Good morning from a Morphing Camper

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Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby markannab » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:20 am

Good morning all!

My wife & I, both close to 40, live on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. Back in the 90's and early 2000's, we camped in a tent (firstly in SE QLD, then NSW when we moved in 1995). In around 2005, we bought a 1983 Cub Drifter and had it fully re-canvassed, painted, signwritten, etc. and have had a great time in it. We still love it.

But, as with many campers, just before every trip, we jokingly insist on doing a "camping shop" (i.e. buy at least one "goodie" for the trip: a water container, a new saucepan, a board game, a BBQ). Our kit got bigger and bigger so that when we bought a generator, I had to built a roof rack for the camper to get everything to the campsite. Now we realize we lost the plot and have to make some changes - hence the "Morphing Camper" reference in the Heading.

I seem to do my back in every 2nd trip trying to lift the drawbar or similar and our car, an Astra, hardly gets traction as we leave one of our favourite river campsites which has a steep driveway. So we are going radical. The camper is going (in fact, friends want to buy it this week) and we're returning to tenting! Something we've even shocked ourselves about. However, tenting is on one condition: That our tenting equipment is very good quality.

The money we receive for the camper will allow us to spend a reasonable amount on new equipment. If we end up getting the money within a week or two, we'll have months & months to slowly choose our equipment (mostly brand new; some near new if we can find it). It should be fun! The following is what we're considering. We'd be interested in any feedback or thoughts:

TENT
Oztrail two-room with awning: http://www.oztrail.com.au/canvas-product-range/cabin-tents/CTC-1215L-B.php
I'd be interested in opinions on the "lite" version material compared to the heavier standard material which isn't specified.

TRAILER
6' x 4' gal trailer with an upside down "box" top that is waterproof to carry/store everything.

FRIDGE
Gas fridge with freezer compartment minimum of 50 litre capacity. I'm being advised to buy Waeco. Any thoughts?

KITCHEN
Not one of these multi-tool light-weight kitchens from K-mart that includes board games! Rather a more basic and solid fold-up bench arrangement from a camping store. The stove can sit on one end and a rectangular plastic tub for a sink sits on the other end (likely not recessed into the top).

STOVE
Companion 3 burner with BBQ plate.

GENERATOR
Kaito 1000w generator (I already have this from previous setup)

TABLES
Two tables already in kit - one for under free-standing Oztrail gazebo; the other for under awning of tent or inside tent living area.

BED
Undecided on this one! Big fan of taking foam mattress but others say they attract moisture. Alternative: Self-inflating (by means of built-in motor) ensemble (stands some 500mm high) or inflatable on it's own expandable frame. We think double but because I toss & turn all night, two singles might be better. Just not sure on this one.

TENT FLY
We want to keep things simple so want to avoid a separate fly. Do we need one on the above tent for heat shielding or rain?

MISCELLANIOUS
There's other equipment like lounge chairs, two upright chairs for eating at the table and fishing gear (of course). But the above items are mainly what we're looking at.
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby HGMonaro » Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:47 pm

Hi Mark (guessing it's Mark & Anna)

As I was reading your plans I was wondering where you were going to put it all... then I see a trailer! How's that going to simplify things over a camper? (sorry to raise this if you've already sold it!!!). You'll end up with more stuff than you started with (you'll have more stoarge space).

Some thoughts...

Can't help with the tent selection, we have a 6 person dome but only stay in it 1 or 2 nights at a time when doing a overnighter away from our camper and only put our air matresses and change of clothes. Everything else (cooking) stays in the car.

Beds. Some people don't like air matressess, worth testing (can you borrow one?) before committing to them. Good thing about them it the packed size is small, unlike a foam matress which although light, is bulky. An alternative might be stretcher beds, with or without a self-inflating matress.

Tent Fly. This forum thinks flys are a good thing! :)

Two sets of chairs? Do you really need both?

Fridge : Have seen the Waeco gas fridge advertised recently, but never heard anything about them. They must be new to Oz I think.

Anyway, welcome!

Cheers, Nige
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby markannab » Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:36 pm

I guess it's a fair enough question! "Simplify" may over-simply what I'm trying to achieve!

I have a weak lower back. Our camper gets towed by a small car with a low drawbar. The end result is my wife & I end up having to manually lower/lift the drawbar to get it on/off the car. A box trailer will be much lighter. Also, while a tent requires relatively level ground, a camper almost always needs to have a levelling ramp under one wheel. None of this is a big deal in itself. But we find we spend a good 20 minutes or more onsite before we even start winding up the roof (and fitting the annexe and bend-end flys). And by the end, my back's often got me limping around. Also, one of our favourite campsites has a steep driveway. Our front-wheel-drive Astra can't get proper traction towing 700kg+. Our first exit cost us a set of tyres because they were chopped to pieces by the top! Now we get someone else to tow us out.

All-in-all, a light-weight trailer filled with even a good number of things - all relatively light except maybe for a fridge - will mean a relaxed "potter" around as the two of us set up and pull down.

Regarding chairs, I guess one set is enough. But this is where my lack of ability to keep simple comes in! :lol: One set are typical sit back & relax chairs. The other set are fold-up dining-type ones suitable for sitting up at a table to eat, play a board game, prepare food, or to sit on to play guitar (because they don't have arms to get in the way).

