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ILikeCake

Campervans

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Who owns one, has owned one or would like to own one?  Any tips/experiences?

I'm looking at ways of improving my work life balance.  I work long hours during the week with the odd weekend thrown in (can't really do anything about that as it's the nature of the industry I'm in).  Although I'm planning on an early retirement, or semi retirement to an easier lower paying job, it is still years away.  I love the outdoors and walking/cycling.  I'm thinking of using my car allowance at work to run a VW California.  I love the thought of being able to just pack up and disappear somewhere for the weekend and spend a week or two touring Europe every summer.  Problem is I'm typical of the tight arses on here and I'm struggling to justify the cost.

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I've owned a campervan for nearly 4 years. Love it! I only venture out in Scotland for days, weekends and odd longer trips. It's very basic but I like that aspect and it suits me find. I don't need to commute so it's my only vehicle. Just as wide as a car but slightly longer so pretty easy to park up in a lot of situations.

My ultimate ambition is to take off on a very long grand tour of the Scottish coast and Islands. The day will come when I have the opportunity to set off on that tour!

The campervan I have is a 1998 3L diesel Toyota Hiace Supercustom with 106k miles on the clock now. It was bought after a lot of research regarding longevity for reasonable outlay. My van was imported for a customer from Japan about 8 years by a local garage. It has no rust issues despite its age apart from a few small surface patches here and there on the body. The garage maintened the van until the elderly customer decided roving days were over and a static caravan was their best option.

Thats when I bought it. I haven't been disappointed. Just non expensive general maintenance so far 🤞It's automatic and great to drive IMO. It's a treat to get out with self sufficiency regarding catering.

The van is similar to this one. Mine has mirrored windows though that no one can see in and I like that.

I've never grudged the cost of this vehicle and hope to keep it running for many more years which, according to my research, is a realistic view.

IMG_0163.JPG

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Having just gone through this with friends keen to get a campervan I would say a good place to start is with the toilet/washing arrangements!

If you (or family?) need an on-board toilet and shower then the VW and similar vans are too small. If a porta-potti will suffice or you’re happy to use campsite facilities then something of that size will work for trips and also be a decent daily driver.

With work effectively paying for it, the cost of a California may not matter but it’s a VERY expensive solution in comparison to EE’s approach. You could get a very good Japanese import for a quarter of the VW price and if you should want something a little bigger then professionally converted LWB vans with shower and cassette loo are still cheaper than the VW.

Of course…..if you need to pack the surfboards and hang out at the beach, VW is the only way to go :)

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Duck said:

 

Having just gone through this with friends keen to get a campervan I would say a good place to start is with the toilet/washing arrangements!

If you (or family?) need an on-board toilet and shower then the VW and similar vans are too small. If a porta-potti will suffice or you’re happy to use campsite facilities then something of that size will work for trips and also be a decent daily driver.

With work effectively paying for it, the cost of a California may not matter but it’s a VERY expensive solution in comparison to EE’s approach. You could get a very good Japanese import for a quarter of the VW price and if you should want something a little bigger then professionally converted LWB vans with shower and cassette loo are still cheaper than the VW.

Of course…..if you need to pack the surfboards and hang out at the beach, VW is the only way to go :)

 

Yes, first point - you need to work out where you will be staying, if mainly campsites then toilet arrangements not so much of a problem, even a porta potty takes up space and there are alternatives - those gel pouch type things etc, I camped for a long duration for the fist time last year and yes using the shower blocks and toilets was a faff but not as bad as first envisaged so fine with a smaller van. Have a transporter myself and a self conversion in early stage (basically collecting the necessary parts at the moment but they are very expensive as a base van, deservedly so in a couple of respects - generally reliable and good corrosion resistance and perceived value/resale value.  Then there's the getting around a large van is more limiting - do you have a drive suitable for parking it on, are you OK with the driving a larger van and confident enough that the size won't be negative to your enjoyment/usage/utility. A smaller MWB is good in this respect, low roof height clearance will get you into many more car parks, easier to park when in town locations - somewhere were a full camper will not, and they drive and feel more like a car.  A smaller van for 2 I think is perfect with/without pop top, some can't bear being cramped without the pop top I;ve yet to decide.

Hire one for the weekend and try it out would be my route if not sure what to get, if running as car too the transporters will do that no problem but the Calis overall cost and depreciation would put me off. One advantage with the transporter is there is a huge pool of knowledge (and suppliers) where you can get the bits to do or spec your own conversion (and pool of existing vans already done). This in itself makes it the go to van for would be converters.

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Depends why you want to go for a campervan, I can see the appeal of them in terms of convenience, but I think you might find that from a practical point of view they might not be as convenient as they seem (really depends on how you use it). 

