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donthompson

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Everything posted by donthompson

  1. Payload is 1,970 lbs. Towing capacity is 11,470 lbs. I don’t think I’ll come close to either limit. My cargo slide will have a 1,000 lb. limit, so that’s the maximum amount I can carry in the pickup bed under the topper. First trip will have about 340 lbs. in driver and passenger, less than 100 lbs. from three bikes. I don’t think I’ll have more than another couple of hundred pounds in the cab/bed combination. I don’t know what the Conqueror will weigh when it’s ready to travel, but I hope to keep it below 4300 lbs. I don’ t see a problem using the truck as a daily driver, but I’m used to zipping around in a VW Golf Sportwagon TDI 6-speed. Nice town car, gets great mileage, easy to park, decent cargo capacity and it has the same size receiver as my truck and Touareg so my bike racks fit.
  2. Short-term lease. Posted a couple of photos. Certified.
  3. Bought a truck! Used 2019 Ram Rebel Quad Cab with the long bed. All the off-road stuff (including crawl, locking diff., etc.) and none of the luxury (leather, nav, heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel, etc.). Ordered an A.R.E. Topper and a full-length steel cargo slide. Will install through-axle mounts for my bikes on the cargo slide so it will be really easy to get the bikes in and out and they will travel out of the weather. No windows in the topper and heavily tinted rear window so the value of the cargo won’t be obvious. What will I do with all this storage! Also Yakima bars above so I can add a basket for a second spare for both the camper and truck if I want. It’s a big truck. Don’t think I’ll drive it around Iowa City very often. Will post photos in 6 weeks or so when I get it completed with topper, etc. Thanks for all of your advice. I’ll see how well I like the Ram and I’ll keep my eyes open for the redesigned Tundra. I wouldn’t buy one the first year, so I’ll probably keep the Ram at least 3-years. Hope I like it well enough to keep it longer.
  4. This process is driving me nuts! I almost purchased a Ram Rebel yesterday, but I couldn't pull the trigger. Even with significant discounts, rebates, etc., the Rebel will cost $8k more than a Tundra SR5 TRD and about the same as a Tundra TRD Pro (although I haven't gotten a firm price on the Pro). The Rebel is much more pleasant to drive on the highway and I drove it about 15 miles on gravel roads yesterday and it handled the washboard sections beautifully. Who knows what I'll think on Monday. I seem to change my mind hourly! Why am I drawn to the Tundra despite my knowledge that it is outdated and has poorer road manners than the Ram? I can't explain it.
  5. Boy, I really opened up a can of worms! I guess it isn’t so much that I want a full-size pickup, but I want to have a capable off-road vehicle and have room to carry two mountain bikes out of the elements. If I could find a way to modify it to get more clearance and store a full-size spare, I’d keep the Touareg. I have looked at and considered a used Land Cruiser, but I haven’t found one that I’d buy. I also am concerned about the reliability of a Land Rover but agree that a Defender would be perfect for my purposes but for the reliability issues. So, I’m very close to purchasing a Rebel. Let’s see how it works. The distributor of the Conqueror started me on the search for a full-size pickup—it’s what he recommended. Other 490 owners tow with a variety of vehicles from Power Wagons to Tundras, Tacomas and even 4-Runners. All seem to like their tow vehicles except for lack of power in the Tacomas and 4-Runners.
  6. Thoughts on the new Diesel engine available in the 2020 Rebel?
  7. Mike and John, I really appreciate your comments and help. Mike, the fact that you’ve had good luck with your Ram is very encouraging. The discounts on the new 2019 Rebels and Power Wagons are attractive. I don’t think there’s significant changes in the 2020 models. The Iowa City dealer doesn’t have a Power Wagon in stock. I’ll try to drive one in Cedar Rapids tomorrow. Is there a Ford alternative other than the Raptor which seems a bit over the top to me? I have ignored Chevy completely and just I did some cursory research on Ford trucks.
  8. Well, I wavered on the Ram Rebel. I love the truck and John, you’re right, the Power Wagon is even more capable. But I’ve talked to a number of people who have owned Ram trucks and I’m concerned about dependability. So, I’m leaning toward the Toyota Tundra. I know it’s an old design. The dependability is really important to me. I haven’t made a final decision, but I think that’s where I’ll end up. I drove one about 100 miles today just to see how I felt about it with more time behind the wheel. I felt better about it when I finished the drive. I’m looking to add an A.R.E. TW Classic topper with spray-on full protective coating and A.R.E.’s CargoGlide that basically allows you to slide out a platform that is almost as long and wide as your cargo bed, load your gear and slide it back in. I plan to do DIY bike mounts bolted to the platform so I can load my bikes and just slide them in and enclose them. With the topper. It’s a pretty cool system. http://www.cargoglide.com/ Watching the video of the Power Wagon v. Rebel convinced me that my off-road travels will be a little tamer than what I saw on the video!
