You know that feeling of anticipation/excitement you used to get as a child in the time leading up to Christmas, knowing that there will be something special for you, hoping it will be exactly what you asked Santa for? But oh how it seemed that the day would never come!
Then imagine how disappointed you would have been to get a note from the fat git that the day had been moved to over a month later because the beasts who pull the sledge were still in their stall. Well in the words of Jim Reeves ‘Welcome To My World’.
I thought by now that I would now be playing with the new toy, opening things, closing things and turning things on and off, exploring its hidden depths and making all the noises that one makes when you discover some unexpected delights. Well maybe that last bit is a bit fanciful, but you know what I mean.
It, the MH that is, was supposed to arrive late March, early April (new Reg. and all that), but hasn’t yet even gone on to the production line. I had started to get a little concerned when I read a post on the forum that mentioned that Fiat had a delay, this prompted me to contact my dealer who contacted the manufacturer who duly confirmed that there was indeed a delay.
Not happy. But in fairness to my dealer (benefit of the doubt here) I don’t think he was fully aware of the situation either and he has been as up front as I would expect any dealer to be. It seems German efficiency does not take into account Italian chaos.
So there you have it, still waiting and because of this I have not had anything much to write about since my last blog. It’s pretty hard to write a ‘Diary Of a New Motorhomer’ when you don’t possess the item about which you are writing!
Never the less, there are a few things that I can diarise about.
The final specifications for the delayed unit. I have added rear (semi) air suspension, uprated the front coil springs, EP hydraulic levelling, Alugas refillable LPG system and a tow bar, which ironically these additions in themselves have further increased the delay, in-so-much that once the dealer has possession of the MH there is a 7-10 day fit out period.
Now, as you may have surmised, all of the above are being fitted after delivery but before hand over to me, allowing these, manufacturer approved, items too form part of the total purchase cost, thus not being deemed aftermarket modifications in the event of any insurance claims.
Then there is the other stuff! As you might expect the search has been on for the necessary items that will be required prior to setting off on our travels. It could well be assumed that these, the basic things, bedding, kettle, pots, pans, cutlery etc, etc, would be quite straight forward to chose and purchase. Don’t kid yourself.
I know, from years of experience, that the choice of these kinds of purchases are best left to those highly qualified, with a vast amount of regular practice who, apparently, derive great pleasure in examining these kinds of items at every opportunity, whenever or wherever they present themselves and whether its required or not. Or so it seemed!
Now I, it seems, have developed a more than keen (but not always welcome!) interest in such things. The colour perhaps? Paternation? Design? Tog? Nope. The weight. Sad, I know and maybe I’m just taking some of the advice and suggestions on the forums to literally, but now it seems I am mentally weighing everything I pick up that may be remotely associated with a MH.
However, it seems it may be more of an issue than you would at first expect, so having made a few tentative purchases and had various discussions on these matters, it has been decided to get the minimum we feel we need to get started and to pick 'stuff' up along the way. This decision is based on what we hope will be practical advice from, and what we see with, other more experienced MH’ers.
We attended for the first time ever, the Peterborough show at which I took the opportunity to talk to the dealer from whom the new MH was purchased, after some coffee and biscuits we left feeling a little more reassured by him on the potential revised delivery date. The show was (apart from the overcooked roast dinner) worth the 2 hour plus drive (each way) for a number of reasons, suffice to say though, we enjoyed the day.
We had talked on the way up about how much nicer it may have been to be attending in a MH, being able to take a little more time to wander around, have a beer/wine, and it seems that quite a number of people do. And the dogs, we could have taken ours if we had known. There was plenty of stuff to be tempted by to purchase (I was informed the show used to be bigger), but as mentioned before the decision has been made to wait. We had a couple of interesting conversations and gleaned a little advise from some of those selling their wares.
We also, on a number of occasions, passed the ‘Fun’ stand but for various reasons decided not to introduce ourselves!! However this brings me on to what seems to be a somewhat contentious issue raised in a couple or more posts on the forum.
