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The CC & M Show NEC - Highlight of the Show

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Post by Monty-Plym Sat Feb 17, 2024 12:55 pm

Attended the show on Thursday 15th Feb, there was a very high standard in build quality set by the smaller convertors at the show, especially with regard to the all-terrain vehicles, though they do look kind of aggressive and a few had glaring design problems from a practical point of view.  

The highlight for me, was a van conversion by Rolling Homes of Shrewsbury called the Darwin.  This is based on a VW LWB Crafter Trendline chassis which is 6.8m long, the extra 437mm over the Warwick XL makes an extraordinary amount of difference to the perceived spaciousness.  What caught my attention above all else was the quality of the cabinet making, on this model, real wood (light oak) was used, all the joints were beautifully made, there were no tacky circular sticky covers over countersunk screw heads or horrid cheap plastic covers over panel joining connectors.  I also liked the Corian worktops and the split gas/induction hob on glass not stove enamel, this really gave a high quality feel, as did the Corian shower tray.

I still prefer the layout of the WXL, being able to open the rear doors into the lounge area is a real bonus to me.  The Darwin has a rear end bathroom which like the WXL, comprises of a separate toilet and shower (no clingy curtain to fight off). However, I am not so sure about opening the rear doors to reveal the toilet, ideal I suppose, if you suffer from IBS  biggrin or want a Loo with a view.

If Rolling Homes mimicked the WXL layout and used the extra 437mm for a low level cupboard behind the drivers seat to allow it to swing around it would be the perfect van for me.  They will build a bespoke layout to order but first I need to win on the Premium Bonds.  This van was a little over £116K.

The trusty WXL was on display showing off the new electronic dashboard, no problem ordering an Automatic gearbox according to the rep.  As I have mentioned previously there are no rear speakers fitted anymore or rear light switches to turn off the lights whilst in bed (these can be confusing at times when you want to switch the lights back on from a different switch, which is possibly why they have been omitted). The general electric design doesn't appear to have changed that much apart from a different layout on the control panel.

I have no connection whatsoever to any of the companies mentioned above apart from the fact that I own a WXL.

If you attended the show, what impressed you the most?

The CC & M Show NEC - Highlight of the Show 20240211

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Post by Dbvwt Sat Feb 17, 2024 3:03 pm

I went to the NEC show in October and I agree, the build quality of the smaller converters generally far exceeded that of the main players.
Did you notice the payload of the Rolling Homes van by the way? In a 6.8m van with proper wood and Corian worktops, I would be interested in that figure.
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Post by Monty-Plym Sat Feb 17, 2024 3:24 pm

Dbvwt wrote:I went to the NEC show in October and I agree, the build quality of the smaller converters generally far exceeded that of the main players.
Did you notice the payload of the Rolling Homes van by the way? In a 6.8m van with proper wood and Corian worktops, I would be interested in that figure.
Good point, the payload totally escaped me, it is not shown on either their brochure or website.  They will probably quite correctly state that it depends on what extras you have fitted.  I have sent them an email asking what the payload was for the NEC display model.  I will let you know when I get a reply.

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Post by Monty-Plym Sat Feb 17, 2024 7:31 pm

I have had a reply from Rolling homes regarding the model on display at the NEC which did have quite a few extras:-

"Regarding the payload on the wooden Darwin, it is a 3,500kg vehicle, with 400kg payload. (This is after full fuel, one passenger) "

This display model also had an automatic gearbox, 150Ah Lithium ion battery, heated front screen, 155W solar panel, microwave and Alloy Wheels.

So all things considered it is not too bad, not sure what the fuel tank size would be on a VW.

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Post by The Bargee Sun Feb 18, 2024 10:41 am

Impressive conversion but I wonder how they keep the weight down. I may be out of date but when I was comparing base vehicles for a home conversion I recall that the Crafter/Sprinter were about 250kg heavier than the Sevel vans, with correspondingly less payload of course at 3500 gross. They must be using some seriously light materials!
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Post by Monty-Plym Sun Feb 18, 2024 11:22 am

The Bargee wrote:Impressive conversion but I wonder how they keep the weight down. I may be out of date but when I was comparing base vehicles for a home conversion I recall that the Crafter/Sprinter were about 250kg heavier than the Sevel vans, with correspondingly less payload of course at 3500 gross. They must be using some seriously light materials!
I have no idea how they have achieved this, all I can say is that the end result is very impressive.  What I do know through asking the rep is that the Corian work top is only about 1cm thick, the cupboards were made from a solid oak frame with oak veneered plywood inset, similar to a shaker style, and felt quite solid.  The veneer had been applied to both sides and looked first class, that would save a bit of weight I guess. I could not see any fasteners covered up on the outside of the furniture. 

