Scoping the Azalai

We’d let things drift a bit since our visit to OEC in April, but Anton had recently emailed to say that he has a finished Azalai 130 in the workshop – so we again made the short trip over to Kingsteignton to see how things may or may not work. It was also a chance to check on some of my estimates based upon a trawl of internet prices and providers against an outline spec from OEC.

We got over to the yard and over a welcome coffee had a quick update chat. Anton undertook to firm up a quote and then to business – a look at the Azalai 130 (the vehicle featured in LRO monthly). First challenge, how to get in. The rear steps as standard were no good for me and my crutches. We tried a portable step but not quite enough height to access the LR’s deck, however it easily afforded opportunity to sit on the cabin’s floor and ‘arse it in’ as it were. Not elegant but feasible (whilst the Azalai’s shower area is dry!).

Note 1 – will need to think of a bespoke steps solution; Anton is confident that this is something OEC can do (and we’re confident in OEC)

Once in everything was ideally to hand, and indeed the compact nature of the design makes life easier if you have mobility difficulties. We lifted and lowered the roof, nosed around the storage, sat on the loo, and raised and lowered the upper bunk. The portable step came in handy to proove that this, with the lowered cab roof option, is more than acceptable (and rather comfortable too).

Note 2 – need the lowered cab roof option

We also measured the length of the cabin, and were pleased to realise that if we should ever need to, our Oztent RV5 will travel, albeit poking through into the pasenger part of the front cab. We also realised that there is nothing for us to gain with [the seemingly popular option] of cutting the Cab bulkhead down to the deck.

Anton has a stated philosophy that he is not a salesman. “I don’t do sales” he says in his Rhodie drawl, “I’m happy to answer any questions and it’s up to you to make up your own minds.” A refreshing approach and to be fair it’s not rhetoric and he is true to his word.

We also had a quick look at a few innovations coming on stream such as an awning being attached to a new conversion in progress. We looked at a Puma LR 130 from the point of view of hand controls (very helpful as it could be all too easy to get so far and then find you couldn’t actually drive the vehicle). Things are slightly more comfortable than back in the day, when I had a Petrol 3.5 naturally aspirated V8 110 van (A178 KDV) – and that was fitted with hand controls and manual transmission. This time we’re looking at an Ashcroft auto-box conversion and L. foot accelerator, with hand control brake (possibly push pull brake accelerator). I am keen to be able to maintain the ability to accelerate and brake at the ‘same’ time as can sometimes be demanded by off road conditions.

Anyway – it’s still a goer – actually more so – as we can now tangibly see and feel the potential.

We returned home in good mood and buoyed up with a very positive afternoon’s research.

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