Awnings ??

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 06:08
ThreadID: 123540 Views:6397 Replies:11 FollowUps:9
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Hello out there in the Land of BOG...Last week we were looking at purchasing an OFF Road van of some sort to give us a higher level of comfort than our Kimberley Kamper....Julie then spotted an ad on this forum for a pre loved 18 foot BT and now we're making arrangements to pick it up at our earliest opportunity.

Talk about we decided to support the forum that delivered the to speak.

Now the unit we're purchasing isn't fitted with an awning yet and we'd love to have roll out style like Carefree and A&E is the one that appeals and we have found that the Aussie Traveller seems to be better designed and constructed. The models we're looking at are the Sunburst Classic or Eclipse...the Classic seems to have an easy to reach release trigger.

After surfing the galleries, it seems to us that a lot of "BOGGERS" seem to have the Coolabah style. Not having seen it in operation, we're not sure how easy it is to use when compared to the conventional roll out.

At first glance it seems to us that the height above ground would mean the "GO GO GADJET LEGS" to reach it or a step ladder or a Cherry Picker...

So we're looking for some direction and comments here from the seasoned users.

Any help would be great.

Thanks Boyz & Gurlz of BOG
Rick & Julie
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Reply By: Flipp'n Lorry - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 07:15

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 07:15
There is no doubt that the Aussie Traveller awning which BT favour is one of the most stable in high winds. There is not much that can go wrong, and I am all for keeping things simple. We don't have any problems putting it up, and only the occasional problem retracting it into the storage canister.

In short, we are happy with the Aussie Traveller, and have installed it on our 2nd BT van.

But... if you have any mobility problems (one of those things that can happen as we all get a bit older), then they are probably not a good choice becuase of the need for a step ladder and a good balance. On the other hand, some Bogger friends of ours have a rollout awning, and this has the advantage that you can put it up quickly if you are just stopping somewhere for a quick cuppa - that is not really practial with the Aussie Traveller..

It's like all things.. the best solution depends a little on individual circumstance.

The other question is whether or not to have a full awning with walls - you are going to get a wide range of opinions on this one. Some swear on having a full awning, others will tell you that they purchased walls and never use it.

In our case (having had a full awning in a previous camping life), we went without the awning walls, and have not regretted it thus far. And if you are stuck in an area where the mossies are really bad, one of those flyscreened kitchen thingys is probably a better option.
AnswerID: 571262

Follow Up By: Innkeepers - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 18:58

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 18:58
Hi Phil & Lorraine,
Good info and you confirmed that a step ladder is needed....well we don't have mobility problems..yet.. but we're also looking for quick and effortless...having done the not so quick and effortless for many decades.

Aussie Traveller make many different awnings..the Coolabah, which is the type most of you have that requires the step ladder and they also make the roll out type too...the Sunburst, in 2 different specs Eclipse and Classic.

The Eclipse requires a release catch to be flipped over at the top of the roll in order to roll it out and the height of the BT would mean a step ladder to release it. In fact on the Aussie Traveller web site they promote this awning for pop tops...I guess because the roll out is located on the van not the pop top, making it lower and easier to access.

The Classic appears to have a remote catch release at a lower height which would make it a simple operation without the need for a ladder.

I'm OK with a ladder but Julie is not....can't stand on a chair to change a light bulb without getting vertigo and disoriented. So if I was away from camp and she need to do something with the just wouldn't happen.

We're currently in Armidale NSW doing our relief management in some motels in town and as life's coincidences happen, Julie's cousin and her husband were travelling with their van in company of other vanners doing the Waterfall Way here and only half an hour ago they popped in to say Goodbye...with their 18 foot Kedron pop top in tow and it's fitted with the Aussie Traveller Sunburst Eclipse Roll Out I go the good oil from them. Isn't life amazing???

I think we'll look closely at the Aussie Traveller Sunburst Classic with the remote release.

Many thanks for your quick response and hopefully more to come as we go.

Cheers and safe travelling
Rick & Julie
FollowupID: 847663

Reply By: Bushtracker Buck & Babe - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 07:28

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 07:28
Hi Rick and Julie, welcome to the Boggers.

We have the Aussie Traveller and it has withstood some really strong windy situations.

