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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
After lots of searching and reading I like the look and layout of the Hymer B534. I've started even dreaming about it - where to put saucepans was bothering me last night - madness!

Would any of you 534 owners be kind enough to share your thoughts on the van?

My pros are the rear lounge converting into a large double bed and it being LHD. It is also quite small, which would suit the 2 of us and a dog, but feels roomy enough to have our own space (bear in mind my husband would really like a stealth panel van to fulltime in!).

They also seem to come up for sale regularly - although that may be a con I suppose :roll:

I've read about the cons of the overly large table.

If anyone knows of other vans which would compare well please let me know.

Many thanks - Lesley
 

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I've got a 544 Camp with the table slotted into the van side,, it was always too big for the two of us so I cut it down by a foot and re-attached the end-plate.

It's just right now and I've fitted the off-cut with an "edge" of nice wood ,,,, it stays in it's position as part of the bed base and is a good place to store books and stuff under the table

The rest of the van feels bigger as well as there is an extra foot to walk round in,,,,, not much but it makes a big difference and no pushing past the dogs to get around
 

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Lesley,

You might find it useful to post approximately which year of manufacture you are considering, so replies are more relevant to you. The Hymer number convention defies logic and sometimes there are variations in design between vans of different age using the same model number. Having said that, I think the rear-lounge element of the design was consistent across the various B534s.

For what it's worth, when we were choosing, we decided against a rear lounge as we wanted a fixed bed over a garage. Our interests are mainly outdoor (hill-walking, bird watching, visiting towns etc.) and so we wanted plenty of storage space for kit and we did not want the bother of making up a bed every night. Also, we don't have a TV and when we do need entertainment, we watch DVDs on a laptop. For this, the swivelling front seats provide excellent lounging space. In addition, ours has an L-shaped settee and the overall central / front lounge combination is ample for the two of us. We have on occasion had both adult children with us for short trips, and one of them for holidays in Scotland. There is still enough room for us.

Best of luck with the search.

Philip
 

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Hi,

We have a B544, which has a different lay out, so won't comment on that.

The size we find a good compromise. Inside it is quite spacious, we manage with 4 plus dog. Overall size is still such that it can easily be parked when visiting a town.

Pieter
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your comments. I've been looking at Hymer B534s dating from about 1985 to 2001, and they all seem to have this layout of rear lounge.

Prices seem to be ranging from £4,000 to £25,000. I guess with age and mileage you gets what you pays for.

As we are not technically minded reliable is important for us. It seems to me that something from the mid to late 1990s would be fine. I don't think we can stretch to the prices of 2000 vans, as we plan to fulltime and will need to be careful with money.

Easy to park in a town is important to us, so glad to hear that this size is suitable.

I like the cutting the table down idea. I think I'll get a mate who's a trained chippy to do that as wouldn't want to botch it (though he's now a teacher).

Thanks,
Lesley
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Joe - We don't mind pre - 1995 or later. Am I missing something vital here? Is there a big difference? I saw a 1997 one advertised and it looked much the same, though that's the only one after 1995 I've seen. I've seen 1993 models which seem fine for us.

As to getting one, we are not in a rush since we can't use one this summer due to other holidays already booked. Plus, we don't have any drive and wouldn't want to leave it on the street, so would have to store it somewhere.

I wondered if more people would be hit by the credit crunch and want to sell after they've got one more summer of use from their vans.

We are also toying with the idea of buying abroad. I know the prices are much the same at the moment, but there's a wider choice and husband speaks German & French so no problems with communicating (but there will be problems when he wants to bring loads of language books away in a small van!).

Lesley
 

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As you are planning to full-time, I would recommend reading a book called "Go Motorhoming Europe" available from Vicarious Books, if you do not already have a copy. It is their account of full-timing and touring Europe. Lots of very useful advice and observations - we referred to it extensively when we began choosing then MHing in early 2007.
Referring to your earlier post, I think it is much easier to adapt to LHD over here than it is to have RHD in mainland Europe, with a relatively large vehicle, so your decision on that is sound in my view.

Philip
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Phillip. I do keep seeing that book title come up in posts. I'll pop into Borders while I'm still on my half term break.

Are you fulltiming? We plan to head north for summer - Germany then Scandanavian countries. Then possibly aim to travel so that we are in Greece (The Mani) for winter. We've travelled most of Europe already but either camping, hostels or cheap hotels. Husband is off cycling in Montenegro next month.

Lesley
 

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Lesleykh said:
Thanks Phillip. I do keep seeing that book title come up in posts. I'll pop into Borders while I'm still on my half term break.

Are you fulltiming? We plan to head north for summer - Germany then Scandanavian countries. Then possibly aim to travel so that we are in Greece (The Mani) for winter. We've travelled most of Europe already but either camping, hostels or cheap hotels. Husband is off cycling in Montenegro next month.

