Hi All Looking for our first camper need some advice

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by Music And Laughter, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Music And Laughter

    Music And Laughter Read Only Funster

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    Hi All We have decided to buy a small camper van, something like a high top Transit base or a Mercedes Sprinter size would be ideal as we are not used to driving big vehicles and we want something we can get through castle gates and on and off various English Heritage sites etc and our drive is not huge either.

    We have up to £15,000 to spend as its our fist one we dont want to spend a fortune and regret it, we thought if we take to it we can get a bigger/better one later if need be.

    We intend to do a lot of distance so want something really good on fuel and we want a "proper" camper rather than a van converted as presumably a ppoper camper will have all the correct ventilation and safety features.

    We would like to be able to hook up to power and it needs to have a small loo (shower would be ideal too but that would be a luxury in such a small camper I presume so the shower I am not keeping hopes up for) and a little hob and sink would be great.

    We would also like to get an awning but we can sort that out later if the one we buy doesnt have one.

    I like the idea of Ford or Mercedes engines etc as I like the way Sprinters drive and also we have Ford dealership near our home but this is not crucial as long as I can get it fixed and serviced ok etc.

    We like the idea of swivelling front seats too but again not essential, we dont want to be sleeping high up as I worry about falling... I have seen a could of transit based campers with L shape beds, that would be ok or one each side but we would like to not have to keep putting the bed up and down all the time...

    I have seen a picture of one a bed in a bigger camper that had a single both sides and a table in the middle that converted the two singles into one big bed, that would do as well.

    We are both quite big (I am 6 foot tall) and heavy too if that helps.

    Can anyone give us a few pointers or ideas where to start, we live in the Derbyshire East Midlands area.

    Thanks for reading

    S&S
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  2. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    fixed beds are great remaking a bed every day gets very tedious it was one of the reasons we did our self build as there are not many van based campers around with a fixed bed at six foot tall a transverse bed isnt going to be long enough for you
    the only vans that will go under height restrictions are definitely not going to have fixed beds mostly vw's and bongos which realy are to small for tall heavy people ,most vans will have the other features you want but i think you will have to compromise on the size to get what you want
    £15000 doesnt go far at a dealers(my self build came to that sort of money 2 years ago) but if buying privately you will need to be very carefull as there is some real rubbish out there depends on your levels of experience of buying used vehicles
     
  3. Music And Laughter

    Music And Laughter Read Only Funster

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    We know we can get a high top long wheel base sprinter in and out of the places we need to go but yes I see what you mean about the L shape bed configuration ones, I just asked and the missus is 5 foot 8 (thought she was taller) so perhaps she could sleep on the bed that goes sideways...

    I dont like the idea of sleeping too high up either as I once fell out of a high bed in an old Comma and vowed never to sleep high up again.

    We can stretch to more money we were just thinking of getting something in that price range first off.
     
  4. Gooney

    Gooney Funster

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    That's quite a shopping list you have there M&L, have you considered Premier Inns?:Laughing:
     
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  5. Music And Laughter

    Music And Laughter Read Only Funster

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    Dont think they do very good MPG do they ?

    We have seen a few transit based ones on ebay that look like they fit the bill but thought we might get some constructive advice on a forum and the blurb said the people on here were really helpful...

    Looking at some other threads I think a Ford base might be the best way to go rather than a Mercedes sprinter base as I dont want the electronic engine managements faults I have read about and the Ford dealer is only up the road from us, Mercedes is an hours drive. I have a fault code reader and I am an ex vehicle technician but I never worked on Diesels.

    Theres a transit "autosleeper" 4 berth on ebay for £14000 that looks perfect but we know nothing about them, it seems to have everything we were after and a lot more besides, we arent going to buy that one as this is just the start of our research but we have decided winter is the best time to get a bargain.
     
  6. sedge

    sedge Funster

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    Well - why don't you make a list of dealers within striking distance then see what they have in stock, take yourselves there and have a look at em all, which would include lying on the beds, going in the bathroom and sitting on the loo, if it has a shower go in it, shut the screen and see if you can wash - sit on all the seats, try passing one other when one is washing up or at the cooker - play living in em.

