New member and advice regarding purchase

Submitted: Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 05:37
ThreadID: 122467 Views:46392 Replies:17 FollowUps:17
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Hi to everyone on the forum,

I've just joined as I'm interested in purchasing an offroad van as serious as a Bushtracker. I apologise for the ramble that is about to begin, as I know I have a lot of questions.
I'm also comparing brands, so what I have listed below has also been posted elsewhere so I can gain a comparative view.

Currently I have an Olympic 16' (internal) custom built 'offroad' pop-top which has just about everything that opens and shuts: shower (internal and external) and toilet, 240W solar, 300A batteries, 300W inverter, 40A smart charger, external lockers for BBQ, full large windowed annexe, 150 litre 3 way fridge, 2 x 85 litre water tanks, etc. etc. This unit is only 18 months old, so the decision to upgrade doesn't come lightly. It is a nice unit, but I'd call it semi-offroad and it is a little small for what we really want. Also, I'd like to go the compressor fridge instead on the 3 way - and the 230 litre unit looks like it'd have more than enough room to keep my stubbies cold when I head north (and more capable than the 3 way)! The washing machine has sold the minister for finance (she hates waiting around in caravan park laundries). The van is slimline so it fits in the garage - it was actually sized to make sure it did fit.

I've looked through the photos on the site and you all have rigs most would be envious of.

I have a few questions which I'm hoping a few of you have gone through the same exercise.

1. What is the best way to get rid of the current pop-top and get top dollar? rvpoint? trading post? consignment? Any experiences would be appreciated.

2. The van we are looking at is in the 19/20ft (internal) range. Does anyone with a similar unit and have any negatives to say about them?

3. If you were doing it all again, what would you include in your van that you missed out on/forgot to order/have seen since ordering/taking delivery?

4. Who has a front load washing machine (I've been told the Dometic 3kg is the most space efficient - don't know about the best)? Can you run the washer while free-camping - how much water and how many Ah are removed from the battery during a full cycle? Is it suitably sized to keep up with the washing every 2-3 days without having to do a million loads (1 or 2 would be acceptable)

5. Which fridge is the better to buy - Vitrifrigo or Coolmatic (about 230 litres)? I've noticed a number of you have made adjustments to hinges of the Coolmatics (I think) - why? Would the Vitrifigo solve this problem? I believe Bushtracker go with the Coolmatic because it has an internal light and the thermostat is better accessible - perhaps the one where the door doesn't fall off would be a better option? Are these fridges as good as they are cracked up to be? Has anyone monitored the temp? I find the 3 way has to be adjusted with the outside temperature which is a real pain, but my 40L Engel just stays at the same thermostat setting regardless of it being 20C or 40C outside - I like my beer at just above freezing - 0-1C is perfect, but the Dometic can't be trusted. How many Ah do they use per day?

6. How are Bushtracker with regards to warranty issues, especially since I live on the NSW Central Coast and they are in Brisbane?

7. How attentive were Bushtracker during construction? How much input were you allowed and how many times did you visit the factory during construction? Did you always feel welcome?

8. What problems have you had with your van and was the solution solved amicably and expediently? Did you need repairs from a third party in your local rea? Did Bushtracker pick up the tab without drama/delay?

9. How much work did you need to do after delivery to get the van the way you wanted it and to get the bugs out? There were a lot of bugs in the Olympic that I needed to get out - undersized wiring between batteries, poorly placed fuse box, incorrectly mounted battery charger, inadequate sealing around the shower, inadequate plumbing between tanks, no boot lights, flimsy locker doors etc. All have been corrected now but a lot of my time was taken up doing the corrective work.

10. Have you found the missing front boot an issue? I noticed some have added rear storage areas that look great and practical and I think I'd go down that path. Did Bushtracker make them or did you make them yourselves?

11. Lastly, and this is a big ask as I don't want to put anyone out (but I have found most love to show off their new van), does any live on/near the NSW Central Coast that would be willing to spend an hour or so allowing me to look over their van?

I'd like to make sure I don't go through this again in another 18 months, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 06:31

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 06:31
Welcome to the group cvtripper.

I will answer your questions as you have numbered them.

1. As for getting rid of present van I can't comment as we didn't have one at the time.

2. We have a 21ft BT that was built on May 2001. The van was built exactly as we had ordered it, but after using it for a while you think of ways to improve it for your circumstances. It is not that there was anything wrong with it, but a lot of us like to tinker and fit our own personal touches, rather than get the manufacturer to do everything.

3. Since having our van we have added, corner support legs, an extra battery and solar panel, 2 extra water tanks, water filter, mirror, external speakers, rear view camera, webasto heater and changed the fridge venting from external to internal. We have also added numerous little personal gadgets that suit us, but may not suit others.

4. We don't have any washing machine so cannot comment.

5. We have a 190 litre Coolmatic fridge and WAECO have changed the hinging of the main door to prevent the problems that the earlier ones had. They seem to work well, and are probably on a par with the Vitrofridge as I think they both use the same compressor unit.

6. Our van has done over 100,000 km and last month we had a leak develop in one window and they pulled it out and re-sealed it for us last week without any problems. I think that you will find that they are probably the BEST caravan manufacturer to deal with when it comes to warranty claims.

7. BTi staff all treat their customers well and if you want something that can be practically done, then they will do it for you. If you want something that they believe would not be safe or would be too heavy for a caravan then they will tell you why they don't want to fit it. You can attend the factory at anytime and you will always be welcome. People who live close by often visit the factory every week or 2 and take photos etc during construction.

8. We were involved in an accident with our van, and the insurance company did the repairs in Melbourne near where the accident happened. The repairs were not done properly and BTi had to fix up their mistakes. They have since fixed up other minor faults that were probably the fault of the Melbourne Repairer, but BTi have fixed them under warranty.

9. The van was built as ordered and there were NO BUGS that had to be sorted out after delivery. The changes that we have made were done so, so we could personalise our van with gadgets that we wanted, that could not be expected to be put in by a caravan manufacturer. Things like battery fitment anw wiring etc were all done to a high standard, and you won't require any modifications to be done like a lot of mass produced vans do.

