Comment: Buying a Camper Trailer

Submitted: Friday, Mar 27, 2015 at 21:39
ThreadID: 117256 Views:8050 Replies:12 FollowUps:16
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I am after a heavy duty off road camper suitable for doing Cape York, the Gunbarrel, Kimberlies, Cape Leveque, etc and have narrowed my choice down to the following:
1. Trackstar Trojan
2. TravelMax XR
3. Predator Raptor
4. Follow Me ?
Apart from the last one all of these are rear folding hard floor campers with independent suspension in the $20-30k range new. I like the Follow Me design with the side folding hard floor but these are more expensive and only the top models have independent suspension. I like the specs on the Predator Raptor but can't find out much about this company online?
If anyone has had any experience with any of these campers or their manufacturers, either good or bad, I would really appreciate hearing about it. I drive a Prado 120 series D4D if this is relevant?
Thanks in anticipation
Bryan
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Reply By: Jackolux - Friday, Mar 27, 2015 at 23:14

Friday, Mar 27, 2015 at 23:14
Have you considered a Track Trailer , Tvan ?
AnswerID: 551689

Follow Up By: Member - Andrew L (WA) - Friday, Mar 27, 2015 at 23:23

Friday, Mar 27, 2015 at 23:23
Agreed. $30K will get you into a good MK2 Tvan.
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Follow Up By: bbbl - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 03:11

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 03:11
Thx Jackolux, Andrew. I wasn't aware of that. I saw the Tvan's at the Perth C & C show last weekend and was put off immediately by the $60k+ price new. They look awesome off road from the videos though I read a few comments somewhere hinting that the build quality may have slipped in recent years but I don't know how much credence to put in that?
Bryan
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 11:54

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 11:54
bbbl
The TVan is formidable off road. You forget its there, get your vehicle through anything and the TVan will follow. We pack breakables and eggs in the TVan, they have a comfier ride there.
As far as the rumours go, yes built quality goes up and down in any company but I suggest it is minor stuff not the integrity of its frame and running gear which is bulletproof. I suggest the finishes quality that is rumoured drops it from 99% to 98% if you know what I mean. If there is one van with as much as a breath of dust ingress, it is all over the forum and highlighted, compared to the other hundred off the line which is problem free and not mentioned.
Good luck whichever way you go, half the excitement of the trip is the prep!
CJ
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Reply By: Rangiephil - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 11:11

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 11:11
If you are considering a used camper trailer IMHO the top three would be
Camp'o'matic prior to 2004
Kimberley any model
Ultimate

I have had a Camp'o'matic for 8 years and done All of the iconic roads with no problems, and when you go bush the ones you see are Kimberley and Ultimate.
I don't particularly like the Ultimate setup, but you have to respect them.
Regards Philip A
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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 11:14

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 11:14
Just to clarify, none of the campers you have mentioned IMHO have anything like the reputation of the models I have listed.

And of course if you are rich you can buy an Ultimate or Kimberley new , and Camp'o'matic since AFAIK they have now bought production back to OZ.
Regards Philip A
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Follow Up By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 13:37

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 13:37
Ditto - we had a 2004* Campomatic Ranger M3 for 5 years and did a lot of outback travel in Oz - good quality materials, well built, very rubust and all aspects of the design worked well. That flip over hard floor accommodation style always appealed to me more than the Ultimate and Tvan concepts, but those two makes of course are a first class product. As for the Kimberley Kamper - first rate too (and I would have bought one), but as I recall every model had a significantly higher towball weight than the Campo' - that mattered for my application.
*Our 2004 model was one of the last few to be built by the founding Eastwell family at Yatala....the company was taken over by Trakshak.
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Follow Up By: bbbl - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:22

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:22
Checking out the Campomatics, Rangiephil.....why do you say pre 2004? Was there a problem with later models after that? Pre 2004, the canvas would be getting a bit older, is that a problem?
Bryan
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Reply By: Jackolux - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 13:09

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 13:09
I do agree the price of a new Tvan is "wow" , you wonder where the motor and transmission are in the thing.

We priced new Canning last year , with a front box and a few other extras it was quoted at $53000 . Very nearly bought it , but joined the Track Trailer Tvan forum and asked a heap of questions , regards the different models and year build .

We ended up with a 2006 Canning with front box for $28000 , I was very happy with the price for what we got . The $$$ we saved buying 2nd hand we put towards a new 4x4 to Tow it

A Mate decided he wanted one , he picks up his 2004 Tvan on Monday , $19000 with quite a few extras , I think a excellent buy .

