A Year in a Windsor Rapid

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 22:46
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Hi

We are a family of two adults, a 5 year old and an 18 month old planning a years trip around Australia.

We are thiking that a Windsor Rapid 521 (the one with the storage down one side) is the van for us but would be interested in any suggestions on a couple of points.

First up is the towing capacity of our car, a Toyota Kluger CVX 2005. It will tow up to 1500kg and if we choose an offroad Rapid 521 the ATM is 1750kg so not possible. However, the normal Rapid 521 ATM is 1480kg. Our budget doesn't allow us to change vehicle. We don't anticipate going really 'off road', maybe just some sandy tracks for beach access or gravel roads. Do you think we could do this by just jacking up the suspension on the normal Rapid to give us some extra clearance?

Secondly, are there any implications to towing so close to the capacity of the vehicle? Does it just mean we'll go up slow uphill or will it stuff our engine?

Next, the fridge. We're wondering if a 90litre fridge will be big enough? Should we look at upgrading to a 150litre?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks
Mizuko (WA)

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Reply By: Member - Pixie - Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 23:51

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008 at 23:51
these days it seems you not only need to check your towing limit but also your gross vehicle mass once the vehicle is fully loaded

does the 1480kg allow for food in the fridge, water in the tank, blankets, pillows and clothes in the van?

sounds a bit too close for comfort
AnswerID: 281869

Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 00:16

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 00:16
Hi Mizuko,

I reckon your choice of a Windsor Rapid is a good move, I used to have a 13"6' offroad rapid and often regret selling it, but must admit my Camprite probably suits me better for what I do. But if i was to do a 12 month lap of Aus, the Windsor would be my first choice.

Be aware that the tare mass of the Windsor is likely to be understated. My van was several 100 kgs heavier than the plated figure, and when loaded the ATM was most likely exceeded. I did have several factory fitted options, but even so this did not account for the difference in plated and actual weights.

Thus if you only have 20kg to spare with your tow vehicle, there is every chance you will exceed the ATM, especially on a 12 month trip when you are likely to gather "souvenir's" as you go. And I suspect your vehicle will be quite loaded with all the gear you will undoubtedly need.

The Kluger will be at the limits of its capacity and you will not have anything in reserve, especially stability and braking wise. While you could do this in the Kluger, you need to think of your familys safety when spending that much time on the road with that type of load.

While I had the offroad pack, the main feature of this is the much larger chassis rails, independent suspension and higher ground clearance. The main advantage of the offroad pack is the ability of the chassis to handle corrugated gravel roads and I suspect you would like to travel on plenty of these on a 12 month Aus trip.

Adding ground clearance only will not help strengthen the chassis and will affect van stability. While you could do this, the standard ground clearance should be suffcicent for the average tracks where the Kluger coukld actually tow this weight off bitumen. It will certainly work the Kluger engine and make it drink, but I don't think you will actually "stuff" it.

While i used a Cruiser and a Patrol with my van, both struggled to tow the weight in sand and i doubt the Kluger could cope (I had diff locks in the cruiser and 33" tyres and still stuggled - the weight is the killer).

Formed tracks that a 2WD can go on will be the best the Kluger could tow a van on - not being degrogatory here but just stating facts from experience. You will run out of traction long before you run out of ground clearance in sand towing in a Kluger.

As for a fridge, you cannot get enough fridge space :) I had a 90L compressor fridge (don't get a 3 way IMHO) and used a 40L engle as a freezer in the vehicle. if you can fit a 150L compressor fridge in, go for it and you certainly won't reget it. And i would still take an engels as it will come in handy as a freezer and also for day trips when you are camped up and need cold food/drinks when out sightseeing.

Anyway, hope some of the above helps.

Cheers

Captain


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Follow Up By: Cruiserman1961 (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 07:01

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 07:01
Good morning Captain,
your reply reflects what this forum is all about, an unbiased comprehensive opinion based on experience and knowledge. Well done mate!
I like to offer a similar opinion to the above Mizuko. You will without a doubt exceed the gross vehicle mass and even the towball weight. Towing a caravan in a heavily loaded car is risky at the best of times and can be extremely dangerous. Choose wisely, a new caravan is an expensive investment and you will be likely to regret buying too big for your 4WD.
I wish you and your family a happy and safe year of traveling. Enjoy this wonderful country of ours!
Cheers, Udo
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Follow Up By: Mizuko - Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 22:36

Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 22:36
Hi Captain

Thank you so much for giving us the benefit of your experience. We are now thinking that we will have to change our vehicle as we don't want to compromise safety or our ability to go where we want.

Also, great idea about taking an Engel fridge. Wouldn't have thought of that.

This is all a bit different from when we toured in a Kombi as students on a wing and a prayer. We have a lot to learn! No doubt we will be posting more as we get closer to our departure in July.

