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Getting to know our Duetto

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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Getting to know our Duetto

Post by exmoorcamper on Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:19 pm

After joining the Forum a couple of weeks ago, and by way of an introduction, I thought I would write a few lines describing the route we took to our first Auto-Sleepers motorhome. 

Being new to camper vans, (and this very useful forum) several weeks of research, and after viewing a variety of models, we narrowed our search down to a Transit-based Duetto. Our budget meant that it would be a Mk5 or Mk6. Apart from the budget constraints, the main criteria were that we wanted a camper with a shower and toilet, so that narrows it down if you you don't want the bulk of a coach-built vehicle. We want to use the van for day's out as well as overnight and longer breaks, so we were basically looking for a the smallest possible base vehicle which included a shower and toilet.

We soon narrowed our search down to an Auto-Sleepers model, for the reasons which all on here will be familiar. My first instinct was for a Transit based vehicle, simply from having experienced a few Transit vans for our business over the last 15 years or so, and getting to know them reasonably well in that time. Not being a fan of the Mk7 Transits, due to their technical complexity, and quirky driving characteristics due to modern fuelling systems, my first choice would have been a Mk6. 

Early on in the research process we were temporarily tempted by a very tidy 1995 Peugeot based low mileage Symphony. But it was a Petrol version, and it didn't drive too well. A mechanic friend tried to steer me away from Peugeots and their cousins in no uncertain terms, and I have read on the forum that gearboxes can be a problematic, and parts difficult to find. So we decided against getting distracted away from the Ford variants.

There are wealth of Mk5 Duettos out there for sale, but of course the famous Transit rust issue is always a problem, to a greater or lesser degree. Prices seems to range from £8k-£12k. Having the facility these days to research the MOT history is a big help in this regard. Most seem to have a long list of "excessive corrosion" in a variety areas.

We thought we might have found a good candidate, and not too far from us here in Devon. It had allegedly covered 67,000 miles. On inspection, it had a variety of rust repairs carried out and areas needing imminent work, and taking out for a drive made me think that it had either lacked maintenance or had covered more miles that the odometer displayed. So it wasn't too difficult to walk away. It was all good research though. In terms of the accommodation we were looking for, it was spot on.

For further research purposes, we also looked at a T4 Trident. This was in pretty good condition, and had covered only 80,000 miles. But again it didn't appear to have been very well maintained, and it was around £4k-£5k over-priced in my view. So again, not difficult to leave it.

After another couple of weeks, we spotted a 1997 Duetto for sale privately. I have always preferred buying privately, as I think you can potentially get more for your money, and get a better insight into it treatment and history. You need to be confident of assessing condition of course, as there won't be any warranty to fall back on later. But I don't think most people are out to hide major problems, and if they are, you will probably sense something during the inspection process. I have learned over the years to to be disciplined, and walk away if it doesn't 'feel right'.

This Duetto has had 6 owners and has covered an established 52,000 miles. It drove totally differently to the previous one we tried, which was reassuring in itself. So after a check round inside and the bodywork, it was on with the overalls and take a deep breath to prepare for disappointment by checking the underside. The ad said that it had been waxoyled, which can be great, but in my experience can also ring alarm bells. If it has been waxoyled regularly and over a long period it can make a huge difference to the preservation of the vulnerable areas, but recent applications, particularly with the black rather than clear variety of the stuff can hide a multitude of problems, including filler, bad welding or collander-like panels.

I was very pleasantly surprised with what I found. The waxoyl was the clear type, so I could see the original panels beneath, and it was clearly done a long time ago. After spending 20 minutes or so checking it from end to end I couldn't find anything but very light superficial surface rust anywhere. So after ticking so many boxes, a deal was agreed and it now resides in our yard. It drove very well on the way home, though of course the banana non-turbo engine couldn't be more different to the 2012 Mk 7 we use for work. But there is a charm in it's simplicity, a 'modern classic' as I saw them described elsewhere on the forum.

