Help with decision making re purchase

Submitted: Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 04:14
ThreadID: 123080 Views:6169 Replies:9 FollowUps:4
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We have just joined your forum. From what we have read BOG members provide thoughtful advice so we wondered if we might trouble you for some advice for us.

We are two near 60 year old women (one on each side of the milestone) who a couple of years ago decided to devote less of our lives to our professional work and start to discover this wonderful country of ours. We puchased a Goldstream Sovereign camper trailer and we love it. We've taken it across the Tanami Track and the Gibb River Rd (west to east) with our 2004 Pajero NP petrol 4WD. It was a wonderfiul experience. However worsening arthritis is leading us to move onto a poptop or full size caravan. We still want to get to some of the more remote parts of Australia but with less physical hard work at the end of the day.

The information of the Bushtracker website is very impressive but, of course, we want to assure ourselves that there are not huge gaps between the marketing claims and reality.

We will probably not want to tow anything longer than a 16' van. We have never towed anything other than the camper trailer and a box trailer. We note Bushtracker's reluctance to build a pop top.

Here are our questions:

Is towing a 16ft full size van appreciably more difficult than towing a camper trailer?

Are the quality claims of Bushtracker realistic?

Are they really worth the considerably higher price?

The Gibb River Rd is probably about as rough a road as we will want to travel along because of impact on arthritis. Would buying a Bushtracker be 'overkill', ie more robust than we really need?

Many thanks in anticipation

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Reply By: Wally's a Bushie - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 07:58

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 07:58
A BT will certainly be heavier than a camp trailer - you may need to update the Pajero, but towing should not be a problem.
BT quality is second to none!
If you are seriously considering taking a caravan over the more challenging roads of good old OZ then a BT is the best option. You will most likely recover your cost price at time of resale. (I noticed a 16' BT for sale on the owners forum just yesterday - if you are serious be quick these things do not last long!
Re overkill - they certainly are strong and a trouble free trip is better than having to make repairs along the track somewhere with a less qualified van.
We collected our 21 footer in August this year - so far only travelled 10,000km but very happy.
AnswerID: 569808

Follow Up By: Craigievar - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 08:11

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 08:11
Thank you for taking the time to respond. We hadn't thought about perhaps having to update the Pajero. We will check its towing capacity and the weight of the BT.

Many thanks again

FollowupID: 846686

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 10:36

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 10:36
Did i reply to you on another forum? I would have certainly recommended a stronger tow vehicle for pulling any decent caravan with load. We are very pleased with our purchase of an 18 footer and think of it as security rather than over kill. We know it will not fall apart on us, and we can go where we want to go (with reservations - we would prefer the security of a stronger tow vehicle than our Nissan Patrol 3 ltr TD).

I don't know if you were looking at having your van built to order, or wanted to buy pre-loved like we did and get it now. Someone on this forum posted yesterday that they have a 16' BT and Landcruiser for sale, but put it on the members only page. Hopefully they will move the posting over to here soon.

Having camped with tent, Ute and then a small wind up caravan, i agree with you re the ease of stopping and your home is ready with the full sized caravan.

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AnswerID: 569809

Reply By: Aussie Bush Ghost - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 11:10

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 11:10

I invested 18 months researching and visiting caravan factories in Vic NSW & Queensland when we set out on our adventure to procure the correct rig as we retired. That was 3-4 years ago. The visit to factories was very, very enlightening, although there were many manufacturers who would not allow us to visit their production line. These we wiped from the list of “possibles” immediately.

Our BT is a 20 footer (by other van standards probably closer to a 21 footer, and this is the first understatement that gave us an indication of the Bushtracker culture, the culture is to err on the conservative side and over engineering.)

We have now done over 35,000 kms (not much for a BT) through bull dust, bouncy bitumen, highways, bush tracks and the like, and despite the odd report of some experiencing small amounts of dust in the van on occaisons, we have been almost dust free. I think that this is a combination of superior design, and a bit of practical forethought and driving to suit the conditions, including adjusting tyre pressures etc., etc.,

Bushtracker are not perfect, but in 18 months research, including six months when I was in Sydney Melbourne and Brisbane every week visiting at least one van manufacturer or canopy manufacturer (for the F250) almost every week for 6 months , the number of issues over quality, reliability, after sales service gleaned from folk that I interviewed who had vans, it became obvious that Bushtracker were way out front. Then I visited the BT factory, saw the workmanship, and investigated the engineering, had various robust discussions with Steve (everybody with a BT knows Steve and has probably had robust discussions), over a number of issues, and sincerely, they were way, way out front.(Some see Steve as a guy who gets a bit worked up over certain issues, but my experience, (which includes some of Steve’s agitated discussions) is that it’s a symptom of care that the customer gets the correct advice and pride in a product that is deserves the pride.

On the other hand if you are not going to use the BT for off road work, or prefer a “prettier or fancier finish” rather than a BT that will hold its value significantly better than most others and will stand up to the Australian bush (with common sense driving) don’t waste your money on a Bushtracker. The van is built to withstand sensible driving in rugged conditions.

I am 67 yrs old and Louise my wife 65, we think its been a great investment, and yes the towing vehicle is important. If in doubt follow the philosophy of BT…. Go to the larger or heavier or more powerful vehicle for safety sake, rather than the vehicle that you think will just handle the weight of the BT. With the heavier and probably more powerful vehicle you will find that cost of fuel consumption when measured on a per kilo per km to the litre will be far more economical than a vehicle that just makes the legal towing requirements, and most importantly when the towing vehicle is heavier than the van you are towing its much, much safer.

Hmm , got carried away a bit here, but we are very pleased we went the BT way, despite the extra dollars, and when we go to sell it, going on current second hand prices, it probably will not have cost any more than a unit of half the quality.

