CI Carioca 656

Discussion in 'CI Motorhomes' started by 656, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. 656

    656 Read Only Funster

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  2. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    That's a great write up Dave, as soon as the review section is fully functional you can add it. Much appreciated.
     
  3. Bryan

    Bryan Read Only Funster

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    Until Dave's review can be uploaded to the reviews section I will post it here for all to enjoy :Smile:

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    Living With The CI Carioca 656



    Having decided to sell my home and tour Europe in a Motorhome, the time arrived when a decision on what to buy had to be made. Having looked at 1000’s of different vehicles both new and used over a 1 year period, I decided that a new vehicle with a warrantee was the sensible option. Now the nightmares began. Did I want an A class, a B class or a coachbuilt? Although the A & B classes were excellently specked, all had different things that I didn’t like, be it the layout out or berths or that they did not feel right. I decided that a coachbuilt would be the conversion to purchase. So, off to my local dealer, Pioneer Caravans in Eye Peterborough, who have put up with me asking silly questions for the last year! Pioneer have recently been appointed main dealer for the CI range of Motorhomes and have most of the current models on show including some of the Rivera range. They also have a good selection of pre loved Motorhomes, new and used caravans and have been trading over 25 years. Reliability and longevity spring to mind with a dealer who has lasted that long.

    Looking around the CI range, I was spoilt for choice and hard pressed to make a decision on the layout I preferred. A rear bathroom and fixed bed would have been ideal. However, I decided on the middle of the range rear bunk Carioca 656. Based on the reliable Fiat Ducato 2.3 litre engine with PAS, there is no ABS, no radio, manual mirrors and no central locking. Items I would have expected to see fitted as standard these days. The Carioca 656 has a good size garage with a door either side, Thetford cassette toilet with a good size shower cubicle, 4 burner hob, grill, Dometic 3 way fridge, 2 fixed rear bunks, King size over cab bed and a Pullman dinette that converts to either a double bed or 2 singles, making 6 berths in total. There are plenty of overhead lockers, TV cabinet with 12 volt and 3 x 240 volt sockets, under seat storage, a good size cupboard under the grill (where an oven could be later fitted) and a good sized wardrobe. The toilet also has 3 cupboards. The bottom bunk can be raised and fixed in the up position to give a very good size garage with 3 locks on each of the 2 doors. Priced at £28195 it is in my opinion a very good buy, despite the lack of electrics in the cab.

    Modifications

    First on my list of essentials was a TV aerial. I decided on the Status 530 directional version. This was fitted by Pioneer Caravans before delivery. Next was an LCD TV. I bought a Sharp 17” LCD before I bought the ‘van, not my wisest buy. The problem was that it was about ½” too tall. I really should have measured the opening! I finally bought a Matsui 15” LCD from a local chain store which fitted in the TV cabinet with millimetres to spare and a Philips Digital receiver. That’s when I encountered a common problem with LCD TV’s – the viewing angle. Unless the TV was tilted – by putting a pack of playing cards under the base – the picture was far too dark to see when it was in the TV cabinet. Another plan was formulated, which meant a drop down LCD bracket was a necessary purchase and needed to be fitted to the bottom of the TV cabinet. A trip to the local superstore resulted in an AVF bracket duly purchased along with the necessary cables. Just the 6mm screws and T nuts to find now. All holes drilled, bracket fixed and cables fitted all was looking good. The TV was now watchable, but what to do with the TV cabinet now? I decided that as there was a 240 volt socket in the cabinet, a microwave was the obvious choice especially with no oven fitted to the ‘van. A 700 watt Microwave purchased. The next problem was how to make sure it did not move during travel. A simple and ideal solution was suggested by my other half who, unlike me, thinks laterally. I used 4 of the fixings made for curtain rails. These have a ½” hole in them and 4 fixing screws. Duly placed in the cabinet the Microwave was put in position and the front fixings were stuck down with super glue. When this set, the 4 screws were fitted. This was repeated with the rear fittings. With the shutter closed, the Microwave is secure during travel. The only problem is that my 1kw Genny won’t run it as it draws around 1.3kw when running. The Genny won’t run the mini oven that I bought either so, a 2kw one is now due to be bought. Another modification to the ‘van was the addition of a curtain between the cab and the habitation. Silver screens are supplied, but a pair of curtains takes seconds to close or open. I have also had a manual Satellite system fitted with a Pace 12 volt Sky receiver, which appears to pick up hundreds of channels of which, about 200 are FTA including Channel 4 and 5. These are not available on terrestrial freeview. A second leisure battery has been fitted under the passenger seat in the conversion, next to the Trauma heater. This is fitted in a dedicated battery box and has a 25 amp fuse fitted to the positive terminal. This is connected in parallel to the leisure battery that is fitted as standard. This arrangement give plenty of power to watch TV all day long with plenty left for lighting and showers. I have had a Fiamma 45i roll out awning fitted and support brackets fitted to the van wall so it can be erected on a hard standing. This was fitted by Glens Leisure Vehicles at the Lincoln show.