10. If you have a front bed, that uses the space above the spare wheels, then you can have large door side hatches on both sides at the front that will give you far more, and more accessable storage space than a front boot will. Several people have had after market boxes put on the rear, but you should be very careful about doing so as it can reduce the ball weight and make the van unstable, and weight put in a box so far behind the axel will cause a harmonic affect when travelling on bouncy roads. These Boxes are NOT recommended by BTi and I doubt that they would fit one for you. Most BT owners choose not to go down that path also.

11. We live in Noosa, so cannot help there, but we have had a number of people come to our home to discuss there plans prior or after ordering a van. I think that you will find that most BT owners will discuss their van with you and show you through their van.

Good luck Brian.
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Follow Up By: cvtripper - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 09:57

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 09:57
Brian,

Thank you for your reply.

> 2. We have a 21ft BT that was built on May 2001. The van was built exactly as we had ordered it, but after using it for a while you think of ways to improve it for your circumstances. It is not that there was anything wrong with it, but a lot of us like to tinker and fit our own personal touches, rather than get the manufacturer to do everything.

I agree and I have no doubt I will be the same - I'd just like to the more difficult things - the things that require cabinet work or that are best done at the manufacturing stage right upfront so there are no nigling annoyances (with myself) that I should have had this or that done.

> 3. Since having our van we have added, corner support legs, an extra battery and solar panel, 2 extra water tanks, water filter, mirror, external speakers, rear view camera, webasto heater and changed the fridge venting from external to internal. We have also added numerous little personal gadgets that suit us, but may not suit others.

Could I ask who many water tanks you now have and how much solar and battery capacity? Why did you add, were you running out of power?
The better hafl is keen to find out about the Webasto heater as she can't stand the cold. Do you mind saying how much this cost and did you install it yourself?

> 5. We have a 190 litre Coolmatic fridge and WAECO have changed the hinging of the main door to prevent the problems that the earlier ones had. They seem to work well, and are probably on a par with the Vitrofridge as I think they both use the same compressor unit.

Good to hear. Would you go the Coolmatic again, or do you think you would go Vitro?

> 6. Our van has done over 100,000 km and last month we had a leak develop in one window and they pulled it out and re-sealed it for us last week without any problems. I think that you will find that they are probably the BEST caravan manufacturer to deal with when it comes to warranty claims.

You van was built in May 2001 and they sare still fixing things under warranty. That is excellent. How much warranty do they provide? I don't remember reading that anywhere.

> 8. We were involved in an accident with our van, and the insurance company did the repairs in Melbourne near where the accident happened. The repairs were not done properly and BTi had to fix up their mistakes. They have since fixed up other minor faults that were probably the fault of the Melbourne Repairer, but BTi have fixed them under warranty.

Again, well done to Bushtracker. I have a the feeling that they would be the only ones to do a proper repair as the other repairers are likely to use standard caravan parts of a lesser quality.

> 9. The van was built as ordered and there were NO BUGS that had to be sorted out after delivery. The changes that we have made were done so, so we could personalise our van with gadgets that we wanted, that could not be expected to be put in by a caravan manufacturer. Things like battery fitment anw wiring etc were all done to a high standard, and you won't require any modifications to be done like a lot of mass produced vans do.

Exactly where are the batteries installed? I have been unable to determine this from pics on their website.

> 10. If you have a front bed, that uses the space above the spare wheels, then you can have large door side hatches on both sides at the front that will give you far more, and more accessable storage space than a front boot will. Several people have had after market boxes put on the rear, but you should be very careful about doing so as it can reduce the ball weight and make the van unstable, and weight put in a box so far behind the axel will cause a harmonic affect when travelling on bouncy roads. These Boxes are NOT recommended by BTi and I doubt that they would fit one for you. Most BT owners choose not to go down that path also.

Yes, the front bed is the way I'd go, and the lockers both sides look the part. Could you tell me what size the opening is please?
I saw a pic of a rear hinge down box by one of the other members which I thought was a great idea. Seems it was shallow and was just used for lighter gear like hoses etc and this is the way I was thinking would be a good use without overloading.
Seems like it must have been a home made/organised job. I know a great sheetie who could whip that up for me in nice checker plate for a good price.

> 11. We live in Noosa, so cannot help there, but we have had a number of people come to our home to discuss there plans prior or after ordering a van. I think that you will find that most BT owners will discuss their van with you and show you through their van.

Never mind. I'd love to come up and have a look at your van. Noosa is a great place and no doubt a great place to live. I'm envious!

David
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Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:22

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:22
DAVID,
In answer to your querries.

WATER TANKS
We now have 5 water tanks but only usually fill them all when going into remote areas without a reliable water supply. It is great to be able to stay in the bush for longer period and know that you have plenty of water.

BATTERIES & SOLAR We had 3 batteries and 3 solar but upgraded to 4 and 4 mainly so that we can run both the Van fridge and Engel Fridge off the van batteries and solar for extended periods. I found the 3 and 3 worked fine for the main fridge but the Engel added on as well just caused us to drop power.
I haven't had much to do with the Vitro fridges, those that have them seem happy with them, and we are happy with the Waeco, so if we have to replace we will make some enquiries then.
The location of batteries is usually under the seats, but we had ours fitted under the bed, so as to give a better ball weight. Too much is better than too little when it comes to ball weight.

WARRANTY Period
I think the official warranty period is 2 years. BTi will fill you in if you ask.

REAR HINGED BOX
The van you saw with the rear hinged box, is probably the one on Conrads van and his van is a triaxel 27ft van. It is all perfectly balanced and extremely well manufactured. The box was manufactured by a friend of his on the Gold Coast, but the down side of it was the cost. I believe it was several thousand dollars, well out of the reach of most of us.

Brian
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Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:28

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:28
Forgot about the WEBASTO

They were around the $2000 mark when we had ours installed by Bushtracker a couple of years ago. Sorry, you will have to ask BTi what the current price is.

