What’s it like living with a Niesmann & Bischoff Arto GL?

I’ll admit from the outset that this blog is inspired by the ‘Owner Report’ section in the Motorhome Monthly Magazine. Do check out this magazine if you want to know anything motorhome related.

Each month an owner writes a report about their motorhome. I love to have a little read, to see what other benefits/problems other motorhomer’s face.

Niesmann & Bischoff Motorhome

Our set up this summer, resembling a junk yard!

In that vein I thought I’d take some time out to tell you about our Niesmann & Bischoff Motorhome. Not in a showing off way you understand, but in more of a ‘if you fancy this motorhome, this is what it’s like’ sort of a way.

Our motorhome is a Niesmann and Bischoff Arto GL that we’ve personified as Artie. Hence Artie’s blog!

It’s a Motorhome, but not as we know it!

Artie is not a campervan, because he has a bathroom! Check out our blog post on ’10 differences between campervans and motorhomes’ to get to grips with the nuances of one over the other.

We’ve owned Artie since March 2013, having traded in our New Life Mobilvetta. We originally had an Arto back in 2005, for three years. But with great reluctance we gave it up, as we couldn’t make it work with a small baby. I cried when our first Arto left us, and hankered after one ever since.

Artie is 14 years old, and he’s in jolly good condition for his age. But then you sort of expect that, what with the much-vaunted German build quality. Vorsprung durch technik and all that!

Nitty Gritty Dimensions

R Artie is 6.9m long (we had to remove part of the garden wall to get him in) by 2.9m high and 2.7m wide. The bed comes down into the front window over the driver’s seats. This means it’s classed as an A Class model. The lounge is an L shape, behind the cab area, with two rear seat belted seats. These seats are a long way back from the cab so it probably wouldn’t be ideal for smaller children who continually drop things/need parental assistance.

Niesmann & Bischoff GL LayoutArtie has one door, to get in and out of the cab and living area. It does make it a bit painful to keep getting up and going around. We also have to park him facing towards the house, to enable us to get in and out. The electric point is on the opposite side, near our neighbour’s wall, so an ingenious connection of electric leads, keeps Artie hooked up to the house when not in use.

Inside Artie

Interior of Niesmann & Bischoff MotorhomeL Shaped Lounge on MotorhomeIn the living area, the L-shaped lounge is created with pull out wooden boards, and two extra cushions, to make the settee. The associated cushions live in the bathroom when we travel, so that the two rear seats can be used. I’ve added photos that reflect us living in the motorhome, so often it’s staged photos, and you don’t get a real idea of what 2 weeks in a motorhome are like (very messy!!).

The kitchen area has an oven (which was specified by the previous owner, as continental vans this age with ovens are rare), three-ring gas hob, double sink! (oooh get us), two overhead cupboards, and beneath the sink is a pull out tall drawer. This is one of the selling points of the Arto – I know sad! The pull-out drawer is tall enough to get our drinks in, and various other gadgety bits.

Beyond the lounge area lies the bathroom, with shower, and opposite that is the wardrobe with storage underneath. We also have a large fridge freezer, with an actual freezer that freezes! That’s a Dometic RM40/110.

Rear Bed of Niesmann & Bischoff MotorhomeThe second double bed is above the garage area. That bed has on it the most expensive mattress we own and it came with the motorhome when we brought it! Because the bed is secluded (has its own door!) and has cupboards around it, our daughter has claimed this as her sleeping quarters. It’s ideal as she keeps all of her stuff there in this one part of the motorhome.

To begin with that made complete sense because we could sit up and drink wine in the lounge area without disturbing her. But things have changed and we’ve reached the point when she goes to bed when we do. Time to reclaim the bed!

