True Off Road Caravans

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 08:15
ThreadID: 136073 Views:1700 Replies:9 FollowUps:14
i'm currently looking for a quality used 17ft or under off road van between $30K - $40K with a shower/toilet combo, independent suspension, dual axle, ball weight under 200kg and plenty of kg's between Tare and GTM. I have seen them in my price range, I just wasn't ready to purchase at the time.
Will be travelling on the Tanami, GRR and through the Kakadu.
Trying to broaden my list, so if you'd like to add to the list it would be appreciated.
Bushtracker
Trackmaster
Pheonix
Sundland
Supreme Getaway
Goldstream
Many thanks
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Reply By: MarkHugh - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 09:02

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 09:02
G'day Cruiser91

The Australian Off Road Quantum series has the build quality and specs. You might be lucky to find one in the $30K to $40K you propose but most command healthy resale prices, even well-used ones.

Cheers,
Mark
AnswerID: 616001

Reply By: CSeaJay - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 09:14

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 09:14
Sadly I do not think that true quality offroad van with all the requiremens listed can be used in th same sentamce with anything under $60k.
But perhaps you are lucky. Agree to add AOR to above list, but there are a few that I would not have on there.
Only when you actually travel these roads with a van dos one realise how tough and strong they need to be to survive.
Cheers.
AnswerID: 616002

Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 09:29

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 09:29
I also think the $30k -> $40k might be a bit difficult to find. I would also consider adding Kedron to your list.

Macca.
Macca.

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AnswerID: 616003

Reply By: splits - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 10:24

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 10:24
Your question brings back memories of a story in a caravan magazine back around 2006. It featured a modified 12 foot plywood 1978 Millard pop top that had already been towed around roads like the ones you mentioned for ten years prior to appearing in the magazine.

It had a second draw bar built inside the original that extended back to a new cross tube welded into the chassis near the axle. There was some boxing added to its C channel chassis, stiffer springs, larger axle and bearings plus alloy 14" wheels in place of the original steel 13 inch. The tow car was a Nissan Patrol ute.

I would imagine the key to its survival was low speed driving and that is vital on any of those roads even when not towing. If you want to break a van or car on pot holes, washouts and corrugations, you have to hit them hard and fast. Any of the vans you mentioned will handle those roads providing you take it easy, drive to the conditions and forget about time schedules and cruising speeds.
AnswerID: 616005

Reply By: dirvine - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 14:08

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 14:08
Whilst not classified as full off road (and not a dual axle) a New Age 16' Mr Deluxe is worth considering. Robust 6" chassis, D35 hitch, Off road trailing arm suspension with higher ground clearance, solar, separate shower and toilet, and an interior that is like a modern inner city apartment. I have one and have done all those roads, as well as the Great Central Road, and following Bourke and Wills as per the book. The other issue is that most vans at 17' or less are usually single axle, which mine is. I tow with a Discovery 4 and I dont soft foot around. So far the only thing that has happened is I need to wedge the shower door, as it screwed into aluminium with self tap screws which just ripped out. Also whatever you get you really and I mean REALLY need to protect anything under the van. Anything that can be damaged by flying rocks will get damaged unless completely protected. Mine has 500kg carrying capacity with an upgraded plate. In basic form its 400kg, but very easy to get it changed with no mods needed?????? (Go figure)
AnswerID: 616009

Reply By: Gronk - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 14:15

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 14:15
Most of those big vans are not really offroad vans, but merely fairly good dirt road vans.

A good offroad van would be some of the smaller things like Vista, Lifestyle, AOR etc.

But either way, unless it's very old, you will have a lot of trouble keeping in that price range.

I have looked myself and anything 1/2 decent seems to be in the $50K to $70K price range.
AnswerID: 616010

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 14:38

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 14:38
My definition of "true off road caravan" would be made from fibreglass sandwich panel, be single axle with longer than normal leaf springs (NOT independent suspension) and shockers, a fully articulating hitch, be 16ft max long and 2m max wide.
Add Gemhunter to your list.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 616011

Follow Up By: splits - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 16:48

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 16:48
be single axle with longer than normal leaf springs (NOT independent suspension) and shockers,
----------------------------------

I agree. There is a good reason why car springs are short at the front with the mounting point down low while the rear end is a lot longer with the shackles up much higher and the whole thing is flat or close to it when fully loaded.

As for trailing arm independent: I can't remember ever seeing a car with that design. You may find one if you went far enough back into the archives of the auto industry.
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FollowupID: 887226

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 17:35

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 17:35
Another one for the single axle and long leaf springs
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FollowupID: 887228

Follow Up By: dirvine - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 07:56

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 07:56
I think the reason why vans have trailing arm suspension is to try and keep the van level when traversing uneven terrain. Also a van is not self propelling so thats why cars do not have trailing arm suspension. But if you look at a Landrover Discovery you will note it has independent suspension on all 4 wheels, with air crossover compensation to try and keep the car level on uneven ground. Not saying that Trailing is better than leaf, as I have not had one in the bush as such, but the really capable campertailers (ie Ultimate and track tvan etc) all independent suspension, so there must be a reason behind it.
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FollowupID: 887234

Follow Up By: splits - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:08

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:08
I think the reason why vans have trailing arm suspension is to try and keep the van level when traversing uneven terrain.
-------------------------------------------------
That is when a trailing arm could be the last thing that you want.

The trailing arm design has the arm mounting bushes located in a straight line across the chassis. This means when the van leans over, the wheels also lean over at the same angle. The van is then leaning from ground level which gives the centre of gravity point a longer lever to lever it over. The wheels also can't change angles as they rise and fall to assist in steering stability.

