When we bought the Bailey we were looking for a van with a fixed bed and four seats. Almost two years down the road we've realised that these criteria are not as important as the ability to go anywhere we want. Shortly into ownership of our first van, once initial trepidation had worn off, we realised it was the same size as the average delivery/courier van, which, as we all know, will pretty much go anywhere.
It's fair to say that, as soon as October 2016 came around, and our first month-long tour with the Bailey, we wondered if we'd done the right thing. The Bailey was so big to drive, mainly due to its width, and we had a couple of near misses with it around the Dales and the Lakes. To cut a long story short, after 20 months of ownership, we finally decided to go back to a smaller van. Our local dealer, Spinney Motorhomes in Cheshire (suppliers of both previous vans), offered us a good deal in exchange for an Elddis Accordo 120. Our friend David has an Accordo, albeit a different layout, and we've always been impressed with the compact size, neat appearance and build quality.
The Elddis is, in some ways, a halfway house between our two previous vans. It's a coachbuilt, but with broadly similar dimensions to a van conversion. So it's a smidgen under 6m long and the body is only 2.14m wide; significantly that's around 30cm narrower than the Bailey! There are a few coachbuilts available now with noticeably narrower bodies. An easy way to tell if it's one of the narrow ones is to look at the mirror arms. Most vans are built on the Peugeot Boxer/Fiat Ducato base and their standard vans have short arms on them, as do van conversion motorhomes. Most coachbuilt vans have long arm mirrors. Only coachbuilts with narrow bodies have the standard, short arm mirrors. Being a coachbuilt, it has more space in the overhead lockers than a van conversion, having vertical walls rather than the tumblehome effect of a van body, with curved top edges. I hope that's clear. So, we have a bit more space but in a modestly sized van. We've so missed being able to drive narrower lanes and stay in some of our favourite van-wild-camping spots due to the vast size of the Bailey. It's also important that coachbuilts are cheaper than van conversions due to substantially different build costs.
In addition to the standard spec, our Elddis has winterised water tanks with heaters and a microwave. Before delivery, the dealers have fitted an awning, a bike rack, a reversing camera, a USB socket and an alarm. They've also swapped our satellite dome TV system along with the Gaslow LPG system from the Bailey.
Like our original Auto Sleeper, it's a strictly two berth van. It has an end lounge, with two 6ft odd long sofas which can be used as two single beds or combined to make a big double. The washroom does double duty as shower and/or loo with washbasin and the kitchen has a sink plus three burner hob and a combination oven and grill (plus microwave of course).
Like Bailey, Elddis use a clever, modern body construction method ensuring solidity and, hopefully, a lack of potential for water ingress. They bond the bodywork with a sophisticated adhesive and give a 10 year warranty against leaks. Water leaks are a long term issue with coachbuilts, but I'm setting this against the potential for rust in the huge amount of steel in a van conversion. Swings and roundabouts.
As usual, as soon we got the van home we started the customisation process.
Both our previous vans had custom made covers for all the upholstery, which we could remove and wash in an effort to keep up with the effects of two big dogs. For a number of reasons (not least the cost) we were never completely happy with them. This time around we've gone with a less expensive option. I bought two, inexpensive waterproof nylon seat covers in royal blue for the front seats and we sourced some simple (and cheap) navy blue, cotton bedspreads to cover the sofas. Chrissie's gone to a lot of trouble, using her sewing skills, to fashion these into fitted covers. We also sourced some inexpensive seat back storage thingies from Halfords which seem useful. The front seats swivel, by the way.
As on the previous vans I've hard wired our satnav into the van's electrics and screwed it to the dash. Those suction things are, in my opinion, a pain in the arse.
I've added a couple of magazine storage nets and Fiamma storage pockets.
The washroom cabinet needed some shock cord and a couple of storage boxes, to fit more stuff in...
...and I took the hanging rail out of the wardrobe and replaced it with a shelf. There's enough space underneath for our rucsacs, right up to backpacking size, whilst clothing such as duvet jackets and fleeces just shove on the shelf. We don't wear the kinda clothes that need hanging.
I took the silly racks for crockery out of this kitchen cupboard and added a shelf to give much more crockery storage.
I also added a clock, fire extinguisher, waste bin, kitchen timer and kitchen roll holder.
These vital prompt cards remind us what needs doing when we pitch up and, most importantly, the stuff that needs checking before we drive off...
Our Helinox Camp Chairs store neatly against the bulkhead behind the front seats.
Of course, it wouldn't be our van without the addition of these slightly pretentious decals, which I couldn't resist...again.
And that's about it so far, save for a few hooks here and there.
We're just back from a brief inaugural trip into the Dales including a night camping wild and a couple on our favourite Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Hawes. We have a problem with the water heater but Spinney have a new one on order and it's scheduled to be fitted next week, along with the reversing camera, which somehow was overlooked pre delivery.
With no real effort on my part to drive as frugally as possible, this first journey was accomplished with an average fuel consumption of just 31.9 mpg. Pretty impressive for a motorhome which isn't yet run in. It has the latest Euro 6 spec, Peugeot turbo diesel engine and the use of Adblue helps with emissions and fuel efficiency. We've high hopes this modest little van will suit our needs for many years to come. Bring on the adventures.
And do ask for any further information.
Cheers and thanks for visiting.