4WD Caravanning

Submitted: Monday, Jan 06, 2003 at 01:00
ThreadID: 2820 Views:2074 Replies:5 FollowUps:2
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We are about to take possession of a dedicated purpose built aluminium framed tough off-road van. We are experienced 4wders having tented and off-road camper trailered. Tow vehicle is a fully fitted out 80 Series, winch, raised suspension, HF Radio etc, etc. We have been studying the trek notes of this great site and are planning the Sandover to Alice, then either the Ann Beadell (may be a bit narrow between the trees?), or the Central Road, the Gun Barrel to Sandstone, up to Marble Bar, Buntine up to the top and across Roper Bar to Hells Gate and Cairns. Is there anyone out there who has done the western treks with a smilar dedicated van who can advise on their experiences?
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Reply By: Member - Greg - Monday, Jan 06, 2003 at 01:00

Monday, Jan 06, 2003 at 01:00
What brand of van did you purchase. We are in a similar situation,we have tented,camper trailered for the past 12 years.We have just semi retired and have been researching 'off road vans' for the past 9 mths.
We have been to the Brisbane Caravan & Camping show for the past 10 years and from what we have seen and for what we want to do the Phoenix seems to fit the bill...except maybe the budget they are a bit exy.
Any way tomorrow we go to the Phoenix factory at Caboolture and ask more questions..You have obviously done your research and I would be interested to know what persuaded you to make your decision, as the places you want to go are similar to where we want to explore..

I would be interested to hear from other 'off road vanners' also..

Regards Greg G
AnswerID: 10688

Reply By: Foz - Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 01:00

Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 01:00
Yes we looked at Bushtracker, Phoenix and Kedron`s ATV as well as getting brochures from Trackmaster in Melbourne. They are all excellent but, for us we felt the former too heavy and the latter too far away. The remaining two are excellent and I guess it comes down to personal preferences and budget. Phoenix don`t trade old against a new one of their vans but Kedron do, their actual manufacturing facility is in Brendale. Each is naturally proud of their product, both have good chassis and suspensions and quality of build, the Phoenix maybe has better door/knob catches but that`s a personal view. Certainly the ATV has been taken through some extensive off-road testing as their videos show.
As we had to do a trade (and got a VERY good deal- better than selling it privately) we naturally opted for the ATV; the Gaul family are really great to deal with, nothing is too much trouble for the guys so I suggest you think about including them on your list and wish you good luck in your choice and hope you have happy off road `vanning. Maybe we`ll see you `out there`
AnswerID: 10704

Follow Up By: Member - Greg - Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 22:36

Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 22:36
Went to the Phoenix factory today,Impressive van we have looked at the Kedron, and seen the videos several times,I thought the finish was a little old fashioned.When I last spoke to them at the Brisbane camping & caravanning show they didn't have independant suspension which I consider necessary for a "good" off road van.Have they changed their mind?Thanks for the follow up regards Greg G
FollowupID: 5757

Reply By: mich - Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 21:17

Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 21:17
i have just returned in nov from the pilbura and west coast of wa we towed a 20 foot 5 berth duel wheels, timber framed van, we had custom built van the chassie is the base we had the van built on a 6inch frame then the 4inch draw bar went from the tow ball to the end of the van, bloody strong, the wheels are set back pass the middle of the van with the fridge, pantry one one side and on the oppisite side the full oven and sink with large cupboard and 2nd panty, so all ;the weight was over the wheels. behind the wheels were on each side 2 cupboads then 3 bunks across t;he back of the van.
in the front of the van is all couch. and our bed falls out of ;the wall of a night time. balance is the key. we travelled some good dirt roads, some bad dirt roads, the van went like a dream.
we took the rail way acess line from tom price to milstream then to karratha all dirt and rough 400km of shir hell. the van took the road very well no damage but we got dust in. i mean dust, we brought a vac cleaner in karratha to clean the van. stone damage to chassis paint and that all needs to be repainted.
I seen a bush tracker with a broken draw bar. stones are a problem they flick up and they can break your back window in the vechicle.

we leave the van in storage and take the 4x4 and tent into rough ground
after all spending 40-70,000 on a new van are you really going to shake, stone chips it to death think about it.
regards mich
AnswerID: 10775

Follow Up By: Foz - Wednesday, Jan 08, 2003 at 10:41

Wednesday, Jan 08, 2003 at 10:41
Thanks Mitch. Yes I agree, we carry a tent too for the conditions you describe. Also opt for a stone guard on the unit behind as well as a stone flap on the underside of the cruiser plus cardboard stuck on the rear window. Sounds like you had a great trip
FollowupID: 5789

Reply By: Member - Greg - Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 22:48

Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003 at 22:48
Thanks for your follow up Mitch.Sounds like you had a beut trip.Did you mean you had the van built from your plans by a specialized manufacturer or was it built by a known Caravan mauufacturer? What sort of suspension did you get?
Happy vanning regards GregG
AnswerID: 10785

Reply By: Foz - Wednesday, Jan 08, 2003 at 11:02

Wednesday, Jan 08, 2003 at 11:02
Hi Greg,
Yes it`s a great van, pity though that they don`t trade; being fully retired we are on a definite budget. I know what you mean about a little old fashioned, although new design/finishes are apparently to be introduced this year.
Suspension seems to invoke a lot of personal preferences. My son`s father-in-law has been in the caravan repair business all his life until he retired and is a `leaf man` I had an Aussie Swag with long coils and Bilstein shocks (they do leaf as well), and it performed brilliantly. Other trailer manufacturers have told me they prefer leaf springs and, when I raised the question with the Kedron guys they tended to echo this, pointing out a repair to a leaf is much easier `out there` than a coil and/or a shock. Given the 11 leaf suspension they use (leaves are made from BHP steel, not reclaimed steel from old ships), and the ability to carry a leaf or two if you wish, (this in theory makes it easier for a bush mechanic) we decided to go with it and see.
Good caravanning Greg
all the best
AnswerID: 10812

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