I'm thinking about buying one, but am looking for a bit more info. Although mainly travelling alone now i thinlk what the Dutch call 'integrated" i.e. the complete body is custom built and the driver's and front pax seats swivl to use as dining chairs, is the best option. Also an automatic gearbox as walking is becoming more difficult due arthritis etc.
What's the ituation on most camping sites? Is it a problem to drive off each morning and come back at night?
... and no. I won't be blocking the roads. Back in my Hysterical Racing days the old Volvo 245 used to tow the Lotus everywhere at about 70mph quite comfortably.
I Googled 'How to tow a car behind a motor home if you are handicapped.' That seemed to me to be a sort of worse case scenario with arthritis or whatever problem races one's motor. I'm sure that Stateside you can get a winch to haul a small car on to an A frame or whatever might be legal in England. Perhaps use a sold towing bar which might even be easier to link on and off the aux vehicle. That's what I'd do were I to go traveling outside of the UK by caravan. I'd buy the biggest Airstream I could afford to run and tow a Smart behind it. If I were to confine myself to driving in the UK I'd just buy a hearse which would be in keeping with the tedium, filth and lack of services commensurate with British road travel.
What's the situation on most camping sites? Is it a problem to drive off each morning and come back at night?
That's the downside to them, plus they're not easy to park in towns etc. My mate used to have a large 'Yank' style one which had a special towing system for his wife's Fiesta, they'd just hitch it on the back like a trailer and they could leave the van on the campsite.
I have an old VW T25 Transporter that I use to escape to the wilds. Personally I can't see the attraction in campsites, perish the thought of using them. Having said that, in densely populated areas of Northern Europe you don't have much choice, and further South there is a real risk of getting mugged by various unpleasant means if you go it alone and don't join the corral. For me, the chance to get right over to the farthest Western Scottish isles and their lovely beaches is my main motivation. If you are doing serious mileage, clearly you don't want a bluff, heavy gas guzzler. The main issue for me is the balance between size and amenity. If you want new, depending on budget, consider these:
If you want my opinion, do as I did, get the best old Westfalia T25 you can find, no way will you spend more than £10k, lavish money on it when it needs it, don't thrash it in deference to its age, and spend every third night in a hotel.
The T25's might not look as cool as the bays and splits, but if you are serious about travel, you can't go wrong with a good one. Get a 1.9 or 2.1 petrol 'waterboxer' - the diesels aren't so good.
That pic is an artefact! The youngest T25 you could get now would still be 20 years old & they rust like be-jiminy. On the plus side, they're fairly simple machines, bullet proof diesel engines, but rust is the thing with them, particulary on the seams & footplates and once it gets in there, it's a divil of a job to get rid - you see lots & lots of T25's with the joins painted up in rust stop.
If it's a VW you want & a T5 is too pricey, the T4 is an attractive proposition, way more contemporary mechanically than a T25 & usually pottered about in by careful old boys - just avoid the surf dudes who've left theirs on the beach for years, attracting all that salt...
I had a Hymermobile for years, built on a front wheel drive Mercedes/Hanomag chassis, 2.5 diesel, did about 30 mpg cruising at 90kph (55 mph), put 150,000 kms on the clock before I sold it. Bit noisy as the engine was "in the cab" but an extra layer of soundproofing helped.
Personally I loved going off with it, kept it stocked up with cans of food, water, spare clothes, interesting books, full gas bottles, so it took me about 30 minutes to get ready and go when the mood took me.
Main thing to know is where to stop safely at night: campsites are for wimps of course. Best places are (1) the rear acess roads into cemetaries and crematoriums (locals in southern countries stay clear at night) (2) near police stations (3) in yacht marinas (frequently you can get free electricity and water there from the captainerie) and in filling station forecourts after they close at night (ditto, if the attendent likes you).
One of the best ever was under the arches of an ancient bridge crossing a river, it poured, I was in the dry, some amusing gypsies under the next arch. Or in the south of Europe saw a party in a field, blazing bonfire, ox grilling (probably stolen) over firewood, plenty of wine and home-made spirits, stopped, walked over, I was IMMEDIATELY invited to join in. Bit of a blur after that. Felt very ill the next morning and I wasn't the only one. Left before they remembered I had married some gipsy girl the evening before (or her mother, or both).
hat's the downside to them, plus they're not easy to park in towns etc. My mate used to have a large 'Yank' style one which had a special towing system for his wife's Fiesta, they'd just hitch it on the back like a trailer and they could leave the van on the campsite.
I was gliding about 15 yrs ago from Sisteron. This bl00dy great motorhome came onto the campsite on the airfield where we poor RAF guys had a battered caravan (sold for 50 squid rather tan tow it back) and a collection of wood and fabric gliders. Think Dart 17R.
I made a similar remark:
'He won't get that rig into town'.
He first unhitched his trailer and, together with trophy wife (blone, well upholstered etc), proceeded to assemble an ASH 25.
Closer examination revealed 2 ac units on the roof of this motorhome together with a satellite receiver.
He then went around to the side of his vehicle, pressed a button, a panel came up to reveal a Mini convertible loaded sieways into said motorhome. Ramps were nserted and he drove it off and took wife to nice restaurant in town.