Countless cars have used semi trailing arm suspension although there are much better systems available today. Their bushes are mounted on an angle to the centre line of the car. This link gives a very brief explanation of how they work.TRAILING ARM

Trailing arm suspension is cheap to make and looks very impressive to buyers. I could make one in my shed and not have to worry about all the angles involved with semi trailing and other designs that will have a direct effect on camber changes,wheel toe in/out and their effect on things like roll steer. All of that would require a lot of research and development. I am not in a position to do that and I doubt if many van manufacturers would be able to do it either.

Read through this link as well and note the suspension sketches. Click on "Roll Centre"
VAN DYNAMICS
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FollowupID: 887245

Follow Up By: dirvine - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 13:18

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 13:18
All I can say is that Tvan and the Australian Army must have it all wrong.They have independent suspension on their trailers. I guess I learn a new thing every day!! Thanks
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FollowupID: 887251

Follow Up By: splits - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 20:45

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 20:45
All I can say is that Tvan and the Australian Army must have it all wrong.They have independent suspension on their trailers. I guess I learn a new thing every day!! Thanks
---------------------------------------------

True but it is not the trailing arm design like you see under caravans. It does not operate the same way as a trailing arm.
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FollowupID: 887265

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018 at 00:28

Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018 at 00:28
This is an old Tvan video but it is a goodie - shows the benefit of keeping the tyres in contact with the ground - MC2 on the Tvan and rigid axles on the Landcruiser:

2012 Landcruiser 200 Altitude
2015 New Age MR16E Deluxe
2003 Tvan

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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 21:35

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 21:35
First Crusier, do a factory tour of the brands you are interesting in and see how they are constructed under the skin, even if you will be buying second had.

We all chose our various brands for what suited us, so made the many different decisions for different reasons. Do the factory tours, and do not consider any brands that do not allow these.

Choose from those whose caravans are still on the road long term, and from a manufacturer that has a good track record. Not everyone can afford to be a 'guinea pig' for a recently created brand, and you need to be sure they will still be there if you need them.

The very best way to research is to get out into camps in areas of the type you will travel even if you take a tent, and bail up people with dirty off road rigs and talk to them. People open up far more freely one-to-one than they can do on the internet, and most are happy to talk about their rigs, warts and all. We did this on holidays over a six year period before seeing a Bushtracker. After seeing under it (not even inside) my husband would not consider anything else. We were buying second hand in what was then a much smaller market.
Motherhen

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AnswerID: 616012

Reply By: Member - Megan and Kevin D - Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 22:06

Wednesday, Jan 10, 2018 at 22:06
Hi
We would like to communicate with you via email but can't find your member details in Exploroz.
We will soon advertise here on Exploroz and elsewhere a 2011 Goldstream 14ft off-road Explorer ST. We have owned it since new and enjoyed some wonderful outback trips with it. It has an ensuite and numerous "extras".
I will be posting photos and full details but in the meantime would like to send you more information by email .
Here is a photo of the van (taken near El Questro) and our car which will also be for sale.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Megan and Kevin

Megan and Kevin

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AnswerID: 616014

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 07:17

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 07:17
Hi Megan & Kevin,

I joined exploroz in 2012 (I think) but never became a full member, hence you cant find my details.

My email as follows: redgatecrt@hotmail.com

Thanks for your reply and to everyone else who has shared their knowledge and experiences.

Thanks again,
Steve
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FollowupID: 887233

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 09:58

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 09:58
We have what looks like the same model Goldstream. Bloody thing nearly fell apart. Very bad tyre wear on first trip and we got accused by the dealer of "abusing" it by taking it off road onto gravel ....... but that's what I thought the 3K off road suspension upgrade was for.
Eventually we found out nearly all our problems (apart from very shoddy curtain material) stemmed from wheels which were buckled from bad manufacturing processes.
So bad they couldn't be balanced and nearly shook the van to pieces. Pelmets fell off, cupboards used to come open even when locked, fridge open and stuff everywhere.
No assistance from the dealer until we took action through consumer affairs, GS never answered any of our emails even about an info. plate which fell off the chassis.
But they paid up when we took action through the small claims court.... new wheels plus expence of getting tests done, balancing etc.
It's not the fact that something goes wrong, it's the approach to the problem by the dealer and manufacturer which makes a good or bad experience.
Be careful, underneath those pretty skins of many vans, including the "tough as, unbreakable lot" lie lots of very dodgy bodged up problems.
Check out the websites re crap vans and RVs. Quite horrendous.
AlanTH.

PS. We've still got the Goldstream and eventually got new curtains under warranty which the dealer tried to say were "moth damaged"..... replacements arrived screwed up and stuffed tightly into a bin bag.
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FollowupID: 887242

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:24

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:24
Just following up.
I had an email from Dave M re:exploroz test
Dave I wont open any emails from any forum unless I have invited you to do so or you have advised me that that you will send one.
I treat it as junk and gets deleted without being opened.
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FollowupID: 887246

Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:33

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:33
Ok. Just trying to pass on some helpful info.
Dave.
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FollowupID: 887247

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:51

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:51
Thanks Dave,
Will open now you have responded.
Never can be to cautious when receiving unexpected emails.
Many thanks
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FollowupID: 887248

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:53

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:53
Dave, there's nothing in your email
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FollowupID: 887249

Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 17:11

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 at 17:11
Just a test to ensure an email would go through before I wrote any info Crusier.
Cheers,Dave.
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FollowupID: 887255

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