    Security and Safety

    Although the Carioca is fitted with an immobiliser, I wanted a CAT1 alarm fitted for peace of mind and cheaper insurance. Having used Safeguard Motors in Peterborough for many years, they were my choice of certified installer. A Meta CAT1 upgrade was fitted, along with central locking, radio CD, reversing sensors and a Bluetooth car kit. They also fitted a contact switch on the conversion door. At night, the internal sensors can be turned off so the alarm can be activated when sleeping. A tracker system is also due to be fitted by them shortly. An added extra is an LPG Gas alarm fitted to the passenger seat kick plate in the conversion and connected to the second leisure battery. A Fiamma Security 45 door bar has been fitted by Glens Leisure Vehicles.


    Convenience

    Having used a 6kg bottle of gas during my first week and having trouble getting a refill on a Saturday afternoon, I decided that a refillable gas system was needed. Just by coincident, we were going to the Peterborough Motorhome Show where I knew Gaslow were exhibiting. A quick chat with the Gaslow fitter regarding fitting and refilling costs convinced me that I would save money on gas from day 1. As I was planning a trip round Europe the system was fitted with 2x11kg refillable bottles. Fitting took about 45 mins and included a thorough test for gas leaks and instructions on how to fill both here in the UK and abroad. With 6kg refills costing between £15 and £18, my first refill – 20litres @ 43p litre - saved me between £22 and £28. I no longer have to worry about getting refills as gas is available in most Garages throughout France and Germany but not Spain although, the numbers of stations selling gas are increasing month by month

    Fuel Consumption

    Cruise Control has been fitted by Conrad Anderson. On motorways doing 65, the ‘van returns around 26.4 mpg, at 55, 29.73mpg. Not bad for a new ‘van that’s still tight. Around town it’s about 23 mpg. Still not bad although, I have been told the economy will get better as the ‘van frees up. Over all, not bad for a van that’s as aerodynamic as a brick!
    The 2.3 litre engine copes very well with hills and managed to climb all that the Isle of Wight had to throw at it. At over 7 foot wide some of the Isle of Wight roads were a little tight.

    Snags

    As with all new vehicles some small problems can be expected and I had a few. When I returned to Pioneer Caravans with my list, the snags were dealt with efficiently and straight away, including replacing the relay panel fitted for the services in the conversion. Nothing has been too much trouble for Pioneer and I was kept informed at all stages. If all the companies I deal with were as customer focused as Pioneer Caravans then I would have nothing to stress me and my Blood pressure would return to normal.

    Full timing in the 656

    I have spent 6 months in the 656 and have not had 1 restless night. The beds are comfortable and the ‘van is warm. With the blinds shut and the front curtains closed the van is cosy and as private as any house you would like to mention. The Truma water heater and blown air heater are efficient and perform really well. How CI expects to seat six people to eat in the van when the Pullman seats 4 baffles me, although that is not really a problem. The Status aerial never fails to get a Digital or analogue signal even in built up areas, and the Satellite system is easy to use. The 120 litre fresh water tank is adequate and should last a couple for about 4 days, longer if you use the shower sensibly i.e. wet down, soap up and then rinse off. With the fitted Gaslow system and travelling alone, I would guess that I will be self sufficient for a good few weeks at a time although, I empty the loo every few days and top up the water every 4 or so.

    Conclusion.

