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Everything posted by donthompson

  1. I owned an Oliver Elite II for four years and loved it. Like Raspy, I wanted better off-road performance. I stubbed my toe by purchasing a Ram Rebel and a Conqueror 490. The combo was incredibly capable off-road, but the Rebel's range was too limited and the 490 was way to much work and lacked the creature comforts I was accustomed to. So, I now have a Ram 2500 diesel and a Kimberley S3 should be in a container headed my way in early January. I'm pretty confident I've found the right combination for the type of travel and camping I love.
  2. I'm a former Oliver owner. Replaced it with a Conqueror and now have a Kimberley Kruiser almost ready to ship to the U.S. from Australia. I learned about using the Andersen Plug and wiring to charge my lithium batteries in my Conqueror. I responded to a question today from an Oliver owner about charging with a 7-pin connector. The Andersen plug/wiring will charge your lithium batteries at a much, much higher rate. I've attached a document that provides info on how to install. Vehicle Prep for Conqueror Trailer.pdf
  3. I traveled solo in my Elite II and was always a bit disappointed in the amount of storage inside the Oliver. I've sold my Elite II and purchased a Conqueror 490. Here's a YouTube video of the camper (its a much earlier model--mine is different in a number of ways). Take a look at the amount of inside storage in very small camper. BTW, the woman giving the tour is a little ?? You be the judge. When I watched it, I thought about how much space the closet in the Elite II takes up and how unnecessary it was for me to have a place to hang clothing. I'd much rather have space to store rolled up pants, shirts, etc. If I still owned my Ollie, I think I'd find a way to install shelves to fill the closet and to make it a great place to store all of my clothing, etc. What do you think? Has anyone done this? Picking up my Conqueror next Monday. Photos below.
  4. I have a 2016 VW Touareg TDI (diesel) for sale. I towed my Elite II with it. Search for Touareg on the forum and you’ll find more info. Also on Autotrader—located in North Liberty, IA. The Touareg is more luxurious, handles and rides better than the Highlander and has a towing capacity of 7700 lbs. You’ll also get significantly higher mpg towing your Oliver. Message me if you’re interested. Approx. 31,000 miles.
  5. I recently purchased a lightly used 2019 Ram Rebel to tow my soon to be delivered Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme. I used the tool on the RAM website using my VIN to obtain the towing and cargo capacities. 11,470 lbs. towing and 1,970 payload. The sticker for the tires says 1,682 lbs. payload with E rated tires. Not sure which payload number is correct, but either way, I’ll have plenty of capacity for my travels—almost always solo and I travel light.
  6. 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.
  7. Short-term lease. Posted a couple of photos. Certified.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Thoughts on the new Diesel engine available in the 2020 Rebel?
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. Mary, maybe you and Terry should head to Big Bend in March. Your Ollie knows the way--it's been there twice!
  16. 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.
  17. 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
  18. 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!
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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!
  23. 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...
  24. 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.
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