Brian
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Reply By: Tassie Bushies - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 08:23

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 08:23
Hi cvtripper.
If you want the best, then there is no other choice.
We have a BT20ft new Aug 2005, what a beauty!
Everything that Brian has said is correct, about BTs & BTi. I can't fault them, a couple of little things to fix at new, took them half a hr. to rectify as we were leaving the area one week later. Have had no need to go back since (We are in Tassie for the summers) anything that we want they do by email or phone.

There are only two things that we would change (Both my fault)
1 We wouldn't bother putting in tank guages, as we never use them.
2 We have a L shaped dinette, but the bottom of the L (the bit that sticks out into the van) would be much better if it were 1100mm out from the wall, instead of the 1mtr that it is, as we could then sit (Cosy/Cosy) side by side, comfortably.

We will be going back through NSW in May or June, or will be at Thornton near Newcastle from about 10 or 11 May if you would like a look.
There is a waiting list, so if you are fair dinkum, order a 20Fft ASAP as you have a reasonable time to change it up or down a foot later.
Regards Peter.

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Follow Up By: cvtripper - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 10:06

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 10:06
Hi Peter,

Thank you for yoiur response. I've added my comments.

>If you want the best, then there is no other choice.

I suspected I'd get an unbiased opinion! LOL

>We have a BT20ft new Aug 2005, what a beauty!
>Everything that Brian has said is correct, about BTs & BTi. I can't fault them, a couple of little things to fix at new, took them half a hr. to rectify as we were leaving the area one week later. Have had no need to go back since (We are in Tassie for the summers) anything that we want they do by email or phone.

What have you needed done by email/phone? Any warranty issues? How were they handled - you fixed, they sent parts? they reimbursed your costs for parts purchased?

>There are only two things that we would change (Both my fault)
>1 We wouldn't bother putting in tank guages, as we never use them.

Picked this one up and agree - if there is 4 or 5 tanks, if one is empty you have 75 or 80% left the resolution is as good as the gauges provide anyway.

>2 We have a L shaped dinette, but the bottom of the L (the bit that sticks out into the van) would be much better if it were 1100mm out from the wall, instead of the 1mtr that it is, as we could then sit (Cosy/Cosy) side by side, comfortably.

Only 100mm in it?

>We will be going back through NSW in May or June, or will be at Thornton near Newcastle from about 10 or 11 May if you would like a look.

I just might take you up on that offer, if you have the time and you really don't mind. I'm near Gosford, so a trip to Thornton is only about 45 mins.

>There is a waiting list, so if you are fair dinkum, order a 20Fft ASAP as you have a reasonable time to change it up or down a foot later.

I need to make sure this is the way to go before I place an order. Provided they are flexible after the order is made, that would be acceptable to me. I'm told the current schedule is August/September.
The finer points can be sorted out over the long months of waiting....

Thanks

David

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Follow Up By: Tassie Bushies - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 07:14

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 07:14
Hi cvtripper.
Well Mr David - you did say that you had a lot of questions, & I guess that if you don't ask you don't know, so.

We had a window that had a small leak on the side near the stove area, found it the night before Copeton 2005 so spoke with Tracy who was there for a couple of days, he came & had a look, gave me instructions to rectify it. Cost to me about half a matchbox full (size) of sillicon. result - no leak now.

Had a yellow flame in gas oven, not much experience with gas so sent email to Steve, next day someone rang me from BTi (not sure but I think it was Peter) who after a short conversation decided yes we had a problem, & he would get the gasman to ring me. Gasman rang that arvo on my mobile, as we were at the local School Show I asked him to ring back in 1 hr, which he did (exactly) he talked me through the adjustment - result oven fixed. cost to me 1 email.

Sorry if I confused you about the size of our dinette, ours is L shaped 2150mm long x 1000mm wide (But I would make it 1100mm wide next time)

Note in your diary to email me about 1st or 2nd May, & we can set up a looksee at Thornton, if you are still interested then.
Regards Peter.

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Reply By: schommys - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 08:25

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 08:25
Hi cvtripper
I agree with what Brian wrote. I'm so damn proud of our new 18 foot BT that I even drag strangers passing off the street to show them through our van.We are in the northern beaches of Sydney, so if you are coming down this way, email me and I will be pleased to show you through a BT. But, we will be GONE in 6 weeks.
Regards AL
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Follow Up By: cvtripper - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 10:13

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 10:13
Hi AL,

That's what I love to hear - proud and happy owners!
Caravans seem to be in that area where there is a lot of interest from other vanners - you show me yours, I'll show you mine - and I think a lot of competitiveness!
I've seen the price of some of the onroad vans and I know the build standards are not good and they are pushing the price of the BT, so I can see the value - but not having had a good look over one, I can't tell, except from the advertising, what the build quality and finish is really like.

Where abouts on the Northern beaches are you? I might pay you a visit if you're happy with that (seems you'd love to show it off).
Are you in a park or waiting in your driveway for the house handover? ;-)

David
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Follow Up By: schommys - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 18:48

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 18:48
Hi David,
the van is at Newport in our (sloping)driveway, so it's not too level, but to get a level van was an optional extra.! Email me for more details if reqired.

AL
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Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 08:58

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 08:58
Hi cvtripper,

I have a 19' bti collected in June 2005 and we live in it on the road full time. Spent about a year doing detailed research and talking to owners of various makes of vans. I won't go into the ins and outs of that research other that to say that a bt's were a clear winner.

answering your questions in the order presented:

1. Cannot comment as I was not a previous owner - suggest you do all of the items you list and sell it privately if you can - the agents commission may as well go into your pocket.

