There are many things we started at Bushtracker, that others copy the "look of" to sell vans. Here are the reasons, exposed, so you are not fooled by the "look the part copies":
Alloy Body Armour: When I first came up with this concept and built the first one in about 1997, we were building Bushtrackers on steel trailer armour. Then even the other Director of the Company said "Well, I can see why you might want it, but I don't think it will catch on"... By about 2001 or so, he had changed over his steel body armour sided van to the Alloy Body Armour we now have for a bit lighter weight and less maintenance. Now, in 2008, hardly a Caravan out there does not liberally use alloy checker plate. But be careful you are not fooled by the "Look" of it. Many that specifically copy our style, use a very light alloy that is only cosmetic. You would not want to slip into a tree stump and hope that light look will actually protect your van. As far as I know, we are the only ones using it of adequate thickness, in 2.5 mm where others are using it in thin sections of .8 which is less than 1/3 of the thickness we find necessary. Some use it so thin they can reverse stamp their name in it. Ask to see samples of the alloy body armour, scraps, and compare with the "real thing"..
Off road, from a smaller van, to the very largest of vans, if you slip off a track into a tree stump or cut a corner and hit something, you need the "Real Thing" not just thin copy of style!!
From small and compact....................................................................To absolutely massive sized, on Load Sharing Air Suspension, you still need the same quality features
Spare Tyres on the front of the van, not on the back where they can be DANGEROUS.. This is just where they should be for weight distribution. If you look at a design with big tyres and wheels and they have mounted them on the rear of the van? That is only good for light little caravan small wheels and tyres and even then it is not good for weight distribution. If you go big off-road tyres and wheels like our 16' 265/75 R-16 Standard, the WORST thing you could do is put them out on the back of the van. TOO MUCH POLAR WEIGHT will give you the Hobby Horse effect, and add to the potential for SWAY the Killer of Caravans. It is just a really dumb thing to do. You do not want that kind of weight out there at the end. Also, if you have a Departure Angle for Off-Road, the tyres would be a back breaker trying to lift them up that high to get over the departure angle. And you would block the tail lights... And you would not get a decent opening window.... It just does not work. Tyres on the back of a van is AT BEST an on-road design... Even then it is bad for weight distribution and hobby horse rocking of the van on the rear suspension of the tow vehicle.
Water Tight Door: Again, the only Caravan in Australia with this unique feature of a water tight door that optionally folds over the caravan door when off road. It is not only for creek or flood or river crossings that you will encounter, but since the Bushtracker is water tight to 1 metre, it greatly helps the dust proofing as well. Other companies do not have the water proofing underneath as well, and constantly have bull dust problems. The picture below, shows the door open, and closed in an off road situation:
You will eventually want to, or have to, make water crossings.... And the water tight door makes it easy!
A real measure of the size of a van you are comparing Bushtracker to: At least one so called Competitor, prices his 21' van for example against Bushtracker 21'.... Only one problem, his 21' measure is outside dimensions and only 19' long on inside living area. Ours is a true measure of the floor living area, and does not even count the nosecone in the front, so if you lift the bed for instance up in there you can get 22' of living area in this case. If you are trying to compare apples to apples, just know that our measure is fair and in your favour. Some so called Competitors have only a 19' van in living area, and obvious cheaper costs in competing with what they call 21'. See what the true living area is in each size of van, and you will find that is why Bushtracker vans seem larger than the other vans in EACH size... Because they ARE larger...
Highest Quality Interior Finishes and Range in Australia. Cabinet doors and drawers in solid Tassis Oak in six styles, and all wearing surfaces on table and bench top edges in Tassie Oak. Others use artificial materials in glued and stapled frames with panelling scraps for inserts and you cannot live long term with that material. In our Tasmanian Oak, you can take the wearing surface, give it a light sand, and two minute dry spray pack laquer and it comes up new again. This only one of the reasons our second hand Bushtrackers hold their value, but: You need to come to the Factory and see a full range of features and equipment and interior finishes like these samples:
And there is more, MUCH MORE like these examples of what you will see at the Factory:
A-Frame going all the way through the van and becoming the chassis to the suspension, not just tacked on the front... If you think about it, and look at it, it is the only way to go, eliminating a weak point on many vans when you are talking about off-road work.
