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Overland

Off Road Jack and Multi-Axis Hitch on an Ollie

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So most are probably aware that I've had these since delivery, but I've never posted about them - much to the concern of some (lol).

 

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The hitch, as advertised, is from McHitch in Australia.  It's one of their automatic hitches in the 4.5 tonne (of the metric sort) version.  The jack is an XO 750, also from Australia.  You have to buy the hitch directly from their factory, but you can find the jack here in the US.  The hitch was $750 shipped; the jack, $250.  (The hitch price may have been Australian dollars - I can't tell from their invoice.)

 

To attach the hitch to the Ollie's tongue, you'll have to have an adapter made, like this:

 

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The hitch bolts into the adapter and the adapter bolts into the same two holes on the tongue as the Bulldog, making them interchangeable.  The female portion of the hitch will mount directly to any ball mount. IMG_2075.thumb.jpg.b2aada4c5bfb0808d173ff41dd6db7aa.jpg

 

The jack also requires a bit of work.  The bolt spacing on the jack's mounting plate actually aligns quite well with the Ollie's tongue, but if you mount it directly to the frame, then the wheel just doesn't quite clear when folded:

 

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And there's no room to scoot the jack forward.  You can fold it back the other way, but then the wheel is far enough forward to hit the truck in a tight turn -

 

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So you have to make some spacers, or if the guys in service are still as unbelievably nice as they were when mine was being built, maybe they'll make some for you.  The ones they made for me are cut from 1" aluminum:

 

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So that's what we're talking about and how it attached to the trailer, but people are probably thinking - What again?  Why did you spend money on this?

 

The hitch, first: a multi axis hitch allows much greater articulation between the truck and trailer when going off road.  Dips and twists in the road that would otherwise bind up a standard ball hitch are no problem with a multi axis hitch.  There's also zero possibility of the trailer coming loose from the truck, thanks to the safety pin.  The typical problem with these hitches, however, is that most designs are very difficult to align, and as such are commonly only used on small trailers that can be manipulated into place by hand.  The McHitch fixes that problem by being largely self aligning.  All you do is line up the hitch laterally when backing up to the trailer, then adjust the trailer height to match the truck's, then back into the hitch and it locks itself in place.  The McHitch has two locking mechanisms: the first is the lever bar that drops into the groove on the main pin.  That both holds the pin and lets you know that it's attached.  Then you slide in standard locking pin a safety.  Here's a video of how it works:

 

 

It really works as advertised, and I actually enjoy hooking up and unhooking because it's so dead simple and quick.

 

The u-joint on the hitch is from a Land Cruiser, so it's easy to source should it ever start to wear out.  Maintenance is just greasing the u-joint once a year and keeping the locking bar greased so that it moves freely.  I was a bit worried when I greased the u-joint that the pin would droop, making it difficult to hook up.  But so far the u-joint has maintained it's stiffness.  And it gets so little wear relative to what it was designed to do that it may never loosen up that much.  You can get a WD attachment for the hitch if you want - I don't have it, and so can't comment on how easy or difficult it would be to attach to the Ollie's frame.  There's also a keyed lock for the safety pin.  The caps on the u-joint mounts are magnetic, so I use the top one to hold a little Nitecore LA10 flashlight/lantern when hooking up in low light -

 

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The XO jack serves three purposes.  First is that it absorbs the bump from when you back into the McHitch.  The Ollie's jack isn't designed to take that kind of force, so over time, either the jack or its mount are likely to get damaged.  And of course if you were to bump the trailer particularly hard, then you might just destroy the jack or its mount in one go.

 

The second purpose for the jack is that it provides an easy way to line up the trailer vertically with the truck, which I'll explain later.

 

And the final purpose is what it was designed to do - allow you to recover the trailer if it's stuck, or maneuver the trailer while not attached to the truck.  The jack is very stout, and strong enough to support the trailer while being winched.  I haven't yet gotten the trailer stuck enough to use it like this.  (I've gotten it stuck once, but was able to use traction mats on the truck to get both it and the trailer back to dry land.)  But I have used it to maneuver the trailer around in a tight campsite, and it works perfectly in that situation.  Here's a video of the XO jack in action:

 

 

Obviously, you want to use extreme caution when using the jack in that way.  It doesn't take much of a slope for the trailer to get away from you.  Likewise, you need to use caution if you use the jack while hooking up or unhooking your trailer.  I leave the safety chains attached until I've fully unhooked the truck from the trailer and placed the weight of the tongue onto Oliver's jack.

