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Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
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userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 10:27 AM
Subject: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Hi,

I am thinking of buying a motorhome but it has a crack in the roof (see photo). The motorhome had a bump which caused some damage which the seller has had repaired. The seller has said there is no damp and I tend to believe him. He appears to be a genuine guy. Any thoughts on the long terms risks and if a more permanent repair can be done and the likely cost? Can this sort of damage creep / extend?

BTW, the motorhome is 2005. The owner has his own MOT station and service station but this is his motorhome, he is not a trader. Its low mileage (circa 20k) and the engine looks new. The underside / chassis of the motorhome has been recently sealed and also looks new. Mot history is excellent.

The seller advised there has been damp previously coming in from the area of the bump and also in the garage area but both are now fixed. Any thoughts would be welcome.

kind regards
userstevec176
Posted: 4 April 2021 12:12 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Has lots to offer

Posts: 452
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Location: Nr Attleborough, Norfolk. 2016 Rapido 665f


Yes, run away unless you want to pay for a new roof and it will cost you thousands. Who would want to buy it off you when you decide to sell it. Run away and buy something else.
My friend has an Adria and during last years hab check damp was found in the shower roof area. Further investigation found the roof had cracked around the skylight and now he's waiting for the roof to be replaced, thankfully under warranty.
userDerek Uzzell
Posted: 4 April 2021 12:56 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


5000500050005000
Location: MODERATOR - 2015 Rapido 640F LHD 2.3ltr 150bhp


It might help to know the make and model of motorhome Paul is referring to, just in case 'cosmetic' roof-cracking is a known phenomenon.

(To attach a file to a posting on these forums, the file-size MUST NOT exceed 100kb.)
userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 1:55 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Its a Burstner T615 Harmony.

Are the photos I posted visible?
user_Chris
Posted: 4 April 2021 1:59 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Liking what I've found

Posts: 54
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Location: 2000(X reg) Autosleeper Symbol Peugeot 2.0L Petrol


Paul.S - 2021-04-04 10:27 AM

The underside / chassis of the motorhome has been recently sealed and also looks new. Mot history is excellent.

kind regards

The sealant prevents a proper inspection and you would expect the MOT history to be excellent if the owner runs an MOT test centre.
userKeithl
Posted: 4 April 2021 4:19 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Lord of the posts

Posts: 5737
500050010010025
Location: Birmingham. 2004 Auto-Trail Cheyenne Mercedes 313.


No photos in either of your posts.

Keith
userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 6:40 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



hopefully photos now uploaded
userKeithl
Posted: 4 April 2021 6:53 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Lord of the posts

Posts: 5737
500050010010025
Location: Birmingham. 2004 Auto-Trail Cheyenne Mercedes 313.


Paul.S - 2021-04-04 6:40 PM

hopefully photos now uploaded

No, try reading this...
OAL Moderator - 2006-08-22 11:31 AM

Q: How do I attach a file to a forum posting?

A: The procedure for attaching a file to a forum posting is as follows:

1: Type the posting’s text into the Message box.

2: Tick the box titled "Attach a file after posting”.

3: Click the posting’s SUBMIT button.

An “Attach a file” box should now appear, When it does

4: Click on the “Choose File” button.

The response to clicking on the “Choose File” button will depend on the device you are using. But however your device (PC, Mac, tablet, phone) responds, you’ll need to identify and choose the file you want to attach. The file-name should now appear alongside the “Choose File” button. When it does

5: Click on the “Submit” button.

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6: Now click on "Return to the thread” in the “Actions” box to complete the process. (If you want to attach several files, repeat actions 4 and 5 as necessary, and then click on "Return to the thread”.)

......................................................................................................................................

THE CRITICAL THING IS TO ENSURE THAT THE SIZE OF THE FILE BEING ATTACHED DOES NOT EXCEED 100KB

Attempting to attach a fairly large file with a size exceeding 100KB may prodce the following error message

Request object error 'ASP 0104 : 80004005'

Operation not Allowed

/forums/includes/include-upload.asp, line 51

However, if the file is really large, the attachment process may fail with no error message and with “no file selected” appearing alongside the “Choose File” button.

......................................................................................................................................

