Ground clearance

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by Phil56, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. Phil56

    Phil56 Read Only Funster

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    Still searching for the ideal motorhome for a year in Europe/Morocco with self, wife and dog! Following advice on this forum I've drawn up my list of essential and desirable specs and have spent hours wandering around dealers looking at different types of van. Seen several that almost fit the bill - but, I guess like everything, it all seems to involve compromise. Two in particular seem OK. One was a Hymer A Class. But, to my untutored eye, it had almost no ground clearance beneath the van. The end of the exhaust was probably no more than an inch off the deck, and the rest of the van not much higher. I'm told it is because it has a 'double' floor for insulation purposes. But I'm not sure you could take this anywhere off a black top road; could even be a struggle to get onto campsites, I think. Another van had better ground clearance but had a large garage (which we want) with a huge (it seemed to me) overhang at the rear. I'm not even sure you could get it up a ramp to go on a ferry without the back of the van grounding.
    That said, the people who design and make these things must know what they are doing. Is ground clearance something I should be worrying about? Maybe I am getting too stressed about going to Morocco? We don't intend to go wadi bashing, but it would be good to be able to access wild camping spots without leaving the exhaust and half the bottom behind.
    I am new to this (first MH). Should I forget about ground clearance? Is it a non-issue?
    Thanks,
    Phil
     
  2. WillH

    WillH Funster

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    Never really thought about clearance. We get the occasional 'ding' from our exhaust tailpipe at the side. especially in car parks but never had a problem. Apart from the exhaust I can generally crawl anywhere I need underneath, never bashed a tank either come to think of it.

    Rgds
    Bill
     
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  3. Phil56

    Phil56 Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Bill. Should have said that the other van under consideration is a Swift Sundance 630G.
     
  4. Wyaye wires

    Wyaye wires

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    We have a Burstner Elegance 821i with a large overhang, so like our previous van we had air suspension fitted for ferry ramps etc. Inflate and no problems, so far! :BigGrin:
    Biggest problem I've found, on rough ground, is that being front wheel drive you can get 'beached' :Blush: It happened in our previous van and again in Ireland with this one. :Blush:

    But don't tell Laneside.:helpsos: That's how I came to be known as 'Tow Truck Freeman' :Rofl1:
     
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  5. laneside

    laneside Funster

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    Too late Howie I have seen it :Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
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  6. Wyaye wires

    Wyaye wires

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    BU**ER. :BigGrin:
     
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  7. funflair

    funflair Funster Life Member

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    We have loads of ground clearance I can crawl underneath without jack no problem, generally you get more when the MH is built on RWD chassis, but then the other side of that is that the vehicle is quite hight. But you are right some do look very close to the ground.

    Martin
     
  8. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    To echo the previous post, we are RWD and have good clearance. Look out for Mercedes:thumb:
     
  9. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    I agree that the ground clearance on some motorhomes look a bit on the 'mean side'. This is particularly the case with double-floored A-class vans built on the Alko 'bolt-on' chassis. It is noticeable in the case of the more recent B-SL (A-class) Hymers on a Fiat/Alko chassis. I have never heard of particular problems, but I can imagine one would not want to park over long dry grass in case of fire, and they might 'ground' on bumps.
    As others have said, a RWD chassis will tend to have more ground clearance as there is only a single floor built above the original vehicle's chassis. The Alko system is an aluminium box frame with a floor above and below.
    My Hymer Starline (Merc RWD chassis) has loads of ground clearance - I can crawl around underneath without putting it on ramps, although it seems to be getting a tighter fit as the years go by (I'm less flexible, not larger).
    If you like the look of a Hymer A-class (called B-klasse) look for a B-Starline (or an S-class if affordable) - ideally pre-2006 as the earlier ones were very well made. Don't let anyone tell you that a single-floored Starline is not well winterised - they are! The waste tank is fully insulated and heated by the Truma warm air system; the fresh water tank is inboard. If you want a garage model, there are three Starlines that might suit: a B630 (like mine) at 6.41 metres; a B680 or B700 at 7.2 metres. The B680 is a longer version of the B630 layout (L-shaped settee, rear double bed over garage and front pull-down bed, whilst the B700 is a so-called 'Bar layout' with a third captain's chair behind a bar-table in the lounge area - front and rear bed layout is the same in all three.
     
  10. Manic

    Manic Funster

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    We have no problem with ground clearance on our 2001 Hymer,ours is on the fiat chassis and not double floor. As you say the Alco chassis double floor hymers are low compared to fiat chassis.
     
  11. Coolbeanz

    Coolbeanz Funster

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    Are you sure :Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  12. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Absolutely - my weight hasn't changed for many years. :thumb:
     
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  13. Phil56

    Phil56 Read Only Funster

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    Thanks all. Especially grateful to Jean-Luc for the advice regarding Hymers. I do like the look of the B630. It ticks a lot of our boxes: the fixed rear bed, garage, reasonable lounge being key.

    I am currently looking at a Swift Sundance 630G - a bigger beast at 7.13m. It also ticks most of the boxes, but I am getting hung up on the size of the rear overhang. It doesn't have air suspension, which I gather is a good way to firm up the ride and give a little more ground clearance to the rear. Nor does it have rear supports for when camping (if they are necessary?). As a newbie I was interested to read that although it has a cavernous garage and a large payload - you can't just load it up to the gunwales. You are likely to hit the max allowable rear axle weight long before you bulk out in the garage.

    The RWD Merc engine and chassis on the B630 sounds good to me. Anybody know of one needing a new home? Jean Luc?

    Thanks, Phillip

    PS Thank God I paid my tenner....I think I've already asked my full entitlement of questions as a non-member!
     
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  14. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Afraid not - it was our first motorhome in 2007 and we're planning to keep it for a long time yet. The B630 was available with 130 or 160 bhp engines. Most are on the 3xx chassis but a few were made on the 4xx. Depending on the engine they are designated 313/316 or 413/416 (ours is a 316 with a MAM of 3,800 kg). The larger Starlines (680/700) are on a 413/416 chassis with a MAM of 4,600 kg.
    Unfortunately, Starlines are not very common and the B630 was particularly unusual in the UK. You will see many more abroad - the Dutch seemed to be keen on them. Have a look on mobil.de for an idea of what is available overseas.
    http://www.mobile.de/?lang=en
     
  15. dulvil

    dulvil Funster

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    I have a chieftain tag ,it has hydraulic levelling with wheels at the bottom of the legs. If you bottom out you send the legs down , lifting the body up and drive away:
     
  16. Allanm

    Allanm Funster

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    Plenty of room under ours too, as I have been finding out while lagging the water tanks and pipes, because Autosleeper think we will only use the vans on warm days!
    We have a 7ft overhang and despite the Councils recent road resurfacing outside our house resulting in probably the steepest camber on a residential road anywhere, and a steep driveway, we have never been anywhere near grounding the van.

    Allan
     
  17. makems

    makems Funster Life Member

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    I have a Burstner Elegance with quite a considerable ovhang. After grounding the rear a few times getting on and off ferries I had some dolly wheels made up and fitted in Morocco for about £100. See picture.
     
  18. makems

    makems Funster Life Member

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    Second attempt at pic!
     

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  19. funflair

    funflair Funster Life Member

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    Like they fit on Concorde.
     
  20. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    Possibly moved a bit south though :Laughing:
     

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