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Post by Bad Penny on Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:03 am

Having recently spent a few days at the NEC and had a good look at many different marques, I can't help but feel that AS seem stuck in a timewarp as regards designs and innovation.

When you see the innovations of many other manufactures, which have much more modern looks than AS, does make one think, should I change my vehicle.

Seeing a square lounge area with lots of comfortable sitting space, large kitchen area with lots of work space, large shower and toilet compartment and a garage to boot.This accompanied  by a drop down bed that does not need a ladder to climb into and loads of storage space. As for extras, they are all included even down to insulation screens for outside and privacy ones for cab windows inside all part of category  3 insulation demands, plus a 6000kw truma heater.

Construction methods 95% free of wood and all in a length of 6.99 metres and competively  priced.

I must say it does generate a lot of thought.confused3

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Post by daisy mae on Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:09 am

Ah!! but are they as well built or just glitter and glitz? in fashion today will they be in five years.?

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Post by Gromit on Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:34 am

If it ain't broke - why fix it? smile!

What Daisy said carries a lot of weight.

The new A/S vans all have Category 3 insulation, but it's a bit of a con. If you read the specification carefully it soon becomes apparent that Cat 3 tells you far more about the output of the heater than the level of insulation.

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Post by Bad Penny on Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:14 pm

You are both missing the point, I am talking about design and innovation and these aspects seem to lacking with AS. 

As for quality many manufactures can match them. If you spend enough time at the NEC show you will realise what I mean.

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Post by CC on Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:27 pm

I think Auto-Sleepers problem is they have to be seen to be moving with the times, they can't stay static. 

I've looked at many other motorhomes and still don't think they can match Auto-Sleepers at least on the internal build, the outer bodies on other makes however do seem to be better put together and designed though I will admit. (IMO)

The thing that I've noticed is how quickly Auto-Sleepers look outdated externally compared to the likes of Swift for example.

I also think that Auto Sleepers need to come up with a more up to date construction method to match the makes of Elddis & Bailey etc who have had these systems for a few years now.

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Post by Gromit on Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:39 pm

Cruising Comet wrote:I think Auto-Sleepers problem is they have to be seen to be moving with the times, they can't stay static. 
Quite agree. Look at the (IMO) silly roof light directly over the cab. Scorches the bald pate in summer and does away with the overcab locker - so where do you put the duvets in a small van like ours? (Needless to say we opted for the locker. content )

A/S had to take that route of course, because many people buy a van at the shows based almost entirely upon the "WOW" factor as they step inside. A good few soon regret it too, judging by the alacrity with which they change them for something more practical. "Glitter and glitz" as Daisy said.

I'm not so sure they can't stay static either, up to a point at least. Morgans still sell faster than they can carve out and laminate the antiquated ash frames, in spite of all the dire predictions by Sir John Harvey-Jones about their desperate need for production line automation and modern build materials.

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Post by Paulmold on Sat Oct 24, 2015 3:24 pm

AS do need to look at other converters though and pick up some of the little things others do which make things easier and better. One such 'little thing' that I saw in a review of a new Vantage  van conversion is the cutting off of the corner of the sofa behind the drivers seat to make the swivelling of said seat easier. That has to be my biggest bugbear in  our Nuevo - the shuffle back and forth of the drivers seat to clear the steering wheel and the door armrest when making up the single bed. Other little extras like lift-up worktops for extra prep space. Other converters seem to think of new ideas first, why can't AS lead the way.

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Post by Bad Penny on Sat Oct 24, 2015 4:01 pm

What are you saying Dave, that people have got no idea what they want and are influenced only by glitz and the wow factor.  What a sweeping statement  to make and an insult to people's intelligence, who are probably about to spend a small fortune after  lots of research.

I am on my third AS,  with a lapse of ten years between my second and third AS. During that ten years I  had no problems. I came back to AS, no glitz,  no wow factor, the vehicle is not yet two years old and has been back with problems to be sorted under warranty, I now have to go back with another five problems to be fixed.

But they still have to improve designs and modernise.

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Post by CC on Sat Oct 24, 2015 4:23 pm

Gromit wrote:
Cruising Comet wrote:I think Auto-Sleepers problem is they have to be seen to be moving with the times, they can't stay static. 
Quite agree. Look at the (IMO) silly roof light directly over the cab. Scorches the bald pate in summer and does away with the overcab locker - so where do you put the duvets in a small van like ours? (Needless to say we opted for the locker. content )



Dave

I couldn't agree more Dave... Give me over cab lockers over a skylight that's not necessary any day.


While on the subject I note Elddis and some other manufactures fit their plywood floors with an exterior GRP skin to keep them waterproof, which can only be a good thing.

