Symbol - Our opinions and modifications
and Backbox Fitting
Our previous motorhome was an Auto-Sleepers Symbol High-top van
conversion which we owned for six years and were pleased with the layout
and performance. It is a tried and tested layout that Auto-Sleepers have used for
many years in their various panel van conversions.
General things that we liked:
Pleasant to drive 1.9 turbo diesel and not too noisy at speed.
Fairly economical averaging 29 mpg.
Good size for travelling down country lanes and in-town parking.
Comfortable seats with armrests for driver and passenger and easily made up
transverse double bed.
It has a Truma LPG/240volt hot water system - the controls have now been repositioned to under the long
Space heating is by a Truma LPG (only) powered blown air heater which is sufficiently powerful and not too
noisy especially when turned down to the lower setting.
Bed making for transverse sleeping (we're not tall!) is easy and we don't
have to use any of the infill
cushions that were supplied for lengthwise single or double beds.
We use the single dinette for eating which is very pleasant
when the large sliding
door is wide open on a sunny day. The van feels more open than our previous
coachbuilt van for lounging around.
The van is useful for carrying large items loaded through rear door.
It's our only
vehicle and I always have on-going DIY projects.
It is fitted with a full oven, separate grill and three burner gas hob. We
rarely use the grill but the oven is used frequently for the types of meals we
enjoy. (We rarely eat out in restaurants or pubs). The additional removable work
surface which many owners have added is useful. The shallow top cupboards store
small plastic containers for tea, coffee, sugar etc and items like kitchen foil
and packs of biscuits. The taller cupboards are used for cups in a 5 place cup
rack, which was not fitted or had been removed by the previous owner and some
food packet storage also the draining rack, non-slip table mats and plastic
bottles such as cooking
oil and washing up liquid. I'm not sure if a cutlery draw was originally fitted
but we have made use of a full sized shallow plastic tray which slides on
runners I've fitted to the cupboard above the fridge. This cupboard also stores
the dinner and side plates under the sink. These are Arcopal (similar to Pyrex)
glass, a pleasant design that we found in a small village supermarket in France
(why don't they sell better crockery in the UK dealers?- we don't like the
melamine style ones).
I have removed the worktop
cover which was a nuisance as it obscured the mains and 12V sockets located
behind it. A 500w EWT convector heater is permanently fitted to the washroom wall so have
an extension lead usually plugged in to this socket.
cutlery and plates storage|
500w wall mounted
Just about large enough for us. The door can be left open to give a larger area.
I believe there was a hinged folding panel option to close off the area above
the hob but this was missing from our van. The shower is quite good once the
taps have been adjusted and the head has a spring loaded shut-off lever so the
taps can be left at the best temperature settings. There is the usual problem of
the wet shower curtain draping around to dry off. (Our previous van had an
opening window that was useful for hanging out the curtain). The cabinet is just
about useable although it is fixed too high for the mirror (since lowered). I have added a
plastic fiddle rail, (an old piece of Swish curtain track), to the open section to
provide more useful storage.
fitted a toilet roll holder on the front wall as the Thetford recess is too
small for standard toilet rolls, and hooks for flannels, also an
additional towel rail lengthwise by the top window which we find useful for wet
coats. I've also fitted a mug holder made from a plastic guttering downpipe clip
(painted white - cost about 50p!). We have found the tip-up basin ok but it is slow to drain due to
the small outlet and as a plug cannot be fitted it's a source of smells from the
cabinet fiddle rail
additional towel rail
We find this reasonable - the swivelled passenger seat is favourite for
long-term comfort (we take it in turns!) and have a small plastic footstool
which doubles as an occasional table which helps! (My maxim is everything
should have more than one use!). We have tried various arrangements for the long
bench seat which can be partially slid out to make it wider but have yet to find
a practical back rest arrangement if sitting feet-up lengthways. The seat foam
is a bit soft (but hard enough for sleeping). We have two pillows which
double as cushions. I've also tried using the driver's seat-back, adjusted to
as a backrest but again this needs to be made firmer. It isn't easy
to fit a swivel to the driver's seat as this can cause problems due to the
additional height and it can't be fully swivelled due to the steering wheel and
We usually leave the passenger seat swivelled to the rear and set up the bed as a
transverse double which is sufficiently wide and long. To fix the settee
backrest in place I wedge a spare wooden 4"x2" block down the gap rather than the
long infill cushion supplied. This is no problem as we always sleep with the
pillows at this side. We use a duvet, and
have three lightweight microfleece blankets which squeeze down really small and store
the bedding in the overcab "Tardis" area. We sometimes clip one of the
fleece blankets across the top shelves to separate the area from the front seats
as there is a draught from the front cab at times. |
Two outdoor folding chairs are stored, one behind the driver's seat ,the
other with velcro straps to the door pillar by the passenger door. The main
storage area under the settee is used for shoes, boots, a folding trolley and
the cover for the Truma heater section is not screwed down so buckets with an
easily removed bag of velcro straps clips etc, tools and
electrical odds and ends are stored there, obviously ensuring that the inlet air path to the
heater is not obstructed. The area under the rear passenger seat is used for the
mains cable in a custom bag and toolboxes beneath the slide-out basket which holds the
water hoses, funnel and spare collapsible 15 litre water container. There is also
a narrow storage box for the many other odds and ends kept in this basket. We carry another
10litre water container in the passenger footwell as we rarely use that door for
The wardrobe rail has been removed and two shelves fitted. We carry our
clothes in two lightweight holdalls. We hang coats on the five hook rack
which is moved to the nearside so as not to obscure my rear view when driving. This rack is easily moved
around or into the washroom when we want to hide our clothing when we
leave the van. I usually hook it to the curtain rail above the driver's door
when we are parked up for the night.