English oak can be found with a relative low density and hence weight, it has a wide ranges from 0.6 to 0.9 Kg/m3.

Materials are in continuous development, great things have been done with carbon fibre for example, it is allegedly 10 times stronger and 5 times lighter than steel, though quite a bit more expensive.  It could be possible in the future for manufacturers to find a way of wood veneering carbon fibre so it could be used for light weight furniture in Campervans.  Possible business venture for someone on this forum.

It would be very interesting to find out what R&D companies are carrying out, if any, to reduce the overall weight and hence increase payload.  I wonder if any employ material engineers?

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Post by The Bargee Sun Feb 18, 2024 12:08 pm

Yes, panelled oak(or ash etc.) doors and joinery can be very light. I was a little surprised to see that AS use a ply floor when there are lighter composites available. Of course where AS save weight is in the wiring, and then they add it back with excessive plumbing runs (hose may seem light, but less so when full of water!) Anyway, I decided that as a former barge builder used to ignoring weight (less weight = more ballast) I decided that I would probably make everything too heavy, which in hindsight was a poor decision because I have now had to up-plate the van anyway. Hey ho!

The Darwin is a nice looking job though, and yes, no horrible plastic DIY standard cupboard joints!
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Post by gassygassy Sat Feb 24, 2024 10:29 am

The Bargee wrote:........ Of course where AS save weight is in the wiring, and then they add it back with excessive plumbing runs (hose may seem light, but less so when full of water!) ........

The Darwin is a nice looking job though, and yes, no horrible plastic DIY standard cupboard joints!

When correcting the wiring faults on my Bourton I noticed many many runs of unnecessry, un-terminated wiring. Presumably they make standard wiring looms to provide for every conceivable configuration. Why they pre-wire for a tow bar I have no idea, since the payload wouldn't leave hardly any spare as soon as you fit a tow bar. Then there are the multi cross-chassis wires to connect the unnecessary push button push-to-make step switch which has a pair of wires running from the switch to the Sargent, through the unnecessary microprocessor and back to the step. A three way up / down / centre off switch would eliminate the wiring and the microprocessor. You are absolutely right about the unnecessary plumbing. One in two hundred buyers may find a use for the 'suck your water up from an Aquaroll that you have to carry inside, and walk across a camp site to fill with water when you could easily have just driven to the tap' but that does require extra plumbing, unneceessary wiring, and unnecessary computerage. In fitting a ShurFlo pump I was astonished at the cold water plumbing runs.

I've just looked at 'outandabout live' where they did a review of a 2014 Rolling Homes on a Crafter. It was £54,000 ish then. So in ten years the price has about doubled, which is about right. Another way (my favourite) way of thinking about inflation is that you just divide current prices by ten and you get the real value of something. So a £1 Mars bar becomes 10p or in real money two shillings which is about right. (although when I was buying them they were sixpence and twice the size they are now). A £100,000 motorhome becomes £10,000 which again seems reasonable - but you can get them cheaper of course.

It was interesting that both you (montyplym) and the current issue of MMM say that the quality of the smaller UK converters is somewhat better than the mainstream manufacturers. I didn't look at the RollingHomes, I think because I didn't come across them. I ignored every price starting with a 1 anyway. Perhaps that's a good job or I would be Google Mapping from my house to Shrewsbury . . . . . ..
Hmmm. It's one and a half hours away . . . . . would my accountant notice I have left the house for a few hours? snigger

The current issue of MMM has a two page review of the Darwin, it says payload 400kg. Also I noticed in the same issue that an owner of a Kingham did a review of it and said they bought it because it was 'the only two berth, two seat belt campervan made' . Well the Darwin is also a two seat belt two berth campervan. MMM says "also consider the Autohaus Grandi X (unobtainable) and the Globe Traveller also made of unobtanium. When the Globe Traveller was the Campervan of the Year last NEC, I wanted one. None available in the UK so I thought as they are made in Poland I would go to Poland and buy one. None on Ebay poland so I went to the manufacturer's web site and looked up all their dealers. None available anywhere in Europe at any of their dealers. Thus it would seem far better to buy from a manufacturer 90 minutes away from your house where they speak the same language.

There's no mention in the review of what company makes the electrics for the RH . . . . .

Oh, Errr .. . apparently the handmade European Oak cabinets are a £9,000 extra! Gulperoonie  .

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