So, I guess "simplify" wasn't the right word - lighten the work load may have been better! Thanks for your suggestions.

P.S. And . . . a tent will allow us to put all our gear in the tinny and take it with us!!!
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby HGMonaro » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:10 am

how's your reversing skills... you could backup that hill :)

My son is learning the guitar... one day I hope he can play it around the campfire. At the moment he has a 3 song catalogue... 2 christmas carols and the theme to Mission Impossible!!! He has heard on 'Smoke on the Water' (not from me) so there's hope!!!

The extra chairs will probably be ok as they will be light and bulky, stopping you from adding something else to the load!!! Some goes for the matress. A thick foam one would normally be a pain to pack but you will probably have room to cart one around.

Cheers, Nige
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby ben... » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:49 pm

interesting way to go, that is going backwards. Looks like you have put alot of thought into it, so good luck. My POV would be that going backwards means more lifting and works. Not that i know what your back complaint is, but when i was in tents and having to load everything in and out of the ute, my back was stuff by the end. More packing means more lifting, but if you can keep things simple and not pack the kitchen sink you may be able to make it workable.

Best of luck - im happy to be out of my tent and in a camper trailer now thought.
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby markannab » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:06 pm

Yes, I have to say, the decision we've made shocked us more than anyone else! When we bought our camper, we considered tenting to be sub-standard - a place never to return to. But having now experienced a van for some five years, we can see some benefits.

As explained though, with our particular camper/car combo, there is some very heavy lifting involved with the towbar, levelling, annexe, flys . . . It it were a poptop or caravan, it would be a whole different story.

We have given it a great deal of thought (and drawn up a "For" and "Against" list) and while we acknowledge there are some negatives, the positives win by far. One is, as mentioned, that sometimes we can leave the trailer at home & put our gear in the boat & take it with us for a spot of fishing!

My tenting experiences have always been in cheap, thin tents. This time, it's in a thick-walled, heavy-floored tent that will be very carefully chosen for design, air-flow, awning, etc., etc. We're really giving every facet, every purchase a great deal of time & research. We're hopeful it'll work out.
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby garbage » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:19 pm

I pretty much do the same style of tenting that you're wanting to morph into. I have a 2.0L 4 cylinder car towing a 750kg 7x4 box trailer with lid/cover. I have a canvas touring tent which I pack right at the back of the trailer, so it's just a matter of sliding it on/off. The back door of the trailer is hinged on the passenger side (left) so swings open like a door and has a flip down section for the barbecue to sit on. The barbecue can sit here even in transit. I keep my self inflating mattresses already inflated in the trailer, so there's no stress on the back having to roll them back up. All my bits and pieces are stored in small plastic containers.

This setup works well for us. We only spend about 10 minutes to have our camp site fully set up, and probably about 20 minutes to pack up.

Regarding the fridge, if you're going for a 3 way one, I trust you know that they don't perform that well in very hot weather and drain plenty of power when on 12 volt.
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby markannab » Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:42 pm

Thanks for your suggestions on the trailer usage, especially with the tailgate and BBQ info! I can picture, possibly, the trailer being backed up to the edge of the awning area and the tailgate (if it folds down) being used as a table for the stove/BBQ with food, etc (or at least, the frequently accessed food/drink) being stored in the very back of the trailer under cover.

That would mean we could shrink the size of the table since it only now needs to be for washing up. Excellent. Thanks again! :+
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby Jo&Kev » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:07 am

Hi Mark
There are a few different 3-Way fridges around. Over summer I have seen them in K-Mart and SuperCheap Auto. I have a K-Mart one which is the same as the MobiCool, as is the SuerCheap branded one. I get the feeling that the smaller non Waeco brands are actually MobiCool ones rebranded. MobiCool are a part of Waeco.
On the down side there is a recall on the CA35 range. See this http://www.waeco.com.au/news.asp?id=228 It is a voluntary recall. Other downers are the current draw when they run on 12V. Mine burned out the initial wiring in our 4WD. I installed Waeco cabling and a power controller. Still had a few problems with the cigarette lighter plug overheating. Turns out that if the cigarette lighter plug vibrates out, the current draw increases and the plug can overheat and melt. Not only does it smell bad but the fridge doesn't work and you risk things defrosting. If you are going places where this is likely you can change the cigarette lighter plug for a Hella type plug and socket. You will need at least 6.5mm cable.
Their performance running on 12V is frankly quite average. It is good enough to keep things cool while you are traveling. On 240V its OK but they really do work well on LPG.
The key to a 3Way fridge is to cool it down before you leave. Plug it in to 240V, put some frozen water bottles in there. They will defrost but the idea is to cool down the air in the fridge. Stock it up before you leave and away you go. If you are going somewhere really hot you will need to keep it level and out of direct sunlight. The cooler you can keep the fridge the better it will work.
We use ours fairly regularly and love it. We have a separate cylinder for it, which has a pole for our gas light, and we get weeks of use from it.
Hope this helps.
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby markannab » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:13 am

Hi Kev

Thanks for that info. Never thought of checking at Super Cheap either. We will definitely only being running on gas. With the camper that we sold (as of yesterday), we used the technique you mentioned: Running it on 240v at home before leaving then starting on gas at the campsite.
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Re: Good morning from a Morphing Camper

Postby GypsyLady » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:33 am

The more you run them on 240, the better they perform overall. I run my camp fridges all year round.
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