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It is possible to attach other file-types provided that the file-size is no larger than 100KB. However, there is no certainty how the forums’ software will react.
userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 8:10 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Just tried adding photos again. It appears to work. The files are with the size range. So fingers crossed this time.

Edited by Paul.S 2021-04-04 8:14 PM
userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 8:20 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Getting the following error. Any thoughts?


Request object error 'ASP 0104 : 80004005'

Operation not Allowed

/forums/includes/include-upload.asp, line 51

Edited by Paul.S 2021-04-04 8:21 PM
userpelmetman
Posted: 4 April 2021 8:24 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Walks with the gods

Posts: 36313
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Location: A different planet to you


Paul.S - 2021-04-04 10:27 AM

Hi,

I am thinking of buying a motorhome but it has a crack in the roof (see photo). The motorhome had a bump which caused some damage which the seller has had repaired. The seller has said there is no damp and I tend to believe him. He appears to be a genuine guy. Any thoughts on the long terms risks and if a more permanent repair can be done and the likely cost? Can this sort of damage creep / extend?

BTW, the motorhome is 2005. The owner has his own MOT station and service station but this is his motorhome, he is not a trader. Its low mileage (circa 20k) and the engine looks new. The underside / chassis of the motorhome has been recently sealed and also looks new. Mot history is excellent.

The seller advised there has been damp previously coming in from the area of the bump and also in the garage area but both are now fixed. Any thoughts would be welcome.

kind regards


MOT history is irrelevant to the conversion part ........

That said it dosen't mean the damage has not been repaired properly........ if I were you I'd spend a few quid on a habitation inspection ...........

If the seller is genuine he wont object ........



Edited by pelmetman 2021-04-04 8:25 PM
userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 8:27 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



I'm having a nightmare with the photos
userKeithl
Posted: 4 April 2021 8:30 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Lord of the posts

Posts: 5737
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Location: Birmingham. 2004 Auto-Trail Cheyenne Mercedes 313.


Paul.S - 2021-04-04 8:27 PM

I'm having a nightmare with the photos

Paul, the error you posted implies the file size is still too large.

I'll mail you my email address and If you mail them to me I'll have a look and try to post them for you.

Keith.
userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 8:55 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



i'll try again in the morning. thanks for all your help and comments.

Edited by Paul.S 2021-04-04 8:56 PM




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userPaul.S
Posted: 4 April 2021 9:09 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Yeah, I think I've added a photo.



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(DSC_0710.JPG)



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Attachments DSC_0700.JPG (52KB - 11 downloads)
Attachments DSC_0710.JPG (90KB - 13 downloads)
userpelmetman
Posted: 4 April 2021 9:28 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Walks with the gods

Posts: 36313
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Location: A different planet to you


Paul.S - 2021-04-04 9:09 PM

Yeah, I think I've added a photo.

That's not a crack .........

That's a join......The mastic fails and needs redoing on a regular basis in my 31 years of experience with the same camper .......

The mistake many make is to put new mastic on top of old mastic which is only ever a temporary repair .......

It needs trimming and scraping back to bare roof/moulding and then new mastic applied......which will then last a few years.......If your lucky ........

The best cure I've found to prevent damp is a garage ...........

Edited by pelmetman 2021-04-04 9:52 PM
userPaul.S
Posted: 5 April 2021 6:31 AM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Hi Again,

The way the seller described the damage is that the van was driven into something at low speed and it lifted the roof. I believe the top side indicator area got caught on something. He got damp in the van as a consequence. He needed to replace some of the timber in and around the damaged area and get the roof resealed. There is a small crack that can be seen just in front of the sealant (to the left as you look at the photo). There is also a very minor crease in the side panel as shown on my second photo. This was hardly noticeable.

regards

Edited by Paul.S 2021-04-05 6:36 AM
userDerek Uzzell
Posted: 5 April 2021 8:22 AM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


5000500050005000
Location: MODERATOR - 2015 Rapido 640F LHD 2.3ltr 150bhp


I’ve tweaked Paul’s photos to make the damage clearer (revised images attached below)

I think the crease in the body’s side-panel is where I’ve 'red-arrowed' on the upper image, and the arrow on the lower image clearly shows the crack in the glass-fibre moulding of the over-cab ‘pod’.