  9. I appreciate the insightful comments and questions—just what I’ve come to expect from knowledgeable Oliver owners. I’ve been working hard trying to find the right components to make the Touareg an adequate partner for this 490 and I’ve given up. Two things can’t be fixed in any reasonable way: 1) 7.9” of ground clearance which is inadequate; and 2) the difficulty of finding a place to carry a full-size spare. So, I’ve been driving pickups! After driving all the full-size pickups that can be optioned for off-road use, I’m about ready to buy a Ram Rebel. I haven’t decided on the engine—I’ll buy one with the V-8 or the new 3.0L Eco-Diesel. Can’t decide if I want to spend the extra money for the diesel. I can save a lot of $$ if I buy a new 2019 and the diesel is only available in the 2020 model. John identified the trade-offs I have to make to have the off-road capabilities that the Conqueror offers. I can’t load it up with gear, etc. because of the 1,100 lbs. difference between the dry weight and the GVWR. If I have a full fresh water tank and fill the two Jerry cans with water, I’ll add just under 370 lbs. That leaves approx. 730 lbs. of capacity. I think I’ll add the air bag suspension to the Ram Rebel, and I’ll put the heavy stuff (compressor, tools, etc.) in the truck and keep the load in the camper pretty light. My Ollie usually weighed 5200-5400 lbs. when I towed with a full fresh water tank, so I’m pretty sure I can keep the total load in the Conqueror below 1,000 lbs. I asked David about the tongue weight but failed to write it down. I remember that it was less than the Ollie. I think around 450 lbs. John, there is a lot of canvas, isn’t there? That’s another are where there’s a real compromise. However, the Conqueror 490 is the only off-road camper I found that I liked that actually had a living space enclosed without canvas. When I stop for the night on my way to a destination, I don’t have to deploy any canvas. I can sleep on the bed that doubles as the dining area without raising the roof—sort of a stealth mode. I’ll carry an electric tea kettle and make pour-over coffee inside and then get on the road again. When I find a place I want to camp for more than a night, I’ll have a lot of options. The newest model has a roof that raises straight up and not at an angle (think wedge shape) and there are long rectangular windows on each side. If I use the main bed, I can limit the canvas to the rain fly over the bed. Next option is to deploy the Bundutek awning. It is really pretty simple to deploy—I’ll eventually be able to do it in 5-10 minutes. Then I have two other options—deploying the standard awning on either or both sides with or without sidewalls. I should have plenty of power when off-grid. I’ll have 245 watts of solar panels on the roof and a 160 watt portable panel (one that is much lighter than the Zamp portable I had with the Ollie) and 2 100ah lithium batteries. He typically installs a 1000 watt inverter but I added a 2000 watt inverter. David recommended the propane furnace they supply rather than the diesel heater. He said the diesel heater is noisy and requires a lot of maintenance. I chose not to add air conditioning. I rarely used the A/C in the Ollie and didn’t like it when I did—the noise drove me crazy and I couldn’t sleep with it running. I plan to pick the Conqueror up in January and leave for Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park in February. Hope I run into an Ollie or two en route or in one of the parks.
  10. Mary, maybe you and Terry should head to Big Bend in March. Your Ollie knows the way--it's been there twice!
  11. I sold my Elite II after almost 4 years of great experiences camping in my Oliver. Many of you know that I was close to replacing it with a ZoneRV EXP-12. I got cold feet. Buying a camper from an Australian company with no presence in the U.S. was just too risky. So, last week, after much research, i drove to Ohio and spent a day with David Bates, a mechanical engineer who worked for years for Honda. He's the U.S. distributor for Conqueror, a South African off-road camper. I spec'd and purchased a UEV 490 Extreme Platinum. It will arrive in Ohio this month and I'll pick it up in January and then head for Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, etc. for it's inaugural trip. It's not a camper that most Oliver owners would want to own, but I really want to spend more time on gravel and more primitive routes. I'm adapting my Touareg with skid plates, new wheels and all-terrain tires, etc. Purchased the new Garmin Overlander and Garmin's inReach Mini to help with back country navigation and communication. I hope to continue to enjoy my Oliver friends and can't wait to run into some of you while traveling towards my off-road destinations. Here's a Youtube video that David made relating to the 490. There have been a few changes since he made the video, but you'll get the idea.
