Buying a motorhome

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Buying a motorhome

Post by tocyvi on Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:51 pm

I wonder if there is anyone on this forum who has experience of motorhoming. We are toying with the idea of buying one but I am struggling to find much information about the pros and cons. The sort of things I am thinking about are:
1) Are there much differences in quality/reliability between the various models on offer and are there any models to steer clear of?
2) How do people secure their dogs when travelling?
3) What is the "courroie de distribution" and why is it mentioned so much by sellers of second hand vehicles?
4) What would be the maximum amount of time to use a motorhome as a independent living unit without having to call in to a caravan park or similar?

Any other information about using a motorhome, pitfalls etc etc would be most welcome.
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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Inkflo on Mon Aug 18, 2014 5:25 pm

Having has a motorhome for several years, I can perhaps help a little.
The most important thing in my view, is finding the layout that suits your lifestyle best.
Many of the models available are built on the Fiat Ducato chassis. Ours is a 2.8 diesel engine and totally reliable.
You will find that lots of campers are based on this model and size.
The coachworks are then built on the chassis and these can vary enormously.
Our own camper is an Adria. We like the layout, the finish, and they are extremely well built. There is also a dealer and workshop on the ZI Nord opposite the big Troc.
We bought it second hand and it was six years old. The vendors were non smoking and no pets had been in it, although, if you're taking the dog, then this may not matter to you too much.
We wanted swivel seats in the front, very important to us as it extends the internal seating to make a lounge.
We also wanted a rear fixed bed, a large fridge freezer and a shower cubicle with a door.
There's not much we would change, but I would have liked an oven and grill. We have a three ring gas hob and an electric grill under. Ok for most things though.
The position of the door was important too. We wanted a lounge area, and our door is positioned between that area and the kitchen. Many campers have a rear kitchen or a rear door, which suits some people, but not us.
We don't bother with tv, so a satellite dish wasn't important, but we couldn't do without our solar panel on the roof which keeps our leisure battery topped up.
I have seen dogs and cats sitting unsecured in campers, I don't have a clue if there are any regulations about this.
The courroie de distribution is the timing belt. Not purely a camper thing. It ideally should be changed every so many kilometers along with the water pump (they usually sell as a kit on Oscaro) but this applies to all vehicles.
Sellers mention that they have been changed because it's expensive if they break and damage the engine.
In France, we have never had to use a caravan park. Almost every town has a free parking area with facilities to empty the toilet cassette, take on water etc. Some even have electric hook up connections. If you have an inverter, it will allow you to use the mains electric on sites or electric points and save your leisure battery.
I could tell you lots more things, but most of it is down to personal choice.
You're welcome to come and see ours if you want, just let me know.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Amber on Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:36 pm

The "courroie de distribution" is the Timing Belt and if it goes it can cause major problems to your engine - as in needing a new one in some cases. We recently had problems with an injector on our Citroen C5 Break (I know it's a car but the engine principle is the same) and initially my OH thought it might be a broken Timing Belt and was worried it had damaged the engine, luckily it wasn't but as it was old we had it replaced anyway.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by tocyvi on Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:53 pm

Hi Inkflo
Thanks so much for taking the trouble to write such a lengthy and informative reply. I will take you up on your offer of coming to see your motorhome and will send you a pm in due course (when my wife is over her illness). I'll bring you the Paulownia at the same time - it's put on a small amount of growth but it's hardly going through the roof. However, it looks healthy enough.

I do have another couple of questions, in the meantime. We like to go away quite a lot in the winter; how feasible is it to use a motorhome in really wintry conditions i.e. are they normally well insulated?

Secondly, I seem to remember someone telling me that microwaves weren't feasible as they pull too much electric; is this the case?

Good to hear from you too, Amber.
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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Inkflo on Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:51 pm

We don't have a microwave, but if it's something you really need, I would have one just for when you hook up to an electric point.
I've always managed with the three gas rings, grill and my pressure cooker. We quite like the making do thing to a certain degree, but going away in the camper has never been a hardship.
The blown air gas Truma heating is extremely efficient and we can't have it on full as it's overwhelming. The windows are double glazed too. I do know people who live and travel in their campers all year round.
We don't go that far from home at the moment for reasons that you probably know, but if we were going away in the winter, it would probably be to somewhere warmer.
Let me know when you're ready to come over, hope your wife recovers soon.
I'll find a spot for the Pauwlonia, thanks.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by tocyvi on Tue Aug 19, 2014 7:50 pm

Hi Inkflo
Thanks again for the information and the good wishes.

Inkflo wrote:I do know people who live and travel in their campers all year round.

Now that’s a good way to get out of doing the garden!
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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Amber on Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:24 pm

We have some friends who go down to Portugal during the winter and stay on a site there. They seem to have a great time and have got to know quite a lot of other couples who do the same thing - not just English but French, Dutch and Spanish. (They also take the dog!) It sounds good to me but too many animals here for us to do that.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by tocyvi on Wed Aug 20, 2014 2:25 pm

Amber wrote:We have some friends who go down to Portugal during the winter and stay on a site there.

