TGINTL's BT Week

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 08:57
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What a week! Bushtrackers here, Bushtrackers there; everywhere we looked there were BTs. Everyone was so helpful it was kind of unbelievable that people would open their homes and arms to us and spend hours and hours teaching, explaining, and demonstrating. As you read through the thread, most highlighted items are shown in the posted photo album. For the nerds, I used MS Digital Image Pro 7.0 to crop and then "save special" as a "web-ready picture" to my hard drive before uploading. Does a great job and you have a very small kb photo. On Sunday the 11th, we visited with Greg and Helen and were magnetically drawn to his infamous boxes on the drawbar and rear of his rolling home, and of course we dried out from the heat on the clothes drying rack permanently installed on the right side of the van. We ordered all three items!! PS: Greg and Helen do not have any ball-weight problems!! Additional highlights of this visit were: 1. The use of swimming pool "noodles" - you know, the long round thingies that kids put under their arms and swim with - cut just larger than the width of the frig shelves, and jammed into the front of the shelf when traveling to keep stuff from moving around. 2. The demonstrated differences between the Hayman Reece WDH (a straight bar that fouls the drawbar) and the Reece 54970 WDH (more in the shape of an "L" so that it hangs below the drawbar. 3. If you build a canopy for your tinny, make sure it folds down and secures completely into the tinny so that you do not have to remove the canopy when you use the boat loader. 4. That checker plate that seals the lower portion of the entry door (has a name?) is secured to the van with a "T" for easy use. The "T" can be a trap! Remove the "T" and secure the door with a bolt for the few times you use the "sealer" in wet and dusty conditions. 5. Have the steps bolted not welded to the BT so that they can be removed. 6. Have the sides of the seats cut down so that when you sit on the edge you are sitting on the seat and not on the wood edge. We requested no more than 25mm to hold in the seats. 6. We looked at some of their movies where they got bogged and also catching lots of fish. Convinced me to get a digital camcorder so that we too can have movies, download into our computer, and burn onto a DVD disc to send to family etc. Great visit! BTW - "Gwen" our Garman Street Pilot III (Brian Fox and I each bought one during his visit in Melbourne) performed great taking us from place to place plugged into the cig lighter and the external antenna magnetically attached to the roof. Really takes the stress out of trying to find a location in unknown territory. Bright an early Monday morning we started our 2 1/2 day marathon with BTI. Everyone - yes everyone! - was fantastic. Steve was an interesting person to meet! For an American sailor he was quite the cowboy with complete dress and his German Shepard puppy. Under other circumstances - perhaps after the van is completed and delivered - it would be very interesting to swap adventure stories. Steve and I had agreed in advance that Tracy would do the purchase and options review. Tracy was calm, cool, and collected and everything went smoothly (no pressure sales - what we didn't want that was standard BTI we didn't take - what we said we were going to provide was cool and would be installed [$TBA] - and what we wanted fabricated, e.g., a 40l fuel tank for the Webasto or stainless panels for our fridge would be taken care of [$TBA]. Pete did our tour. For those of you that have done the "tour" you know that at least half of it is explaining the differences between BTs and other manufacturers. Well, after a couple of comparisons I told Pete "lets not waste time talking about other mfgs as we have already made a deposit. We have already bought, stop selling, and just tell us about our new home!" He was great. Did lapse into comparisons a couple of times which I stopped in midstream. We clearly interrupted his script. He knows the BT inside and out and is a wonderful source of information. Paul did the design work with us (3 hours first day, 8 - 5 second day, and 2 hours third day). Bernie the carpenter/cabinet maker spent about 5 hours with us adjusting the layout and doing all of the measuring so that we knew right then and there what would or would not fit. We were very lucky. When we went to BTI, we had a plan in mind that had the sink along the annex wall and either a desk or cupboard in the rear. There was a van under construction -Bachman - that had the sink in the rear. Fantastic layout; very efficient; we immediately adopted their floor plan as our template and made our own tweaks to the plan. To all those future buyers that will be visiting BTI, if you are doing anything "different" in the layout and design of the cabinets, make sure that Bernie joins the design discussion. It will eliminate lots of headaches afterwards and also probably eliminate lots of changes. When we left BTI we told Steve and Tracy that we didn't think there would