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Thread: Bruder

  1. #1
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    Default Bruder

    Gents

    A small fortune and 6 years later I finally have the chance and time to put a Bruder EXP-6 through it's paces over here in Canada. By request I'm doing a few articles for a large local forum, and if there is any interest, I can duplicate it here. As a person familiar with Africa and Nam, it is an interesting experience. I've had the chance to progress from the RTT, through tent trailers, all the way to this since 1980.
    And yes, I'm Afrikaans as well!

    Cheers

    NT

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Hi. Yes please

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Quote Originally Posted by Erwin Schimper View Post
    Hi. Yes please

    That thing is huge!! Wow. 2,200kg empty…

  6. #4
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Yes please.
    www.lani4travel.com

    Louis Le Grange

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Would love to read, yes!!
    Gert Grobler

    VW Touareg V6 Tdi Escape; Land Cruiser 105
    Bush Lapa Boskriek 816

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Yes please! We’re currently looking at 6 sleeper caravans as we’ve outgrown our BL Miskruier. Bruder looks really nice, but that price! 😬 I’ll be looking forward to reading your review.
    David Killough
    2016 Landcruiser 200 GX-R
    1995 Landcruiser (UK Spec) SOLD
    Bushlapa Miskruier 321
    www.killoughfamily.com

  9. #7
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    Default Re: Bruder

    So after many years of sitting on the fence, and saving my ass off, I finally pulled the trigger in mid 2019 and ordered a Bruder EXP-6 expedition trailer. By popular request from a few contacts on the Canadian forum I’m posting a few hands-on articles on the trailer. I’ve tweaked it slightly for the South African forum. It is the first EXP-6 in Canada. The articles represent my own experiences, and they may differ from the experiences by many readers on this forum. I can answer any trailer related questions, but I’m not going to be debating trailer or camping philosophies here. To each his own.
    On to the articles:

    • Article 1: The background, Why the Bruder?
    • Article 2:The buying Experience and getting it here.
    • Article 3: The initial experience, and how does it function for me?


    So: Why the Bruder?
    Some background will set the stage here. I’m not originally from North America, so there is no “North American” bias - ex. RSA/Nam. I come from a highly technical engineering background, and I love building stuff. Most of my outdoor items are custom designed and built by myself, or heavily modified because I could not find what I wanted. We travelled in areas in Nam where 3 vehicle convoys were mandatory, and basic support was 2-3 days away. Comms was via sat phone. Wiring was not only crimped, it was soldered and heat shrinked!
    Camping for me is camping. Away from people and amenities. I had no interest in towing a monster trailer, with two satellite dishes, and five slide-outs with a large truck. And then parking it next to other similarly sized trailers. For that I have a house.
    I’ve been doing this since 1980. Progression wise I started with backpacking, then progressed to car tenting, then rooftop tenting, then 4x4 off-road trailer tenting – African/Australian style. (A “tent trailer” meant a tent on a trailer, not a pop up RV.)
    In Canada I had to adjust. “Sacrifices” followed – I added heaters to both my rooftop and tent trailers. Camping in Jackson, WY, or other areas where you can get +30C during the day, and -5C at night – that does not happen where I grew up! And shoulder season camping, -10 to -15 at night is not uncommon. And being Canadian (ironically) my wife did not like being cold…

    I quickly realized a few things. Weather variations, especially in Canada, are extreme. On one 2-week trip I had 30 degrees C, rain, snow, and a dust storm. The bugs can be brutal. There is nothing in Southern Africa that can compare. “Base camping” is common, compared to typical “one-night” stop-overs where a roof top tent and annex works well. Bears can be destructive little buggers, and tents offer little protection once they become used to humans. Returning to your base camp after a long day of fishing and finding your tent in tatters, and stuff strewn all over tends to dampen the mood a tad.
    Distances can be significant, and there can be many official (and nice) camping areas on the way to the rugged areas. Why not use them! Finding support is not easy, and getting things fixed on a trip is brutally expensive.