We're now looking forward to setting it up for our needs. I'm sure there will be a few jobs to do prepare it and equip it, but that will be a gradual process as we get to know it. Being a enthusiast home mechanic and having an interest for classic vehicles, I will do my best to keep it in the condition we have found it in.

Peter.
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by daisy mae on Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:36 pm

Hello and asof_welcome2 from Leicestershire.

Sounds like you have found a good one there. happy camper

Best regards,
Margaret

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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by exmoorcamper on Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:10 am

Thanks Margaret. 
We hope we've found a good one, time will tell!
Do you have a Duetto too.

Peter.
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by burlingtonboaby on Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:21 am

Hi
Welcome to the forum from Bridlington 
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by modelman on Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:26 pm

Hello & welcome from S/Yorks. drinksallround

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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by exmoorcamper1 on Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:09 pm

Follow Up.
As a follow up to my first posting, I thought I would post an update about progress with our Duetto, now that we have done 5 trips and about 2000 miles in it.
Overall we have been very pleased with it. The facilities of the Duetto are ideal for our needs, and the quality of the fixtures and fittings are very good.
We've done a few jobs on it since purchase, some necessary and some as 'upgrades/improvements.
The necessary jobs have been a new starting battery, as the old was was showing its age and not holding a charge for more than a couple of weeks. We also had to replace the interior water pump, which was not difficult or particularly expensive. I changed the rear tyres for an all-terrain tyre, which gives us at least half a chance of making some headway when off the tarmac.
I also replaced the front bumper, as they are easily available in the after-market for Mk5 Transits at around £45. I also upgraded the headlamp bulbs, changed the headlamp units as the old ones were 'frosty'. The most expensive 'upgrade' job was to replace the interior strip light units with the Labcraft LED equivalents. These are much brighter and use a lot less current. The spotlight bulbs have also been changed for the LED versions.
On our last trip, which was in the windy weather, we lost the cover on one of the roof vents whilst driving. So we have changed that vent assembly for a new aftermarket version. 
We're looking forward to some more planned trips now that the weather is at last starting to improve after a very wet winter.
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by roli on Mon Mar 09, 2020 8:27 am

asof_welcome2
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Post by exmoorcamper1 on Mon Mar 09, 2020 8:31 am

Thanks Roli!
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by MelB on Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:27 am

Welcome to the forum from S.Yorkshire.
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by exmoorcamper1 on Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:29 am

Thank you MelB. It is a very friendly and helpful community.
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by Milvus on Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:07 am

That’s a great introduction and follow up. You’ve obviously done a lot of research and have arrived at what works for you. Enjoy the Duetto......up!

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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by exmoorcamper1 on Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:14 am

Thanks Milvus.
We've been really chuffed with the Duetto. The right balance of vehicle size and accommodation, for us. The non-turbo transit engine isn't the most powerful thing in the world, but I like the basic low-tech technology of the engine. It cruises on the motorway easily at 60, and only gets a bit breathless on the steeper hills, which you can live with. It returns 30mpg, which is fine for a vehicle of this size and weight. We have a modern transit van for work, and that only returns around 26mpg, though it does have a lot more power.

The Auto Sleepers do seem to be very well built. It is our first camper van, although we have had a few caravans in the past and the AS quality exceeds those I would say.
regards Peter.
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Getting to know our Duetto Empty Re: Getting to know our Duetto

Post by Dave 418 on Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:27 pm

Welcome to the forum from the top corner of Lincolnshire. We started with a Mk5 Duetto and loved it. Sadly the rust issues on ours were well hidden and the repair costs spiralled . As the mileage was creeping up we made a hard decision and swapped it for a Rienza.
Like you I am Transit orientated from my past working at the roadside. Finding a Transit as good as yours is a challenge but like you we looked far and wide and rejected quite a few.
They might not be as slick and sofisticated as modern motorhomes but we found ours to be comfortable to drive and live in during our many trips. I am sure you will have many memorable trips.
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