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Pot Bellied Fool

Original Poster:

1,702 posts

123 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th September 2012 quote quote all
Hi All

Thoughts of the FamilyPBF are increasingly turning to the idea of a caravan or motorhome as a means to getting away a little more often than we do. I seem to spend all my time workign & need to redress the work/life balance a bit. We're only about 2 hrs (@ MH/Towing speeds) from the Lake District so plenty of nice spots within reasonable striking distance.

We're not going to be able to buy anything for a little while but hey, might get a good price buying in winter smile

But it's an area I'm fairly clueless on so please educate me with thoughts, tips & pointers on where to look for more info.

Budgets are tight here at the moment so there'd be probably only around £1000 - £1500 to spend, less would be good. (Just been looking ont he Elddis website & drooling. Two chances...)

Random questions/stream of consciousness follows...

We're both in our 40's with a 2½ year old - and I'm a pie eater so small spaces & tents are no longer my thing. (I've camped a bit years ago but wifey is a city girl who's growing to love the outdoors smile - no power for hairdryer is not an option though I've been told)

I'm open to either caravan or MH. Wife thinks small motorhomes are 'cute' but has rose tinted glasses!

I see a benefit of a caravan in being able to unhitch the car for local running once arrived but is that much of an issue? How do PH motorhome owners find it all works out?

Obviously as a PHer, I find the propect of another vehicle on the fleet enticing but you're obviously going to pay more than for an equivalent caravan.

What sort of things should I be looking for / expect to see damage/damp wise when looking at stuff in that price range - are they all going to be a bit borked?

Is it best to stick to campsites or is 'park-in-a-layby' an option?

What are site facilities like these days? Good places for kids?

What maintenance should I be looking to do on either a caravan or MH if bought second hand? Should I be thinking of cleaning out the water system for example? (or best to stick to bottled for drinking?) Where should I look for general info on how to fill the thing up with water, drain dirty water? What are the gas systems like?

See, told you I knew bugger all! biggrin

But any words of wisdom always gratefully received.

bananaman1

368 posts

83 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th September 2012 quote quote all
Think £1500 max for a motorhome is not going to happen,6k and up would be more realistic i reckon.

Crafty_

7,879 posts

86 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th September 2012 quote quote all
Far as caravans go:

Damp is the main thing to look out for, I believe you can get some fairly cheap damp meters that you could use to ensure there isn't any. It was always said to avoid the "boat roof" vans because the roof was made of multiple pieces and joined, therefore more chance of a leak but I guess thats only a theory really.

Maintenance, for gas you really need to know there aren't any leaks. If there are you'll typically notice it quite quickly due to the smell but if you wanted to be sure you could always get the van serviced/checked by a local dealer/expert.

Mechanically they are pretty simple - grease the leg steadies and just check the braking system is in working order (systems are usually pretty simple, push the hitch in and brakes engage, usually by a rod system).

Overall having an expert check over/service the van might be worth it for peace of mind. There is a guy locally my folks have used in the past, one man band but he knows his stuff and is quite a bit cheaper than local dealer workshops.

FiF

23,804 posts

137 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th September 2012 quote quote all
Can't help on caravans, but also suspect budget won't run to a motorhome.

But just in case it does, we used to have a very nice Type 2 Bay window Devon Eurovette, lifting roof.
1600cc single port, for the geeks.

WE loved it, but then there were just two of us, and it was in ideal element on weekends and touring, ie overnight stops then moving on.

When we used it for longer week and fortnight holidays it was't so ideal because of the awning which was not a stand alone job. Thus if you wanted to go out for the day you had to take down awning, pack everything away, and then when you came back that evening find some git had nicked your spot. Some people used to have wooden pegs to mark their pitch complete with vehicle eg number, but that seemed a bit like bringing along the garden gnomes etc.

For a long time we debated the prospect of buying a stand alone awning, sort that connects to the van with a zipped section then we saw somebody with a newer VW with one. Pickering in North Yorks one Mayday, absolutely persisting it down with rain it was when they came back, and if it had been an episode of Top Gear with Jezza and the boys trying to park you'd have said it was all a setup. By the time they'd got parked up, tried to connect and failed, had to shift the pegs to give a better approach angle and all settled, they were so wet and taken so long that we reckoned we could have had our awning up twice in the time.