    In 2008/9 I started looking for an “upgrade” to my 4x4 tent trailer. I had no set budget. I told myself that I’ll make the call when I found the trailer.
    Requirements:
    Number 1: Tough, durable and “light”. The standard RV is soft, and stuff tends to fall off on long washboard roads. Fixing it is difficult, and expensive. Units are heavy, and you need a decent size truck to tow them. The typical North American “heavy duty” trailers focus either on the “heavy” part, or make extensive use of soft sides or tent pop-outs to save weight. Which only left me with imported units from either Australia or South Africa. Sure, there were a few North American brands – but they weighed a ton. Even on the RSA/Aussie side the pickings were slim as North American importers were only bringing in very specific models.
    Number 2: Aerodynamics. Having owned two European style horse trailers, where I could tow a horse trailer and two horses with an Audi TT, I knew aerodynamics and materials make a big difference. For some unknown reason almost no North American manufacturer pays attention to the rear of RV’s. Flat, vertical, with horrendous drag. Most (all!) off-road trailers had the aerodynamics of a brick.
    Number 3: Narrow, with superb suspension. It must be able to go where my truck can go, and be narrow enough to fit in the same tracks. No wider than the truck itself. A good suspension is critical off-road, and drastically improves towing and ride quality.
    Number 4: Winter capable, without heavy modification. I have friends with insulated “winter” rated trailers. After a few years they all do one thing – try and eradicate the mice from the insulation. Yet I could find no manufacturer that were using high R value synthetic panels, in use in Europe for years. Insulation without the risk. These synthetic panels are tough. I sheared 10mm bolts by drilling the holes 1mm to small, then try and “force” turn them through.
    Number 5: Smart power and heat management. Things like integrated solar panels, and single fuel heating/cooking options. Propane is great, but have a relatively low energy density. And it is not always available everywhere. I was familiar with gasoline and/or diesel heating/cooking options, yet these were not real options offered on most North American trailers.
    Number 6: Ability to expand with “soft” living space. Not essential, as I was shopping for comfortable living for two, but handy when friends are along. I am camping after all. So I had no issues with doing things outside when needed. Yet if the weather turned extreme, I would have liked to be able to not deal with wet canvas.
    Number 7: Hard shelled, modern manufacturing techniques. The materials and technology exists today to fabricate great and durable RV’s. I can’t recall how many times over the years I’ve encountered trailers along the road - panels and pieces missing, failed suspension, etc.. And the annoying part is that this just seemed to be accepted. I came to realize that the North American market is mostly tailored towards people that rarely venture far from the asphalt.

    The “search” started seriously in 2010, and since I was in no hurry, I wasn’t willing to compromise. I just kept saving.

    Then I discovered the first iteration of Bruder in 2017. First impressions: Wow. It ticked most of the boxes. The design philosophy was precisely what I was looking for. I got all excited – the Unicorn exists!
    Then I did the next logical thing – I checked the price. My reaction was probably the same as most potential “normal” buyers. Shock. Disbelief. Am I reading this right? Incorrect decimal? Bloody hell – is this thing made of gold? No way that I can justify spending this much money on a trailer! Link closed. The search continued.

    The technical person in me was intrigued though. I kept an eye on the site, and followed the developments. Having had previous experience with space age materials, I could not help admiring the audacity of Bruder – they dared to go where other manufacturers did not.
    It took two years of “internal convincing”, but once my wife saw this trailer, the die was cast. It was not a matter of which trailer to buy. It was how long will it take to save the funds for it. In the end it took six year, saving to receipt.
    It took a few more years before I initiated more detailed discussions with sales staff from Bruder. Despite all the info, I had many more questions, and I was also looking for a few options not included in the standard package.
    Bruder made quite a few improvements to the original concept, but improvements is probably the wrong term. Call them refinements. The “hard top” version was also launched.
    I looked at this, but decided to stay with the original pop-top, and for two reasons. Lower profile and weight, and I had to option to reduce internal volume for winter heating. Since both my wife and I would fit in the trailer with a lowered roof, it made sense.
    Refinements that I wanted included the following:

    • Replacement of the electrical cooktop with a diesel cooktop. Since the heating and hot water system was already diesel powered, it would maximized my battery capacity. Electrical cooking is brutally inefficient, and diesel is available everywhere. Almost. The built in tank, and a 20l jerry can of diesel would give me almost 2 weeks of cooking and heating
    • Raw water pick-up and storage. I can simply add water from a river or lake when needed.
    • Custom external awning that would fully enclose the kitchen area and expand my living space


    The process of the actual purchase, and getting the trailer in Canada will be the focus of the next section. And it was quite a process!

