offroad conversion

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 24, 2005 at 20:40
ThreadID: 21502 Views:5538 Replies:9 FollowUps:7
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I own a 1980 sunwagon poptop camper trailer. I am converting it to suit offroad eg Gibb River Road maybe Cape York. The sunwagon was pretty cheap and in good nick and Im happy to pay another $ 2500 to get it offroad. Ive been quoted coils springs at $1300.
Has anyone done something similar.
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Reply By: Diamond (Vic) - Thursday, Mar 24, 2005 at 21:16

Thursday, Mar 24, 2005 at 21:16
i did the same thing a while ago with the same thing.
all i did was to weld some 4x2 box to the chassis and weld some heavier duty leaf springs to the chassis.i also had to cut away a bit of the body so i could get the wheels on.i bought some 6 stud hubs and away we went.
i didnt do any serious off road just rainbow beach and a cpl of other camping grounds.
a cpl of things to remember off road models are usually built a lot stronger in the body.and our anaxxe was about 4 inches to short.
total cost around $300 and a weekends work.
AnswerID: 103776

Reply By: ianmc - Thursday, Mar 24, 2005 at 22:00

Thursday, Mar 24, 2005 at 22:00
Shackle springs rather than slippers any day. Better ride & easier on camper.
No mention of sitting axle on top of springs, makes it few inches higher & takes load off the U bolts & plates.
Big 4wd wheels would spoil the ride & put more load on suspension & axle.
Car wheels & 8ply tyres should be OK subject to weight of camper except in extreme conditions.
As for the whole caboose holding together, well maybe that extra steel should help.
AnswerID: 103782

Follow Up By: tomr - Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 11:38

Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 11:38
I need to learn more about suspension, what are shackle springs and slippers, is this the difference between leaf or coils.
FollowupID: 361325

Reply By: Bob&Deb - Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 07:36

Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 07:36
G`day Tomr; We have altered a Dove to off road use, for a family to do the BIG lap. We built a whole new chassis and suspension to which we attached the old subframe. The bloke wanted extra space to carry more spares, gas bottles, jerrycans, etc,etc.If you would like any more imformation on what we did give us a bell on 0428300357.
Regards Bob ; Keep wandering
AnswerID: 103802

Reply By: ianmc - Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 13:53

Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 13:53
The slipper springs only have an eye & centre bolt at one end presumably for cheapness & other end of spring is flat & rubs hard on the chassis making it bounce on every bump. Still surprises me that quite expensive vans & campers still use the, Out of sight, out of mind I suppose.
Shackle springs are like those on the rear of older design cars & 4wds. They have a hanger (shackle) between the chassis & an eye at the rear end of spring & when a bump is hit the shackle absorbs some impact by swinging almost horizontally.
They seem to work much better than slippers. which are sold on price alone I feel.

Coils are like those fitted between the chassis & axle or wishbone in the front of most cars & some 4wds & sometimes at the rear. Better than leaf springs as they are simpler & no friction between leaves but must have effective shockers to control them.
I hope this helps. I am not an engineer, just been around here too long, LOL!
AnswerID: 103825

Follow Up By: tomr - Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 15:09

Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 15:09
Thanks for your help. Im keen on the coils, Ive got them on my cruiser and as far as corrigations go they make a huge difference. Not sure if they will work aswell on the van. "Trailer Parts" sell a kit that they supply to several offroad camper manufacturers.
I took the fridge out and went for a test run before I start spending $.
The existing leafs hated corrigations the max comfy speed was 20kph ,m and they were small corri's. Any faster and I risk the frame and furniture getting hurt , not to mention fridges etc
On the sandy tracks (coastal scrub, small dunes) the van was fine, could sit on 45kph. Which is fine.
Its the corri's Im concerned about .Im no speed demon but I know I will be doing many kms of them over the 10 yrs or so.
What Im aiming at is 35kms over corri's. It means I can sit in 3rd gear. And is still slow enough to brake in time for the bigger obsticles.
Any advice ?
FollowupID: 361338

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 23:40

Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 23:40
tom, even with coil sprung cars and trucks you can have a real problem if you break a shocker and your spring pops out. You will need to safeguard that by making sure the mounting is indestructable and the shocker not break either. Some leaf springs are made to counter the rebound from corrigatons, others aren't. Perhaps you could reduce the tyre pressures a bit too to take some of the shock over the corrigations.
FollowupID: 361363

