FASHION VRS FUNCTION, WHY NOT THE GIMMICKS OTHERS DO?

 
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:06 am    Post subject: FASHION VRS FUNCTION, WHY NOT THE GIMMICKS OTHERS DO? Reply with quote

Hello Friends,

If you have been to the Caravan Shows in 2012, you will be staggered by the number of so called Off-Road vans now offered. A few new ones pop up every year, like mushrooms after the rains, and a few of the them also fail every year.

This year, there were about 8 Companies trying to copy our style in Off-Road to varying degrees. That has about doubled in the past decade, due to our success.

Besides the obvious lack of quality in finish, engineering, and equipment; there are some really sad things appearing in the new fashion off-road vans. One is the Aluminium Chassis trend:
Friends, this is sad. Mining Companies have found that this does not work, and on the corrugation they are having to replace whole chassis structures every few years. Most are stopping building in aluminium chassis altogether. Look, you can get away with it, up to about 18' a MAXIMUM, because beyond that the flexing will work harden the chassis and it will start to develop stress cracks.

In an Aluminium Chassis size, length works against you. As the chassis flexes, a chassis "Work Hardens" an engineering term where it gets more brittle as it flexes. This is a well know Engineering problem with Aluminium. We get away with it in aircraft wings and our wall frames, as all the little bits are mechanically fastened together; but in one large structural member like a chassis it will develop stress cracks in time. This is why even at 18' this is NOT the way to go for the savings of 100 kg OR LESS! First of all, we only did it, for the small tow vehicles. They do not have the power to hurt this weaker style of chassis, and it may be necessary for them to combat the weight problems they are up against. The sad part, is if you make the aluminium chassis thick enough and strong enough to do the job, not only do you have this problem but the weight savings is almost nil... I mean it is only about 100 kg or less, and not worth strength and structural longevity handicapp. Further to really being only a liability to long term life, it costs more, and the weight savings is negligible for the built in weakness.

Look, in all fairness we have built and further will build alloy chassis in the Hybrid Lite series. However, this is ONLY for the tow weight handicapped smaller tow vehicles that have no choice. If you have a larger tow vehicle, it is not worth it to own the weaker chassis. In fact, we will not even build the Hybrid Lite for full sized tow vehicles like the Landcruiser or Nissan Patrol as there are no advantages-Only disadvantages...

For the most part, in larger vans the alloy chassis is just a Sales Gimmick and a structural weakness and liability long term. It is great to hear someone tell you it is guaranteed for life, but life of what? Half of the Companies may not be there when you need them... When several of them fail every year, and someone else just buys the name, the Guarantees are left in the dust along with any Warranty issues..

Just the way it is, on the road, Ranger


Last edited by Bushtracker on Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:36 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Friends,

Another sad trend is the fibreglass sides. The gimmick they show is not the integrity and strength of a boat hull !!! To keep the weight down it is 3mm to 4mm of a very thin skin..

So what is wrong with that cool smooth look? Repair..... A lot Off-Road vans get some damage that has to be repaired. An accident, backing into something, running into something, scrapping a tree branch, it happens to the best of them.. In our panels, you can take off the strips of cladding, layers about 300 mm that interlock and are "blind" riveted to each frame member in the overlap. On a fiberglass skinned van you have to tear the whole side off the van just for a little scrape. That or you have to do severe body bog up and repaint the whole side.

It is just not worth doing, and the truth is it is actually heavier than the easily repaired aluminium skin on a Bushtracker... It really is a case of Fashion over Function. We would rather do it right, and allow access, and allow simple repair or modifications... The Fibreglass will only look good in the Shows, where People are not made aware of the pitfalls...

The worst of them are done with a foam core board, just jab in the jig saw and cut out the windows... THAT is really not repairable and has very little structural value so you cannot thru bolt cabinets and bulkheads.. The better ones, still have to have some kind of an alloy frame, maybe not as strong as it should be like we do, but they still have to have an alloy frame. The problem is they glue on that fiberglass thin layer, and there is just no good way to get repairs or modifications done. In ours it is simple to re-clad the van, you just drill out the rivets and replace the damaged sections...