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  11. #8
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Quote Originally Posted by Namtinker View Post
    So after many years of sitting on the fence, and saving my ass off, I finally pulled the trigger in mid 2019 and ordered a Bruder EXP-6 expedition trailer. By popular request from a few contacts on the Canadian forum I’m posting a few hands-on articles on the trailer. I’ve tweaked it slightly for the South African forum. It is the first EXP-6 in Canada. The articles represent my own experiences, and they may differ from the experiences by many readers on this forum. I can answer any trailer related questions, but I’m not going to be debating trailer or camping philosophies here. To each his own.
    On to the articles:

    • Article 1: The background, Why the Bruder?
    • Article 2:The buying Experience and getting it here.
    • Article 3: The initial experience, and how does it function for me?


    So: Why the Bruder?
    Some background will set the stage here. I’m not originally from North America, so there is no “North American” bias - ex. RSA/Nam. I come from a highly technical engineering background, and I love building stuff. Most of my outdoor items are custom designed and built by myself, or heavily modified because I could not find what I wanted. We travelled in areas in Nam where 3 vehicle convoys were mandatory, and basic support was 2-3 days away. Comms was via sat phone. Wiring was not only crimped, it was soldered and heat shrinked!
    Camping for me is camping. Away from people and amenities. I had no interest in towing a monster trailer, with two satellite dishes, and five slide-outs with a large truck. And then parking it next to other similarly sized trailers. For that I have a house.
    I’ve been doing this since 1980. Progression wise I started with backpacking, then progressed to car tenting, then rooftop tenting, then 4x4 off-road trailer tenting – African/Australian style. (A “tent trailer” meant a tent on a trailer, not a pop up RV.)
    In Canada I had to adjust. “Sacrifices” followed – I added heaters to both my rooftop and tent trailers. Camping in Jackson, WY, or other areas where you can get +30C during the day, and -5C at night – that does not happen where I grew up! And shoulder season camping, -10 to -15 at night is not uncommon. And being Canadian (ironically) my wife did not like being cold…

    I quickly realized a few things. Weather variations, especially in Canada, are extreme. On one 2-week trip I had 30 degrees C, rain, snow, and a dust storm. The bugs can be brutal. There is nothing in Southern Africa that can compare. “Base camping” is common, compared to typical “one-night” stop-overs where a roof top tent and annex works well. Bears can be destructive little buggers, and tents offer little protection once they become used to humans. Returning to your base camp after a long day of fishing and finding your tent in tatters, and stuff strewn all over tends to dampen the mood a tad.
    Distances can be significant, and there can be many official (and nice) camping areas on the way to the rugged areas. Why not use them! Finding support is not easy, and getting things fixed on a trip is brutally expensive.

    In 2008/9 I started looking for an “upgrade” to my 4x4 tent trailer. I had no set budget. I told myself that I’ll make the call when I found the trailer.
    Requirements:
    Number 1: Tough, durable and “light”. The standard RV is soft, and stuff tends to fall off on long washboard roads. Fixing it is difficult, and expensive. Units are heavy, and you need a decent size truck to tow them. The typical North American “heavy duty” trailers focus either on the “heavy” part, or make extensive use of soft sides or tent pop-outs to save weight. Which only left me with imported units from either Australia or South Africa. Sure, there were a few North American brands – but they weighed a ton. Even on the RSA/Aussie side the pickings were slim as North American importers were only bringing in very specific models.
    Number 2: Aerodynamics. Having owned two European style horse trailers, where I could tow a horse trailer and two horses with an Audi TT, I knew aerodynamics and materials make a big difference. For some unknown reason almost no North American manufacturer pays attention to the rear of RV’s. Flat, vertical, with horrendous drag. Most (all!) off-road trailers had the aerodynamics of a brick.
    Number 3: Narrow, with superb suspension. It must be able to go where my truck can go, and be narrow enough to fit in the same tracks. No wider than the truck itself. A good suspension is critical off-road, and drastically improves towing and ride quality.
    Number 4: Winter capable, without heavy modification. I have friends with insulated “winter” rated trailers. After a few years they all do one thing – try and eradicate the mice from the insulation. Yet I could find no manufacturer that were using high R value synthetic panels, in use in Europe for years. Insulation without the risk. These synthetic panels are tough. I sheared 10mm bolts by drilling the holes 1mm to small, then try and “force” turn them through.
    Number 5: Smart power and heat management. Things like integrated solar panels, and single fuel heating/cooking options. Propane is great, but have a relatively low energy density. And it is not always available everywhere. I was familiar with gasoline and/or diesel heating/cooking options, yet these were not real options offered on most North American trailers.
    Number 6: Ability to expand with “soft” living space. Not essential, as I was shopping for comfortable living for two, but handy when friends are along. I am camping after all. So I had no issues with doing things outside when needed. Yet if the weather turned extreme, I would have liked to be able to not deal with wet canvas.
    Number 7: Hard shelled, modern manufacturing techniques. The materials and technology exists today to fabricate great and durable RV’s. I can’t recall how many times over the years I’ve encountered trailers along the road - panels and pieces missing, failed suspension, etc.. And the annoying part is that this just seemed to be accepted. I came to realize that the North American market is mostly tailored towards people that rarely venture far from the asphalt.