2 My rig is 19' with 3 x batts, 3 x 125 watt solars, 2x showers, full ensuite, 1200 watt pure sinewave inverter, 50 amp two stage auto battery charger, 4 x 80L water tanks - one is dedicated potable. Remote hot water switching, flat screen tv - locks to the wall for travelling, extra long A' frame extension. Extended 'foot lockers on either side of the bed. This provides a step up to the bed and a huge amount of storage space. No washing machine, we use the 2x20L twin-tub bucket system. As we only wear shorts, shirts or most of the time 'swimmers' - this is not too tenious. Also have aircon but no Webasto heater. We arrange our travel to mostly stay in the 28 - 35 deg C temp range. We have no negative comments --- other than the fact that I don't get a 'commission' from the factory LOL

3. I would have had the super-fine midgee screens on all the windows instead of half of them. Note: Sandflies can get through the std mossies screens. Contary to popular belied we do not find that they cut down the breeze to any noticeable extent. I would also have deleted both hanging cuboards beside the bed and made them both shelves instead. We compromised with one hanging and one shelved and I have since converted the remaining hanging unit to shelves.

4. Don't have a washing machine and don't miss it - we don't carry any formal clothing.

5. I am happy with the operation of the Coolmatic 190 litre fridge. Occassionaly makes a clunking/gurgling sound but operates very well. The light packed up but that is a wiring problem (covered by a previous post) that will be fixed under warranty.

6. Brilliant - nothing is too much trouble.

7. Excellent, - A factory visit is virtually compulsory before construction starts. If it is within the realms of sound engineering it will be OK - if there is as issue they will tell you why its an issue.

8. I haven't had any warranty issues after 25,000 k most of it on backroads and tracks and along the coast - other than a broken cupboard hinge - two replacements were promply dispatched. I buggered a roof hatch - Bti organised a replacement at my cost - about $30. Any querries are promply attended too and they get back to you. A virtue less and less organisations posses unless you owe them money. Sound in Motion, who supply and fit all the sound gear and TV etc have discovered a minor problems with a voltage stabiliser in the tv circuit which caused the screen to flicker below a certain voltage. Thay are currently researching a suitable service provider in WA who can fit a replacement unit to their standards.

Otherwise she's sweet :-)

9. There were no bugs - other than they forgot to install two tiny shelves between the shower door and rear window. Fixed in 2 hours the day after delivery. No other 'after work' has been done to get it the way we want it. We have got what we wanted and are very happy with it. They have very high engineering standards.

10. I will go with the under-bed storage any day - with the high bed (any space above a bed not required for comfortable sleeping is wasted space) you get extra advantages not usually listed, can you lie in bed in the Olympic and have the breeze from all the windows, which are bed high in the BT flow straight over you and can you lie in bed and also look at the view without raising your head off the pillow?. The storage space is huge - we refer to it as the 'shed' Get the large side opening water proof access doors. Also get a couple of lights put in there.

Talking about storage the extra waterproof cupboard in the ensuit provides a great extra space and is well worth the small additional cost. Don't stint on power sockets and get some outside the van - including a 12v one.

Other things for full idependence is a Honda 2 Kpa genny. They are well proven with BT owners and do the job - including running the aircon. Mine rarely gets used for providing power mainly for the aircon. Its a piece of mind thing and got me out of the sh#t recently when camping-out sans van on a gold hunting trip and ran out of battery power!!

Cheers John and Jean
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Follow Up By: cvtripper - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 10:43

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 10:43
Hi JOhn and Jean,

>I have a 19' bti collected in June 2005 and we live in it on the road full time. Spent about a year doing detailed research and talking to owners of various makes of vans. I won't go into the ins and outs of that research other that to say that a bt's were a clear winner.

I've done the circles of the standard vans over the past 18 months, so I know what you mean. There is some terrible builds, specifically a model starting with J who claim to have 45% of the market, but somehow everyone that has one loves them. Not sure if this is ignorance or they just don't want to admit their mistake...

>2 My rig is 19' with 3 x batts, 3 x 125 watt solars, 2x showers, full ensuite, 1200 watt pure sinewave inverter, 50 amp two stage auto battery charger, 4 x 80L water tanks - one is dedicated potable. Remote hot water switching, flat screen tv - locks to the wall for travelling, extra long A' frame extension. Extended 'foot lockers on either side of the bed. This provides a step up to the bed and a huge amount of storage space. No washing machine, we use the 2x20L twin-tub bucket system. As we only wear shorts, shirts or most of the time 'swimmers' - this is not too tenious. Also have aircon but no Webasto heater. We arrange our travel to mostly stay in the 28 - 35 deg C temp range. We have no negative comments --- other than the fact that I don't get a 'commission' from the factory LOL

Yes, I'm interested in all that. The solar, batteries etc are a given and I was a sparky in a past life, so I'm comfortable with all that gear.
I noticed the step at the bedsides. Are all the beds mounted high? I guess this is to line up with the front spare tyre recess? It's good though as it would provide more space under the bed.
I love your comment about the shorts and this is where I'd like to be, but I'm a little young for that just yet :-(
And I agree with your comment about commission! I don't think the factory is going to sell the van - it's more likely to be the people on here!

>3. I would have had the super-fine midgee screens on all the windows instead of half of them.
Thank you for the reminder on that! Present van has standard screen (they don't know what sandflies are in Melbourne) but annexe has midgee screen.

>We compromised with one hanging and one shelved and I have since converted the remaining hanging unit to shelves.
Do you have any other hanging space? SWMBO loves her hanging space for her coats, and a shoe locker is a must! (I think she has a fetish but that's a story for another day!)

>5. I am happy with the operation of the Coolmatic 190 litre fridge.
>Occassionaly makes a clunking/gurgling sound but operates very well.
>The light packed up but that is a wiring problem (covered by a previous post) that will be fixed under warranty.

Does it wait you at night? My current is a dometic - silent but a pain when you want to jknow if it's actually working!

>7. Excellent, - A factory visit is virtually compulsory before construction starts. If it is within the realms of sound engineering it will be OK - if there is as issue they will tell you why its an issue.

That's the feeling I was getting on the phone.

