Home Forums Modifications & Enhancements Modifying the Exsis for our Big Year Out – the lounge

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    • #818
      Chris and Susan

      The basic design of the Exsis is of course 99% perfect – but I love the way everyone on the forum has a different idea for the little changes that are needed for the final 1%!

      Our biggest modification making the van ready for our Big Year Out was in the lounge – we knew there would be plenty of rainy days and evenings spent reading, watching videos on the laptop or just daydreaming – and so we wanted somewhere really comfy to chill out

      We have the SG model (small side settee, double forward-facing travel seat & huge table) and we had found that we never really used the side settee (it’s much shallower than the one in the SK model – just a little pew more than a comfy sofa) and that the person relaxing on the forward-facing seat felt too upright and hemmed-in by the big table.

      So taking a big gulp, before we left we dismantled most of the lounge furniture (scarily easy – an hour’s work with a screwdriver) and built a new lounge area for ourselves.


      It means we can’t carry passengers or sleep 4 any more (which we never did anyway) and while there are a few new screw-holes in lovely Hymer beech ply panels, the whole thing can be returned to stock if we ever take leave of our senses and want to sell the van.

      In place of the forward-facing double seat and massive table, we just wanted a big squashy sofa/day-bed area where we could really relax with our feet up. We searched everywhere for a proper interior-sprung sofa cushion of the right size, without success, until the Ikea Bargain Corner came up trumps with an ex-display ‘Vimle’ footstool with a huge lift-off sprung cushion.


      It was exactly the right width, but double the depth of the old Hymer seat cushion – so I used the long beech ply panel from the front of the dismantled side settee to make a new base with battens on the inside to support the frame of the Ikea cushion.


      I moved the leisure battery beside the Schaudt controller rather than ahead of it – then boxed them both off behind removable panels so they won’t get bashed by anything rolling around. I insulated and boxed-off the heater pipe running through the cupboard as well.

      As the trip has progressed we have gradually added cushions, rugs and a scandi sheepskin rug – sinking into the sofa is now like going into hibernation! As well as a massively comfy seat, this also gives us our ‘cave’ – a much bigger storage area under the settee for barbecue, books, and secret stashes of wine.

      Then because that left us without a dining area, in place of the side settee behind the driver’s seat I fitted a swivel seat (directly ahead of the rear entrance door) and a detachable table on a swing-arm which can be mounted between the seat and the swivelled driver’s seat.

      (It’s much easier to swivel the driver’s seat now that there isn’t any woodwork from the settee directly behind it.)

      The new swivel seat was an eBay find – it was taken from a dismantled post-office van – it’s a bit battered and the upholstery doesn’t match, but it swivels (meaning you can sit looking out the door on a nice day) and it’s height-adjustable, and it even has an integrated seat-belt (although I’d never recommend using it since nothing has been professionally installed.)

      The seat is mounted on a nice strong metal base which I bolted through the floor with six massive coach bolts, having measured and checked about 1,000,000,000 times that I wasn’t going to be drilling into the exhaust pipe or anything scary… thankfully the perfect position for the seat coincides with a nice clear piece of empty floor panelling underneath the van.

      The table (eBay again) slides onto a cranked leg, which can then be swivelled flat to the wall of the van & the table stashed out of the way. The table was a real lucky find – the exact right size and the colour is even a pretty good match for the Hymer wallboard.

      I built a raised-floor area between all the seats – much more comfortable to be able to sit without feet dangling from the high seats. This also gives us a bit of extra storage under the removable floor panels (As you can see from the pics above, Susan made it look a lot less home-made by trimming the ply floor sections with wood-effect Fablon).

      As always the finishing touches take forever… magazine racks, a little coffee shelf made from a leftover piece of wood from the side settee, and a new block of 12v/USB/240v sockets.

      Because we had changed the shape of the floor layout, the old carpet sections didn’t fit (and in our case were really tatty and worn) – so we got an offcut of carpet from a warehouse and stanley-knifed it to fit our new floorplan, complete with angular cut-off alongside the raised floor (it had seemed like a great idea at the time!)

      Then we got the edges of our new carpet sections professionally bound. It turned out pretty well, but when we do it again (which will definitely happen after a constant year’s wear and tear) there are a few little nips and tucks to make to the shape.

      (The pic shows the carpets upside-down being sprayed with a clever stuff that stops them slipping and sliding around – just in case you thought were daft enough to have bought white carpets)

      One finishing touch that gives me great joy is that the unused clips from the silver legs for the bed supports were the perfect size for our electric toothbrushes and salt & pepper shakers

      The table was inaugurated with a McDonalds – no energy left for anything fancier!

    • #820
      Barry & Maggie

      Absolutely amazing, Chris and Susan!

      Your work is sympathetic, of a high standard and cognisant of Hymer’s design.  But of most importance is your statement “the whole thing can be returned to stock”.  Over the years, I’ve seen so many motorhomes utterly ruined by modifications that are irreparable.

      This modification will be of great interest to many SG owners, I suspect.  I’ve never been a fan of “dinettes” – uncomfortable space-wasters but… they do enable seat-belted passenger travel and a large area for eating and children to play at.

      I particularly like your single swivel seat which would enable a SK owner to carry an extra seat-belted passenger by merely removing that side’s settee.

      Great ideas, great write-up and great illustrations, thanks Chris.  Keep them coming!

      And bon voyages for the rest of your travels.