Again, thank you, I think you may have prevented us making a costly mistake.

Mizuko
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Follow Up By: Member - Captain (WA) - Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 23:44

Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 23:44
Hi Mizuko,

Happy to offer advise and glad you found it useful.

I am also glad you are rethinking your tow vehicle. While there is nothing wrong with the Kluger itself, you really want something that can comfortably tow that kind of weight as I am sure you want to make sure your family is as safe as possible.

Would be a good idea to make sure you have a few shakedown runs prior to leaving for the big trip - you will be suprised what you do and don't need.

Very envious of what you are about to undertake, wish i could do the same.

Cheers

Captain

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Reply By: furph - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 08:10

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 08:10
Hi Mizuko.
With 20 odd yrs. of van towing experience I would totally agree with the Captains advice.

For the last 7yrs. towed a 1980 14x7' Viscount pop top across some of the roughest tracks, yes we did have a few dramas but by and large nothing not repairable.

I did increase its ground clearance by about 75mm, but a proportion of that came from fitting heavier duty rims and light truck tyres. I found that with the larger tyres the van handled much better and in probably 40000km. of all manner of road conditions the 2 spares on the back were never used.

Also (my opinion) towing speed is one hell of a factor in all circumstances. Towing to the road conditions for one, getting the best fuel economy another.

Last winter we did 17000km. from NSW, Qld. NT, WA, SA and home without a single hiccup. Towed behind a L/C trayback average 15.5l/100km. for the whole trip. We did do some rough road excursions (incl. part Gibb R., road closure forced us back) but I would reckon your Kluger would handle most of it.

With regard to refrigeration, I installed a computor fan to assist air circulation to the original 60l. gas/elec. unit. This improved its performance markedly, also have a 60l. Trailblaza (compressor type) used as a freezer. However with this you require aux. battery supply which all adds to the overall weight.
Perhaps if there are obstacles for you, it will be all up weight.
furph
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Reply By: Member - barbara M (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 08:10

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 08:10
Hi Mizuko,
I cant give any advice re towing weight as that is the other half's domain but I can give my humble adveice on fridge go for the biggest frdge you can get or afford. Re compressor or absorption we have only had an absorption fridge and havent had an issue, we are in the process of planning our van to tour and work around Australia and this issue is one we are trying to deal with. There are positives and negatives for both, as we tend to go soemwhere and sit for a week or so in the bush we think we might settle for an absorptiion fridge but you will need to investigate both options and consider what is best suited for your type of touring and your budget as we all have to live within our budgets worde luck.
In hindsight we wish we had done what you are about to do so best wishes and remember you dont have to have the best and biggest to enjoy the trip
barb
AnswerID: 281882

Follow Up By: Mizuko - Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 23:31

Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 23:31
Hi Barb
Thanks for your fridge advice, we didn't even know fridges came as absorption or compressor! And thanks for the reassurance too, it is a bit daunting to be venturing off for a year with two little ones. It'll be good to get us out of our comfort zone!
Mizuko
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Reply By: Mick - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 09:57

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 09:57
Just one consideration regarding the weight. Calculate your weight by adding what you carry to the Tare. The ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass) is the maximum allowed. As an example I have a van with a tare of 2000kg and an ATM of 2900kg. My vehicle will tow legally 2500kg. There is no way that I'll load more than 500kg so I'm within my limits.
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Follow Up By: Mick - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 10:11

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2008 at 10:11
A few more thoughts. If you go for a 3 way fridge, be sure to get a T rated model and that it's installed correctly. The T rated models are far superior to the previous models. They are rated for 43C ambient temps whereas the others are 32C. They also give you great flexibility away from power. Captain said that your van may be over the stated weight but it may also be under. My van has 2000kg on the plate but with 190kg of water in the tanks it came in at 2150kg on a weighbridge. Thus my tare is 1960kg. I have driven a Kluger on a number of occasions and I can tell you that power will be absolutely no problem and there is no chance that you will "stuff" the engine. Set it up properly with a good quality hitch.
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Reply By: Mizuko - Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 23:46

Thursday, Jan 17, 2008 at 23:46
Thank you to all for your replies. We sincerely appreciate your responses as our heads are spinning with all the choices.
Thanks
Mizuko
AnswerID: 282186

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Friday, Jan 18, 2008 at 06:19

Friday, Jan 18, 2008 at 06:19
Mizuko, keep to Captain's advice particularly on the fridges. Having a gas fridge means another fuel to keep up and are electrically inefficient when on your vehicle or any other power source than gas. That means if you run out of gas or don't switch it over they can run down your batteries quicker. Electrical - 12v and 240v are a lot easier to manage, or 12v alone.

If you stick with Captain's advice, there are fewer choices to worry about.
Cheers,
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