Jump to content

Downsizing to panel van, advice welcomed!


Vixter

Recommended Posts

Hello folks, yes - still alive after all this time!

 

Well, the Chausson is up for sale and suddenly I'm panic-stricken when I try to imagine life without a camper! So the compromise would be a panel-van conversion that we could take on for everyday use as well as holidays.

 

Now, I'm sure that loads of you have done this already, we just need a bit of advice really. Here are some of our concerns and priorities:-

 

1) One thing that really scares me is the thought of a narrow bed. We've got used to our comfy 4'6" bed in the Chausson, what would be the best conversion for the widest bed? 2) Just got to have a little space somewhere for a Porta Potti. 3) Would need an elevating roof 4) LHD would be nice as we're in France, though we could cope with RHD if necessary. 5) Do any UK dealers offer a reasonable part-exchange service? The Chausson is RHD. 6) We would probably need something fairly recent to get European conformity to make it easier to register in France.

 

So, bearing these things in mind, what would you suggest?

 

Finally, we're hoping that a panel van (not a high-top) would squeeze under those wretched barriers that you find across the entrance to car parks. We are heartily sick of not being able to stop in places of interest (particularly in France) that have a height restriction and 'NO CAMPING CARS' sign. All we want to do is to have a nice lunch and a stroll along the beach (or whatever), we don't want to camp there. Oh, it makes me so cross! Have those of you with such campers been able to get into these car parks?

 

Apart from all of those things, of course we realise that we will have to drastically reduce all the clutter that we currently cart around with us. It can be done.....well, I hope so....YES, it WILL be done!

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest JudgeMental

If you want one that squeezes under height barriers you are limiting yourself tremendously. Just vote with you feet and go elsewhere. its only a VW with flat elevating roof that fits that narrow criteria..and they are poor value for money these days. I consider such vehicles a downsize to far :-D

 

as far beds go, my last Adria van had a 1500 wide transverse bed and new Possl van has a 1500 wide french bed...Seeing that sleeping the main occupation in a van, to compromise on the bed not an option to us. have laid on beds as show for ages with many laughing at me, same goes for toilet, lounging etc..etc......Buy in haste repent at leisure :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi JudgeMental, pleased to see you are still on the forum. We have tried 'voting with our feet' as we have often had no choice, but ended up parking a very long distance from the place we wished to visit, often in an iffy narrow backstreet.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest JudgeMental
Vixter - 2014-04-07 6:29 PM

 

Hi JudgeMental, pleased to see you are still on the forum. We have tried 'voting with our feet' as we have often had no choice, but ended up parking a very long distance from the place we wished to visit, often in an iffy narrow backstreet.

 

Thank you my dear:-D Do you cycle at all....car parks not ideal for campers, and theft can be an issue at the best of time, best to set up on a reasonably secure site/Aire and cycle or bus it around.....but surely you can always find a spot to pull in for lunch and a walk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take a look at http://wellhouseleisure.com/ford/specs-prices/. Ford-based so much better value than the VW. Bed is 1.3m. They don't say what the height is. Also the new van by Roy Wood Transits http://www.roywoodtransits.co.uk/camper-sales.htm might fit the bill. I have bought 2 vans from them and they are very helpful.

 

It's amusing that you are complaining about parking restrictions because according to some posters here France is motor-home heaven B-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have a VW Nexa with elevating roof. Yes its small and tight and I'm inclined to bump my head when going from the upright to the front cab area. Our previous van was a 6.5 Rapido that was fine and easy to use. We accept the change as part of life and adjust accordingly.

 

It suits us for what we need now which is half days out and maybe a night or two sleeping in ... but not tried that yet ... I can doss anywhere but Mrs H has a different view of comfort. When testing the bed / seating in the driveway I found it adequate. Again it suits us with hotels as an alternate if we choose to travel a distance.

 

To answer

 

1. A Nexa conversion by Bilbo. I chose this model as it seemed to have better arrangements all round.

2. The two single seats make into beds at 24 ins wide x 7ins deep x 6ft long. This narrows the walkway somewhat and with large feet I clash with the furniture. I'm the Chef and dogsbody and find the storage space good. We have a solar panel.

