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Devon Conversions 'Monte Carlo'


Below is an independant and unbiased review of a Devon Conversions 'Monte Carlo'

Devon Conversions 'Monte Carlo' reviewOwners Report on Devon Conversions Ltd “ Monte Carlo”

Based on Renault Master dCi 120
New Registered 1st March 2005

The First 5000 miles (10th July 2005)

History and Choice Criteria Campingcars Previously owned ; an Autosleeper “ Amethyst” Jan 1996 to June 1997.Bought New after 20 years towing 4 different caravans. Found to be difficult in size for finding town centre Disabled Parking. Traded for new Autosleeper “Duetto” June 1997. The “Duetto” did 64000 miles all over Europe. Serviced above Ford requirements. One breakdown when in Denmark at 12½ months which Ford reimbursed in full. Average mpg over the 7½ years was 28.8. We were well pleased with this vehicle and sad to part with it as it had years of service left in it.
However….
In about early August ’04 decided to look for new campingcar (Probably our last!) as we fancied a little more ease of living. We discussed our small amount of “niggles” with the “Duetto” over the 7½ years in great detail and came up with :

Criteria we wished to meet
(1)Possibility of permanently made up double bed on the ground floor (i.e. not in Luton or pull down). Plus two singles for Grandchildren or friends.

(2)Two rear Safety Belted seats . 3 if possible.

(3)More living room…particularly so Driver could get out of bed in morning with a table and comfortable seat(s) ready and waiting to sit at while drinking his tea while Navigator/Chef got her beauty sleep! This was important as we use vehicle in cooler wetter weather and, with age, spend more time in van we think.

(4)A much better Payload than the 361 kgs of the “Duetto”. Very important.

(5)No longer than 6 meters Ferry Prices and Disabled Parking very important

(6)No heavier than 3500kgs …Licence considerations.

(7)No less an engine than a 2500ccTD as the “Duetto”. We do a lot of driving in Europe’s high mountains.

(8)All other facilities no less than we had got used to!.

(9)Preferably to be bought at dealer or factory no further than 120miles from Northumberland. Or within 60miles of our daughters house at Leeds.
(10) Almost certainly would be a van conversion. Easier to clean, manoeuvre and less likely to have body leaks. (In reality we were very taken with the Autotrail “Tracker” but decided it didn’t meet enough of our criteria.

The Search We had a completely open mind as to make and model after realising on our first of several show room visits that the current “Duetto” was not suitable as it is shorter than the ’97 model!

Sent for brochures and details from about12 converters and became more confused so decided to go looking in a big way. Also consulted folks on the three Motor Home specific Internet forums that I subscribe to.

We booked to go to the Northern MH Show at York and 5 days before the Show in September 2004 set off determined to buy a new Wanderwagon i.e. the 3rd.

We visited about five converters of campervans in the North of England at their works. Test ran one or two and realised we were unlikely to find what we wanted on a rear wheel drive Ford Transit chassis. Much soul searching and doubts about front wheel drive.

The Show was excellent and to cut a long story short ended up on the Sunday afternoon, 3 hours before the end of the show going between the Timberland and Devon show stands. We had visited their factories prior to the show. About an hour before closure of the exhibits we had signed up and paid a deposit for Wanderwagon3, the Devon “Monte Carlo”. This because it met criteria Nos. 1, 3, & 4 whereas the Timberland didn’t.

Extras Fitted Fiama skylight 2 way manual switching fan.”Turbovent P3”. Situated between kitchen and toilet. No problems, does the job well but maybe not quite so powerful as a Fantastic fan as fitted in the “Duetto”.
Omnistor awning. Have had a glitch or two so am not sure about this piece of kit. Not used much as yet.
Solar Panel 100w.
Not Fitted… a TV. As DEVON could not fit the antenna I asked for. If/when IGETROUND2IT may consult TV specialists as we have a Grundig multi system TV that we enjoy in winter.

Report after 5000+ miles and 62 camping nights.

Wanderwagon3 was supposed to be available mid January…it wasn’t. However it was ready mid February but Mr P Gowland (the owner of Devon.)Herewith an important point ; vehicle bought directly from the MAKER not a middleman dealer) kindly suggested that, though he needed the space, I really would be better not collecting it until 1st March for the latest ’05 plates.

We had quite a detailed hand over from Mr Gowland but several bits of kit I had no knowledge of. Various differences were apparent so I had lots of questions.

We left for the White Water CC Site at Stockton only 17 miles from the Devon factory on a wet cold and later snowy afternoon. Two full days there where we tested all the services three of which I had no experience of .. I had had a 100w solar panel fitted, the fridge is a Waeco compressor type, and I had no experience of the Truma water and blown air heater.

