Most important factors for off-road caravan





Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 102
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    40
    Posts
    38

    Default Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Hi,

    I'm planning to start a build on an off-road caravan over the coming December holidays and thought it would be great to hear opinions on the most important considerations.
    I have browsed the forum and have found similar threads but couldn't find one that debates the unavoidable trade-offs one needs to consider when building a caravan / camper. Please point me towards threads I might have missed...

    My requirement is for a caravan I can tow into the remotest corners of the continent, but I want to do it in style.
    I have 3 boys aged 11, 9 and 6.
    My budget is around R100k.

    In my mind, these are the factors involved, in order of priority:
    1. Weight. For me this is by far the most important factor. I want to aim for a tare of <800kg and GVM <1200kg. The Suzuki Jimny must to be able to tow it and behind the Trol I don't even want to know it's there.
    2. Durability. It needs to be bulletproof and go anywhere. I'm thinking stainless steel chassis, aluminium frame and panels, solid axle with leaf springs and heavy duty fittings throughout. I'm looking at using 3M VHB tape to bond the panels to the frame to increase strength and durability (yes it is actually stronger than rivets or welding).
    3. Convenience. Quick setup, simple to operate, everything in it's place. Nice kitchen with enough storage, big freezer and hot water on tap.
    4. Sleep capacity of 5, inside or on top. SWAMBO doesn't want to kids outside in a tent when the hyenas come round to lick the braai clean.
    5. Shower, basin & toilet inside. SWAMBO is not keen on a veltie after dark...
    6. Solar power with enough battery capacity to last a week.
    7. Dust and water proof. I plan on using an electric fan with dust filter to pressurize the cabin while towing just to make sure.
    8. Size. Overall length < 4.5m. Height with roof down < 2.1m (the Trol's roof height).
    9. Good looking.
    10. Matching wheels and track width of tow vehicle.

    I'm sure you can see my predicament.
    I'm not willing to compromise on weight, but without some of the other features, it's a non starter for SWAMBO....

    Keen to hear your opinions.

    What does your list look like?

    Cheers
    FC
    Last edited by Syub; 2019/10/03 at 11:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ruimsig
    Age
    55
    Posts
    4,046

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Looking forward to your build.

    The stainless chassis might add unnecessary weight though, maybe rethink this using an aluminium structure or other profile.

    60mm round tube in SS is @ 22kgs per meter, just something to keep in mind
    There is no such thing as inclement weather, only poor selection of clothing.... or Vehicle

    2010 Hummer H3 5.3lt V8, 300 HP, FDL, RDL, CDL, TC and 4:1 Low Range

    Discovery and Range Rovers: SOLD: enough is enough

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Wartburg
    Age
    59
    Posts
    1,396

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    SS is only marginally heavier than steel, as in less that 1%, depending on which SS. But, because of poor fatigue properties of SS, the chassis will have to be over-designed and heavier. Aluminium can be used, but the different material properties needs to be catered for in the design calcs as well

    Unless you are referring to 3CR12, which many refer to incorrectly as SS. It can be safely used for your chassis.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Wartburg.
    Age
    37
    Posts
    1,868

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    You are aiming for a tara weight of <800kg but want the following:

    - Big kitchen with enough storage
    - Big freezer
    - Hot water on tap (so a geyser and extra gas bottle)
    - Must be able to sleep 5
    - Shower basin and toilet all inside (going to be a big caravan this)

    I honestly cant see this happening, not say you can't build it, but the <800kg is a wish.

    But all the best with this project and I will defiantly be following your build, good luck.

    Toyota Land Cruiser 79 DC V8
    Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD6 4x4
    Toyota RAV-4 2.2 D4D

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ruimsig
    Age
    55
    Posts
    4,046

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    In terms of your design specifications, you will need certain trade-offs to meet them or drop a few etc.