Why not Fibreglass wall panels? The fibreglass mouldings front and rear add unnecessary weight and cost, look cute, but at a cost that is not beneficial. The fibreglass exterior walls that are popular now, is even more of a liability for a number of reasons.. First, it is only a very thin layer of fibreglass over a foam core. This makes it very hard to repair if you have a prang in it. Secondly there is no adequate way to structurally bond bulkheads and cabinetry for extreme off road work. On yachts, they take and glass in layer after layer of fibreglass resin, matt, and cloth, over 600mm or more of hull in each direction. THIS IS STRONG. But that is not possible in a caravan, where it would add about 500 kg in weight and about $50,000 in cost to do it property.
And what is wrong with the fibreglass exteriors like so many Manufacturers are going to? It is not real fibreglass like a boat hull and structural, it is only a very thin layer over a foam core... And there are several disadvantages: Well first of all it is impossible to do a good job of through bolting cabinet bulk heads and sections together. Those walls are foam core.. That means only a thin layer of fibreglass over a foam core. This is also very difficult to repair, and about 10% of all Off-road vans will sustain some damage with trees or accidents. In a foam core wall, all you can do is bog it up and paint the wall, and this is not a satisfactory repair for anyone... This is cute and trendy, but long term it is not the quality of a Bushtracker that will last.
Our frames are structural, can be through bolted, and are easily repaired to as good as new, not bogged up and painted..! Here is something no one has done in 15 years, put a wall frame crew of 9 standing on a bare frame with no panelling or bulkheads or cabinetry in it yet... And the only other alloy wall Manufacturers are using too light of material. Our frames are 5mm think on the laps, both tack welded and diagonally riveted, but also thru-bolted.
Wiring through the frames in conduit, frame diagonally riveted, welded, and sections thru-bolted in joins 5mm thick. Then refrigeration cooler board insulation cut in neat and tight, freezing up the wiring.. This is quality you want to see:
Departure Angle and Skid Plates on the chassis: The departure angle in the back is probably a little more important than you might be thinking! It not just so that you don't drag out the back corner of the van when you go up a step bank, it is even more important so you can back the van up a steep bank. Sometime, when you have gone down a wrong track, you might find the need to do a three point turn to get you out of trouble instead of trying to back out the whole way. The departure angle allows the rear of the van to overhang a steep bank long enough for the wheels to start lifting the van, allowing you to back up a steep bank or hill or grading, so you can do that three point turn around . In summary, the departure angle rake in the back, is necessary for backing up a steep bank in reverse or going up a steep bank in forward without dragging out the back of the van..... And is pretty important! The Skid plates are there to go over a little ledge and carefully lift the suspension off the ground to drag it off on the skid plates until the suspension hits the ground again... Carefully, slowly, but it does protect the van...
Why "Cargo Hold" instead of "Boot" in the front: The Boot concept is very popular for normal road running caravans. But imagine trying to get a big 16' tyre and wheel in there... !!! It would kill your back or kill the structure of the van... We mount our 16' tyres on the front, roll them up on the chassis, and lift them on the Duck Bill of the tyre mount so you can easily spin it around to align the bolt holes. Our "Boot" is a very large cargo hold that goes all the way across the van from side to side for most layouts. These things are all structurally designed to live with large wheels and tyres and cargo in off-road conditions.
Recessed Cargo Doors: These are hand built, and recess into an inner frame. The outer frame on the door, fits neatly into a an inner frame, with a rubber welt seal all the way around. As the Stainless locking T handles close the door, it pulls it in tight to the rubber welt. This makes it virtually dust proof and watertight....
I hope this helps you understand some of the unique and original design of the Bushtracker, that will affect your layout, but there is more, much more! Come and see the quality for yourself.. You owe it to yourself, to purchase the best, and see how a van is built before your buy it.
Kind Regards, stg