We have full annexe walls and had clear plastics made that can be velcroed over the fly mesh when we want light but not rain.

AnswerID: 571263

Follow Up By: Innkeepers - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:04

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:04
Hi Angie,
Thanks for the welcome, it's nice to "Belong" to a fraternity of like minded.

Good tip on the clear walls too...makes it very versatile indeed.

We can't wait to pick up the BT, but we have some work contracts in Armidale and then Rockhampton to conclude before we can have a couple of weeks break.

Then in early June we'll travel down to Adelaide to pick it up and have a shake down play with the new toy.

Keep well and thanks for your words.
Rick & Julie

FollowupID: 847664

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 10:27

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 10:27
Rick and Julie - Wecome to the BOG,
In some coastal conditions where the winds vary considerably I have noticed owners with the roll out types nipping out to retract them and later rolling them out again. They are certainly easy to roll in - roll out but I bguess they may be prone to damage in sudden high winds. But I have no personal experience.

I have never taken to awning down in the last 18 months despite some pretty gusty nights.

The Aussie Traveller may take a little longer to put up but with the poles pegged and guy lines out and pegged thay are rock solid.

John and Jean
AnswerID: 571264

Follow Up By: Innkeepers - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:14

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:14
Hi John & Jean,
Thanks for the welcome, sounds like we joined a good group of folk.

Yes, the wind thing would always be a consideration with a roll out and as Aussie traveller also make a couple of roll outs, I was hoping that they were of a similar construction integrity as the fold away one.

I think the support legs of the roll out can be detatched from the van at the bottom and then stood vertically and pegged. Looking at the Aussie Traveller web site, they also have tie downs at the ends of the roll out so you can rope it down after pegging the vertical posts. This might make it more secure in breezy conditions.. not sure about strong winds though...might be a case of rolling it up as you suggest.

All good info..
Many thanks
Rick & Julie
FollowupID: 847665

Reply By: Black Cobra - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 10:43

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 10:43
Having just picked up our BT it has the Aussie Traveller and as we have not used it at present we cannot comment on it but the setting up as shown by the guys at the factory make it appear that after a few times it will get pretty easy to use.

I agree with the annex walls as a lot of people we spoke to when doing our design said they hardly ever used them and the weight of them is heavy.

We went like another BT we saw setup which had the full annex but only in the tennex mosquito wire which is the smaller type.

We can enclosed the area when we are at a spot for a while and have an enclosure that we can see out of but have no flys or migies.

We had a door put in one end and one put in the long wall. The weight of this annex folded up is nothing and packs away very small.

Food for thought.

Stewart & Marlene
AnswerID: 571265

Follow Up By: Agnes Lifestyle - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:03

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:03
We have had a few scrapes on the Aussie Traveller especially in the bush where there are ditches on the narrow tracks.Get a bit of a lean on some of these unsuspecting tracks and the first thing to touch is the awning.Pretty hardy! We don't think that the roll out types would still be on the van on some of these tracks.
But if those sorts of trips are not on your agenda then most people prefer the easier option. It looks prettier! Mind you, you can be in a caravan park in a tight spot and graze your annex.We have no trouble with the Aussie traveller or I should say Ron has no trouble with it as he does it single handidly while I boil the kettle.

FollowupID: 847666

Follow Up By: Innkeepers - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:30

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 19:30
Hi Stewart, Marlene and Dianne,

Yes more good info from a practical use point and that's the value of the "Think Tank" much experience to draw from.

The insect screens would be a great idea and we can recall last year when we had 2 months touring Central Australia, just how friendly the flies were in their clouds...we spent a week camped at Cullymurra Waterhole near Innamincka and when I was making my Yabbie Sandwiches with fresh bread from the bread maker, the flies increased ten fold.

Do you have the insect screens sealed off?? like with a skirt along the base of the van??

Yes, Dianne that's very true as the Coolabah model of the Aussie Traveller is in a case which would serve to protect it somewhat...and yes, we're pretty adventurous...not the black road for us if we can help it.

Last year when we left Dalhousie Springs and went on to Lamberts Centre via Mt Dare, we decided to go see Uluru and when we got to Kulgera we decided to head South to the NT-SA Border and follow the red sand road to Mt Connor instead of the sealed road to the North...glad we did... no traffic and beautiful desert scenery and from Mt Connor it was the black stuff to Curtain Springs and then on to The Rock.

