Cart before the horse ??

Submitted: Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 17:40
ThreadID: 8799 Views:1784 Replies:13 FollowUps:3
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Hi folks. Retiring shortly & plan on hitting the road for a couple of years, or maybe for good. Never owned a 4wd or a caravan!! Can you believe it ?? Been checking out the forum & it seems to be almost unanimous that I should be looking at a turbo diesel. I don't have any particular type of caravan or any particular model of 4wd in mind at this stage. I have a couple of questions I hope you can help me with. (1) Should I choose the type of caravan I want so that I have a better idea of weight etc before I look at the 4wd ?? (2) At this stage I imagine most of my travels will be on sealed roads or on "good (?) dirt" roads. For the times that I am on the dirt, should I be looking at an "off road" caravan, or would most caravans be able to handle the good dirt. (3) Is there any advice you can give me on the various caravan manufacturers. (4) I think I will be looking for around a 20' van. What size 4wd should I be considering. I am assuming that this is one area where size does matter. Thanx for any help & advice you can offer folks. I'm sure "She Who Must Be Obeyed" will be veeerrrry happy if I can get it right first time.
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Reply By: Russell [Pajero] - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 18:26

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 18:26
Just do what I did, buy a cheap 4wd, believe the used caravan saleman and buy what they say will suit the missus and the car and find out yourself that nobody gives a &^&%$%" cause its buyer beware.

Fancy asking for advice when all the specifications you can find on the net match your expectations.

We towed once and had to hire somebody to tow the van home. That was fun.

I'm sure some who knows will respond soon but wait please wait cause it will save heartache.



AnswerID: 38700

Reply By: Member -BJ (Sydney) - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 18:39

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 18:39
For tow vehicle either Patrol or Landcruiser. As for caravan the choise is almost limitless but for mine i look at the new Coromal Off Road van at the Sydney show & was very impressed with the suspension & internal fitout ,also as you plan on being on the road for awhile get one with solar panels for your power then you can camp anywhere. Just go around the different dealres & compare.Regards Bob
Where to next
AnswerID: 38701

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 18:49

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 18:49

If it was me I'd try to get at least some idea of what size/type of caravan you want before purchasing the vehicle. I say this because at the end of the day the caravan will be your home so better to base your choice entirely on your needs rather than the capabilities of your tow vehicle.

If you're planning on sticking mostly to sealed roads and good dirt roads I don't think you need to go to the expense of buying an off-road version. A good, well-built caravan will handle it if you take it easy and drive to conditions. I base my opinion on my folks experiences. They have 40 years of caravanning experience all over Aust. including 13 years calling their van home in their retirement. Like you they stuck mostly to sealed roads with occassional dirt road travel and never had any problems. However, Dad had extra springs fitted to the van as well as light truck tyres which he swears by.

A couple of other forums you might find useful are:
Aust Caravan Mail Listdiscussion group for all things related to caravans, pop-tops etc.
Caravanners Foruma discussion group relating to caravanning lifestyle.

Hope this helps.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 38705

Reply By: bluehealer - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 20:07

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 20:07
re vans stay away from a off road manufacture in the eastern suburbs of melbourne used to be a builder ,one look at a friends house was enough ,workmanship lousy ,lot of problems with the warranty ,in the wrapup the housing guarantee fund said to decline his services ,get another buyilder in too fix it and they would pay the bill ,which they did,showed me all the paperwork on this ,make sure you do your homework
AnswerID: 38715

Reply By: Nav 80 - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 20:19

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 20:19
Gday Tugga,,I agree with B J. if your looking at a 20 foot van then you need a Patrol or Landcruiser full stop. Why such a big van? I am retired and are doing the traveling thing with a van so have had a bit of experience in this field. The only advantage I see with a van that size is the room in it. There are a few negetives,to pull a van that size takes power and fuel, most caravan parks are very tight on space and you have to get your van into some tight spaces also parking in shopping centres streets etc can be a problem. Depending on the age and type of van, some of the older big ones can be a pig to tow with your speed restricted to about 80K. Now having said that I own a 16.6 Ft pop top and am sorry I never got a 18 Ft hard top that in my opinion being the ideal size. We have found that we only spend the nights in it as most time is spent outside. The advantage of a van that size is you can tow with most 4WDs its not too big to park and you still have room to move. The make and layout is a personal choise but I know the late models do tow better.I would definately go the turbo diesel for power and economy.if you tow with a petrol 4WD be prepared to put your hand in your pocket for fuel its as simple as that,the choise of vehicle is again a personal one but I would recomend no smaller than 3Ltr turbo for up to an 18Ft van. Hope I have been some help.
AnswerID: 38716

