Would you like to upsize your BT sir ?

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 at 02:29
ThreadID: 129159 Views:3186 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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Sir, would you like to upsize that ? This post is aimed at people who are thinking about getting a Bushtracker.

I have had my 2001 dual axle 16 footer since 2006. I am usually camping by myself way out from the towns on dirt roads, gold prospecting in Western Australia. The van has been across the Gary Junction Highway, the Tanami Road and the western section of the Gunbarrel.

When my wife retired, the first thing I planned to do was get a bigger van – a 19’ BT. But, after two weeks on the south coast of NSW with her in the 16 footer, I have had an epiphany....... I DON"T NEED A HUGE VAN

I have now decided to spend a bundle of money upgrading the electrics and plumbing instead of getting a 19 footer.

I have used the van on many tight tracks over the years, places where I would not have got a 19’ van through. I was reminded of that, when moving around in a number of the South Coast National Parks which were listed as “camper van only”. I got the van around the narrow tracks with ease and managed to manoeuvre it into some very small campsites which would have been a real headache for a bigger van.

I don’t need to use the weight distribution bars on my smaller van, which is a great help on rough, uneven tracks and even in some camping grounds.

It is more economical to tow and a lot lighter when you head out to overtake a road train !

The van has the East West queen size bed which gives it a lot more space inside than one with an island bed. It is a physical chore to change the bed linen, but I only do that once a week, so I figure the space-saving, is worth it. I reckon it might have nearly as much space inside it as an 18 footer with the island bed set-up. Another East West plus, is that you get a huge side-to-side rear locker under the bed.

Surprisingly, the little 16 still has room for four 135 solar panels plus an air conditioner on the roof and three 80 litre tanks underneath (has a shower/toilet too).

If you like exploring those tight tracks and getting in to the best camp sites without that constant worry “will I be able to turn around”.
If you want to get better performance and economy on the black top.
If you don’t want the hassle of attaching/detaching weight distribution bars and the worry of busting them on a rough track.
If you want a huge under bed locker.


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Reply By: braggy - Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 at 05:19

Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 at 05:19
Hi Willie

You are spot on for two people, who want to get away from the crowds

Except 14'er is even shorter, narrower, lighter, lower (poptop) and even easier to get around down tracks (LOL), without causing damage to van, track or vegetation,
Especially when you see promo videos of big vans flattening saplings to get around bends, sort of thing that gets us all locked out (and so it should)

How are those Lithiums going for you ?

Cheers Ken
AnswerID: 587014

Follow Up By: Willie - Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 at 07:32

Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 at 07:32
G'day Ken,

I'm not into pop tops. I tried to buy a 14' dual axle (full height) second hand back in 2006, but they were even rarer than the 16s.

The electronics upgrade is still not finished. I will post about all my new gadgets when I get it back - probably within a fortnight.


FollowupID: 855662

Follow Up By: braggy - Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 at 19:00

Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 at 19:00
Yeah poptops add another area for problems,

Like mine when the skirt just falls off.

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Image Could Not Be Found

Cheers Ken
FollowupID: 855663

Reply By: Willie - Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 00:35

Friday, Jan 10, 2014 at 00:35
Yes, pop tops have problems -

water and dust leaks - constant maintenance to stop this.
wobbling around in heavy winds.
an extra thing to do when you stop for the night.
cannot put an air con unit in the roof so I guess it would take up room somewhere else (if you wanted one, which I don't).
very heavy to lift the top with 4 x 135 solar panels I would guess.
AnswerID: 587015

Reply By: cadent - Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 at 08:14

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 at 08:14
I have an 18 footer Willie, and have generally thought of upsizing when I retire...but bugger me, the 18 footer does everything I require, plenty of room for 2 (yacht bed), 6 panels, 4 batteries, 4 water tanks, and it tows well in tight places, no weight hitches etc and I get 18L/100km towing it. A bigger van won't do a lot of that. So I am tempted to refurbish whats required and keep it.
AnswerID: 587016

Reply By: Uncle Dodgy - Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 at 20:43

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 at 20:43
Hi Willie
Ignoring the effect post delivery of adding weight to your roof might have, have you thought of adding appropriate gas struts to assist in the lifting of the roof.
On another entirely diferent subject, airconditioning a poptop frequently means going to a split system.

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

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AnswerID: 587017

Follow Up By: Willie - Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 at 21:42

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 at 21:42
Hi John,

I must admit I have given it no thought at all, as I would never consider buying a pop top.

Do they make gas struts which would overcome the weight of four Kyocera solar panels ?

We are sitting in Rod Laver Arena watching the tennis and my wife just gave me 'that look' for playing with my phone. Better sign off !

FollowupID: 855664

Reply By: Uncle Dodgy - Thursday, Jan 23, 2014 at 00:48

Thursday, Jan 23, 2014 at 00:48
Hi Willie
Sorry to get you into trouble with SWMBO at the tennis.
I believe it would certainly be possible, although four struts would likely be needed.
But as you say, the question is acedemic, as you are not interested in a pop top. Getting your post mixed up with Barggy's. Sorry for the confusion.
I am not interested in a pop top either.
Get some linament for those bruises from SWMBO.

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

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AnswerID: 587018

Follow Up By: braggy - Thursday, Jan 23, 2014 at 02:23

Thursday, Jan 23, 2014 at 02:23

I have 3x 135w panels on the roof of the poptop, you can get the gas struts gassed up to suit the weight, I can push it up with one hand.
You can also get an air lifter, but I'm not that old, yet.

BTi put 4 gas struts and 2 spring lift mechanism, standard.

They also fit an A/C to the roof, but I'm not into Air Conds, so don't have one.
The extra openings in the upper skirt do allow for good air flow.

No dust at all into the van, except for some into the back of the fridge,( internal venting is on the list now).

No leaks, because the top of the walls have a one piece extruded aluminium capping, it would be less likely to leak there than a full heighter where the roof joins the walls.

The skirt may make them subject to being noiseier, but being lower and narrower I can just duck further down the track for a bit more solitude.

Cheers Ken
FollowupID: 855665

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