I've got one of these

http://www.preloved.co.uk/adverts/show/116872998/classic-eriba-pan-o-1989-caravan.html?link=%2Fsearch%3Fkeyword%3Deriba%2Bpan%26sectionId%3D3527%26advertType%3Dforsale

Unlike a regular caravan they are rock solid, built on an aluminum frame and body so lasts decades as opposed to traditional caravan which has a life of 10 years or less. 

They are small and compact, so easy to store when not in use (will fit in an average garage) and also very easy to tow (you forget it's on the back most of the time). 

For me it's the best of both worlds really, easy to maneuver and store but doesn't come with the expense of a campervan, I'd love one but I couldn't justify the cost of one of those new, nor would I want the mechanical hassle of an older one. The Eriba is a happy medium for me. 

The one posted is an older one, the newer ones are bigger have more mod cons and come with a relevant price tag. But as I say you would be mental to buy an old caravan usually but not one of these. 

I got mine last year and used it loads, more than had my moneys worth out of it. 

 

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There`s far better out there for the money  than the VW California  £60 K  ish ?

I would start with Wesfalia   or Hymer  

It`s also worth looking here for those brands if you don`t mind a left hooker https://suchen.mobile.de/fahrzeuge/search.html?lang=en&vc=Motorhome

Edited by Long time lurking

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Calling on the dosbods electrical experts! This is camping related but not campervans 😁

I will be spending some winter weekends working then sleeping over in my wood and have decided to make a camping light utilising two 12v spotlights - one 6w and one 9w so that I can toggle between the two or have both on for when I'm cooking on the BBQ. I have a 12v 6800mAh Lithium-ion battery pack. With both the lights on that will equate to 1.25A - can the battery handle this discharge rate without exploding? 

I really appreciate any help with this as I don't fancy sitting alone in the dark in the middle of nowhere 😁

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12 minutes ago, Chewing Grass said:

Yes, with both on it will run for 5 hours which is only a moderate discharge rate.

I'm assuming the lamps are LED ones.

Great! Yes they are LED's - I brought a couple of waterproof LED spotlights to do the job. I usually just stay over for the night if I'm there tidying up so five hours will be more than enough time :-)

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Should be no problem at all.

As a backup maybe  pick up some poundland USB fairy lights - and some of the USB rechargeable packs. Makes nice low level lighting, very light and compact.

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On 16/11/2017 at 18:14, sarahbell said:

Don't get a pretty VW one as people will come and steal bits off it whilst it's on your drive. 

A colleague had a VW California and gave me a tour; it wasn't something you'd want to spend more than one night in but I was amazed what he was able to get for it second hand.  People must buy these to pretend they're surf dude hippies rather than to actually use for camping and the premium over far more suitable campers is daft but looks like it will continue.

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7 hours ago, Frank Hovis said:

A colleague had a VW California and gave me a tour; it wasn't something you'd want to spend more than one night in but I was amazed what he was able to get for it second hand.  People must buy these to pretend they're surf dude hippies rather than to actually use for camping and the premium over far more suitable campers is daft but looks like it will continue.

IMO the "scene " is just riding on the coat tails of the classic car bubble 

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Buying a van or mpv for staying in while working away has been on my mind for some time now. I agree that VW Transporters/T5/T6 are massively overpriced in general, but you can buy all the bits to convert them of the shelf, and this isn't the case for many other vans. Another way of looking at it is that they might be overpriced, but they correspondingly go up even more in value if you convert  a base one compared to converting a Vauxhall Vivaro, say, even though the cost to convert would be similar. The converters I've spoke to have said that if they were doing one for themselves or to sell on, they would only consider a VW or a Transit Custom.

Our government and councils seem to have it in for diesel, and I've also read of frequent large bills associated with running a direct injection diesel engines. Honest John recommends people just avoid them. One thing he mentions is that the huge engine torques have necessitated dual mass flywheels which break easily and cost £1000+ to fix. Another thing that seems to cause problems is the incredibly high pressure pumps and injectors which can destroy the engine when they go wrong. Unfortunately, the fine tolerances to which they must be made mean that the do frequently go wrong...even with faithful maintenance. It only takes a few  microscopic abrasive particles in the fuel to start the cascade to disaster. EE above has got round this by having an old diesel without all the clever technology in it, but I suspect most people won't want a 20 year old engine even though it would last to the moon and back.

