A new motorhome manufacturer and it’s LDV (sort of…..)

6 Dec

newshound“Newshound” , Martin, from Scotland , has once more, sent me news of a new motorhome being imported into Australia from China. It’s causing quite a stir, to say the least. Rather like here in the U.K., the campervan and motorhome supply tends to be locally made or converted units made from familiar , home sourced base vehicles. Can the Ozzy converters compete with the might of China?

LDV has a long and somewhat complex history. Originally formed from British Leyland and the Dutch company, DAF., it’s had a mixed family journey. DAF went pop just before the  Russians took it on with the GAZ name but latterly, the Chinese now make the V80 “Maxus” which is used as the base for these motorhomes for Oz.

sherpa-camper-1979sherpa_01

Remember the Sherpa van? This was the forerunner of LDV. Designed as a competitor for the successful Ford Transit, which was made back then in Southampton. (Moved to Turkey now thanks to E.U. subsidy !)

The 60% Daf and 40% Leyland owned company then developed the LDV versions.

ldv-202-proto This prototype LDV became the Renault Master !

renault-master

But the British built Maxus followed on.ldv-maxus-uk

I have driven both Sherpas and Maxus and they handle really well. Built on a low budget, they were surprisingly good. After Daf went feet up, the Russians made these:

ldv-by-gaz Despite a large and growing potential market in Russia, the company failed and ownership passed to China. The LDV Maxus V80 was developed and sold into Ireland and Australia amongst other countries.

ldv-in-irelandldv-by-chinese

Finally, here is one of the Chinese made “V80 based” motorhomes being shipped into Oz.

ldv-v80-motorhome

It will be interesting to see just how sales go. Will we be getting these motorhomes here in the UK? I am sure that there are entrepreneurial types , who will jump at the opportunity to import these , given half a chance. Despite a mixed history, LDV vans have a big following. From Royal Mail drivers to Ambulance drivers, from Builders to members of the Police Service. Not to mention owners of a multitude of campervan conversions based on LDV panel vans. There are already some V80 panel van conversions to be seen on the web.

A big thanks to Martin for breaking the story!

A short trip to East Cheshire, a Celebrity fellow shopper and a moan about Talk Talk.

6 Dec

victoria-mill-signvictoria-mill-entrancevictoriamillcongleton

With the days so short now and darkness falling before 4pm we made the short hop east to Congleton for a pre-Christmas shop at Victoria Mill Antiques.

Much milder today, so the pre-heating using the gas blown air was not needed. We left the heating on yesterday whilst parked ! The campervan was filthy following a round robin of three antiques  centres in West  and North Cheshire on Monday. Arriving at lunchtime, we used the restaurant in the “loft” at the mill and purchased off the specials list. Top notch ! Almost as good as at Applegates yesterday, just south of Chester on Whitchurch Road.

victoria-mill-cafe

When we finally got to the checkout desk, we stood behind a very distinguished figure , just completing his own purchase. It was Noddy Holder from Slade. This is how I remember him from my youth and how he looks now.

nobbyholder-youngnoddyholder

I was disappointed, being a chatty sort myself, not to be able to say how memorable he was and how much fun he gave to my mates and I in our old “biker” days way back in time, when Slade were a huge celebrity band.Within a few seconds he had turned away from the checkout and was out the door.

Now, One of Slade’s hits was ” Gudbuy T’Jane” reflecting the morning’s events.

slade-gudbuy-to-jane      Before we had left home, I had said goodbye T’ Talk Talk. Long overdue, I had had my mobile phone hacked into following the well publicised security breach. Someone had added their number onto my mobile account and I was paying someone else’s phone usage. At the time I had the devil of a job convincing Talk Talk that this was the case. At one point they even said that my mobile number had always been the fraudulent imposter. That was until I provided a bill from them showing my correct number which I have had for “centuries”.

I have cancelled my land line/TV/Broadband “bundle” too. Despite a promise to phone me back with a PAC code within 10 to 15 minutes, true to form it never happened and I had to go through all the mind numbing process to request it again this afternoon. This time successfully.