Reply By: Browny - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 21:07

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 21:07
Congrat's Tugga on a brilliant carreer, over 10,000 runs and an average over 50, a good time to go out on top.....:-)

I'm sure if you let the media know your after a van & 4wd to tour oz with you'd be inundated with offers of freebies......:-)

Happy Days....Browny
AnswerID: 38722

Reply By: Willem - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 21:13

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 21:13
G'day Tugga,

Whatever you do, think carefully.

I would look for a suitable van first and would not recommend you go over the 20 foot length. Vans are very expensive new and you are looking at $2000 per foot. Off road vans are built very well these days but they may lack the space you need if you are going to stay on the road for a while.

I would not tow anything over 18ft with a vehicle with an engine capacity of less than 4 litres. My opinion is that 3lt turbooed vehicles are just not strong enough to lug a heavily laden van around. Yes, it can be done, but it may affect your sanity.

My advice would be to buy a second hand van and a second hand 4.2litre engined vehicle. It is your choice whether you buy a petrol or a diesel. This way you will not outlay a heap of money. If you get the feel for it then you can upgrade at a later stage. If you do not like your setup then you can trade into something else and not lose a whole heap of money.

I spent 5 years on the road and did 250,000km towing a 27ft Viscount shell which I had fitted out myself. The van weighed 3500kg to start with but I shed some of the weight along the way. At first I towed it with a 4.2lt petrol Landcruiser and later with a 4lt petrol Nissan Patrol. I had an inadequate braking system on the van but drove very carefully and criss-crossed this great country of ours without a mishap. My fuel consumption averaged for both vehicles between 20 and 25l/100km. I used my gears most of the time for towing and desisted from using the brakes.

Melbourne is the place to go for caravans. Look them up on the internet. There are heaps of brand names but others on this forum may be able to advise you on which brand may be better suited to your needs.

Getting it right the first time takes some doing !!!!! :-)



Always going somewhere
AnswerID: 38726

Follow Up By: Tugga - Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 05:58

Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 05:58
Hey Willem
Thanx for the advice & info. Seems that maybe size doesn't matter after all. I was initially thinking of a larger van purely for comfort sake, but as it's pointed out in Forum, we'll only be in there to sleep. Perhaps the 18' would be the way to go. You guys have certainly given me plenty to think about. Again, thanx heaps.
FollowupID: 28707

Reply By: GOB member vic - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 21:14

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 21:14
tugga where are you I amybe able to offer some advice but aphone call might be easier

ps we have our 3rd van this is offroad and towed with a patrol but every bodies needs are different. if you want a chat i will give you my email you can send me a number imagine a 03 gu 4.2tdin the picture
as i am having trouble sizing the picture
AnswerID: 38727

Reply By: Member - Cocka - Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 23:10

Thursday, Nov 27, 2003 at 23:10
Gee Tugga you can draw heaps of advice on this topic. Trust a bit of what Willem says, he's a bit of a war horse with a ton of experience under his belly (sorry, belt). If you can back up a bit before you jump in and ask, is a caravan the only thing or first thing you have thought about. Where do you really want to travel and what do you really want to see. The real gems of this country are in remote places, along beaches, in deserts and mountains, caravans can be very restrictive. Check the maps and web for a month or two and see what there is to see. Then you have to have somewhere to keep it at home, somewhere to park it when you drive into a town etc etc etc, but they are very comfortable.
Next step down and much more robust are camper trailers, and there are some beauties around and you can take them most any place. And then there are tents etc (that's me) some of which are pretty beaut & easy. Depends how close to the ground and nature you want to be.
What ever, take time, visit the 4WD shows, visit caravan parks & talk to touring owners, there's a million configurations out there. If unsure of what it will be like, try hiring a 4WD and hire a van and then a trailer to see what you like. It's a big country with some magic places and it's so big, some people never come home. After a trip to the Simpson desert next April I'll be heading up to here in October 04 - check this out, you can't get there with a caravan: Carpe Diem
AnswerID: 38746

Follow Up By: Willem - Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 08:35

Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 08:35
Aaahh Cocka, As always good advice from you. Mmmmm, how did you know about the belly bit?:-)

To add to your advice one can always look at a used Toyota Arkana stretched truck or an Ocka, Unimog, Acco or MAN. I have seen some nice set ups over the years.

