BT Problems

Submitted: Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 06:05
ThreadID: 125153 Views:6948 Replies:10 FollowUps:3
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Hello Boggers,
After 2 years of planning we are fiinally about to order a BT. To my dismay I heard the first serious criticsm of BT's last weekend. The gentleman involved bought a BT in 1999 and claimed to have constant problems for 5 years before selling and buying a Trackmaster. As we are about to commit to a $100,000 plus purchase, I thought the best place for some guidance would be the BOG.
His main gripes were as follows.
1. The van continuosly shook itself to pieces. Cupboard latches breaking, ensuite door falling off, front wheel brakes disintigrating. He felt that it was the simplicity supension at fault. The trailing arms on the front wheels face forward, and create a jarring situation when they hit uneven surfaces (like pushing a wheelbarrow up a set of stairs as opposed to dragging it).
2. The water tanks are not fixed to brackets. They sit between the floor, protection plates and chassis rails, and can move within the space. This eventually loosens or pulls out the mounting screws.
3. Five battery chargers failed in five years.
4. The handbrake cable contantly frayed and broke.
5. The blocks on the suspension constantly wore out.
6. There was dust ingress under the fridge which was never fixed.
From some of his comments he had some issues with Steve in over promising and under delivering.
I am not a mechanic, but have had 4 wheel drives for 30 years, am capable of minor repairs but would not like to be faced with constant major repairs. I am a regular reader of the forum, and feel that information posted by members about minor repairs, maintenance and enhancements is invaluable. I certainly haven't picked up any views that BT's were a consant source of problems. In fact the veiws expressed on the forum seem to indicate the opposite.
We are still of the opinion that BT's are far ahead of the field for remote area travelling, but in the light of the above comments, would really appreciate some re-assuring comments from those who know the product best.
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Reply By: Tellem Bugrem - Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 08:07

Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 08:07
G'day Brian and Faye,

Sounds to me as if the bloke has a driving problem, and would probably destroy anything he tows. Mind you, I am impressed with the Trackmaster as well, but If that chap had one, he'd probably arrive at his destination towing an A-frame!!

A caravan has to have limits...just like the tow vehicle. If you abuse the limits, it will fail. I still reckon the limits of a Bushtracker are way ahead of any other off-road van.

Good luck...........Rob and Liz
AnswerID: 576198

Reply By: Bob & Chris - Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 17:18

Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 17:18
Hi Brian and Faye
We have had our van since June 2004.We have had some problems with our van which I believe were out side the Control of Bushtracker at the time.A lot of items are purchased from sub-contractors etc.Yes we had our fridge door come off ( badly designed hinge pin,easily fixed )Battery charger failed ( easily fixed with a bed of silicon under the transformer) One draw lock failed.Batteries failed.Replaced one set of Pivot blocks.
As pointed out by Rob and Liz some people have no idea how to drive on rough roads.
We have done Gibb River road,Birdsville,Strzelecki,Oodnadatta Tracks to name a few.
Found the suspension excellent.Have aligned the suspension only once caused by hitting an unseen bull dust filled hole.In my experience you can take most truly designed off road caravans to most places providing you drive to the conditions.That may mean 10kph not 90kph.Remember items like pivot blocks will wear out,just like tyres etc.
I don't know whether BT's are far ahead of the rest.I think that they are the best available at this time for heavy work.There a couple of makers that are producing very good off road vans.Bob
AnswerID: 576199

Reply By: Sundy & Cyclone - Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 18:13

Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 18:13
Hi , we have travelled regularly in our 1999 BT since we bought it about 5 + years ago, along the usual tracks and back blocks like the Gibb River Rd, The Plenty The Darling River Run and so on and apart from the usual "fair ware & tear" associated with its age, we are still happily "croozin". Maybe it is his driving style as we too met somebody with a BT in Alice a couple of years back who complained about his vans problems. Hi wife said that she considered he drove too fast on less than perfect roads ??????????

Cheers Tony
AnswerID: 576200

Reply By: Mr & Mrs Bean - Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 19:12

Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 19:12
Thank you for your replies. As I had hoped, the issue comes down to regular maintenance, preparation and sensible driving to suite the conditions. We are still convinced that BT represents the best option for the touring we wish to do.

Hope to see you on the road some time soon.
AnswerID: 576201

Follow Up By: Turist - Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 02:23

Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 02:23
Has "Dusty" also described to you the problems he has had with the Trackmaster?

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Follow Up By: Mr & Mrs Bean - Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 02:40

Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 02:40
His inference was that he wasn't having the same problems with the Trackmaster. From the replies recieved to our post I have concluded that either he was unfortunate enough to buy a lemon (it happens) or hasn't driven to the conditions.
We looked at Trackmaster in our research. It had a lots of appeal as a caravan, but did not have the robust features of the BT. That's why we were surprised at his comments.
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Reply By: AlexMc - Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 19:12

Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 19:12
Going by the descirption of the problems this bloke is having he is obviously towing hard and fast. Van shaking itself to bits and the thump rubbers wearing out also suggest overloading and/or poor weight distribution.

I've driven heavy goods vehicles for near 40 years and if your drive at the max in speed and load you pay for it in breakages and maintanence. BT are the toughest vans you can buy. They are not indestructable.
It would be helpful to know what weight he carries, type of roads and speeds, if and by how much he drops tyre pressures.
What feels comfy in the vehicle can be horrendous on the van and you wouldn't know until you get breakages as these things tow so well even under duress..
AnswerID: 576202

Reply By: Deleted User - Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 21:14

Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 21:14
I heard a similar story where he changed his BT for a ???????. When he got the ?????? he found he had to put acrow props under the AC as the roof had sagged. This ???????? has a wood frame.

Found out later this blokes driving style compelled him to be out front as the leader of the pack. I'm sure we've all seen this type on the road.

