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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:41 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:23 pm
Posts: 3198
Location: Darwin... sort of.
They are a pain to pack up dry and with ours being a low profile unit made it worse again, in fact the sales blurb about having your bed ready to go is absolute crap, there was no way you could pack it up even with the sheets on! In the end the solution to that was simple and fixed a number of complaints at once... pee the 70mm ultra hard mattress off and replace it with a quality inflatable mattress permanently in place and made up, it took 30sec to inflate and deflate and was actually comfortable and packing the tent up became a breeze and as an added bonus the inside of the RTT was then hollow allowing us to use it for storage.

It won't matter if you're 25 or 55 mate sooner or later you or the missus is going to need to pee in the middle of the night and I guarantee words will start coming out of your mouth you didn't even know you knew having to climb up and down that ladder ... at least it's funny the first time and you also become very thorough at checking the campsite and putting things away before bed..

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 4:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:45 pm
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Location: Digital Nomad, Australia
Danno wrote:
... and you also become very thorough at checking the campsite and putting things away before bed..


Forgive my naivety, but what do you mean by this Danno?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 5:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:43 pm
Posts: 1382
Location: West Gippsland Victoria
explora4wd wrote:
Danno wrote:
... and you also become very thorough at checking the campsite and putting things away before bed..


Forgive my naivety, but what do you mean by this Danno?


I would guess so you don't have a obstacle coarse to negotiate in the dark .


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:16 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:45 pm
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Location: Digital Nomad, Australia
Jackofjr wrote:
explora4wd wrote:
Danno wrote:
... and you also become very thorough at checking the campsite and putting things away before bed..


Forgive my naivety, but what do you mean by this Danno?


I would guess so you don't have a obstacle coarse to negotiate in the dark .


I thought so, fortunately the fancy-pants Backtrax RTTs have external lights :lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:25 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:23 pm
Posts: 3198
Location: Darwin... sort of.
Jackofjr wrote:
explora4wd wrote:
Danno wrote:
... and you also become very thorough at checking the campsite and putting things away before bed..


Forgive my naivety, but what do you mean by this Danno?


I would guess so you don't have a obstacle coarse to negotiate in the dark .


Nope, so you don't get all comfortable in bed and then realise you've forgotten something and have to climb back out and down...

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:05 pm 
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Location: Digital Nomad, Australia
Here's the solution to the ladder problem Danno... the whole thing could swing over the rear of the canopy, much like a hard-floor camper trailer. The tent would have to be upside during transit. You'd need some swing-down legs (like on caravans) when it's swung over so you're not try to cantilever so much weight.

I won't be making this, and the hard-shell tents probably aren't rated to take their weight through the roof... but it's fun to play with ideas though! ;)
If it was work-able, you'd just hop from ground level, though it would be a bit higher than a normal bed.


EDIT: Does anyone make really big fridge drop slides?

EDIT: Secondary thought, mount a tinny on the other side. It would ride on top during transit, and the swing arms would double as a boat loader! Neat!


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 Post subject: Monocoque construction?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:43 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:45 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Digital Nomad, Australia
I've been basing my canopy design off the Norweld units, I've always like the look of their work and they seem the most solid. They're heavy though, it looks like most of the frame is 100x50x3 RHS, some 50x3 SHS and 2.5mm sheet cladding. That ends of being a lot of weight, my guess is that they be near 200-250kg for just the canopy.

Because of this I'm looking into monocoque construction, I've found this mob called Trig Point that do awesome looking frameless aluminium service bodies, but no tray-mount canopy options. I'm not sure what thickness you'd need to construct a monocoque aluminium canopy that can support 100kg on the roof - in off-road conditions. My rough calculations indicate the cladding covers 16 square meters, so I could use like 5mm aluminium sheet and it would be about 210kg.