 

The bonus to using that method is that the XO jack remains set to the truck's height, ready to be hooked up again.   When it's time to hook back up, you just lower the tailer down until the XO jack is taking the weight, and you're all set to hook up.  In cases where you have to lower the trailer's tongue to level, then I first raise the tongue, then swing the jack forward or lift it using the height adjustment pins, and then lower the trailer down to level.  Hooking it back up would then be the opposite of that.

 

 

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Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Overland,

 

 

 

That is  a very nice upgrade!

 

I have a new McHitch 6 tonne, with vertical pin, sitting right here waiting for my new HQ19 to arrive so I can install it.  The HQ comes with a DO-35 Polyblock hitch, but the McHitch looks much better and I like the truck Ujoint swivel.

 

You probably know, but the McHitch can be had in a "kit" that includes a parking brake lever.  Or the levers can be easily sourced.  They bolt right up the two rear hitch mounting bolts.  Parking brakes are standard equipment in Australia on Caravans.  I don't know about other brands, but the HQ, from Australia uses a standard Dexter style electric backing plate, bearings, etc.  I looked on ETrailer and found electric backing plates that include the parking brake option.  I don't see why this would not bolt right onto an Oliver.  Then simply route the cables and have a parking brake!   Cool.  It would be very nice in a recovery situation, or for getting setup at a camp.  It's one of the features I love about the HQ, and one I would have looked into for the Oliver if  I knew it existed.

 

I think that is the same jockey wheel that comes standard on the HQ.  An excellent tool for recovery or turning around at the end of a one lane road.  I really like that you've put it on your Oliver.  That could help you tremendously out in the desert sometime.  That, the parking brake, and some rope would allow you to turn the trailer around in it's own length with total control of it.

 

I'll post some pix of the tongue area when I get the trailer and get the McHitch installed.  About a month from now.

 

Thanks for the write-up and pix.

 

John

 

PS, What is the black coiled wire plugged into the bumper and running back to the trailer?


John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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Excellent! Thanks so much for the info. Some questions....

 

Do you have concerns about either unit in terms of customer support or replacement parts? Some jack owners at Expedition Portal have had trouble communicating with the importer.

 

It sounds as if the jack should be considered an extra jack, not a substitute for the OEM one. I was hoping to ditch the electric one entirely, but from your description some situations are better for the rigid one. Would the trailer feel squirrelly if you were camping with only the XO jack down?

 

How much does the jack and its mount weigh?

 

I would like to find out more about the equalizing accessory, can you point me to the right source? Does it have bars and how do they attach at both ends?

 

As far as parking brakes go, they are very neat but do require a special backing plate that has an extra lever and cam at the top of the shoes. It is a special order item and way more expensive than the standard brakes. No generics are available. It would make swapping out brakes, in the event of a failure or grease leak, more costly and parts won’t be in every RV shop..., https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories-and-Parts/Dexter-Axle/23-112.html

 

To reduce cost and simply the cable rigging you could install the parking brakes on just the front axles, that would be plenty adequate.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John,

 

 

 

When I ordered my McHitch, Joe at McHitch was easy to work with, had everything in stock and shipped immediately. The prices shown on the website, mchitch.com.au are Aussie dollars.  He shipped to me at the retail price shown on the site, all included.

 

Not sure on your comments about the parking brake.  As far as I can tell, the brake shoes are standard on the backing plates with parking brake option.  I could be wrong, but the stuff is standard American Dexter style, including the wheel bearings, etc, on my HQ19 with parking brake.   The ones with parking brakes, shown on ETrailer seemed standard.  If so, this seems like a very nice upgrade to an Ollie, especially if the jockey wheel is to be used.  In an emergency, a standard backing plate could be used, and having the parking brakes seems like it way outweighs any possible downside.    My HQ19 only has parking brakes on the front wheels.

 

The WDH systems shown being used with the McHitch are the standard type, and not the Anderson.

 

If I did not sell my Oliver, this would be the next upgrade.  I've been in situations where I could not have turned around without disconnecting, but then, a wide spot in the road appeared.  And disconnecting with the standard front jack, in order to turn the trailer around, is out of the question.  Those jockey wheels are really tough.

 

Combining this mod with the axle mods we have been talking about would really transform an Ollie.