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Post by Peter Brown on Sat Oct 24, 2015 4:24 pm

Time and time again we see posts on the forum levelling criticism at AS for including or omitting some feature from the base vehicle or conversion with the comments that ..."Its not acceptable when you spend £70,000 on a vehicle"

Well I knew exactly what I was getting when I spent my £70,000 and if I hadn't, I wouldn't have embarrassed myself by confessing the same as many do.

In practice I'm afraid too many make purchase without understanding what they are buying.

If I owned a business that was booked to the maximum capacity of production 12 months in advance I wouldn't be changing design on a whim.

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Post by Liam on Sat Oct 24, 2015 5:53 pm

Gromit wrote:
Quite agree. Look at the (IMO) silly roof light directly over the cab. Scorches the bald pate in summer and does away with the overcab locker - so where do you put the duvets in a small van like ours? (Needless to say we opted for the locker. content )
But we like the roof light! 

With a fixed bed we don't need to store our bedding - lessons learnt from 3 months motor-homing down under! And the sun blind solves the burning head issue! 
As you say there is a choice - locker or roof light - along with many other customer preference features offered within the build! 

I totally agree with Peter#1 - we had 12 months of consideration before we spent our hard earned £70k and haven't regretted it for a moment. 

From my perspective, all snags or arising issues have been sorted and dealt with in a very timely and professional manner.

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Post by Bad Penny on Sat Oct 24, 2015 7:46 pm

Peter,  my comment  was nothing to do with knowing what you were spending and getting for your money. 
As to criticism, that can be very constructive, as nothing is perfect.

What I said is, AS  need to look more at design  and innovation, if they don't,  in time they could well lose some of their market share.

Every company should always be looking to expand and improve, otherwise could get swallowed up.

I saw many very good quality motorhomes at NEC which incorporates lots of these new innovations, with great success. In comparison, my two year old Broadway,  looks a bit dated already. How many other people felt like I did?

We each have personal opinions and if you think mine are an affront to AS, by all means defend them, that is your right.

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Post by daisy mae on Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:43 pm

New and improved , I have found in most cases it is NOT. no matter what it is. tried and tested rules in my book, JMHO. not wishing to upset anyone,

Nearly everything I have bought in the the last two  years, has "improved" not, today was copper water pipes, suppose to be the same size as the ones being replaced, turned out the copper is thinner, so isn`t a water tight fit. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


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Post by inspiredron on Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:52 pm

A/S certainly don't always get it right. 2012 models had lost the overcab locker AND the wet locker. It was only because they were willing to build us a van with a 2011 body on a 2012 Euro V chassis that we bought our Lancashire.  Without either of those AND the 3500kg max weight we would not have bought our van. Interesting thaf both features came back but the overcab locker is only about half the height of the one on ours. The only improvement I would like on ours is to remove the gas bottle locker and incorporate it into the offside bed locker and to add a gas tank - but that is not practical!
It would be nice to have just a little more locker space.


Last edited by inspiredron on Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:55 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added last clause)

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Post by Gromit on Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:36 pm

inspiredron wrote: The only improvement I would like on ours is to remove the gas bottle locker and incorporate it into the offside bed locker and to add a gas tank - but that is not practical!
It would be nice to have just a little more locker space.
It is practical Ron - I did it on our previous van.

The locker itself comes out very easily once it has been mostly hacked away. It is of course obvious that it was there, but the resulting wall of the van is quite neat and tidy, and in any case it is hidden until the bed locker top is lifted. I put in a thick strip of foam rubber on the gas locker door to draughtproof the inside and glued a rubber mat over the perforated base to keep out both wind and wet. I scrounged a piece of caravan wall offcut from Mark at A/S and made a removable floor to the now open part of the locker, supported on aluminium "L" angle strips.

Chris Wise of Autogas 2000 did a cracking job of fitting an underslung tank, and the pipework was simply joined to the existing supply pipe, with a convenient cut-off valve easily accessible.

The end result looked fairly professional and did not detract at all from the trade-in value of the van when I sold it - in fact I was complemented on a very worthwhile improvement.

Give it a go - it's not that difficult.

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Post by inspiredron on Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:19 pm

Quite a thought! Thanks!