    The “search” started seriously in 2010, and since I was in no hurry, I wasn’t willing to compromise. I just kept saving.

    Then I discovered the first iteration of Bruder in 2017. First impressions: Wow. It ticked most of the boxes. The design philosophy was precisely what I was looking for. I got all excited – the Unicorn exists!
    Then I did the next logical thing – I checked the price. My reaction was probably the same as most potential “normal” buyers. Shock. Disbelief. Am I reading this right? Incorrect decimal? Bloody hell – is this thing made of gold? No way that I can justify spending this much money on a trailer! Link closed. The search continued.

    The technical person in me was intrigued though. I kept an eye on the site, and followed the developments. Having had previous experience with space age materials, I could not help admiring the audacity of Bruder – they dared to go where other manufacturers did not.
    It took two years of “internal convincing”, but once my wife saw this trailer, the die was cast. It was not a matter of which trailer to buy. It was how long will it take to save the funds for it. In the end it took six year, saving to receipt.
    It took a few more years before I initiated more detailed discussions with sales staff from Bruder. Despite all the info, I had many more questions, and I was also looking for a few options not included in the standard package.
    Bruder made quite a few improvements to the original concept, but improvements is probably the wrong term. Call them refinements. The “hard top” version was also launched.
    I looked at this, but decided to stay with the original pop-top, and for two reasons. Lower profile and weight, and I had to option to reduce internal volume for winter heating. Since both my wife and I would fit in the trailer with a lowered roof, it made sense.
    Refinements that I wanted included the following:

    • Replacement of the electrical cooktop with a diesel cooktop. Since the heating and hot water system was already diesel powered, it would maximized my battery capacity. Electrical cooking is brutally inefficient, and diesel is available everywhere. Almost. The built in tank, and a 20l jerry can of diesel would give me almost 2 weeks of cooking and heating
    • Raw water pick-up and storage. I can simply add water from a river or lake when needed.
    • Custom external awning that would fully enclose the kitchen area and expand my living space


    The process of the actual purchase, and getting the trailer in Canada will be the focus of the next section. And it was quite a process!
    waiting in anticipation for the next episode....
    Putta
    Landcruiser 105
    BL Miskruier B850

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Two quick photos to give an idea of the annex, and relative size. For reference, the awning is approx. 4.5m wide x 3.5m.
    The vehicle is a 4.0l Toyota Tacoma. Alas, we can only hope for the African turbo diesels!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  14. #10
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Thank you, following
    Rudi Pretorius
    2013 Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE
    Afrispoor Cheetah

  15. #11
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Quote Originally Posted by Namtinker View Post
    Two quick photos to give an idea of the annex, and relative size. For reference, the awning is approx. 4.5m wide x 3.5m.
    The vehicle is a 4.0l Toyota Tacoma. Alas, we can only hope for the African turbo diesels!
    Very cool to see flyfishing gear in that set up.

  16. #12
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    Default Re: Bruder

    The buying experience, getting the trailer to Canada, and first impressions.

    I would like to say that this went smoothly, but I’d be lying. On the up side, the lessons learned will make life easier for any other Canadian buyers! And some would probably also apply to non-Canadian buyers.

    The two main glitches:

    • Bruder assumed that shipping to Canada is similar shipping to the US. It is not, as Transport Canada rules differ. It took almost 6 months to get this resolved. Suffice to say, I believe Bruder is now a registered non-North American manufacturer with Transport Canada. Bruder kept me in the loop on the processes. It is never easy dealing with government agencies from half a world away. And Covid did not help.
    • Bruder initially forgot that North America uses 110V, not 220V. The build sheet clearly listed 110V as a requirement. Yes, 220V is available in homes for stoves etc., but not in camping areas. Most homes do not have external 220V connections either, not unless you custom install these. The lower voltage meant wiring would potentially be impacted, and accessories may have to be switch to 110V. It sounds easy, but it is not. Not when your manufacturing is based in Australia and centered around 220V appliances. It also impacted the generator. The 220V A/C unit could be powered by a 2KW 220V generator. A 110V A/C would need a 4KW 110V generator. Luckily I discovered this during conversations – before the trailer was shipped. They elegantly solved the 110/220V issue by providing both. So a 2kW generator drives the 220V items, making it easy out in the bush. With 110V connections, hookup anywhere else is also possible. The execution part of the solution – well, I’ll discuss that later.
    • For the African people – your trailer is actually less complex. You will only have 220V, 12V and 5V available. No need for the 110V systems. And the execution problems I mention later is likely a non-issue.