John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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John, when I commented about the repair cost it was for complete brake assemblies. Replacing shoes or magnets is not often done by shops, the labor cost is so high, so they just swap them for brand new assemblies. Off and on in a few minutes. Thus most shops do not stock the individual parts you need for a rebuild, and they are co$tly. Like a return spring for $15....

 

You can certainly repair or rebuild your p brakes yourself but it is not cheap. The self adjusting brakes on Ollies are a real nightmare to reassemble and have their own special set of design flaws, and I have been changing mine for Dexter manual adjust ones as they fail, they are around $90 a pair. If I chose Chines clones they would be half that....

 

Electric over hydraulic disc brakes are in my trailer’s future. They will park short term using the emergency lanyard. No worries, unlike the drum brakes which need wheel rotation to allow the magnets to activate the shoes.

 

Drum brakes suck, pardon my language.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Do you have concerns about either unit in terms of customer support or replacement parts? Some jack owners at Expedition Portal have had trouble communicating with the importer.

No real concern.  You can buy most spare parts off their website - gear assemblies, wheels, handles, etc.

 

It sounds as if the jack should be considered an extra jack, not a substitute for the OEM one. I was hoping to ditch the electric one entirely, but from your description some situations are better for the rigid one. Would the trailer feel squirrelly if you were camping with only the XO jack down?

The jack weighs 41lbs, and I don't see why you can't use it on its own.  It's just that if you have two, then you may as well take advantage of the ability to use both.  I haven't tried using it to hold the tongue while camped, so I can't say for sure if it would feel more or less squirrelly, but I don't think it would.  If anything, maybe less, because it's much sturdier.

 

I think the problem you might run into is that the XO has less travel than the power jack.

 

I would like to find out more about the equalizing accessory, can you point me to the right source? Does it have bars and how do they attach at both ends?

You can buy them separately here, or when you order the hitch, just specify the WD model.

 

What is the black coiled wire plugged into the bumper and running back to the trailer?

I have a hard wired backup camera.

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Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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On the hand brake, it's on my list of projects.  Since I have the hydraulic brakes, I'll need to get a kit to make it work.  When we've moved the trailer around without it, we're just sure to be extra cautious and diligent with placing chocks - just moving the trailer a bit at a time.


Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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I have a new McHitch 6 tonne, with vertical pin, sitting right here waiting for my new HQ19 to arrive so I can install it.

If you can snap a photo of it, I'd like to see it.  When I bought mine, I asked about the 6 tonne, and Joe told me that it was exactly the same as the 4.5 tonne, except had a larger shank, which he included.  And the documentation I got with the hitch said that it was a 4.5 or 6 tonne model, depending on the shank used.  The hitch itself is stamped 4.5 tonne.

 

But the photo on their website for the 6 tonne is clearly a different hitch.

 

So I'm curious which one you got.  Not that it really matters, since @10,000lbs, the 4.5 tonne hitch is more than enough.


Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Good morning!

 

What is the hitch made of?  likelihood of rust issues?

 

John, what did you use for your adapter plate to the hitch?  Looks like you cut off the cup on a bulldog and used the rest for the adapter?

 

Do they use grade 8 bolts to secure the hitch to the adapter?

 

Thanks

 

Greg

 

 


Greg


USN Retired


ARS AB7R


 

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I have a new McHitch 6 tonne, with vertical pin, sitting right here waiting for my new HQ19 to arrive so I can install it.

If you can snap a photo of it, I’d like to see it. When I bought mine, I asked about the 6 tonne, and Joe told me that it was exactly the same as the 4.5 tonne, except had a larger shank, which he included. And the documentation I got with the hitch said that it was a 4.5 or 6 tonne model, depending on the shank used. The hitch itself is stamped 4.5 tonne.

 

But the photo on their website for the 6 tonne is clearly a different hitch.

 

So I’m curious which one you got. Not that it really matters, since @10,000lbs, the 4.5 tonne hitch is more than enough.

 

 

The 6 tonne and the 4.5 tonne are significantly different.  When I was deciding on which one to get, I didn't see the self aligning 6 tonne.  A closer look recently, and your explanation makes the self-aligning design look very convenient.

 

The 6 tonne uses a 10 ton truck U joint that is quite large and it has a much larger shaft going through the bracket.  I'm not clear what the rating means, in other words, how much safety margin is there beyond the rating? And how much tongue weight is each one designed for?

 

My HQ weighs about 6,300 lbs dry and is rated at 10,000 GVW.  Each tonne is 2,200 lbs, so the 6 tonne is rated for a trailer of  13,200 lbs. More than enough. But the 4.5 tonne is rated at 9,900 lbs.  I expect my HQ will never weigh more than 7,500 lbs.