Lesley
No, we're not full-timing: still working but looking forward to spending more time away. I think even when we have retired, we shall probably not full-time, but take extended trips. We have a few projects in mind. One is a tour along the Baltic to visit the Hanseatic ports, then round the Baltic States and into Finland, up to North Cape and back through Norway. Still dreaming of that though. Meanwhile, there's still plenty of France, Italy and Germany to see during shorter trips.

Re: the Book, here is their website where you can buy direct.

http://www.vicariousbooks.co.uk/

Also, you are probably aware of Peter Hambilton, but he is one of the foremost private dealers in Hymer. His website has both his own, and private commission sales - see below. You might want to let him know what you are looking for.

Philip

<<Hambilton Engineering>>
 

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Hi Lesley,
We are in a similar position to you having recently bought a 2002 Hymer 584 which has a rear kitchen, pull down bed and lots of room in the middle! There are just the two of us plus dog and plan to meander round Europe as the whim takes us-but not full timing as we have a Villa to rent out in Spain and that takes a fair amount of time.

The Hymer is going into Peter Hambilton for some extras to be fitted and another source you should try is Nick Legg of Bundesvan who imports mainly Hymers. Have a look at his web site www.bundesvan.co.uk and see what you think. It is where we got our Hymer from and Nick was brilliant all the way through the buying process.
Good luck and as the others have said once you make up your mind on the one you want then move heaven and earth!
Rob
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, thanks to advice on here I've now found out that the S550 is the same van on a Mercedes chassis.

So now I'm looking at B534s and S550s.

What sort of mileage should I be prepared to go up to? I know nothing about this other than the lower it is the better.

Lesley
 

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Condition is more important than mileage. Given that MHs are built on commercial vehicle chassis, and these are typically abused as delivery vans, the treatment a typical MH owner gives their van is scarcely enough to make the machinery 'break sweat'. I think earlier you said you were looking for something around 1995ish. Assuming 5,000 miles p.a. that means you are looking at a van with about 65,000 miles on the clock. A lot of MHs do not do this much. Providing the chassis has been looked after and there is no significant rust problem, and the engine and running gear have been properly serviced, you should not worry too much. My Subaru Outback estate has done 137,000 miles and still feels pretty 'tight'. I would be very disappointed if our Hymer did not manage at least that.
I would be more inclined to get a Hymer that has been loved, used and well maintained, rather than one that has sat on a drive for most of its life getting 'stiff and rusty'. Obviously, one that has not travelled far AND has been loved and well maintained is a bonus, but don't let mileage be the main discriminator.

Just one more thought. If by chance you find a Hymer with an Alko rear chassis on a Fiat FWD base (but I doubt it if you are looking at older vans) make sure the rear axle tube has had annual lubrication. This often gets overlooked as it's not in the Fiat service schedule used by a motor dealer, and a habitation service would not normally include it either.

Philip
 

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Hi, we have had a 1993 B534 LHD for 18 months now (my wifes pet project, I think she had similar dreams about pot stowage as you - sad really !) I have just read out your post to her for comment and she says that she cannot think of any major problems at all.
I believe it is a bit awkward using the shower re shoulder space, but I would imagine that would be the case in any similar van. I took part in 'that table' discussion and was on the point of changing over , but then the better half decided against it as the fold down table we had is nowhere as stable as the heavy Hymer hunk.
I'm not sure given the present pound/euro rate if it is still a good move, but after we bought ours from a dealer who specialized in going over and bringing 2nd hand German Hymers back to the UK, we probably could have done the same ourselves. Given time and even better your husband's German language skills you might pick up a bargain. Here is one German dealer's site, I just Googled ' Dortmund Hymer' and all sorts popped up
http://www.duerrwang.de/Second-Hand-vehicles.reisemobile_gebraucht.0.html?&L=2
As a guide, ours cost £13800 with the equivalent of 52000 miles on the clock and I would say it belonged in the 'loved and well used category !
We wandered off around Spain and Portugal a couple of months after we bought it without any real scares, but as for fulltiming in something that size I could not begin to imagine if I could do it !
Best of luck in your quest

Mike
 

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Hi Lesley

We have a 1985 534 on a fiat base, we've had it for two years and absolutely love it, prior to that my parents were in it full time for around 14/15 years. apparently the original springs in the rear are pretty soft so my father had them changed in portugal many years ago, apparently this is common, he also had the boiler replaced with one that would run off gas and electric, as the original only ran off gas.

the table has been cut down and the original legs replaced with a pole that slots into the floor, my parents only used the front bed, we have two small children so i made some pieces of wood that slot together, like an "X" and two pieces that sit on top so we can use the rear bed, the boys sleep at the front, the wood is nice and slots into the wardrobe when the bed isn't in use.

when we first got it i found some play in the water pump wheel/pully, i assumed the water pump was going so i replaced it.

it has over 200,000 km on the clock, and as i said we adhore it, it's perfect for us and the two boys, the only thing i'm looking at changing is the fresh water supply, it currently uses large aquaboy containers and a pump in the bathroom, which i'm going to replace with a tank that can be filled from the outside, as modern motorhomes have.

for insurance purposes we valued the van at around £5,500 pounds.