To cause this type of damage, the accident must have applied a lot of force to the motorhome’s body near to the left-hand high-level marker light. I’d echo Stevec176’s view about walking away from this sale as there’s no certainty that the repairs will prove effective long term and (realistically) it will not be practicable to successfully address/disguise the crease in the aluminium body panel.

The motorhome’s asking-price has not been mentioned, but I note that a 2005 Burstner T615 Harmony is currently advertised for £23K on the Motorhome Depot website.

https://www.motorhomedepot.com/vehicle/burstner-harmony-t615?sold=3




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Attachments DSC_0700.JPG (150KB - 11 downloads)
Attachments DSC_0710.JPG (186KB - 8 downloads)
userPaul.S
Posted: 5 April 2021 10:47 AM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Hi all,

Thanks Derek, thats spot on in terms of the damaged areas.

I am not too bothered about cosmetic damage i.e. the crease in the side panel. In truth I didn't notice it when I viewed the motorhome even though I focused on the area quite a bit because of the roof damage. Obviously I could see it when I got home and studied the photos. I guess what I am trying to say is the crease is not too noticeable.

I am also not concerned about resale value. We would intend to keep this until the end of its life. What I don't want though is a van that is going to have long term damp problems that will require frequent and expensive repair costs / ongoing damp issues. Appreciate there are no guarantees going forward; I just don't want to spend, what to me is a large sum on money on something that already has a significant problem.

The price of the van is £19k.

regards

Edited by Paul.S 2021-04-05 10:57 AM
userKeithl
Posted: 5 April 2021 11:04 AM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Lord of the posts

Posts: 5737
500050010010025
Location: Birmingham. 2004 Auto-Trail Cheyenne Mercedes 313.


Paul,

If that damage was professionally repaired then I have to say it is the worst repair I have ever seen!

Judging by the way the sealer is finished and that the crack in the roof panel and crease on the side panel are still very visible I would question how any repairs within have been dealt with?

If you want a MH for the long run then my view would be to find one that has not suffered that sort of structural damage or you will always be waiting for the dreaded damp patch to appear!

The only exception would be if you are a very experienced DIY'er and were prepared to undertake a complete re-repair of that area yourself.

Keith.
userPaul.S
Posted: 5 April 2021 12:58 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



OK, thanks again all.

The opinions appear to be more or less unanimous - especially as I would not be competent to repair significant damage myself. I think I'll take your advice and look for something else.

Its pretty tough going trying to find anything half decent on my budget, been looking for a year now with no luck.

kind regards

userstevec176
Posted: 5 April 2021 1:39 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


Has lots to offer

Posts: 452
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Location: Nr Attleborough, Norfolk. 2016 Rapido 665f


Don't know what your budget is or what you're looking for but I spent over a year too before making my purchase. Is the reason you can't find what you want due to your expectations or just the budget, are you willing to compromise or are you just looking for the ideal van, which probably isn't out there. As I said at the beginning walk away there will be your ideal van out there somewhere, good luck.
userPaul.S
Posted: 5 April 2021 2:27 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Budget is circa £20k. We want something 6m ideally but could go a little bigger. An A class would be my ideal because we want something with a fixed bed and at 6m it would take up a lot of room if its not an A class drop down bed. We would compromise on the A class though as we were thinking of doing with the Burstner if something catches our eye. We expect to get something 20 years old for circa £20k and less than 80k mileage. It would have to have a good MOT history or least an MOT history that is not littered with corrosion. Service history would also be desirable but not necessarily dealership / garage history, a good set of receipts as evidence would probably suffice.

