We just found out that Hyme in German roughly translates to a place (ie. house or a country) where one usually lives. (Thanks to our German friend Michael for sharing this translation!) So, suddenly Home Sweet Hymer makes perfect sense as a moniker for our new van.
We had an appointment at Erwin Hymer Group North American headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario on October 30th at 8am. Since Kitchener is a three-hour drive from Amherstburg we decided to drive to Kitchener the day before and camp overnight in their parking lot. Fortunately Hymer provides a reserved spot with access to shore power for this very purpose. We spent a comfortable night in the van enjoying leftovers for dinner accompanied by local beer from Abe Erb Brewery and a seasonally appropriate Netflix show.
From the moment we entered the building at 8am we were welcomed by Liz and Matthew, offered coffee, tea, water, a Discount rental car, accommodations at the Radisson Hotel and a tour of the plant by a character named Tupper. This plant, it turns out, is one of five in the Kitchener, Cambridge, Guelph triangle. It comprises roughly 8 acres of land. We were unfortunately not allowed to take photos during our tour of the plant. Tupper’s explanation of why not was something to do with flash cameras of days goneby. That was a bit lame. We wondered if it had to do with sharing proprietary processes though we were not witness to any such processes on the tour. It would have been great to be able to document the scale of this enormous facility and the volume of production. We saw the painting department, the water testing department, woodworking, plumbing, electrical, upholstery, to name a few. We were able to see not only Hymers in production but also Roadtreks like the Mercedes Sprinters SS Agile and CS Adventurous, the Chevrolet 190 Popular, the Ram Promaster Banff, and the Touring GT trailer. The Erwin Hymer Group North America currently has 25 different offerings in their portfolio.
We made the trip to Kitchener to have two warranty issues addressed:
- The moisture issue in the bathroom. The moisture issue was resolved very quickly. Turns out it required a new seal along the back wall. ✔︎
- The intermittent Sony radio/ head unit. The Sony radio/DVD/head unit which allows us to use our back-up camera was replaced. Now we have dependable use of the back-up camera! ✔︎
While touring the plant we met the person who supplies all the upholstery and mattresses for the Hymers and Roadtreks. We asked him what he would recommend since the mattress length interferes with the back screen to which he replied, ‘I will just give you a new one. We remedied the length of the mattress since your Aktiv left the plant. It is now 1.5” shorter and will not interfere with the back screen.’ ✔︎
While we there they offered to winterize the van for us. With winter rapidly approaching and no plans to head south until the new year we happily accepted their offer. This meant draining the water system – fresh, gray, Truma hot water, cassette – and then filling the system with a non-toxic pink RV anti-freeze. This means that while we remain in temperatures of zero degrees Celcius or colder we are unable to use the water. We have noticed that other owners of Hymers have found a work around for winter camping: they rinse the kitchen sink and cassette toilet using the anti-freeze in the system and keep a container of fresh water available for things like brushing teeth, boiling water, washing dishes (just like being in the VW). ✔︎
Prior to the plant visit we were feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse. We found ourselves comparing the Hymer to the simplicity of the VW. The Hymer, after all, has all the bells and whistles whereas the VW is pretty rudimentary. The problems with the VW are strictly mechanical whereas the Hymer’s problems are potentially myriad based on the nature of the chassis and the RV and how they work together and separately. We had, after all, just bought a brand new campervan that had issues from the get-go. However….our experience in Kitchener quickly changed feelings of buyer’s remorse to gratitude. The Hymer family not only addressed the warranty issues we brought to them but also a few more AND made sure we were comfortable while they did so. More than anything we found it extremely helpful to see how the vans are built. We would recommend a tour of the plant even prior to purchasing one of their vans! Guess you could call us Happy Hymer Campers!