Advice re panel van conversions

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by GeoffCrowther, May 7, 2010.

  1. GeoffCrowther

    GeoffCrowther Read Only Funster

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    Hi all
    I'm new here and new to motorhomes so forgive my ignorance.
    My wife and I plan to buy a motorhome as soon as a house we own is sold.
    We've been researching since October last year and have veered from, initially, a compact front lounge coachbuilt (A/S Nuevo or similar) to a rear lounge panel van.
    Our change of thought is due to my wife's preference for a narrow body, thinking of single track roads in NW Scotland, and I like the look, ie smooth, neat body and a colour other than white! I feel it would be easier to keep the exterior clean too.
    We have two dogs (a boxer and a lab) but no kids and feel a rear lounge would give the hounds more free floor space at night.
    At present we're considering Auto-Sleeper Warwick Duo/Marquis Sussex Duo or Swift Mondial RF/Autocruise Rhythm. Without spending a fortune no other 'van seems to fit the bill but do correct me if I've missed something.
    A fundamental question is, how do either or both these 'vans cope with serious cold (we might go to the Alps in winter for example)? I know tanks can be winterised but am more concerned about insulation in body/roof/floor. I've read that Auto-Sleepers' single athermic glazing seems to cope ok.
    Would we, in fact, be better off with a coachbuilt? Are they substantially better insulated?
    We think we'll buy new, or nearly-new if availability is an issue.
    I'd be grateful for any advice on our choices so far, and, indeed, any advice for newcomers.
    Cheers
    Geoff
     
  2. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    British built vans are generally built for a southern European Summer, whils German builds are generally built for a Northern European winter. A staggering differance and something to bear in mind when chooosing a van, not easy is it.
     
  3. GeoffCrowther

    GeoffCrowther Read Only Funster

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    Ok Roger, thanks. That sounds like I shouldn't buy any British 'van. Can that really be true? Seems to me that most continental vans lack ovens, which we see as essential. Maybe I'm being shortsighted. I do appreciate your point though.
    Cheers
    Geoff
     
  4. strathspey

    strathspey Read Only Funster

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  5. dazzer

    dazzer Read Only Funster

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    If its space your looking for and reasonable build quality have a look at a B+ or B class RV. Winnebago go a great van conversion based on Merc Sprinter chassis see here

    http://www.winnebagoind.com/products/era/index.php

    3.0 ltr turbo diesel, automatic with all the toys and will go down most roads even narrow ones in Scotland!!:thumb:
     
  6. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    Hi Geoff you would have to ask the specific converters as to the insulation :thumb: Your main concern should be LAYOUT :thumb: LAYOUT. LAYOUT:thumb:
    terry
     
  7. ingram

    ingram Read Only Funster

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    Having had, and still have, a 6' 6" wide panel van and a 7' plus wide coachbuilt the advantage of the narrow panel van is when driving in narrow hedged lanes. The hedges rip heck out of the wider van. Most of the narrow Scottish roads ( in my experience ) are not hedged so a wider van is no problem ....... there are some rocky 'walls' and overhangs here and there though ...

    harvey
     
  8. warwick

    warwick Read Only Funster

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    We changed from a Mirage (similar to an "A" Class Hymer) to an Autosleeper Warwick about 18 months ago and actually prefer many aspects of the PVC . The Warwick is really what I call a GMT + 1 van not (in my opinion) suited to very cold weather, simply due to lack of insulation, in summer you could not leave a dog inside anymore than you can a car. The Mirage was exceptionally well insulated not cold in winter, nor hot in summer, no qualms about leaving our dog.
    The single glazed windows work fine, the windscreen mists up well before any side windows as in most vans. No worries about which road to take, and so much easier to keep clean. We spend about 80% of our time away on the continent in warmer climes where most time is spent outside, spending a wet Sunday couped up at Brighton is where you notice the reduced amount of space.
    We have no regrets on down sizing and will probably stick with a PVC.
     
  9. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Hi Geoff

    We have recently changed our motorhome and very seriously considered a van conversion for many of the reasons you give. However we did some 'surveys' of owners, and one concern they came up with is that they can be much cooler than a traditional coachbuilt. Other comments related to the exact opposite - heat. We were advised that a van conversion can get much hotter much more quickly than a coachbuilt and with dogs that is something you need to consider, just leaving them in the van whilst you go shopping, for a meal etc, could be problematic in the middle of summer. Finally we decided that even a 6m one would be just too small for our needs (2 bikes, 2 inflatable canoes and all the gear, etc, etc), so we plumped for a 6m low profile coachbuilt, it's a bit chubbier than I would have liked at 2.3m but in all other respects is suits us perfectly.
     