be any changes as everything had been so thorough while we were there. Ha! Steve said he would be waiting for my call on the following Monday with at least 3 - 4 changes. Ha! Ha! After visiting with Anthony, Bob Lemon, and a really long visit with Griff and sleeping in his beautiful "Beast" with a capital "B", we emailed a long list of "tweaks", lots of pictures (some of which I will post for Angie and others), and when the "revised" floor plan is received from Paul I will post that too. The result of the long list is that Tracy took over from Paul and responded very professionally to my lengthy email, ending his email as follows: "I feel that we have gone over all notes... and there is quite a few of them !!!, so now can we please put these details to bed with a sign off and get on with the job." OK! Some of the future Boggers reading this post have never been to the factory. Quite a professional operation. I have posted a few pictures of the BTs in various phases of construction so they can see what it is all about! There is no question that BTI makes the most over-engineered off-road caravan in Australia - or perhaps anywhere else too. If you are trying to decide between a BT and some other manufacturer, a visit to the factory if not the comments on this site by all of the happy Boggers should be the decision-maker. Needless to say we are bonkers over our new home and have a severe case of the BATTS. Anthony, a real live "Mr. Mom"!! Perhaps he should give seminars to teach us "men" how he charmed Cindy into taking care of him in the lifestyle to which he believes he is entitled. I think Anthony is really Harry Potter in disguise. On a more serious note - wow! You should see his cars - they are so clean you can eat off the chassis. I mean it. I have never seen a car where someone has taken the time to scrub the underside much less clean and polish in such a way that there are no buff marks in the paint finish. Cars upon cars and a motorcycle that was Anthony's and Cindy's wheels the first year of their relationship. And you should see the photo of them when they first met. What a fox! Not you Anthony!! Oh yeah, more serious note. We spent a lot of time talking about the proper way to setup the F-250 after it has been loaded and how to hitch the car to the van (not the reverse!). Anthony indicated that he would post a thread setting forth all of this valuable information. Anthony highlights and things to consider: 1. Remember when Anthony posted a thread about not tapping into the rear light wiring and instead using the plug that Ford provides? Here we are looking at that plug. 2. Anthony's mattress is super heavy - I mean heavy! Yet after he bent the frame under the bed with the originally installed strut (you can see the little pigtail in the photo for the original attachment), he reversed the angle and installed a much stronger strut. The bed doesn't open quite as far; however, it opens and closes with ease. We requested Tracy to make the change for us - done! 3. Put nonskid on the steps and drawbar. Prevents a lot of accidents. 4. Gas-struts on the cargo doors hold them open when working inside. BTI said they would install! 5. Locks for the spare wheels and the gas bottles - neat and clean! 6. For carrying your annex poles, heeeeer's Anthony and his home fabricated carrier! Thanks Anthony for sharing you BT wisdom. The next day we drove south to Bob Lemon's home and of course walked right into more and more changes (Steve/Tracy - you were right about the changes! Good thing you expect them to happen!!). Bob picked up his BT before Christmas, did a shakedown at Copeton (said it was beautiful - will not be joining us in September), and is shortly off for a month in Tassi. Bob has a lot of interesting additions which we too incorporated. 1. Bob is mounting a scooter on the drawbar. Photo shows mount during construction by his brother-in-law Bill. Wish I had a rele that was so talented! 2. A towel bar over the sink is very handy; we are also putting them over the toilet and under the ensuite window for our bath towels. BTI will install what you provide. 3. Just as you open the door, in the wall on the right Bob had his water tank selector switches and a key rack installed in that void. We are doing the same; however, we requested right side hinges to access the keys from the step. Note that they also installed on velcro dots a small dustpan and brush! 