moveable coat rack|
We have recently installed a useful arrangement ideal for hanging damp
washing across the rear of the motorhome, using stretchy curtain wires,
hooks and brackets. They can easily be removed and don't impede access to
the top cupboard or rear door as we aren't very tall!
Like all our modifications I have tried to minimise any permanent affect
to the original interior although the occasional additional screw holes are
Hanging rail brackets|
We have found more useful
storage space behind the rear panel of the washroom, only accessible when
the nearside rear door is open (so it could be used for hiding valuables).
I use this space to store rarely needed items such as an electric air
compressor, tow rope, snow chains and warning triangles. (This idea was
obtained from the Autosleeper Owners Club)
rear storage area covered
useful rear storage |
We don't often take a television and rely on the radio
and cd player for
entertainment. I have replaced the Blaupunkt radio cassette with a cheap
Tevion Radio/cd/mps player from ALDI. This has a USB connection, SD card slot
and AUX cable for plugging in an MP3 player. Although it plays MP3 format CD's
the menu navigation to albums and tracks is very complicated. It does have a
remote which is useful.
However for winter travels when we appreciate some television we have a USB
DVB-T stick for our laptop. However this needs a good signal so we also bought an
analogue TV PCMCIA card cheaply on ebay which also has composite video
input connections. I found the internal loop type aerial to be unsatisfactory and
so fix an outdoor aerial on a pole to the rear door of the motorhome using
the bikerack mounting points, as we rarely take bikes in the UK. We have
Fiamma mounting brackets on both rear doors as we fit a back-box to the
nearside door for our Europe trips.
The analogue TV card enables us to connect the laptop to a suitcase satellite dish
and receiver which we purchased from Maplin and found useful when in Europe for
receiving BBC radio stations available on the Astra 1 19.2E satellite, even
in Hungary. We found it generally easy to set up especially if there are
other motorhomes around with dishes already aligned. I mount the dish on a tripod that
came with a cheap laser level modified with brackets on each leg to
provide pegging down points. Sometimes if we are parked in the right
direction I clamp the dish to the Fiamma backbox rack.
TV aerial installation|
top mounting bracket|
lower mounting rail|
Water and waste arrangements:
We have found the underfloor fresh and waste water tanks (both about 50litres)
adequate for our sort of trips and have a routine of keeping the fresh water
topped up using the 10 litre and 15 litre hand containers (easier to carry as
balanced (and good exercise!) usually needing one trip to the water tap in the
evening and a morning top-up if we have used the shower or extra washing
up. I use a flexi funnel clipped to the window rail and also have a 12v
submersible pump that can be used to transfer the water if needed. We rarely use
the motorhome service points on campsites but do carry a few lengths of 15mm dia
hose and various adaptors if we find one that's accessible. I usually empty the
grey water waste tank before setting off each morning using an old 15 litre
collapsible container and a 10 litre bucket, unless the waste point is a long distance away when we do drive to
it as we leave the site!
Fresh and waste water filling arrangement
I have fitted deadlocks from Safeways to the front driver and passenger doors
and also the side and rear doors which can only be locked
from the outside. However they do not provide additional security when we are in the
van as they are always unlocked for safety. See
In order to provide additional security while sleeping I have
riveted metal loops to the front driver and passenger doors and made up
steel wire ropes joined by a quick release hasp or a padlock in the centre.
I considered using the webbing strap that
can be purchased for this purpose but this can be cut if the window has
been opened and the door arm rests are only screwed into plastic fittings
in the door trim panels. The cacles are tucked into the door pockets when
not in use.
An additional tip for night time security of valuables is to put them in
one of the underseat lockers which are not easily accessible once the bed
is made up and you are lying on it! |