Ill health decision

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Post by constable on Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:50 am

Unfortunately, due to ill health, I have had to bite the bullet and give up driving.  We own a 2008 Devon and it is too large for my wife to drive.  We love the caravan life and dont want to give up after more than 50 years of going to rallies and short holidays in a van.   Can anyone recommend a small motorhome ? (smaller than a Sprinter Van) we could look at. It must have a casette or similar toilet, 2 berth, hard top preferred. Just emptied the Devon and found items we had never used so will have to downsize somewhat.  The Devon is now up for sale.      Thank you for all the advice we have received from this forum in the past.

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Post by Roopert on Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:05 pm

Sorry to hear that - it's a decision most of us are going to face, sooner or later.

Have you looked at the Topaz? In terms of the space that they take on the road they are not significantly bigger than a large car (though of course a lot bigger in internal volume!).

Alternatively there are other manufacturers of similar models - for example the Bilbos Lezan, which is less than 5.3m long, with a high top and similar facilities including a cassette toilet? They are not far from you if you wanted to take a look, and they also stock the VW California, if a beautifully finished lifting roof type is something you would consider (though I don't think the Cali has a cassette toilet as an option).
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Post by Paulmold on Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:18 pm

How about a Symbol. Or a Mezan, very car-like to drive.

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Post by Roopert on Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:25 pm

I've seen a few couples in Mezans (and of course the similarly sized Romahomes) but surely that's got to be hard work, hasn't it? I would have thought you would spend most of your time trying to get out of each other's way!
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Post by Paulmold on Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:32 pm

Roopert wrote:I've seen a few couples in Mezans (and of course the similarly sized Romahomes) but surely that's got to be hard work, hasn't it? I would have thought you would spend most of your time trying to get out of each other's way!
I agree, I couldn't live with a Mezan but just mentioned it as suitable for Constable's wife to drive. The Devon isn't big by most standards at only 5.5metres. The Symbol is 5.3 I think (older models up to 2005) but doesn't feel as big being a van conversion as opposed to a coachbuilt.

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Post by Torbaytimber on Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:36 pm

I assume that your good lady lacks confidence to drive a larger vehicle.  Many years ago my wife was uncomfortable driving our A class Hymer.  We took a course with the Institute of advanced Motorists, this improved my driving and gave her every confidence. She subsequentley drove on some of the worst Roads in Europe.   We had system for driving in unknown territory.  The passenger called out hazards, as a driving aid, not a criticism. Sadly I am on my own now and have to rely on a sat nav!

I am still a member of what is now known as IAM RoadSmart and have my driving checked every year. They have a section for light commercial vehicles.

I believe that taking lessons is worth a try.  Lessons are cheaper than changing the van. I recommend that your wife takes lessons in handling a larger vehicle.
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Post by Bad Penny on Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:31 pm

I’m so sorry you have to make that decision. I wish you good luck with your health and hope can still enjoy this pastime with a smaller MH.

Leighton.
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Post by daisy mae on Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:13 pm

I am sorry to hear this too, but one which we all will have to come to at some time in the future.

Hope you find a suitable van, sounds as though your wife finds it daunting , I agree a few lessons worth a try.

There are lots of smaller vans around including AS with a cassette toilet. I have a Topaz to use as my car, but for me too small for two to use as a sleeping van, OK for one and a dog, just my findings. especially if not that nimble. Perhaps a Symbol worth a look.slightly bigger.