Good luck
Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Lee,
We are still looking, but passively, as we are aiming to buy around September time.

I think we probably know so little about motorhomes, and have camped in the tiniest tent you can imagine for more years now than I care to remember, that even an old fashioned motorhome will seem like a real luxury to us.

However, we might think about changing some things bearing inmind what the kind folks on MHF have talked about.

Lesley
 

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Layouts are all about personal taste. What's underneath is quantifiable. I drove vans on and off for work for several years from early 90s and it's the evolution of commercial vans that (for me) has the biggest impact on the driving experience. Anyone who drove vans from the mid 80s on would probably agree that the Mercedes Sprinter and to some extent the Renault Master took van driving from a slow and somewhat laboured experience to one where it felt like a high car and you were suddenly avoiding tailgating in the fast lane. I've had many a painfull haul up the country in the mid nineties in old Transit Luton commercials watching others fly past me in comfort with nimble handling and a steering wheel half the size of mine. Since the chasis underneath are essentially the same as the commercials you'll be driving either a Talbot Express or Merc 307 types if you go back to early 90s or before.

The downsides were things like lack of adjustments to steering and seats etc, lack of power steering or turbo etc. However, I think you just change your mindset when you get in and drive. We have a BMW 525i and a Zafira SRI both of which are nimble and I'm used to some luxury. When I get into the old Hymer it's like driving a classic. You adjust and drive accordingly. Trying to make swift progress can be tiring but sit back and relax, drive at quieter times and it'll take you up and down continents with ease. I only really raise the point so you can end up with something you are comfortable with. My wife drives ours for hundreds of miles and loves it so it's not torture even without power steering or turbo. Just a different experience.

As for spares, I have found some parts becoming rare on the Peugot J5/Talbot Express/Fiat Ducato/Citroen C25 chasis (which are all pretty much identical and made in the same factory). You can always get them eventually but you won't pull into a garage and find they have them off the shelf. It often involves an internet search and a couple of days wait.

These older vans are fairly easy to work on. I changed a brake vacuum pump on a campsite 2 weeks ago in 2 hours with a simple toolkit.

Allow some budget for the unexpected. Ours gets glowing reports from MOT testers and mechanics every time it goes in because it's in great condition. But consumables are always going to be needed. I've had a battery, Brake servo pump, front downpipe, 5th gear part of the gearbox, alternator, temperature sensor and some issues with old fuses heating due to bad contacts. You have to love them and care for them like you would an old car. But that for me is part of the joy.

For what it's worth, I recently did a trade show in Frankfurt and hired a 2007 Swift for 10 days. Drove it out there from North Yorks. Yes there were some things I liked but none that would make me want to change in an instant. And for me, nothing comes close to old Hymers and equvalent old German MHs for build quality. Yes it's a bit dark and old school but you can abuse them internally without bits of Balsa wood flying all the place! And after 10 days with the windscreen pressed against my nose and an overhang permanantly in my view in the 2007 MH I was SOOOO happy to get my goldfish bowl windscreen back!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for that Jimbo. It's good to hear your views.

You obviously have an expertise we can only dream of and we would have to rely on garages across Europe if we needed any repairs. The only good thing for us is that my husband can speak several languages, though I'm a point and mime person myself.

Good to know your wife finds the driving OK without power steering. I guess our next step is to test drive one. I am only 5ft so am wondering whether I'll see over the steering wheel! I'll have a look on local dealer's websites as I guess any of the smaller Hymers would be good to test drive and get a feel for whether we like them.

Thanks again,
Lesley
 

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Lesley,
Thanks for the kind words but I really am no expert. What I do like about the old Hymers is that I can hark back to the days of fiddling with old escorts and bangers in my teens and most of that knowledge applies with the older ones still. Newer ones have much more complicated electrics etc. it's amazing on the old ones how much a Haynes manual and some common sense can achieve.

I also forgot to agree with earlier comments bout the length of the MH. The B5** range are a good length for 2 people. I can park mine in a space at work if needed but go up to the 6** and it would be obstructing other stuff. That said the only thing I hanker for when spending rainy days in the van is a rear loung or different layout to the B544 as it's not the easiest to 'slob' in. But for holiday and general use it works well.

If you need help understanding the layouts send me a Private message with your email (don't post it on the open forum) and I'll send you a 2 part PDF for all the 88/89 variants in English which might help in your quest.
 

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Hi I've been reading this with a lot of interest.

When I first started looking around for my first motorhome I became infatuated the old hymer B534's and their Merc equivalent the S550?

I loved the idea of a rear lounge but when I found one and walked around and checked it all out I wasn't so impressed. The table is used to make up the rear sleeping area. The appliances were old and needed replacing really. Access in and out of it was limited.

Built like a tank though 8)
 
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