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Thread: The great van conundrum...part 2

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    Imagine's Avatar
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    Default The great van conundrum...part 2

    OK - for some reason I can't post, reply or do anything in the Business Matters forum???

    So...new post time.

    In a nutshell.....I have a big and expensive problem.

    My beloved 20 year old Hiace Powervan passed her MOT this year, but with a LOT of advisories and I've been told in no uncertain terms to replace her before the next one becomes due. Basically, the rear end where the suspension joins the body is less than ideal and will need so much welding to pass next time that she's become unviable. The chassis itself is going rotten and whilst it will last for another 12 months.....(I know enough about cars to know that's fatal )

    I trust my mechanic. He's never lied to me, he has nothing to gain from this (he doesn't sell vans and in fact, it'd make him more money to charge me for the welding). Add to this, he apprenticed on these particular vans and knows what he's looking at and it's not good news.

    So....I'm in the market for a new disco bus. As those of you who follow me on Facebook will already know.....it's not ideal timing (I haven't yet completed a year self-employed and can ill afford to go splashing out on new wheels). But....needs must.

    I can't really look at leasing or loans. For one reason or another (mainly stabilising Liz's health with epilepsy, which touching a lot of wood is now under control and I'm taking on a lot more bookings again), my first year's accounts being fully self-employed only just show a profit. We expected that and have contingencies in place, it's not a big shock and were prepared for a sparse year (not quite as sparse as it's been....but her health is more important).

    Thankfully, 2020/2021 is finally starting to look a hell of a lot healthier (but it's still hard work!)

    So, the money for any new transport is going to have to come from personal savings and the disco will pay it back as and when (the joys of being a sole trader, eh!)

    I need something of a very similar size. I don't want to go along the lines of Vivaros, Transits and the like - they're too big and bulky. The majority of my gigs don't fill the Hiace if I'm honest. I don't stack stuff in there because it'll just fall over. A smaller van might be better for most gigs.

    So, looking at the moment at a reasonably priced Nissan NV200 (2009 model, FSH etc.). It's not cheap, the cargo bay is a mess as it looks to have been owned by a decorator, but will be taking a proper look over the weekend (there goes any profit from 2019 ).

    The Hiace sadly, due to the advisories on the last MOT will in all likelihood be scrapped (I'll get about 50 for her from the local scrappy....who will then turn it into thousands after taking it to bits panel by panel ), so there's no real trade-in value to be had. I'm starting from scratch on the van front.

    Anyone got any real world experience of these vans?

    Looking at the Honest John website, they appear to be reliable and trustworthy. I know what to look for mechanically and body-wise, but any real world usage advice would be really useful.

    Or if there's something of a similar size?

    I've got to admit, I could possibly squeeze 99% of gigs into something like a Transit Connect or a Vauxhall combo. For larger shows such as the Retro setup or LOVE letters, I own a box trailer and having a tow-bar fitted to a smaller van could be a possibility.

    Open to ideas....what are YOU using?

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    Web Guru Marc J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imagine View Post
    OK - for some reason I can't post, reply or do anything in the Business Matters forum???

    So...new post time.
    Thanks fore the heads-up, Wayne. The Business Help forum was locked up as it was targeted by spammers some time ago. We've since got on top of the spam issue (hopefully), but I had forgotten to re-enable new posts in there.

    I was going to move this thread, then noticed you posted it in Supporters, so let me know if it's OK to move?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc J View Post
    Thanks fore the heads-up, Wayne. The Business Help forum was locked up as it was targeted by spammers some time ago. We've since got on top of the spam issue (hopefully), but I had forgotten to re-enable new posts in there.

    I was going to move this thread, then noticed you posted it in Supporters, so let me know if it's OK to move?
    Too late Marc, the ever vigilant, ever efficient White Haired Old Git has already done so, with an efficiency that amazed even him.

    Must go now, I'm just going to write on the calendar that you failed to do something. Never seen that before.
    Excalibur. Older than the average DJ.

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    Web Guru Marc J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Excalibur View Post
    Too late Marc, the ever vigilant, ever efficient White Haired Old Git has already done so, with an efficiency that amazed even him.

    Must go now, I'm just going to write on the calendar that you failed to do something. Never seen that before.
    If you re-read my post, you'll see that I didn't move it for a reason

    Moved back (anyone for tennis?)
    Last edited by Marc J; 14-02-2020 at 08:08 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc J View Post
    If you re-read my post, you'll see that I didn't move it for a reason

    Moved back (anyone for tennis?)
    I won't take you up on that, as I might be the one needing " New Sphericals please". I was working on the principle that he'd like it to get maximum coverage, and not simply for the edification of a select few, the best of the best, the cream of the crop.
    When Wayne comes out of hibernation, perhaps he could make the definitive decision where he'd like the thing!

    OK, to the question. Having had a behemoth of a van, I can see both sides. I still miss the big one at times. Wayne, what about LWB connects and the like? Berlingos too, they're robust little trucks. Vito? That's mid sized, probably the same as your existing one.

    I know funds will govern your choice, been there..................
    Excalibur. Older than the average DJ.

    www.excaliburmobiledisco.co.uk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Excalibur View Post
    Wayne comes out of hibernation, perhaps he could make the definitive decision where he'd like the thing!
    Been out of hibernation several hours and done the first 18 miles on the pushbike thank you very much
    Don't mind where it goes - wherever's best for the neatness of the forum. Was just easier to put it in members last night


    Quote Originally Posted by Excalibur View Post
    OK, to the question. Having had a behemoth of a van, I can see both sides. I still miss the big one at times. Wayne, what about LWB connects and the like? Berlingos too, they're robust little trucks. Vito? That's mid sized, probably the same as your existing one.

