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Review of our 2009 Autotrail Delaware
We are extremely happy with our Autotrail Delaware because it has everything we want in a motorhome.
Our first Motorhome was a McLouis Tandy which we purchased for our first ever three-month European trip just over 6 years ago. It was after that first trip out that we realized the layout of the van didn’t suit us. As soon as we returned to the UK we started researching on the internet to find a van that would suit us better.
The Autotrail Delaware was and still is the perfect fit for us. This is why we like it:
Top of our list was to have an island bed. Although we had a made-up bed in the McLouis one of us still had to clamber over the other to get out of bed if visiting the loo in the middle of the night which wasn’t much fun. The disadvantage of a large island bed though is that they take up a chunk of your vehicles living space. However, this was something we were prepared to give up and I must say that the bedroom area is luxurious and my most favourite place in the van.
The Autotrail Delaware has a wardrobe each side of the bed.
Under the wardrobes on both sides of the bed, there is a shelf which is ideal for the night time glass of water, morning cuppa and clock. We have noticed that not all vans have this. Beneath the tabletop is a handy drawer and cupboard.
At the end of the bed, we have a mirror with a small worktop which lifts to reveal a space to store my makeup and below that another storage cupboard.
The opposite side the worktop lifts to reveal a handy laundry basket which is stored in a cupboard. Opposite the bed is an additional TV mounted on the wall.
It’s just these little things – the attention to detail that makes all the difference.
We have a large roof light over the bed which is great for looking up at the stars at night but there are blinds for the skylights for the nights we want to block out all the light.
I love the fact that we can shut the bedroom off from the living area with either the door from the toilet or a concertina screen (this is also great to keep your privacy if you have guests that want to use the toilet while you are in bed at night).
The view of the motorhome from the bed end.
The Kitchen in the Autotrail Delaware
Because of the big double bed, the kitchen suffers a bit here. It is only a small L shape kitchen although I find it perfectly adequate. The second thing on our list of must-haves was a full oven. A lot of the German vans only have a hob and not an oven. I use my oven a lot so it really is essential. We have a large full height fridge and separate freezer, which is handy when we are away. We like to get a week’s shopping at a time so the larger fridge comes in really handy. The work surface slides out from over the stainless steel sink. It’s a great extra work surface, however, it does block the access to the bedroom, toilet and fridge while it is out.
There are three gas burners and an electric hotplate with spark ignition. We use the electric hotplate whenever we can to save on the gas. A fan over the cooker area and a strip light to light up the area is very handy.
The shower and toilet are on either side of the van and the door to the toilet closes off the bedroom so that you have the whole area when getting ready in the mornings.
There is also a concertina screen door that you can pull across if you have guests staying so that you can keep the bedroom private but your guests still have the use of the facilities during the night.
Washroom facilities include Thetford swivel cassette toilet, hand basin and separate shower. We had problems with the original wash basin as it was made of plastic and got very discoloured (I have read on some of the forums that this seems to be a general problem). We took it out and replaced it with a very small ceramic basin and a new tap. We found an offcut of white kitchen worktop which finished it off nicely.
The shower cubicle is nice and spacious although on our longer trips and when we are staying on campsites I use the space to hang longer items of clothing as it has a rail and use the campsite facilities.
Note from the photos below that the photo on the left is the original Autotrail sink. We had a problem with the sink (as I think many other people have where the sink got really discoloured and nothing I used on it would make it look clean so we replaced it with a smaller but heavier ceramic sink.
The Lounge Area in the Autotrail Delaware
We wanted a layout where we could invite friends in for drinks so wanted two longer sofas opposite each other with swivel cab chairs making a nice space to seat 6-7 people. Our McLouis had front facing seats with a large table which made it feel very cramped.
We have a small round occasional table which we find invaluable and use all the time as its ideal for just the two of us to have our meals. It saves getting the bigger oblong table out from the overhead locker. It swivels out of the way when we don’t want to use it.
As well as the island bed there is a pull out bed in this area although I would say it’s a bit small for 2 adults and more like a large single bed than a double. We only really have the small grandchildren stay so this isn’t a problem for us.
The photo of the lounge area on the left below is the new upholstery in cream leather with a taupe fabric and on the right is the original patterned fabric.
When we purchased the van we were not particularly impressed with the pattern on the upholstery and after our first year, we had it re-upholstered. We now have cream leather and taupe fabric but add some colour and pattern with cushions. We kept the same curtains which are a plain cream with a tan tie back and goes well with the upholstery also saving a little money. Some of the trim in the lounge area was replaced with leather.
We took the van up to Regal Furnishing in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, whom we would definitely recommend. They did a brilliant job and looked after us well. We arrived the night before and they put us up for the night with electricity. We were up early the next morning choosing our fabric before they dropped us off in Ilkeston for the day asking us to come back at 4 pm when the van would be ready. The approximate cost was £3,000
Large storage space above the cab.