Anyone can destroy machinery if you try hard enough.

However if you do a lot of rough work like we do you can expect to have a greater maintenance level than on sealed roads.........all part of the fun of it.....just carry some spares.

Ern
AnswerID: 576203

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 22:17

Thursday, Oct 23, 2008 at 22:17
Hi Brian and Faye

Be assured you have chosen the toughest frame on any caravan. Things that can go wrong are usually components which are used by various other caravan makers, so changing brand will not help with these. If you follow other forums, you will read horror stories about many other different brands of vans. If all those things happened on one van, it sounds like the owner not driving to the conditions, and even if he bought an army tank, he would have killed it!

After my husband saw under a Bushtracker, he would not consider any other van. Although some of the more expensive ones had owners happy with their purchase, they didn't meet the same structural standard. The BT we purchased four years ago is ten years old and has had several owners.

As others have said, just like your vehicle, there is wear and tear, and maintenance is necessary. You wouldn't go across the centre of Australia without checking movable parts such as wheel bearing and bushes in your vehicle - likewise with the caravan. Like your tow vehicle, let down the tyres on long stretches of corrugated roads. We didn't once and we ruptured a gas line in the fridge which rendered it unrepairable - a costly lesson. This was the only damage.

Regarding water tanks, i understand that BTs are now being built with a different type of water tank which attach directly to the van, not in the guards as was done for many years (which were similar to other brands that used metal guards). I can speak about water tanks with the older type of attachment, as we had ours come loose on the Tanami this year. Pretty good after ten years really, and as it turned out, there was a contributing reason. Before leaving earlier this year, we had lots of maintenance done, including new brakes (we changed wheels over from Nissan to Ford to match a change of tow vehicle). The mechanic who fitted these also replaced the support brackets at the end of the springs, and made no comment about wear showing on the spring seats (pivot blocks) which are a wear and tear item. On checking by just looking under the van they looked OK. We now know to jack up and check thoroughly, included during long journeys. Wear on these caused extra vibration. We were on dirt roads for much of our four months trip (including Gibb River Road, Tanami, Finke (Old Ghan), Mereenie Loop and Great Central Road).

There is more BT and BT components specific hints on the owners forum and in the member documents folders. As we did not purchase new, we didn't get all the instructions from the factory so have found talking to other here a great help. Great too when we meet the other members we have been talking to on the forum.

Hope to meet you somewhere in this mighty land when you get your new BT.

Motherhen
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AnswerID: 576204

Follow Up By: Mr & Mrs Bean - Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 02:48

Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 02:48
Thanks Motherhen,

I forgot to mention that the other important reason for BT being our number 1 choice is the amount of support, assistance and shared information from the owners group.

This has been our first POST and I delighted at the information and responses that have been sent.

I certainly hope we get the opportunity to catch up in the not too distant future.
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FollowupID: 850276

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 08:11

Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 08:11
This clown clearly has a problem and will break anything. In three years full time I have had nothing that could be put down to Bt engineering or construction. I have done some torrid tracks.

I destroyed a microwave early in the early days - tyres too hard. It was replaced under warranty (Bt won't supply these items - you purchase what you want and they will install it) I have had a couple of minor issues with the fridge - but really bugger all, again not Bt's problem.

Have confidence that you will be getting a very good machine - probably the best in terms of fitness for purpose. Learn to drive to suit the conditions and you with have a great lifestyle.

Enjoy
John and Jean
AnswerID: 576205

Reply By: Innkeepers - Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 18:54

Friday, Oct 24, 2008 at 18:54
Hi Brian & Faye,
We can only concur with the above comments about driving to the conditions.

We, like the others here, bought a Bushtracker to travel the rough outback roads and tracks and we have done just that. In May - June this year, our latest trip was out through Cameron Corner accross the Strzelecki Desert on the Old Strzelecki Track to Innamincka where we towed the BT to Coongie Lake while others left their vans at Innamincka.

We then towed the BT to Birdsville accross the infamous Cordillo Downs road....450K of unrelenting corrugations mixed up with big washouts from the previous wet season.

Then on to Camoweal, Riversleigh and Lawn Hill and onto Burketown via Gregory Downs.

Our collateral damage was a crack in the top half of one cupboard door hinge which was still serviceable until we got back to civilisation .....and the other thing was we had lost one of the 4 screws that secures the griller door in place.

A quick e-mail to BT and Steve posted us a pair of hinges and a couple of the chromed griller door screws...just in case we needed a spare. This was at no charge for bits or postage and we had the bits in 3 days.

Our van is over 5 years old and obviously not in warranty.

To sum up, the BT is built very well and if you respect it with consideration due, you will have a lot of fun adventures as the rest of us have.

Another thing that hasn't been commented on is the "Lightening" response to service given to owners by Bushtracker.

If you e-mail them from a waterhole in WhyKickaMooCow with a problem, they will respond to your request instantly. Trust me, we know this from experience and this gives you a great "Safety Net" when traveling the bush....even when your BT is over 5 years old.

I can't speak for other manufacturers as we have no experience of them.

Hope this helps
Cheers
Rick & Julie

AnswerID: 576206

Reply By: Uncle Dodgy - Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 05:57

Saturday, Oct 25, 2008 at 05:57
Greetings Brian & Faye & fellow BOGgers.

The biggest problem that we as BT owners face is making the adjustment from having to be somewhere by a particular time, to towing your home with you and realising that it doesn't matter where you are as the sun goes down, just pick a spot and that is home for the night. Your accommodations are travelling woth you.

This means adjusting from high efficiency ideals of squeezing as much as possible out of the available hours, to the mindset to slow down, see the scenery and smell the flowers.

Regards

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

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AnswerID: 576207

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