For those new to Campingcars/Mhomes I cannot recommend strongly enough the advisability of a trial night or more as near as possible to the dealer. Let’s face it, a possible 300 mile trip for a simple but vital gadget or screw is “Not a Good Thing”.I have followed this practice with all our caravans and campingcars.

Problems….Truma instruction book picture did not match the fitted controls. Got heat and hot water but only by accident and experiment. Phoned Devon…simple explanation…all well.
After about a week lost, almost completely, the suction on FW Pump. Made it last the 2 more days of the trip by sucking out the tap to prime the pump. Called in at Devon on way home….Pump replaced on the spot no problem. No middle man …the retailer is the manufacturer. I have a feeling this could be another Good Thing !


Insulation ,Heat and Cold.
Though minus temps and 4” snow outside during the first few days “Monte Carlo” seemed to be noticeably warmer than “Duetto”. Neither claim to be “winterised”. The provided 3 piece insulation cab window covers fitted on the inside are easier to put up and down than I had thought .

In recent European trip subsequent HOT weather such as 8 consecutive days with 35° C + .showed that the built in insulation worked quite well keeping the interior less hot than expected. Though no front cab curtains are provided it is not necessary to fit the provided cab window insulation pads if only the rear double bed is used as the toilet door has full width fold out wooden screen which gives complete privacy. Only an inch of light at top of door and screen can be seen from outside at night. Effectively divides vehicle into two usable parts.

The Truma heater works well providing 60°C water on mains 230V or on gas. Takes up all the space under off side rear passenger seat.
To date am not sure as to gas consumption for this heater.
Blown air (gas operated only) rapid and hot…..in fact toilet can be a sauna or drying room if door left shut . But how much gas is used I don’t know yet!
We carry a 1or 2kw ,230v fanheater for mains use.
Gas In a gas locker built like “Fort Knox” under near side rear passenger seat reside 2 x 3.9kg Calor Propane bottles. Tried to get Devon to increase locker size by a couple of cm or so, so that a French “Le Cube” or similar would fit but they said no can do.

Solar Panel 100W No controls or instructions so don’t know what goes on. A meter tells you what is happening I think and so far (10th July) the battery seem s to last for a couple of days . Haven’t tried longer as of course when on route battery is charged from vehicle.

Diesel Tank holds 100ltr . Consumption from new 29.5mpg and rising. Last 3 tanks have each been 30.+ a little.
Refrigerator “Coolmatic” by Waeco. A compressor type. Instuctions from Mr Gowland , owner of Devon, “Switch it on when ready to go , switch it off when you come back!”. We set it at position 2½ out of 9 settings.
Runs on 12 volt only. “Leisure” battery fitted is 110amps.
Kept freezer compartmentt –6°C to –10°C during recent trip to mainland Europe when ambient temp was 35°C + in the afternoon. On a recent “test” dropped temp from 16°C to –6°C in 15 minutes.
The motor runs regularly but is not too intrusive and does not wake us up.

Sleeping Arrangements We were concerned that the rear double would not be as comfortable as the “ Duetto’s” as it is smaller. However we have both slept well and are well pleased with it. The 2 singles are easily made up and tested well by son, grandsons and myself. Comfortable.
Curtains, Seats, Cushions & Carpets. On placing order for the vehicle you decide, from a reasonable range of fabric samples, as to patterns and colours. We decided not to have fixed carpets but a vinyl wood pattern floor covering. We have bought, and cut into pieces as required, hard wearing carpet which, at price paid, we can afford to dump if it gets too dirty. After 29 years of fixed fitted carpets we said no more!.

Eating Arrangements an oblong table, which has folding leg and wall sliding mounting, on offside between swivelling driving seat and rear passenger seat, can be in place all the time providing the off side single bed is not in use. When it is the table slides neatly away along side the bed.

Have used the rear configuration as an “L “ shaped lounge and eating area only a few times. A circular single legged removable table is provided which we use on a tripod foot either inside or outdoors. Verdict…very adequate and a pleasant facility. The circular table can be used between front (swivelling) and rear passenger seats on the near side.

Oven, Sink, Grill, Hob To date all very satisfactory.

Hinges, Knobs and Construction To date all strong and very satisfactory

Kitchen Area Full oven not yet used as such. Hob and grill very satisfactory as are stainless steel sink and taps.

Toilet Space Toilet cabinet . Built in wooden with 2 mirrors. Quite spacious. Toilet is usual fixed bench Thetford and Manual flush which is as, if not perhaps more, efficient than the electric flush. Less to go wrong? Tap pulls out for shower and basin is the tip up variety. A good solid and practical area to which I have added storage space and a shelf in matching melamine faced timber.