The carpets in the lounge are fitted (laid before the furniture is fixed to the floor which cuts down on road noise). We would have preferred that they came up as the light cream colour gets dirty very quickly. The bedroom and toilet, however, has drop-in carpets with press studs. I think they got this round the wrong way really.
The integral lighting comes with dimmer switches, and there are directional spotlights at the cab end of the sofas too. There is no lighting in the cab so that can be a bit dark at night when the blinds are pulled across.
We like the low-energy strip lights especially when we are wild camping. A nice touch is the one which lights up the step leading into the bedroom area.
Having both pleated blinds and curtains on poles is nice to have the option of using either especially when it is hot and you want some privacy but don’t want to block out any breeze.
There are fly-screens on the windows and skylights but no fly-screen on the door which we would have liked. We have put up fluffy door strips to try to stop the fly’s and midges coming in but it’s not as good especially on a breezy day. They do give us some privacy though when the door is open.
Our van came with an Omnistor roll-out canopy, a roof-mounted solar panel, ladder, a Fiamma bike rack, a reversing camera and a mast mounted directional tv aerial
There is plenty of storage both internally and externally. Inside we have plenty of cupboards including a large area above the cab and plenty of storage in the bedroom area. I don’t usually have trouble finding space for a three-month trip – and I do take a lot of stuff. There is also lots of space under the island bed, which is supported by a ratchet that allows you to push the bed up and get anything out without having to hold it up. It is big enough to climb inside which my husband found out when he had to replace the water pump. Here we also keep a laptop safe, where we keep passports and valuables. The only problem we found when the water pump went was that it leaked and some of the stuff stored like spare duvet, towels etc got wet. We now keep things stored in plastic bags under the bed. Obviously, everything in the safe was still dry.
The garage space is big enough to get everything we want to take with us. We manage to get our Lafuma chairs, two small outside tables, two bigger outside tables, gas bbq, 3 extra fold up chairs, double gas burner (for cooking outside when it’s really hot), groundsheet, broom, fold up rotary line, 2 parasols, bucket, bowl, plastic watering can (for topping up the water when we stay longer at campsites, a fold up step, little trolley for taking the chairs down the beach, small tabletop ironing board, winding handles for the canopy, bike rack and rear legs, electric cable., bike panniers, windbreak.
Then we have external storage trays under the floor of the motorhome which is built discretely into the skirts where we keep the two warning triangles, 3 chocks, waste water pipe, tow rope. The outside cupboard above we keep an extra electric cable, toolbox, blue, gas bottle connectors, electric connectors, caravan shampoo, WD40, a little can of oil, canopy straps, ground pegs for the canopy, hammer, gas bottle key, canopy windshields, cleaning cloths, water hose.
There are exterior gas and shower points a key-less gas locker which opens via a bonnet-type catch behind the passenger seat in the cab.
The cab is equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, electric cab windows and mirrors, remote central locking, driver/passenger airbags and anti-lock brakes
Heating & Hot Water
Truma dual powered combi boiler providing blown air central heating and hot water.
We have been having a few problems with the lounge and bedroom skylights as they have a gear mechanism which has now broken for the second time so the van is due into the repair centre at the end of August to have them replaced to the caravan push up type. They are slightly bigger than the current skylights but that shouldn’t be a problem. A photo will be posted once the work has been done. A couple of years ago we had the toilet cubicle room skylight replaced with a push-up type and we have been much happier with that. The cost to replace the two skylights will be £1,600
The air conditioning/heater blower has stopped working so that is another job to get done this month. Oh and the electric step quite often gets stuck because dirt gets into the micro switch and it doesn’t register that the step is out. A simple solution is to regularly clean the dirt out from the microswitch.
The van drives really well and feels very stable on the road.
We did consider changing the van rather than getting all these repairs done but after looking around there is nothing else we like as much and whose to say we wouldn’t get problems with a different van. Once we get her sorted I am hoping we will get a few more years out of her.
Auto-Trail Delaware SE, Coach Built, Luxury low line
Birth: 4 although I would say it sleeps 3 comfortably.
Travel Seats: 2
Chassis: Fiat Ducato / Al-KO
Transmission: 6-speed Manual
Engine Size: 2,999 160bhp Multijet
Length: 7.74m / 25’4”
Width: 2.31m / 7’7”
Height: 2.97m /9’8”
Unladen weight: 3,540 kgs (4.25)
Waste Water: 68-litre
136-litre fresh water tank.
Integral awning light
Home entertainment centre with CD/DVD/MP3 player, a flip-down colour TV monitor,
We have another tv in our bedroom area which we connect our iPad or iPhones up to with the Apple Lightning Digital AV (see below) which then connects to an HDMI lead and the TV. This then mirrors anything you have on your phone like Netflix or YouTube.