I mentioned the garage, which has 103 litres of invaluable space, 1.98m x 1.02m. Someone added plastic pockets to the side, along with a hatch in the wall so you can access the garage from inside the van. This was a brilliant idea, especially when it’s raining hard and you don’t really want to go outside to get stuff. The one downside of the garage space is getting to the kit at the very back. You have to climb in.  We carry quite a bit of kit with us. For that, read freestanding awning, bikes, chairs, scooters, toys, equipment etc. etc.  So we invested in an air suspension system, which we pump up before we load.

External Features

We’ve also got a bike rack, awning, reversing camera and ladder attached to the van. The awning is an Omnistor, and could do with an overhaul, as we found out to our cost last year when we were balancing on a stool, trying to get it to wind back in! We don’t have a satellite dish on top, but we do have a TV – though, if I’m honest, we hardly use it. Well, when it’s bucketing down we’ll pop a film on. But then we don’t watch much TV at home either, except Game of Thrones and House of Cards – is that becoming the same show minus the dragons?

Over Cab Bed

Over Cab Bed

Main Heiki over Lounge Area

Main Heiki over Lounge Area

There’s a large heiki sun roof over the lounge area, (picture to left), and we replaced the two mini heikis (one in the bathroom and one over the end bedroom) from the opaque yellowing style to clear plastic. There’s no natural light over the cab area. We’ve fitted two small LED lights over the cab bed, to provide lighting there.

The area doesn’t have any shelving, only a wall pocket, which makes it impossible to slurp wine in bed when reading – one of my small pleasures in life! The bed comes down over the cab on gas struts, which broke a couple of years ago. We replaced them ourselves and it was a painful job, requiring two of us and special sockets etc. A job better done in the dedicated workshop.

Mentioning the bathroom, as you do, while we don’t have a window it still feels airy and light. The replacement of the heiki has gone some way to contribute to that. It comes with shower, toilet, sink, large mirror and three cupboards. The shower tray is cracked meaning we can’t use the shower. Having seen these being replaced when I worked for Brownhills Motorhomes we’re in no hurry to replace it. If we were wild camping regularly, we’d sort the situation for sure!

The Joy of Winterisation

Because the van is German, it’s fully winterized, which means we have a double floor. This gives valuable storage for beer to be brought back! And the storage here is usually cool, ideal for storing spuds and other such like. Double storage means the water tank and pipes are protected throughout winter, ensuring we can use the motorhome all year round.

The base vehicle is a Fiat Ducato with a 2.8 TD engine, and it has some guts this, heaving us and our show equipment (3m marquee, stock and chocolate supply) around for the summer.

We’ve been really lucky in our motor-homing life. We started out in 2000, with a G Reg Autosleeper Legend – a fantastic vehicle. Then we saved hard to buy a brand new Swift Bessacarr. From that we returned to Autosleepers with a couple of Pollensas.

In our opinion, a good, well researched second-hand motorhome is almost better than a brand new one. Most of our brand-new vans have had snagging issues. Most of which we were able to sort out ourselves. Though in the case of the van that delaminated its roof we were outwitted.

With a second-hand van, we feel that we can add decoration to it and glamp it up and not worry about its resale value – a constant fear with brand new ones. In short, our motorhome is our main hobby and love!

So in conclusion:

What we love: the enormous windscreen area – it affords such fantastic views. The versatile layout, and the luxury double bed. Well, once I’ve booted the daughter out I’ll love it.

What we would change: if I could get the electricity supply to be on the same side as the door I’d be a happy woman. That aside, the paint on the roof is peeling badly, so a magic fairy to go up there and roller it would be great!

Beds: double at rear (6ft 9in x 4ft 4in) double at front (6ft 1.5in x 4ft 4in) and single in lounge area (6ft 3in x 2ft 0.5in).

Current second-hand prices are in the region of £24,995. The price of similar brand new vans today – an eye watering £119,711!! Yet, when you think we’re still driving around in ours fourteen years on and with furniture, fittings and upholstery like new it could be seen as an investment!

Share your motorhome with us; tell us on Facebook & Twitter, what you have and where you’re off to this summer.

Until next time  …..#getoutside

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