    There could be a hybrid type of solution to give you space, specs and weight and this is to just get the creative juices going along these lines:

    http://www.opuscamper.co.za/opus.html
    There is no such thing as inclement weather, only poor selection of clothing.... or Vehicle

    2010 Hummer H3 5.3lt V8, 300 HP, FDL, RDL, CDL, TC and 4:1 Low Range

    Discovery and Range Rovers: SOLD: enough is enough

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ruimsig
    Age
    55
    Posts
    4,046

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    And then something like this for ideas. Has an internal modular design that can be moved around inside and outside. Watch some of the videos.

    https://happiercamper.com/
    There is no such thing as inclement weather, only poor selection of clothing.... or Vehicle

    2010 Hummer H3 5.3lt V8, 300 HP, FDL, RDL, CDL, TC and 4:1 Low Range

    Discovery and Range Rovers: SOLD: enough is enough

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Springs
    Age
    36
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Hi Syub,

    I have been also playing with an idea for a off-road caravan in my head for the last two years, but haven't given it too much thought to actually start a design concept on CAD yet... However, see my comments regarding your list items:
    Quote Originally Posted by Syub View Post
    Hi,
    .....

    In my mind, these are the factors involved, in order of priority:
    1. Weight. For me this is by far the most important factor. I want to aim for a tare of <800kg and GVM <1200kg. The Suzuki Jimny must to be able to tow it and behind the Trol I don't even want to know it's there.
    2. Durability. It needs to be bulletproof and go anywhere. I'm thinking stainless steel chassis, aluminium frame and panels, solid axle with leaf springs and heavy duty fittings throughout. I'm looking at using 3M VHB tape to bond the panels to the frame to increase strength and durability (yes it is actually stronger than rivets or welding).
    3. Convenience. Quick setup, simple to operate, everything in it's place. Nice kitchen with enough storage, big freezer and hot water on tap.
    4. Sleep capacity of 5, inside or on top. SWAMBO doesn't want to kids outside in a tent when the hyenas come round to lick the braai clean.
    5. Shower, basin & toilet inside. SWAMBO is not keen on a veltie after dark...
    6. Solar power with enough battery capacity to last a week.
    7. Dust and water proof. I plan on using an electric fan with dust filter to pressurize the cabin while towing just to make sure.
    8. Size. Overall length < 4.5m. Height with roof down < 2.1m (the Trol's roof height).
    9. Good looking.
    10. Matching wheels and track width of tow vehicle.

    FC
    1. Weight. Sure, this is probably the most important, but do i understand correctly that you want to use a Jimny for your tow vehicle?
    3. Convenience. Kitchen with enough storage tends to let you pack too much stuff that you often don't even use and that adds to the already critical weight issue. Rather get yourself a lot of plastic seal-able containers from Westpack or some other supplier. Stack them in a convenient configuration and get your design concept to incorporate it. What comes to mind is... "Everything has a place and everything in it's place."
    4. Sleep Capacity. This is a tough one to add a extra person to the configuration where 4 sleepers are the norm. This will add constraints to your design and will add more yet weight again. Also keep in mind that your kids are small "NOW", they will grow and you will face space constraints later on.
    6. Solar power with enough battery capacity to last a week. WOW, this will add A LOT of weight if i understand your requirement... you want to run off batteries for a week?

    What i can add is that you need to get the general dimensions of the equipment you would like to install. Use a sort of CAD program to help with your concept design. Draw everything, draw a box frame with your maximum dimensional requirements and see if you can get it all to fit.

    Not saying it cant be done. But it is a VERY tall order.
    2018 Toyota Hilux 2.4GD-6 D/C 4x4 A/T

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    40
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Estee View Post
    Looking forward to your build.

    The stainless chassis might add unnecessary weight though, maybe rethink this using an aluminium structure or other profile.

    60mm round tube in SS is @ 22kgs per meter, just something to keep in mind
    Thanks Estee.
    What would you suggest?
    I didn't think an aluminium chassis would be strong enough.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    40
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeml View Post
    SS is only marginally heavier than steel, as in less that 1%, depending on which SS. But, because of poor fatigue properties of SS, the chassis will have to be over-designed and heavier. Aluminium can be used, but the different material properties needs to be catered for in the design calcs as well

    Unless you are referring to 3CR12, which many refer to incorrectly as SS. It can be safely used for your chassis.
    I actually thought SS is stronger than mild steel and could therefore be a weight saver...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    40
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris8d View Post
    You are aiming for a tara weight of <800kg but want the following:

    - Big kitchen with enough storage
    - Big freezer
    - Hot water on tap (so a geyser and extra gas bottle)
    - Must be able to sleep 5
    - Shower basin and toilet all inside (going to be a big caravan this)

    I honestly cant see this happening, not say you can't build it, but the <800kg is a wish.