Reply By: loughma - Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 21:01

Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 21:01
What is the web site for the "Trailer Parts" that supply kits to camper trailer makers?
AnswerID: 103845

Follow Up By: tomr - Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 21:53

Friday, Mar 25, 2005 at 21:53
the coil/trailing arm suspension system is called "GAFFA"
FollowupID: 361361

Reply By: motherhen - Saturday, Mar 26, 2005 at 00:21

Saturday, Mar 26, 2005 at 00:21
Make sure you have a decent water tank - we took an offroad old windup (Jayco Dove or similar) on some pretty rough roads. Ended up with a hole in the plastic water tank. We'll replace it with a metal one. Decent locks on the cupboards, and good hinges. The locks held the cupboards shut on ours, but the hinges would come loose. Ours had slide out beds, and a weld broke on one. Lucky we were only a couple of days away from a town with a welding business. It isn't dustproof either - but if you like red dirt, not a worry.
AnswerID: 103861

Follow Up By: tomr - Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 10:48

Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 10:48
Thanks for your reply, how did the tank get the hole. Did it wear because of the vibrations or did a rock get it.?
Good tip on the hinges, i had checked the locks but not the hinges.
Where did the weld brake on the roll out beds, was it because the bed is bouncing up and down in the sliders ?
Any ideas on combating dust or is it a loosing battle?
FollowupID: 361439

Follow Up By: motherhen - Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 16:56

Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 16:56
Water tank was stone damaged. It had a metal barrier around it but tje sides were exposed, and somehow on the stony road from Wiitenoom to Roebourne, it suffered the fatal injury.

Must have been a life time of general bouncing that casued the break on the bed. Went to slide it out on night and it was broken.

I'm not sure what your van looks like to dustproof, but it would be an uphill battle to prevent all dust. Most of the dust came through the ceiling vent. With our Bushtracker, the previous owners had a square of 3" foam cut to size and this holds up in the vent to prevent any dust, as their is a ledge. Should work with the windup, as the top is pressing on the beds when folded, so it should stay in place. The cupboards also took a lot of dust. This could be sealed with a lot of silicon, or i thought of lining them with carpet underlay foam rubber type. This would also stop things sliding around. We hadn't discovered the not slip plastic matting then. Being single axle, things got tossed around on rough roads.

Dust also came through around the door. Being a flimsy door, i didn't have a solution here.

Everything else i thought of doing is on a list inside the van, which is sitting in son-in-laws panel & paint business as a long term/spare time project.

Hope this helps, and that the chassis and structure on your van can take the knocks.

FollowupID: 361450

Reply By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 17:57

Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 17:57
Hi Tom

I modified my box trailer for use here in Oodnadatta. I chucked out the el cheapo suspension that it came with, beefed up the chassis rails with angle iron, then mounted a set of 60 series Landcruiser front springs. Much softer ride, also now has a pair of Koni shocks, and rides smoother than the tow vehicle (LC80 which is all coil sprung).

I think this would be a cheaper option for you, and easier to modify than going to coils.

Oh, and I also put the axle on top of the springs for more ground clearance - now sits level behind the 2" lifted Landcruiser.

Those who say something cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

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AnswerID: 103961

Reply By: ianmc - Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 21:53

Sunday, Mar 27, 2005 at 21:53
Or was it springs on top of the axle John??? Less load on U bolts & plates!
AnswerID: 103982

Reply By: motherhen - Thursday, Apr 07, 2005 at 11:23

Thursday, Apr 07, 2005 at 11:23
Remembered one more thing to do to ours - add checkerplate to front lower portion of van; it took a bashing from stones on the rough roads we took it on. From it's long past history, it had a bit of damage to the paintwork - our children (son-in-law has paenl & paint shop) repainted it beautifully, but it came back somewhat stripped of paint across the from, as well as dented. Checkerplate will solve that.
AnswerID: 105520

Follow Up By: tomr - Friday, Apr 08, 2005 at 19:51

Friday, Apr 08, 2005 at 19:51
Thanks, IM pricing checker plate now. Aluminium 1.6mm 1.8 x 2.4 = $100. Im not sure of the weight yet. Ill put it across the front, thanks for the tip.
FollowupID: 362897

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