    I was not going to compromise on the 110/220V issue, and was definitely not going to deal with TC. The trailer was expensive, my build sheet clearly listed that 110V is required for Canada, and Bruder do mention in literature that they ship to the US and Canada. So they had to resolve this.

    So how was the customer service? During the buying process - overall I’d say good. The extras I wanted were accommodated. The build list with options is clear. Being non-Canadian I was already familiar with a lot of the equipment they listed, and I selected with quality in mind. Not that they offered any “low quality” options. Things like swing door fridge vs draw out. When I looked at expanding “soft” space by way of an enclosed awning room, the option they provided were top quality. They have good relationships with other vendors in Australia. And Australian outdoor manufacturers are known for reliable products.
    Yes, I could probably have obtained the custom awnings in Canada, but it was so much simpler to custom fit the products with the trailer in hand. The end result was really exceptional and it was integrated seamlessly with the Thule awning. I accepted most recommendations they made for options.

    The trailer fitted inside a container – just. I think there was about 15cm to spare each side. The trailer was shipped to Canada and then had to go through the extensive CBSA (Canadian Customs) clearance process, and related Transport Canada inspection. Given that Canada has a trade agreement with Australia, I had to pay GST, but no duties. I used a professional clearing agency to do this work. Final delivery was about a 11 months late, given all the approvals, paperwork, and Covid impacts.
    It arrived in May 2021, but not without a glitch. The trailer was well supported on jacks and strapped down tight, but the nose wheel got damaged when one tie-down failed during shipment. This would be a pretty rare thing as rated straps are tested well. I wrote it off as a freak event. I could back into the container with my truck, but it still took an hour to get it out. For those Southern Africans in the know – I had to “leopard crawl” under the trailer to remove the supporting jacks. And should you ever order a trailer, and be tempted not to pay for the proper packing/securing materials. Don’t.

    First impressions: The photos and videos do not do the trailer justice. Overall engineering and practical attention to details are superb. Every aspect is well though out. There is no wasted space anywhere. The thing is build like a tank. Common comments I received in the first few weeks: “Is it bullet proof?” “It’s just missing a turret.” “Look at those tyres!” 285’s are large indeed for a trailer this size. I’ve probably done between 30-40 impromptu “tours” of the trailer to total strangers. My neighbors were joking about starting to sell viewing tickets! I'm slowly getting used to strangers approaching me at service stations wanting to take photos, and chat. And boy, when I raise the suspension to clean it after outings - it damn near causes accidents as people stop in the middle of the road!

    Then being the engineer, I started methodically going through the trailer, system by system. I wanted to know how everything works, and function test all the systems. My expectations were high.
    After all, given the cost, it would be safe to assume that everything would function flawlessly, right “out of the box”. Right? Hmmm. Not quite.
    A good analogy is buying a brand new pair of high end shoes. Then a few tiny stones make their way inside. After a while the focus is solely on the stones, and less on the shoes.

    The next section will focus on the shoes, the noted stones, and how they were removed!

    And yes, Canada is different than Southern Africa in that you have large areas of "public land use". You can stop, camp, fish etc. during the relevant seasons. Lots of rules though!

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  18. #13
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Part 3: How does it function?

    Now to the part that most people would be interested in. Performance.

    Full disclosure – I work in an environment where quality control is paramount. Check, double-check, then re-check. Maybe it takes a bit longer, but it is almost always more efficient (and less costly) that trying to fix the issues after the fact. So unfortunately if I buy products that claims superior performance and design, I review with that expectation in mind. And I will document and stay on the issues until they are resolved. I don’t consider that being difficult. Just factual, and holding manufacturers accountable.

    I will outline the general performance first, and then deal with the issues in a subsequent section.

    Let me be clear. The major systems on the trailer all functioned well. The performance claims Bruder makes are sound, and the general engineering is really good. And I believe that most, if not all of the issues I mention later would be addressed in future North American deliveries, or would not apply for 220V countries. And improvements in internal quality control will catch the rest. Time will tell on the durability.