You have to ask your Self, am I buying this all waxed up to put on display in my garage (Shows)? Or do I really want to take it out and use it..... I would bet on the later, so stay away from the fiberglass exteriors as they are just not as light and just not as repairable...

Kind regards to all, on the Road, Ranger


Last edited by Bushtracker on Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:54 am; edited 3 times in total
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Deano



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve,

I have been the proud owner of a 17 ft Hybrid Lite for the past 2 years. The weight savings over a traditional steel chassis van were 300 kg. I was not told that the alloy chassis was weaker than the steel version in fact my belief was that the with the Bushtracker design the alloy was equal in strength to the steel chassis.
I also wish to note that the load on the chassis is a function of the speed, weight and road conditions and the size of the tow vehicle is irrelevant.
Are you now saying that my chassis is weaker than the steel version and that I can expect stress cracking to occur sometime in the future?

Regards

Alan
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Alan,

The weight savings in the chassis alone has been no where near 300 kg, this figure was achieved by many combined construction methods and careful gear selection in the Hybrid Lite range... The chassis component in practice of building them heavy enough the weight is about 80-100 kg difference in your size. And no, they are not as strong as the steel chassis, so we have decided not to build them for more capable vehicles.

The Why? In the relation to tow vehicles, we built them for the Prado mob. In those days they did not have enough power to pull them hard over the rough tracks. Now some people have upgraded tow vehicles to 200 Series Cruisers or similar, and we have had to add the girder strap. On one we even upgraded the size of the A-frame by 50 mm from 150mm to 200mm. In our actual R&D, my points above have been proven.

If you drive sensibly, slow down on the corrugation, lower your tyre pressures, and drive to suit the conditions then no I do not see you having any problems. But today, in light of our R&D, if you came in with a 200 Series or comparable, we would not build you the Hybrid Lite. We have done the same van now in our new SC Lite, Steel Chassis, and the weight difference is not worth the effort. But to someone that came in with a Prado or the like a few years ago, that 100 kg would mean the difference of 20% 0r 25% more cargo they could carry.

We now have three more years of R&D actually out in the Outback, and we will not build the Hybrid lite for more powerful vehicles that CAN actually tow them hard. Aluminium has its limitations in this application. For you, just do your maintenance program of sliding under in a creeper and look at the chassis now and then. I do not anticipate any problems. Sadly though, there are some people not as sensible as yourself, and yes they are likely to have problems. Hence our warnings on the Alloy Chassis. We have discovered the same as the Mining Companies, and will direct you away from it if your tow vehicle is capable.

Kind regards, stg
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MikeandJulie



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:41 am    Post subject: Fashion vs Function Reply with quote

Mr Gibbs
I think your summation of some of the more modern build methods and materials are correct. We recently attended the Maitland Caravan Show and asked the proprietor of Darren's Caravan Repairs on the Central Coast how he repairs fibreglass vans. He said "It's easy, I don't. It's impossible to get whole body parts for the Eurovans, the insurance companies don't want to pay and the customer doesn't want to wait 9 months to get the job done. He also added, some insurance companies will not accept sandwich panel vans."
In terms of the fibreglass sided vans we were looking at purchasing one before we decided on a Bushtracker. We asked how would the fibreglass be repaired. We were told any panel beater or boat builder would repair them with no problems, so being the disbelieving old sod that I am. We went to a number of panel beaters and boat builders and asked if they could repair our fibreglass caravan and were politely told by all of them to bugger off. So much for easy repair.

