Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

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Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by KenH on Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:43 am

My wife and I bought our first motorhome 15 months ago after 12 years of caravanning a few years earlier. We got fed up with towing a caravan after arriving at service stations and finding the dedicated bays full of vans but the final straw for me was after diverting off a blocked motorway we found ourselves at a busy T junction with both ways having width restrictions. I am not the most competent reverser and with irate motorists behind not giving me an inch to manouevre we were there quite a while. So we then spent a few years holidaying in statics and cottages.

My son then decided to take up motor racing and of course the car lives in my garage so I end up towing it to circuits. My wife also let in that she had missed the caravan so we decided to buy a motorhome with a (small) garage for the towing duties and this has worked quite well., with two caveats. We found that the Thetford 3 way fridge would only work if we got the van perfectly level and with the van having built in rake we even had to use ramps on level ground. Secondly we found a coach built van awkward to park in town centres.

Like, I am sure, many of you before us we have used the first van to learn what we really want and are now on the look out for an Autosleeper Stratford or Dorset with an end lounge (or possibly a Vantage Med). I would welcome any advice from forum members about any specific issues with these vans. We have already sold our old van so are in a position to buy privately if the right van comes along.

A 5.4m van would be our first choice but I wondered how people find the LWB(5.99m) van conversions for parking in town and supermarkets?

Ken
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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by Paulmold on Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:51 am

Welcome from N.E Wales   handshake

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by nimbus on Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:25 am

First of all, parking our 6m Warwick Duo in a supermarket is generally easy. We normally look for two empty bays lengthwise or, alternatively an outside bay where we can overhang the rear of the van over a grass verge. Council or private car parks need a bit more caution as you might have to pay for two bays if you take up space in a second one. Our previous Duetto was 5.4m long and it also would not fit in a single bay so the same applied. But as you presently have a coachbuilt I'm sure that you're aware of all this.

For us, the biggest problem with the smaller van was the sleeping arrangement. In the Dorset for example you have to make up a double bed, whereas in the Warwick Duo the seats are 6' long and are suitable for sleeping without any alterations. It's surprising how much difference 600mm in length makes to the internal feel of the van.

As far as the fridge is concerned our Dometic seems to cope with gradients quite well and we've never had a problem with it.

We looked at Vantage range before we bought the Duo and was very impressed. But it meant that we had to sell our existing van privately and then wait six months for the Vantage to be built. Another consideration for us was aftercare and, as we're only an hour from Autosleepers and their excellent service centre we decided to go that route.

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by KenH on Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:42 pm

Thanks nimbus for your experiences. We have been lucky in some carparks with the coachbuilt(6.1m) as it had a long overhang at the rear and so like you looked for spaces on the edge of car parks. The width at 2.25m was an issue in squeezing into bays although very occasionally we did find extra wide ones. Street parking though was out of the question. The extra 0.2m width does make quite a difference to useability.

We like to go exploring in Cornwall and felt the 5.4m van would be handy both driving round and parking without becoming a nuisance. We also occasionally have had to turn the van round in a gateway or down a dead end.

I am thinking of hiring a 6.0 Boxer van just to get an idea of what it is like in town as motorhome dealers are not keen on test drives unless you are at the point of buying.

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by modelman on Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:36 pm

Hello & welcome from S/Yorks. drinksallround

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by Peter Brown on Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:16 pm

CAUTION!!!

The Stratford and Dorset are the only Autosleepers to be fitted with compressor fridges. They only work on 12v and will discharge the leisure battery in 24hrs, the fridge is also noisy.

Peter

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by Shuggiegreen on Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:57 pm

Hello and welcome from Bonnie Scotland.
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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by KenH on Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:40 pm

The compressor fridges were one of the attractions after our poor experience with the Thetford. I had heard you could turn them down at night to reduce the noise but would this cause food in the freezer to thaw out? I am looking at getting a second leisure battery and solar charger for off grid camping. Peter, did you have a Stratford, if so what was your experience?
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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by Peter Brown on Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:45 pm

No I haven't had one but I've shared a rally field with owners who didn't realise the limitations till the battery was flat.

I do know a chap with a Dorset who has 3 leisure batteries and a 100W solar panel who does rally successfully.

Peter

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by Paulmold on Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:58 pm

I know East Neuk motorhomes come with two huge leisure batteries (230amp) and a 95w solar panel or 95amp battery and 140w solar or 230amp with 120w(depending on model) and they use compressor fridges. They are the only other make of motorhome that I've been very impressed with but virtually never available second-hand.

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by Dutto on Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:31 pm

Hi there,

Welcome from what has been a warm and sunny day in Skegness. beachball beachball beachball 

Best regards,
drinksallround

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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by KenH on Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:35 pm

I managed to borrow a 6m van this afternoon and went down to Tescos. Parked in a tandem bay and with the front in what I felt was an ok position noted that the dividing line between the bays was under the rear wheels. When I went to drive out the bay I had to shuffle to avoid the side of the van catching the front corner of a small acr parked in the adjacent bay. So I reckon a 5.4 would just about fit ok. Maybe supermarket bays are a bit bigger than council ones. It was getting dark so I didn't risk any on street parking manoeuvres. I did find it quite hard to judge where the back of the van was. Do most people fit parking sensors or a reversing camera.

Having said that, driving the 2007 6m Ducato was a dream compared to my 2011 6.1m coachbuilt and on the open road it would be just fine. Maybe the longer wheelbas gives a better ride than the MWB 5.4m van. Any other thoughts on that?

The firm I borrowed the Ducato from do van conversions and I am considering one of theirs as an option but they only do 6m at the moment. Although a small firm their workmanship is good but I am worried that the trade don't like bespoke builds.
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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by KenH on Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:37 pm

Thanks for all the warm welcomes received and advice so far. Seems like it must be a fairly active forum.
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Re: Hi, everyone from a potential Stratford owner

Post by daisy mae on Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:26 pm

I had twin cameras fitted and a 7" rear view mirror monitor, it is fantastic, I wouldn`t be without it,I have one camera when driving for rear view, that is brilliant, when I want to reverse I switch cameras, for a reversing view, especially good when getting into a tight spot. I didn`t have any camera wired to the reverse as I like to have the option of which one to use.

My mechanic was very impressed with the cameras when he drove my motor home.
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