2. The Porta Poti has its own cupboard at the rear, a curtain is provided.

3. It has an elevating roof, and with a LWB I do find it heavy to lift. In fact the only way I can do this is to stand on the seats and rest my back against the roof using the leg muscles for lift. It works very well for my ageing body to be sure.

4. LHD. This is a UK conversion so have no idea of continental versions. 'Judgemental' Eddy says its only a Westfalia for him but I found the Bilbo far better in all respects.

5. The only UK dealer I know is Bilbo who are round the corner from us.

6. The age of van I cannot comment on, I may be fortunate but am always able choose the better option for me / us.

 

This size van is easier for shops, parking and everyday use. We don't carry any extras & no TV.

 

You say "All we want to do is to have a nice lunch and a stroll along the beach (or whatever), we don't want to camp there" That is exactly how we use ours.

 

We've experienced many sides of travel, from Caravan to A Class to Camper. The only comment is that we accept life as it is and get on with it.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before you do this I would really give it a try and hire something first. As has been said a van that will go under barriers is really going to restrict your choice and may be a step to far. In theory it would be nice to go everywhere a car can but with motorhomes it is all a compromise, to big, to small, to wide etc. We changed from a coach built to a 5.5mtr panel van, this van had a bed that we had to make up, took about a minute, but was fine with plenty of space. However we found the van a complete disaster, before the PVC converts scream our opinion only, and could not wait to get rid and buy another proper motorhome. For what you are looking for a Mazda Bongo should fit the bill, although not sure about registering in France, plenty of UK converters of these and in four wheel drive to.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Vixter

 

Can I ask, as your van is up for sale, was/is it the intention to replace it anyway? or were you intending to move away from "motorhoming" ?( ..and now the prospect of .."..life without a camper" (of sorts?)has prompted this query?).

 

Because If that is the case, then I wonder whether the term "Downsizing" is appropriate in this instance?.

("Downsizing" tends to conjure up images of folk trying to replicate all of the facilities, features and style of usage that they had with their of their 7-8mtr+ CB MHs, all in a sub 6mtr pvc..and then being disappointed when it doesn't always work).

 

Maybe it's better to view it as a change of direction?

 

And as you say:

 

Vixter - 2014-04-07 6:10 PM

We are heartily sick of not being able to stop in places of interest (particularly in France) that have a height restriction and 'NO CAMPING CARS' sign. All we want to do is to have a nice lunch and a stroll along the beach (or whatever), we don't want to camp there. Oh, it makes me so cross!

 

...if that is a driving factor behind this "change", then it does sound as if a smaller, less obvious, pop-roof day-van/ "Occasional Camper' type vehicle may suit your needs/wants! ...but of cause, only you can really know that... :-D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eddy - 2014-04-08 10:10 AM

 

 

To go from a Coachbuilt to something you've got to crawl around on your hands and knees like a Bongo ( with 24 mpg to boot) just to avoid the odd height barrier would personally have me reaching for a bottle of tablets,( hurrah some might say) so OP, DON'T DO IT.

Me to, however it would fit what they asked about. Incidentally a friend had one who is 6' 4", he could stand upright in it, they have a lifting roof.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Muswell - 2014-04-08 8:18 AM

 

Take a look at http://wellhouseleisure.com/ford/specs-prices/. Ford-based so much better value than the VW. Bed is 1.3m. They don't say what the height is. Also the new van by Roy Wood Transits http://www.roywoodtransits.co.uk/camper-sales.htm might fit the bill. I have bought 2 vans from them and they are very helpful.

 

I'm sure I remember reading that RWT's latest offering is actually built by Wellhouse. They've always tended to work with specialised converters for campers/motorhomes (as they used to with Horizons), because they principally deal in Ford Transits - in all their uses and forms.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I understood from Steve Wood is that they have an association with Wellhouse for the vehicles under the Wellhouse badge, but they are bringing out their own van, which is rather like the one they made for the discontinued Transit.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're clearly more up-to-date with Steve's plans than I am - it's been a while since I had any direct contact.