I have seen a Pilote which has 80k miles and is within my budget. Its 21 years old. Excellent MOT history. Some signs damp above the drop down bed but recent habitation check has come back more or less clean with some exceptions around the windows where readings just creep into the monitor category. The damp above the bed is apparently the result of a wet mattress being left when not in use. The van looks good inside, out and underneath given age. My concern is that somebody has been messing with the wiring and the cabin area looks like the inside of a BT cabinet. Any thoughts? Photos attached of damp and wiring

kind regards



Edited by Paul.S 2021-04-05 2:41 PM




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userBrian Kirby
Posted: 5 April 2021 4:26 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


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Location: East Sussex. Motorhome: Knaus Boxstar 600 Street


Paul.S - 2021-04-05 2:27 PM.............................................Some signs damp above the drop down bed but recent habitation check has come back more or less clean with some exceptions around the windows where readings just creep into the monitor category. The damp above the bed is apparently the result of a wet mattress being left when not in use. kind regards

The above worries me, particularly the comment about damp above the bed being the result of a wet mattress being left in the van. In the absence of further information to explain how this might have happened, I doesn't ring true. First, unless present in an absorbent substance, water naturally migrates down - gravity and all that! Is this actual damp, or just mould resulting from excess humidity created by the wet mattress? Second, how did the mattress get wet? Folk don't usually leave them outside! I can't see a rooflight above the bed in your picture, but there seems to be an odd joint cover strip towards the top of the picture. I also gain the impression that the headlining is loose in some areas. This may be due to condensation on the underside of the cab roof, possibly indicating inadequate insulation in this area.

A class vans tend to sell at a premium, so you are looking for an originally expensive van in a price range where conventional coachbuilts may give better value. The age range imposed by the budget means that almost anything you can find will come from an era when almost all vans were constructed on a timber frame, and many had plywood floors. Any level of water ingress over that time is liable to have produced rot in the frames, so the integrity of all external seams is critical to durability. The external seams are invariably either pointed with, or bedded, onto sealants. There were excellent construction sealants available 20 years ago, but the motorhome and caravan (from which the construction techniques were developed) industry did not, generally, use them. The sealants favoured then tended to be fairly low tech "mastics" that deteriorate over time from UV light and thermal cycling - just what one wants on a roof!!! Also, the joints themselves tend to be poorly designed (if at all!!), amounting to little more than two differing materials, frequently GRP and sheet aluminium (which have differing rates of thermal expansion to induce physical stress in the sealant) just bodged together as shown in your pictures of the Burstner roof.

So, as Pelmetman says above, the sealants need to be replaced periodically to keep the seams weathertight.

If you want a van, and are constrained to 20 year old vans, you will need good general DiY skills if you want to avoid having to pay commercial rates for repairs and maintenance. All motorhomes are assembled by hand, meaning that the quality of assembly will vary. A 20 year motorhomes may be as sound as a bell, riddled with leaks and rot, or anything between. If regularly serviced, the mechanical components should be sound - with the possible exception of the Ducato gearboxes of that era that were prone to water ingress leading to premature failure. There were also numerous problems with the 5th gear resulting from a 4 speed box having been adapted to 5 gears by adding an "extension" in a way that left 5th gear short of lubrication, causing premature wear. It was a fairly easy (even DiY) fix, and I think there may have been a kit of bits to do it, but I have no idea whether the parts (basically a new 5th gear) are still available.

The problem is that the base vans on which motorhomes were (and are) built are engineered for a short brutal life during which they will cover intergalactic mileages - and not for posterity! As others have said, you are looking for a rare bird. It is almost certainly there, but it will take a lot of sniffing out, and a knowledgeable eye, to identify it when you see it.

People tend to buy these vehicles when they are thinking of, or have, retired. As they age they tend to hang onto the van - in case - so the vans spend increasing time just standing as the years slide by, until the point at which their owners realise they aren't going to be able to use them further and decide to sell. Fresh eyes will then see the un-noticed deterioration that has taken place while the van was standing - just in case.

No old vehicle is cheap to keep running, and old motorhomes, with their beds, washrooms, toilets, fridges, water and space heaters, electrical systems (12V and 230V), habitation and starter batteries, water tanks and pumps, are a lot more complicated than almost any other type of vehicle. To this mix must be added that spare parts for anything installed by the converter will almost certainly now be out of production, leaving specialised scrap dealers as the only sources for certain items.