Hi Amber
No good for me, I'm afraid. I always go looking for the snow in wintertime. If I don't get my annual fix of walking in the winter mountains, I suffer withdrawal symptoms. In fact, even without the snow, I adore the really cold days with a blue sky; sometimes these can be the best days of the year.
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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by baldlygo on Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:24 am

You will need a well insulated motorhome then. I recommend joining Motorhomefacts website for any advice re motorhoming and skiing hollidays. I have been a member for years although I have never yet owned a motorhome  Shocked With 1000s of experienced members it can also be good for other types of advice (eg computer problems/advice)

Paul
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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by tocyvi on Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:13 pm

baldlygo wrote:You will need a well insulated motorhome then. I recommend joining Motorhomefacts website for any advice re motorhoming and skiing hollidays. I have been a member for years although I have never yet owned a motorhome Shocked With 1000s of experienced members it can also be good for other types of advice (eg computer problems/advice) Paul

Hi Paul
Thanks for the information – what a good site (even if you don’t have a motorhome!!)
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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Inkflo on Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:02 pm

Have you given any thought about hiring one for a week, maybe in the winter?
Lots of places hire them out these days, and it would help you decide if it's for you, what you need in a camper etc.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by tocyvi on Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:49 pm

Hi Inkflo
Coincidentally, that was just what my wife & I were discussing. I also found a site whereby private owners rent out their m'homes at cheaper rates than the commercial outlets. They also seem to provide a more personal service (no double entendre intended!).
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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Inkflo on Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:28 pm

Just check their insurance covers you for commercial hire.

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motorhomes

Post by johno66 on Sun May 22, 2016 9:16 pm

Hi all,

As my barn has no roof yet and we still live in sunny devon, I needed a vehicle to bring tools over, get materials and get a decent nights sleep in. We bought an old mini bus - LDV Convoy - and converted it. all in cost about a grand! but it does what it was intended for, I have seen many home built conversions costing very little by comparison to retail vehicles, look for a good tradesmans van, they tend to be reliable..Transit, citroen , Peugot all good base vans. then design your own layout or look at others, the same van can be fitted out several ways. After a few goes you will know what works for you. and it is good fun in the meantime. so much freedom too.

good luck

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Le-Dolly on Mon May 23, 2016 7:41 am

johno66 wrote:Hi all,

As my barn has no roof yet and we still live in sunny devon, I needed a vehicle to bring tools over, get materials and get a decent nights sleep in. We bought an old mini bus - LDV Convoy - and converted it. all in cost about a grand! but it does what it was intended for, I have seen many home built conversions costing very little by comparison to retail vehicles, look for a good tradesmans van, they tend to be reliable..Transit, citroen , Peugot all good base vans. then design your own layout or look at others, the same van can be fitted out several ways. After a few goes you will know what works for you. and it is good fun in the meantime. so much freedom too.

good luck

DIY conversions can be made to ones own specs, BUT, when it comes to the time that you may wish to register the van in France, that is when stuff will hit the fan. CoC's are required, in most cases, for straightforward registration, and as a homebuilt, one will not be available. Another option is the very expensive and not guaranteed inspection via the DRIRE.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by BLAKEVINE on Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:12 pm

My long-term goal is to have a swimming pool, but, I am torn between that and a mobile home now that I have read all this from Inkflo etc........ I do envy those who just back a bag and zoom off somewhere. Now that we actually LIVE in France, we tend not to travel far as we are more than content to stay home and tend the veg plot!

I can claim to knowing what a "courroie de transmission" (drive belt) is as I've just had the tractor mower serviced and that was one of the things he checked for me; I guess the "courroie de distribution" (timing belt) is different: However, I had not heard of "Oscaro" and can I ask, Inkflo, when you refer to the dealer and workshop at ZI Nord; is that Limoges? It's made me want to go and check out what's available the next time we are up that way.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Tony H on Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:36 am

No advertising meant, just based on personal experience... Oscaro.com is a french website selling often required replacement parts for most makes of cars/vans. Good value, good quality and much cheaper than dealers or garages and many other websites. Quick reliable delivery too.

Good luck deciding on a motorhome. Something I have toyed with over the years but never committed.

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Re: Buying a motorhome

Post by Inkflo on Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:20 pm

Totally agree Tony H.
Blakevine, that's the Adria dealer opposite the big Troc at ZI Nord.
We have just come back from 3 weeks touring in motorhome.
We started at Mulhouse at the Cite du Train, France's national steam train museum. I was amazed at how big it was, and how wonderfully they have it set out. A definite must for steam train enthusiasts and great for the kids.
We then went to the Dordrecht Steam Fair, held over three days and another incredible sight. On the river  with loads of old steam tugs and steam boats, with steam engines, vintage vehicles etc along the two quays. Held over three days, and just a delight to visit. We found a camper park in a nearby town called Alblasserdam, 15 euros a night including electric hook up and water, from where we were able to get the waterbus for 4 euros to the steam fair and to Rotterdam old port.
Then on to the UK to visit friends, before making our way back home. We could stop where and when we wanted, make tea, have a meal, use the loo, even have a nap before continuing our journey. It cost £78 from Calais to UK with P&O ferries    (1 1/2 hours) and £58 return.
A thoroughly relaxing and flexible holiday.


Last edited by Inkflo on Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:23 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : adding stuff.)

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