But on past form I'd expect either of those vans (one they build themselves, or one they put their badge on) to be quality vehicles, well worth a look by anyone downsizing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would be a little cautious of the new Transit. It's bigger (on the outside) in all dimensions when compared with similar versions of the old transit although there is less height inside. It's a fewer inches higher than the VW and Renault and the Reimo roof used by Wellhouse takes it comfortably over 2m in height so it won't slip under all height barriers.

 

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm. Happy to be proved wrong but Ford and Wellhouse seem rather coy about the height of the transit on their websites. MMM listed the Terrier as 2.07m high and Reimo (who make the roof) suggest that their conversions with the same roof are less than 2.10m high. I guess I'd get my tape measure out if I wanted to be sure it would fit under a 2.00m high height barrier.

 

If anyone has one and would like to tackle a 2.00m high barrier at speed I'd be interested to watch!

 

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vixter

 

I'm sure you will have heard this said many times but compromise is the key word. I have a AS Duetto on a Transit base and space is at an absolute premium. You have to think carefully about everything you put inside the van...."do i really need that?" Often you don't!

 

For me it's simple as i "fly solo" so don't have anyone else to worry about, but a friend of mine also has a Duetto and they are a couple plus he's disabled, so whenever i find myself grumbling about lack of space, i just think to myself if Tim and Elaine can manage....then i certainly can!

 

Two years ago i was on a site in Bavaria where my 'neighbour' had a very impressive VW conversion which was very well planned out and finished to a high professional standard. Surprisingly they were both German and 'bucked the trend' of driving around in a huge Hymer A class more usually associated with Germans!

 

I was amazed when he told me where they had the van converted.

 

A company in Shrewsbury........just 25 miles away from where i live!!

 

This is the company;

http://www.vw-conversions.com/

 

I'm not saying 'this is what you should have', but it might give you something to think about. I now actually use my Duetto for everyday use since realising how stupid it was keeping a car as well (the car did around 3k miles a year and stood doing nothing every time i was away). A Duetto will go pretty much anywhere a car will go so there was no point in having two vehicles.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, many thanks for your comments and suggestions.

 

No, we don't cycle. So I continue to look for something under 2m high. I agree that VW frequently commands a higher price, the same with cars, but often there seems to be just the edge of something special with a VW - and of course it will hold it's price when you come to sell it on.

 

Yes, buses are fine once you are settled at your site. Totally agree.

 

The Terrier looks interesting, but we are looking for secondhand. The Nexa is lovely, though the thought of sleeping on a 24" wide single bunk doesn't appeal. However we are over in UK in May and will be passing quite close to Bilbo's so may call in and have a look at their conversions.

 

I agree, hiring is a brilliant idea.

 

Pepe63, well - 'Change of Direction' would be a reasonable description. Priorities have changed I suppose, we are retired now and the big Annual Holiday has been replaced by several shorter breaks with visits to see the grandchildren etc in between. I rarely cook in the van now, we eat out most days, so ovens and grills are of little interest. The big fridge in the Chausson just gets filled up with beer and wine....

 

Clearly we would have to actually get the tape measure out to check the precise height of anything we look at, some of these sizes quoted by the manufacturers/ sellers seem rather 'loose'.

 

JM, thanks for the links. The Westfalia California is always going to be a favourite for me. Smart, standard layout but how wide would the bed be?

 

Yes, of course we will have to totally rethink our style of camping if we change. No clutter, no TV. It would be like a new start, and I like the thought of the 'back to basics' approach.

 

Thanks again to you all, you have bump-started my thought process and a lot of research can be done on the internet.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest JudgeMental

we managed for 7 years with raising roof Westfalia and that was with 2 young children. we had a westfalia awning and a westfalia bag on bike rack for all the outside stuff. we loved it. both rock and roll bed and in roof bed very comfortable..I would say the bed 4/4.6 wide but thats a guess. Crazy prices in the UK, buy in Europe....

 

Beauty of a VW....you can dispense with a car, it really is a multi purpose vehicle...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...