I probably sound by now as though I'm trying to put you off, which is not at all the case! What I'm trying to say is that from what you have posted to date, I gain the impression that you may be thinking that you can by a "golden oldie" and then run it on a shoestring. You may be lucky in finding the golden oldie, but I think you are likely to be be sorely disabused over the "running it on a shoestring" bit. Motorhomes, largely because of their complexity, but also because they are not built to last 20 or more years (they are built primarily to sell - for which they must look appealing above all else), but just long enough to keep the warranty claims under a commercially acceptable level! So, cynic that I am, I think you should be prepared for relative high maintenance costs that will arise when the van thinks appropriate, and never when you think convenient.

That is just me. I'm sure others will put forward alternative, and probably more constructive (), views. Good luck in your search, and proceed with caution.
userPaul.S
Posted: 5 April 2021 6:04 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Having a look around

Posts: 20



Hi Brian,

Thank you for taking the time to provide such a detailed response. Definitely lots of food for thought.

Out of interest and given the obvious depth of knowledge you have, what kind of budget do you think is needed to buy something that is likely to require less maintenance. Whats age do you think we should be considering and what sort of mileage?

We were initially looking for something more expensive but got put off by the electric vehicle conundrum. While I understand you will still be able to trade diesel vans after 2030, there is the concern about the impact on value and also what the government could do with tax to get them off the roads.

Our £20k budget was based on a figure that we felt we would need no return on and was hoping it would give is circa 7 years motorhoming. If we go for something more expensive we would need a return to fit in with our retirement plan; hence our dilemma. I never though it would be maintenance free, but your response has really made me think.

I guess we are buying at the worst possible time with Covid stay-cations where it appears that everyone is after a caravan or motorhome to facilitate self contained holidays.

Further thoughts from you and everyone else would be very much appreciated.

kind regards
userBruceM
Posted: 5 April 2021 7:31 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Pillar of the forums

Posts: 723
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Location: Kent - Dethleffs 5830 Esprit - LHD


You’ve done well to walk away.

I think that if you’re looking to purchase an older A Class then I suggest you first give careful consideration to the manufacturer and focus in on the ones that have a reputation for longevity. You’re quite right that now is not an ideal time to buy but then you may hit lucky so keep monitoring the market.

I went through your process a few years ago and concluded that the older German built motorhomes had a reputation for high build quality and reliability. Consequently I focussed in on Hymer and ended up purchasing a 2003 German Dethleffs – Dethleffs of course are now part of Hymer group.

I purchased privately out of preference (Ebay). I like to meet the previous owner so I can gauge how the van may have been treated, something a service history is unlikely to reveal.

My van now has only 79,000 miles on the clock so a healthy average of approaching 5,000 miles per year (excluding lockdown) and the base unit has performed faultlessly. As Brian pointed out, the base units are designed for very high mileages and rough treatment so would be expected to last a long time in a motorhoming environment if well looked after.

During ownership I’ve spent about about £1,500 on upgrading or wear and tear (upgraded solar, new batteries, new tyres, cam belt replacement, habitation cosmetics) but it’s worth bearing in mind that I’m a competent DIYer so some of the items were not third partied.

The point I’m making is that an older van can be both excellent value for money and reliable and if you can avoid using a dealership you have the potential to avoid their makeup. But choose the manufacturer carefully and budget to spend some money on it after purchase.
userdavidmac
Posted: 5 April 2021 9:44 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Gets involved

Posts: 285
100100252525
Location: Bedford Rapido 966M 3lt auto


Hi Ive just had a quick look on auto trader , motorhomes £17000-£22500. Two A class listed, a Hymer E510 £18000 1997 Hymers were well built at that time, the other a Mirage 5000 , 2004 at £22000. I had an AutoSleeper Luxor which is a Mirage 6000 with a different badge, very well made motorhome
Regards David
userDerek Uzzell
Posted: 6 April 2021 8:36 AM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


5000500050005000
Location: MODERATOR - 2015 Rapido 640F LHD 2.3ltr 150bhp


If this is the AutoTrader Hymer E510 advert

https://www.autotrader.co.uk/motorhome-details/202103290733026?advertising-location=at_motorhomes

the motorhome is left-hand-drive.

