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Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 5327
Location: Kunda Park
State:: Queensland
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:45 am    Post subject: WHY THE OVERALL DESIGN OF THE EXTERIOR OF BUSHTRACKER? Reply with quote

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 only 25% 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"..

Tyres on the front of the van: 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.

Boots 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.

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? 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 buldheads 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. Here is a sample of our structure, that you can effectively repair by removing and replacing cladding, and property thru-bolt for a positive structural bond. It does not look as cute and trendy in the Shows, but lasts the long test of time.... This is only the nine men of the wall framing crew, standing on their work, with NO bulkheads or cabinets in place to carry them. Most vans cannot even carry their air conditioners without a steel frame spanning wall to wall. Wood frame vans have the micro-fibres of the wood cracking on the corrugation and the wood roof settles in time to leave a large pool of water around the air conditioner or worse 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.

And what about the fibreglass walls exterior like so many Manufacturers are going to? 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..!

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...

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.

Kind Regards, stg

Last edited by Bushtracker on Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 24 May 2009
Posts: 11
Location: Coffs Harbour
State:: NSW
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, our first Posting!
However, long time viewing, what a great site.

After 30 years with deep roots, we would like to drift around abit carefree. After much study and Shows, we are convinced Bushtracker is the way to go, and would like to do it right the first time.

This seems a logical place for our query, if it is ok: Please if we could indulge some of you Bushtracker Travellers, Bushtracker reports 70 owners have come back for a second van, what did you or what would you do differently? We would appreciate your help, as we have not even selected a tow vehicle yet and will take the advice of van first. We will probably go with a 200 Series if we end up with smaller van like 19', but we are concerned that Bushtracker reports most who came back went larger than that. If larger is the way to go we are considering a Chevrolet Silverado, so size is not such a concern.

Thank you for your answers in advance, we would like to hear from you well travelled owners, about what you would do differently. Equipment variations or layout changes, we welcome a range of ideas to consider and again, thanking all of you in advance.

Regards to all, Martin and Marion

On advice, this post was moved by M&Ms to the General Discussion area. There are some nice comments there, regards, stg
A change of scenery,
always good to explore.
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