>8. I haven't had any warranty issues after 25,000 k most of it on backroads and tracks and along the coast - other than a broken cupboard hinge - two replacements were promply dispatched. I buggered a roof hatch - Bti organised a replacement at my cost - about $30. Any querries are promply attended too and they get back to you. A virtue less and less organisations posses unless you owe them money. Sound in Motion, who supply and fit all the sound gear and TV etc have discovered a minor problems with a voltage stabiliser in the tv circuit which caused the screen to flicker below a certain voltage. Thay are currently researching a suitable service provider in WA who can fit a replacement unit to their standards.
>Otherwise she's sweet :-)

Thanks for that. Quite often people don't like admitting even those small problems. As long as they are fixable and fixed amicably and expediently they aren't really problems in, my opinion.

>10. I will go with the under-bed storage any day - with the high bed (any space above a bed not required for comfortable sleeping is wasted space) you get extra advantages not usually listed.
> can you lie in bed in the Olympic and have the breeze from all the windows, which are bed high in the BT flow straight over you and can you lie in bed and also look at the view without raising your head off the pillow?.

umm, actually we can - I had a raised bed base installed and the top of the bed is level with the bottom of the windows, although being a poptop the windows are probably a little smaller.

>The storage space is huge - we refer to it as the 'shed'
I like sheds!

>Get the large side opening water proof access doors. Also get a couple of lights put in there.
Thanks for the reminder about the lights - I've had to add them myself to the Olympic.
So there are different size access doors? Do you have the larger size, if so what size are they. I have a BBQ that I want to stow in there, as well as chairs and hopefully and outside table which current sits on the bed while travelling (the table not the BBQ)

>Talking about storage the extra waterproof cupboard in the ensuit provides a great extra space and is well worth the small additional cost.
From the pics, it looks like there are two waterproof cupboards - a vanity and one belong the sink. Is the one below the sink the one referred to as the waterproof linin closet?

>Don't stint on power sockets and get some outside the van - including a 12v one.
Nope, won't be holding back there - love my power!

>Other things for full idependence is a Honda 2 Kpa genny.
>They are well proven with BT owners and do the job - including running the aircon. Mine rarely gets used for providing power mainly for the aircon. Its a piece of mind thing and got me out of the sh#t recently when camping-out sans van on a gold hunting trip and ran out of battery power!!

I've so far been anti-generator as my solar setup is more than adequate, but this time I'm thinking a genny for the air con and the washing machine may not be a bad thing. SWMBO hates the air con (but loves the heat cycle) and of course will love it if needed for the washer, so I can justify it.
I'm intrigued as to how you could run out of battery power- 375AH of battery whould be enough to light up the goldfields - do tell! Should I go another battery or two?
My current setup has 300AH of battery and 240W of solar - never ever ran out - in fact never used more than 40-50AH, but I don't use it for the fridge but I do run a small inverter with 240V lights for the BBQ etc

Regards
David
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FollowupID: 845433

Follow Up By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 22:26

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 22:26
Nope - no hanging space - SWMBO has a mini iron for pressing wrinkles used about once a year. Only seems to work on clothing 'wrinkles' LOL

Fridge won't keep you awake - at all

I think all, or at least 95% of the beds are set high. Why would you give up on that extra space.

The water tight locker sizes are on their website - think - there are three sizes. Std, Large (what we have ) and x-large. The latter requires the loss of the bedsize table and drawer.

The second - water proof locker in the ensuite, cost was about $250, open up a huge amount of storege adjacen to the water heater - definite recomend.

We have two folding tables and two large reclining Coleman chairs plus two smaller chairs, plus large annex flooring and one annex end panel - both made from shade cloth. Sewing machine, BBQ, fihing rods and tackle, metal detectors, genny, tools, additional 20L jerry can (I have a rack of three on the A frame) plus other assorted gear all in the shed.

Regards running out of power - did not have the van with me - just a high speed mobile trip to check out some gold country with a view of going back with the van.

Cheers John
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FollowupID: 845434

Reply By: Turist - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 17:53

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 17:53
A note to Bushtracker International.

Steve, YOUR SPONSOR LEVIES ARE ABOUT TO INCREASE!

Advertising like this is VERY expensive.

Regards
Bob
"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

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AnswerID: 567915

Reply By: Tellem Bugrem - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 18:25

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 18:25
G'day David (cvtripper),

And, Steve, don't you just love reading these responses. Sit back in your chair, puff your chest out, and light up the pipe!! These are the rewards for you and the team at BTI. David, here is my two pennies worth.

Firstly, I agree with all that Brian and John have said, and add:-

1. Try eBay.

2.Our van is very similar to John & Jeans. It's officially an 18 footer but measures 18' 10" between the front and rear windows. 3 1/2 years old and no negatives.

3. As for doing it again, this van will last out our caravanning days, (hopefully another 10 to 15 years), so have'nt even thought about it

4. We have a Lemair 2.2 top load auto washing machine in an aluminium tread plate box on the A frame and it meets all our needs. When you order your BT you can have a 300mm or 600mm extended A frame. We have found the 300 quite adequate. We also have a dust proof box for our folding bikes, and three jerry cans, 2 x fuel and 1 for drinking water..

5. Coolmatic is fine and, having heard of others having the door fall off, have taken preventative measures which you can view in the Pictures section of this site.

6. No other manufacturer of any vehicle or tow equipment that I have owned (including cars, 4WD, tractors, trailers, horsefloats or caravans can match Bushtracker for after sale service and warranty issues.

7.The attention from staff at BTI is unrivalled. We visited the factory 3 times before delivery, including a time when we were able to photograph it before insulation and cladding was added. So we know where all the frame members are, as well as wiring and plumbing. (Good for when you are adding personal "add-ons")

8.Problem solving is always amicable and expedient, always respect BTI's side of a problem, they are the experts.The only time BTI will pick up the tab is when the fault is clearly on their side....and that doesn't happen very often. Testimony to a good product!!

9.Only personalization after delivery.....see photos for most of these on our van.

10. You won't miss a front boot when you see and use the "hold" of a Bushtracker.

11. We live at Nelson Bay and you'd be very welcome to come up for a look see. (providing we are not on the road). Only an hour and a half from Central Coast.