(Both it and the Mirage 5000 have ‘advisories' on their most recent MOT history - though that’s not particularly surprising for vehicles of that age.)
userrajohno
Posted: 6 April 2021 10:13 AM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 
Liking what I've found

Posts: 63
2525
Location: Portland, Dorset/ 1995 Elddis Eclipse 2.ltr petrol


Do not be afraid of older vehicles, However have a mechanical inspection done before purchase, someone like the AA are reliable. with a report you can the asses if the saving on buying an older vehicle will be soaked up on repairs (if any) and parts. Also consider the seller having the MH habitation checked and gas certified before purchase.
I bought a 1995 MH with the expectation of having work done on both mechanical's and habitation, however the cost has been minimal, having replaced 2 cassette blinds and a roof light and habitation battery, set of spark plugs (its a petrol) and new anti-roll-bar drop links and bushes, anything else I have done was not essential but just brought up to a nicer living standard.

I paid £5200 for the MH bought privately from someone wanting it off his drive (His wife didn't like it apparently)with 44,000 miles on the clock, the previous owner had the MH fully serviced including a cambelt change and the above essentials costing about £280 all together (did the work myself so no labour charges). total cost was still less than £6000 all in (ins ved etc)in the first year.

Good luck in your search, I hope you find what you are looking for.
userBrian Kirby
Posted: 6 April 2021 1:16 PM
Subject: RE: Roof Crack Help / Advice needed
 


500050005000200010005001001001001002525
Location: East Sussex. Motorhome: Knaus Boxstar 600 Street


Paul.S - 2021-04-05 6:04 PM
Hi Brian,
Thank you for taking the time to provide such a detailed response. Definitely lots of food for thought.
Out of interest and given the obvious depth of knowledge you have, what kind of budget do you think is needed to buy something that is likely to require less maintenance. Whats age do you think we should be considering and what sort of mileage?
We were initially looking for something more expensive but got put off by the electric vehicle conundrum. While I understand you will still be able to trade diesel vans after 2030, there is the concern about the impact on value and also what the government could do with tax to get them off the roads.
Our £20k budget was based on a figure that we felt we would need no return on and was hoping it would give is circa 7 years motorhoming. If we go for something more expensive we would need a return to fit in with our retirement plan; hence our dilemma. I never though it would be maintenance free, but your response has really made me think.
I guess we are buying at the worst possible time with Covid stay-cations where it appears that everyone is after a caravan or motorhome to facilitate self contained holidays.
Further thoughts from you and everyone else would be very much appreciated.
kind regards

Thank you for your kind words, Paul - but I'm afraid you credit me with far too much knowledge! All I know is what I've picked up from owning motorhomes since 2005. My observations are generalised, and I have no useful knowledge of vans before 2005, saving that those much earlier than that date had certain problems that I think make them higher risk. I think I can best identify the potential problems, apart from the construction techniques used (which have changed over time), as follows.

By far the most popular base vehicle has been the Fiat Ducato. It is therefore more likely that what you will find on the market will be Fiat based. Its SEVEL siblings, Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay, are made in the same factory in Italy, but have PSA power trains in lieu of Fiat (in fact, the Fiat engines are Iveco units, described to me by a French dealer from whom we hired a van before purchase, as a "proper little truck engine"). The PSA engines are modified car engines and some consider them inferior for that reason. My experience is limited to three Fiat based vans (Burstner, Hymer, and Knaus) and one Ford Transit based (Hobby). I cannot therefore comment at all on the Renault Master or Mercedes Sprinter bases, or the odd, rather rare, VW Crafter base (basically the same as the Sprinter but with VW mechanicals).

As previously, they are all designed for high mileages by uncaring drivers, and to spend their time on the road and not in the workshop. I think the best overall comment is that they are all tough and reliable - providing they are serviced as stipulated - but they are all machines so can, and do, go wrong. The fault with the Fiats that seems to have dogged them consistently until the introduction of the X290 (current) iteration, is water ingress into the engine bay. This has painfully slowly been addressed at each facelift etc, but I don't think has ever been fully eradicated. The simple truth is that for a commercial vehicle a bit of water is soon evaporated off, whereas for a motorhome it tends to sit and accumulate. Personal view, but I'd avoid anything before the 2002 "facelift" or with the 2.0 JTD engine. Both the 2.3 and 2.8 JTD engines should be fine (servicing caveat!), but the 2.8 is a bit of a boozer! For gearboxes, I know the 2002 facelifted base we had with our first van had a "proper" 5 speed box, but am unclear whether this box came in with the facelift, or at some other time. The point, I think, is to avoid anything with the older, modified 4 speed box I referred to in my previous post. I also have great reservations over the Fiat Comfortmatic gearboxes with which the advantages seem to me outweighed by their added complexity and patchy performance in automatic mode. The Hymer had this box.