I will begin here by stating I am buying one, it will be the quietest type available and I will be using it as and when required (hopefully not to un-sociably). A shed load of money has been spent buying a 21st century MH with lots of mod cons, so, I mean, what’s the point of having a flushing toilet and then shitting in a bucket!!!
Enough said, for now anyway.
Hopefully my next blog will be in the very near future, on (and even perhaps from) a physically present MH.
… So far!
Its all about the waiting (even for those following my blogs) it seems and something we all have to contend with, it’s a period of time that can be frustrating but which definitely gives you the opportunity to review your decisions and choices, good and bad.
What has become most apparent is the realisation that I should have done a lot more research prior to making my purchase. No, I’m not regretting it nor am I in any doubt, at this point in time, that the make and model chosen is the right one for us. But there are certain things that anyone purchasing a new or used MH should look into.
I only became aware of the things that should be researched whilst researching items that I thought were necessary!
Within a couple weeks of placing my deposit I called the dealer and told him that I wanted the radio upgraded to include satnav and to add an external shower point.
Following on from these incisive additions and having started to look into vehicle weight and its limitations (and I’m not sure what led me down this path) one of the first items which was on my list, and still is, was upgrading the suspension to allow additional payload, then came a leveling system, also still on my list. Now a lot of time was spent reading, researching and contacting various companies, including SV Tech, and getting advice and costs.
Just side tracking for a moment and for the benefit of any complete novices like myself, www.svtech.co.uk are a company who specialise in the technical side of changing a vehicles specifications amongst which are increasing/decreasing weight allowances.
Now it is worth noting that the weight of a MH is for various reason quite important and one of the first things younger ‘newbies’ should know is that if you passed your test after 1 January 1997 the maximum allowed gross weight of your MH is 3500kg’s, after that there is a myriad of regulations to be aware of and understand.
The next thing I decided was necessary was solar panels. I wanted two but having them supplied and fitted by the manufacturers is a seriously overpriced option, so I compromised and decided on just one which means that the wiring and works are carried out during the build and covered under warranty, this then allows me, should I wish to, to have additional panel(s) fitted at a later date which can be piggybacked off the original thus, hopefully, avoiding any potential problems that may occur in respect of the integrity of the structure, fixtures and fittings.
Another thing I eventually realised is that when you buy a MH it does not seem to come with gas bottles/tanks as standard. Now this could just be new vehicles, I don’t know, but mine didn’t and it was not mentioned during the sale. I had assumed that the fact there was a gas cooker, fridge and heating built in that at the very least all the connections and adaptors etc. would be included.
One thing I was aware of was that I would need insurance. So prior to doing any real research, and my advice here is to defiantly look through the different forum threads (which initially I didn’t). I looked online and rang a company. The difficulty here is that insurers generally only tend to give quotes valid for one month or so and I was not getting my MH for at least 5 months and wasn’t sure of exactly what my requirements were and would eventually be.
We are all aware that postcodes play a big part today in the cost of insurance. This aside I had in mind to get a quote based on keeping the MH at my business premises, under cover in a locked unit, with internal and external 24 hour monitored CCTV, which is on a secure gated industrial site (one of my neighbours stores secure business data). They requested a Tracker and Thatcham alarm (things which I had already intended) and they also restricted the annual mileage to 7,000. The quote was just under a grand. Having no experience of insuring a MH I didn’t blink, made a note to shop around and moved on.
As previously alluded to, during this period of time I had started to view various forums in the hope of getting as much insight into the practical necessities of running a MH.
Here it has to be said that there is a lot of stuff going on on these forums, much of which can be confusing, not least some of the abbreviations (for us ‘newbies’ some easy to decode, others not so). Also some of the replies and advice can be somewhat in-house in nature and difficult to understand if you are new to this type of lifestyle. That said though I was starting to get it.
Now I believe that I have started to get a better insight into the world of motor homing and to become a little better acquainted with some of the major necessities. I made a few tentative posts and found them to be generally quite informative in one way or another.
