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Hymer c class

Boo King

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A particular motorhome’s suitability for cold-weather usage will depend on its individual design rather than on its type (ie. ‘coachbuilt’, panel-van conversion or A-class).


In terms of cost, A-class motorhomes generally occupy the upper end of the marketplace, where a buyer will be looking for (and be prepared to pay for) features like effective ‘winterisation’. But there’s no guarantee that, merely because it’s an A-class design, a motorhome can remain operable in freezing conditions.


Hymer has used the “’C-Class” range-name for many years, but the models within the various ranges have often been significantly different regarding chassis-manufacturer, design and specification. This document http://tinyurl.com/ajgpsd4 includes details of 2010/2011 C-Class Hymers based on Fiat Ducato chassis, but there were Hymer C-Class motorhomes in earlier years built on a Ford Transit base.


You’ll note that an option for 2010/2011 C-Class Hymers was an “Artic” package comprising an insulated/heated waste-water tank, insulated cab curtain and cover and an uprated heater. A Hymer C-Class with the Artic package add-ons could well be considered to be better ‘winterised’ than a standard-specification A-class motorhome from another manufacturer.


If you are seeking motorhomes able to function for long periods in very cold weather (eg. on a skiing trip), you’d be best to look for designs (coachbuilt or A-class) with a double-floor that encloses the waste-water tank and drain-tap and can be heated. It’s probable that, if a motorhome is not carefully designed to begin with to be suitable for extended ‘winter use’, subsequently modifying the vehicle to make it suitable (eg. moving external water tanks into the motorhome’s interior) won’t be a realistic proposition.


You’ve undoubtedly got a budget to buy within, and quite likely dimensional limits that you’d prefer not to exceed. Extensively ‘winterised’ coachbuilt motorhomes are available, but they tend not to be cheap. If you want a vehicle no longer than, say, 6.0 metres, and no more expensive than, say, £35k, there will be little benefit in suggesting to you that a 7.0metre £60k Frankia overcab design would be ideal. If you know roughly what you want size-wise, can say how many people the vehicle will be carrying/sleeping and what you are prepared to pay, you’ll get better advice regarding possibilities.


There has been a fair amount of forum discussion on ‘winterisation’. The threads listed here http://tinyurl.com/abjox5e may be useful.

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I would add that whatever "class" the van falls within, it will not qualify as fully winterised, whatever its manufacturer's claims, unless the fresh water tank, the waste water tank, all water and drainage runs, and all heater runs, are inboard. That is to say, that none are mounted, or run, beneath the van floor. Many vans have underslung waste tanks that are equipped with heaters, some also insulated, but those heaters will only function when the van is connected to mains, or is being driven. Stick these on an Alpine aire (no 24 hour electricity) in winter, and the waste water, if allowed to accumulate, will eventually (and possibly quite quickly) freeze. Some UK made vans claim full winterisation, while having underslung fresh water tanks (again usually insulated) with heaters to prevent freezing. Quite a number of these also have water, heater, or drainage runs beneath the floor. It is a matter of opinion whether these can reasonably claim to be winterised (IMO, not) but suitable for skiing on Alpine sites/aires they are, again IMO, most certainly not. They may survive, but if the location is exposed, and you get a real howling blizzard at -25C, you will be liable to have the odd problem!


As Derek says above, seek out vans with double floors, with all wet services contained within the floor void. Look also for "wet" heating systems (Alde etc) that cope better (more even heat distribution) with very low external temperatures.


Whatever type of van you get, the cab windows and windscreen will be its Achilles heel, as they are invariably single glazed. You will need a high quality, I would suggest French (Soplair or similar) or German (Hindermann or similar) made (because that is where the Alps are!), insulated external windscreen cover - if possible one that extends to the ground, so that the relatively poorly insulated cab doors and engine bay bulkhead gain some protection as well. They aren't cheap, but they are made for such extreme conditions by those familiar with them.


Don't forget to research gas supply options, and 12V battery capacity problems, as well. If you will stay off campsites, you will need to be sure both will be adequate. You will be liable to use gas at much higher volumes than you expect, so large reservoirs will be essential (you can't necessarily decamp for more gas if the roads are snowbound), and if the battery goes flat, nothing else will work unless you run the engine. Potentially serious if blocked roads prevent you heading down to warmer altitudes.

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I reckon I spend more time in the alps during the winter than most but would not even consider using a van for skiing, you need to be very brave or 'a few wickets short of a full innings'. Today am off shopping so no skiing but I needed my 4x4 just to make the road after the two feet of new snow that fell yesterday, nightmare in a van. However as you have not said what you intend using the van for how much winterisation you need will vary a lot. It has already been covered by Derek and Brian pretty well if you are indeed intending to go skiing in it As an example my last van, a 2008 Swift Sundance coped very well down to about -3 with just heaters in the underslung but insulated tanks and remained very warm inside but I do not mess around with aires at this time and always have hookup, mre information on what you do is needed to give much precise advice.
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