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Chicken Chaser

Original Poster:

3,787 posts

108 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
I'm considering buying a T4. Something with an eye to a side conversion, possibly LWB.

The van will be used on trips up to about a week but I also have designs on doing some kind of European/Alps trip with it next year so I need it to be reliable. It'll be my daily runner.

There's obviously loads of vans about with conversions, as well as loads of vans ready to convert.

For those who have had small campers, what would you say would be the most important thing to have in your camper (other than a bed for obvious reasons!) and what is the thing you find the most annoying/least useful?

I'm on a fairly tight budget so its juggling finding a van with good history and sound engine against keeping funds for the build. Alternatively, buy the thing ready to go.

Do you reckon you would get better value for money buying something pretty much ready to go or to buy from scratch and build yourself?

I'm at the early stages of design ideas so have a basic idea of what I will need to build, but i'm sure I'm forgetting certain things along the way.

mike9009

1,770 posts

127 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
Hi CC,

I have a T25 camper which we have only used for weekends away. It has a hightop - which is essential for us (we have a young daughter!).

I would say the things we have which we don't use are

1) The funny wardrobe
2) The massive water tank (others who wild camp for days would probably find it useful)

The things ours doesn't have which we would find useful

1) Leisure battery
2) More power (it can seem a little under powered)
3) Decent heater

Things that ours does have which I consider essential are
1) Gas stove and grill
2) Fridge
3) Electric hook-up
4) High top (provides space for bedding when not in use/ travelling and space for little'un to sleep)

I have probably missed loads out though so only a summary. Our van is 30 years old, so probably a little basic for some peoples needs - but we have various 12V accessories (TV, Bluetooth stereo, charger points etc.)

HTH

Mike

CDP

5,013 posts

138 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
If it's your daily you might want to think about an elevating roof. Driving my old high top T25 Westie in crosswinds was "entertaining" and I'm sure the extra frontal area can't have helped fuel consumption. Not as much space as a proper hightop but it does allow for some multistory car parks.

If you want a high roof get a Crafter and convert it. Much cheaper than a T5 and crosswinds should be as bad.

The other important thing is fitting proper seatbelts in the back.


The Angry Gopher

295 posts

67 months

[news] 
Friday 5th October 2012 quote quote all
Probably not going to be at the top of the list, but having just hired a similar pop-top camper for a week I'd have liked some tie-downs; a means to secure shoping bags, cases etc in the back to stop them flying about.

Chicken Chaser

Original Poster:

3,787 posts

108 months

[news] 
Sunday 7th October 2012 quote quote all
Thanks for the advice. I'm considering a pop up, purely for headroom and also for storage whilst using the van if needed. We haven't got kids yet but they are in mind. The wife thinks it would be a better idea to get a caravan for that, and the extra space it brings. We have camped for the last 8 or 9 years but I'm getting sick of being stuck under canvas in the pissing rain!
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rsv696

313 posts

27 months

[news] 
Sunday 7th October 2012 quote quote all
Just part-exed my T5 camper with elevating roof for a Peugeot Boxer with rigid high top. High tops are essential for camping IMO - tons more space, warmer, drier etc. Effect on fuel consumption is barely noticeable. I've got a Smart Car I use for work / pottering around & only use the camper once a week on average.

Essential for me is a large comfy bed, electric hookup, 12 volt sockets, proper fridge, leisure battery, bike rack & space heater

Swivel seats, Fiamma tables & built-in loos are desirable but not essential

Non-essentials are grill, onboard water tank, onboard waste tank, water heater

T4's are generally more reliable than T5's, but there aren't many decent ones left. Avoid the 2.5's if you want reliability. VW's are generally £5k more than equivalent vans because of the "scene tax", but aren't really better quality vehicles.

HTH

Ps Get a LWB if you can - more space & still easy enough to park

Edited by rsv696 on Sunday 7th October 20:30

Chicken Chaser

Original Poster:

3,787 posts

108 months

[news] 
Monday 8th October 2012 quote quote all
rsv696 said:
Just part-exed my T5 camper with elevating roof for a Peugeot Boxer with rigid high top. High tops are essential for camping IMO - tons more space, warmer, drier etc. Effect on fuel consumption is barely noticeable. I've got a Smart Car I use for work / pottering around & only use the camper once a week on average.