Touring, in good weather we never used to bother with the awning, just set the chairs out and bang in a beach windbreak for shelter and a bit of privacy then live with the door open.

I wouldn't want to use anything smaller than a Type 2 for 2 people, add in a child and reckon it could be a nightmare. As it was we had arrangements for who went in the morning to shower etc first, then they converted from night to day use and got the breakfast on the go while the other was out of the way at the shower block.

Even the cheapest type 2 will be double your budget though.

italianjob1275

268 posts

32 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th September 2012 quote quote all
Caravans are the best way by far IMHO.

We used to borrow my parents motorhome which was only a long wheelbase Renault Master but even then it's a right royal pain in the arse driving a bloody great van round everywhere you go. Then you get to the height barriers at council car parks or (in Cornwall) having to pay twice for parking because you overhang another space...

They're expensive too, you'd be looking at at least £10k to get anything decent I'd reckon. For touring mainland Europe staying on the French Aires etc I can see the point of a motorhome bit apart from that, nah I'll have my caravan thanks!

Oh, and "wild camping" (parking at the roadside or similar) is legal in Scotland but not England. Although I've seen motorhomes in laybys on the A34 most nights over the summer (heading for early ferries maybe?) And I suppose if you don't take the piss no one is going to bother you...
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italianjob1275

268 posts

32 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th September 2012 quote quote all
Caravans are the best way by far IMHO.

We used to borrow my parents motorhome which was only a long wheelbase Renault Master but even then it's a right royal pain in the arse driving a bloody great van round everywhere you go. Then you get to the height barriers at council car parks or (in Cornwall) having to pay twice for parking because you overhang another space...

They're expensive too, you'd be looking at at least £10k to get anything decent I'd reckon. For touring mainland Europe staying on the French Aires etc I can see the point of a motorhome bit apart from that, nah I'll have my caravan thanks!

Oh, and "wild camping" (parking at the roadside or similar) is legal in Scotland but not England. Although I've seen motorhomes in laybys on the A34 most nights over the summer (heading for early ferries maybe?) And I suppose if you don't take the piss no one is going to bother you...

Pot Bellied Fool

Original Poster:

1,702 posts

123 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th September 2012 quote quote all
FiF said:
Can't help on caravans, but also suspect budget won't run to a motorhome.
Yup. Ideally I'd be wanting the sort of stuff that's £10 - £15k but that's a no-no at the moment.

MrsPBF is convinced that something like http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Renault-Traffic-Camperva... will be just fine...

What could possibly go wrong? smile


I think we'd get a lot more caravan for our money http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/elddis-wisp-400-4-1991-t... as a random choice.

Not going to be great at that money but might be good enough for a taster. Just need to find somewhere local for storage - and fit a tow hitch on the current jalopy. (old c200, should be capable of towing average size caravans ok).

Chrisgr31

8,890 posts

141 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
You can occasionally find a bargain caravan. As mentioned above damp is the thing to avoid, in reality it can never be fixed.

Our caravan cost us £400 a couple of years ago. Bought whilst we were staying on a site near Lymington, had been used as staff accomodation and was no longer required. Its served us well and we'll keep it for another couple of years yet.

I do wonder about motorhomes due to the issues raised by others in this thread.

mojitomax

1,702 posts

78 months

[news] 
Friday 7th September 2012 quote quote all
We've recently bought a motorhome. Budget was our issue and we picked up a fixer upper 30 year old for 4k.

In hindsight I think I would echo the above. For a weekend it's great. Jump in, drive, park, done.

However for longer where we are doing day trips it's more of a pain driving it around to visit places. We did our first trip last week in Devon and wanted some fish and chips but the chippy was about 3 miles away and it was a pita to drive the can over. On the way back we stopped in Gloucester for the day and parking the Goliath was not easy.

Saying that, it would have been impossible to park a car and a caravan for the day in the city centre.

The plan is to build a rack and get a scooter for day trips.

Hope that helps

Bluebarge

2,974 posts

64 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th September 2012 quote quote all
You might consider one of these - there are a few near your budget figure. You get proper beds, plenty of room and you can use a pitch with an electrical hook-up.
http://www.camperlands.co.uk/used-trailer-tents-fo...

greendiff

133 posts

64 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th September 2012 quote quote all
I recently hired an A class motorhome for a holiday, think Hymer style, large fully coachbuilt.

