16' BT with shower & toilet. Experience/Advice?

Submitted: Friday, Oct 28, 2005 at 21:40
ThreadID: 122302 Views:4296 Replies:7 FollowUps:1
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Had a call on the weekend from a mate with whom I am goining out on a ten day fishing charter in a couple of weeks. He has just paid a deposit (to reserve a slot in the manufacturing queue) for a BT which he is going to specify in January. He intends that we discuss BT configuration ideas/experiences during the fishing trip.

He plans to tow with his naturally aspirated diesel ute, I forget wether it is a Nissan or Toyota, and accordingly wants to keep the van weight down so is looking at a 16' unit with shower & toilet.

Have not seen many BT's of this configuration and was wondering if anyone has experienc/advice/comments to offer.

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Reply By: Bushtracker - Friday, Oct 28, 2005 at 23:26

Friday, Oct 28, 2005 at 23:26
Hello from the "Source".....

On the size issue, you should probably take in the experiences of the 500 or 1000 that have gone on before you... Someone of another company, might just tell you what he thinks you want to hear. You may not always like our honest feedback but it will be in your own best interests. We will treat you fairly, not just tell you what you want to hear and send you on your way. We really try and take care of you, and tell you what you need to know for your own success, as that means you travel longer and further and happier; and that is what sells our vans for us.... We also have the advantage of not just a personal opinion, but the experiences of the ones that have gone on before you. So here goes, from the Ranger.....

In 16’, for part-time travel, there is a reasonable success rate at about 75%. We have built now 37 second vans for people in the last couple of years alone, and size is the predominant issue. In the Tandem Independent Load Sharing Suspension format, which is the best, there is a real problem in 16’ with the Aerodynamics of the front of the van. The only place to fit an ensuite is in the front of the van, as you can see in the Sample Layouts on the Website unless you drop the tandem suspension and go with a single suspension that has its own drawbacks... There is just not enough room between the wheelbox and the departure angle in the back, until you get to 18’. The 16’ with the ensuite in the front and full standing headroom there, leaves you will less than half the angled aerodynamic rake of the 18’ with the ensuite in the rear of the van. Now what does this really mean to you? Well, when you are bucking a headwind, you will tow an 18’ for the same power and fuel economy with a better aerodynamic rake, as the 16’ with the blunter aerodynamic rake. You may want to consider this issue as windage and aerodynamics end up meaning more than the extra weight of an 18' in many occasions, as long as your tow vehicle is not limited to 2500 kg, because a fully loaded 18’ with water tanks full will exceed that.

The other issue is the success rate of 16’ and I consider that to be at least two years… In full time travel that figure is less than 25%… They either burn out on travel, or come back to us for a larger van. The exceptions to the rule are a single person, or smaller tow vehicle that cannot do more, but in general 16’ is very limited in storage, creature comforts, and living quarters, as well as having the blunter aerodynamics… For most people, 18’ is what we would call adequate, and our average size is now larger than that…

That is my best advice, and if one want to hedge against the risk factor, I would say they should err in favour of the 18' for all those reasons...

Regards from the Source....
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: SuziTracker - Friday, Oct 28, 2005 at 23:28

Friday, Oct 28, 2005 at 23:28
We have a 14' with a shower & toilet which started out as 16' and we cut out the 2 X 2' wardrobes (1 on either side) to get what we wanted. Have a look on the Bushtracker web site under 16' layouts and ours is simular to the one 3rd down on the right hand side except our double bed goes across the van. If you or your mate are in Brisbane, you are welcome to have a look.

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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Saturday, Oct 29, 2005 at 00:38

Saturday, Oct 29, 2005 at 00:38
Hello Brian, SuziTracker,

In ten years of Bushtracker, you and one other (from memory) are the only long term making it happy in a 14'.... I used to say the long term (over two years) success rate for 14' was Zero, but obviously there are exceptions to the rule, and I congratulate you....

My job is to try and accurately relate the overall picture, of the successes and failures, so that people can choose what is right for them. Not that they cannot do it with less, but that most have ended up wanting a bit more.... But I am happy for you!... Carry on and "Happy Trails"..

I want others to weigh up the odds, and if it makes them take a rethink, all the better... I would like to get the job done for them right the first time... And of 37 second vans we have built for people, only one has gone for a smaller van from memory.. Size has been a predominant issue.... Many that opted for say 16', have stuck it out often times because that is the limit of their tow vehicle... Fair enough... But for others, I want them to see the disadvantages, and the overall track record, and think about it before they take the plunge...

Happy Trails....
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: SuziTracker - Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 at 03:01

Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 at 03:01

You are right, there is another 14' geting around because we passed them on the Birdsville Track when we were on our way to W.A.last year. We talked to them on the CB for a while before we dropped out. I know they came from Mt Gravatt and are on the road full time. We love our 14' and wouldn't swap it for anthing else. It suits us perfectly. We've had it for 2 years now and I hope, many more years to come.

Brian & Norma.
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Reply By: TripnTaps - Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 at 05:37

Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 at 05:37
Keith & Sue (Bato Keith BOG id from memory) have a good 16' layout in their van. I saw it at Copeton 04. If I remember correctly it has the en-suite at the front but entry is at the rear of the van.

It was different to any other 16' I had seen and I was really keen to get as small a van as practical so I considered the layouts when I was deciding between 16 & 18 fter- but my hubby John (and Steve) advised an 18' was a better choice and we went that way (and very happy too)

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Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 at 09:05

Sunday, Oct 30, 2005 at 09:05
We have an 18', and i find it roomy and comfortable. I would have considered a 16' to keep down size and weight, but i have a king-sized husband who likes his space. For just two of us, i feel we could easily live in it if it "lost a couple of feet" in the middle, where the long dining table and seating can become a second double bed at present. A smaller van of course would lose on storage space though, which i would miss if on the road long term. Ours has a queen size "yacht" bed (sideways rather than island) at the end of the van, over the cut-away, but still has a big cargo area underneath which is also accessible from the outside - very convenient for fishing gear or muddy boots, mat etc.

I don't think the weight difference would be great between 16' and 18' - other with more experience may give more detail on this. Ours is tare 2200 on the licence.

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Reply By: SuzAl - Wednesday, Nov 23, 2005 at 05:27

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2005 at 05:27
We have had our 16 foot van for about 5 years now and would not go for anything larger.

We have a shower and toilet and a queen size bed (sideways) over the cut away back area. There is a huge storage area underneath with access from the outside.

There is more than enough cupboard space (I haven't been able to fill them all yet!).

We were recently at South West Rocks when some interested people were keen to have a look. They were extremely surprised with the space inside and the bench area in particular. I was asked whether I thought there was enough space and my answer could only be YES!! What more could I have in a larger van?? Just more to clean really!

We did a six month trip a couple of years ago and found the whole set up extremely comfortable.

The storage area is also big enough to store a 30 second OZ tent for any unexpected visitors.

Good luck with your choice.

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Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Wednesday, Jan 25, 2006 at 09:24

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2006 at 09:24
Andy - i take it back about saying i would miss the storage if our van was 2' shorter. We have just packed up for 3 months on the road, going to Tassie so taking clothes for all climates, and darn near enough food to last us. Outdoor table and chairs, fishing gear, chainsaw under the bed. Tools and electronic gizmos. Lots of books (travel and reading as my man is an avid reader). Still all cupboards and cargo areas seem barely half full.

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