The other option is thicker structural composite panels that are used by some caravan manufacturers. One that comes to mind (and is DIY friendly) is Styromax. It looks like if you give them plans, thet can cut everything out for you. Again, the question is how much weight the roof can support, and I wonder if it'll complicate the fit-out it ways I cannot for-see (due to have no experience with the panels). Based on the ~16m² calc, Styromax could come in at only ~130Kg! This route would mean I wouldn't have to worry about flex and cracking welds.

I want the doors to be strong enough to only require one central latch (which would be connected to central locking too).

Any advice or ideas are welcomed!

I'll post a comprehensive analysis once I've researched thoroughly enough to make a decision.

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Last edited by explora4wd on Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Explora4WD D-max
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:45 pm
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Location: Digital Nomad, Australia
I'm lumping these two duties together, as generally they use the same power source (electric, diesel, gas, etc). Here's a few options I looked at, and which way I'm leaning towards.


Truma HWS

Note: In the following, I've aptly substituted Truma for 'Trauma'.

This seems to be a common setup in many camper trailers, etc. I'm documenting this option first because it's what we've been living with in the camper trailer, so I can confidently outline this system shortcomings (and I think I need to rant).

Our camper trailer has a gas-only 14L Trauma hot water system, and it has been nothing but trouble. To be fair, some days it's fine. Most days, a kitten's fart will blow the flame out and the system will go into failsafe/error mode. So the normal procedure after turning it on, is check on it every few minutes for nearly a half hour to check that it hasn't error out yet.

When it works though, the hot water is great in the kitchen sink and the Trauma tank will retain sufficient heat over night so you can clean up after breaky without flicking it on again. If there's any breeze about though, and we need to do dishes: we usually give up pretty quick and just boil the kettle.

We also rely on this system for our external shower. In combination, these two are a terrible mix. The shower has two taps for mixing hot and cold, and you can easily waste excessive amounts of water trying to get an acceptable temperate. Where each tap should be 'set to' can fluctuate a fair amount (I'm guessing based on cold water temps). After you've figured it out, the temperature will never remain consistent, often getting a burst of full cold or scalding hot coming through, this interrupts your shower and wastes more water.

The other missing 'feature' of our shower setup is being able to draw for external water sources. It's probably possible to rig something up, but I don't have the desire to mess with the system.

A few other things to note about the Trauma hot water system. Ours developed a leak after our Cape York trip in 2014 and the whole tank had to be replaced (seemingly not an install error). The repairers also maxed out the gas pressure setting in our regulator to minimise blow-outs, but it didn't help. The air vent has a weak plastic cover that can be a nightmare to remove. I was fortunate that Lifestyle Camper Trailers showed me the trick to get the cover off, I've since passed this trick to many others campers who see me effortlessly remove my cover (with only my bare hands).


Built-in 2 burner cooktop/hob

Onto the hob/cooktop. Our camper trailer has a very common 2 burner Smev unit, it's recessed into the bench top and has a glass lid. We don't have too much trouble with this, the main issue is cleaning it. There's a sort of channel under the cramped control knobs which is very difficult to wipe out any mess. The trivets are removable to aid cleaning, however their rubber grommets are easily torn. We maintain a stock of replacement grommets for when they tear. The rubber stops for the glass lid like to frequently dislodge themselves too, not a biggie but it does eat at my OCD tendencies.

Depending on how thoroughly you clean the stove, you may add some resistance to the arc which will hamper the electric ignition. It only takes a light sanding to resolve. I'm mainly noting this in case others have ignition problems and happen to find my verbose ramblings.

Other than that, it operates really well, and the burners aren't too cramped in like I've seen on some other stoves.


Diesel hot water & cooking combo

These are hard to find info on, but it seems Webasto are the most diesel common system (I think Kimberley Karavans use them?). I really liked the idea of these, mainly because I could completely eliminate a fuel source (gas) and just use what the car runs (diesel). As mentioned, the first problem is it's hard to find info on the Webasto gear. The second is the cost, unsurprisingly it was hard to find a price, but it looks like roughly $2000ea for the cooktop and water heater, so nearly $4k total! If these system were awesome, I could justify that price. But they're not, so lets look at that.