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Post by m8form8 on Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:22 am

The good points of our Auto sleeper are its high level of passenger comfort, forward facing rear seats that are high and have good headrests. Windows that you can see out of when sat in the back and not silly little things that are claustrophobic and give you a stiff neck trying to look out of. A functional toilet and shower compartment with a toilet tank that lasts more than 24 hours without the need to worry about it getting too full. Plenty of clothes storage space and adequate cupboards for food and drinks. A one piece body that is strong and not liable to leak from the seams. Good build quality overall. 
These things are what made Auto sleepers known as the Rolls Royce of motor homes, it seems to me when I look at their new models not much of what gave them the edge is so evident. They still have some nice touches but with more competitors flooding the market they seem to have lost the edge. Instead of being unique they are lost in a jungle of similar, and in some cases better layouts and developments like those seen on van conversions they are in competition with. Maybe they are afraid to go down a different path to the others, it might be a gamble but then again it might pay off to be unique!
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Post by nuevoboy on Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:23 pm

I've just been in contact with a different manufacturer querying what I thought of as a serious design problem.
I was quite (and pleasantly) surprised to receive an immediate reply from one of their design team, explaining their reasoning.
Basically they designed the 'van as they imagined that it would suit a particular target market.
Now, regarding Autosleepers, I think they must do the same. If one merely looks at the age profiles of our own forum members, one can surmise that most of them are of, shall we say, mature years.
I'm not saying that we are not keeping up with modern times (look at the amount using satnavs, smartphones, tablets etc.) but I agree that the current designs seem to be of a more conservative nature.
I hope I don't offend any owners of such, when I say that I find the current range of settees with all those side cushions, remind me too much of a retirement home.
They may not be as trendy or modern as some of the smaller manufacturers; the Vantage 'vans we saw at the show mightily impressed us, but then isn't the new A/S Stanway van conversion quite innovative in it's layout?
But here's the rub...Autosleepers have a well-earned reputation for building solid, reliable vehicles that sell well and hold their value.
So, given their target market and level of sales, do they really need to move so much with the times.
Horses for course, as they say. think_smiley_46
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Post by dbroada on Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:45 pm

we went to "the show" with a short list of 4 vans we were interested in "off plan" but also looked at as many other vans as possible in case we had missed something.

Our two constraints were under 3500kg and under 6m (actually under 6,2m but that only introduced one other van). We left day 1 with a very slightly different list still with 4 vans on it.

We didn't like the drop down beds. I like to sit under more natural light than was possible with the drop down bed.

We didn't like a fixed bed as in a short van you severely limit the lounge space.

We didn't like rear lounge as we don't want to cook with our backs so close to the utility rooms.

Therefore we ended up with the "traditional" layout and although by the time we left the show we had a definite top 2, the Auto-sleeper won on one point. Its microwave was set low enough to use safely.

I'm not saying A/S can't improve, whether in construction techniques or innovation but the whole feel of the van has drawn us in to ordering one. (With the roof light above the cab - again I like plenty of daylight.)
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Post by inspiredron on Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:44 pm

dbroada wrote: the Auto-sleeper won on one point. Its microwave was set low enough to use safely.
I think that the Coachbuilt Auto-Sleepers are the only vans where the Microwave is set below eye level and therefore at a safe height - at least they were the only make 4 years ago.

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Post by dbroada on Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:03 pm

inspiredron wrote:
dbroada wrote: the Auto-sleeper won on one point. Its microwave was set low enough to use safely.
I think that the Coachbuilt Auto-Sleepers are the only vans where the Microwave is set below eye level and therefore at a safe height - at least they were the only make 4 years ago.
that appears to still be true - at least we couldn't find another.

In one van - probably French - the grill door dropped down to a height above Heather's head. I'm not entirely sure how she could have used that at all, let alone safely.
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Post by Firms on Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:13 pm

I also visited the NEC show to buy some bits for our newly purchased AS Legend...1997 model. 


While there I had a good look at what I thought would be "modern equivalents" to the Legend but couldn't really find anything that compared. Visited the AS stand and asked to see their rear lounge coachbuilts and none were on show.


Visited other manufacturers stands and majority of designs ( particularly the European designed ones) now seem to be small front dinette /lounge area and swivelling front seats. Not a fan of this layout as the seats are very upright (having to double as travelling seats I guess) and view out was often through small side window and windscreen. 
 

Majority of space in 6m long units also seem to be given over to washrooms and kitchens! Some have fixed beds but they are not very big. We chose the Legend for it's large comfortable lounging area, with large windows making the most of any view, and it's huge king size double bed. 


Anyway left the show even more happy with our purchase than before but have to say that I really don't know what we would replace it with even with a budget of 50K plus. 


As we have never owned a motorhome before we thought we would start off with an older, cheaper unit (which we did) to see how we got on. if we enjoy the experience then we would consider investing in a newer one but from what I saw at the show we will just have to hope that the old transit keeps plodding along!
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Post by m8form8 on Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:52 pm

Firms wrote:

As we have never owned a motorhome before we thought we would start off with an older, cheaper unit (which we did) to see how we got on. if we enjoy the experience then we would consider investing in a newer one but from what I saw at the show we will just have to hope that the old transit keeps plodding along!

