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Some thoghts on downsizing
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userDon Madge
Posted: 5 January 2007 3:26 PM
Subject: Some thoghts on downsizing
 


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Location: Rustington, West Sussex


SOME THOUGHTS ON DOWNSIZING

Thinking about downsizing? Four years ago due to ill health I could not pass the over 70 medical and we had to downsize from our A class Laika Ecovip 400i (4200 kg M.A.M.).

We had had the Laika for two years and had fitted it out for winter touring. Extras we had fitted were two sixty litre LPG tanks for domestic use, a sixty watt solar panel and a Sporty Trailers aluminum back box. As standard the Laika had a 135 litre fridge/freezer, 115 litre fresh water tank, 140 litre waste water tank and a marine toilet of 52 litre capacity. We had just got the van sorted to our satisfaction when we had to part with it.

We usually wintered away for four or five months (Jan - May) then an Autumn trip (late Aug - mid Nov) usually seven/eight months continental touring in a year. We had spent Jan - April 2002 in Turkey and returned home via Rhodes, Patras and Venice. The Laika was easy to drive, very spacious to live in and the only drawbacks we found during this extensive trip were difficulties in parking and the impossibility to take it down extremely narrow difficult roads to visit isolated ancient sites.

The search then started for a replacement motorhome, two single beds with a reasonable payload. It was a lot harder than we thought it would be. It could not be above 3500kg M.A.M.and we fancied a low profile coachbuilt but on most the payloads were inadequate for our needs. Some payloads were only 250 - 300 kg and we were still looking at fairly large motorhomes.

We then started to look at LWB high top vans and after much thought and deliberation we settled for the Timberland Freedom 11 on the LWB Fiat Ducato with a payload of approx 500 kg. We were very apprehensive about laying out over £38,000 and having all our plans go pear shaped. We spent a great
deal of time and thought before placing an order for the van.

Other vans we considered were the Autosleeper Dueto but this dropped out of contention when we discovered that they were now built on the MWB instead of the LWB chassis. We also considered the Murvi but as they are built in Devon and we live in Yorkshire we decided it was too far to travel if any problems
arose and it's layout meant we could not have a back box. Another contender was IH Campers at Ferrybridge. They had very good product and offered to build to our specification but Timberland got the nod as they had the two single bed layout we wanted on the production line when we visited the works.

The Timberland has all the same facilities that we had on the Laika. The toilet/shower area is smaller but still as good as many coachbuilts. The cooking facilities are actually better with a small full domestic cooker.
The fresh/waste water tanks are smaller but we don't find this a problem. In addition we carry four eight litre water containers for tea/coffee making. We also prefer to fill the sixty litre fresh water tank with these - no long hoses which are often inconvenient any way.

Our hobby of chasing the winter sun often means travelling through cold weather before finding the sun. Before the Laika having enough LPG for cooking, heating and the fridge was always a major problem.

We chose to have the optional Eberspacher diesel heater fitted at Timberland and later had a MTH Autogas 13kg refillable gas bottle with an external filler installed. This solved all the heating and LPG problems. Our sixty watt solar panel was fixed on the roof, this keeps the two leisure batteries and the engine battery topped up when not on the move.

Storage is down from the Laika but we still found room for all the essentials. It wasn't easy but we got there in the end. Sporty Trailers manufactured us a back box which hangs on the rear door which takes
care of the loungers and camping equipment.

The main thing we had to come to terms with was the downsizing of the fridge/freezer from 135 litres to 60 litres (I'm allowed one cold beer at a time now) it just means you have to shop more frequently. This is not a
problem these days even in Turkey/Greece /Morocco. Large supermarkets are fairly frequent and even small village shops are much better stocked than they used to be and local markets are good.

General storage had to be juggled until it was right. The main thing being not to take anything not strictly essential (no ballgown or tuxedo). One of our main concerns was the fact that we might be falling over one another all the time. With a bit of thought and cooperation it never happened. Seating is comfortable and we can both lounge with feet up. Sleeping is also comfortable with still room to visit the loo and make tea.

If you are thinking of downsizing do your homework first. Sort out your major priorities and look at all the options. If you get It wrong it can be a very expensive mistake. It was forced upon us but now we feel it's done us a favour. It's almost halved our fuel bill, reduced our ferry crossings and we have parked and visited places we would not have thought possible in the past. So our freedom has increased.

A five month tour of Turkey, Italy, Sardinia, Corsica and Austria went quickly without a hitch and all we could say about it was - this is even better than it used to be!!!
userRoyH
Posted: 5 January 2007 5:37 PM
Subject: RE: Some thoghts on downsizing
 
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Location: West Berkshire


Hello Don,
Very helpful thoughts and glad it all worked out for you. We are thinking of changing car for small motorhome as only vehicle. Did you consider the Trigano Tribute and if so are you willing to reveal your thoughts on this.
Happy travelling 2007.
userDon Madge
Posted: 6 January 2007 12:47 PM
Subject: RE: Some thoghts on downsizing
 


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Posts: 1869
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Location: Rustington, West Sussex


RoyH - 2007-01-05 5:37 PM

Hello Don,
Very helpful thoughts and glad it all worked out for you. We are thinking of changing car for small motorhome as only vehicle. Did you consider the Trigano Tribute and if so are you willing to reveal your thoughts on this.
Happy travelling 2007.


Hi Roy,

Downsizing was the best move we ever made, not that we had any choice.

We did look at the Tribute but were not impressed by the overall build quality but the price reflected that. Also we later found out that it is impossible to remove the fridge from the van without stripping out a lot of the furniture. Fortunately the fridge can be serviced from the out side of the van. We have met two Tribute owners on our travels and both were very unhappy with the condition of their vehicles, one we met in Portugal had driven straight from the UK with a new van and the interior was coming apart.

We spend about eight months of the year in the van so we needed a van that would take that kind of use. We chose the Timberland as they are close at hand and the van has stood up to over three years of very hard use, we did over 42,000 in under three years.

Don

userRoyH
Posted: 7 January 2007 7:53 PM
Subject: RE: Some thoghts on downsizing
 
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Location: West Berkshire


Thanks for the the reply Don. They do seem rather cheap and I know that you get what you pay for. John Ruskin said "If you buy the cheapest thing you should put in something to pay for the fact that it won't do what you want so you would have had enough to pay more for the thing which will do what you want" or something like that!
userMacMad
Posted: 18 January 2007 8:01 PM
Subject: RE: Some thoghts on downsizing
 
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Posts: 20

Location: Cumbria


"Other vans we considered were the Autosleeper Dueto but this dropped out of contention when we discovered that they were now built on the MWB instead of the LWB chassis."

Don,
thanks for this piece about downsizing which I found most interesting and informative. I have just posted a new thread which links in to a degree (which van conversion)

As I have said in the thread I quite like the Duetto, can you explain why you wrote as above? Is the MWB vehicle smaller or simply not good to drive?

macmad
usertwooks
Posted: 18 January 2007 9:21 PM
Subject: RE: Some thoghts on downsizing
 


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A brilliant quote [at the risk of going totally OT]

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little.

When you pay too much, you lose a little money.

When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a

little and getting a lot – it can’t be done.

If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run.

And if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

John Ruskin, 1819–1900

userRoyH
Posted: 19 January 2007 10:31 PM
Subject: RE: Some thoghts on downsizing
 
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Posts: 286
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Location: West Berkshire


Thanks Twooks. Used to have it on the office wall but retired too long to remember it word for word.
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