  12. John, I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend the rally. I may be picking up the EXP-12 in Flagstaff at that time. But, if I pick it up in March, the rally is a possibility
  13. Sherry, there’s no perfect solution. I’ll miss sitting at the dinette working on the computer, drinking coffee, eating dinner, etc. But, I’ll have a much more comfortable sleeping space with a true queen bed with a latex mattress of the same quality as the one I sleep on at home. I like cooking outside, but having to go outside to brew a morning cup of coffee will require some adjustment. There is a wet bath in the EXP 12, but I don’t anticipate using the inside shower much. In four years, I don’t think I’ve used the indoor shower in the Ollie more than 15-20 times. I usually shower at a campground or outside when I’m in a remote place. The EXP 12 has a really cool shower enclosure for the outdoor shower that is in an enclosed compartment above the shower. You open it up and it just drops down, ready to go. I’ll need some type of platform mat like Foy makes for the Ollie bathroom to stand on. My goal is to travel to places where I can take overland routes for 3-14 days of dirt road remote travel. Have already collected descriptions of a half dozen routes described on expeditionportal.com. Maybe when I’m 80 years old or so, I’ll want to return to a more sedate and luxurious form of camping, but at 70, I’m still feeling he urge to explore!
  14. I've been away from this discussion because I've been focused on selling Hull #126 and finalizing the build on my Zone EXP 12.0. My Australian camper would not suit many Oliver owners. I considered buying a Zone RV Off-Road 17.0. It would be amazing--true off-road capabilities combined with a level of luxury that exceeds the Oliver's, Airstream's etc. The options are unbeatable--tons of solar, lithium batteries, an air-conditioner that will run off the inverter, a washing machine!, etc., but I decided that I just don't need that level of luxury. I also didn't want to spend the kind of money required (probably not much less than $95,000 U.S. delivered here). I camp alone and I use the term "camp" intentionally. When I travel in the Ollie, I spend my days out and about--hiking, mountain biking, exploring nearby towns, museums, etc. I usually cook breakfast and evening meals when I'm away from civilization. If I'm near a town with decent restaurants, I'll eat out in the evening. Most of my time in the Ollie is spent reading while lying on one of the beds and sleeping. Like John, I have had experiences towing the Oliver on rough roads that weren't pleasant. But more important, I've avoided places that I knew would be too much for the Ollie. So, I've replaced the Ollie with an EXP 12.0--a camper that not many Oliver owners would find attractive, but I think it will suit me. I understand the risks buying a camper manufactured in Australia. I've researched the company and I think it's the best in the Australian market--the "Oliver" of Australia. Yes, Zone RV could go out of business at some point in the future and leave me high and dry. So could Oliver Travel Trailers. So, I've taken a big leap, hoping to land on the other side of the gorge. Hoping to pick up my EXP 12.0 at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff in May, 2020. Zone will have another U.S. purchaser's EXP 12.0 on display at the Expo and I hope to schedule a full day delivery tutorial with the Zone people either before or after the Expo.
  15. John, see my reply to Sherry about picking up the caravan in Australia. After two hours of FaceTime, many emails, and lots of research, Zone RV has answered many questions, but there are still open issues. They have to figure out how to deal with warranty issues. If I buy from them, my caravan will probably be shipped with two others late this winter or early in the Spring. They are working through the warranty and service issues but obviously they'll have to have people like Jason who can be responsive to owners by telephone and can work with repair facilities in the U.S. Jason has done that for me and I've been happy with the work done by a local RV place with Jason's involvement. Shipping could be pretty expensive, up to $12,000 AUS or a little over $8,000 US. They may be able to cut that in half by shipping the first three together. I'm considering two very different products. First, the EXP 12.0. They have't manufactured the larger 15.0 EXP and I'm not willing to buy the first one they make, so I'm considering a pretty small unit with no inside kitchen and no dinette. On the other hand, it is very attractive to me given the kind of camping I like to do. it would have a 200 AH lithium battery and 440 watts in solar panels, diesel heater, A/C, two queen beds, etc., all in a very small package. The other alternative is the 17.0 Off-Road, a much more traditional caravan with serious off-road capabilities. Much more expensive, but very comparable in exterior dimensions and weight to the my Elite II. As you saw in the video attached, this is a very luxurious, capable caravan. I think I can sell my Ollie and buy the EXP 12 and put money in the bank. If I buy the 17.0 Off-Road, I'll need to spend a quite a bit more money. I'm going to go over the list of standard equipment and the options for the 17.0 Off-Road and decide if I want to spend that much money and also whether that model fits my needs better than the EXP 12.