4. Also at the door is an outside light switch panel so that in one location you can control all of your outside lights. Nice at night if you hear a noise to be able to light the area 360 degrees around the van. We are installing the FR11s that Griff choose: two on the annex side, one over the propane bottles, one over the shower on the right side, and one in the rear. We are also installing two FR11s one each side of the canopy in the F-250. Bob's panel also lights the cargo area lights. Thanks again Bob and Louise for a wonderful visit and a super lunch! A day's break. Jak said she was BT satiated; I do not understand how that can happen. It has "only just begun". Friday we flew to Sydney and Saturday we went to see The "Beast". Our home away from home for Saturday night. Well, Griff and company put on the dog!! Coffees, nibbles before dinner, drinks , filet steaks for dinner, coffees, slept and showered in a BT - wow! - coffees, breakfast of pancakes and eggs, and bacon on his Coleman Grill, and more coffees! Can't have too much coffee (Griff making more !), and of course, we are rearranging things so that we too can have an obscene coffee maker (also looking at other options before making the plunge - no pun intended). If you are not satiated yet, here are some more options to consider. We choose so many from everyone that Tracy rather than Paul responded to our 25 point email. Highlights of The "Beast": 1. Griff didn't waste any time in getting down to brass tacks. What you are looking at is a hose tail for filling the water tanks. By making this up you put the tail into the tank and it allows the air to vent around the tail so that the tank fills quicker. The tail is about 400mm. 2. Internal and external lighting. 3. Griff filling the toilet cassette. Clearly underscores a reason to have an outside shower installed if only for the toilet cassette. We will put our outside light above this area for night time showers etc. 4. Griff's outdoor speakers x 2. Great sound. 5. In the ensuite note the Flix mixers for the sink and shower and note there is no white plastic shower fixture. This is a Camec part and BTI will obtain if requested. 6. Griff couldn't do enough. On the grill are pancakes, eggs, and bacon. He thinks his Coleman Road Trip Grill is an all in one camping plus plus plus. 7. The Dakar wonder battery charger/inverter. This is the one we are going to install unless someone tells me why the package chosen by Cracker (PROsine 1800i inverter with AC transfer switch, TRUEcharge 40i battery charger, E-xpert battery monitor & C60 solar controller) is a better way to go. I Don't Know! Also pictured are the remote unit for the Dakar and the PL 40 Solar controller. 8. Here are a couple of views of Griff's annexe. Incredible. We are going to put windows in the rollups that will be covered with canvass so that on inclement days you can have light without weather. 9. When the annex is up, how do you keep the door open? You ask BTI to add a hook; and they will! Well Boggers, that's all! EXCEPT - Jump over to the photo album entitled: TGINTL's Hedonistic Land Yacht - and there you will see our floor plan and construction notes. Cheers, tgintl/jay & jackie PS: Angie, enjoy the photos; good night Ian - Angie is at the pics.
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Reply By: Bushtracker Buck & Babe - Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 08:59

Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 08:59
Hi Jay, You are right, what a week! I loved mine when I got to catch up with Brian, Anthony and Motley (and the love of their lives - their BTs!). Oh and their partners, kids and dogs too. LOL. And then on top of that there was the Brisbane show where a few of us Boggers met up for the first time. It was great. Love the photos. They explain so much. If you are looking for a home for the other 150+ of them not posted here, send me a few at a time on my email. Would love to see them. Okay, now I have some questions for you and/or the members of the group around some of the things you looked at/ordered etc. 1) The front and rear boxes and clothes line you ordered - was this from BT or Hirst enterprises? Either way, any idea of cost please and if it was Hirst enterprises are they going into production? 2) Where did the Reece WDH come from? BT or did the Hirsts source it themselves? 3) Why is it so important to have the steps bolted on for removal? Have owners found problems with them scraping whilst travelling in the wilds? 4) I would guess that the side of the seats being trimmed down would also work on a cafe style dinette? Did you ask for the foot area to slope back into the base of the seat a little like FTroop did on theirs? 5) What is the advantage of the Garmin Street Pilot over the Trackranger system (that Brian already has and I thought was happy with)? Or is he going to use it with the laptop? He might answer this bit when he gets back to home base? 6) How big is the existing Webasto fuel tank if you are having a 40L fabricated? Where are they going to store it? 7) Why not simply have a hook and eye type holder for the BT doors to stop them closing when working inside? 8) Does Griff do his eggs sunnyside up or over easy? 9) Do you mean that you are going to put clear perspex windows in as well as the canvas part and the mesh part. This is what I have planned but not sure looking at the length of Griff's long wall whether it would all become too heavy or get horribly creased when storing it away. Well think that is enough for now. If anybody else as well as Jay wants to have a go at answering any of these I would be grateful. BATTS are running riot at the moment. Thanks again for the photos. Glad you had a great week. Now it is just the packing etc to get through over the next few months until delivery. Angie 188 days to go (and only about 130 of them working ones!)