As the time for delivery draws nearer I am now focused a little more on, what I believe, are the necessary items, elements and information required prior to getting on the road but even with all the research it is still all a bit daunting.
Those more experienced motor homer’s who have read the above will no doubt have opinions on the rights and wrongs of how and what I have been doing. Time will tell whether or not any of my processes where correct.
That said though both my OH (other half) and myself are becoming not a little excited at the prospect of getting on the road.
... It was a Tuesday.
As I was paying for the tickets I thought I would take advantage of my, very, recently acquired senior status and asked for 1 over 60 plus 3 adult tickets and the nice lady asked me for proof. It's well over 40 years since that occurred and I just said not to worry and paid the extra pound, reeeesult!
So with a spring in my step and all thoughs of Greasion 2000 dismissed we set off into the melee.
Blimey, for anyone who has not been before, there is so much stuff and every imaginable (and some totally un-imaginable) kind of things to see. So after a good couple of hours browsing everything, except what we had come to look at, we started at the wrong end of the exhibition, we had lunch.
Suitably and expensively but quite tastily nourished we set off in earnest to view the many and varied motorhome options. Some were good some not so and I am not really going to get into offering an opinion on any I seen as everyone has different requirements, tastes and budgets. Suffice to say I imagine if its not at the show it quite possibly dosent exist.
With so much choice on offer its hard to explain exactly what draws you to a particular manufacturer and model, but for me it was a feeling, a bit like when buying a house and the first time you walk in it feels right, hard to explain why, but it does. We had looked at and been in nearly every variation of our, all be it, small list of requirements, offered by almost all of the manufacturers and virtually nothing seemed to be doing it for me or the others.
However there was one model on the Burstner display which my Son had seen and was quite enthused with and encouraged us to look at.
Now those of you who have been to a show, like this one at the NEC, will be aware that getting into and around these motorhomes can be a bit like being in a furnished revolving door in which every segment is full of people pulling, testing, pushing, on, under or in everything, which means that it can be difficult to make a proper assessment, internally at least.
The outside, to me, looked fine, big, but not a concern (I had a class 1 HGV, now lapsed), on the other hand however was, that whilst waiting to squeez in, I had noticed the price, a good bit above what I had losely reckoned I would like to pay.
It was nice , I was impressed but we left and carried on our rounds. We discovered that there weren't many more, of the type we were interested in, left to view so we had a coffee, over which, we decided we should go back and have another look (this was that feeling thing!).
Well when we got back it was empty, so we got in and I shut the door. Now we could look at everything in relative peace and assess the whole of interior, before long we all were quite caught up in the dream of the open road and the space and comfort this vehicle would afford us.
After a while I decided to seek out a salesman and see what the deal might be should I want to purchase it, so I left the others, now with the door open, and found my man.
I will revert here to the day before we came to the show, when I thought I should have a word with my accountant about finances and the various options open to me, The outcome of which was quite positive. So it was with this knowledge in the back of my mind that I started talking.
Now I wont, at this stage in the blog name names as all sales people are lovely when dealing with a potential customer, who knows what may be my final opinion, but suffice to say he was a nice fellow.
First I start with, 'how much?' Not a bad start eh? Like I had'nt noticed the big sign outside the door! Then the, 'don't be silly, how much really?' Then the, 'what if's'. (You know, cash, finance, part ex) Then, how much for the one on diplay? - Now here is where I learnt that it is not necessarily the manufactures that are selling the goods on display but that there can be a few different dealers from all over the country on each pitch (more insight on this fact later). - So I can't buy the ex display of this guy. Back to the horse trading, and I'm caught up in the dealing, which is something I enjoy and at some stage during this process the others join me and coffee is offered and accepted. I then declare to my Wife, Son and Brother-in-law, before my foe returns, that I am going to buy this motorhome.
Now I wasn't sure at this point if their expressions and nods were those of agreement or incredulity, but my Son did state later that he didn't think I would spend as much!!
I now show my hand and declare that I'm in the market to buy and start in earnest to haggle and am doing quite well, I think, until that is, my wife steps in, and she really starts to beat him up.
