Day 348 - Low mileage, good run-about, sleeps 6

This post is part sales-pitch, part maintenance log, part equipment review, and part love-story. For the past 10 months our home has been the safe and comfy interior of our 2006 Hymer Classic 644 camper.

It has taken us everywhere we've asked it to, and dealt with all the crazy roads and hills we've ventured up and down, and it has kept us warm and dry whatever the weather. It - or should that be 'she', her name is Lucia - has given other drivers moments of panic as they suddenly imagined being stuck on a country lane for hours, and yet those difficult moments quickly passed as our reversing camera allowed us to resolve the situation. Sometimes she has felt too big, and sometimes she has been too small - but most of the time she has been just right.

We bought Lucia on the 18th May 2017 in preparation for our year-long tour of the UK and have been very happy with our decision. She sleeps the 5 of us comfortably, and we have even occasionally slept 7 when family came to visit us by putting our 3 children (9,7 & 4) on the alcove bed above the cab and converting the dinette bed.

We chose this layout after researching and visiting several motorhomes mainly because it gives us a massive boot which can take children's bikes, outside furniture, extra tents, awnings, tools, food, boots, mats and anything else we wanted to put in there. The second reason for going for this fixed-bed layout is that we have nothing to do at a normal bedtime. There are no beds to make or cushions to convert; we just climb into our beds and leave the main living space as it is.

The alcove bed is 200cm x 160cm so really is big enough for three children under-10 sleeping across the bed.

Our final reason for choosing this layout was the family-friendly on-board shower. It was a luxury that we haven't used when staying on camp-sites, but when we've been wild camping it has been a really big plus as it's possible to have a decent shower in a car park or wherever we found ourselves. Being separate means that the bathroom space is still usable during or after use of the shower, as opposed to the typical wet-room layout where the whole bathroom takes a shower with you.

The giant boot
A big bonus of our choice of motorhome was the interior storage which is able to swallow us and all of our clothes, shoes, toys, books, games, gadgets, food, crockery, utensils, musical instruments, and car-seats. The car-seats are the reason we bought a Hymer as it has 5 full-seat belts and a 6th lap-belt, so everyone gets a proper belt and a secure attachement for their car-seat.

In the middle of the Beast from the East
Hymer has an excellent reputation for build quality, and certainly the body of the van and furnishings have done a great job. The insulation particularly was amazing, when outside temperatures dipped to -5°C we had almost no condensation on the interior walls each morning. Having said that, having a layer of ice and snow on top of the van for 10 days did cause various minor problems with rubber seals when it all melted, but we were comfortable and warm at the time.

With ice sculptures hanging off the back

As we were going to spend so much time in the motorhome over our year's travels we invested quite a bit in upgrades to make our life easier  :
  • installed rear-view/reversing camera & 7" screen
  • replaced all interior-lighting halogen bulbs with LED bulbs
  • installed additional LED lighting in kitchen and rear-double bed
  • replaced rear double-bed mattress with brand-new foam/memory-foam
  • replaced 12V TV plug with twin USB charging points
  • installed 300W inverter
  • installed mounting points for tablet/screen holder while travelling
  • installed mounting brackets in boot for additional storage-net
  • installed new CO alarm with integrated temperature gauge
  • installed a smoke alarm
  • replaced bathroom tap due to corrosion and leaks
  • installed a new (original part) bathroom wash-basin & drain assembly
  • replaced diesel engine timing-belt
In total we have spent about £1200 on upgrades to either improve battery life, improve safety or give us more flexibility in using the van. 

Feeding many around the table
The diesel engine supplied with the base Fiat Ducato vehicle is a 2.8 litre unit providing about 140 bhp. That's been more than enough to deal with the weight of the vehicle plus all our gear. When fully-loaded the van will cope with most hills on major roads at 60mph, and will even get up those crazy 1-in-4 hills on country lanes at 30mph. As mentioned in the list above the timing-belt has been changed in 2017 and the vehicle passed its last MOT with no extra work needing doing. By the end of the trip she'll have done just under 50,000 miles, with the last 10,000 being ourselves over the last 12 months.

Over our year's travel we discovered that if you take a ten-year old motorhome and live in it every day with three children then stuff breaks! Who would have guessed. All of this was due to wear and tear, except the window which was due to forgetfulness. Here is the list of things that have been replaced or repaired : 
  • installed new water-pump (Reich Twin) 
  • replaced sealant on water-tank joints
  • repaired faulty seal on water-tank over-flow valve
  • replaced gas regulator with new Cavagna unit x 2
  • replaced worn rubber washer on gas-regulator pipes x 2
  • replaced Gaslow 1.5m filler pipe
  • replaced failed Elektroblok battery charger & AC regulator unit (new unit under warranty)
  • replaced broken hinge on overhead storage locker
  • replaced micro-switch on gas-hob igniter
  • replaced micro-switch in kitchen tap
  • repaired kitchen towel-rail mounting
  • replaced left alcove window with new unit following unfortunate tree + open-window incident
  • repaired electric-step close button for driver
  • repaired hinge-mounting on small step/storage unit
  • replaced soft-close pads on large storage units
  • replaced retainer clips for holding main door open
  • replaced retainer clips for holding garage doors open
  • repaired damaged casing on wind-out awning and rebalanced gas-struts
  • cleaned and lubricated skylight winding mechanism
  • replaced passenger head-rest due to 4 year-old having eaten chunks out of the foam
  • replaced broken curtain rail runners
Our trip is ending in August 2018 and so we'll be giving Lucia a big end-of-trip clean and polish and be looking to sell her from about the 10th August. If you're interested please get in touch by e-mail james(at)atack(dot)fr or post us a comment on the blog and we'll be in touch.

These are the photo from when we picked her up... she'll be at least as shiny as this!

A price, you say? How about a nice round £22,950


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