AnswerID: 569810

Reply By: Turist - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 17:44

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 17:44
I suggest that you go to the "My Home" page here and download the document "Why I Chose A BT"
Says it all.

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

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AnswerID: 569811

Reply By: Flipp'n Lorry - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:20

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:20
Find somebody who has a BT in your area ... it is a great idea to see one up close.... go to the factory all your questions will be answered.....lastly I would look at whether you can handle the Aussie Traveller Awning you may be better off getting the roll down type as the height to get it down may be a problem.

We are on our 2nd BT we love it
Best wishes in your adventures
AnswerID: 569812

Follow Up By: Craigievar - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:40

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:40
Thank you to you all for your insightfil advice and for giving us your time We really do appreciate all your responses. You have given us the confidence to pursue our interest in a BT. The article "Why we chose a BT" is also a helpful contribution. Thanks Bob.

No, 'Motherhen' you haven't replied to us on another forum unless it was in mid 2004 when we were investigating camper trailers.

Yes, Lorraine, we will need a roll down awning. - anything that reduces the strain on an arthritic neck.

Looks like it's a trip to Qld from Bowral in NSW to visit the factory. Does anyone know someone with a BT in or near the Southern Highlandss in NSW?

Many thanks again

FollowupID: 846687

Reply By: Bob & Chris - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:40

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:40
Chris and I have a 2004 ,20ft.Bushtracker towed by a 4.2 turbo L.C.We find this combination very good.We have now done 100,000 klms. in the landcruiser,changed the oil and filter every5000klms whilst towing the insurance.Nothing has gone wrong,touch wood.Done 780000 klms. with the Bushtracker.Problems:Batteries,could have been my fault.Windows.Fixed. Fridge door,fell off on the Birdsville Track,move bottles etc. off door.Battery charger,transformer center bolt came loose,repaired on the road.We have travelled on the Savannah Way,Gibb River Rd.Birdsville Track,Strzelecki Track,Oodnadatta Track&Marble Bar Rd.some other tracks did not have names.This van has done hard work.I service it every 10000klms.I would NOT consider ay other van for this sort of work.Have seen some other brands totally destroyed on the Gibb River Rd.You pay for what you get.Yes be very very carefull of some sales people.We have also found that repair problems are only a phone call away,parts delivered anywhere.
Hope this helps Bob &Chris
AnswerID: 569813

Follow Up By: Craigievar - Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:51

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2006 at 18:51
Thanks Bob and Chris. It's good to hear about the after sales service. We're realists. We would not expect any van to be totally problrm free but we would certainly like them to be kept to a minimum. Your regular serviceing sounds excellent.

Best wishes

FollowupID: 846688

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Thursday, Nov 23, 2006 at 04:19

Thursday, Nov 23, 2006 at 04:19
Hi Jan

When we came back after our trip to Tasmania, then through the northern Flinders ranges and inland SA, mostly on dirt roads, some very rough roads (we did kill the fridge; we should have let down the tyres like 'the navigator' said!), when we fuelled at Mundrabilla servo, the young assistant admired our BT, and said he shuddered at seeing some of the low slung not sturdy vans that come through being taken on Australian roads. He was surprised when i said ours was an older model, being 8 years old - he said he thought we were bringing home a new caravan. His comment "then you have made a very good investment". They do keep hold their value, and keep looking young. Ours has had several owners and was much travelled before we bought it.

I just recommend you consider a stronger tow vehicle than a Paj to take on this wonderful land. Any decently built full caravan, together with all your belongings, water, gas, supplies and tools will be heavy, and while it may be within the specifications for the tow vehicle, also consider the full weight of the loaded vehicle plus van. If you are to the extreme edge of the listed capabilities, you may be over taxing the vehicle in adverse conditions, such as loose sand, water crossings, strong wind, steep inclines etc. Also an engine run close to its limits must have a shorter life. No fun to loose a motor or gear box miles from anywhere.

All this advice from someone who's Patrol handles the towing comfortably in normal conditions, but does limit where we choose to go. Also we know the motor may not last under these conditions. We try and travel light, and so far, 3 months is the longest we have have been on the road. If we had a choice, we would choose a different vehicle, but changing to a lighter build caravan is certainly not on our agenda..

Red desert dreaming

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AnswerID: 569814

Follow Up By: Craigievar - Thursday, Nov 23, 2006 at 07:37

Thursday, Nov 23, 2006 at 07:37
Thanks again 'Motherhen'. You have given us much to think about.

Best wishes

FollowupID: 846689

Reply By: Bushtucker Man - Friday, Dec 01, 2006 at 21:40

Friday, Dec 01, 2006 at 21:40
Hello Jan,
Yesterday I sent a message, may have messed up, but here we go again.
We have a 16' B/T 4 sale, the post is below yours in the FORUM, have a read & if interested give me a call on 0418 671423 would be happy to chat.
AnswerID: 569815

Reply By: Sassy Sam - Monday, Dec 11, 2006 at 01:24

Monday, Dec 11, 2006 at 01:24
Hi Jan,
This reply may be a little late if you have already made your decision, but here goes.
I am a single lady travelling with a 16' BT and loving it. I do not have any problems towing behind my 3L Nissan Patrol but would not want to be towing anything bigger with it so doubt that a Pajero would manage the weight.
The only aspect you may need to do further research on is the hitch of the BT. I find that I need to be aligned straight and level with car and van in order to hitch up without any hassles. If you have decided on a BT (which I personally think is the only way to go) make sure you practice hitching up a few times before heading out.
Good luck and maybe I will see you on the road sometime.

Regards Sheryl
(Sassy Sam)
Live Life
AnswerID: 569816

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