I'm leaning towards a Japanese import petrol minivan of some description, and having it LPGed. Many have engines that are already in UK models, so servicing that should be achievable. What I've not got to the bottom of is whether any have auto transmissions that are identical to UK vehicles. Most newer ones have CVTs to improve fuel economy, but they seem to be unreliable, and the know-how to fix them doesn't exist, and few overhaul shops would have the forensic level of cleanliness needed to open them up. The Toyota hybrids have epicyclic gearboxes which are really robust, but there seems to be only one man in the country who knows how to fix the brain and battery when they go wrong.

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It is a bit of a minefield, I have a T5 and say so myself they are massively overpriced. However if you can pick up ex builders van in reasonable nick without too many miles - maybe 75K-100K when they come off contract then there are some out there to be had but you have to be prepared to act quick and always be looking for a few months. Transit customs would be my second choice too for off the shelf fit out components then you are limited to which vans to go for in terms of choice. Having said that a 3/4 rock and roll bed is a 3/4 rock and roll bed and should be able to fit that to most vans.  Pop top could be the biggest limitation. Furniture is not too bad, can have it custom made or scribed to fit most vans would have thought, there is not much to it. As for Diesel bans - well if they do that for vans you won't get a tradesman in any metropolitan area, so cannot see that happening for a good while yet, though could be wrong, also these are not the sort of areas you will likely driving the van anyway unless you live there already as home base.

Would't be too put off by diesel price/complexity. DMF went on mine, rightly for wrongly I just got it replaced with a fixed one, little bit of vibration at 1900rev but otherwise seems to have been OK and around £400 fitted. Friends had a Bongo and had no end of troubles and ended up getting rid. So basically you can get unlucky and any van / engine will cost. 

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13 hours ago, Everentt said:

Buying a van or mpv for staying in while working away has been on my mind for some time now. I agree that VW Transporters/T5/T6 are massively overpriced in general, but you can buy all the bits to convert them of the shelf, and this isn't the case for many other vans. Another way of looking at it is that they might be overpriced, but they correspondingly go up even more in value if you convert  a base one compared to converting a Vauxhall Vivaro, say, even though the cost to convert would be similar. The converters I've spoke to have said that if they were doing one for themselves or to sell on, they would only consider a VW or a Transit Custom.

Our government and councils seem to have it in for diesel, and I've also read of frequent large bills associated with running a direct injection diesel engines. Honest John recommends people just avoid them. One thing he mentions is that the huge engine torques have necessitated dual mass flywheels which break easily and cost £1000+ to fix. Another thing that seems to cause problems is the incredibly high pressure pumps and injectors which can destroy the engine when they go wrong. Unfortunately, the fine tolerances to which they must be made mean that the do frequently go wrong...even with faithful maintenance. It only takes a few  microscopic abrasive particles in the fuel to start the cascade to disaster. EE above has got round this by having an old diesel without all the clever technology in it, but I suspect most people won't want a 20 year old engine even though it would last to the moon and back.

I'm leaning towards a Japanese import petrol minivan of some description, and having it LPGed. Many have engines that are already in UK models, so servicing that should be achievable. What I've not got to the bottom of is whether any have auto transmissions that are identical to UK vehicles. Most newer ones have CVTs to improve fuel economy, but they seem to be unreliable, and the know-how to fix them doesn't exist, and few overhaul shops would have the forensic level of cleanliness needed to open them up. The Toyota hybrids have epicyclic gearboxes which are really robust, but there seems to be only one man in the country who knows how to fix the brain and battery when they go wrong.

DMF`s are all about isolating the vibration of the engine from the input shaft of the gearbox ,as for common rail direction  injection you are right to be wary ,especially so with the higher mileage vans i would not even consider converting a CDI/HdI  van that had much over 100k on the clock unless there was enough in the budget for a set of new injectors 

If you are looking at t5`s avoid the 2.5 pd engines there`s nowt wrong with the engine (it`s a cracking engine) the problem is they produce more torque than the drivetrain can handle they were fraught with driveshaft / differential and clutch problems ,my opinion on this matter is it`s more to do with how they are driven with so much torque available from the 2.5pd`s a lot of people will end up plodding around town in fith gear doing 25-30 mph this puts way to much strain on the drivetrain

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42 minutes ago, Long time lurking said:

DMF`s are all about isolating the vibration of the engine from the input shaft of the gearbox ,as for common rail direction  injection you are right to be wary ,especially so with the higher mileage vans i would not even consider converting a CDI/HdI  van that had much over 100k on the clock unless there was enough in the budget for a set of new injectors 

If you are looking at t5`s avoid the 2.5 pd engines there`s nowt wrong with the engine (it`s a cracking engine) the problem is they produce more torque than the drivetrain can handle they were fraught with driveshaft / differential and clutch problems ,my opinion on this matter is it`s more to do with how they are driven with so much torque available from the 2.5pd`s a lot of people will end up plodding around town in fith gear doing 25-30 mph this puts way to much strain on the drivetrain