    • The suspension system is superb. The ability to adjust helps with uneven camp sites, draining and filling of tanks, hitching on/off on uneven terrain, adjustments behind the tow vehicle, and crossing uneven terrain. For longer trips involving asphalt driving, I have a second hitch mount that allows me to adjust the suspension to the lowest setting. Off-road I switch to a hitch about 100mm higher. It provides more clearance and keeps the trailer level behind the truck. Although they recommend a ball height of approx. 400mm, I found it to be too low. My truck does not have a lift, just a standard OME “heavy load” suspension. It is about 50mm higher than stock. Personally I do not believe in modifications that start impacting reliability, and once over 50mm, all sorts of alignment issues come up that could impact long term reliability. On the lowest setting, the Bruder was sitting slightly “nose up”. With a 400mm ball height (center line of the McHitch), I found that the bottom of the McHitch mounting pin would occasionally hit when crossing steep dips or gullies. That problem disappeared when I raised the hitch 100mm. But it meant running the trailer higher on the asphalt, increasing wind resistance. A quick change before I move to gravel fixed this issue – I just installed the Stone Stomper gravel guard at the same time. 10 min, but worth it in fuel.
    • The Webasto diesel cooktop and Espar hot water/heating system functioned flawlessly, once I got through the initial start-up issues (outlined in the Webasto manual). After a week of camping, with morning heating use, cooking three times a day, shower/hot water use, I used 3 liters of diesel. Phenomenal efficiency. My wife absolutely loves the cooktop.
    • Most of the accessories – small microwave, ventilation and dust protection fans, LED lights, water pumps, etc. all functioned as intended. I have not used the small washing machine. But I have the option of clean underwear…
    • The layout inside the external equipment bay is neat, well though out. There is even a LED light in case you need to see things in the dark. Components are top quality. ARB, Webasto, Espar, Shurflo, John Guest, Thule
    • The Thule awning system and room extension/annex works great. It really is a critical necessity for summer camping. The panels are easy to handle, which means easy to dry and maintain. The annex has 4 panels, each complete with mesh, clear windows, and a solid cover. Mesh size is adequate for mosquitos, but too large for the notorious “no-see ums”. That said, smaller size would impede airflow much more.
    • The cassette toilet system works well – if you tweak the disposal method a bit. Capacity is not large though, so careful planning is required for longer trips. So don’t plan on using it for two weeks. Before I found a commercial adapter, I cobbled a hybrid adapter together that allowed me to connect the discharge of the Thetford to a standard RV sewage hose. The commercial adapter is much more elegant. And you need one in North America. If you think that you’re good enough to gravity dump the contents from a 50mm discharge into a 150mm opening at a regular dump site, good on you. I’m not.
    • The solar system is large enough to recharge the battery bank completely almost every sunny day. The 600W panels can recharge a 400Ah bank effectively, even at the Canadian latitudes. No need for the generator unless you want to run the A/C, or are parked in the shade all day. I spent 4 days in the backcountry when the temperatures varied between 32 – 35 degrees C. Trailer was parked in the sun for probably 12h. Both fridges were running hard, and due to fire bans, I used the stove and hot water system daily. Then the daily shower, evening lights, ventilation fans. I wanted to see the impact on the batteries. Worst case was 82%, recovering to 99-100% by about 3 pm. Max panel output was 470V. This will be better at lower lattitude.
    • The trailer provides 110V outlets, 12V and 5V. It can receive shore/generator input from either 110V or 220V.
    • The dust sealing is excellent. No dust transfer into the trailer, not even after 300km of gravel roads and lots of traffic. The pressure fan works great.
    • The trailer uses a proprietary wireless communication system linked to a Garmin display, and it looks great, and works great – when it works. I can also access the controls via my phone, which is handy if you need to adjust the suspension or turn the pressure fan on/off. The phone also backs up the Garmin unit. Handy when you live in areas where affirmative shopping is prevalent. You need this interface to operate the functions. While I understand the convenience of the system, there is still something to be said for a fixed panel on the trailer with switches. The control unit for the trailer is absolutely critical, and the biggest single point of failure – if it fails, you are well and truly hooped.