All good info
Many Thanks
Rick & Julie
FollowupID: 847667

Follow Up By: Black Cobra - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 10:32

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 10:32
Rick & Julie,

I cannot say how the insect screens meet the ground as I have not used it yet as we only picked up our van 26 days ago and is just parked up now after the return trip to WA.

I would presume Aussie Traveller would design it the best way, sorry can't help at this stage, I wish I could then I would be on the road using it, bugger!

Stewart & Marlene
FollowupID: 847668

Reply By: Here and Now - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 21:43

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 21:43
Hi Rick and Julie!

Welcome to BOG Land! We opened the website today intending to write a thread about awnings and - Lo and Behold - you have started it for us. Thank you!

we are nearly as new as you are as we are still awaiting our BT which rolls out of production in November. So we are still at the planning stage. We have received 3 negative opinions on the Aussie Traveller Coolabah. The first said that it was way too difficult to pull out when balanced on a ladder. This person strongly laments the denial of option of having quick shade for the roadside cuppa. Another person showed us his van which was very well set up after years of serious bush bashing. He stated flatly that the awning was one of the weakest points. A third story came to us indirectly of a person who had the awning flip over the van roof in a strong wind causing equipment damage up top.

So last week we went to the AT factory in Brisbane and had a chat. The awning was demonstrated with ease by an assistant who was not a big strong weight training healthy young male - quite the opposite. She had no trouble with it although we did note that it was not up high and she was only on a small step. She also talked about their other awnings and strongly talked up the toughness of the Coolabah in off-road situations suggesting others in their range would fall apart on corrugations. (I guess this is the voice of manufacturing experience).

The awning walls looked good with micro midge screens. They seem to be ready to customise designs. The canvas of walls and awning is rugged. We forgot to ask about a skirt/curtain piece below the van but this would be a must for us. Does anyone know?

We came away feeling quite good about the awning but prepared to do more homework with other manufacturers.We realise that each of us has to be able (in a fix) to get the awning down especially in bad weather so we are still deliberating.

We would welcome any more comments from more experienced BOGGERS.


Jim and Penelope
AnswerID: 571266

Follow Up By: NIK `N` OFF - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 23:36

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 23:36
A good topic and one that is getting many posts, i'll add my two bobs worth.

We had a AT Sunburst rollout awning on our last van [kedron] we were very happy with the ease of use, and we have tossed the choices around as to choosing the AT Coolabah as opposed to what we had previously.

When I was shown how it was set up, a lot of the indecision regards the ease of setting up the Coolabah was gone, sure it's not as fast as the Roll Out but personally i think you end up with a better awning with quality heavy duty material and good quality zippers all round, as far as being better suited to windy conditions, well we never had a problem with our Roll Out, I used to tie guide ropes off the top of the legs and peg them down.

Our Roll Out awning came with a center roof arch pole that i used to use and it stretched the vinyl so much that if i didnt use it the roof had a sagged look in the middle, also to stop flapping we had to fit awning anti flappers, unless the legs were removed and placed vertical & pegged you were constantly ducking under & around the wall mounted leg, even more so when we had a shade cloth wall across the front.

I did damage our Roll Out by getting to close to the garage wall, I tore the rear leg off and damaged the awning skin, It took 7 weeks to repair but i did get a better quality vinyl skin than was previously fitted. I was never a fan of the legs hanging on the side of the van and on many trips they copped stone chipping & scrapes from branches, some people put velcro'd leg bags over them to help stop any damage.

In conclusion, we are staying with the Coolabah for what appears better quality material, [be nice if it could be in the shaded charcoal colouring of the roll out] the manual tensioning, no legs to foul on things, and zippers for the mossie netting we intend to zip on. From talking to owners they have all told me that after a few times of erecting it, it becomes a simple exercise. Will we put it out for those 10 min breaks? probably not, overnight? yes.

