Bushtracker factory renovation/upgrade

Submitted: Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 at 03:01
ThreadID: 129513 Views:4989 Replies:5 FollowUps:3
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Howdy Boggers,

We have just finished our first big 6 month trip through Vic High Country, Great Ocean Road, Eyre Pen, SE of WA , WA Coast, Pilbarra and Kimberley.

Previously the 16 footer was a well maintained man cave that I used for prospecting. We had never gone away together for a long trip and did not know how happy we would be in the small van.

After 10,000km, we had a bit of experience of the grey nomad life and we started to talk about what we would like to have in a van, to improve our lifestyle.

Thoughts went to a 19 footer with a separate shower and toilet instead of the combined one in the 16 footer. The lure of more, storage, with drawers instead od cupboard shelves also was discussed, as was town water, disc brakes and a few other odds and ends.

Well, a new van might be a possibility in the future, but with the stock market in the doldrums, we have decided to do a "reno" on the 16 footer and save some money. I might add that the 16' lets us sneak down a lot of tracks a 19' would never go, so that was in the back of our minds also.

We have already done a lot of work on the 16', such as :
- New Large chassis replacing the small weak one it was originally made with.
- New 320ah lithium battery set-up
- New super duper smart battery charger
- New 2000w pure sine wave inverter
- Binned the std Aussie Traveller awning and got a roll out Dometic
- Installed a diesel heater
- Replaced all the water hoses from the tanks
- Built a small alloy box for the drawer bar with firewood holder
- Four 135ah solar panels
- Replaced the water heater with a new internal ignition control system
- Had town water put onto the sink only
- Installed a McHitch which we are about to upgrade to the auto coupling model
- Replaced the brake cables
- Replaced the springs
- Replaced the bump stops

If we had sold it, somebody would have got a very sound van, but I doubt if we would have got the price it was worth, because of it's age (2001 model).

So I have booked the van in to the factory for January next year for the following upgrades :


Replace all seven windows with a newer design (or the same if that is the only option).

Replace the Four Seasons hatch with a single hinged hatch.

A new door and seals.

New curtains and pelmets on all windows (except bathroom).

New cushions and backrests. Prices for leather and material please.

A table set-up that allows conversion to an extra bed.

Replace end cupboards/shelves and stove/griller/oven with drawers plus a cooktop which has 3 gas burners and a 240v hotplate
(no oven or griller) and my small 1000w microwave under the cooktop.

Remove cupboards/shelves under the sink and install large pot drawers.

Build a cupboard with one shelf above the fridge cabinet.

Install a new compressor refrigerator.

Install “Flickmixer” tap.

Install town water, to hot water system, sink and shower.

Replace gas hot water system with a gas/240v hot water system.

If there is room, install a wind up aerial on the roof which has TV and Telstra reception. Cables to TV and Wifi inside the van.

New lino floor.

New Bushtracker decals on front and back.

The Bushtracker management said the new type hatch was not possible without major structural changes, so we have canned that idea and may just get a new Four Seasons.

Does anybody have any ideas about other items we might upgrade at the same time ?



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Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 at 03:28

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 at 03:28
Hi Willie - that is practically a new van :O

What about changing the obvious bathroom door to a colour toned one - first thing you see as you enter is a white bathroom door (assuming yours is still the original). How comfortable is your seating in the dinette? Ours is terrible. I stand rather than sit for long. Re-profiling the back of the seats is needed on ours.


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AnswerID: 587913

Follow Up By: Willie - Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 at 18:58

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 at 18:58
Howdy Mrs Chook,

Dunno about the bathroom door, but I certainly should think about more comfortable cushions.

Thanks for the good advice,

FollowupID: 856085

Reply By: Col & Diane - Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 at 22:37

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 at 22:37
G'day Willie,

You haven't mentioned Sirocco 12V fans. We have three in our 17', and we rarely have to use the air conditioner, though we normally travel in the cooler months. In fact I'd like to remove the AC and replace it with a fan to reduce the weight, but the Minister for Finance and the Environment does not agree.

Have you considered the weight issue. We are always travelling too close to our 3.5 T limit and in fact when we fill all four tanks we are over. We only use the extra tanks when we head to more remote places though. We've already ditched the microwave and will go with the lithiums when the present batteries die. Other weight-saving measures I've been mulling over are: flexible solar panels; removing one gas bottle and carrying only a small spare; a smaller generator, if I got rid of the AC; getting rid of one spare wheel (probably won't happen even though in over 100,000 km we've never needed three spares. It's a security blanket thing).

As far as the shower door goes, we like the white translucent door because it saves having to use a light in the shower/toilet (not a big issue though).

I've always regretted not getting a 16' as we originally intended, especially when negotiating some tracks in the WA goldfields, but with the second-hand market the way it is, that's not an option anymore.

Another thing you might consider if you haven't already, are lights on all sides of the van (preferably flood lights). It helps when you are camped remotely by yourself and things go 'bump' in the night.

Hope it all goes well.


Col and Diane
AnswerID: 587914

Follow Up By: Willie - Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 03:05

Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 03:05
Hi Col,

Thanks for getting back to me. I have done so much to the van, that I have a job remembering all the work.

I have already replaced the globes inside an out with LED and I also replaced the rear light lenses, because the colour had faded.

I added two Sirocco fans last November. We used them a lot in the north of WA on this last trip.

In regards to exterior flood lights. I would like on on the front and back, but if I had them on the sides, I would smash them on branches when I am prospecting off track.

My van is only 2000 Tare, so I have not been too concerned about the weight.


FollowupID: 856086

Reply By: Leigh & Mita - Friday, Oct 17, 2014 at 01:57

Friday, Oct 17, 2014 at 01:57

Totally agree about the fans, best thing since "sliced bread".

I also noted you made no mention of LED lighting.

AnswerID: 587915

Reply By: Sal and John - Friday, Oct 17, 2014 at 02:42

Friday, Oct 17, 2014 at 02:42
Likewise here with the cushion profiles - one of our first jobs is a seat rebuild.

However, it is a stock standard motor trimmer task. Discuss with the trimmer and agree on a starting foam build - make a single place sample for testing. You may need to have 2-3 trial runs but the end cushions will be to your liking.

As an anecdote - years ago I had a bunch of airline pilots complaining about the pilot seats in a particular aircraft. Their suggestion was to get the latest and greatest Recaro aircraft seats for the fleet at a cost of several squillion dollars. I called in a motor trimmer mate who had plenty of aircraft seating background and we ended up with a better foam build - better comfort than the Recaro - for comparatively nickels and dimes. Happy pilots and we went back to making a dollar rather than going to and fro over seating.

Took two trial seat builds to get unanimous agreement from the troops.
AnswerID: 587916

Follow Up By: Willie - Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 03:08

Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 03:08
Thanks for the ideas Sal and John.
FollowupID: 856087

Reply By: Willie - Thursday, Oct 23, 2014 at 09:18

Thursday, Oct 23, 2014 at 09:18
I have thought of a couple of other things I will look at upgrading.

- I might get those new super hvy duty axles fitted, so I never have a problem.

- I would like to get rid of every one of those useless cupboard/ drawer catches that the button often gets stuck. I would like to have good quality ones fitted throughout.
AnswerID: 587917

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