Essential for me is a large comfy bed, electric hookup, 12 volt sockets, proper fridge, leisure battery, bike rack & space heater

Swivel seats, Fiamma tables & built-in loos are desirable but not essential

Non-essentials are grill, onboard water tank, onboard waste tank, water heater

T4's are generally more reliable than T5's, but there aren't many decent ones left. Avoid the 2.5's if you want reliability. VW's are generally £5k more than equivalent vans because of the "scene tax", but aren't really better quality vehicles.

HTH

Ps Get a LWB if you can - more space & still easy enough to park

Edited by rsv696 on Sunday 7th October 20:30
Thanks RSV. I've been looking at 1.9TDs, slow and steady winning the race. The amount that have serious miles on them though worries me slightly as I dont want to be constantly paying out just to run it. Maybe they are a labour of love?!

LWB is on the list, just need to look at whether buying a van is better value than something which has already had windows and roof done.

rsv696

313 posts

27 months

[news] 
Monday 8th October 2012 quote quote all
I'd go for the very best base vehicle you can afford, and get a professional company to fit it out to your spec. Conversion cost will be £6-10k depending on spec. No point converting a shonker TBH. For cheap insurance you need "motor caravan" on the V5. Loads of useful advice on T4forum. Mark

CDP

5,013 posts

138 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
rsv696 said:
I'd go for the very best base vehicle you can afford, and get a professional company to fit it out to your spec. Conversion cost will be £6-10k depending on spec. No point converting a shonker TBH. For cheap insurance you need "motor caravan" on the V5. Loads of useful advice on T4forum. Mark
Alternatively if you want something basic do the conversion yourself. Go to a caravan breakers for bits (or ebay). This is the practice among car and bike racers - mostly to allow for storage space in the van - but it saves heaps.


mph1977

7,075 posts

52 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
CDP said:
rsv696 said:
I'd go for the very best base vehicle you can afford, and get a professional company to fit it out to your spec. Conversion cost will be £6-10k depending on spec. No point converting a shonker TBH. For cheap insurance you need "motor caravan" on the V5. Loads of useful advice on T4forum. Mark
Alternatively if you want something basic do the conversion yourself. Go to a caravan breakers for bits (or ebay). This is the practice among car and bike racers - mostly to allow for storage space in the van - but it saves heaps.
however VOSA and the DVLA don;t like this and there are problems in getting some of these vehicles ( as well as some of the smaller campers regardless ) classed as motor caravans ...

CDP

5,013 posts

138 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
mph1977 said:
CDP said:
rsv696 said:
I'd go for the very best base vehicle you can afford, and get a professional company to fit it out to your spec. Conversion cost will be £6-10k depending on spec. No point converting a shonker TBH. For cheap insurance you need "motor caravan" on the V5. Loads of useful advice on T4forum. Mark
Alternatively if you want something basic do the conversion yourself. Go to a caravan breakers for bits (or ebay). This is the practice among car and bike racers - mostly to allow for storage space in the van - but it saves heaps.
however VOSA and the DVLA don;t like this and there are problems in getting some of these vehicles ( as well as some of the smaller campers regardless ) classed as motor caravans ...
There are guidelines for how to do it and classify as a camper.

Many of the racers insure theirs as race transporters, mostly because of the tyre/tool storage space. The drawback is 50 on A roads and 60 on dual carriageways. Not too much of an issue when towing though.

E31Shrew

5,208 posts

76 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
Currently have a Mazda Bongo thingy. Absolutely loaded with all the kit needed inc
Electric roof that could sleep 2 at a push
Cooker
Fridge
Sink
Electric blinds all round
Rock n roll bed 'downstairs'
A/c
Heater
Well worth considering and a great deal cheaper than a VW but perhaps not quite as 'cool'!