    Minor modifications I made right after receiving the trailer, or over the following camping trips:

    • Nose cone storage/layout: Given the compact trailer footprint, things must be carefully stacked and organized. I installed a multi-level plywood shelf system that allowed me to safely stack totes, spare fuel, cassette toilet liquid, and all the other stuff needed. Everything in place, secured, and removable without unpacking items above/below it
    • I calibrated the diesel tank to make it simpler to judge capacity and usage rate
    • I added attachment points to secure Polycarbonate protection panels for the solar panels – to serve as supplemental hail protection. The 600W solar system recharges the batteries when parked, but given the size of hail in our area, an extra protection layer for longer term storage was needed. The trailer do receive a full cover for full winter storage. The panels are rated for 200kg/m2 loading, and reasonable sized hail.
    • Adjustment of hoses etc. to fit Canadian outlets and dumping areas. I had to fit extensions to the grey water tank so it can be dumped cleanly. I bought the “Americanizer” fitting for the Thetford toilet cassette. If you do not have this – good luck in emptying your tank at a typical North American dumping station (better take rubber boots along!) Obviously not needed if you have access to outdoor bush toilets. Open, tilt, discharge, rinse twice with extra water, and you’re good to go. I also installed a short tube to the spare tire to store a RV style sanitary flex hose. It connects to the Americanizer and the dumping station. Makes a shitty task easier.
    • I added three extra attachment points to allow installation of a second silver reflective sheet over the awning area. Given the extreme temperatures of the past July, it made a huge difference. I only suspend this when needed, but the temperature below the awning dropped by at least 10 degrees. I’ve used the same system in Namibia, and it works well. And with the roof that can be raised – why not use it!
    • I added some bright orange retaining cords to the rear hatch clips. When not clipped in, they just hang from the latch. No losing these.
    • I placed three standard blue foam camping mattresses under the main mattress to reduce heat transfer from the inside equipment area where the Espar heating system is located. I found that when the hot water system is operating, it transferred heat back into the cabin. This is great for cold weather, but not so much when it is 30C outside. One solution is to leave the hatch open, but that was not my preference. The mattresses solved the problem. And I can pull them out when it gets colder.


    That was it. As a self-confessed “tweaker”, the improvement “To Do” list was surprisingly short. I mention a few other refinements in the rest of the description.

    Towing experience:
    My tow vehicle is a 4.0 L Tacoma TRD, supercharged, with manual transmission. For normal highway speeds, it works fine (other than the fuel usage obviously!). I comfortably cruise at 100-110km/h on the highway. Trailer recommended speed is 100km/h. I do have a larger fuel tank fitted, which greatly helps on range. The truck works hard when the incline gets very steep though. This is not an issue off road, just on highway mountain passes. If you have a typical 1500 style American truck you won’t feel this trailer. Unfortunately we don’t have access to the nice turbo diesel vehicles of Africa – I would consider giving up my front teeth for turbo diesel land cruiser fitted with expedition fuel tanks...
    The shape of the trailer means that it is very, very stable. No discernable movement when semi’s pass from the front. No impact from side winds. And Southern Alberta it can get extremely windy, windy enough to regularly tip trailers. The suspension and McHitch system means there is no transfer of road conditions to the tow vehicle. Zip. Nada. It is rock solid and no anti-sway kit is needed.
    I use an inertia brake controller, and the manual control in combination with the electric trailer braking system makes steep descents a breeze. I tested it on a rocky, twisty, five km steep descent, with no overheating on the truck or trailer brakes. The electric ventilated disc brake system is superb.
    The trailer is the width of my truck body, but narrower than the mirrors, so standard mirrors works just fine. It tracks the vehicle well, and turns are just barely wider than normal. I can do a 90 degree lock turn with no issues, allowing a U-turn on a standard 2 lane road. Try that with a standard trailer and American trailer! The trailer is so narrow, that I do loose sight of the rear end in a straight line and was considering adding two tiny rubber antenna as visual aid.
    On the weight bridge, a fully loaded trailer transferred just under 150kg to the truck. With two spare tires, 200l of gasoline, and miscellaneous stuff like fishing and hiking gear, the Tacoma still runs pretty level. And I could trim this by adjusting the suspension slightly. The trailer really likes being totally level. It keeps the tail end up.
    I already had an aux. Anderson power port fitted to my truck for my 4x4 tent trailer, so trailer batteries are being charged while driving.