    The Carioca 656 represents very good value for money but, would benefit from ABS, a radio, central locking and electric mirrors as standard. The driver and passenger seats have arm rests as standard, full seat belts and are very supportive and comfortable. The 4 rear seats all have seatbelts fitted. The front facing seats have full belts with the rear facing seats having lap belts. For a family on a budget, the 656 represents an ideal buy that should give very good service for years to come. The residuals when eventually trading the 656 in should be very good as early Carioca’s are very few and far between and do not appear on the second hand market very often. Those that do are snapped up very quickly. The Cherry wood interior is pleasing to the eye as is the hard wearing Blue/Grey interior coverings. The beds are comfortable and roomy. Unusually the rear bunks are almost 1 metre wide and 7 foot long. Although the bottom bunk is a bit claustrophobic, the top bunk is fine. The top bunk and overcab bed are both fitted with safety nets to prevent the occupiers falling out and have ladders to allow access. The position of the ladder for the top bunk hinders the access and egress to the bottom bunk when in use and would benefit from moving to the left as far as possible. The position of the rear window would benefit from moving to the centre of the rear panel as only ½ of it is viewable from the driver’s seat. The inclusion of fittings for a Fiamma bike rack is a thoughtful addition to the rear of the ‘van and means the owner can fit a rack themselves and save a couple of hundred pounds on dealers fitted cost.

    Note.

    The GASLOW system has saved me about £400 in the 6 months it has been fitted. By the end of the year it will have paid for its self and I will then be in pocket every time I fill up. How many “extras” you fit can actually save you money in the long run?

     
  4. johnsandywhite

    johnsandywhite Read Only Funster

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    :Cool: Nice write up. However? You say:-

    The GASLOW system has saved me about £400 in the 6 months it has been fitted. By the end of the year it will have paid for its self and I will then be in pocket every time I fill up. How many “extras” you fit can actually save you money in the long run?


    :Eek!: I haven't used that much GAS (LPG) since I sold our LPG converted 1988 Coachmen Classic. I'm not disputing your claim? BUT? Are you SURE? Can you please explain how the saving arises?
     
  5. 656

    656 Read Only Funster

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    Here is how I worked it out. I used 1 6kg Calor Gas bottle in a week, the replacement cost £16.75p. Now there are 26 weeks in 6 months, so 26 x £16.75p = £435.50p. Just checked how much the GasLow was and it was £450. Now with bulk LPG being about 42p litre and there being 22 litres in each of my 11kg bottles, each bottle costs £9.24 to fill. The 6kg bottle contains 12 lites @ £1.39454 per litre. If you work out the difference between Calor and LPG, I save about 95p per litre. What you must also take into account is that I full time in my 'van, so use gas everyday.

    Dave

    656
     
  6. johnsandywhite

    johnsandywhite Read Only Funster

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    :Eek!: We Full-Time too (have done for 11 years with 7 in an RV), but we don't use that much gas. I agree there is a saving. But even in the depths of winter we don't use that much. :Laughing:

    :Cool: Happy Motorhoming (RV'ing) and keep WARM. :Laughing:

    May your travels be many and your troubles be few. :Wink:
     
  7. gypsylady

    gypsylady Read Only Funster

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    Full-Timing

    Oh to be there with you.

    I am currently 'only dreaming' but once the housing market turns around again and we are out of our fixed-term mortgage............. There bet you've heard it all before.

    BUT we never considered full-timing in our 656.

    Have been looking at RV's for a bit more space and comfort.

    I dont find the dinette seats very comfortable for the old back, and the comfortable front cab seats are unusable when we are parked up. Has anyone considered converting the front over-cab bed to a hydraulic system? And fitting swivels on the front seats? (Would mean altering the back-facing dinette seat of course.)

    We have plans for the curtains for the cab so glad to see they will work.

    Thanks for the review........... you've given us even more to consider.

    June
     
  8. gypsylady

    gypsylady Read Only Funster

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    Gaslow

    The refillable system can cost even less.

    We fitted our own at a total cost of £180.

    We paid £90 for an 11Kg bottle
    £60 for the filler cap and gas pipe
    We had to buy a drill-bit for £18

    Easy peasy. and done in an hour.
    (We stopped to re-think a lot before taking the final step and drilling the van.)