We found it had several disadvantages, namely being:
the sheer size of it, parking was a problem, some roads were a no go, height barriers, weight limits etc dictated where we went.
After levelling up at a site and plugging in etc, and you realised you had no milk or something, you had to pack everything away to go off. With a caravan, you can leave it set up permanently.
Thirsty. and slow.

Yes it was fun driving it, but everything sometimes made it annoying and hard.

We saw many motorhomes towing a car behind. this is just like having a car and caravan, just the other way round.

We have now bought a nice Lunar caravan.

you can have the same freedom, but less limitations. the only drawback i have with the tug/caravan setup is stopping off at places along the way.

From what i saw you're looking at minimum 10k for a motorhome, whereas a good caravan can be had for a grand or so. Plus you dont pay tax/mot/insurance on a caravan, insurance is optional, so you save a large chunk of money every year straight off.

maybe in the future i will get a motorhome...


BigBob

1,370 posts

111 months

[news] 
Saturday 15th September 2012 quote quote all
Started out with tents and moved onto several caravans, an old Beford style ambulance with a 2.2 litre petrol engine, an old 18 seater'sitting car' ambulance based on an Iveco 40-10 that I converted myself to my current 24 year old A Class Pilote based on a Talbot Express 2.5Td, here are my thoughts for what they're worth.

Firstly you need to decide what you expect to do with it. 1-2 week holidays in this country - forget a motorhome and go caravan. As others have said, the benefit of leaving the caravan as a base and using the car to get around is major. Not so important if you only intend/ mainly intend weekends away. Sensible planning and you won't run out of essentials - don't forget other caravaners/motorhomers are a friendly lot and will often share a bit of salt/dash of milk/loo roll etc smile

If you intend touring ie not stopping long in one place a caravan loses some of the advantages as you'll end up towing it nearly everywhere you go and they tend to be more difficult to park than a motorhome at touristy type places and more difficult to manoevre through small towns.

If you intend going to Europe things swing in favour of a motorhome big time - They are far more 'motorhome' friendly places with lots of Aires de Service (some free but all cheap) provided for 'camping-cars' but specifically banning caravans. Some of these AdS are in really beautiful spots - don't be fooled into thinking they are like our service areas.

Caravans need to be stored when not in use, can be a problem if space is limited at home. Also adds to the cost and inconvenience - having to go and collect, return home to load up and vice versa on your return. A motorhome may be easier to park on the drive particularly if you use it as a 'daily' as well. One 'hidden' benefit - generally motorhomes are higher of the road so you get to see so much more of the surrounding countryside than you would in a car.

Don't forget - you've always got your home with you. Find somewhere nice, pull over, pop kettle on - no more queueing for an over-priced cuppa and stale sandwich smile

Whichever you end up chosing - be sure to fun.

BB

FiF

23,804 posts

137 months

[news] 
Saturday 15th September 2012 quote quote all
That ^^ is imo a damn good post.

The other thing I would add re touring with a motorhome in UK, was that even with a lifting roof type 2 height 6ft 10ins, we sometimes found problem with car park height barriers. No idea if it's less of an issue, no doubt there is some EU regulation which specifies heights etc, but have seen quite a few people having issues in the riverside car park I often use in Worcester.

Copenhagen St car park

kellys hero

469 posts

136 months

[news] 
Wednesday 19th September 2012 quote quote all
Hello OP

Books can and have been written on how to buy a caravan! I have only bought one but this is my take on it.

We had a budget just like yours so it was a caravan or nothing. We looked around at the local caravan sales (very lucky as we have a huge one near us) and used it to get a feel of the layouts and what is available in the budget part x to clear yard. (honestly frightening at what they charge) and compared this with E Bay / private ads. As a rule of thumb everything at the dealers part x compound was double the small ads, often more.

So to the nitty gritty.

Do not assume that every caravan has 240 volts electric, fridge, oven and hot water and heating (many we looked at in that price bracket did not) some adverts are padded out with whats available so it's easy to miss the obvious assumptions.

Not all sellers are selling the aqua rolls, waste water containers, pots pans, battery, spare wheels etc (the list goes on) to purchase all of this on top could and does escalate the cost.