    Terrain:
    I have used the trailer now for a few thousand km, on most types of terrain – except deep and soft sand, dune style. That is pretty hard to find on the Canadian main land. What we do have though are lots of twisty forestry trunk roads/tracks, lined with trees. And steep up and down rocky trails. The clay content turns these trails into slick traps when it rains or snow.
    Mud: Will I take it into mud? I tested it on a controlled muddy section where I had another vehicle on standby, just in case. My existing truck tire tread pattern is not aggressive enough, and I made it through – just. The truck was sliding, the trailer 285’s not. Anything softer like muskeg, or deeper than 30cm and I would have gotten seriously stuck. So if you plan that, you’d better have enough Maxtrax style boards, winch extensions and anchoring equipment! And a back-up vehicle…
    Rock/gravel: Over uneven rocky terrain it functioned well. The raised suspension, combined with the articulated McHitch kept the truck solidly on the trail. This is not a trailer for extreme climbs, “rock crawling” style. Not with a Tacoma. It is too heavy for that role. That said, feedback to the vehicle was less than with my 4x4 single axle trailer (also with a McHitch). This was primarily due to the suspension. Surprising, to say the least. The trailer does not “bounce”. It sort of glides. If I had about 60-100 ft. Lbs of extra torque I would be seriously tempted to venture into areas that I will not attempt in the Taco.
    On gravel/dust roads it travelled really well. The 285’s do throw up a lot of gravel. I will not try and pass a Bruder on a gravel road.
    Sand: Best I could do so far for sand was to simulate the wheel loading. I had access to some pressure load pads, and I measured the force of the trailer tires - deflated, and inflated. Interestingly, the deflated 285’s surface pressure showed a lower value than that of the Tacoma. So the load distribution is very good. But again, crossing a dune crest would be risky due to the weight. Be aware that inflating 4x285’s and 4x265’s with an twin ARB compressor will put a serious dent in your aux batteries.
    Would I take it into the sand? River beds, beach zones, etc. Yes. Tricky dunes? Solo – no. With other vehicles – maybe.
    I would feel comfortable taking it on about 75% of the trails I did in Namibia. In Canada, due to the area usage and terrain – an even higher percentage. But I’d be really careful in the mud and snow. You need traction. If you have that, I would say the trailer would be able to go where the tow vehicle can.

    I played around with the rear winch as well. The most practical use I found for it was to turn the trailer around. I ventured into an area where I could physically not turn the truck and trailer around. After some brainstorming, I raised one set of wheels on the trailer, looped the winch to a solid tree, and turned the back end around that way. It took 2 trees, a pulley and a cable extension, but it worked a charm.

    I will provide more feedback as I drive in more diverse terrain.

    Temperature:
    The shell insulation works. With the roof popped up, ventilation is excellent and it is quite cool inside – up to about 28 degrees C. The darker color does not seem to impact things much – except the nose cone. This storage area has no insulation, but unless you store temperature sensitive items there, it is not an issue and helps heat the diesel fuel in lower temperatures. In Africa I’ll pick a white or lighter finish for sure.
    After extended parking in 30 deg C and up – yes it got hot inside, but so did every other trailer. Just simple thermodynamics!
    The heating system works well if the top is lowered. The internal space is not that large to heat. Extended, the heat escapes out the top – so high level windows must be closed to force heat back to the main sleeping area. I just installed a simple removable re-director so air blows to the sleeping area first.

    Raw water pick-up:
    I don’t quite use it as intended. Given the presence of giardia and cryptosporidium in most Canadian water sources, I modified the system somewhat. I either fill from a potable source, or will fill from a container (blue 50l rubber tote) where I can disinfect before transferring to the tanks. It prevents contamination of my water system.

    Fresh water fill:
    The connection is a gravity fill, on a horizontal fill line. So it can take some time to do. I added a long extension to my fill line. It extends almost all the way into the tank and reduced the fill time by 75%.

    General equipment noise levels:
    You are aware of running equipment. Two fridges, the diesel hot water system, the heating system – all make noise. But it’s not a real issue unless you use the heating system in the night. The diesel system is like a jet starting up. Does not really bother me, as I previously fitted a gasoline 4kw Espar system to my 4x4 tent trailer. So I was familiar with the operation.

    Nothing is perfect though. Those annoying little stones in my shoes.

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  20. #14
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    Default Re: Bruder


  21. #15
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Absolutely. I am aware of the case mentioned in the link. Anything I mention will already be on record with Bruder. Facts are Facts, and nothing is perfect. It is how things are fixed that is remembered. And I can honestly say that they do not "disown" you once you've paid!

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  23. #16
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    Default Re: Bruder

    Suspension & right equipment bay.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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