  16. Sherry, I spend 2 hours this afternoon on a FaceTime conversation with a couple of people at Zone RV. They are building 2 caravans now that are going to be shipped to the US. They are "bespoke" for our market--no issues with doors on the wrong side, etc. Unfortunately that means that the caravans won't be certified for travel in Australia. So, I can't fly there to travel with a new camper before shipping it to the U.S. More info coming in a reply to John's comments above.
  17. I'm completely engaged in a search for an Australian caravan to replace my Elite II. Other than getting out on my mountain bike for a couple of hours today to hit the trails, I've been researching Australian caravan manufacturers who are or will soon begin shipping their caravans to the United States. I've found a camper that I think I like better than the MDC XT-15. It's the largest of the Expedition Series by Zone RV. Here's the brochure: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/6066089/SERIES%20brochures/SERIES%20Specs%20and%20Upgrades/ZRVExpeditionSpec&UpgradeAUG2019.pdf?utm_source=hs_automation&utm_medium=email&utm_content=77258186&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8sMQrNki3mSXs9LxwA1Kq37vZBDr4fyU9lL7KEgIQP3Q8gEfmrc7HYDTCpjGVzTDbc1l5MnKO6ObZM2qwczp9CcYlSBw&_hsmi=77258186 I've communicated with the company today by email and will talk to the owner of the company tomorrow or the next day. I hope to arrange to travel to Australia, rent a tow vehicle and travel in the Z-15 for a month or so before having it shipped to the U.S. Most of us picked up our Ollies in Hohenwald, camped for at least a few days to make sure everything was in order before heading home. I think this is a great advantage and Coolum Beach in Australia isn't that much further away than Hohenwald :). If I buy this caravan, I'm sure I'll miss some of the creature comforts my Oliver provides, but I'll be much happier traveling on gravel and rocky roads in the West!
  18. I joined the MDC Owners Group on FB and posted a question about insulation/cold-weather camping. Almost immediately received a response from a fellow who started a conversation on FB messenger. Here's the conversation: Hi mate, we’re working on getting product to you guys just ramping up the factory with some new technology to increase production Steve, you must be an MDC representative. Looking forward to the arrival of MDC caravans on our shores! Yes I do all the media, set up and tuition videos etc Great to make contact with you. I won't barrage you with questions, but what can you tell me about insulation and temperature range the XT16 is designed and manufactured to operate in? It’s typical styrene insulation between the aluminium frame. From experience with a diesel heater it’s good at -6 degrees Celsius whatever that is in Fahrenheit Doesn’t get any colder here I’ve been very comfortable at -4 no heater That would work for me. -6 C is 21 F and I haven't camped below 20 F. Hoping the U.S.caravans will be equipped with the diesel heaters. They will a 2000 watt model Chat Conversation End Type a message...
  19. Lots of helpful comments! I’ve asked to join the FB owners’ group as well. I also like the outdoor kitchen. When I travel with my Ollie, I prefer to cook outside when the weather permits but I have to carry a Partner Steel propane stove, table, Cobb Grill, etc., and run in and out of the camper for utensils, etc. I’d use the outside kitchen frequently if I owned the MDC. Regarding the Black Series, the Iowa dealer I’m talking to sold the Black Series campers for awhile and can still order one, but he said the company is having growing pains and he isn’t satisfied with the quality of the product. Like any camper purchase, there are trade-offs. The tires, suspension, etc., on the MDC are designed to handle very rugged terrain. I wouldn’t expect the camper to be as well-suited to barreling down a U.S. interstate highway at 70 mph like the Oliver. On trips out west, I use I-70 and I-80 to get through Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, but switch to two-lane highways in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, etc., and when I’m exploring an area, I have towed the Ollie many hours on very rugged roads. I’m willing to trade 10 mph on the interstate for true off-road capability. The MDC should handle terrain that is more than my Touareg is designed for. I’ll start a new thread once I get the ball rolling with the dealer.
  20. John, I respect your analysis of other campers. An Iowa adventure outfitter will be the first U.S. dealer for a line of Australian off-road campers. I've loved my Ollie, but have identified many things it doesn't have that I can't add through modifications. I've also discovered that it has limitations relating to rough roads that make it less than ideal for my use. So, I'm seriously considering purchasing the MDC XT16 East-West camper that is described below. The U.S. website isn't online yet, so all the specs are in metric measurements, etc. Also, the price is in Australian dollars. The company has 12 campers in the U.S.in the final stages of certification for sale here and the local outfitter is scheduled to pick one up and tow it back to Iowa before the end of the month. Take a close look and let me know what you think. https://www.marketdirect.com.au/product/xt16-hr-east-west-off-road-caravan/
  21. I used a Weber Q1200 for a couple of seasons but replaced it with a Cobb Premier Grill for a number of reasons. The Weber didn’t fit in the basement of the Elite II and the Cobb does. The Cobb uses charcoal rather than propane. The Cobb is also much more versatile—check out the website and see what you can do with a Cobb. I also like to cook outside on a propane stove. I opted for a Partner Steel stove. It’s very powerful and easy to keep clean.