Interesting, mine's base model 1.9tdi, so always felt somewhat budget /low performance, but good enough. Only problems over nearly 10 years apart from normal were and tear has been quite a few droplinks (potholes no doubt not helping), the DMF and a pinhole in the intercooler, 

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18 minutes ago, onlyme said:

Interesting, mine's base model 1.9tdi, so always felt somewhat budget /low performance, but good enough. Only problems over nearly 10 years apart from normal were and tear has been quite a few droplinks (potholes no doubt not helping), the DMF and a pinhole in the intercooler, 

They had sorted the driveshaft issues by 2007 ish for the 19`s but the 2.5 still ate them  ,basically IMO they rushed the introduction of the T5 and the early models sufferd badly for it more so the 2.5`s 

The Pd engines don`t suffer the same as common rail engines as you will always feel  theres something wrong with it unlike when the injectors go on a common rail ," ahh that bit of extra smoke it`s nothing to worry about" meanwhile the bore is being washed out at best, at worst the injector is slowly cutting a hole in the piston both scenarios generally mean the engine is all but fucked  

Edited by Long time lurking

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On 12/24/2017 at 13:00, Long time lurking said:

DMF`s are all about isolating the vibration of the engine from the input shaft of the gearbox

That's useful to know. I had read, however, that the latest diesels use the ECU to circumvent the need for a dual mass flywheel, which suggested to me it was the huge jerk on taking up the clutch that was the main issue.

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On 1/3/2018 at 03:21, Everentt said:

That's useful to know. I had read, however, that the latest diesels use the ECU to circumvent the need for a dual mass flywheel, which suggested to me it was the huge jerk on taking up the clutch that was the main issue.

I think you will find the vibration is less in modern CDI`s due to multi stage injection which is controlled by the ECU this is also the reason those engines are much quieter i`m not sure if  they have got it to a point where DMF`s are no longer required though

DMF`s are all about isolation of vibration this is why you very rarely see them in petrol cars as theres no need 

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I converted an old van onto a motorhome.  I love it tend to take it away with me every holiday and just park it up when i want to. Fly drones too, so you can climb on the roof and get good pictures and footage.

There's a freedom with it - In spain, you can pretty much park where you like and its free - almost a free holiday.

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Thinking of a van to replace my car, budget 5-10k, dont mind doing a conversion myself, if bits can be purchased, what would be the best bet? Will use for UK and Euro touring, and the odd school run, so would prefer a good driver and one with a good driving repuation/ease of parts whilst on the tour.

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41 minutes ago, Green Devil said:

Thinking of a van to replace my car, budget 5-10k, dont mind doing a conversion myself, if bits can be purchased, what would be the best bet? Will use for UK and Euro touring, and the odd school run, so would prefer a good driver and one with a good driving repuation/ease of parts whilst on the tour.

VW T5 has to be on list, if you are patient and pick up a half decent deal on the van itself and willing to do some legwork get one. Huge range of kits/fitted units, seating options. Strong resale values. It will be at top of price range and possibly over if you get fancy with the seating and certainly over with pop top roof.

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46 minutes ago, onlyme said:

VW T5 has to be on list, if you are patient and pick up a half decent deal on the van itself and willing to do some legwork get one. Huge range of kits/fitted units, seating options. Strong resale values. It will be at top of price range and possibly over if you get fancy with the seating and certainly over with pop top roof.

The resale value is valid but it will be reflected in the purchase price i`m hearing good things about the Hyundai i load /i 800 from a few taxi drivers 

I find the scene tax on VW vans is getting a bit stupid now ,there`s no way it`s now just the case of paying for the better quality vw  used to represent as most of the other manufactures are catching up on the van front ,if Peugeot/Citroen sorted out their fragile   trim and electrics they would be in a league above vw as the body`s are far better  

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Long time lurking said:

The resale value is valid but it will be reflected in the purchase price i`m hearing good things about the Hyundai i load /i 800 from a few taxi drivers 

I find the scene tax on VW vans is getting a bit stupid now ,there`s no way it`s now just the case of paying for the better quality vw  used to represent as most of the other manufactures are catching up on the van front ,if Peugeot/Citroen sorted out their fragile   trim and electrics they would be in a league above vw as the body`s are far better  

Originally I was looking at VW Californias even though they are stupid money as I didn't think I'd be able to get a standard van approved for the car allowance at work.  After asking around it looks like I will be able to get a standard van and covert it myself.  The premium on VWs is just too much for me and I can only keep something until it is 7 years old.  I'm currently looking at the latest model Renault Trafics.

Edited by ILikeCake

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