Now with new providers, in Slade’s words , “I won’t let it ‘Appen Agen.” Nil points to Talk Talk. Be warned if you are shopping around yourself.

Before heading for home, I topped up the windscreen washer bottle from a 5 litre back up that I keep in the campervan. I got really grubby hands doing this but it’s sooo easy to wash in a campervan. Oh the shear luxury of it all…………….

Memories of Winter past

4 Dec

snow-untouchedsnow-gas-lamp

Winter is now officially upon us. This year, much more than in recent years we are again so looking forward to celebrating Christmas. Our grandaughter being just the “right age” is one of the reasons. In reality we have many more reasons to be cheerful. It has brought back memories of Christmas past.

In 1962 we had a very snowy time of it. From my bedroom, at the front of our terraced house in the Potteries, I had a pretty good view of the cul de sac where we lived. There were only three cars in the street. A Wolseley and a baby Austin , owned by two fastidious and proud owners,one kept in a tiny garage in another street and the other in an old stable belonging to one of the larger houses opposite. The third car was a funeral car which would glide quietly to the end of the Cul de Sac. Owned by Mr Lewis, it would park opposite our old family home where we once all lived together as an extended family. Grandparents and two brothers with their children. It was a wonderful way to live. I remember watching my grandad arrive home from his pottery works in his Ford V8 Pilot and my dad and uncle climbing out. The three of them looked like  Al Capone and his cronies in their dark overcoats and hats.

One night, in 1962 ,I was woken by my dad. There was a coal fire in the open hearth of my bedroom and I was taken to the front window to look out from behind the curtains into the street. Snow was falling silently past the familiar gas lamp right outside my window. Pristine snow drifts had filled the street up to the level of our front wall and you could not see where the road ended and our little front garden began. The holly trees next door were sugar coated like huge iced cakes. The two spinsters who lived there and made such a fuss of me as a small boy wouldn’t have been able to see out of their cottage.

It was truly magical. At that young age I had no idea of the chaos this would cause when the industrial world of smokey Stoke-on-Trent awoke next day. Milk brought in by sledge. No buses up the steep hill through our “village” to the Park and most people walking long distances to work for weeks. We went sledging in the Queen’s Park and after filling our tiny bellies with Lobby, beef stew with vegetables, we fell asleep immediately , glowing pink from the fun of it all.

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Eventually the roads looked something like this. I think Mr Campbell was amongst the first to resurrect his VW “Bus” and brave the conditions to get to his school, where he and his wife taught.

1950s-vw The Campbells lived just around the corner on the steep hill, up towards the park.Their VW never looked this good, but I loved the sound it made and how it carried the Campbell’s family in a laughter filled “box” on wheels.

potteries-1930s   All this was such a contrast to what “Stoke” looked like from our streets , high up on the southern edge of the City. This picture is from the 1930s but it looked little different in the early 1960s. When the weather was right (wrong?) we could not see the horizon beyond the next town for coal smoke. Yet it was this very coal which gave us the beautiful light from the hissing coal gas burning in the street lamps. All the way from the smelly coke works near Etruria, this gas was considered by the superstitious old folk to be dangerous and their old gas lights and mantles were treated with great respect. Victorian concerns die hard.

Friends buy a cute and capable Go-Pod Caravan

30 Nov

go-pod-lngego-pod-int

The neighbours, Phil and Debbie, who bought our previous caravan from us, have just replaced the Freedom Microlite with a shiny new Go-Pod.

Just click on these decent sized photos above and see the surprising length of those sofas and the apparent space at the kitchen end with the pop top elevated. Then look at the pictures below to judge just how compact these little, lightweights are.

go-pod-and-awninggo-pod-rr-door

The modern ,streamlined, appearance is backed up by the fibreglass build. No damp issues in these babies! They can be towed behind many small cars. I think that they are an ideal caravan to haul behind a campervan. I just love ’em !

