New member - van considerations

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:39
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I am a new member here and have been lurking in the background for a few days now, reading through the posts. Turist - thanks for the invite. We are looking at selling our Ultimate Offroad Camper for something with a bit more comfort and space. I admit that I have pretty much bypassed the BT in the past because of size/weight/price considerations and still am not entirely convinced that the weight can be justified in an offroad vehicle. We are interested in a 15' van as I feel that anything longer will become restrictive because of the long overhang behind the wheels and lower the departure angles too much. We have been looking at a number of offroad caravans lately and find it relatively hard to make up our minds on what to buy. We like to be able to travel to relatively hard to get to places and have so far taken our Ultimate to locations where it has taken some considerable pounding from corrugations and rough terrain. We also realise that there will be a number of places that we have been going to where we will not be able to take any caravan. We tow with a 3.0L GU Patrol and are about to fit a DTronic power chip to it to increase the torque/power a bit. My questions mainly have to do with weight of the BT What sort of weight can I expect to see in a 15' BT? (realistic weight, not GWT) Regards Ari Palsson
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Reply By: Turist - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:41

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:41
I can't help with the weight of a 15' van and I don't think any of our members are running anything smaller than 18' so you may need to e-mail the factory, link on our page.
My B/T #1, 18', was plated at 2280 kg tare and that was an ensuite van and they are heavier.
Rough calcs are 150 kg per foot over and under the 18'.
You can deduct more if you do not have ensuite.
We had no problems towing into some so called "no van" access areas, surprised some people when we arrived at so called 4wd only campsites. Low range does wonders.
Turist
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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:42

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:42
Our 21' with ensuite and everything in it, (hamburger with the lot) was 2450kg tare, but if you compare that with other 21' on road vans it is only about 300kg heavier. The B/T has a solid aluminum frame that is much stronger than any other van that I know of including Trackmaster, Kedron, and Pheonix. If you want the luxuries that solar power gives you then the little extra weight is worth it. I believe that Bushtrackers are the strongest caravans built in Australia.
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Reply By: Motley - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:43

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:43
Ari, We have just taken delivery of a 20 ft BT which had a tare weight of 2580KG. I know it's heavy but our rationale was that we will spend the greater percentage of our time around Oz on tracks/highways where this BT will go and for the rest of the time, we will "park"the 'van and rely on our vehicle/tent etc. Afetr an extended drive back to Melb from Qld, we are very happy that we have made the right decision (for us) in terms of BT as a supplier and the configuration of the 'van. Not sure where you live, but if it's close to Melbourne, we are more than happy to show you over the 'van and chat.
Motley

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Reply By: Deleted User - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:44

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:44
Motley, Brian, Thanks for the feedback. I can see the argument as to why the BT would be somewhat heavier than many other vans. Guess I'm just a bit stuck on the mindset around the lighter towing. I currently have an Ultimate Offroad Camper, which only weighs around 900kgs gross. What do you guys use to tow your BT with? I have a 3.0L GU Patrol, would that be a suitable combination or do I need more grunt? Motley,. I live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Thanks for the offer though. Regards Ari
AnswerID: 558495

Reply By: Motley - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:45

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:45
Ari, We towed the BT back from Qld with a Lexus 470 - 4.7Litre petrol V8. It handled the job well but we knew the 'van was back there, particularly on long climbs. From a fuel economy and torque perspective, we will look in the future at a Land Cruiser Turbo Deisel. Main reasons are the fact that we have had Toyotas for 20 years of off road driving and camping and for us it's the right performance/size for towing and tackling difficult off road tracks if we want to leave the 'van and "go bush"
Motley

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Reply By: Deleted User - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:46

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:46
Ari,
The other thing you might consider is the running weight of the vans. In running trim with say two tanks of water a BT18 would be about 2850 - 2950kg. Mine is 2400 Tare for a 18. This is a big decision ..... try to hook up 2750 or so to Patrol and go for run to see how it feels (if you havent already). For the tow vehicle going from an Ultimate to a BT is like my wife trying to give me a piggyback ! <smile>

BTW I would love an Ultimate as well as BT .... have the best of both worlds. Quick beach camping in Ultimate or extended off- road touring in BT.

Anthony
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Reply By: Turist - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:47

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:47
In my previous reply to this thread I forgot to mention that if you decide to go with the smaller BT, 14/16', you will probably only have a "2 wheeler" with a further large weight saving.
Why not tootle down the hill to the van show opening on the 26th. BT staff should be able to give you some answers.
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Reply By: Deleted User - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:48

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:48
I would really like to hear from anyone with the 14 ft unit - also anyone who has a pop top version - factory seems prepared to supply but otherwise dead against them - but there's an awful lot of tracks that I'd hate to go down in a full height van - my OKA is 2.55 metres and we have to watch the heigfht a fair bit.

How much of the weight of a BT is the interior fittings?

Collyn
AnswerID: 558499

Reply By: Noosa Fox - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:49

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:49
Our van is 3.00 metres high to the top of the air conditioner. I understand that they don't like making pop tops because they have to make the roof a lot stronger and this adds additional weight up high, which could be a bit of a problem on bush tracks. As for tow vehicles I have an F250 7.3lt diesel. I know an ex doctor in Adelaide that has about an 18ft B/T and tows with a 3.0lt Patrol and another friend has a 16ft tandem axle B/T and he has just changed from 4800 petrol to 3.0lt deisel patrol. The doc says it is good on the open road but lacks a bit of power going up hills. I saw a small B/T once that was about 13 or 14 ft on a single axle that was a normal type axle setup, but I don't have any contact details for them. He told me that it was the smallest van the B/T had ever made.
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Reply By: Deleted User - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:50

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:50
Thanks for info Brian

There is one problem with many (most) forms of independent suspension in that the roll centre is nearly at ground level - instead of vaguely shackle height - and as a result any rolling causes the top to move further out . i,e. sideways. Hence the less weight up top the better, but if one does without top cupboards there's a heap of weight to be saved there.

Against that of course there's usually more ground clearance with independent suspension.
Collyn
AnswerID: 558501

Reply By: Deleted User - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:51

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:51
Hello Arai, We have a 14' BT. You are right in selecting a shorter van. We go places the bigger ones only dream about. Have been on the road since Feb 2001. We weighed the van in at 2900 kg all up up on the Cairns public weighbridge. That includes 240 litres water, all the gear necessary to live away from home continuously and about 100 kg of agate and fossiking finds. We had been out to Agate Creek and O'Briens. The Patrol weighed in at 3200 kg, 220 litres diesel, 80 litres water and all the gear. We are pulling the van with a 4.2 turbo diesel Patrol. Suggest you get a weight distribution kit, very handy on the black and most unsealed roads, take it off when you start to go along a heavily rutted track. You will bend the bars. We also kitted out the Patrol with the heaviest springs/shocks available from Old Man Emu. Pedders are also very good. Have fun CU John and Sandra
AnswerID: 558502

Reply By: Deleted User - Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:52

Saturday, Apr 12, 2003 at 17:52
Ari, A bit more from John and Sandra. Go for single bunks, saves a heap of room in the van. I am over 6 foot Sandra is 5 foot. My bunk is longer than Sandra's by about 200 mm. In the 14 foot van we have shower/toilet, hot water, solar, large pantry, etc., etc. The twin bunk saves about 3-4 foot on the van. John and Sandra
AnswerID: 558503

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