These inquiries have led us to put a deposit on a Bushtracker, although previously we had thought of them as being old fashioned and conservative. We now see this as a major advantage.
Mike and Julie
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Fashion vs Function Reply with quote

MikeandJulie wrote:
Mr Gibbs
I think your summation of some of the more modern build methods and materials are correct. We recently attended the Maitland Caravan Show and asked the proprietor of Darren's Caravan Repairs on the Central Coast how he repairs fibreglass vans. He said "It's easy, I don't. It's impossible to get whole body parts for the Eurovans, the insurance companies don't want to pay and the customer doesn't want to wait 9 months to get the job done. He also added, some insurance companies will not accept sandwich panel vans."

In terms of the fibreglass sided vans we were looking at purchasing one before we decided on a Bushtracker. We asked how would the fibreglass be repaired. We were told any panel beater or boat builder would repair them with no problems, so being the disbelieving old sod that I am. We went to a number of panel beaters and boat builders and asked if they could repair our fibreglass caravan and were politely told by all of them to bugger off. So much for easy repair.

These inquiries have led us to put a deposit on a Bushtracker, although previously we had thought of them as being old fashioned and conservative. We now see this as a major advantage.Mike and Julie


Yes, totally in agreement, very wise of you.... Wink

As to "Old Fashioned and Conservative".... Thank You Mike and Julie, I will wear that happily. Da lone Ranger sez: "If it ain't broke, DON'T FIX IT".... Heh he...

One more really sad one, is all dark coloured vans at the Show... Over 30 degrees and the airconditioning starts to labour to get the job done... With dark panels or dark fibreglass, TWO airconditioners would struggle to keep up... Dark panelling and dark fg colours is showing great DISRESPECT to the poor City People that would buy out of fashion, and fail miserably in function... Coloured vans are a NO-NO, heats up the interior to much! We at Bushtracker are not going to do something that mean to people just because we want to flog vans at the Shows.. My Company Motto is to do "What is in the Owners Best Interests"... Just like this Forum...

Kind Regards, on the Road with the Ranger
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Theywent Thataway



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glass doors, venetian blinds, super shiny thick granite, plastic outsides, plastic cupboards, STUPID front storage boxes, silly colours both inside and out, tow BALL couplings, no approach/departure clearance, weak drawbars ...etc etc .....all because people (sorry..but the girls in particular) fall for it!

We know of people who bought a van recently, coz they said it was "top quality" and "the best on the market". ...and "everybody wants one of these" (we had never heard of their brand, and found out later it was in fact an import) not that they had done an ounce of research for themselves. They'd read it all in caravan magazines - surely they're "the closest you can get short of talking to the owners of every van.."(???).

They eagerly popped over as they remembered we "have a caravan" and might like to go travelling with them. Sadly, they realised as soon as they got in the Bushtracker that they too had fallen for the gimmicks of the other companies. Their exact words were..."Oh. This IS absolute quality. We can easily see its money well spent. Our van would never go in most of the places this one could"

Wouldn't it be great if we could spare people the agony/regret in the first place?

As most of you know I never wanted a BT. But now...I'm SO glad Dave and the BT crew were patient with me and determined enough to get it right. The factory tour and the caravan shows were a big help.

Hopefully this thread helps more than a few people to also "get it right".

Maz.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theywent Thataway wrote:
Glass doors, venetian blinds, super shiny thick granite, plastic outsides, plastic cupboards, STUPID front storage boxes, silly colours both inside and out, tow BALL couplings, no approach/departure clearance, weak drawbars ...etc etc .....all because people (sorry..but the girls in particular) fall for it!


Well said, yea! I mean GLASS DOORS in the showers? Looks great at the Shows, weight and heavy travel on the corrugation? I too was greatly saddened, but the unscrupulous exploitation of the poor unknowing Public with all the gimmicks at the Shows... All of what you said is self evident and very sad.. Hence my effort with this Topic..!!! On the Road, Ranger
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Loki of Condor



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reassuring ourselves that we made the right decision is an ongoing process and usually takes some close examinations of other brands, be it at shows, or out travelling.

By the way, I am well and truly reassured.