CDP

5,013 posts

138 months

[news] 
Tuesday 9th October 2012 quote quote all
E31Shrew said:
Currently have a Mazda Bongo thingy. Absolutely loaded with all the kit needed inc
Electric roof that could sleep 2 at a push
Cooker
Fridge
Sink
Electric blinds all round
Rock n roll bed 'downstairs'
A/c
Heater
Well worth considering and a great deal cheaper than a VW but perhaps not quite as 'cool'!
Is that the Mazda Bongo Friendee?

E31Shrew

5,208 posts

76 months

[news] 
Wednesday 10th October 2012 quote quote all
Yes. Great value. Ours is a 2.5 V6 petrol so not the most economical but only gets used for approx 300 miles per month.

egor110

3,854 posts

87 months

[news] 
Wednesday 10th October 2012 quote quote all
Another thumbs up for the bongo here.

I've owned mine for 7 years, it's passed all the mot's with no advisories.
Last year i splashed some cash and had cam belt, new radiator, waterpump fitted.

It's not as big as a vw but you get automatic, front/back dual zone aircon, 4x4, electric blinds and the roof goes up, all electric. You can run them on veg oil too.

I'm off to brands hatch this weekend, not sure whether to take the car which will be loads better on fuel or the bongo which will use over a tank but stuck in traffic/m25 it's so much easier not messing around with gears and being sat up higher.

SixtySpeedTwin

257 posts

36 months

[news] 
Monday 29th October 2012 quote quote all
Ive currently got a T25 2.1 Holdsworth Villa. It wasn't what i was after at all when i started looking.

Previously I had many years ago had a bay which me and dad put the interior from a friends caravan as the Devon interior had been trashed. Belive me its a big job as the camper units are lower and arnt as deep, but you can get R&R beds from JK. It had a pop top which was cool cos it didnt look like a ice cream van, but was cold at night. My mum made some extra thermal wall sides in an attempt not to freeze to death with the single skin.

The T25 has a high top which isnt cool but makes for a fab camper as its got full height cupboards. Hook ups and leisure battery are a must along with the zig. my passenger seat rotates which is great. fridge & hob/grill. Mine has a really useful rear kitchen which frees up the rest of the van as a 'lounge' sounds like pretentious marketing but does work.

My mum had a T4 LWB Autosleeper and it was a fabulous drive, fast stable and economical.

Bill

31,457 posts

139 months

[news] 
Thursday 1st November 2012 quote quote all
I converted a T4, getting a pop top professionally fitted and building the interior myself with a RIB bed, low box to the side for storage and so the bed was full width and Waeco 12/240v fridge behind the drivers seat in an Ikea kitchen unit with drawer for the cooker. We used an awning rail and drive away awning for living/cooking in. 240v hook up and lesire battery.

Swivel seat in the front makes the interior far more useable. Likewise the pop top.
We didn't want a cooker built in because of space constraints, and as we use a camping gaz camp bistro it'll go on the worktop should we want to cook in the van.

T4s are pricey though, as is the roof conversion, so a Bongo makes sense even if it's smaller and the roof bed harder to access (Some friends had one of their kids roll over and get tangled in a sleeping bag onto of the access hatch which caused some bother biggrin)

Chicken Chaser

Original Poster:

3,787 posts

108 months

[news] 
Sunday 11th November 2012 quote quote all
I did 2 weeks in a fairly luxurious Sprinter camper in NZ a couple of years back and drive a VW Crafter daily so its no problem in getting a bigger van, but the bigger I get, the more expensive it is to run and harder it is to park in small towns.

I'm not sure if the T4 is big enough, but then i've only looked at Transits which dont appear any wider or longer (LWB compared). Buying the base vehicle seems to be the biggest stumbling block! I just cant make my mind up whether to buy a bare van, or something already converted.

CDP

5,013 posts

138 months

[news] 
Monday 12th November 2012 quote quote all
The Vauxhall looks to be pretty good too and an awful lot cheaper than a T5. Of course the T5 will hold it's value a lot better.

Chicken Chaser

Original Poster:

3,787 posts

108 months

[news] 
Monday 12th November 2012 quote quote all
I think it seems most campers seem to be holding their value very well, which might work out even cheaper than renting a van for 2 weeks!


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