Good luck.
Best regards,
Margaret

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Post by steamdrivenandy on Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:37 pm

I run a 5.2m Transit PVC hightop with 4 belted seats that turn into two singles or a double. It has a proper Thetford swivel toilet, compressor fridge, hob, loads of lockers and uniquely a 3ft deep full width 'boot' under the kitchen worktop. That enormous space was desgned to store a disability scooter, but can take a wheelchair, golf trolley and clubs, scuba tanks and gear, model planes, bikes or, as in our case a two dog crate plus two folding chairs, a puppy pen, spare gas cylinder, toolkit, dog grooming bag and loads more.
There's even a 5m version where the rear 'boot' is a foot shorter.
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Post by KMRTOPAZ on Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:15 am

We have an auto Topaz and use it as a tow car for a small caravan and as a day vehicle for almost everything else.  It fits neatly into a Tesco parking slot. 
We use the two-single-bunks option which gives easy access to the rear for those recurring (?) night time jaunts.  Room is adequate in day mode and in night mode. The transfer from day to night requires careful negotiation !  It has FULL MoHo facilities, with closed shower-basin-loo room.  Recommended.  Keith
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Post by burlingtonboaby on Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:20 am

I concure with fellow members and hope you find a suitable van to continue your trips anyway.
Duetto is a nice smaller van, not much overhead storage in my view.
It has a wee cassette w/c etc.
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Post by steamdrivenandy on Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:37 am

As has been inferred it's the transition from day to night operation  that can be a pain with smaller vans. Because they're small they haven't got the space for a fixed bed so something has to be moved about. Van's with bench rear seats quickly make up a double but leave little in the way of access, dog or toilet space. Those with two single rear seats usually mean using the cab seats as the foot end of the beds but do provide a central aisle for access to the rear and for dog beds etc.
When it's just me and the dogs then bed time is fairly simple, but if Mrs SDA is with us she gets sent to the site facilities whilst I make up her offside bed, storing the bolster cushion in the 'boot and getting her pillows and Duvalay from the overcab locker. Once she's back on board and in bed I can drop the offside rear seat and make up my bed. Getting up in the morning is the reverse of that procedure but with my bed having to go away first to allow exit through the side door either for a shower or dog walk, whichever is more pressing.

We once tried the bed operation with the two of us on board and it was a relationship disaster, so we've steered well away from that ever since. 

Writing this has reminded me that Adria did produce a 5 4m version of the Twin with a rear double bed a few years ago. There's a Youtube video on it somewhere. Trouble is it'll be just as wide as all the other x250 based panel vans, whereas Transits are a little narrower and VW's a lot narrower.
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Post by orchard on Mon Oct 21, 2019 1:19 pm

Hello, what is the price of the Devon please?  Is it an automatic or manual?   Thanks John
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Post by steamdrivenandy on Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:17 pm

The A/S Devon is 5.9m long and most PVC's use the Sevel X250 as their base and they are mostly 6m or 6.4m long. As panel vans they'll about 6ft 1ins wide inside, so about 10 ins narrower than a Devon coachbuilt. The Symbol is the only current A/S built on the short wheelbase 5.4m Sevel van, though I think the Stratford used to be too.
The shortest van I know of that had a full(though small) washroom was the Horizons Unlimited Cavarno 2, which is a smidge under 5m and on a Transit and therefore 5ft 10ins wide inside. 
I've not heard of a SWB VW Transporter with a proper cassette toilet fitted, but quite a few LWB versions (like the Topaz) are available from the likes of Autohaus,  Leisuredrive, Devon Conversions etc. A LWB T6 is 5.3m long but only 5ft 7ins wide inside.
HTH
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Post by groundhog on Mon Oct 21, 2019 5:51 pm

I pass on my sympathy at having to give up the Devon, I am currently undergoing medical tests which may lead to selling our much loved and totally immaculate Worcester as the DVLA may not renew my HGV licence. It is gutting when you have spent so much time and effort in enhancing your van and making it as perfect as possible only to have to give it up for health reasons.
Can't advise on a smaller van I am afraid, will leave that to the experts. Best wishes in finding the new van of your dreams.
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Post by constable on Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:11 pm

Thank you all for your replies and condolences.  It is not the length of the Devon that is the problem but the width of over 8 feet that the wife is concerned about. We have to traverse country lanes to get anywhere and things get very tight at times.   Also how do I do a private message please.