The wife and I have always been tent and Roof Top Tent campers .
When we first saw the Tvans at a show , probably 10 years ago now , we decided when we went to a Camper Trailer it would only ever be a Tvan

We still looked at all the others at shows , just to keep up with anything new that might turn up , there have been quite a few .

What we like about the Tvan is its size , we do quite a bit of 4wding on tracks in the Vic Highcountry , for quick overnight stops drop the deck , open the hatch and climb in , couple of minutes tops but best of all NO Canvas ever touches the bed , Wet Canvas packed up on the bed sux

If you are interested jump on the Tvan forum ask questions and have a look at the adds section

Anyway that's the reason we went with a Tvan


AnswerID: 551704

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 16:20

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 16:20
Just be sure to check out a Tvan when it's set up, to see if has enough space to suit you.
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Follow Up By: bbbl - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 20:53

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 20:53
Thx for your feedback. Went and had a closer look at a MIII Tvan today. Although I really like the off road towability there were a couple of things I wondered about which I don't think suits me personally. The head room lying down I found a little close (I'm tall and would worry about conking my head in the middle of the night) and the hard tail floor area is quite small. I can't afford a MIII anyway but I hear the MII is 25% smaller anyway if I were to get a 2nd hand one? Also I paddle and MTB and can't carry kayaks on the roof. To carry bikes you have to sacrifice the front storage box and that position would pick up stones and dust and crap from the car? I gather Track Trailer use the same suspension system on the Eagle? Does anyone know anything about them?
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 06:11

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 06:11
Fraid not but given what you've posted I would suggest you also look at a 2nd hand Pioneer.
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Reply By: Bigfish - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 17:31

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 17:31
I would also check to see what the tow ball weight of some of these vans are. Many of them look like the wheels are mounted on the rear bumper!!
AnswerID: 551711

Reply By: wholehog - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 20:51

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 20:51
Another vote for the Tvan, particularly if there is only 2 of you. We had one for around 4 years, all over the country, every State. Fantastic camper, and wherever a double locked Landcruiser could go, so could the Tvan.

We now tow a Bushtracker caravan.
AnswerID: 551717

Reply By: Rangiephil - Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 22:25

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015 at 22:25
My wife vetoed the Tvan as soon as she saw the lack of headroom although I liked the way you could fold/stuff wet canvas into the tailgate.

however in the 8 years we have had the Camp'o'matic we have never had a wet bed, even though the canvas has sometimes been folded wet.

BTW the Camp'o'matic is one of only a few where you can leave the awning attached to the main tent when you fold away, and this is a big feature reducing set up time.

For overnight stays in the desert we would leave the awning folded over the top of the roof, and for more than one night, only 3 poles with 5 pegs puts it up.
You can also put stuff on top as there is a strong frame which the floor sits on when opened. I put a 30Kg bag of wood on there and my Maxtrax.
Regards Philip A
AnswerID: 551718

Follow Up By: bbbl - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 10:48

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 10:48
Campo looks good but their website says it's been suspended? Do you you know what's the story there? Are they still in production? Where are they built? Cheers B
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Follow Up By: bbbl - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:18

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:18
I see quite a few of these advertised second hand on gumtree. Any thing I should be looking out for re possible defects? What sort of lifespan can you expect out of the canvas? Checkout this one out not too far from me:
http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/busselton/camper-trailers/camper-trailor-campomatic-off-road-2006-ranger-xtc/1041945971
Whats a fair price range for something like this, wear and othe factors all considered?
Bryan
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FollowupID: 837249

Follow Up By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 14:01

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 14:01
For what my view is worth.........that is a hell of a lot of Campomatic for the asking price. With the boat loader, outboard motor box and a fridge, it may be too cheap to be true ?
Anyway, if the owner erected the lot for you and then gave you the time to inspect every bit of it closely and you were happy, I can't see how you could go wrong at those $. A service on the bearings and electric brakes if needed would still see you miles in front. As I see it, that one would have been made under the ownership of Trakshak and though I have no direct knowledge of such, others have suggested there was a Chinese factor in the new arrangements. All I can say was mine had first class canvas work and the trailer chassis and box frame (all one piece hot dip galved) was just about unbreakable. When I sold mine after 5 years of use, nothing was broken or worn out....still had the same wheel bearings.....all I fitted was new brake shoes and magnets. BOL with your quest.
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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 15:51

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 15:51
Camp'o'matics are now made by Trackshak in Brisbane. They only make one model the XTC which has all the fruit.

I would be wary of a 2006 one as AFAIK they were partly built in China.

However after all this time , if the camper is still in good condition and it is well used , that really says it all. they have always been fully galvanised so rust is usually not a problem.