If you haven't already decided on a Bushtracker, pick out any three other manufacturers of "off-road" vans (say Phoenix, Kedron, Trackmaster, Boroma or Roadstar) go to their factories, then go to the Bushtracker Factory where you'll find an off-road van without inverted commas.

Cheers...............Rob and Liz

Leaving on next trip soon

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AnswerID: 567916

Follow Up By: cvtripper - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 20:45

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 20:45
Hi Rob and Liz,

Thank you for your feedback. Seems all I hear is praise!
I agree with you BT should be paying commissions!

>4. We have a Lemair 2.2 top load auto washing machine in an aluminium tread plate box on the A frame and it meets all our needs. When you order your BT you can have a 300mm or 600mm extended A frame. We have found the 300 quite adequate. We also have a dust proof box for our folding bikes, and three jerry cans, 2 x fuel and 1 for drinking water..

Didn't think of the option of installing the washer on the A frame, and would be keen to have a look. The extended drawbar also sounds like a good option.

>6. No other manufacturer of any vehicle or tow equipment that I have owned (including cars, 4WD, tractors, trailers, horsefloats or caravans can match Bushtracker for after sale service and warranty issues.

That's what I like to hear.

>10. You won't miss a front boot when you see and use the "hold" of a Bushtracker.

You haven't seen what I drag along, BBQs, chairs, tables etc etc. I like the sound of the 'hold' - sounds much better than a locker!

>11. We live at Nelson Bay and you'd be very welcome to come up for a look see. (providing we are not on the road). Only an hour and a half from Central Coast.

We'd love to come and have a look at your van. Being 3.5 years old should give an idea on how well they wear. I'll PM you with my email address.

Regards

David
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FollowupID: 845435

Reply By: Freewheelers - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 20:30

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 20:30
hi cv trippers
we are sydney based van stored at emu plains near penrith
van new 6/05 20 ft island bed cafe dinette 190 l coolmatic 3 solar panel 3 batteries 4 water tanks washing machine etc
if you can get youfself to emu plains 8am -5 pm mon to fri you are welcome to have a look
cheers
Stephen & Deborah

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AnswerID: 567917

Follow Up By: cvtripper - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:32

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:32
Hi Stephen & Debra,

Thanks for the offer - seems I have a couple of offers a little closer to me, so I'll try to follow them up first and come back to you if no success. I hope this is ok.

Thanks for your reply.

David
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FollowupID: 845436

Reply By: Silver Fox - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:04

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:04
I would like to add some comments as well. I am in agreement with all previous respondants on their points. I have a July 2005 B/T 20ft. I chose B/T after factory visits to B/T and another and extensive research on the other vans mentioned. (I also looked at second hand B/Ts to check out wear etc). Some opposition came close but after a B/T factory tour and a long list of questions answered B/T was in front. I would strongly recommend a tour/s as tactile experiences should help with decisions.You would see many other vans in various stages of construction and materials used. There is the opportunity to see ideas you may have not thought of or thought not possible. You could discuss your ideas with the person who actually does the work. The only changes I would have if a fairy said I could start again would be at least one cargo door an extra large size. Probably two bunks down the rear instead of one. (When my children join me now I could be sleeping outside!) I don't think awnings have been mentioned. The 'Aussie Traveller" is very good and that Co. has similar high standards.
I have done a lot of "customising". However I love to do this and probably have far too much spare time. Lights in the cargo bay are really necessary. I also put lights in the "linen cupboard" as it is so big things can get lost! I can't really comment too much on the number of batteries and solar panels. I haven't done any trips longer than four weeks yet. However my four batteries and three panels have had many comments from experienced travellers as a very good choice. Should travel to outback areas be on the agenda four water tanks seem to be wise. One doesn't have to fill all of them when not needed.
Decisions on audio-visual equipment are to be made too. I wasn't too aufait with the latest gear. In hindsight my trust in the people at Sound-in-motion was justified. The equipment may cost more than alternatives but reliability is priceless. S-I-M do their research well I believe. I had TV and DVD/CD/radio fitted. I also had a mobile phone cradle and UHF antenna fitted. This has been excellent for my CDMA phone and its connection for e-mails from where ever Telstra have coverage.
In closing this long winded response I will pass on my financial advisor's advice when I asked her: "Buy the Bushtracker, it's a sound investment.". (She is a caravanner who doesn't have a B/T.)
Cheers.
AnswerID: 567918

Reply By: Yogi and Muffin - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:17

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:17
Hi cvtripper and welcome to the group,

Other proud owners have already jumped in and covered virtually everything so I will just cover a few items.
You say you are comparing brands (fair enough). We did this for 4 years until I could no longer drag myself to another caravan show. Having flown a fair bit of Australia in my aircraft I knew there were many beutiful places in Australia that were off the blacktop, so a properly sealed off road van was essential. Eventually we went to the factories of two brands (Bushtracker and one other) and that made the decision for us. When you see the robust and careful construction and excellant sealing that goes into a Bushtracker, the brand sells itself. So I would most definately recommend a visit to the factory. It's an old maxim that you get what you pay for and although a BT may initally seem expensive it is excellent value as maintenence is low and equipment is all excellent quality (therefore low failure rate).

Our van built in October 2005 is a 19ft which with the space over the bed head is effectively 19ft 10" and the space under the bed is great. I would recommend the extra large cargo access doors and get BT to put some lights in there.

We have not had any problem with the fridge and although I was led to believe that the compressor fridge was noisy, that is not the case.

We went over the top a bit with equipment but I have never been sorry for that. We have 3 solar panels, 3 batteries, 4 water tanks, water steriliser unit, 1800 W inverter, A/C, Webasco heater (get one of these, they are great), fantastic hatch, annexe, reversing camera (also great) and a full suite of audio visual equipment from Sound in motion. I wouln't part with any of it.

I really cannot comment on warranty claims as I have not yet had anything go wrong but if you search around on the forum you will find that Bushtracker are excellent. I also have not had any bugs to iron out, everything works as advertised. It is really worth your while to carefully study the BT option list and discuss this as it is easier in most cases to get Bushtracker to bulid the van the way you want it rather than trying to alter it later apart from a few minor personal touches.