    But all the best with this project and I will defiantly be following your build, good luck.
    You've summed up my problem nicely...
    Where there's a will, there's a way!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    40
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Birra View Post
    Hi Syub,

    I have been also playing with an idea for a off-road caravan in my head for the last two years, but haven't given it too much thought to actually start a design concept on CAD yet... However, see my comments regarding your list items:


    1. Weight. Sure, this is probably the most important, but do i understand correctly that you want to use a Jimny for your tow vehicle?
    3. Convenience. Kitchen with enough storage tends to let you pack too much stuff that you often don't even use and that adds to the already critical weight issue. Rather get yourself a lot of plastic seal-able containers from Westpack or some other supplier. Stack them in a convenient configuration and get your design concept to incorporate it. What comes to mind is... "Everything has a place and everything in it's place."
    4. Sleep Capacity. This is a tough one to add a extra person to the configuration where 4 sleepers are the norm. This will add constraints to your design and will add more yet weight again. Also keep in mind that your kids are small "NOW", they will grow and you will face space constraints later on.
    6. Solar power with enough battery capacity to last a week. WOW, this will add A LOT of weight if i understand your requirement... you want to run off batteries for a week?

    What i can add is that you need to get the general dimensions of the equipment you would like to install. Use a sort of CAD program to help with your concept design. Draw everything, draw a box frame with your maximum dimensional requirements and see if you can get it all to fit.

    Not saying it cant be done. But it is a VERY tall order.

    • I'll be using a Nissan Patrol as tow vehicle, but I'm saying as a design spec I would want a Suzuki Jimny to be able to tow it.
    • Thanks for the tip on the Kitchen. We could always put a crate in the back of the Trol?
    • As to sleep capacity, I'm thinking either a roof top tent or one of the kids on the floor or some fold down bunk thing.
    • Batteries - yes this is an issue. However, currently I have one 200Ah battery with a 200W solar panel in my off-road trailer and we can easily camp indefinitely while the sun shines. If the sun doesn't shine, the battery is dead within 2-3 days.
    • Thanks for the tip on the box design. Will start working on that.
    2005 Nissan Patrol 4.8 GL Manual (The Trol)
    2003 Mercedes ML320 (For sale - PM me if you are interested)
    2012 LR Discovery 4 (SOLD - The best and worst car I've ever owned)
    2019 Suzuki Jimny (on order)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ruimsig
    Age
    55
    Posts
    4,046

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Syub View Post
    Thanks Estee.
    What would you suggest?
    I didn't think an aluminium chassis would be strong enough.
    You would need to consult an expert in the field however some form of central box frame might be the way to go.

    I have seen a camper trailer or caravan on YT recently or 4WD Action that showed an aluminium chasis. I thought it was the Bruder but it isnt although some possible design elements that could be incorporated.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rao14joQE-4

    And then the below
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Chassis.jpg 
Views:	196 
Size:	775.2 KB 
ID:	542905   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Cahssis frame.jpg 
Views:	193 
Size:	105.6 KB 
ID:	542906  
    There is no such thing as inclement weather, only poor selection of clothing.... or Vehicle

    2010 Hummer H3 5.3lt V8, 300 HP, FDL, RDL, CDL, TC and 4:1 Low Range

    Discovery and Range Rovers: SOLD: enough is enough

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    40
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by estee View Post
    and then something like this for ideas. Has an internal modular design that can be moved around inside and outside. Watch some of the videos.

    https://happiercamper.com/

    love it!
    2005 Nissan Patrol 4.8 GL Manual (The Trol)
    2003 Mercedes ML320 (For sale - PM me if you are interested)
    2012 LR Discovery 4 (SOLD - The best and worst car I've ever owned)
    2019 Suzuki Jimny (on order)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    40
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Estee View Post
    You would need to consult an expert in the field however some form of central box frame might be the way to go.