  10. bluelass

    bluelass Read Only Funster

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    I've downsized from a coachbuilt to a van conversion and I do miss the space but enjoy being able to access more places as it's easier to get down some of those country lanes.
    I've noticed that it can get a lot colder than in the coachbuilt but as I don't use the van as frequently in the coldest months, it's not really a big problem. The heat is something that, as yet, I havent registered as an issue:Sad: but I'll let you know after the glorious summer we're going to have.
     
  11. reeventu

    reeventu Read Only Funster

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    We have a PVC ,our second, and we find that providing it has been well contructed there is no problem with heat or cold.

    We have been in scotland where it was minus 5 deg and we were very comfortabe at over 20 deg inside. The outside water tanks did not freeze even though they are not winterised.

    In Spain we have seen plus 30 deg outside and providing you keep blinds closed and use the outside screen cover the inside stays ok for our dog.

    I am sure these are not the extremes some require but I think it covers most needs.

    Our van was not from a mass producer so I know that the insulation is better.

    We are waiting for a new van from the same manufacturer on the basis of our experience
     
  12. Terry

    Terry Funster

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  13. GeoffCrowther

    GeoffCrowther Read Only Funster

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    Thanks to all for the advice so far. We looked at a Rhythm yesterday and a Warwick Duo today and, at present, we're pretty certain we'd like a Duo. Deciding factors are the better provision of storage, especially litle nooks and crannies, better hob, bigger fridge. There are some small things we don't like but nothing we couldn't live with.
    Really grateful for the input from you folks though.
    Now all we have to do is sell the house! Very frustrating - it's been up for sale for over 18 months already. Could we have picked a worse time to sell property? I doubt it.
    Cheers
    Geoff
     
  14. imprint

    imprint Read Only Funster

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    Terry's absolutely right, layout, layout, layout, so keep going round dealers looking at lots till you're happy to live with your eventual choice - it's expensive if you get it wrong. And do get upholstery you can live with.

    As to insulation, we too live in Scotland and have had no difficulty this winter, though we do take a double sleeping bag as well as a large duvet.

    Finally, it's amazing what you can fit into your van. As we've said before, for years we toured Europe with a 4-berth tent ( for the two of us), cadac and gas stove, folding larder, portapotti, 2 folding bikes and one inflateable canoe all in a Mondeo.

    It's fun finding out, but it's even more fun when you get it right....
     
  15. geoff1947

    geoff1947 Read Only Funster

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    Hi

    We owned aTimberland panel van for 5 yrs and spent 11 months in it including touring Cornwall and up to Scotland We now own an Auto Sleeper Sigma EL It all depend in the layout as has been previously mentioned.
    Ours is a rear lounge and as we spend up to 4 months per yr in Spain etc it is more convenient but the panel van was brill also.
    Don't rush into buying and when viewing make sure you spend at least an hour inside Pull the bed out and lie on it etc and look at all the fixtures, cooker, tanks, gas etc.
    Good luck and keep us posted
     
  16. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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  17. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    Not my bit Roger :BigGrin: I stated total on the left ( I managed to alter that ) at £10,500 :thumb: It must be some sort of software problem at Jim's end :Rofl1: I paid 2,500 for the van then spent 8,000 ish on bits :thumb: ( the software added up figures not me :Rofl1: ) I did try to alter it several times and the total went up to 15,000 :Rofl1::Rofl1: so I gave up before it came up with 30,000 :Rofl1::Rofl1:
    PS if Jim or anyone wants to alter these figures feel free :thumb:It gave me headache months ago :Rofl1::Eeek::thumb:
    terry
    PPS Just noticed 500 viewings
     
  18. net-traveller

    net-traveller Read Only Funster

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  19. GeoffCrowther

    GeoffCrowther Read Only Funster

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    Thank you to all for your help and advice. Having looked carefully at an Autocruise Rhythm on Saturday and then an Auto Sleepers Warwick Duo on Sunday, we are now both pretty convinced that we'd like a Duo. It seems to tick all the boxes for us and we just like the look of it, both inside and out. Really appreciate all your input though.
    All we have to do now is sell the house!
    Looking forward to becoming motorhomers.
    Thanks again.
    Cheers
    Geoff

    Sorry, just realised I've said all this already. Over 50s moment.
    Thanks for all the contributions anyway!
     
  20. geoff1947

    geoff1947 Read Only Funster

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    Duo

    The Duo then Good choice
     
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