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Post by steamdrivenandy on Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:16 pm

The easiest way is to click on the 'pm' box in the member profile at the left of a message by the member you wish to contact.
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Post by steamdrivenandy on Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:38 pm

It's interesting to see how different makes deal with the modesty issue of toilets in small vans.
The Topaz, of course has a full washroom across the back,with a proper door. The Symbol and Duetto have theirs in the nearside rear and again it's a proper washroom with shower and basin.
Very few other small campers have a full shower room with the honourable exception of the 5m Cavarno, which mimics the last two mentioned vans.
These days there are quite a few vans with proper Thetford toilets but no shower etc. Most fit the toilet in the offside rear corner to allow the cassette to be withdrawn through opened rear doors. There are a whole variety of ways of cabinetting the toilet with tambour and lift up cupboards etc. 
Devon use a large swing-out double folding door that hinges across the central aisle and over the kitchen worktop to provide privacy up the back. Autohaus use a full height sliding panel that glides out from beside the fridge/wardrobe and clips in place, blocking the aisle. Leisuredrive don't appear to provide any screen, though when I asked they said they can fit a pull down blind in the roof that will close off the central aisle.
The standard version of my van had a double folding door that was hinged at the front edge. When out of use the toilet space looked like a big wardrobe, but when needed you could manoeuvre the door around you and across the aisle. Trouble is mine was modified for a disabled person and the door hinged at the rear. Great for access, but rubbish for modesty as you're exposed to the whole of the fro t of the van.
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Post by Tinwheeler on Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:24 pm

The Wildax Pulsar built (usually) on the Citroen Relay is only 5m long and has a dedicated washroom. Being a PVC, it’ll be around 10” narrower than a coachbuilt.
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Post by inspiredron on Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:32 pm

I suspect that the underlying problem is as much heaviness of handling as well as width.  Whether it is a Devon or a Symbol thay are still a bit like a small lorryand don't have the lightness of feel of a car - unless you are used to a Chelsea Tractor. My wife found driving the Nuevo fatiguing so now she is of the insurance in case I become incapacitated when we are far from home.

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Post by steamdrivenandy on Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:51 pm

I've heard it said that the VW T series vans are very car like to drive and they're also the narrowest of the main options. My Mk7 Transit was lauded on that basis too when it was launched and I took it into Crewe for some shopping the other day and found myself thinking how easy it was to handle. I suspect the Transit Custom is even better but it hasn't really taken off as a motorhome base.
That reminds me that Wildax have to fit a GRP roof on the Pulsar to get adequate headroom as did HU with the Cavarno. It seems base vehicle manufacturer's don't like fitting high steel roofs to 5m vans. My Transit is the 5.2m MWB version and that has a factory steel roof with plenty of headroom for my 6ft 2ins. I did try a Devon Firefly on the Transit Custom but I'd have to go around inside with a constant stoop.
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Post by Bev on Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:45 pm

Re the Wildax Pulsar....
We thought this looked like the ideal van for us  on paper, but when we looked at it in 'the flesh', the top lockers were so high I couldn't reach into them. I am only 5 foot tall though!
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Post by Tinwheeler on Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:58 pm

Bev wrote:Re the Wildax Pulsar....
We thought this looked like the ideal van for us  on paper, but when we looked at it in 'the flesh', the top lockers were so high I couldn't reach into them. I am only 5 foot tall though!

I suspect you might have the same problem with any Sevel based van, Bev. That's hard luck.
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Post by steamdrivenandy on Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:23 pm

The Pulsar's GRP roof and it's joint between the removed low metal roof may mean that the roof lockers can only be fitted above the joint. The factory steel roofed hightop vans will not have a seam so low down and roof lockers may extend lower down the side.
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Post by daisy mae on Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:16 pm

The Topaz is car like to drive, very easy / comfortable, also top lockers I can use with ease.Van is also narrow.

Unlike the top lockers in the Hampshire, have had to move the pots from a top locker to cupboard under the cocktail cabinet, just cannot reach to get them out. I am 5` 2" or was. hugegrins

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