    I have seen a camper trailer or caravan on YT recently or 4WD Action that showed an aluminium chasis. I thought it was the Bruder but it isnt although some possible design elements that could be incorporated.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rao14joQE-4

    And then the below
    Cool, thanks. The second picture looks doable!
    2005 Nissan Patrol 4.8 GL Manual (The Trol)
    2003 Mercedes ML320 (For sale - PM me if you are interested)
    2012 LR Discovery 4 (SOLD - The best and worst car I've ever owned)
    2019 Suzuki Jimny (on order)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    White River
    Age
    70
    Posts
    1,149

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    I'm sure you can come up with something as long as you can accept a few compromises.
    When considering building from scratch, the big issue in my mind is getting around the registration and licensing problem. There are guys on the forum who have a solution to the issue, so maybe they can let us know how to solve the problem.
    2011 JK Wrangler Rubicon 3.8

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    65
    Posts
    945

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Just to share what happened to one of the trailers that our group recently took up to mozambique ; the trip covered just over 9000 km which +_7000km were inside mozambique ; the route and objective was to reach RNN in niassa ; one of the trailers never made it to cross the zambeze ; after inhassoro with all the pot holes and then after gorongosa with the bad gravel road up to caia that particular trailer started cracking on the corners ;it also started moving /"floating" on the chassis; all i can say is that it was the trailer with the "thinner" aluminium material ; it was fitted with a RTT , fridge and outside shower . We had to leave it just before Caia ; we carried on with the trip rearranging things repacking etc the other steel frame/box trailer and completed the long trip up to the RNN and back ; after Caia we picked up the al frame trailer where we had left it - (mpungwe lodge ) tied it up with ropes to the chassis and ratcheted it around and managed to tow it back to SA.
    The conclusion I take is that the steel frame and chassis trailer has done it twice to the north of mozambique (in 2002 trip to pemba across to malawi, zim , bot and back to SA) and now 2019 ; roughly 14 to 15 000 km's combined in these two trips alone ); the al frame trailer never made it to the zambeze.
    If you need further details or just need to clarify in more detail what happened you can PM me and i will give you the details of the "steel trailer" and the contact of the owner of the "al frame trailer"
    Regards to all !

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Wilderness
    Age
    57
    Posts
    4,148

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayefe View Post
    Just to share what happened to one of the trailers that our group recently took up to mozambique ; the trip covered just over 9000 km which +_7000km were inside mozambique ; the route and objective was to reach RNN in niassa ; one of the trailers never made it to cross the zambeze ; after inhassoro with all the pot holes and then after gorongosa with the bad gravel road up to caia that particular trailer started cracking on the corners ;it also started moving /"floating" on the chassis; all i can say is that it was the trailer with the "thinner" aluminium material ; it was fitted with a RTT , fridge and outside shower . We had to leave it just before Caia ; we carried on with the trip rearranging things repacking etc the other steel frame/box trailer and completed the long trip up to the RNN and back ; after Caia we picked up the al frame trailer where we had left it - (mpungwe lodge ) tied it up with ropes to the chassis and ratcheted it around and managed to tow it back to SA.
    The conclusion I take is that the steel frame and chassis trailer has done it twice to the north of mozambique (in 2002 trip to pemba across to malawi, zim , bot and back to SA) and now 2019 ; roughly 14 to 15 000 km's combined in these two trips alone ); the al frame trailer never made it to the zambeze.
    If you need further details or just need to clarify in more detail what happened you can PM me and i will give you the details of the "steel trailer" and the contact of the owner of the "al frame trailer"
    Regards to all !
    Look at my build. The weight and tow-ability falls within your specs. It lacks a few of your requirements though. There is also a few other builds on the site that may suit your needs. 3cr12 chassis and body, and doors and internals from aluminium. I used 3mm Alu as i was given 7 sheets for free. 2mm will do just as well and will save more weight.
    2011 Isuzu 300d-teq 4x4 d/c
    Home built Blapsie caravan.
    The decision you make today, will determine the road you walk tomorrow

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Johannesburg
    Age
    61
    Posts
    5,347

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Towing it with a Jimny ...... Moontlk maar nie maklik
    Most off road caravans do not extend beyond the tow vehicle's outline and the vehicle only has to lug the weight around. If the caravan is wider and higher than the tow vehicle wind resistance comes in to play and the parachute theory becomes practice, been there and done that. I have towed a Gypsey 2 all over the country with a 1400 bakkie, did quite a few upgrades to help with this including a 1500 tuned engine.

    You are on the right track with your attitude about weight just do not compromise on the structural side. For the chassis I would stick to good old mild steel, it is easy to work with and welding is not such a specialized skill as with alu. Another big bonus is it is much easier to find a bush welder to do a repair should you have a similar misfortune as Jayefe, if you can weld yourself a few welding rods is small enough to be part of your tool kit and having 2 or 3 12V batteries in series makes a great emergency welder. Alu and SS is beyond most bush welding skills.