For the hot water system I'm presuming it would work much better in windy conditions, and generally run more reliably than the Truama gas heaters. But that's where the advantages end, with a discrete hot water tank the shower would still have the same problems. I should also mention that, obviously, a hot water tank takes up space, which is at a premium with a dual-cab fit out.

The diesel cooktops are more interesting, it seems they can be really good for cooking... once they heat up. It seems you have to wait nearly 20 minutes for them to get to temperature! That's before you start cooking. So it could take some 30 minutes to boil 2 cups of water for coffee in the morning? No thanks. Certainly not for a $2000 system.


Glind hot water (heat exchanger)

I looked briefly at the Glind heater exchangers, but quickly ruled these out as I'd be running the engine at in-appropriate times to get hot water (for dishes at night, or a shower). I'd rather enjoy the quiet of the night and not piss-off other campers.


Instant Hot Water System (Gas) - Joolca Hottap

Despite being gas-based, these look like a good deal for shower and hopefully dish washing too. Anecdotal evidences suggest these Hottaps work reliably in light windy conditions. You can set the temperature, and you'll get consistently hot water out the other end... no more mixing taps! Finally, it looks easy to connect an external water source (they even stock their own pickups and extra hoses, etc for this).

Potential down sides is that in cold conditions, it might not provide the hottest water for doing dishes. They claim a max temp increase of 35C, so it should be fine unless the water temp is in the low single digits. It also doesn't look geared to provide a permanent hot water supply to a sink, but I'm sure it's do-able.

I intended to find somewhere that has these so I can test before I buy, but all the reports online sound good.


Compact BBQ cooker (instead of a regular gas cooktop)

The missus always goes on about wanting a Weber, I've been reluctant because of their awkward shape. I did some looking around and found a few boxy alternatives that appease my pedantic packing. One that really piqued my interest was the Sizzler Deluxe BBQs.

The Sizzler's appear to originally be targeted for marine applications, and as such are made from stainless steel and come with an aluminium hot plate so they don't rust... sounds good to me! This also means the burners are completely shielded to operate in high winds. Finally, the hotplate can be swapped for a low-set cooking rack so you can use it as a regular gas stove, or shut the lid and it's an oven. Sounds too good to be true! Only time will tell if they're as good as they say, but I intend to get one to find out.


Summary

It looks like the combination of a Joolca Hottap and Sizzler Deluxe BBQ will tick off water heater, showering and cooking. The BBQ should be a solid bit of gear, and can still be used as a conventional cooktop when required. With 80-100L on-board water intended, and the ability to easily draw from external water for showering, we should be able to go some time without having to fill water. The main feature we lose is a hot water tank, but that's not a big deal. We'll also still have to carry a gas bottle, and check out the gas regulations for the build. Other than that, these units address most of the shortfalls encountered in regular camper trailer setups that I've experienced, and it's probably one of the cheapest routes to go too. I like to keep my expectations realistic though, and understand these systems will probably come with their own unforeseeable problems.

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 Post subject: Re: Explora4WD D-max
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:43 pm
Posts: 22
Can I ask where you bought the replacement smev grommets? I've got a 4 burner smev and have already torn 2 or 3 of them. Yeah the control panel recess is a tight place to clean.
I guess I should check Dometic/Waeco spare parts first. Their HQ is 5 mins from my place.


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 Post subject: Re: Explora4WD D-max
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:45 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Digital Nomad, Australia
I got them from CaravansPlus ... I think this is them: https://www.caravansplus.com.au/catalog ... ts_id=7833

They also have the lid bump-stops if you've lost any of those: https://www.caravansplus.com.au/catalog ... ts_id=9579
We lost one of these just this morning :roll: Might go around and put a dab of glue on them.

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