Mick & Vickie

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FollowupID: 847669

Reply By: Uncle Dodgy - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 01:25

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 01:25
We have a Coolabah fitted to our 19ft 2000 build Bushtracker, and I wouldn't swap it for the world.
True we have to use a two step set of steps in the process of erection and stowing, but we find this to not be a bother. We use the same steps in attaching our insect screen walls on the annex ends at the higher points adjacent to the van, but the rest of the attachment is managed from the ground.

The Bushtracker factory fitted the press studs to the chequerplate at build time for the canvas windskirt fly/bug stopper between the van wall and the ground, and this works well. Would recommend you include this with screen walls at the least. Aussie Traveler also make up this windskirt fly/bug stopper to suit the van dimensions and step.

We have since purchased the canvas walls for the annex specifically for use when camped on site for a longer period with lots of gear in the annex and desiring a greater level of security when away from a lonely camp.(If its not on show its less likely to get pinched, theory). The screen walls get most use as this allows views of the surrounding countryside while partaking of libations, and we also use the annex without any walls for 1 or 2 night stopovers simply because its easier. If the bugs get bad go inside, the van is screened.

Whenever we stop for a quick cuppa or lunch, we don't bother with the annex, just have it in the van or under the shade of a convenient tree. If no tree & its too hot, start the generator and put the A/C on.

Narrow winding tracks can be a very real problem for any annex, and the housing for the rolled up Coolabah annex is good protection for the annex. We broke the centre securing clip that secures the stowed annex facia board on a tight track negotiation once when the wheels encountered an unseen depression, but these are readily available as a replacement part from Aussie Traveller, and their service and parts turnaround time is fast, just like BTI's, and are easily fitted by the average handy person. If you can drive a phillips screw driver you can do the job.

I dont know if the problem I was told about relating to the base of the arms of the roll out type awnings has been rectified or not, but I was told the the breeze applying alternating forces to the annex caused a thunk thunk, thunk thunk type noise resulting from movement where the arms attached to the van walls or in the arm extension securing points. This would be tollerable during the day but murder at night. Dont know if its still a problem, maybe its been since rectified.

All things considered, I think I would still choose the Coolibah, the only down side is the steps requirement to erect and stow, and if you want sides on any annex attached to a Bushtracker or any other high clearance van, I believe you would still have to use the steps anyway.

Hope this helps & doesn't confuse

Happy travelling
John & Sharyn
Takin' the long way home - Towing a Bushtracker

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AnswerID: 571267

Reply By: Agnes Lifestyle - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 01:48

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 01:48
No need to put it out for those 10 minute breaks. RELAX instead. There is usually enough shade around the van. Midday you may look for a suitable tree. Half the fun is finding a suitable tree. An hour or two later you have really worked up a thirst or an argument.
It's not too bad inside the van.You can lie down and recoup (if you are allowed) away from the flies, heat, cold ,wind, rain, the neighbours............etc.

AnswerID: 571268

Reply By: Silver and Tinks - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 03:23

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 03:23
Our 2006 BT is fitted with the coolabah with full annexe walls and we also have a side tentex wall, all are very light and easy to fit with the zippers and pack down very tight in two small bags.

You can also get the flatest packing 3 step aluminium ladder from howards storage

We also run the the draught flap on the side of the van for longer stays.

And a little bit of fogger works great for those mozzies.

Scott & Jacky
AnswerID: 571269

Reply By: Innkeepers - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 18:21

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 18:21
Well, we'd like to thank you all for your feed back on the awning selection and we also got more tips on walls and insect things...much more than we'd hoped for.

We'll try to get to see them at the Aussie Traveller factory in Brisbane when we're there next and we'll be armed with some good info thanks to you guys.....a great resource this collective experience bank.

We also have another request about fuel usage, but we'll make it another thread.

Thanks again to all and most of all thanks for making us feel welcome here...sounds like a good family to belong to.

Hope to meet some of you as the wheel turns.

Rick & Julie

AnswerID: 571270

Reply By: Tellem Bugrem - Sunday, Apr 29, 2007 at 22:30

Sunday, Apr 29, 2007 at 22:30
Welcome Rick & Julie,

We have also had the AT Coolabah since new in 2002. In 2004 we added the screen room and skirt. Perfect for keeping the bugs out. We even had dinner outside at Dalhousie Billion-Fly Springs! The ladder is only for you Rick (with the winder). Julie stands on the top step and reaches up to release the catch and let down the frame. It takes a bit of practice and co-ordination but the awning can be up in 4 minutes, complete with 3 roof bars, 8 pegs and 4 guy ropes. Not even Cyclone Angie would budge it!! Make sure you tighten the wing nuts on the poles.....or even put a tent pole clamp above the it won't move down if a gust comes over the top of the van, blowing downwards.