    Another point against Alu and SS for chassis is the fact that both metals are work hardened and gets to the point of being brittle . I have had 2 Jurgens caravans that have had chassis fail due to cracking. Panel beaters dong repairs on Land Rover have to anneal the work regularly as the beating hardens the panel to the point of becoming brittle.

    A little something to help with weight calculation http://www.autoturn.in/calculator/Re...alculator.html

    Do not try and reinvent the wheel, look at as many Caravans as possible and even though they might not be up your alley they could have features that could suit you, throw everything in to one cooking pot and use what fits in with your camp style. Look at Pieter's build you can pick some nice tips there and also see what not to do.

    I don't agree with cutting down on kitchen space, self control lets you pack what is needed not a small kitchen. Instead of fitting a cast iron burner for a stove rather go for a SS lightweight one, go for canvas doors and caddies rather than heavy cupboards. I have commercial member privileges so go look on my website in my signature.
    3 Non negotiable points in camping in my book, I want to sleep comfortable, winter or summer. I want a decent place to sit so my camping chair is important to me and lastly but probably the most important is I want good food, life's too short to eat bad food.

    Power is another can of worms, I would not go for more than 2 X 105A batteries with solar charging option the weight penalty is not worth more. Kit the caravan for 12V and only use 220 as back up charging and fridge if available.

    Most important is to get your calculations spot on, If your weight and balance is out the van will swing like a fox terrier wagging its tail and if your wheel placing is too far forward it will be another twitchy devil to tow, too far back and you battle with nose weight, rule of thumb is 10% of body length behind the middle for the axle.

    Take note of Pieter's build and post regular updates and plenty of photos

    Good luck
    Henk
    Adventure is out there go find it

    Fitment and trailer service. Agent for SnoMaster & Tentco
    Follow us on Facebook

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ruimsig
    Age
    55
    Posts
    4,046

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayefe View Post
    The conclusion I take is that the steel frame and chassis trailer has done it twice to the north of mozambique (in 2002 trip to pemba across to malawi, zim , bot and back to SA) and now 2019 ; roughly 14 to 15 000 km's combined in these two trips alone ); the al frame trailer never made it to the zambeze.
    If you need further details or just need to clarify in more detail what happened you can PM me and i will give you the details of the "steel trailer" and the contact of the owner of the "al frame trailer"
    Regards to all !
    This is an important consideration Jayefe and is based on an actual experience so mustnt be taken lightly. I would think the difficulties you relate are due to construction methods and not the material keeping in mind aircraft are, in the main, thin aluminium tubes and they experience extreme stresses throughout their lifespans, which is decades.

    Alu is still worth looking at as is the methods of fastening. Welding might be too rigid in some areas whereas gussets and rivets might be the alternative.
    There is no such thing as inclement weather, only poor selection of clothing.... or Vehicle

    2010 Hummer H3 5.3lt V8, 300 HP, FDL, RDL, CDL, TC and 4:1 Low Range

    Discovery and Range Rovers: SOLD: enough is enough

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Wartburg
    Age
    59
    Posts
    1,396

    Default Re: Most important factors for off-road caravan

    Quote Originally Posted by Estee View Post
    This is an important consideration Jayefe and is based on an actual experience so mustnt be taken lightly. I would think the difficulties you relate are due to construction methods and not the material keeping in mind aircraft are, in the main, thin aluminium tubes and they experience extreme stresses throughout their lifespans, which is decades.

    Alu is still worth looking at as is the methods of fastening. Welding might be too rigid in some areas whereas gussets and rivets might be the alternative.
    Nothing wrong with using aluminium as the chassis, but it is not for DIY - the most important aspect here is the design as in sizing, and getting the right aluminium for this job. If aluminium was that bad, aircraft would be constantly falling out the sky due to "work hardening" and fatigue problems, as they are exposed to "high" stresses and strains. But they don't, as they are properly designed and tested. For trailers, stick to steel, which is much more forgiving.

    As per rigidity, the more rigid the better. And this is not difficult on trailers, as due to their 3 point support system (2 wheels and the tow hitch), there is virtually no twist on the chassis. Done properly, the cladding forms part of the structure, adding strength, as in aircraft.

    Personally, I would construct the upper body out of aluminium, if you have access to someone who can weld the frame for you. With a rigid chassis, the forces in the upper body are low.


Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •