50 Nights in my Troll.

I thought that after having spent 50 nights this year in my Troll, this would be a good opportunity to offer my views and opinions on this caravan. Overall, I'm very impressed and there are some features which I really like, and others not so much.

I've only ever owned Eriba's, having switched from campervans a few years ago. The switch was really an attempt to minimise the ongoing costs associated with a 'leisure vehicle'. I've had a Puck (a 120), a Familia (a 320GT), and now own this Troll (a 530GT). The Troll was a substantial investment for me, it's a (used) 2017 fixed bed model with a number of extras fitted, such as awning, high back seats, 3 ring hob, etc.

I first started touring in the Troll back in April of this year and have covered a good part of Scotland and North England in my travels.

The Troll is actually probably a bit 'overkill' for my needs. I normally tour alone with my 2 spaniels, and rarely have guests. However, I do spend a lot of time touring 'off grid', therefore onboard facilities need to be able to sustain periods of no external power, or shower and toilet blocks.

Although the Troll is a 'big' van by Eriba standards, compared to a conventional white box caravan, it is still a small, compact outfit. Towing isn't really any more different from the Familia although the additional length means I have to be sure of turning space, unless I want to reverse. I've towed thousands of miles with the Troll and it is as steady as a rock, especially after I mastered the correct noseweigth, which I've found to be critical with this van.

One thing I noticed with the later vans is the additional internal height. I'm about 5'9" and I can comfortably operate in the van with the roof lowered, handy during a storm or when it is bitter cold.

When I originally contemplated buying the van, my biggest issue was whether or not I could live with the Fixed Bed. The idea of sacrificing a lot of floor space in a small van was a big consideration. However, after going ahead, I've got to say, I actually really like it.

It is a amazingly comfortable double, and there are big benefits in not having to make up the bed from seats and vice versa, and it is fantastic for the afternoon nap! This feature has grown on me to the extent that it would never be an issue for me in my future vans.

The front dinette is more than big enough for my needs, and converted would almost make up another double of needed. The optional high back seat cushions make this area extremely comfortable compared to my previous vans.

It's a surisingly generous 98cm wide, and the bed it would make up probably wouldn't be much smaller than the Familia?

The front dinette is also a fantastic place to sit and view!

Another design improvement that is never really mentioned is the space in the newer model toilets. These spaces are a huge progression from the earlier French vans. I have never yet smacked my head in this toilet, and although showering is still a challenge, using the sink for shaving, brushing teeth etc, is a lot easier. I've done a lot of 'off grid' in this van, and this facility makes life a lot more tolerable.

The finish, I believe, is excellent. However, you do lose the overhead locker in the older vans, it's now a shelf, and the layout means that the handy locker behind and above the toilet has gone. This was very useful in the Familia.

Some of the other small features which I like:

No more messing around under the wheel arch to find the draught skirt channel. A neatly machined channel is now in front of the arch.

The plastic trim around the gas locker door (and the main entrance) does away with the aluminium one on previous vans. So easy to clean and lubricate to help the rubber seals.

The metal grab handles are fantastic. No more mossy, mouldy plastic ones.

This mover has been an absolute godsend. I would not be able to shift this van around on grass pitches without it and the ability to manoeuvre into tight pitches is a huge benefit.

I'm not sure about the wind out awning. I've had them before on vans, but this one just seems to vulnerable in even the lightest winds. Maybe the length, but I would probably prefer an air awning. I got the sides and front (The Residence Room) with the van and that might help with the issue, I'll have to try it soon.

Now some of the design weaknesses:

The little extension to the work surface is really handy, but it's a poor design. This hinge and strap affair is useless. Brush the table and before you know it, its down, and so is anything that was on it. A far better arrangement would be an old fashioned hinged plastic bracket.

Useful, but be aware of potential disasters. I should know!

Loosening screws had been an ongoing headache, which I think I've now solved. I always carry a phillips screwdriver and a bottle of Gorilla Glue. If a screw is loose, I remove it, put a tiny dab of glue on the thread, and screw it back in. I've probably done every screw on the van now!

The toilet door was particularly bad for loosening, but since I've added glue, and covered the screws and hing in a piece of duck tape (wood effect), it's never budged.

One on locker, the holes were so wrecked that I shifted the hinges slightly, done the glue job, and covered the old holes with duck tape. So far, again, never budged.

Another issue was the door opening when on the road. I solved this by fitting this simple turnbuckle latch at the top of the door.

I also place a bungee across the door between the coat hook and a rubber band on the handle. Now, the door does not budge during travel. It's free to move and flex, but it doesn't fly open.

Another issue was with the front of the fire coming away, and the gas control knob jumping out causing the lighter to start 'sparking'. I noticed this as I could hear the 'click-click-click' of the lighter when I reached my destination. I solved this (I think) by nose weight, described later. I also had one of the bars detach itself, which I reattached with the Gorilla Glue.

Another very simple modification. The previous owner had bought some aluminium channel but hadn't fitted it, so I was given a length with the van.

Cut to length and pressed over the wood at the door, it stops unsightly chips caused by items stored on this shelf or by placing your hand when entering.

I think the biggest thing I've learned with this van is the need to get the nose weight right. The huge under bed storage, the fridge, a number of lockers, and the mover are all behind the axle. Unless checked, this can lead to a real light front end. I loaded the van once and could literally lift the hitch with one hand.

I purchased an accurate nose weight gauge and was shocked to see that loading the van as I would have any other, the nose weight was less than 30kg which is way too low.

I now put nothing heavy under the bed (when towing) and put everything at the front, under the table and in front of the axle. I also fill the toilet flush tank. I don't fill the on-board water tank as I think the sloshing around would rip it from it's mounts. I put nothing in the car, even the awning and solar panel are at the front of the van. Remember, these vans have huge payloads.

With some experimenting, I've found that 80kg nose weight is the 'sweet spot' with my outfit. This has reduced a lot of the loosening of screws, items falling off etc. The van also feels a lot better when towing with a lot less 'lurching' on uneven roads.

In conclusion, overall I am very happy that I bought this Troll. Not only are the facilities like hot water, the bed, the excellent heating great, but it also looks fantastic! It's a real head turner. I think the criticism of the later vans is a bit harsh as there have been a number of big design improvement. True, the wood paneling has definitely reduced in quality, but I like the general decor and ambience in the van. I, like many, prefer the look of the older white and silver French vans, but the truth is German vans will (should) last a lot longer with the galvanised chassis and the use of more generic and modern parts. I really liked my old Familia, but this has been, for me, a worthwhile upgrade.


  1. Great review and assessment, Iain. I expect a lot of "wavering buyers" will find real value there. With luck, Eriba (or is it Hymer?) themselves might access the improvement ideas. So, Gorilla Glue is the new magic substance? I never appreciated its versatility. I must look to see if your Dad has a spare 14 bottles of that in the shed!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Solar Power in my Eriba Puck

Replacing the Door Shelves