  22. I’ve traveled in Hull 126 many miles since I took delivery in March, 2016 and my experiences have been more positive than negative. However, I’ve concluded that the Oliver is not well-suited to off-road travel. I spend a lot of time dealing with small issues relating to travel on rough roads. After living with the Elite II for over 3 years and traveling many miles, I’ve decided to search for an alternative that better suits my adventurous lifestyle. Here are the main issues that have driven me to consider selling my Oliver and replacing it: 1) it’s lack of true off-road capability; 2) the absence of components and fixtures intended for off-road use; 3) lack of storage—both outside and inside; 4) the small refrigerator and freezer in the Ollie; 5) the limited fresh water capacity; 5) the lack of protection from damage while traveling on rough, rocky terrain; and 6) the absence of a queen-size bed that doesn’t make the living space in the camper too confining. I’m considering replacing my Ollie with a MDC HR16 East West or MDC HR16 Island off-road caravan manufactured in Australia. A local Iowa company is working with this Australian company and should become a dealer soon. I haven’t been following he market for used Olivers. I’d like some advice on what I should sell my Elite II twin bed camper for. It’s a 2016 and loaded with about everything you could order at the time including dual awnings, solar panels and inverter, etc. I’ve added a composting toilet and many other things since I took delivery. I’m going to Hohenwald next week to have the furnace replaced. I have a custom bike rack with Yakima components that will accommodate two bikes including fat-tire bikes. What do you think it’s worth?
  23. I was in Cornwall and missed this discussion. David is correct—VW/Audi forbids the use of a weight distribution hitch. I’ve towed many miles with tow Touareg TDI’s with the standard bulldog hitch. The Touareg/Q7 platform is great for towing an Elite II. If you can find a good used ‘15 or ‘16 TDI, that’s what I’d recommend, but the gas engine will do the job as well.
  24. I've finally given up on the Atwood Propane Alarm installed below the dinette. My Ollie is a 2016 and the alarm has gone off multiple times on every camping trip I've taken since picking up my camper in March 2016. On my first night out on my current trip a couple of days ago, it went off and I decided to remove it. I talked to Jason who confirmed that it is extremely sensitive and many slight odors tend to set it off. He told me that even odors from the batteries may set it off. So, here's my question: has any forum member found an alternative alarm that does the job of detecting a propane leak without interrupting your sleep frequently when no propane leak exists? I've reached the conclusion that the Atwood alarm is worthless. Because it goes off so frequently and is triggered by non-propane odors, it serves no real purpose. The only way I could use it to stay safe is to pull into an RV repair shop every time it goes off to check for a propane leak. If I did that, I would spend all of my travel time at RV shops. Jason mentioned that he will ask Oliver to identify, research and test an alternative, but he isn't sure they will. He also mentioned that the location of the alarm may be part of the problem. I love my Ollie, but it's frustrating that Oliver hasn't solved this long-standing issue with one of its third-party componen ts (and perhaps the design issue resulting in the location of the alarm in the camper).
  25. Sully Creek Park has a nicer campground than Cottonwood Campground at Roosevelt NP and it's very close to the NP. You didn't mention Grand Teton NP. Don't miss it. I love a boondocking spot there. Upper Teton View Dispersed. * Campground Address, Directions, and GPS: Forest Rd 30310, south of 191, Moose WY 83013 GPS: 43.762492, -110.553995 * Forest road 30310 is about 12.5 miles north of Moose, WY. It’s about 5.6 miles south of Moran, WY. You take highway 191 from either Moose or Moran to get to the forest road. The road is a bit rough as you drive from the valley up to the ridge, but once you arrive, you have a great view over the valley and of the mountain peaks. Wonderful spot. After visiting the Canadian Rockies, Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP last fall, I've decided to avoid fall trips to these mountains. The fire season usually starts in July and can continue well into October. The fires and smoke make this an unattractive place to visit. Last September is was so smokey in the Canadian Rockies that I only spent one night there. Fires drove me out of Glacier after a couple of days. Grand Teton was ok when I was there, but still smokey. I don't know if fires have been an issue so far this summer, but I'd advise you to keep an eye on fires in British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, etc.
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