I don't think mileage should be a concern in and of itself. Most vans do piddling mileages and are more likely to suffer idle van syndrome that the ravages of high mileages. Dealers nearly faint when confronted with anything averaging over 5,000 miles/year as "high mileage" (well, they have to have something to beat down the trade in price! ). Do a couple of searches on this forum for clutch judder, and rusty junction, and pay particular attention to posts from "euroserv" (Nick Fisher) as he had great knowledge of the Fiat vans. A wider appreciation of the various base vehicles might be obtained from Martin Watts, who does the Vintage Vans piece in MMM. I believe you may be able to contact him through the MMM. Perhaps try ringing Warners?

To me, by far the biggest risk area is water ingress through coachbuilt body shells. Generally, but not exclusively, the Hymer group vans should be a fairly safe bet. Niesman Bischoff apparently developed the body jointing system currently in use on many, is not all, of the Hymer branded, as well as N+B branded, vans and, so far as I'm aware, this is not generally problematic. In fact, I think it is a master class on how to stick motorhome bodies together. Comments from others would be helpful here. I don't know when this technique was developed, or how widely it has been adopted across the group. It might be worth looking at a recent Hymer van to see for yourself and, if you can get the dealer to show you, have a close look at how the roof panels are jointed onto the side wall, cab, and rear, panels without creating water traps to attract standing water. Further advantage: almost no timber used with none in vulnerable locations. The floors of the vans are also underdrawn with GRP sheeting, so are not prone to rot on the underside and especially around the wheel arches as is the case with many other, especially older, vans.

So far as coachbuilt vans (including A class vans) are concerned, assembly generally involves attaching the floor to the chassis, then attaching all the fixed furniture to the floor, then installing the appliances, water pipes, electrics etc, then attaching the external walls, then the rear wall, and finally the roof and any overcab/cab end moulding to these. For this reason, relatively simple things, like removing a fridge, can become exercises only a contortionist of masochist would undertake - unless you want to take the external wall out and do the reverse of what was done in the factory! So, any hint that a major appliance may be suspect should be viewed with great suspicion. Some will be straightforward, but others will prove at the very least highly time consuming.

My final, general, thought is this. All the internal equipment is made by the likes of Dometic, Truma, Thetford etc and is reasonably reliable and replaceable (albeit at a price!). The internal fixed furniture is almost invariably photo-veneer faced MDF with plastic lippings, and the faux veneer patterns are changed almost annually for cosmetic reasons so any damage will be very difficult to eradicate. What was deemed fashionable a few years back is unlikely to be available to replace a locker door, for example, and some of the photo veneer is very easily damaged by removing anything stuck to the the surface. Some tapes stick so well the photo-veneer begins peeling from its base before the tape lets go of the photo-veneer! So, what may appear a minor surface blemish may be a pig to remedy - eyes well peeled! The rest, such as the upholstery, or internal soft furnishings (curtains etc) can be replaced by a handful of specialists at not excessive cost, but as matching fabrics are unlikely to be available, you'll probably need to do a full scale makeover to maintain harmony.

Last but not least, most shower trays are plastic of some sort, and if not fully supported are prone to crack and hence leak. As the shower tray is one of the first items to be installed, rectification by replacement is liable to involve extensive dismantling of shower room walls to free the tray. So, check the tray!!

That's erected the dartboard. Now lets see who turns up with the darts! But, realistically, if a van is on a sound base and has good service and MoT history, looks cared for inside and out, and smells fresh when entered, it should be good. Realism just dictates that just like us, the older it is, the greater the scope for time to have taken its toll, so the greater the risk that something will fail once you've bought it. In relative terms, vans are a lot more fragile than houses, and things do break and wear out, especially in the hands of heavy, or unwittingly heavy handed, owners. Hope this helps a bit.
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