AnswerID: 560912

Reply By: Luvntravln - Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 09:00

Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 09:00
Hi Angie Knew you would have lots of Qs ! Taken in order: 1.The boxes are from Greg and I suggest you contact him for details on costs and availability. Do it soon as they are storing all of their stuff and moving into their BT permanently sometime in May. 2. WDHs are not from BT. They only install the AT135 hitch. I or Ford will source the Reece. 3. Greg is the first to suggest this change. He had one set torn off in the wilds. Not a big cost if you look at my costings. 4. We are having a cafe style dinette and the foot area does slope back into the base. 5. Brian has to answer this. 6. The standard tank is 10L and is a plastic bottle mounted behind the spare wheel and in cold weather would last just a few days. The 40L is installed in Brian's BT and seems to me to be the way to go. 7. Good question - I am following Anthony's lead rather than reinventing the wheel - might have to do with the size of the doors - we are having extra large on both sides. Did you note that although normally you loose the drawers by the bed with extra large doors, we have asked them to put the runners on the top of the drawers instead of the bottom where they normall are attached. That way while we will loose about 1" of space at the top of the opening for the runner, when we need to completely open the space we can remove the drawer. I have asked Tracy if the table top can be raised higher so that the runner is above the door opening and then we will not loose any space. 8. Sunnyside up! But for you?????????????????? 9. The mossy mesh will be sewn to the main wall. The canvass that covers the netting when raining will be attached at the top by a zipper and zip up from the botton on the sides with velcro at the bottom. There will be ties to hold it up when completely open.That first canvass piece will include the perspex window. On the sides their will be a window over the mesh next to the door, and a window in the upper half of the door covering. In the front the windows will only be in the middle third of each rollup. I too am concerned about weight. A second piece of canvass which is sewn at the top of the window canvass will cover the perspex when we want privacy. For storage, we are planning on rolling the window attachments separate from the annex walls which will be folded. Having watched Griff put it up almost alone (Jak helped a little) we figure that together pulling out the awning, putting up the three walls, and attaching the six windows will take about 20 minutes and will only be done in places where we are staying at least three or more nights. We are also going to have extra canvas made the same size of the windows without the perspex so that at times when we know there is good weather we will not attach the perspex windows. 115 days to delivery - oh the labor pains - so much to do, to sell, to buy! Love it!! Cheers, tgintl/jay 10.
AnswerID: 560913

Reply By: Noosa Fox - Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 09:01

Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 at 09:01
Angie, The Track Ranger mapping system is all on Topographic maps and is suited for country areas where all the little tracks are shown and you can see from the contours how steep the area is. I have been told by a number of people that the OZ Explorer system is far better than the Track Ranger and uses the same maps. The Garmin Street Pilot III that we both bought is a navigation system that has "City Navigator Maps" installed with all the streets of the major cities through out the country listed. I also bought the Metro Maps that have all the streets of nearly all the other smaller towns throughout Australia. Any street in City Navigator can be selected and then the system will guide you by the shortest or quickest route to the address with voice quidance as well. The girls no longer have to turn the maps around to try and guide us fellows to an address. The only problem with this is that it doesn't take into account how steep the roads are. It took us along a road in the Gold Coast hinterland where the sign said NO Caravans, the 13% grade was pretty speed in places. In the Metro maps the system will plot your course, but they haven't got any navigation available for them. Still it is very useful when in country towns like at Lorne when we were going to Motleys home. When we arrived in Lorne both his phones were in use so we just followed our map to his address, only problem was I then had to find somewhere to turn around and park the van, and where they live is very hilly with great views over the town and beaches. We both had the standard memory card changed from 64 meg to 128meg so that all the maps will fit on the one card. We purchased from Johnny Appleseed GPS who have an outlet in Brisbane and Melbourne and their price was over $500 cheaper than Sound in Motions price. The Street Pilot as a transfer rate (baud) of 9600 where the Track Ranger is 4800 so if you want to run both programs on the Laptop then there is a bit a fidling to be done with 1 GPS unit or otherwise you require 2 GPS units. By running Street Pilot through the Laptop as well you can have different scales. I found that most of the time on main roads, the Track Ranger system was more of a toy. The Street Piolt actually guides you to addresses and we no longer require multiple street directories for capital cities. At this stage they don't know what costs will be involved to upgrade the maps when latter versions become available with all the new streets included. Hope this helps, Brian
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