Hard Floor camper trailer - any advice

Submitted: Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 14:50
ThreadID: 96213 Views:14973 Replies:10 FollowUps:6
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Hi All,

My parents are looking at a camper trailer, one that they can use as a basic tourer on road, and I can use off-road.

They want a hard floor trailer, and honestly I think their budget is way to low for a good quality off-road camper trailer with hard floor.

They have found the attached http://www.thommoscampinggear.com.au/

Parents have a newer Xtrail, myself a 96 Jackaroo 3.2L. Towing it isn't the issue.

The issue is:
a) from what you can see does the camper trailer look up to scratch
b) could I use it more off-road, corrugations, easier parts of the high country, sand driving etc?

Would really value your honest opinions on this please?

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Reply By: Ross M - Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 15:57

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 15:57
Although the spec level seems ok you need to check the quality of the items on an individual basis as some things may not be really up to the mark.

Because of intended rough road/off road use:

The swing arm bushes, what are they made of? are they easily replaceable?
Do the arms have any camber and alignment adjustability?
The shock absorbers, are they of good quality and rating? and are their mounts solid and made to withstand the constant punishment they will receive off road?

Construction/frame. Although galvanized, are the welds for the "A" frame and other welds properly welded? Are there any welds which placed across the "A" frame members and could cause cracking and failure of the arms. Some placements of welding is structurally OK while if others are across stressed members a fracture/failure may occur. Happens in Aussie made stuff too.

Wheel bearings, again quality of the bearings inside the hubs????? and are the bearings adequately sized for off road use?? Need to be bigger than car stuff and if possible size, same/same, inner & outer for interchangeability and strength.

No good having a flash/ok tent top if the carriage isn't going to get you there and back.
Just a few things to check and/or be aware of. Others will have items to assess too.

Ross M
AnswerID: 488281

Follow Up By: Member - Dicko1979 - Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 16:02

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 16:02
Thanks Ross,

All noted. Really appreciate your response
FollowupID: 763502

Follow Up By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 21:02

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 21:02
I am with Ross, everything looks OK, but you will need to check for yourself. The one thing I did notice was; No side guards, which in turn means, NO PROTECTION for those side mounted gas struts. They might cop a hammering if travelling through tracks where the scrub has closed in on the track... Just a thought...
Fred B
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FollowupID: 763523

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 17:07

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 17:07

hmmmm - seriously though - these are made to a price - not saying it's inherently wrong - just you get what you paid for .....
AnswerID: 488283

Follow Up By: Member - Bytemrk(VIC) - Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 21:41

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 21:41

It would be nice to dream you could get a truly good value hard floor camper for that money.... but dreams turn to nightmares if you don't do your homework.

I'd want to take a really close first hand look before committing.

For $10,000 you can get a good quality budget soft floor camper.... e.g. Tambo
FollowupID: 763526

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 00:02

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 00:02
By crikey - that's a very 'noisy' web site - stare at it too long and I'd start tripping out.
FollowupID: 763540

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 17:43

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 17:43
We wanted a quality offroad unit that had stood the test of time.
But rather than look at price, we wanted a decent resale value and no depreciation.

So we found a second-hand TVan that cost us $28,000 after purchasing the unit and putting new brakes/tyres/solar panel etc on it. After2 years it's value is the same or more so it has cost us nothing in depreciation.

My suggestion is to do similar. Cheap offroad camper trailer depreciate quickly.
AnswerID: 488287

Follow Up By: GT Campers - Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 22:10

Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 at 22:10
Cheap camper trailers often don't last long enough to depreciate!
FollowupID: 763535

Reply By: walwffoeg - Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 07:14

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 07:14
Now for some more comments from another person with no experience of the unit.

It could possibly be a really good deal.
Just because its made in China doesn't mean it's going to fall apart.
Many Aussie made caravans are really shoddily made.

Whatever you buy, you have to check it out yourself.
Your own research is the best.

AnswerID: 488337

Reply By: Member - Ups and Downs - Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 08:52

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 08:52
For Sale

If still available this will take you anywhere at a good price.

AnswerID: 488346

Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 10:25

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 10:25
Arguably the best camper trailer ever, but not a hard floor.

FollowupID: 763548

Reply By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 10:21

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 10:21
Check out new or used Pioneer campers.

AnswerID: 488351

Reply By: TheMightyMoose - Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 13:18

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 13:18
Easy for people who don't own them to knock the cheapies.
Check out the Pinnacle hard floor camper. I have one and whilst there were some quality control issues (which I sorted out myself) I am more than happy with the value for money aspect. No major issues to date (about 12 mths). Perhaps in a few years I may have a different opinion but for now I'm happy with it.
Don't know where your parents are but if they are in Brisbane we may be able to let them come and have a squiz at ours.
AnswerID: 488368

Reply By: Ron N - Thursday, Jun 14, 2012 at 10:41

Thursday, Jun 14, 2012 at 10:41
Dicko - The major thing you have to ask yourself when looking at a purchase such as a camper, is whether the item was built to a price, or built to do a job.

