Off road camper - DEFINITION please

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 19:35
ThreadID: 32269 Views:3358 Replies:14 FollowUps:12
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Hey punters,

With everyone getting into camper trailers these days, and manufacterers popping up left right and centre, my question is , what would be the minimum requirements be before you could call a CT, an offroader.

Freezer
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Reply By: Bartz4b - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 19:47

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 19:47
Freezer

That would depend very much on your definition of "off road" and that means many different things to many different people.

Bart
AnswerID: 163500

Reply By: Anne from Drysdale River Station - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 19:53

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 19:53
They put off road stickers on any darn thing now. Half of the trailers & campers they are on are not fit to take the rubbish to the tip with. We get breakdowns with the poor people saying , but it's an off road one it should be strong. John sees red when he looks at some of the construction materials they have the hide to put off road stickers on.
I don't know what the required level would be except to say judging by the repairs we do, a bloody site better than they make a lot of them !
cheers, Anne
Drysdale River Station

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AnswerID: 163501

Follow Up By: FREEZER - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 19:59

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 19:59
Thats sort of what i was thinking. There should be a guideline or australian standard criteria they have to meet before they can class them off road. I have seen trailers with 5 leaf springs, a 45mm round axle and landcruiser wheels, and called it offroad.
This would be the minimum of off road i have seen, and be suitable for beach only. Thats offraod though i suppose.

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Reply By: black bull - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:11

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:11
hi freezer,

ive looked at heaps of campers over a long time and today put a deposit on the best consructed and layed out camper ive ever seen for my needs and it is the heavey duty off road camper from redback campers at taylors beach (near salamander bay)goog price and great service from aaron
bb
AnswerID: 163532

Reply By: Darian (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:13

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:13
Spent about half and hour pondering this one (instead of watching junk TV - and I'm the better for it :-0) - gave up - every definition I had was full of provisos and variables to the point of being worthless. What did I do ?.... spent $27k on what I thought was quality, and just got on with it... haven't been disappointed yet.
AnswerID: 163533

Reply By: OLDMAGPIE - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:26

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:26
anything can go off road it depends how fast you want to go & how much weight you want to carry, 40 years ago i went 'off road' with a trailer you wouldnt be able to legally register today, & i still for the life of me cannot understand how a trailer can cost $20k & lately theirs one on the market for $50 , why spend that much money on a trailer? buy a caravan, park it & go bush in the 4by. thats my two bobs worth .cheers
AnswerID: 163535

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:28

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:28
Heavier duty suspension and extra ground clearance is a good start, followed by a strong sound chassis and draw bar with an "off-road" coupling to provide extra articulation.

Greater clearance between the top of the wheel and the mud guard to cater for the extra suspension travel is also necessary.

The off-road trailer will have a heavier floor, usually in checker plate steel and if it's overall completed weight exceeds the 750 kg maximum, some form of brakes.

After that, you start comparing differences in actual types of suspensions and whether the leaf springs are backed up by shock absorbers to limit fading when traversing corrugated tracks, or whether the trailer has coil springs and trailing arms.

That is about the minimum consideration that should be given.
Bill


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AnswerID: 163536

Reply By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:35

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 21:35
It all comes down to YOUR definition of "off-road".

In the same way that one person will consider a Subaru Outback to be an "off-road" vehicle, whilst the next person might consider nothing smaller than a cruiser/patrol to be "off-road". Quite often these latter people will even scoff at a Prado/Pajero/Disco/Pathfinder etc.

There is no right or wrong.

You have to get very savvy, very quickly; before you get your cheque book cranked up.

If you have a Subaru Outback and want a camper trailer to "match" it, then you won't be requiring anything too "strong".

However, if you've spent the big $$$$ setting up your vehicle to tackle the more difficult tracks that we often hear about (eg: Cape York, Canning Stock Route etc), then you're kidding yourself if you think you can just spend $8K and get a suitable "off-road" camper trailer. In this case you'd be wanting to look mainly at the undercarriage for heavy duty drawbar and chassis, heavy duty shackled springs or good quality coils, name-brand shockers, excellent ground clearance with appropriate departure angle and nothing hanging down that can get dragged-off when you drop down a 350mm shelf/step. You'd also be looking to ensure that the superstructure is not made of paper-thin metal. You'd be climbing underneath to check the apparent quality of all welds etc....(ok, so you're no engineer....neither am I......but after checking out a few "cheapies" first and then looking at the more expensive ones, you should soon see the extra attention to detail).

Any canvas work would need to be compared too. The higher end of the market will use 12oz canvas whereas the cheapies will skimp on quality here too in most instances.

Matching wheel stud pattern and room under the wheel arches to accomodate the same size wheels as the tow vehicle is also a good idea.

That's just a few of my ideas on this topic. I am very satisfied with the camper trailer I chose in 1999 and have taken it everywhere I've wanted to go.......In other words there has never been a time when I've muttered...."I'd like to go to #### but wouldn't be game to trust the camper on that track".