Location: The Burrow, N53:48:02 W1:48:57, The Tin Tent - EGBS, EGBO
Is it a problem to drive off each morning and come back at night?
Most mobile home drivers have a sign made up which they can stick in the ground & which says something along the lines of "This pitch reserved for Motorhome XXXXX"* or "In use by....."
* XXXXX being the registration number of the vehicle.
Thanks folks. Had a look at a couple this afternoon. Looks like a Hymer or similar, problem with veebub sized ones is the lack of a decent-sized shower.Much as I would like one of these
the garage just has to be big enough for a mobility scooter eventually. That's what i want it for, unplanned weekends away. Driving through/around towns is no problem. I just stick a Yorkie bar in my pants and revert to HGV mode.
Saw one in the States which was based on a Setra double deck bus. it had a separate annexe for the chauffeur.
You can get 'em with a little garage in the back - under the beds - where you keep a small Fiat. You get the Fiat out when you're on the campsite and leave it in your spot when you drive the motorhome down town to do the shopping.
Seriously I only got stuck in my Hymer once passing through backstreets in a French town, and all the inhabitants turned out to get me unstuck. Greased the house walls or something like that, and then all pushed....
After some years of thinking about it, last August I took the plunge and bought a motorhome. I’ve done several trips and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a couple of considerations in general before getting down to the detail choice.
Will it be your main / only transport? Do you have somewhere to park it when not in use?
If the answer is Yes to the first and No to the second, then some smaller van conversion would be appropriate. Otherwise an ‘Integrated’ (usually called an Coachbuilt in the UK), might be a better option. As you may have gathered already, the choice and variations are almost infinite. The decision usually comes down to the layout that best suits your needs. The usual research method is to get a copy of one or more of the Motorhome magazines, look at the various motorhome forums and then have a look at some models at your nearest dealer.
After a limited period of owning one I can recommend it. If nothing else they do retain their value, so if it doesn’t work for you, the finances shouldn’t take too much of a hit if you want to sell. The down side is that from my perspective, they are bl00dy expensive from new. Needless to say I bought second hand.
As to actual usage, I found they are great for visiting friends on the spur of the moment, or as part of a ‘royal progress’ around the country. If the friends aren’t around or it’s not convenient, you can move on with the minimum of disruption. For night stopping in the UK I tend to use anywhere that doesn’t have a sign saying ‘No Camping’, or words to that effect. Lay-bys that have a barrier of trees or something between them and the road are usually good. See where the truck drivers night-stop, it will usually be OK, although they will usually be off early in the morning. Level ground is also a good idea.
On the Continent it’s a whole different game, with a wonderful institution called Aires. These are usually free, convenient motorhome parking places, often in the middle of town. Books listing these are for sale in most French bookshops and newsagents. There’s even a USB stick available with a comprehensive listing for most European countries.
My main reason for getting a motorhome was to use as a base for summer flying in France, as I’m not all that keen on camping and hotels are often some distance from GA airfields. Whether this plan works out remains to be seen, however trips so far include:
South of England to North of Scotland as a proving trial, visiting various friends on the way. To Switzerland to collect a set of wing struts for O/H’s Aeronca Champ. France to top up on wine and visit Leonardo da Vinci’s house at Amboise. Night stop before attending a seminar that was some distance from home and required an early start.
Good luck with your research.
Happy Travels, Richard W.
Last edited by Whiskey Kilo Wanderer; 7th May 2011 at 21:30.
Love some of the photos of the big rigs, and WKW captures the spirit so well.
Lon More - great idea of yours, and back to the more prosaic task of what to buy. There is a British magazine = MMM = Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly. Genuine suggestion is to buy it now, and a few more issues of it, The answers to your questions will come up in a variety of ways. I am reading the May issue (hey - the post is slow to Australia) and that has a lot to cover your questions (despite the UK cover).
Airstream are beautiful Art Deco style caravans redolent of the Hollywood changing rooms of Bogart and Bacall. They have style and endurance. Over 65% of all of the Airstreams ever made are still on the road. The rest are probably parked up in Tinsel Town.
I have never understood why you would want to drive around all your holidays in what is, essentially, a commercial vehicle!
Car and caravan makes more economic sense, only one lot of road-tax,insurance,annual road-test etc. lower fuel consumption and likely a lower depreciation bill than running 2 motor-vehicles.
ditch it on the camp-site..go off in the car and KNOW you'll have a pitch reserved when you return.
I know a guy with one of those huge American motorhomes,- it lives in a barn for most of the year, does 10mpg and, because it's a rear-engined V-8,has on-board generator, battery-banks,aircon,central heating,full kitchen and bathroom, etc.etc. the people who are prepared to work on it are few and far between, those that actually understand the mechanics and electrics are even rarer...in both cases they want arms and legs for even simple tasks.
Airstream LOOKS antiquated, but they've stood the test of time, depreciate slowly after the initial huge drop, and are more ecologically friendly than the mainstream european stuff which is designed to get damp/rot/become obsolete in 10 - 15 years.