Payload There is no doubt( certainly in mine, and I imagine many other experienced campingcarists opinion) that this is a major plus point for the” Devon Monte Carlo”
Quoted as 1110kgs and plated at 3500kgs we got Wanderwagon3 weighed with Driver, Navigator, Full fresh water tank, just over half tank of diesel (Capacity 100ltrs) full stores, clothes and equipment for 30 + days trip and came in at 3080kgs ± 20kgs. In practical terms this means we can still load 50 cases of wine at 8kgs each!.


Storage Spaces & Lockers Seemed at first to be not as convenient as the “Duetto’s”
The 6 overhead lockers are, in my opinion, designed from the aesthetic rather than the practical aspect. However with DIY mods and usage we have got used to them. The two hanging lockers (wardrobes ?!!) are deceptive and will hold more than we first thought even so they can’t be classed as spacious.
The bedding locker is ample. There is another useful rear locker with doors opening from inside and/or outside. Easily holds hook up cable, water can, water hose and space to spare. Four other lockers of varying size plus space under the oven, a low (about 7inches high) over cab “luton”, an offside rear wheel arch space, lockable “safes” under both front seats and space under the floor between driver’s and rear passenger seat complete the Devon provided storage space.
I made 4 plywood boxes to increase stowage to our requirements in the “Duetto”. I have made only 2 boxes for the “Monte Carlo”.
After 60+ camping days we have got used to the new stowages and small differences, any inconveniences remaining are more than compensated by a much improved spacious living spaces.

The Base Vehicle; Renault Master 120 cDi LWB 2.5lt. Very pleased with and relieved . We tend to favour mountainous areas and the Ford powered “Duetto” climbed like a goat. In our recent trip to German, Italian and French Alps the Renault climbed like a pedigree goat and eats up the motorways much more quietly at 70mph on 2200 revs in 6th gear. The dashboard mounted gear lever is very easy to use.
The driving position is very important to me due to disability and I need a purpose made cushion. Both driving and front passenger seats are fully adjustable and are very comfortable indeed.
The supplier of the base vehicle to Devon is Thompson Commercials Billingham branch. They were most helpful in sourcing and fitting an approved extension piece to driver’s safety belt to accommodate in comfort my raised seating position. The price of a third ignition key was a shock …suggest you really ask “do I need one!!”. We do!

Summary.
The downsides….not many…the draining taps to waste and FW tanks are a pain. Not that it matters about the FW drain but the emptying of Grey water is embarrassingly slow compared to most continental vans due to narrow bore tap. Must try to get it modified.
The necessity to release the hand brake as a prerequisite to swivelling the driving seat means a wheel has to be chocked off and vehicle in appropriate gear if parked on a slope. This is a pain (though now got the operation well practiced) especially as a certain continental manufacturer recently building on Renault Master chassis is known to not have this nuisance by using a special hand brake.
Would have liked larger gas locker as we go to mainland Europe as often as possible and would like to carry a France available bottle.
So far that’s about it. Nothing has dropped off, no screws come out.
The Satisfactions… No more worries about payload.
The much greater ease of being able to leave a very comfortable double bed made up and ready. Very good for post lunch siesta time!
The much greater living space throughout , almost like having two “rooms” in one vehicle.
Conclusion Bearing in mind that the perfect camping car is yet to be built in my opinion then we would strongly advise anyone in the market for a van conversion, under 6m long, under 2.5 m high and fractionally under 2m wide built on an excellent base vehicle should give the Devon Conversions Ltd “Monte Carlo” a very serious appraisal.

K & M Shawcross

(E&OE )




Title: Devon Conversions 'Monte Carlo'
Category: Hightop
Sub Category:
Reviewer: Ken Shawcross
Added: January 7th 2006
Viewed: 20364 Times
Score:Top of All
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Posted by: Bluebird68 on 2011-06-05 16:10:18
My Score: Very Good
Thank you for such an informative review. I am currently considering a "new" motorhome and I will follow up the interest that you have given me.



Posted by: blondel on 2009-11-08 17:35:08
My Score: Best
Thanks for the review. I too have read it several times and have finaly, after 18 months of deliberation (because we didn''t want to part with the great coachbuilt we had but needed and automatic), opted for a Devon but have chosen the Monaco for the enormous amount of storage under the quite high fixed bed.



Posted by: newbie7 on 2009-06-28 16:22:32
My Score: Top of All
Thank you for taking the time to post this most interesting and educational review from your own personal knowledge and experience. Will really help in my final decision



Posted by: Autumn on 2007-05-07 12:26:49
My Score: Excellent
I have come back to this review several times in my research on a short-list of conversions. The Devon is currently at the top of my choices.



Posted by: Pusser on 2006-02-03 08:11:41
My Score: Top of All
Many thanks for an interesting review on a vehicle that I have in the past considered. I am now reconsidering it.