Once we had decided to upgrade from the Herald Valencia, we set about researching motorhomes that would better suit our needs. We wanted a full-sized fixed bed, a full-sized over-cab bed and still have space for four or six to dine and somewhere comfortable to relax in the weekends. Many models ticked most of the boxes, but not all. Another consideration was length. To fit comfortable on our drive the new van had to be no more than 25 foot. We narrowed our choice down to the Bessacarr E765 or it’s Swift counterpart, the Kon-Tiki. We set ourselves a budget and went in search of our next toy.
The first one we saw was a privately advertised E765 Elegance, the top model with cream leather upholstery. This particular example had a self-seeking satellite dish and habitation air-conditioning, but was just over our budget. We soon realised that few of the model we had set our hearts on were for sale. All the ones we’d seen at dealers were rough to say the least. After viewing several poor examples we came to the conclusion that the first one we’d seen, the E765 Elegance was our best option. I placed the Herald Valencia on e-bay and within a week had an asking price offer (in fact several!). Because we hadn’t had to take a drop in price meant that the Bessacarr was within our budget after all.
Bertha (she’s a six berther) is built upon a Fiat Ducato 2.8JTD base with an Alko chassis. Driving her was more akin to driving a car and the extra length over the Valencia was hardly noticeable. As well as being longer than the Herald, the Bessacarr is also slightly wider and taller. The fixed bed is of the French style, that is, a full sized double with a corner cut off, while the over-cab bed is a one piece, full size double that can be left made up as it pushes up, out of the way, on gas struts. The previous owners had made covers for the leather ‘sofas’, which is ideal for us with having dogs. The only down side to this model is the rather cramped bathroom, which looks good, but is not entirely practical.
Apart from a good clean and polish – which takes an age – very little needed doing. One of the spotlight had a faulty switch but a new unit was sourced from O’Leary’s for about £8, along with a new awning light unit. When we got the motorhome the awning light didn’t work. I discovered the bulb rattling about in the light unit and put I back in the holder, what I hadn’t noticed was that the holder was bent forward and the first time we used it the bulb burnt though the plastic lens. The Oyster Satellite control box had been sent away for upgrading (due to changes in satellite broadcasting) and when this was refitted at Leisurepower in Warrington, we decided to replace all the interior bulbs with LEDs. I also bought some LED strip to create some concealed lighting behind the pelmets as all the other lighting was too harsh when relaxing and watching TV. Other little jobs included replacing one of the rails on the bike rack as the old one was bent.
Mechanically, Bertha needed a new handbrake cable for the MoT. Alko handbrake cables are prone to stretching and can be difficult to source. A new reversing light switch was fitted as the old one had failed, and there was a small fuel leak, which also required a replacement part. While in Devon in 2012 the gas regulator failed, fortunately the site warden had the number of a mobile fitted who replaced the regulator and also fixed a switch on the refrigerator, which had also failed. In 2013 I decided that Bertha needed a full set of tyres. Motorhomes run on special Camping Tyres, which have thicker sidewalls to help prevent roll and to enable them to withstand being stood for any lengths of times. Fortunately our local tyre centre could source these and they were fitted before our annual trip to Devon.
After our annual holiday in Devon, and a solo trip to Edinburgh, I decided we needed to tow a small car behind the motorhome. So in due course we will have a towbar fitted and an A-frame fitted to the Smart Roadster.