    • #832
      Happy Traveller

      Hi Chris and Susan,


      Zarita and I are so pleased to see your post. We’d been hoping that you would make it before saying to fellow forum members that you were going to have a year full timing in your brilliantly reconfigured van. We remember several more significant changes that you had made and we hope that you will find time to post about them also. Our very best wishes to you both for the rest of your trip and for 2019. We found meeting you very uplifting.


      After we left Glencoe we did indeed manage to reach the Orkneys. Before catching the ferry we stayed  at Dunnet where Tom Sayles saw us. He posted a photo in October of our 2 vans. This is our first holiday where we’ve met 2 fellow Exsis owners!


      Best regards,





    • #834
      Happy Traveller

      Hi again


      Senility is definitely getting the upper hand making a correction necessary.


      Unusually we made 2 trips to Scotland last year including several stays at Glencoe where we met you. I came across your long post introducing yourselves after I had made my above post and it made me realise that I should have said that this is the first time on 2 successive holidays that we have met fellow Exsis owners.


      Best wishes again,



    • #839
      Fred & Gill

      Well done Chris and Susan for a very interesting major mod to the Exsis SG that thankfully is reversible.

      The SG is very practical and offers the van to a wider resale market with the extra seatbelts.

      We also found the side bench seat very narrow when we purchased our SG van new in 2007. We also found the original seat bases too soft and too small. We reconfigured our seat bases to give us several options as a single bed, double or for winter lounging by having some thicker (125mm) and firmer Reflex foam topped with memory foam (25mm) made to our larger specified sizes and then Gill made some new covers.

      The side bench seat base now has some plywood under it and is approx. 980mm long x 590mm deep with a slight roll edge. This allows it to be placed across the van onto the lowered table for winter lounging so we both have plenty of elbow room.

      The dinette seat was increased to give greater width and depth to 980mm long x 630mm wide with a slight roll edge. This also allows it to make a good winter lounging seat.

      We also made a smaller ‘infill’ cushion 980mm x 170mm to allow bed configuration and this is stored in the wardrobe.

      I have some photos below and I hope that you don’t mind me showing SG owners an easier option to increase comfort and flexibility.

      winter lounging mode

      winter single bed

      winter double bed





    • #841
      Barry & Maggie

      Wow!  That really is versatile, Fred.  And with such a small modification, too.  Apply for jobs at Hymer, all of you, straight away!

      I’m in conversation with Steve, my IT guru, to see if we can have the facility to enlarge the pics we get on the Forum.  It may be possible but the costs may be exorbitant.  We’ll see.


    • #849
      Chris and Susan

      Hi again everyone – thanks for the replies and great to see that we’re not the only ones who insist on ‘perfecting’ Hymer’s design!

      And great to hear from Keith and Zarita again – you were our first ‘Exsis encounter’ and you never forget your first time… We’re still using the little silicon disc you gave us for steadying the bathroom sink and we think of you every time!

      As for jobs at Hymer… oh, dream of dreams!! I’ve already got the van they SHOULD be making all planned out in my head….


    • #868
      Barry & Maggie

      ” I’ve already got the van they SHOULD be making all planned out in my head…”

      Join the club, Chris!  It staggers most of us why Hymer haven’t capitalised on their fantastic design and just updated it.

      Although it looks so nice, I believe the ‘one-piece nose’ was a very expensive and unnecessary luxury – they could have made a virtually identical motorhome with the standard chassis cowl with maybe a slight design overhang above the windscreen.  If the upper bed was moved back to above the ‘fridge area, there would be no need for that height of roof so far forwards.  And there’s a fair few thousands saved already!

      In my opinion, a “new” Exsis made as above, with what in my view is the best layout, the ‘Vario’ (with two forward-facing seats either side of the aisle, that convert to benches if needed) would be an instant hit.

      Are you listening, Hymer…?   (Deafening silence, with drifting tumbleweed…!)


    • #870
      Chris and Susan

      Absolutely Barry – there are a few good examples (like La Strada Avanti or Regent L) of a how a decent-size lengthways drop-down bed can work in a high-top van.

      I just think it’s incredible that all the manufacturers – not just Hymer – offer their own pretty-much-identical version of the same 5.99m rear-transverse bed layout without anyone trying something a bit more different and innovative.

      I agree that a conventional high-top would probably be the easiest and most inexpensive way to update the Exsis layout, but in dream ideal-world there’s also a case for a company with Hymer’s expertise and scale developing a proper ground-up A-class design while disciplining themselves to stick to the 5.4m x 2.05m of the Ducato base.  They get so frustratingly close with their new Exsis-i model-

      – but as usual they add a few inches to the width and the usual 2 feet to the length, making it just too big.

      You can tell that I think about this a lot!!

    • #871
      Chris and Susan

      We spent the day on the campsite yesterday giving the van a mid-trip spring clean and Marie Kondo-style declutter – it’s about as tidy as it’s ever been since we set off last May! So the pics give a better idea of our new lounge layout:

      This is the new USB/12v/240v socket bank on the front of the sofa

      And this is our storage ‘cave’ accessible just by lifting off the Ikea cushion

    • #873
      Barry & Maggie

      Great modifications there, Chris.

      The Exsis has, for us two, more than sufficient room for lounging/moving about, that I really do wonder why ALL the other coachbuilt manufacturers insist on building such comparatively huge vehicles.  My own Eureka! moment was discovering that the Exsis, with the width of a van and under 5.5m length, is as comfortable to live in as my old 20′-odd coachbuilts!  Other m/home owners just cannot believe that we are as comfortable in the Exsis as they are in their much bigger coachbuilts.


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