    We only went for the 11kg bottle as it is so easy to refill and we have to go for diesel more often than gas, also it leaves 1/2 a cupboard for storage of toilet fluids, hoses and other knick-knacks hubby finds so important to carry (at the last count I found 4 bicycle repair kits hidden around various cupboards)

    We find we have only used about £5 of gas when we go to refill, which we do before any long trip. We manage about 4 or 5 weekends between times on that 5-er.

    To anyone still wavering, go for the Gaslow system. i was cooking dinner BG (Before Gaslow) and ran out of gas, hubby was walking the dogs, I am not strong but had to struggle to the camp shop and turn on some womanly wiles to get one of the staff to give me a lift back to the top of the field. Post BG, we dont run out, haven't even seen the orange segment on the guage, cheap, easy.

    June
     
  9. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    How totally extravagant of hubby,
    I manage perfectly well with only two kits






    If I had a bike though, I would consider getting two more:Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:
    Geo
     
  10. guymid

    guymid Read Only Funster

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    Carioca 656 questions for other CI owners

    Hi everyone, this is my first post though I've been reading on the site for many months.

    I got a 2006 CI Carioca 656 earlier this year for my family with three kids between 5 and 9. It's been great so far and we really like the van.

    I have a few questions about the motorhome that I hope other CI owners may be able to help with.

    1) The diner seats pull out about 10" to make a large double bed, but when you pull the seat lids outwards it leaves a 10" gap at the other end with no wood to support the cushions. I thought at first that I may be missing a couple of bits of wood to pop into the two spaces (one for each of the dnier seats) but there's no frame for the wood to sit on, so I'm a bit puzzled. Normally I'm pretty practical but this has me stumped!

    2) The waste water pipe has a connector with an internal thread about 3cm wide. I've looked on every motorhome and caravan shop and I can't find anything suitable to fit into it. I have a hose and a connector that's almost right, but it doesn't fit perfectly and I wondered what the 'proper' solution is that other CI owners use!

    3) Have any of you had ovens installed? We have a grill/oven in ours and we would like to put a small gas oven in instead. Danum leisure do it for £500 but that seems excessive for what you're getting. Has anyone used anyone else or have any advice?

    4) I've put LED bulbs in everywhere for battery saving, and they're excellent. I've also put them in the cab light so that one of us can read in there in the evening if we want. However, the Ducato seems to lower the power to the cab lights about 10 minutes after the key has been moved out of the 'power on' setting. Is there any way to change this so the cab lights get full power all the time?

    Many thanks in advance.

    Guy
     
  11. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Hi Guy, we have a few CI owners so your questions will get answered soon enough. Meanwhile welcome to the Fun, please log on often:thumb:
     
  12. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    would be even cheaper if you could convince the gas supplier it was for 'domestic use' only rather then paying 'road' fuel tax rate......i believe 'domestic' is rated at 5%vat .:thumb:
     
  13. Road Runner

    Road Runner Read Only Funster

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    :Rofl1::Laughing::Rofl1::Laughing::Rofl1:
     
  14. 656

    656 Read Only Funster

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    With regard to the Dinette turning into a double bed, there should be extra cushions to fill the gap. We keep ours at the bottom of the top bunk out of the way. I have thought about having an oven fitted, but in the cupboard under the grill is the manifold for the gas system which would need moving. Also, the EHU box and breaker would be behind the oven, so it could be a no goo from the off.

    My original write up has been changed with additional info on what changes we have made
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  15. guymid

    guymid Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for your advice Dave. We have the extra cushions, but if you lie on them then the cushions would sag down into the under seat storage area where the boiler and fresh water tanks are as there's no wood to support the cushions. Is that just how it is or am I missing something?

    Regards,

    Guy
     
  16. 656

    656 Read Only Funster

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    The table fits flush with the pump cupboard, and there should be a flap on top of both the water heater and fresh water spaces. With the ends of the seats pulled out, and the table in posistion, you should have a flat surface to put the cushions on. Oh. and the cushions on the back of the dinnette also form part of the bed.
     
  17. Tony Stark

    Tony Stark Deleted User

    Hi there we put a waste container under the waste outlet with a funel in it and open the outlet to empty into the container so we do not need to move the van.
     
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