operator, Coast and Country Caravans.
Wholly family-owned, the business is one of Kent's best-known and longest-established leisure park operators having been founded by present chairman, Bill Boggia, not long after he rented out his first holiday home in 1945.
Today, Mr Boggia and his son Graham run two peaceful and beautifully-maintained leisure parks at Sandwich and at Homing, the latter located a mile or so from Whitstable. Both sites have been awarded the top Five Star grade by the English Tourism Council.
Covering a combined area of just over 25 acres, the two leisure parks have licences for almost 300 privately-owned caravan holiday homes and 245 touring caravans, with resident staff providing friendly assistance and advice both to short-stay visitors and those looking to purchase a more permanent holiday home.
"That is where the Kubota tractors play a major role," explained Bill Boggia. "Whenever a new caravan is sold, it has to be moved from the sales display area to the specific pitch chosen by the purchaser which can be up to 400 metres distant.
"In addition, each year we have tenants wishing to relocate to another part of the park, perhaps because a preferred pitch has become vacant or they want to be nearer to family or friends. Whatever the reason, we are moving at least 40 vans a year, each of which can weigh up to eight tonnes and be 40 feet in length."
Prior to the arrival of the two Kubota compact tractors, Coast and Country used agricultural-type tractors for the job but the growing size of the caravans was making them increasingly difficult to manoeuvre without causing damage to their delicate front and side panels.
The business had tried 4 x 4 vehicles but found that lack of all-round visibility made it very difficult to slot caravans neatly and securely onto a new pitch."Having used Kubota ride-on mowers successfully since the early 1980s, I decided to see what Kubota could come up with for the job," commented Mr Boggia. "Following detailed discussions with the company, we opted for two 45hp Grand L4630 tractors both equipped with purpose-designed ball hitches at the front and rear. Hydraulically raised and lowered, the hitches would allow us to attach caravans at either end of the tractor to suit the direction of towing, the weight and length of the caravan and its ultimate parking place."
Working closely with Bob Dixon, manager of Kubota's development department in Thame, Mr Boggia oversaw the production by Kubota of the two special hydraulic hitches which were fitted to the new tractors in summer 2005 by local dealer, Drake and Fletcher.
"The improvement was immediate," commented Mr Boggia. "The tractors have an excellent power to weight ratio, are very manoeuvrable and provide great all-round visibility. Getting on and off the driver's seat is also safe and easy."
Mr Boggia said that the rugged, purpose-made hitches have the capacity to handle the heaviest vans yet offer very sensitive up and down movement controlled by double-acting ram. "The caravans are not balanced so it was essential that the hitch could be powered up and down to achieve the optimum towing height," he explained.
Although providing the towing ability required by Mr Boggia, the two Kubota tractors get very little rest when not moving caravans. Other tasks include hauling trailers, cutting grass, levelling soil and aerating compacted turf on the two sites.
"All in all, we have two great workhorses that have solved an ever-growing problem for us," concluded Mr Boggia. "Hats off to Kubota and its development department."