One QLD brand I've only looked at on their website is interesting. They use fibreglass sandwich panels and a steel frame. Their 19 footer is well over 200kgs (tare) heavier than my 20 ft BT.

Another QLD brand which is, I believe, a distant contender for #2 in the off road van stakes, also needs to join Jenny Craig. Its 20 footer is also 200kgs heavier than mine (tare). I also believe this company is keen and hungry and will close the gap quite quickly.

Cost is another misconception, with many in this field being the same or higher cost than a BT.

However, it is still worth looking at what inclusions people want, because they are parting with their hard earned cash to get them. And people are reluctant to part with their money these days, just look at the list of pre-loved BTs for sale on this site with very few getting sold.

These days I think a lot of people want to buy what they see as the best knowing full well that they will never test these vans to the limit. So maybe offering things that would previously be considered "soft" in a dedicated offroader would attract a group of buyers who just want to admire their purchase while camped on a river bank without necessarily having to drag it over boulders and washouts to get there.
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Grumblebum and the Dragon



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This has long been a hobby horse of mine. So many people, often retirees hoping to enjoy carefree travelling in their golden years, are bitterly dissapointed when reality strikes.

So few do any real research and are often sucked in by the magazine reviews. At best they are highlighting the latest 'gimmicks' as Cowboy eloquently puts it, at worst they are little more than paid advertorials. One of the more savage comments I read was "It would be nice to have more natural light in the ensuite" Shocked

After the house, a caravan is one of the more expensive items in life. Yet few people do real research into the quality of what they are buying.

The only real info you will get is (a) from talking and visiting the factory and (b) talking to long term owners who have travelled the sort of country you want to travel.

I met another Bushtracker owner the other day, I thought his van was about 2 years old and was not surprised to find out it was a 2001 model and its second owner was very happy with it.

John and the Dragon
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Grumblebum and the Dragon



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A classic example of such 'gimmicks' is feateured in the latest Caravan World magazine. "Balcony living in a caravan". The rig featured has a fold out balcony at what appears to be the tow end. Shocked Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes

Remarkably stupid IMHO

John
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MikeandJulie



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:27 pm    Post subject: Caravan mags Reply with quote

John and the Dragon,
I think many would agree with you that constructive, objective, unbiased journalism within the caravan applications is long dead. A couple of long term journo's who do know their stuff have well and truly been reduced to cash for comments.

For the kids who now run the mags it's just a stepping stone to better things.
Next month they will be working for the same company but writing and professing to have authority on boats, hang gliding or some other hobby.

Having said that it's hardly a wonder that the caravan reviews don't seem to get any further than taking the van to the nearest green area for photo's. This is presented in the review with an almost word for word regurgitating the company advertising spiel. All of the mags seem to have sunk to this low level.

Let's face it, they are married to the industry and not the magazine consumer and their representations of true product reviews border on fraudulent.

John, your advise about seeking out owners of the products you fancy to get an unbiased appraisal of there quality and suitability is still the best way to go.

Mike and Julie
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Theywent Thataway



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grumblebum and the Dragon wrote:

One of the more savage comments I read was "It would be nice to have more natural light in the ensuite" Shocked

John and the Dragon


Thats another point we noticed......very few vans at the Show had ANY windows in the ensuites. I actually commented that I would easily be reduced to no-window induced claustrophobia!!! Not even windows above the loo! And that, in huge rear ensuites. Then they have solid doors into the shower recess, so they always need lights on to shower. And only a soap holder on the wall. Horrible. And MOST unhygienic.

In fact, most vans have TINY windows everywhere else too. So small that one cant even see out from the seated position at the (teeny) dining tables. Then above the kitchens are the same teeny weeny venetianed portholes. Some of them aren't even able to be opened.

Often we comment on ones driving past at how few/small windows they have. Or they have those HUGE ones at the bed that give no privacy at all - and none anywhere else.

