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Hi from an off road newbie

  • JoeGrae
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3 years 7 months ago #1464 by JoeGrae
Hi from an off road newbie was created by JoeGrae
Hi All,

I’m Joe, a contented, rotund, greying wife.

My hubby Joe, I know! What are the odds? Right! :lol:

Anyway, after many dynamic discussions and negotiations, Joe finally convinced me to move into a caravan and tour Aus. starting with a trip to the tip of Cape York.

Great asperations, but hey, if you’re going to do something, do it right.

Now we are totally new to all of this, soo we have lots of questions, starting with...

What’s the best rig (van and tow vehicle) to be self sufficient off grid that can literally go anywhere?

Looking forward to chatting with you all.


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3 years 7 months ago #1465 by Garry
Replied by Garry on topic Hi from an off road newbie
Welcome aboard.
Getting the right van is really personal choice, and what little luxuries you can't do without.
I.E. Shower, toilet, washing machine, air conditioning, heater, microwave, etc.
Also take into consideration: How comfortable you are at towing very large vans, as opposed to smaller ones off road, or do you intend sticking to the Asphalt surface.
Are you looking to stop at mainly free camps, as opposed to caravan parks.

The choices you make, will point you in the direction of what you require.

P.S. Remember its meant to be a fun time travelling to your destination, and not a chore.

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3 years 5 months ago - 3 years 5 months ago #1492 by hardball
Replied by hardball on topic Hi from an off road newbie
know where you're coming from.
until now I used to grey nomad using ultra light vans {mitsubishi express, toyota liteace, Nissan urvans etc] which is all very fine if you like to travel hard & fast and live off a butane gas stove and a bar fridge. No toilet, kitchenette or washing machine though, Shower was a bucket. Upside was you could go down any sandy track to God knows where without worrying about turning around.
Downside was space, or lack of. A false floor can store footwear, clothes and tinned food but when you add a floor to a van, you can't stand up in them anymore to get changed and such. Other consideration was power. Didn't carry a spare battery so had to watch that the inverter that ran everything didn't flatten the battery that started the car. Vans have their own batteries so this is not an issue for them.
Compromise was a box trailer for the toys. Kayaks and pushbikes. Light 6x4's are great. Hardly notice they're behind the car. A cage on the trailer means you can carry kayaks on the cage and bikes inside. Trailed someone else's trailer once. Never again. Weighed a ton before I put anything in it. It was a tradies trailer.
Phase II.
Ordered an "Ozzie Amarok". It's a purpose built 4x4 available ONLY in Oz with a manual transmission.
Why a manual?
Power is always more useful when it's at the wheels, not the water pump. Autos are fine on the open road in top gear UNTIL they drop out of top gear or drop below 60 or so at which point the first thing to disengage is the lock up clutch in the torque converter. The torque converter now behaves as a fluid flywheel which means some of your power from the engine is not driving the wheels. Torque converter is basically two zero displacement pumps facing one another. An analogy is two pool pumps facing one another. If one pump goes faster than the other, it drags the slower pump with it. Same with cars. One side of the torque converter is connected to the engine, the other to the wheels. Not all the power is transferred from one to the other though. Unless the clutch between the two is engaged, there is slip between the two. This slip is where power is lost in autos. That;s why it;s neck and neck with autos and manuals going uphills until the auto drops out of top gear. At that point 100% power is no longer going to the wheels in the auto and they start dropping behind and the manuals overtake them.
Why the Amarok and a van? because you can dump the van at your campsite and go exploring or go to the corner store for a bottle of milk or VB or whatever when you're unhitched. You're Winnebagos are nice if you go somewhere and just want to pull on the handbrake and pray you have everything for the night without a run down to the local store. But if you need or want to go somewhere without feeling like a lumbering turtle, articulated is my choice.
I prefer the Amaroks (v6 turbo diesel) as they drive like a car but pull like a truck with a min of 500 n/m of torque. Locking rear diff means you probably will never need a winch if you're a 4wd freak. Traction control on the front diff is a good combination with a rear diff lock. I've had locked front diffs on 4x4's and they definitely make the steering lively! Don't keep your thumbs inside the steering wheel. They'll be dislocated. Traction control on the Amarok front end is a bit more subdued than a locked diff. It applies the brakes to a wheel on the front that is in the air and free spinning which means that power is applied to the wheel on the ground.
As far as vans go, they're all of a muchness in my opinion. Just different flavours. If you're an avid 4wd freak, the Black Series Campers are orientated for people who are extreme adventure types. Not overly large, lightish, but some DIY required when you get where you're going. They expect you to muck around with slide out cooktops, pop up tent arrangements and the like.
Next step up are the $80k vans. New Generation and the like. Basically you look at what you're car can tow. An Amarok auto can tow 3 &1/2 ton. An Amarok Manual can tow 3 ton. An Xtrail can tow a box trailer.
If you don't want to tow a trailer and don't go much off the black top, go down to Parramatta Rd @ Clyde and get one of those Wallaby campers. You get a Winnebago or similar on a VW or Mercedes or Iveco chassis or whatever and it's all self contained. Bear in mind these units travel on truck tyres and I've had a bad experience on them on clay roads in the wet. Going down Pigeon House mountain backwards on a dirt road without guard rails in the rain was certainly a thrill.
You will have trouble if you're driving a truck chassis with a camper body with truck tyres into wet paddocks and the like too if you start camping on farmer's properties as you may need a tractor to get you out. front wheel drive VW's and similar will help but don't hold your breath.
4x4's have it all over these sorts of situations.
Amarok is coming in July. Purchased two vehicles this financial year so picking this one up next. Besides, 7 month waiting list on the things. As far as vans go, I'll probably get a New Age. Their sales office is 600m up the street.
In the meantime, still got two of those hippie campers complete with downlights, carpet, fold up seats, towbar, light bar etc so I'll just keep using them for the moment. Just means I can't go serious 4W driving yet.
Just re-read you're original submission.
Yep, been up that way. You're talking serious 4WD to tackle that trip to the top. If I were new to 4WDriving I'd start with a few weekend trips first to test your skills. If you're near Sydney there's a great place to start called Hill End. Track from there to Bathurst I think is 4WD. You can't do the whole trip as the way is blocked by a boulder at the bottom of the descent from Hill End but a good introduction to off road 4WD and you can get whatever you want from the pub that you forgot to bring...like more ice for the beers the last time I went there!
The track has creek crossings, hill descents and pretty well every contingency you would encounter off road almost anywhere. Learn to wade across creeks before you cross them. Hill descent is low 1st gear and don't touch the brakes, no matter how much you slip. The instant you apply brakes you lose steer. All that sort of stuff.
If you're not near Sydney, check out those feral bike rider forums for ideas/venues. Adventure Rider is a good one.
Last edit: 3 years 5 months ago by hardball.

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