    I know funds will govern your choice, been there..................

    Berlingo's aren't that big (there's one a couple of doors down from me). If I were to get something along those lines it'd be a case of fitting a tow-bar and using the box trailer for bigger gigs. Not ideal in some ways, but in others it does appeal on the grounds of less diesel 99% of the time due to less weight being pulled.

    Vito? Never been a big fan of German vehicles. For some reason they all have the same fault of inoperative indicators

    Right - off to see what this NV200 is actually like. Size-wise, it's manageable. On the photos, it looks presentable. Let's get a torch and a magnet and see what's underneath it

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    I hit a similar conundrum at the last mot - there were a few areas 'on the horizon' that were soon going to get expensive.

    I've decided I no longer wanted the hassle of a van. When I took in to consideration the cost of the van, the maintenance, insurance, road tax, mot, etc etc, I've worked out that it's cheaper for me to hire a van for each occasion that I need it.

    For 50 per event, I think I was spending that anyway on the van, and it means no headache for me, and means it reduces my outgoing during the quieter months, such as Q1 of each year.

    Something to consider.

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    I went through the van conundrum in May last year and, if I remember right, the VW Caddy is the same size as the NV200 (I saw the 2 parked next to each other and actually couldn't tell the difference from the back). That's probably not very helpful though as I guess the VW is going to be equally expensive (if not more so) and probably cost more to run.

    I ended up buying a L2 Vivaro myself as I usually work on the basis that I prefer to have too much space than not enough. With photobooths, hired in giant MR&MRS letters and the odd occasion when I have needed to carry 2 or almost 3 complete rigs, I haven't regretted that decision. I got a good deal on an unsecured loan for the purchase and, with my local hire company charging almost as much for a 24hr hire as I pay for the monthly installment, it was a bit of a no-brainer really.

    All I can really suggest is going down a size to Berlingo/Kangoo/Connect/Combo - especially if you're only going to need the extra space occasionally and you have a trailer at your disposal already. Another alternative would be to look at large people carriers (Ford Galaxy, Seat Alhambra, etc) as some of these can be picked up in good nick for not a lot and have a cargo space larger than a Connect with the seats down.

    Julian
    http://www.bristoldiscohire.co.uk - Quality Disco and Equipment hire for Bristol & Bath
    Weddings, Birthday Parties, Kids Parties, School Disco's and more
    https://bristolevent.photography - Event, Brand and Studio Photography

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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Jules View Post
    I went through the van conundrum in May last year and, if I remember right, the VW Caddy is the same size as the NV200 (I saw the 2 parked next to each other and actually couldn't tell the difference from the back). That's probably not very helpful though as I guess the VW is going to be equally expensive (if not more so) and probably cost more to run.

    Julian
    The NV just has the edge on cargo space from what I remember of the last Caddy I saw.

    Anyhoo....the search continues.....

    Just back from seeing an NV200. Nice little van if I'm honest (well, not that particular van but you get the idea ). For an 11 year old van, my Gawd it's apparently had a traumatic life. Two previous owners, one careful, the second, a sadist!

    So, I turned up off spec (don't like dealers to have things ready).

    The offside side door was open, I assumed so that you could look inside. Closed it and well, it didn't! It locked, it went as far as it should, but something about the half inch gap between where the back of the door should meet the rest of the body and where it actually WAS rang a couple of sirens. Apparently they'll be able to "sort that out". I had visions of a grease monkey in heavy boots giving it a good kick to bend it back into shape as opposed to a professional panel beater delicately coaxing it back into position.

    Opened the driver's door - there's water sitting on the carpet on top of the sill.....this isn't looking good. Might be something innocent like the window's been left open with all the rain we've had recently....I suspect probably a seal gone somewhere.

    Undeterred, I asked a few questions, got the sort of responses I thought I'd hear about it's history and any MOT advisories, and asked for a test drive. Cue the hunt for the booster battery (we'll put a new one in if you buy it sir). Left to my own devices and a trade plate, I hit the road for 10 minutes or so.

    My, the warning lights were pretty to behold (engine management, door open somewhere....erm , and several others were flashing away). Certainly apt for a disco bus And as for the pretty much non-existent clutch

    Took it back smiling sweetly and said I'd go and speak to she who must be obeyed and come back tomorrow. NOT LIKELY!

    Aside from all of that....

    I actually quite like these little beasts. It felt like it had grunt (certainly faster at take off than the Hiace), the interior (when cleaner than that one) was nice and comfortable, if a little weird with a gear stick coming out of the dashboard under the radio. Yes, it's smaller than the current bus, but I could visualise 99% of my rigs fitting in there without too much hassle.

    Back to the hunt of the inter web to see what else I can find. How hard can it be?

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    OK - the conundrum is over

    Meet "Molly", the new disco bus as of next Thursday when I go and pick her up

    Name:  NewVan.jpg
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    I plumped for one of the NV200's. A little smaller than I've got now, but perfectly manageable for the vast majority of stuff I do. Felt and looked a LOT better than the one that I tried on Friday, and 600 cheaper as well

    Now....just need to get rid of the old bus....

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