Still a nice big van is the go when you are travelling permanently. Pop tops are a PITA especially if you are tall, like me. Every time you stop to get something from the van you have to crawl around the interior.

You must still be a youngish fella if you are tenting it. Me? I have a bed in my truck and sleep soundly and do not have to find something to grab hold of when getting up off the ground.hahahahaha!


Always going somewhere
FollowupID: 82634

Reply By: Wombat - Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 11:33

Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 11:33
When EXACTLY do you retire Tugga, just after the Sydney test match?"Live today as if there may be no tomorrow"

AnswerID: 38773

Reply By: Martyn (WA) - Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 12:02

Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 12:02
As mentioned, I wouldn't dismiss a camper trailer, some are really well set up and take very little time to erect, I considered a caravan but corragations and other "things" I thought might restrict me about a caravan steered me away, I spent one two week trip in a tent on a mattress, it was ok and fun but not my idea of pure relaxation. I opted for an off road camper trailer, well set up and easy to use, yes the caravan has the creature comforts of home etc and if this is what you want great and go for it, I don't have much experience here but I have a good imagination.
If you are chugging a long at a no rush pace it's a good place to be, I wouldn't buy new unless you have the money to do so, I believe you loose to much money at the onset. I'm a Nissan person so that's what I would suggest, Toyota's are also a good bus, don't forget the old Rangie for real luxury and good towing statistics if you have loads of cash and shares in a petrol company, you would also need to carry some oil for top ups. They loose about 67% of their value in the first three years so you could pick up a bargain.......
If you get it right first time well done, I would do a couple of shorter trips out and about to get a feel for your set up and what your individual needs are before I set off on the big trip, this was good advice I recieved a few years ago.
Have a nice rip Tugga, good luck.Keep the shiny side up
AnswerID: 38784

Reply By: cruiser - Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 16:49

Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 16:49
Hello everyone,

I must say that the advise given here is pretty spot on in most respects, but no one has mentioned that you must match the towing vehicle to the weight of the caravan. (if someone has replied to that effect and i missed it, I apologise in advance)

I have a mate who had a pre 1996 80 Series Tojo and it was only legally allowed to tow up to 2500Kg. This was the rating on the vehicle as specified by Toyota and the genuine towbar was also rated at 2500Kg. He then went out an bought a new custom built Evernew that weighed 3200Kg and he was not legally allowed to tow it, so he had to look for a 1997 80 series or better in the Tojo (his preferred choice) and ended buying a 100 series as they were rated at 3500kg by Toyota.

An expensive excercise to say the least.

The moral of my little story is "do the homework first"

I would select the van first if you want a big sized one, find out the weight and then look for the appropriate tow vehicle.
AnswerID: 38825

Follow Up By: Nav 80 - Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 20:12

Friday, Nov 28, 2003 at 20:12
Good point Cruiser, and one not to be ignored. If you read any caravan insurance policy now, it clearly states that if you have an accident while towing a van that does not match the towing capacity of the towing vehicle you have to prove that this did not contribute to the accident or they will not pay up.
FollowupID: 82696

Reply By: Mad Dog Morgan (Vic) - Saturday, Nov 29, 2003 at 17:46

Saturday, Nov 29, 2003 at 17:46
Tugga, if you must tow such a big van then don't muck around with little vehicles. Something the size of a ford F350 is a must for your own and other road users safety. There are to many "accidents waiting to happen" on the road already. Don't be one of them.

Along with some very good advise from this forum you can get some more on the msn caravan forum to help make an informed decision.

I may be mad but I'm not crazy
AnswerID: 38892

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