Cheers

Roachie
AnswerID: 163539

Follow Up By: Member JD- Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:03

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:03
Hi Roachie,
I think you have just about said it all..do your homework first..if possible have a look at the builders other trailers during construction..ask what grade steel are they using..are they using stick or mig..are there welders
cerified by this I mean trained to a minimum australian standard,not just production line monkeys..no offence is intended towards this type of welder..but you are about part with a lot of hard earned spondoly so you want quality...etc ..etc good warranty..and good value for monie..most people can tell quality when they see it..if not roachies quote will come round and bite you on the bum!
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FollowupID: 418262

Follow Up By: Member - Barry C (NT) - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:18

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:18
My two bobs worth again.

If anyone is worried about structural steel welding ask the manufacturer if they will certify their steel welding to AS 1554 as it applies to the product they have manufactured. This has previously been known to sort the goodies from the also rans in section of the heavy vehicle industry.

I would suggest that a reputable product would be certified by the welder as a matter of pride and also ease your mind when you buy their product.

Barry
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Reply By: Barnesy - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:32

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006 at 22:32
Freezer,
I think Old magpie and roachie are on the money here. You don't need to spend piles of dosh on a trailer for a good one. But you do need a good one if you plan on doing serious 4wding.

The difference i see is the definitions of "off road" and "four wheel drive". I took a toyota corona to Arkaroola, Flinders, Lincoln NP etc. which is off road but not 4wding. (My little old toyota coped well with the punishment).

My GQ is 4wding. I have a s/hand CT 8 leaf springs, h/duty drop shackles, 2 tonne 50mm axle, fully welded right around the whole trailer, not spot welded. Where other trailers may have 2mm plates welded together, i have 50mm square steel frames holding it all together. Only cost me 6k for my Cameron.

That's the difference between off road and 4wd.

Barnesy
AnswerID: 163555

Reply By: traveller2 - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 07:23

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 07:23
Just remember though most 4wd's would have an 'off road' towing capacity of less than a tonne (probably around 750kg) and duty cycle of way less than 100%.
Manufacturers towing capacities are for bitumen use only.
Trying to get a manufacturer to quote an 'off road' towing capacity is well nigh impossible.
The unbraked towing capacity for the larger 4wd's (cruiser/patrol) is usually pretty close to off road towing capacity.
Smaller vehicles it is way less.
AnswerID: 163575

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 07:39

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 07:39
I'm intrigued by your comments traveller2...........

Your 1st sentence seems fairly definite when you say: "most 4wd's would have an 'off road' towing capacity of less than a tonne (probably around 750kg) and duty cycle of way less than 100%".

However, then you more or less contradict yourself by saying: "Trying to get a manufacturer to quote an 'off road' towing capacity is well nigh impossible".

Given that I agree with the 2nd quote, what basis do you have for the 1st quote I made?

Also, what do you base your assertion on when you say: "Manufacturers towing capacities are for bitumen use only"............. given that (as far I know anyway) the handbook supplied with 4x4 vehicle doesn't actually state this anywhere? (I'll happily stand corrected if somone produces a handbook for some vehicle which DOES state something along these lines).

When you say: "The unbraked towing capacity for the larger 4wd's (cruiser/patrol) is usually pretty close to off road towing capacity", do you mean that when I town my Ultimate Camper (which weighs about 1200kg and has electric brakes), I am actually exceeding the capacity of my Patrol?

I'm not trying to have a go at you, just finding it difficult to work out exactly what you are driving at.

Cheers mate

Roachie
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FollowupID: 418297

Follow Up By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:17

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:17
Good point traveller2.
I would expect the capacities to be 'road' rated, what ever that means. Bitumen or even outback dirt road.
The extra shock loads, and the loads from more acute angles on the tow hitch when off road most probably have not been allowed for in the rating.

The manufacturers sort of give you a clue when they supply the tow bar and it only has a 50mm ball on it.

No one asked me if I wanted a treg or other hitch fitting for off road towing.

Of course the big question for us is how extreme are those loads, and what duty cycle. I don't think I would take my trailer every where I would take my 4wd, and I usually slow down a little more when I do have the trailer on.
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FollowupID: 418303

Follow Up By: traveller2 - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 14:29

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 14:29
What I meant was that the towing capacities given by the manufacturers are a 'road' towing capacity, whether it is bitumen or dirt shouldn't matter as we all drive to the conditions, usually slower/easier on dirt.
As a fleet buyer ask your manufacturer of choice what they rate their vehicle to tow 'off road' ie off formed roads, on tracks where (usually low range) 4wd is required and with the associated steep climbs and descents.
After much insistance they will come up with a figure which is as I said usually pretty close to the unbraked towing capacity. They may (should) also give this rating with a % use ie: while the vehicle may be capable of towing the load it should not do so continuously but say 60% which means that in an hours travel 40 mins is spent driving and 20 mins is spent allowing the drivetrain to cool.
When you start to acquire these sort of figures ( I have no current ones but do have some somewhere for mid 80's vehicles) you find that you should in fact be using a larger vehicle to do the job.
When the subject of GVM comes up we all expect our Toyota/Nissan/Landrover/whatever to carry in excess of its GVM for extended trips.
Most of the modern 4wd's used for recreational use are ususally being used beyond their designed capabilities and that is why they break and wear out prematurely, well that is how a lot of owners see it anyway.
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FollowupID: 418391

Reply By: flappa - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:25

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 08:25
Quote:

Also, what do you base your assertion on when you say: "Manufacturers towing capacities are for bitumen use only"............. given that (as far I know anyway) the handbook supplied with 4x4 vehicle doesn't actually state this anywhere? (I'll happily stand corrected if somone produces a handbook for some vehicle which DOES state something along these lines).

