Review: Bailey Autograph

By: Vivienne Haldane, Photography by: Vivienne Haldane


fsf Julie and Mark Dakers fsf
IMG 0204 Aircraft cabin-like storage IMG 0204
IMG 0195 Kitchen drawers lock when pushed in IMG 0195
IMG 0165 “The fridge (far left, below the microwave) is surprisinglybig,” says Mark. It works on gas power and battery. IMG 0165
IMG 0184 Another selling point was thiscompact and easy-to-use bathroom IMG 0184
IMG 0229 The garage to the rear of the motorhome IMG 0229
IMG 0238 Room for the toys IMG 0238

Vivienne Haldane meets a couple whose Bailey Autograph from TrailLite is ticking all the boxes

Whāngārei couple Mark and Julie Dakers were thrilled when they received the keys to their new motorhome last July. Mark admits he experienced a few first-time jitters as he sat in the driver’s seat and switched on the ignition, but that soon passed. Since then they’ve clocked up 7400km, with their furthest destination being Dunedin.

They had done their research before buying their 7950mm Bailey Autograph from TrailLite in Pukekohe. "Initially we wondered whether a caravan or a campervan would be best for us. When someone suggested that a caravan is for a destination and a campervan is for a journey, it made sense and helped make up our minds," says Mark.

Deciding factors

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The awning provides a sheltered spot for relaxing

Mark and Julie had a list of requirements for their home on wheels. The motorhome door had to open on the left-hand side, and they wanted a permanently made-up bed and good insulation so they could travel in comfort year-round.

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Julie’s parents, Margaret and Len Hunt, settle in for the trip.

"We had a very helpful salesperson who pointed out the finer details of the motorhome. For example, the bathroom had good water pressure, ample water storage, a shower curtain, and a swivel toilet," says Julie. Their choice of dealer was guided by the fact that Julie’s parents, Margaret and Len Hunt, who had long owned motorhomes and a caravan, had always received excellent service from TrailLite.

getting to know their motorhome

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Julie and Mark have worked out how to share this space and have areas where they can work together or separately. The permanently made-up bed was a must-have feature.

An initial challenge was finding out how to use the interior space without tripping over each other. To cope, Mark and Julie quickly established a routine. "I usually go for an early morning walk or a run, and this gives Mark time to get up and make the bed, tidy up and put the kettle on. Little things like that in a confined space took a bit of getting used to, but we soon worked it out," says Julie.

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Mark prepares to hit the walking trail

It also has been a learning curve getting accustomed to the new technology that comes with the motorhome, says Mark. "We often had to reach for the instruction manuals to figure out things such as how to heat water, how to boil the jug – we tried boiling it on the house battery and wondered why it didn’t work.

We found out we had to be plugged into mains power for this, as well as the microwave. We had an issue when the gas alarm sounded for no apparent reason; we quickly stopped on the side of the road, jumped out and opened all the doors. We couldn’t find a way to turn it off so took the batteries out, checked everything, put them back in and after that it was fine."

Mark is a dab hand on the barbecue, so he chooses to cook outside rather than use the stove. "That way we keep cooking smells out of our living space, and it gives me a chance to enjoy a beer while I cook." Although Julie had never driven a vehicle of this size before, she didn’t find it difficult and soon felt confident coping with its larger dimensions.

On the road

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The Bailey Autograph, seen here at Onerahi, Whāngārei, is easy to park

Out on the road, there was just as much to learn. "Keeping an eye on the traffic – noticing the length of the queue behind us and how long they’d been following us was a key factor in observing basic road courtesy. "One of the best things I’ve done is put a 90km-maximum speed sticker on the back of the vehicle. You can buy these from NZMCA," says Mark.

"I’ve observed most drivers readily get this. However, we do notice many drivers have the attitude of, ‘we have to beat the campervan’ and – especially on the passing lanes – leave it too late. You have to be vigilant around those double lanes.

I also indicate to pull over when I can." Mark and Julie find their dashcam useful, too. When embarking on the Interisland Ferry on their first trip to the South Island, the couple discovered what a low profile their motorhome had.

"It helped that the parking attendant suggested we park on the bottom deck and not go up the ramp." The Bailey has plenty of power, too, in spite of Mark thinking that a 2-litre engine might not have. "Our first trip over the Taupō Hills was a breeze. I was surprised how much power it had and how well it handled the hills."

Community vibe

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Time to enjoy the destination

One of the things the couple has enjoyed most is meeting other motorhome owners and discovering what a friendly community there is out there. "We’ve met lovely people from all over the place. I especially like the spontaneous encounters we’ve made.

One evening, we were sitting having our drinks when another motorhome owner came up and introduced himself and asked if he could join us. That’s all part of the campervan culture, and we really like it," says Mark.

Belonging to the NZ Motor Caravan Association has been helpful, they say. "It’s excellent, and there are lots of benefits in being a member – from helpful hints to where dump stations are located to information on amazing camping sites at a very low cost."

Mark says, "Some comment on what a big investment a motorhome is, especially if it’s not being used full-time. (Mark and Julie still work.) But we disagree – we use it as much as we can, and we love every moment." Adds Julie, "It’s nice to get away. You feel free and relaxed. We are looking forward to giving up work and going on the road to explore more destinations, meet new people and enjoy our beautiful country."

Bailey Autograph specifications

Year

2018

Engine

2.0L blue HDI 160hp

Berths 4

Transmission

6-speed manual gearbox

GVM

3850kg

Tare

3366kg

Length

7988mm x 350mm

Overall habitation

2422mm wide

Overall cab

2489mm wide

Overall height

2769mm (68-2)-2782mm(79-4, 79-6)

ABS brakes  
ESP and traction control  
Cruise control  

Front-wheel drive

 

Ultra low profile

 

3-year or 100,00km factory-backed Peugeot warranty

 

Bluetooth connectivity

 
Swivel cab seats  

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