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A-Class, payloads, and pros and cons of tag-axle


Ruth

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We are considering changing from a family coachbuilt to an A-Class, as the family come along less often now and we fancy more comfortable lounging and sleeping for 2 with room for the boys when they do come. Requirements are: • No more than 7 metres long • Transverse rear bed over garage • Good kitchen and washroom (large fridge/oven/separate shower) • Forward facing rear passenger seats in good lounge • Double floor and fully winterised • Good payload • Quality build and spec There aren’t many that fit the bill, most common problems being payload or very basic kitchens. The only ones that seem to need to be on tag axle to get a decent payload. We are not keen to go to tag axle, so the search continues. Meanwhile, over to you all: Pros and cons of tag axle please? Here are our thoughts for starters Pros • Supports higher payload! • More even weight distribution • Less roll on ride • Enables slightly more weight to be carried overall but also specifically in garage • More stable on site/no need for corner steadies Cons • Smaller turning circle (therefore less manouverable) • May be refused on certain sites * • Can be charged more on toll roads as it is a “give-away” that your van is heavy* • Increased fuel consumption? *How often does this happen in practice? I know it often applies to caravans as it is a ruse (especially in France) to keep out travellers, but what are peoples’ experiences of motorhomes? *I gather this is very patchy/variable/dependant on the toll-booth attendant…any one can comment further Q Would you have a tag-axle if so why? Or why not? Any other comments about A-class payloads, models etc welcome
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Guest Gordon
How about double wheel rear axle as on Merc chassis.Hymer 650,680 come to mind.These can have a "MAXI" chassis.If you check out the motorhome lists on the back pages of MMM you`ll find their carrying capacities.Loads of 740-1220kg are given and these are sometimes more than tag axled vehicles can carry. Good luck, Gordon..
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Guest Clive
Similar thoughts to Gordon. I would NOT go for a tag axle prefering twin rear wheels. Again Mercedes, then VW then IVECO then FORD in that order. With a MAXI chassis on a Fiat / Peugeot base you very little of your drive connected to road wheels. Plus you get FIAT servise and cam belts!!! Rear wheel drive with twin rears is the way to go. Personally I would not purchase a Hymer because of previous bad service from Madisons and the below par kitchens generally in Hymers. The wife insists on the "Full Monty" when it comes to cooking a baking facilities. (Now, where can we put that bread maker?)
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Guest Norma
Oh Ruth - you aren't thinking of trading in the Laika, surely? We have been trying for the last 18 months and cannot find anything to touch it. (Except for a Concorde!!!) I'm intrigued about the recommendation of the Merc chasis - the direction we would love go too. Does it not have a more spongey ride than the Fiat, or is it sturdier having the better axle?
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Guest Mel E
You've got it about right - you'll be very hard pushed to overload a tag axle, but the turning circle is awful (they are all front wheel drive, of course). I also don't like the rear overhang you get with the longer motorhomes and tag axles don't seem to solve this. Motorhomes that meet your general spec without tag axles include Rapido (French) and Frankia (German though owned by Pilote). The latter would be my choice - superbly built, that lovely slide-away table, an option of a slide out section to increase space on site and a chopice of Fiat or Merc chassis. Take a look - you will not be disappopinted.
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Guest Derek Uzzell
Ruth: How about an Esterel (see www.esterel.fr)? Esterel is the upmarket arm of Rapido, building only A-class designs on Mercedes chassis. You could have a fractionally-over 7-metre (7.13m to be exact) model on a 416CDi twinned-wheel rear-axle chassis that should give you all the payload you could realistically need. I think all your other criteria are also met, except perhaps for the double floor. These tend to go hand-in-hand with Al-Ko chassis and FWD and, as far as I'm aware, only Frankia offers a double floor on RWD A-Class (Mercedes-based) designs. Esterel prices, I'm afraid, reflect the quality. Esterels are available (in LHD or RHD) from Esterel Motorhomes of Wokingham (who also trade as Caravanes Rapido), or from Brownhills.
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Wow, what a prompt and helpful response. Thanks to all who have replied so far. Gordon, Clive and Derek: Thanks for the suggestion of twin wheel mercs. They hit the spot for most of it and are very tempting for lots of reasons, but as Derek rightly points out not on the double floor. This is important to us as it affords the best possible winterisation, but puts us in the catch 22 of fiat payloads, front wheel drives or twin axles. I don't know what the answer is at present. Frankia (yes, Mel they are lovely and the closest yet) box in their merc chassis to give a (sort of)double floor but it is "added on" and I suspect will have cold spots and heating issues aswellas not offering anything like as much storage space. The other major factor ruling it out (as well as the price...ouch) is that the forward facing seat configuration is unavailable due to the position of the gas locker. Norma: The only reason to change the Laika is the aforementioned, but like you we cannot better it at present. I keep wondering why the 2 of us are trailing round in a 6-berth van when we could have a better lounge and bed configuration, but we do love it overall. The standard spec is unbeatable compared with many where it's all add-ons and it's very thoughtful and practical in design terms. It has a payload of almost 900kg ina van of 7.13m. Also, try getting a full oven and fridge freezer in a german A-class less than 8 metres long...like Clive's missus I like my kitchen. Regards to all, Ruth p.s keep them coming, it all helps the decision making...Can you help me fund it as well?
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Guest Mike T
Hi Ruth I have been watching your posting and the reply’s given.We were in a similar situation with a 6 berth Autostratus EB that had a very low payload 460kg !! and found this was not enough with a scooter on the back of 2 people let alone 6 !! we were only just legal with very little on board for long trips .So we decided to change after spending a lot of time looking at out options we went for an A class as this was the only practical way of meeting our need’s we went for a Mirage 6.5 mt inc scooter rack with a 800kg payload well made motorvan with good size living space, full cooker and a good size fridge and all the other bit needed for long stays, all in all it fits our requirements and we are very pleased with it, is on fwd Fiat !! but I am quite happy with this.We have covered 18k in it since we purchased second hand 2years ago no problems Regards Mike T
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One other point to ponder with Fiat is the state of their finances: their accounts suggest that they are all but bankrupt. If you are going to buy a very expensive long-life asset like a motor-home it makes sense to be sure the manufacturer will still be around to provide spares etc. On the other hand, perhaps Fiat are such a large part of the Italian economy that the governemtn will not alow them to go bankrupt, and will put in as much taxpayers money as it takes to keep them afloat.
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Guest Patricia
With regards French municipal campsites and large motorhomes, a friend has been refused admission on several sites (all municipal) on the excuse that it is "against the law". Whether this is a local restriction or a national one I do not know. Does anyone else know of this recent restriction?
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