When you say: "The unbraked towing capacity for the larger 4wd's (cruiser/patrol) is usually pretty close to off road towing capacity", do you mean that when I town my Ultimate Camper (which weighs about 1200kg and has electric brakes), I am actually exceeding the capacity of my Patrol?

END

I think its the Discovery that actually lists this in their Handbook ???

Anyway , its a discussion that has often taken place with Caravanners , especially the Bushtracker guys.

I believe they use a "rule of thumb" that when off road 1/3 of the towing capacity should be the limit.

With your patrol being able to tow about 3500kg , you should be fine.

Thats one of the reasons that you see plenty of Patrols/Cruisers towing Bushtrackers , but the guys that DO take them offroad are usually driving the big trucks , F250's etc etc , for their increased offroad towing capacity.
AnswerID: 163587

Follow Up By: Redback - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:22

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:22
Yep Graeme the hand book for the Discovery states that the towing capacity is 3500kg onroad and 1000kg offroad, i'm not sure if this is an RTA law as well, not having checked only been told by someone so can't say if it's true.

As for definning an Offroad trailer the minimum i look at is 7 or 9 leaf rebound springs and the spring hangers welded to a 5 or 6mm plate that's welded to the frame of the trailer which is 50mm X 50mm box steel and a 100mm X 50mm draw bar with an offroad hitch (ie) trigg/treg/hyland, also checker guards and floor and 2 ribbed sides for extra stength heavy duty 50mm square axle and heavy duty Ford bearings and 4x4 wheels and AT tyres.

Some examples are, Redback, AllTerrain, Ultimate, KK, Cavalier, there are others but these are just some off the top of my head.

Ours is a Redback (now Clarkes Country Campers) and is just over 2 yrs old now and has done over 80,000 Ks behind 2 vehicles on some of the roughest road in OZ with not one breakage at all, and we are still on the original bearings (i check and grease regular).

Some are just rubbish

Baz.
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FollowupID: 418319

Follow Up By: flappa - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:39

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:39
Hi Baz

Quote:

Yep Graeme the hand book for the Discovery states that the towing capacity is 3500kg onroad and 1000kg offroad, i'm not sure if this is an RTA law as well, not having checked only been told by someone so can't say if it's true.
END

I suspect it isn't an RTA thing , but more likely a Manufacturers "recommendation". They may refuse a warranty matter if something busted while towing , eg , a bushtracker offroad.
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FollowupID: 418321

Follow Up By: Redback - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:47

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:47
Yes i'd say your right, LR are not known for their generosity when it comes too warrenty.

Baz.
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FollowupID: 418323

Reply By: Member - ROTORD - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:31

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 09:31
Hello All

Lots of good discussion , and I think so far SAND MAN has come closest to a definition .

To develop SAND MAN's definition .

An off road CT must have ground clearance , track and hitch to match the off road performance of the tow vehicle . Suspension and overall strength must handle continuous bad corrugations and isolated severe impact with bulldust holes . Dust and water proofing must provide for prolonged extreme conditions . All parts must be easy to inspect , maintain , and repair .
AnswerID: 163589

Reply By: Member - big bo (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 14:19

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 14:19
stop mucking around, get a Kimberley trailer and go "off road"' your trailer will probably go were your 4wd won't.
cheers.
AnswerID: 163647

Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 14:33

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 14:33
Or a Track!
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FollowupID: 418393

Follow Up By: Brew69(SA) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 15:20

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 15:20
There is a rumour that KK are now importing canvas from China? Bet they don't drop the price.
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FollowupID: 418407

Follow Up By: Member - big bo (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 19:11

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 19:11
Yea, you are probably right but tell me who isn't importing from china and who has dropped their price.
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FollowupID: 418477

Reply By: Bob - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 15:10

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 15:10
I think that this one is "Off Road"


Right off the road

Bob
AnswerID: 163657

Reply By: FREEZER - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 18:11

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 18:11
Wow

I really got the ball rolling there. That was great reading, as someone said earlier beats sitting in front of the idiot box, well i reckon anyway.I would probably agree with Sandman. And as a few people said, people will do different types of offroading so the things sandman pointed out would be feasible to all offroad with varying degrees of these things depending on where you might go. (eg extra leafs, shockies ect ect)

At this stage i couldnt justify spending $20K on a trailer(maybe one day though) Not saying people shouldnt, but would probably be huge overkill for me. All i need at this stage is something i can drag through the sand and dirt. Corrugated roads for miles.........I will do that when the kids are older.

Cheers
FREEZER
AnswerID: 163694

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