Lastly you will have the great advantage of the Ranger riding shotgun for you and giving you the benefit of his many years of personal experience (it is invaluable).

Unfortunately we live in Bendigo which is too far away for you but my recommendation is for you to arrange a factory visit.
Regards,

Tony
AnswerID: 567919

Reply By: Turist - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:20

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 21:20
The rates just went up a bit more Steve!

Bob
"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

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AnswerID: 567920

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 22:28

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 22:28
Forgot to mention.

NO DUST GETS IN.

Cheers

John
AnswerID: 567921

Reply By: Bushtracker - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:24

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:24
Well,
With 21 Responses and Follow-ups, you really don't need the Ranger to weigh in on this subject....

Except for one little detail, commissions? A few have kidded around about commissions... I will give you all a good commission: Our quality is such that the second hand prices paid for Bushtrackers is the highest in the Industry as far as I can see. That is a quality statement in itself.

We have built now about 40 second vans for people in the last few years, (mostly going to larger vans), so we get to follow second hand prices quite closely... And I can tell you something: Some people are paying more than new for second hand so they don't have to wait. And the overwhelming majority of sales of second hand Bushtrackers report to us that they sold for a profit...

Now there is a real "Commission" return.. We earnestly try and do the best job possible for our Clients, and there is another way it pays off..

Kind Regards from the Ranger..
AnswerID: 567922

Follow Up By: cvtripper - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:29

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:29
Ranger (is that Steve?)

I've sent a email reply to an email sent to me from Steve yesterday but have had no response. I have also left a message via telephone this morning for either Paul or Steve to call me, but haven't heard yet.

I'm trying to keep the ball rolling as quickly as I can, before SWMBO changes her mind!

David
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FollowupID: 845437

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:35

Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 at 23:35
David,

I was out training horses this morning from 5 am, actually got hung up on a tractor most of the morning... Anyway did not get into the office until 11 and am not caught up yet... I don't know who you are, as you can imagine I get a lot of Email, todays batch ranges from Iraq, France, to all over Australia.. I will look for an email with a "David" and get back to you ASAP....

Kind Regards, and yes, the Ranger,

"Last," "Lone," .... or "Lost", depends on the day, but yes, the Ranger. Ha!
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FollowupID: 845438

Reply By: Birchy - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 05:42

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 05:42
cvtripper, all these other owners have supplied the info how about I supply the van, we have a 20'6 ,Queen island bed,dinette which can convert to a bed,doubble rear bunks and small lounge with fold down work station,large ensuite (6" wider) ,4tanks,4batteries,4pannels and all options available except external shower and sat TV (do have van pre-wired ) we had the last van out before christmas,better than we expected,no dramas, we are bringing the van home from Mudgee this weekend. We live at Green Point,just near Gosford drop us a line !!!!!!!! and we will organise view and chat session,like many others we did so much reasearch and looking,we woke up decided to have a break ,joined the queue and now have the best van money can buy, Yes they are not cheap but just like everything you only get what you pay for!!!!! the van speaks for itself ,staff and factory couldnot get better,youv'e seen the rest now check out the best. (lost a dust cap off one of the hubs one phone call to Peter a day and half latter 2 new caps in mail no charge !!!!! see if you can get that service anywhere else.)
cheers,John and Sue.
AnswerID: 567923

Follow Up By: cvtripper - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:07

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:07
Hi John and Sue,

I sent you a private email earlier today. Would love to come a have a viewing this weekend if it suits you. What day are you back?

David
0
FollowupID: 845439

Follow Up By: cvtripper - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:49

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:49
Just tried resending the earlier email to you and your email seems to be bouncing now. I'll leave you a PM in here.
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FollowupID: 845440

Reply By: Rockgoc - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 06:01

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 06:01
G'day cvtripper and WELCOME to the club from Jan O & Easy better known as ROCKGOC.
There's not much else can be added to this thread that you haven't already been told, but I will try to give some different info as I would have liked to have had this web site available when I was researching before we bought our van.