Feel the same about our 95 Amethyst, although think the Legend is even better. Ironically well maintained the older transits will pod on and on and on, just make sure you keep the rust at bay as that is the only really major failing part of a transit base.  camper Not seen anything to compare with the older autosleepers even up to 100k doe snot get you a better built more practical motor home. just a heap of designer silly concepts like tiny waste tanks on toilet. I am seriously thinking of commissioning a one off to suit our requirements as no manufacturer has a van to fit our list. pc
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Post by meanchris on Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:25 pm

Firms wrote:I also visited the NEC show to buy some bits for our newly purchased AS Legend...1997 model. 


While there I had a good look at what I thought would be "modern equivalents" to the Legend but couldn't really find anything that compared. Visited the AS stand and asked to see their rear lounge coachbuilts and none were on show.


Visited other manufacturers stands and majority of designs ( particularly the European designed ones) now seem to be small front dinette /lounge area and swivelling front seats. Not a fan of this layout as the seats are very upright (having to double as travelling seats I guess) and view out was often through small side window and windscreen. 
 

Majority of space in 6m long units also seem to be given over to washrooms and kitchens! Some have fixed beds but they are not very big. We chose the Legend for it's large comfortable lounging area, with large windows making the most of any view, and it's huge king size double bed. 


Anyway left the show even more happy with our purchase than before but have to say that I really don't know what we would replace it with even with a budget of 50K plus. 


As we have never owned a motorhome before we thought we would start off with an older, cheaper unit (which we did) to see how we got on. if we enjoy the experience then we would consider investing in a newer one but from what I saw at the show we will just have to hope that the old transit keeps plodding along!

Your assessment matches ours almost exactly.

We looked at other vans before we found our original '95 Exec, and were immediately struck by how spacious and airy it was, so we bought it, (we also discounted the VW cabs, as they have less headroom and width than the Boxer, although I know there'll be 'incoming' from the VW fans for this remark.  wave )

We've discussed what type of van to buy as our next 'upgrade' and we've travelled with friends in their European vans, (Burstners) and we agree with you, for the size of the things, they're cramped, one might even say claustrophobic. One of these Burstners was 8.5m too! 

SWMBO has hankered for a rear lounge, but to my thinking they're cramped too, as the washroom and kitchen pinch the middle of the van like an egg timer.  hugegrins

When we travel we're cheeky, we invite people into our van and then ask whether we can look at theirs.

Surprise surprise, the only two vans that we've both liked were both Auto-Sleepers, a Bourton and a Broadway EB.

We've now done our upgrade from the '95 Exec, but to an identical 2005 Exec. The only difference is that somebody persuaded us that we should think about towing a Smart car when we travel Europe, so we decided we had to have the 2.8 HDi turbo engine and a towbar. When one popped up on eBay at the right price, we snapped it up.

The main benefit that we weren't expecting was the lift up seats, like a caravan, the extra storage space is astonishing. Along with the addition of an external locker to store all our ramps, jack, wheel brace, hose, EHU cable, we now have more than enough space. I'll be taking my fishing tackle on our next France trip, it was a pain to store in the old van with its under seat drawers.

The newer X244 cab is also much quieter than the older X230. All in all, we think that the newer incarnation of the Exec is an improvement, although it cost more than twice as much as the original.
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Post by dbroada on Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:49 pm

m8form8 wrote:I am seriously thinking of commissioning a one off to suit our requirements as no manufacturer has a van to fit our list. pc
go on then! allthumbz

my first van and my current van are both self builds. I bought the first van thinking it was a ready to go camper but very soon I realised it was far from it. I soon replaced everything with help of my carpenter dad. Unfortunately both myself and the van had health issues so sadly that had to go.

The current van is a 2003 Transit, essentially with an Elddis caravan arranged within it - not by me this time. Living very close to the London LEZ meant that we had to have relatively recent van so a manufactured one was out of our price range.

Our big question was how long we would be fit and how long would the van last. The Transit may go on forever but it may not. We don't want to find that our van dies and we buy a new van but find our health deteriorates to a point we can't use it.

We find ourselves in the enviable position of being able to afford (just once) a NEW van, which should last us and give us fewer "is this problem terminal" than an older van would. I would love to build another van but I don't have the facilities.

_________________
Dave

dbroada
dbroada
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Member Age : 65
Location : Surrey
Auto-Sleeper : Nuevo EK (Stolen)
Vehicle Year : 2016

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