If an awning of any type is included its a big bonus, added space etc

Change the tyres when you buy your caravan, they spend a lot of time sat in fields, treads can look good... (learnt that the hard way)

Budget for additional replacements, we bought a new jockey wheel and assembly for example as well as a ton of other stuff.

Some adverts state "this is a dry caravan" this can mean it has no water supply not that it doesn't leak. It is more common on European vans though. Again its learning to interpret the adverts.

Other posts have commented on damp etc so I won't repeat all of that.


Don't give up looking for the right one, although a compromise will be needed somewhere there are so many caravans always being sold you will find the one with pretty much everything in time.

To give you some idea we bought a 1983 Avondale Leda Quantock with a full awning that was only a few years old with hot / cold water, oven, hob, grill, fridge / freezer, 240/ 12v electric, gas heating, pots / pans and kettle and some basic water drums, T.V ariel and the mains cable for the electric hookup for £850. Incidentally the sale also included a period colour TV and Microwave. The awning alone would cost £400 to buy a like for like replacement.

We have now bought the aqau roll and waste hog from flea bay for £40 for the pair, a 110 amp leisure battery and an inverter to turn it into 240v.

As a bonus our caravan has been well looked after, all of the receipts and manuals are in the folder as well as photos of the first owners with an A reg Maestro Turbo!

My wife has made some new curtains to replace the red ones that were a little faded.











Edited by kellys hero on Wednesday 19th September 17:59

Pot Bellied Fool

Original Poster:

1,702 posts

123 months

[news] 
Wednesday 19th September 2012 quote quote all
Thanks KH, great post.

A Maestro Turbo? Surprised it lasted long enough to reach the campsite! biggrin

kellys hero

469 posts

136 months

[news] 
Thursday 20th September 2012 quote quote all
Well I would wager the caravan has outlasted the car!!

P.S with all the odds and sods I expect we have spent about £1300 to £1400 all in (including the caravan) between the original purchase in 2010 and now.

Best of luck with the searching. thumbup

volks al

4,056 posts

100 months

[news] 
Wednesday 26th September 2012 quote quote all
I would go on the caravan club website, plenty of free info packs to downlaod and read on the basics.

I went witha £1500 Coachman 520/4 from 1995, and it needed new window seals which was a timely (2 days) job and £150 in bits. But then I now have a great large caravan with hot/cold water and all those things. Storage through the CC is pretty cheap for the winter, and you just need to drain things to pipes dont burst etc. As for sterlising the water pipes again its like doing pub beer lines or a baby bottle. Load of milton in the tank, pump it through, leave it and then flush it. Job done.

Gas you might want to get a check done on the system to be sure.

Overall now is the time to buy as its end of season, and again you can see the sales page on the CC which will have some good experienced owners old vans. I gambled and got mine on gumtree. Always check the vin plate so to speak and CRIS number, all explainted on the CC free guides etc.


therealpigdog

2,582 posts

83 months

[news] 
Thursday 27th September 2012 quote quote all
BigBob said:
Caravans need to be stored when not in use, can be a problem if space is limited at home. Also adds to the cost and inconvenience - having to go and collect, return home to load up and vice versa on your return. A motorhome may be easier to park on the drive particularly if you use it as a 'daily' as well. One 'hidden' benefit - generally motorhomes are higher of the road so you get to see so much more of the surrounding countryside than you would in a car.
As an idea of costs, I pay £360pa for storage of my caravan (CCTV and gated site), £80 for insurance, and a service is £120 (total annual cost £560) which is probably less than the annual cost of insuring/taxing/servicing a motorhome. We leave ours laden up so all we need to do is pack a bag of clothes and a cool box into the car, head to the storage facility and hook up and we are on our way. I can't say that I've ever felt it is an inconvenience, given that I don't need to worry about storage at home (and arguably more secure than at home - and tea-leaves don't know when we are away).

I've done tents/caravans/motorhomes and each has its own pro's and con's. Motorhomes are great when there is just two of you, and you are touring (a night or two before moving on). Anything longer and caravans become easier as you don't need to pack everything away each morning before you head off to the shops.

Why not rent a motorhome for your next trip and see how you get on?

Also, when we had a motorhome, I got fed up driving it everyday, so ended up buying another car for the commute. In the end, it became impractical and expensive having another vehicle on the drive.
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