A 3 step ladder is best....have a look at the one in Pictures....under Tellem Bugrem gallery.

Perhaps we'll have An Awning Up competition at Copeton??

Happy travels...................Rob and Liz
AnswerID: 571271

Follow Up By: Innkeepers - Sunday, Apr 29, 2007 at 23:37

Sunday, Apr 29, 2007 at 23:37
Hi Rob & Liz,
Many thanks for the sure seems to be a friendly place to be right here...glad we joined up...thanks all..

Well Julie does have that height problem and she's going to be OK with entry into the BT with the steps as long as she has a hand rail or body work to grab hold of on the way up....but lingering on the top step for too long ....without a blind fold....might be a bit of an ask. She really can't stand on a chair to change a light bulb as I previously mentioned....But pouring a rum and coke with lots of ice...the way I like it...... and a glass of Merlot and bringing the Nobby's nuts to the chair beside the camp fire are all fine attributes she has mastered with great dexterity.

We've had contract from some via the message centre who have the Aussie Traveller Sunburst Eclipse Roll out and in the last couple of years have had nothing but joy in their outback travels with that setup too..

Our problem is that we're trying to come to a decision without inspecting the gear and assess it from there. We're managing some motels in Armidale right now and we'll have worked for over 2 months straight without a day off and when we have a fortnight or a month off, we like to head bush. So we're trying to get set up in the work time in order to maximise the fun time.

We haven't even picked up the BT yet...It's in Adelaide and we'll be there in early June to pick it up...GASP..

Hey your idea of awning erection comp at Copeton would be a giggle or six. The winners trophy could be a little shade know...the ones used on cocktail glasses.

We have the whole month of September off....but may head to the NT..Daly River...we'd love to do Copeton too and meet some of the Forum Family...should be a hoot.

Copeton sure would be a shorter drive for us than the NT and we're not real sure what our fuel consumption is going to be like towing an 18 foot BT.

We have a V8 Landcruiser...which we found to be a lot more econonical than our previous 100 series...a 4.5 straight six.....We also tow an '05 Kimberley Kamper to fun spots and this weighs around 1.5 tonne loaded and we're using
17 litres/100k at the moment.

Well thanks a bunch for your words and taking the time.

Hope to see you on the circuit somewhere.
Rick & Julie

FollowupID: 847670

Reply By: Tellem Bugrem - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 01:23

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 01:23
G'day again Rick & Julie,

You can expect that 17 l/100k to blow out to 26 - 27 towing the BT. The V8 pulls our 18 footer easily, but the worst part is going down hill. It has no where near the compression braking ability of the Diesels, so you are adding extra wear to both tow vehicle brakes and caravan brakes. We'll be keen to try the 200 series with the 5 litre twin turbo V8 diesel when it comes out in October. 230kw and 570Nm of torque sounds like it'll be a top tow vehicle.

There are a few boggers who don't have partners and they have mastered the art of the AT awnings without assistance! You undo the two end clips first and then the middle one, where you can lower the frame by yourself.

AnswerID: 571272

Follow Up By: Innkeepers - Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 02:41

Monday, Apr 30, 2007 at 02:41
Yeah Rob...we've noticed that there are a lot of LC100's in the owners list that are equipped with the V8...more than we expected...and 26-27 L/100k is what I would have thought, so no frights there.

The other problem we have in addition to the lack of engine braking is the diminished driving range when you're in remote areas and distances between fuel stops.

Maybe we should have spent the extra $13,000.00 for the turbo diesel engine over the V8.

Yes, that 200 series V8 twin turbo diesel will really get a lot of interest when it hits the market.....we will be looking too. Might be nice to see it after it's been out for 12 months or so...Just in case it has teething troubles....Besides it'll give me more time to work on Julie for the upgrade...

FollowupID: 847671

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