Pod Specifications

External Dimensions

Length 4.32m including 0.98m hitch & bar.
Width 2.08m
Height 2.02m roof down. Raising pop top adds 30cm.
* Allow 210cm garage height clearance.
MiRO 480Kg
Braking AL-KO Braking System.
MTPLM 750Kg
Nose Weight 42Kg
Ground Cl. 180cm NB: Lowest point is the removable spare wheel.
Viewings By appointment only – Click here.
Collection Lancashire – PR8 5LF. Delivery option available

A pleasant round trip to London and back

29 Nov

70mph

Just had three nights in London for Thanksgiving. Fabulous weekend and met some very interesting people, including the lovely daughter of a very famous TV actress and writer and a lady who had been involved on the fringes of a previous industry in which I worked. ‘Tis a small world ! Got to see the family and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The trip down took in the M6 Toll, the M40 and then the South Circular via Earls Court. Dry, clear weather and no roadwoks allowed for 70mph cruising for virtually the entire run.

Seventy miles an hour means that each second you are covering about 31 metres or nearly 103 feet in old “money”.

That’s about one and a quarter times the length of a Tennis Court every second. Fiddling with a CD., bottle of water or , dare I say it, your phone (!!!!!!)  means that you are missing huge tracts of awareness of what is immediately in front of your missile. I mention this because at one point I did brush the noisy lane markings to my left and really alarmed my wife. Just a momentary lapse of focus. It just shows what a dangerous place the hard shoulder is.

forty-three

To confirm some recent questions about my reported (up to….) 60 mpg which we have achieved and can still achieve, we did only average 43 mpg overall on the way down. The campervan was packed with Christmas and family gifts, bottles of booze and even 5 litres of windscreen wash. Luggage added even more weight and so we were running fully laden, so not too bad, all things considered.

bricklayers-arms.

The weekend was packed with Family events but my son and I did enjoy a quiet pint amongst the locals at The Bricklayers Arms in Beckenham. Literally a pint for me. St Austells brewery “Proper Job”. It was too.Hoppy with a citrus hint. LOL. A lovely pint in friendly surroundings. Open fires, dog friendly and recommended if you like “real”  pubs and not a “Disney” designed , plastic replica.

The trip home came around all too soon but was a reverse direction re-run of the trip down. This time though, it did take 2 hours just to get clear of London but a very pleasant drive nonetheless

 

The First (?) High Top Nissan NV200 and it’s from Scotland!

23 Nov

east-nuek-nv200-cub

Martin has once again sent in some breaking news! East Neuk Campervans have come up with new models including a High Top NV200. It’s called the CUB. Apologies for the small images above and below, it’s so new, that’s all I can provide. Layout is similar to our own Nevada and VW owners would find it pretty familiar.

east-nuek-cub-layout

The big advantage of a High Top is in bad weather. Even the best pop top can be susceptible to prolonged rain and wind. Noise from flapping canvas can be an issue too in blustery conditions. I believe that East Neuk Campervans have produced the very first High Top NV200, unless you know differently? I have seen their models many times and they do seem to understand smaller packages, SWB , convenient to use campervans. Their larger motorhomes are well worth a look too if you are in the market for a motorhome.

east-nuek-interior-3

There is a pop top version of the CUB and the website appears to show that version but interiors will be very similar, it seems. Perhaps with the High Top you could work in some extra higher level storage solutions? I have seen eye level cupboards on an NV200 conversion we viewed prior to buying our own. That was a fixed roof version and was more than acceptable but at the time we could buy a brand new base vehicle and get it converted to a higher standard for a little more money.

east-nuek-interior-7

The specification is pretty good and options are available to enhance things further. It comes in just below £30k but that does seem to be the going rate for a ready converted NV200 campervan. I would definitely be looking at East Neuk versions if I was in the market for a compact , all weather, all year round campervan.

you can see more at  http://www.eastneukcampervans.co.uk/nissancub_gallery.php

east-nuek-nv200-cub

The only word of caution would be how it behaves in side winds on the motorway. Our Pop top is a little nervous in these conditions and that higher profile will not make it better. But, with a relatively narrow , high stance it’s not unexpected and if you drive accordingly it should not be a huge issue. Well Done ! East Neuk!

east-neuk-campervans   Oh dear ! Before updating this post I had been spelling Neuk incorrectly and it’s only 4 letters to get into the correct order………… stupid boy Pike !!!!!! Apologies to the people of Fife.