BUT, I LOVE the BTs enormous, numerous multi-featured windows. I love how high up they are, so people cant easily peer in - but we can see almost 360 deg out. I love the lightweight bug screens and the blockout blind - and that they can both hide away and that the windows can be opened really WIDE.

And what about those "gorgeous" frilly bump-stop things above the doorway to supposedly stop you from hurting your head each time you forget to duck on exiting?....I'm not tall....but even I hit my head on most van doors. (Not ever in the BT.) And people comment on "how nice they look"!!!!! (Thats because they are designed to complement the "lovely" frilly key and wallet holders RIGHT AT THE DOORWAY. Duh....).

I think the most shocking thus far - and we see it everywhere - is the gas bottles stored inside that front boot thing with the batteries etc in the same closed-in compartment RIGHT ABOVE THEM!. I overheard one salesperson say that "you dont even have to remove the bottles to refill them, and they are safely locked away once full" to some poor unsuspecting individual.

We too find it all very sad that many are hoodwinked by the more common vendors.....

I'll jump off me soapbox now.

Maz.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, the unscrupulous are taking advantage of Peoples ignorance, flogging things as the Caravan Shows that are just not right and not functional in the Outback. We will just not do that.

Sadly, they show the "Fashion" to suck people in. For example, the modern kitchen supply. Yes it looks like a modern house, at least when it is new, but when it starts to age you cannot refinish it like you can with our solid Tassie Oak.. You want to replace it?

Even the appliances others fit: For example the Vitrifigio, in our opinion this is all Italian Fashion, and very poor "Function" for the Outback of Australia. There are a few major issues, like the cooler plate (evaporator) is exposed in the fridge. This might be OK in Europe in less humid areas, but in the northern parts of Australia this will ice up and need defrosting every two weeks! Confused But then, there is no drain, so you have to empty the fridge and keep pulling out a tray to pour it out as it defrosts... Evil or Very Mad WHAT? Every two weeks? Look, I have had People that saw it in other vans, and while they saw our Bushtrackers were superior they demanded the Vitrifrigio and would not listen to our advice. I think the last three we gave in to and installed, they came back unhappy and one even had us pull it out. I suggest you listen to the good advice of the lone Ranger...

If that is not enough, the stainless even sweats on the outside as well as icing up on the inside. Here is one in the shop right now:



We give our advice, and build to the Function of Living in the Bush, not to appeal to Fashion at the Shows... Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The latest sad gimmick:

Sadly, the so called Opposition that cannot build to our level of quality, instead spin yarns and stretch the truth. I find this distasteful, as they show no respect for the Public, and instead rely on misleading them with marketing gimmicks...

One of the latest I have been told about, is using left over Chinese 200 watt large solar panels from the housing market solar programs, and touting it as "better". Those cheaper type of panels suffer heat degradation and have to be mounted semi upright to get a laminar air flow, or when they get hot the power curve falls right off... Confused In our opinion it is only cheaper, not better. We will not use those, preferring to use the proper higher quality Kyocera Japanese panels, and further in our opinion, the cheap Chinese panels are too large for roof mounting on a caravan in off-road conditions anyway. The flexing of the van could cause internal connection problems in the panels, and the rigid larger panel makes the roof mounting more prone to leaks. Longer term we think the potential for internal panel problems or roof leaks is significant.

Yes it is cheaper, however, you will not see it on a Bushtracker.

Kind regards, Admin
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Bill



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing that worries me about an aluminium chassis is welding.

Aluminium just doesn't like to be welded. You can get away with it in non structural aluminium but it is well documented what happens to aluminium when welded - it loses considerable strength. This problem is not overcome by increasing the thickness by 50% either. Its also much more difficult to get penetration on aluminium welds than steel. And its a catch 22 - increase the current to improve penetration and risk further loss of strength. The worry is the welds can hold for years until tested. A few years ago I was towing a portable sheep dip with my Hilux ute which had a 12 year old aluminium tray. An oncoming driver lost sight in the setting sun on a bend and we ended up off the road with the dip on its side and the tray all twisted and damaged. The surprising thing was the number of useless welds with no penetration - they just broke open. And the tray was built by a specialist in aluminium fabrication - now out of business. Its surprising how many manufacturers think aluminium is an inert metal compared to steel.