    We played house in one just the other day LOL. Dealer opened it up, put the lights and heating on (it was on hook-up) then brought us 2 cups of coffee, then got out, shut the door and Went Away.

    We put roasts in and out of the oven, we washed and dried up (but didn't drain the dishes because it took us ages to find the draining board! ROFL) Where will you put the teatowel to dry? We watched telly, we went to the loo and had a shower, we went to bed. We sat round having a conversation from every seat. We cheked to see if our folding chairs would go in a locker. We slobbed on the settees and anywhere else we could recline. We played with swivelling the seats and adjusting the armrests. We didn't have a bonk, but you might have to think about that if sleeping on an L shape LOL

    Where are you going to put your dripping wet coats and umbrella? Where will you put the carving knife and the cups? The rubbish? Your shoes/wellies/flip-flops, dirty washing, clean knickers, kite, fishing tackle, Australian hat with corks round it, whatever it is you want to take with you! For all I know you're members of the Sealed Knot and it has to have room for a musket and several swords.

    See what I mean?


    It ain't just a bed and a sink. It has to be HOME.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
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  7. ukbill

    ukbill Funster

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    1st purchase would be a good damp meter to check out yourself, for damp never trust someone telling you there is no damp
    a fixed bed save time and much easier
    i would always have a separate shower not the 1's that are like a wet room meaning nothing can be left outside a cupboard toilet paper etc
    not sure what 15k will get you but in winter it is normally the best time to buy
     
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  8. Barclaybasher

    Barclaybasher Funster

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    Hi
    As suggested go to dealers and look at as many vans as possible.

    You say that you are not used to driving large vans - well I would guess that many on here had not driven a '3.5 tonne box van' until they bought their motorhome - you do get used to it and apart from the size most drive pretty much as a car - I've even seen women driving them !! (sorry ladies)
    :RollEyes:

    If you are going to travel any distance you need space, a low profile, fixed bed might be your best option - it was for us:thumb:

    Good luck looking anyway
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  9. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

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    new van

    I quite like the autosleeper ravenna . It has an overcab bed you can use for storage. L shaped lounge with lots of legroom . Easy to make up bed. Good internal storage. You can put wet coats in bathroom opposite door. Shower you can use. Well made on transit base. Ii think all the older autosleeper were well made.if dealer has one up fir 18k you'll get it for 15k. Kitchen with good oven. Not too large and good windows with lots of light. Agree that fixed bed is easier, but this may mean a longer or older van.
    Happy hunting :)
     
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  10. ubuntu1

    ubuntu1 Read Only Funster

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    van

    It took me a year of searching and researching before I bought a van. The first thing to get clear in your mind is sleeping, lounging and sleeping - what do you want to do - this will help you narrow down your search.

    Good luck.
     
  11. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    I would advise against a fixed bed in a small camper where floor space is at a premium ..

    First priory is having a decent lounging area , if this is compromised for the sake of having a fixed bed then you will soon tire of it..

    Table/dinette (Pullman style) seating is no substitute for a proper lounge.. We made that mistake and while ok in the summer when you can 'lounge' outside, come winter or in foul weather it was horrendous..

    Making up and putting down a bed each day may be a chore.. but it only takes a few minutes.. and lets be honest, what's the rush.. Also, in fine weather you can leave it made up and sit outside.. it gives you options and flexibility that a fixed bed cannot.

    Small camper, U shaped longed with table, toilet/shower and kitchen area .. that would be my choice..
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  12. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    our camper is to get away from the lifestyle we have at home which is why we dont have telly and a lounge wasnt important to us just somewhere to eat and a bed mostly if were in the van were either asleep or driving one of the reasons we like a van conersion is being able to open the big door to the world before telly in van people would be out side now some sites are like morgues once corrie comes on
     
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  13. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Each to there own.. there is no right or wrong .. the OP asked for opinions so they can make up their mind what they need/want .. Seeing it from both angles gives them more to think about ..

    but I think you misunderstood, I was also talking about a van conversion ..

    One thing I do agree on, motorhomes / campers are for touring, not pitched up for days on end.. if you want to do that then a caravan is a much better choice... but personally I don't want to be driving every day.. so when not, I do want a place to relax and read or whatever..
     