It is at this point that I should state that I now see, in hind sight, that I had commited a cardinal sin and not done enough research prior to making such a large purchase. Not that I didn't know what I wanted, I did and still do, but I didn't know what I should and should not have in terms of practical optional extras, the various effects that they may or may not have and this will become more apparent futher on. But I would strongly recommend that at the very least people should read the posts made on forums before jumping in at the, very, deep end.
So the deal gets done, I'm happy, my Wife is happy, my Son is happy and the salesman is happy. My Brother-in-law, well he's smiling (or is he baring his teeth?). No, he is the one who is will tell you exactly what he thinks and the only negative that he had was it was to big for him. The only real down side is I won't get delivery until March 2015.
The paperwork comes out is completed, approved, signed, sealed, initial £3k deposit paid (a further payment of £7k to be paid once order confirmed by manufacturers) and business cards exchanged.
It turns out that the salesman is a director of the company I bought from (this clears up why some of my negotiating tactics fell on stoney ground, enough said!) It was a this point that I realised where the company was based (a bit of a trot), again the result of not enough research, all you need to do is enquire which dealer is closest to you prior to starting any negotiations, as the general consensus seems to be to pick a dealer reasonably close to you for ease of access should problems occur.
But hey, I'm an optimist, if there's a problem I can drive there and I have somewhere to stay!? Plus, at this stage anyway, I like the guy I was dealing with.
The show is over, for the day, and security are asking us to leave. We get in the car and almost imedatley I get a serious bout of buyers remorse, 'f**k, I've spent a s**t load of wonga' and seriously I kept getting waves of it for a good few days. It's like just as you make your first parachute jump, excitement, anticipation and then thinking, on the way out the door, 'bo**ox' what have I done and the abject fear of the possible consequences.
To help settle my nerves, on the following Sunday, we hit off again to the NEC, and this did help, I was able to have another good look at what I had spent my hard earned spondooolars on, chat with the salesman/director and wander round the show looking at all the bits you generally would miss when on a mission of 'just looking'!!
So now I wait and whilst doing so start to constantly read the brochure and specifications, research the cab and chassis, browse the web for as much information as is possible, watch on line videos about my type of motorhome and others and eventually find the forums.
Then I begin to see things a little clearer and the questions begin to arise and it's still only October!
... A tent, somewhere near Box Hill, woggles and ging gang goolie. Some years later, a Sherpa (works) van 4 up, double mattress in the back, weekend in Paris, only remember the too and from bits. Then a 3/4 berth caravan, 6 up! (+ 2 in the car) Ireland, only the weight kept wind from blowing us into the sea at site on Galway Bay. Static, Pagham, kids loved it, not so me, Michael Fish was wrong and almost all vans on site wiped out, except mine! RV, early 90's, UK & Ireland, loved it.
That's the early stuff and there have been various other excursions both during that time and since.
I have always loved traveling and have toured the UK and Eurpoe, along with places further afield quite extensively, however, this has been with work (my hobby job) and whilst the touring was in relative comfort, generally on a large Tourbus in the European countries, stopping and visiting places on the way was never an option ("been to many places, not really seen any").
Having been (semi) retired from this occupation for a while now I am still drawn to getting out on the road. Along with the fact that my better half loves her holidays and that we both want our Grand children to be able to experiance as many various and varied places as we can visit, the acquiring of a Motorhome 'seemed' a good option.
So there we are, October 2014.
By chance see the show at the NEC Birmingham advertised and 3 days later my wife, Son, brother-in-law and I head off up the various motorways.
We had discussed on the journey to the show what we would like with regard to style, layout and size.
My Son, who had been a mechanic to a rider who was competing in the support races of the World Supperbike Championship the previous year had various criterion. Along with some fairly fanciful expectations the one essential was a rear garage big enough for a bike. So that was the starting point. Next was capacity, enough to carry up to 3/4 adults + 2 kids. Up to this point no discussion had been had as to budget, I had an idea in my mind as to what I might expect to pay but we were only there to look!