I was also reading recently where another off road van manufacturer uses a void in the RHS chassis member as a air reservoir for the air bag suspension. This is just an ideal way of setting up the conditions for corrosion. Google pit corrosion of aluminium.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Bill,

You should come and examine how we do things... This Post is not valid and your concern in unfounded. Not only are the frame members through bolted, but also every stud is diagonally and countersunk riveted to the top and bottom plates that are thru-bolted. The welding is just to freeze up the joints so they do not loosen the countersunk rivets. Then the wall and roof sections are thru-bolted.. The whole wall sections flex like an aircraft wing but he joints do not flex within themselves...

You cannot do one without the other. Ours is done correctly, and we have seen them 18-19 years on with no problems.

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Bill



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree
Riviting and bolting is the way but There are manufacturers welding as well
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Muddy1



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill, I've had an aluminium bicycle for the last ten years. It's been subject to regular hardwork and absolute hidings, riding in some very harsh conditions, with nil issues to the welds. Many off-road motorcycle manufacturers also use aluminium frames, including those competing in the Finke Desert race and the Dakar. Seems contemporary welding techniques and fabrication methods have allowed aluminium to be used successfully.

My Bushtracker is 13yrs of age with no known structural issues.

Rgds

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Dave Burt



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill

Aluminium welding is proven and is very successful, it is widely used in Australia for such things as ship building (luxury cruisers, high speed ferries and catamarans), heavy rail and road transport equipment as well as other structures and some pressure equipment, none of the above would be allowed to be welded if there were any doubts to weld integrity, there are Australian and International Standards which call for strict regulation to welding, which call for qualified welding procedures, welder qualification, non destructive and destructive testing and much more, there should be no problems with the welding of aluminium providing that the essential variables of the welding procedure are strictly followed and that the welder is qualified to the welding procedure to match the grade of material.

Dave
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Bill



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mainly I weld galvanised steel by MIG but used to stick weld. I have built farm sheds, lots of farm gates (because most of the commercially available ones go boomerang shaped under sheep pressure), repaired machinery etc. Usual farm sort of jobs. I know there is more specialised welding gear like pulse MIG for aluminium fabrication. The point is aluminium is more difficult to weld and more things can go wrong and the material is not as forgiving as steel. It has a much lower melting point than steel and has to be cleaned really well prior to welding. Some of the alloys derive part of their strength from forming and heat treatments. When the high heat required to melt the metal in the welding process is applied the alloy loses this strength in the vicinity of the weld. Welds can look pretty but be no good. I would never use aluminium in a vehicle chassis. That's my personal preference. Steve is right in the bolting and riveting approach and minimal welding on the BT frames. I had a good look at them when Andrew gave us the BT tour.
So I really can't see the point in trying to get a pretty minimal weight saving in a chassis by use of alloy. When you have a more complex process there are more things to tempt Murphy! Things go wrong. Frequently.
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Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 5051
Location: Kunda Park
State:: Queensland
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again Bill,

You are right about minimal weight savings on chassis... The few people building with aluminim chassis, do it for a gimmick, it really is not better.

In something like chassis that flexes and twists, the alloy work hardens and will eventually fracture. it should NEVER be used for chassis over 16', maybe 18' at a stretch with an under-powered tow vehicle..

In the mines on bad tracks like the west end of the Tanami, mine trailers with alloy chassis have about a two year life expectancy... They do it for maximum ATM weights on the trailer, so the trailer can be disposable due to extra payload... This is just not so with a Bushtracker for only about 200kg, it is not worth it...

Kind regards, Admin, Director
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