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  14. journeyman

    journeyman Read Only Funster

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    Difficult price range. You might pick up a Tribute Panel Van conversion on a 2003 plate for about 17K. Another option is an older van, such as an Auto-Sleeper Symphony(see example below). More experienced members will advise you about the quality/reputation of the van. See below:

    http://motorhomes.autotrader.co.uk/...396c6226013990e945bf2ada?featuredListing=true
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  15. maz

    maz Funster

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    Some of us even managed to drive them out of the Peterborough mire without the aid of a tractor - nuff said! :driving2:
     
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  16. Jez and Lin

    Jez and Lin Funster Life Member

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    Just to throw in another option. Buy a used Van for about 5 grand (Ebay / Auctions ?) you should be able to get a clean 5 year old Van with FSH & about 70 - 80 K miles (obviously take someone who is knowledgable in these matters if you're not) and then spend 10 grand converting it. OK you may have to do a little of the work (possibly the prep work that doesn't involve a lot of skill) and let a convertor do the rest. Many convertors will work with you & your budget to get what you want & at the end of the day you will have a Van of the type and layout you want with new appliances in it.
     
  17. Jez and Lin

    Jez and Lin Funster Life Member

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    Just as an add on to my last post, a quick look at LDV Vans on Ebay make for interesting reading. They do make a good looking conversion too. You could get a low Mileage FSH 4 year old unit with your budget. Just something to consider.
     
  18. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    You have started well and have some clear ideas about what you want but there is plenty to consider. For instance, some people love to cook in their motorhome while others may never use their oven. The number one priority for some is that they have their own shower; others only use the shower to store wet wellies and raincoats. Some love to explore every little lane and byway, often wildcamping when they find somewhere nice to park up for the night; others are happier when on a site that offers a hard standing and every facility.



    Everyone’s requirements are going to be different; the hard part is deciding what you need and then prioritising those needs. This is hard for the newcomer, but its very important. Otherwise you'll buy a van all excited but after a few trips you'll discover it’s not quite the right van for you. You gone some way toward this specifying a size, but if you have a limit on your drive length or width then know EXACTLY what it is because its easy to get carried away and buy bigger than you should!

    
Most of us make a compromise somewhere, whether on size, style or price etc. We need to find our high priority requirements first, and then all the others are a bonus. Your ideal motorhome might be on a different chassis than the Ford or Merc you think you want, I would discount the chassis at first, there are other things that are MUCH more important.

    It’s not uncommon for a motorhome to last for twenty years or more, get it right and you might not buy again for a while. However, the truth is, no matter how hard some people try to get it right first time; your first motorhome will probably not be your last. You will find fault with it, “if only this were longer, wider, softer” etc.

    Your requirements might also change over the years; the style of motorhoming you thought you would enjoy is replaced by another. For example the kids don’t accompany you anymore, or suddenly you are holidaying a lot with the grandchildren, or you find you prefer mountains to beaches. This will probably mean your present motorhome will need to be changed to something more suitable. It’s not the end of the world though; motorhomes hold their price well. So if you negotiated properly when you first purchased, then you should not lose too much and another purchase won’t be so bad after all.

    

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a motorhome, what does your licence allow, how much storage do you need, how many people will be travelling on each trip, what style of motorhome do you want etc.



    They are just a few of the major questions, but it doesn’t end there; you have to make a further array of bewildering choices such as, new or used, usable payload, age, price, make, colour, chassis type, engine type, RHD or LHD, Luton, lowline, European, American etc.

    

The biggest reason that people change motorhomes is Layout, get the layout right and you’ll keep the motorhome for longer have more fun and save a lot of money. Go to motorhome shows or large dealerships where you’ll find hundreds of vans and study the layouts, sit on sofas, lay on beds, sit on loos, imagine the whole family sat watching TV. Look at the kitchen, imagine cooking in it, where are the saucepans and cereal packets being stored. After a while, you’ll decide what suits you best, it might be a fixed bed or a U shaped lounge or an end kitchen etc.

    Once you know the layout, you’ve narrowed it down bit, there will still be hundreds to choose from, but as soon as you add in your purchase price to the mix as well as your location, you’ll be getting closer to the van you’ll end up buying. Best of luck and welcome to the fun:thumb:
     
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