The main thing to watch on a used camper is IMHO that it has never been closed up while damp and subsequently has any evidence of mildew.
Regards Philip A
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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 16:04

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 16:04
This company which is based in Sydney I believe owns the Trak Shak and Camp'o'matic brands and both are made by the same engineering firm.
http://www.trakshak.com.au/

I have visited their premises quite often as the Range Rover Club of NSW has regular meetings there. They recently moved around the corner from their previous location as Rhino Racks owned the building and wanted more space.

I don't know whether they have stopped production of Camp'o'matic or it is just an oversight that they haven't renewed the website.

Regards Philip A
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FollowupID: 837264

Reply By: Sigmund - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 13:38

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 13:38
productreview.com.au is worth a read for users' comments on their CTs. You can also search on suppliers and manufacturers.
AnswerID: 551746

Reply By: mountainman - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 14:02

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 14:02
In your price range for serious offroad.
you can get a fully kitted out kanga camper trailer.
Well made and resale is quite good too.
quite a few out and about as well.
made in Victoria, wodonga.
been around now for quite a few years
AnswerID: 551749

Reply By: birdnerd - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 20:42

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 20:42
Hi Bryan,
We have a Johnnos off road soft floor CT. It is our second Johnnos, so we are very happy with them. We have been to Cape York, done the Gibb River rd, Strezlecki, Savannah Way, all with no problems. Aussie made and a bit more space than a hard floor.
Amanda
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Follow Up By: bbbl - Monday, Mar 30, 2015 at 02:30

Monday, Mar 30, 2015 at 02:30
Thanks Amanda but really after a hard floor.
Cheers Bryan
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FollowupID: 837282

Reply By: 671 - Monday, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:10

Monday, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:10
Bryan

The comment by Bigfish about tow ball weights is worth noting when you intend towing in the areas that you have mentioned. It is very easy to overload the rear end of many cars.

As an example, I was just reading a report on a Patriot X1 camper trailer in a recent edition of Pat Callinan's 4x4 magazine. It has a dry weight of 700 kgs and a ball weight of 100 kgs.

My Hiliux 4x4 has a maximum towing capacity of 1800 kgs with a maximum of 180 kgs on the tow ball. You would think towing this little Patriot would a breeze. It would be on a sealed or smooth dirt road but it would be outside Toyota's specifications in rough bush.

The reason is Toyota says in the owner's handbook that a weight distribution hitch must be used for any ball weight of 90 kg or above. A WDH is an absolute menace in rough conditions where the angle between the trailer and car is often very high so nobody uses them in serious off road conditions. This means I would be restricted in where I could tow that trailer and the same would apply to many other cars.

The reason for these restrictions is the forces generated by high ball weights on the back of cars that are moving up and down rapidly,as they would be on rough tracks, far exceeds the down force exerted on the ball while the car is stationary or running along a smooth road. On my car the ball is 1200 mm back behind the rear axle and that is a very long lever to have sticking out the back with no support under the end of it.

Don't make the mistake of thinking no worries I will fit heavier springs or air bags. They simply lift the car up a few inches but the weight is still there. A WDH lifts the rear end of the car and takes weight off the rear axle. That weight is then distributed between the front wheels of the car and the trailer wheels.

To ignore this can easily affect the reliability of the car. Countless cars in the bush have cracked or broken everything from chassis to spring hangers, coil spring mounts, axle housings, wheel studs, wheel bearings and wheels.

The latest edition of 4x4 Australia has an story on broken ute chassis. It is well worth reading but the problems are not confined to utes.
AnswerID: 551801

Reply By: Navara09 - Monday, Mar 30, 2015 at 14:47

Monday, Mar 30, 2015 at 14:47
Im also interested in buying a camper trailer and have been looking to try find reviews on tye predator raptor, trackstar trojan and the travelmax xr. I would love some reviews on them.
AnswerID: 551814

Follow Up By: bbbl - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 at 09:49

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 at 09:49
Navara09, I had a brief look at all these CTs at the Perth show. Since then I have been back to have a closer look at the first two. They are both Chinese imports assembled here. The quality of workmanship looked better on the Predator than the Trackstar IMO. Both are fairly recent companies, the Predator started production back in 2012, the Trackstar in Oct 2014. Hence why not much info on either out there. I have decided to look for a second hand Aussie built CT. There was a very interesting article somewhere I read about testing CSIRO did on the Chinese canvas used on these imports not meeting Australian standards in regards to waterproofness. May have been on the Australian CT Manufacturers Guild website?
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FollowupID: 837367

Reply By: Member - Bentaxle - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 at 00:29

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 at 00:29
Have you considered Cub camper trailers
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AnswerID: 551840

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