In the case of Thommo's camper, I'd have to say it's built to a price, and you will find many areas where it falls down.

Thommo has obviously tried to get away from the major Chinese problem of a lack of QC by getting the frame/major structure built in China and finishing it off in Australia. I'll wager there isn't a lot of Australian finish effort in it.

I'll hazard a guess that they come in from China almost complete, apart from perhaps axles and lights (because our Australian ADR's differ from Chinas), and they just fit axles wheels and lights, and check that all the bolts are tight, and out the door they go.

The Chinese have a permanent, ingrained culture of cheapness and little understanding of QC. To them, the buyer can sort out the QC.
They have the attitude that because their products are so cheap, the buyer can just buy another one if the first one fails.

Chinese fasteners are notorious for poor quality. The bolts are nearly always mild steel, with poor inherent strength, and their self-tappers and screws aren't much better.
Welds are rarely checked for quality and strength, and one has to keep in mind that the bloke who welded your trailer together, was hoeing rice in a paddy field last month, before he got a better-paying factory job.

I can see areas such as the swing arm mountings that are not up to scratch for durability. The mounting are just a flimsy piece of flat bar pressed into a U shape and welded in position.

Swing arm mountings are required to be exceptionally solid and have a wide base where they're welded to the frame. That base weld should also be longitudinal to the frame to spread constant shock loading, over a wide area of the frame.

The swing arm mountings on Thommo's camper are all wrong. The weld is crossways to the frame and will peel out after some serious work. The mounting brackets themselves are flimsy and will suffer rapid wear.
The bolts will very quickly end up pivoting in the U shaped bracket instead of in the bushing in the arm, and this will promptly lead to the holes wallowing out.

The shock absorbers are at the wrong angle for correct suspension damping. To get the most effective damping, a shock absorber should be as close as possible to the vertical travel alignment of the arm or axle. A shocker at 45 deg to the arm or axle isn't going to have satisfactory damping ability.

Suspensions take a massive hammering on rough roads. Corrugations pound every component like a jackhammer. Rough roads means almost constant swing arm articulation, meaning the pivot points have to be substantial.

To a number of buyers, a cheap camper will do them just fine - because they have no plans to travel on rough roads, turn back when bad surfaces are encountered, and stick to sealed roads for 98% of their travel.
These are the people who reckon that cheap campers are fantastic, and who brag about them far and wide.

Thommo's camper will be just fine for your parents and you, if you all plan to be largely bitumen road travellers. However, if you and they examine (and more importantly - compare), a top-quality fully-Australian-built and locally tested camper - then you and they, will soon realise the shortcomings of cheap Chinese campers - particularly for off-road work.

My mechanic mate Joe, who has his workshop opposite mine, bought an el-cheapo, locally-built camper last year.
He's spent the best part of the last 6 mths adding things that should have been in the camper from the word go - strengthening many components - fitting necessary extras such as stone guard, jerry can holders - adding brakes - and installing a dozen other features, that are all part of the deal, on a well-built, more expensive camper.

In Joes case, he's quite happy doing all the "finishing-off" work, and adding features that he wasn't prepared to pay for, if he'd purchased an expensive camper.
The old story still holds true - you get exactly what you pay for, no matter what you're buying.

Cheers - Ron.
AnswerID: 488436

Reply By: Member - Dicko1979 - Sunday, Jun 17, 2012 at 20:21

Sunday, Jun 17, 2012 at 20:21
Thank you all for your replies.

In further looking around, there seems to be a number of places that sell the same China packaged camper trailer. Looking at this forum and other forums, there seems to be a regular issue with build quality. Not something my parents need the stress with now.

We will be looking at second hand hard floor campers, maybe a second hand cub fits in the price bracket.

Again thanks all.


AnswerID: 488759

Reply By: Member - Grant- Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 20:43

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 20:43
Hello Dicko.
You get what you pay for. Like the T-van owner, I bought a second hand Kimberley, cost $22 000. It needed a bit of tlc, but I could sell it today for what I paid for it 2 years ago. Look underneath a good quality camper, like a Kimberley, Ultimate, T-van, Aussie Swag, Odyssey etc, then look underneath a cheaper model. By doing this you'll quickly understand why you pay extra for a properly engineered off road camper.

AnswerID: 488850

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