Are Coachman caravans going downmarket?

brissle replied on 14/04/2021 09:04

Posted on 14/04/2021 09:04

My wife and i have been Coachman caravan owners for many years and we have usually changed the van at 5 years old.  We have been very happy and hugely proud of our Coachman vans.

Our VIP575 was planned for replacement  this year and we could hardly wait to visit our dealer to see the new model yesterday.

What a disappointment !

The van design has changed so much it was barely recognisable.  It may still be a well-built van, but corners have been cut in the design and spec - presumably to reduce cost.  Locker space is severely reduced and less practical, decor is plain, upholstery options are almost non-existent (and pale unpractical colours).  It looks like an entry level van.

Simple cost saving changes just spoil the look - e.g. the microwave is no longer hidden behind a matching hinged door and now has a mirror door instead (at an impractical height for many people).  The useful corner cupboard in the bedroom area has gone - replaced by an extension of the already useless long narrow shelf above the window (you can't leave anything on that shelf when travelling).  The cupboards above the off-side above the sink  have been reduced from 5 to 3 larger ones - not practical for storing different types of item.  There is no solar panel - now an optional extra.

Sadly we are limited in towing weight by our Volvo XC60 which we cannot afford to change.

We need an island fixed bed, and prefer an end bathroom. 

Can anyone suggest an alternative van of a quality and finish we used to get from Coachman?


paulfrompontefract replied on 04/05/2021 10:44

Posted on 04/05/2021 10:44

InaD - the dealer who specialises in swapping the dometic toilet for a Thetford is ALV at Tebay ( not too far from you), I’ve booked mine in for the work, the only slight problem is they can’t do it until September due to catch-up work resulting from the lockdowns.  The chap to speak too is Mike Wysocki.  

A lot cheaper than having to change what is a great van for a new one!

JVB66 replied on 04/05/2021 11:02

Posted on 04/05/2021 11:02

In all the LVs we have had (many of most types) we have most times disconnected the shower and capped the tap in case of accidently turning it on, and used the shower as add storage (OHs overflow wardrobe)cool

It is only since covid and what it has given us, that we now have the  shower in this c/van reconnected,, which has given a problem as OH has had to "compromise" on the amount of clothes she can bringsurprised

richardandros replied on 04/05/2021 16:00

Posted on 03/05/2021 18:30 by InaD

If you manage to find a dealer who will change the toilet, we'd be very interested to find out further details.  Other than the disastrous Dometic toilet, we do like the rest of the van, but have been thinking seriously about changing it, as we have no faith in the toilet being 100% reliable.  Agree with you about Coachman; they should replace these toilets.  But their reply to our letter was very off-hand and certainly not customer-friendly.

Please keep us updated with any progress you make.

Posted on 04/05/2021 16:00

 ALV changed our Dometic toilet in our Knaus Starclass, five months after we got it because of all the problems we experienced. I have posted on here at great length in the past just how useless that toilet was and how it was spoiling what was an otherwise, near perfect van. Indeed it was me that put Paul onto ALV.  

I have all the experience of the switch and what is involved if you are interested.  For example, it is not possible to fit a Thetford with a header tank because the fillers don't line up and therefore the water has to come from elsewhere (inboard tank in our case).

With regard to an earlier comment about the facilities in the bathrooms of European vans, I have to disagree.  The bathroom in ours is absolutely huge with two large wardrobes as well as a very decent sized shower and is quite luxurious.  I was also interested to see that Knaus have designed the shower enclosure without any sealant between the shower walls and the tray - because the shower tray has an upstand of about 8" inside the shower walls to prevent any possibility of leakage.  I am unaware of any other manufacturer that does that - and Bailey certainly don't as I found out to my cost with our last van!

InaD replied on 04/05/2021 17:50

Posted on 04/05/2021 17:50

To PaulfromPontefract - Thank you so much for those contact details, I appreciate it very much.  As I said, we asked our own dealer, plus 2 independents, none of whom were interested.  We will contact them tomorrow, understand there is a wait for work to be done, but as you say, it's better than buying a new one.  Thanks again!

To RichardandRos - Thanks very much for your post too.  After our problems started, I did actually read some of your posts in which you described having your toilet changed.  I couldn't find the post which had the dealer's details in unfortunately, hence our enquiries elsewhere.  Which got us nowhere.  I seem to remember the cost to you being £650.  No doubt it will be more expensive now, but even at half as much again, it'd still be worth it to us.  Yes, we are very interested in reading what is involved, if you are willing to spare the time. 

The van is out of warranty this coming August anyway (3 year Coachman warranty), so no problem from that side of things.  

We'll just have to be careful until the time we can get it done.  Have booked CLs with toilets for later this month and June!  Need a plan B if the worst happens frown

Thank you both very much smile

InaD replied on 04/05/2021 18:23

Posted on 04/05/2021 18:23

I've tried to post 2 replies to thank you, Paul, but neither has appeared for some strange reason.  I did include your post as a quote, so in case that was the problem, I'll try it without.

Thank you very much for that, it's very much appreciated smile

Edited: well, those took a good few minutes to appear frown

richardandros replied on 05/05/2021 06:40

Posted on 05/05/2021 06:40

InaD - have attached some photos of our installation.  The first one shows the cassette locker door.  You will see that the Thetford cassette locker is slightly smaller than the Dometic, therefore ALV fitted that surround you can see.  Unless it was pointed out, I doubt that anyone would notice and it looks very professionally done. 

The second pic shows that they have created a perfect seal on the inside - indeed it looks neater than the original!

Just to put your mind at rest - at it's second service this January, all the damp readings were 5% or less - so there's been no hint of any leaks.

Next two are the actual toilet.  To all intents and purposes it looks almost identical to the Dometic but the header tank is a dummy.  The flush water comes from the inboard tank but I see no reason why, having plumbed into your existing water supply to the bathroom, it can't come from the Aquaroll.  Despite all the hype from Dometic about their fabulous flushing system, the Thetford is far, far better!

A couple of downsides.  The filler cap remains on the outside of the van but is blanked off and redundant.  No big deal and no one knows but you!  I was glad to see the back of it because, filling 'horizontally', it was a stupid design anyway and invariably ended up with water and additive spilling down the van - unlike our previous Thetford which filled 'vertically', if you understand me. I also like the idea of having one less thing to fill up! The reason they had to go down this route is that if they had used a Thetford with a header tank, the position of the filler caps don't line up.

The shape of the Thetford toilet at the base is slightly different from the Dometic, therefore there will be a slight gap between the base and the fitted carpet(less than 1") in places.  Again, unless it was pointed out, I doubt you would notice.

It's now about 18 months since ours was fitted and touch wood, it's been perfect and has taken away all the stress I experienced every time I went anywhere near that dreadful Dometic.

Hope you manage to get it sorted.


InaD replied on 05/05/2021 09:29

Posted on 05/05/2021 09:29

Richard, thank you so much for such an informative post, we both appreciate it very much.  The photos are very informative; as you say, the surround is extremely neat.  As for the redundant filler on the outside: we can live with that!  Compared with the stress and anxiety we have every time we use the caravan, it's an extremely small price to pay.  It will be good to keep this van, as we do like the rest of it.

It will also be nice to have a toilet which you can wheel to the emptyng point, as it is, we have to carry it, as it is just too flimsy.  That's of course, providing we can remove it in the first place frown

We will be giving ALV a ring this morning.

Thank you once again for your considerable help smile