Towing a car behind a motorhome

21 Nov

SONY DSC

suzuki-alto

It’s a very wet, dull, afternoon at the moment and we shall be unable to properly use the campervan for a week or so. Instead I am looking back in time.

When the children were still at school, we lived close enough for my wife to walk there with them. Fine in good weather but when it got like it is today, it was a case of getting cold and  drenched. I did the honourable thing and bought a little Suzuki Alto , a bit like the one shown above. It was right hand drive, in lovely condition and came with an automatic gearbox.

suzuki-alto-intersuzuki-alto-auto

The interior was an “interesting” shade of beige. The steering wheel rim was very slender and all the controls were extremely light. My wife did not enjoy driving. Early driving experiences of wild, raucous and bucket-seated , rally tools, belonging to me, had not helped. Stopping in the middle of my parents’ shrubbery in their front garden had not encouraged her either.

The car came at a very low price and the engine sounded a bit tinny. This quickly turned out to be a shot water pump which I changed at a cost of £13.00 if I remember correctly. We never had any further trouble with it.

That little car carried the kids to school on wet days and even impressed my mother in law on the shopping run to Tesco.

Once my wife had grown used to the metallic brown (yes !!!!!) micro-car, I began to think about taking it with us behind the Talbot Excalibur motorhome we had at the time.

newborough forest

That’s the Talbot, above right, at Newborough Warren on Anglesey. The Bedford CF belonged to ma and pa Dinkum. As you can see we always took bikes with us on our adventures. The first thing to do was sort out how to carry four bikes on the Talbot and still be able to tow.

At the time, Halfords sold individual bike racks which had two swivelling , square section tube “rails”, a seat cup made of heavy duty plastic and handlebar clamps. All adjustable, these were perfect to hang the bikes off the vertical rear wall of the coachbuilt motorhome. I beefed up the mounting points with tasteful strips of hardwood glued inside the rear bunk bed frames. Long coachbolts secured the bike racks and overall it looked the part. I thought it had the look of those Tour de France service “barges” but then I can be a little fanciful…..  shall we say.

That problem overcome, the next issue was with the car. Being automatic, it could not be towed on a frame. Pity, because we had a manufacturer of these devices close to home. Seaching around, I found one of these:

towing-dolly

The towing dolly was exactly like this one. The wheel carrier articulates and when locked using ratchet straps, the ramps allowed the car to be driven up onto the frame. The front wheels drop into the frame. The ramps are stowed back in their slots. The ratchet straps then go around the wheels, securing the car to the frame. These devices were unbraked but with a gross towed weight of less than 750kg., I think it was, you were in business. Intended for car recovery, these devices were sold back then as car tender towing kits for motorhomes. The law has changed now so do not follow this path before checking legalities.

The only issue was when reversing with dolly attached. I never got it right.

It all worked perfectly. We could leave the motorhome set up for day or night “running”, the huge driveaway awning attached and go off in the Suzuki if it was raining or we were suffering from cyclists’ numb bum.

Back then, this caused quite a stir on campsites It was relatively unusual at that time and we got a lot of comments from fellow campers. Great fun and we were making family memories as we went on.

Epilogue: My wife had a slight collision in the Suzuki. Somone cut into the junction where she was waiting to pull out and swiped laterally across the front bumper doing little damage but righting off all confidence. We sold the car to a young chap who worked for us at the time. Within days he had written it off, understeering off a suburban bend and ripping the suspension out of the front of the car. Later the Excalbur developed a terminal water leak in the crazily positioned joint in the centre of the aluminium roof sheets. Who designs such things?

The car towing dolly was also then sold off , athough it had doubled up for retrieving broken down classic motor bikes on more than one occaision. Don’t ask about how that was done or how legal it was………