With 2017’s calendar about to go into top gear, we will be spending at least 3 months up North in the Kimberley & Pilbara regions running tours including the Gibb River Road, Oombulgurri Track & multiple 8 day Pilbara adventures ! We are faced with a lack of storage of equipment for such a long time on the road away from home base in South West WA.
You see, we could cram everything into our lead tour vehicle, but realistically it was going to be crowded, annoying to access & potentially dangerous! The decision was soon made to keep an eye out for an off-road camper, that we could use as a platform to modify to suit our requirements as a tour support trailer.
We ended up eyeing a bargain, with an MDC Off-road Camper trailer with a soft floor camper that had been used twice coming up for sale! This was soon to be our base for a trailer build.
After collecting the new trailer, we went about modifying with some core ideals.
– Make it practical
– Make it tough
– Make it to suit our needs
– Keep the weight down!
Within half an hour of having it home, we ripped off the practically Brand New Camper tent & put it into storage. Setting up a camper tent isn’t something that we were keen on each day & its size was prohibitive & unnecessary.
The Lid –
Building a new frame for the lid was the next call to order followed by sourcing some marine plywood. Dimensions of 1290 wide made it challenging to find the right size, as the maximum sheet size is 1240mm in width. We actually used the offcuts to fill the gaps on each side & siliconed them up, as well as painting the Marine Ply for added protection from the elements. Some Aluminium was bent up to go around the trailer top & the plywood was secured using L Brackets & Metal roofing screws on the underside Double lipped D Seal rubber extrusion from Clark Rubber provides a brilliant seal & together with no more gaps, we reckon dust & water will have as hard a chance as any at making it in. 1100nm/ 830mm Gas struts came with the trailer but proved to require a lot of force to initially open & close the trailer top, so we now have 650NM/ 700mm struts set at a different angle which makes this work a lot better & retain roughly the same opening size !
The Running Gear –
Initially the trailer ran 6 Stud Landcruiser/Patrol pattern hubs on a lazy 50mm offset axle with unknown bearings. To match the lead tour vehicle, 5 stud cruiser hubs, marine seals & a 45mm slimline axle were utilised with ford bearings. Bolted to the hubs are split rims in 16×7.5 with Dunlop Rubber. This allows us to get us as close to the same wheel track as possible. Being a 7×4 Trailer wheel track to a Landcruiser would mean big guard mods, so we decided less resistance with the splits/skinnys would be the way to go. This can be changed down the track if need be, but we will see how it goes. New u-bolts & shock mounts have been installed. Best of all, the tyres and axle/spring combo have the trailer sitting nice and tall, in line with the tour vehicles suspension proportion with a very slight down attitude for some ball weight. The hitch is already a poly block coupling and works well.
Basically we went simple here. 2 x 40amp hour sealed fire panel batteries were wired together to allow 80 Amp Hours of useable power utilising a powertech battery box from Jaycar. Two Cigarette outlet plugs on the battery box allow us to run leads to strip lighting attached on the underside of the lid. Anderson plug attachments will allow for solar inputs to recharge the batteries & that’s about it! We will re visit the trailer electrics in the future but for now, this basic approach saves on weight, time & expense.
The first thing we did is rip off the tent, as it wasn’t practical, but to allow some flexibility BCF here in Perth (Joondalup ) helped us out with an XTM Rooftop tent that fits the top of the camper to almost exact dimensions! That was awesome, and after some quick mods, we had it up & running. A dust cover is yet to be added but this will ensue everything stays dust and water free, but we cant wait to have the option to spend a few nights in the “penthouse” ! It will also be great to have the missus join me on some legs of the journey so this will allow further flexibility in accommodation set ups!
Kitchen & Other mods thus far.
The Kitchen on the tailgate of the trailer is basic. We got a storage tub from Bunnings that houses all cutlery & utensils, the sink is plumbed with a hand tap (manual pump) to an 80L water tank under the trailer. A small container was screwed to the bench for storage of dishwashing liquid & scourer. We had a Coleman stove in the shed that saw little to no use, but fitted perfectly on the tailgate. We screwed it down & ran the gas hose through the cupboard & under the sink where it pokes out ready to be connected to the two available 4.5Kg gas bottles. Furthermore we have purchased a POL cylinder to 3/8th adaptor so both major cylinder types can be used. For extra storage of Gas, we have added a 9KG has bottle holder, bolted through the floor, to store additional gas for longer trips ( we are offering cooking facilities in the future.
We will upload some pics in Pt2, of the Kitchen & what we have done with it!
Immediate Plans –
We will be bracing important areas, and ensuring everything is secure in the trailers construction to ensure our travel along the rough & corrugated roads of our northern land areas. We have access to a hot works area so additional supports will be welded & potential areas of weakness identified and corrected.
We will be stickering up the trailer shortly recognising all of our awesome sponsors who contribute to the success of Explore WA as a thank you for their continued support!
Future Plans –
Revisit 12V set up.
Install instant Gas hot water system.
Electric Water pump
So while we are most of the way through our build before heading north, there is still some things to be done but the trailer has most certainly taken shape quickly! It’s been great fun building it up & we have spent no more than $800 in getting it to where it is. While we have had the support of some businesses, a bit of handy work & DIY has gone a long way to get us where we are with the trailer build.
But what about that Oops moment – Ah yes, the missus just reminded me to tell you all about my oops moment…. I was happy to leave it out trust me. Well I was repairing some poles on the tent & managed to drill through my middle finger! Rookie error! Luckily a trip to hospital wasn’t so painful after all & I had missed the tendons so no surgery required! – Ill spare you the photos of this one!
Stay tuned for updates on the build before we take off up the highway to the Kimberley at the start of May & see where we get to with the trailer build in the coming weeks!
See you out there,
#adventure #4wd #overland – www.explore-wa.net