As far as taking your time to research before ordering.....I paid a visit to the factory waaay back in 1997 and was blown away by the prospect of actually owning one of these beauties. At the time, my partner & I were stuck in a 7 day a week small business in Tassie, so the prospect of hitting the road was not looking real good.
We got out of the business in 2002 and hot footed it to the factory and placed our order...............and then went back to work to pay for it!!!!!
2 years later.............yes 2 years......we picked our "Doris" up!! Steve allowed us to keep deferring pickup until we were ready, which was never a problem.
We have an 18 footer with a sideways oriented queensized bed. In hindsight, and this is always a wonderful thing, we would have gone with 20 foot of van as we live in it full time and Easy is a hoarder......the atmosphere gets a little tense on clean out days which have to be fairly frequent with his tendencies. No, all jokes aside, the extra 2 feet would be great, but never mind. Also, I would have ordered an island bed as I find the hassle of fighting with the mattress every time I want to change the sheets is wearing a bit thin.
We disregarded Paul's advice and only have 1 large cargo hatch....a big mistake as we carry %*#£ loads of "stuff" under the bed and 2 extra large hatches are a must when you are constantly going into that space. We have to lift the bed if we want to access gear on the side away from the hatch opening. Stupid mistake on our part. The amount of storage area is fantastic by the way.
We again disregarded advice and only got 3 solars and batteries which is adequate, but only just , if trees or cloud obscure the sun for long....as we have elected to have the largest fridge a "Frostbite" (220L) they will install. We are currently living in Kalgoorlie and are parked in a caravan park partly under a tree and don't get a full dose of sun every hour of the day, so have to have the battery charger on sometimes on cloudy days if I am home using things. We should have got 4 of each.
We did have a Lemair 2.2kg washing machine for a while and loved it, but found that it was just not up to the task of washing lots of really filthy work clothes like we have to now, so we bought a NEC NW 452 which is a 4.5 kg one and fully able to run off the inverter or the generator. This is the thing that the sparky in the family should be looking at (Easy is a sparky too)....we went to buy a front loader, but they all drag too much power to be able to do that, and their physical size is too great. The washer travels up against the bed with an occie strap holding it against the wall of the bed. It just fits through the van door, so no worries getting it inside.
We have 3 non potable and 1 potable water tank and find that is adequate if you are bush and showering (spareingly) as well as using for drinking. If I had a 20 footer I would go with 1 more tank though.
All the things we "should have got" were suggested, but we thought we knew best.....it pays to let the experts advise you and to have an open mind.
The Webasto was not an option according to himself, as we would "never be in a cold enough area to need one". We promptly spent the first year of travel mainly in freezing areas!!!!!! Lucky for us though, we won a Webasto in last year's rally raffle, and will have it installed next time we are in a capital city.
The first month of travel saw the solar regulator tripping out all the time on "high voltage disconnect" and Bushtracker replaced it immediately no questions asked even though testing it did not find any problems with that particular one.
The day after we collected Doris, we had a minor wiring problem with the flat panel tv, and Sound In Motion very promptly came to the van and fixed it.
We have a dvd/video + a satellite decoder in the cupboard to run through the flat panel tv which is hung on the wall facing the bed, but able to swivel around to be viewed from the lounge area. Also we have a cd and tape player with external speakers as well as internal ones fitted over the bed and over the living area.
I don't have any hanging space...just shelving as we are predominantly in casual or work gear neither of which needs ironing. You learn to recognise what fabrics will relax all the wrinkles out just by wearing....there is an iron for emergencies, but it hardly gets much use......just how I like it!!!!
We sold our Jayco Dove camper trailer by advertising in the Trading Post. Had the best response by far. She was only used for 3 months of the 2 years we had her as we were in a resort working while we waited for Doris and we had only bought her to live in after we escaped from the shop we had owned in Tassie until we could pick up Doris. Dumb name yeah I know....but dear old great aunt Doris has a great deal of interest in the van if you know what I mean!
Well, I hope you are still awake after all this ramble.....but like I said, if only we had all these people to ask when we were in the planning stages..........there are some brilliant ideas in the members details and photo section. And any way, you only have to post the question, and sit back and enjoy the ride!!!
And what other caravan manufacturer posts handy hints and tips for his custoers and lookers-on to benefit from eh??? Not many! Steve's cool.
Cheers Dears, from Jan O
AnswerID: 567924

Follow Up By: cvtripper - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:10

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:10
Jan,

Great story - thank you.

So I need the extra large hatches now too....
Please don't tell my better half about the Websato - it's another $2500

David
0
FollowupID: 845441

Follow Up By: cvtripper - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:17

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 08:17
Webasto not Websato!

I already estimated 4 panels/4 batteries as I was also a sparky in a past life and I love my power... some sort of macho thing, the better half tells me... I don't think she understands but she grins and bears it when I start talking electrics... and the 220 litre fridge is not an optional extra - I have a 150 litre now and if I'm upgrading vans, everything must get bigger!

I like the fixed washing machine option as it seems a lot tidier and easier than dragging a 4.5kg washing machine around - and they don't actually weight 4.5kg do they!

0
FollowupID: 845442

Reply By: Rockgoc - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 21:06

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 21:06
About the washing machine.....don't know how much they actually weigh, but they are not that heavy as I have no trouble with shifting it by myself. I HAVE seen one of the same brand and model installed in Boroma van in it's own little cupboard with lift up lid.
Cheers, Jan O
AnswerID: 567925

Reply By: Freewheelers - Monday, Feb 13, 2006 at 07:21

Monday, Feb 13, 2006 at 07:21
Hi David,

We have a 20ft BT, 6/2005, only 2 x 2 week holidays so far, but plan to live in it full time later this year.

About the washing machine.............. did a lot of research and settled on the Lemair - washes 2.2kg of dry wash, weighs 17kg. Takes only cold water (but you can bucket in hot if you want, as it's a top loader. Does a wash and 2 rinses, takes 20 litres each time it fills. You can interrupt the cycle and backtrack or fast forward depending on your needs. It washes the clothes really well.

I originally wanted BT to make a special compartment for it, waterproofed and drained like the shower. But I also envisaged having to recycle the water where it's in short supply, starting by washing the whites first, then the darks etc etc.........
That means 'parking' dripping washing at some stage of the operation, and I was worried that'd be a recipe for swollen surrounding cabinetry, and difficult to do in confined spaces. Also, to make room for this dedicated compartment, meant too many compromises in other areas of the design. BT wasn't at all keen on the idea, and persuaded me to stow it in a cupboard and do the washing outside. They very kindly supplied (at no cost) an ally chequerplate base plate to stand it on, it travels in the bottom of the cupboard)

I agreed, and it's stored in the cupboard in the rear corner, kerbside. Stephen has fitted braces and webbing straps to hold it securely in place while travelling.

In practice what happens is that I use a combination of the well-known HandiWash 20 ltr bucket with plunger for the smaller items on a daily basis, and use the Lemair for the towels, sheets and larger items. That may change when we are on the road full time, but has worked well for us so far. The Lemair will take 2 lightweight queen sheets, but expect them to be tightly twisted when they come out. We chose the Lemair over others because it is lighter, uses less water, being top loader can have hot water added, and allows us to conserve water by mucking around with the cycle.

As for the Handiwash, after our showers at night we half fill the bucket with hot water, add a bit of Napisan, throw in the undies and tshirts etc, give it a few swishes whenever we walk past it, rinse and hang out the next morning (or night if we're travelling- carry it in the shower on a rubber mat). Doing it daily stops it becoming a big chore later.

Good Luck & Cheers

Deborah
Stephen & Deborah

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AnswerID: 567926

Reply By: cvtripper - Tuesday, Feb 14, 2006 at 01:16

Tuesday, Feb 14, 2006 at 01:16
Hi Deborah,

Thanks for the detail on the washing machine - sounds like you love doing your washing! LOL

Your description pretty well covers it all. Thanks

David
AnswerID: 567927

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