 

A WDH adds another factor.  I don't plan to use one and the rated tongue weight of the HQ is lighter than my Oliver's measured tongue weight or 560-570 lbs.  I think I'd prefer the 6 tonne hitch with a WDH, but without it, it's a toss-up.

 

Looking at the stock articulating hitch that comes with the HQ, it looks weak compared to the 4.5 tonne and I don't like the design.  That is why I'm changing it.

 

Reading the information on the McHitch site revealed that they took the 3.5 tonne model and made it into a 4.5 tonne by using better steel.  That's it.  No dimensional changes.  The plug pieces are all the same across the board, except the shank size jumps from 7/8" to 1 1/4".  Both the 4.5 and the 6 have the same bolt pattern on the tongue

 

Bottom line:  I'm thinking of using the 6 tonne "drop on" I bought, on another trailer and getting a "self aligning" 6 tonne for the HQ.  The basic design and stresses involved, plus the ease of use, favor the self aligning one.  Another factor is that the "drop on" might interfere with the tailgate when aligned properly with the very high tongue on the HQ.

 

Initially, I liked the drop on because the towing load was not being applied to the safety pin, as it is in the self aligning design.  This seems like a high stress area and a point of wear.  But it is rated to handle that and the ease of use is a nice factor.

 

Given all of that, what do you think?

 

Here's a picture:

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  • Thanks 1

John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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That is a great picture but you should use a $1000 bill for scale, not a $1.... ;)

 

Buying high quality off-roady caravan parts from Oz is not cheap.

 

FYI I had a Treg polyblock coupler on an older 2000 GVW trailer, it worked great for a dozen years with no issues whatsoever until I sold the trailer. It was low maintenance, dead quiet and reasonably easy to couple up. But that design is much lighter duty than the McHitch and I too would be dubious about using that type on a heavy trailer off-pavement.

 

Trailer-013-copy.jpg.e5264102e65d56d33c450da049923965.jpg

 

I really miss that truck, it sacrificed itself protecting my son New Years day two years ago when he hit black ice and spun into an Interstate guardrail.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Good morning!

 

What is the hitch made of? likelihood of rust issues?

 

John, what did you use for your adapter plate to the hitch? Looks like you cut off the cup on a bulldog and used the rest for the adapter?

 

Do they use grade 8 bolts to secure the hitch to the adapter?

 

Thanks

 

Greg

Everything is galvanized steel.  As you can see in the close up with the flashlight, I will get a tiny amount of surface rust on the wear points of the pin and receiver, as well as on the u-joint when the trailer sits, but nothing serious.  If you're more judicious than I am about applying some PTFE dry spray to the hitch, or if you store indoors, you may not even see that.

 

The adapter I had made at a local fabricator, who worked from the drawing I made above.  Oliver had it powder coated for me, but it's beginning to flake, so I need to remove it and have it redone.  Maybe get it galvanized instead.

 

Yes, grade 8 bolts throughout.


Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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One of the things we discussed back on the day (three years ago now?) was the theft deterrent advantages of the McHitch. Obviously, the hitch itself presents an obstacle to anyone wanting to steal a trailer with one installed. A would be thief could drag it away with chains, or remove the hitch and install their own - assuming they brought a drill press - but someone would have to be both prepared and determined to do either.

 

And since my trailer is still in my possession, I can only declare the theory proven.

 

Though now that Raspy is getting the same model, I’ll keep an eye on him.


Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Though now that Raspy is getting the same model, I’ll keep an eye on him.

 

 

I like that we both arrived at this design as the best compromise.

 

Hmmm.  I can't get away with anything around here!

 

There are a number of fully articulating designs ranging from some simple farm duty setups, on up through some well thought out designs for highway and off road use.  But overall, I really like the U joint concept. And specifically, this automatic plug in design.   I saw one some years ago that was a two axis design for one wheel motorcycle trailers.  Fixed at the tongue with no ability to swivel there.  It caused the trailer to lean just as the motorcycle did and it worked beautifully.  The guy could ride the bike as bikes should be ridden and not worry about the trailer crashing, or it's wheels following out of line with his.

 

With the ball, every time I get off road, I worry about the conventional ball getting to it's limit and failing.  Not any more.

 

I must admit, one of the reasons I like this design, and one of the reasons for going with the automatic design in particular, is the theft deterrent aspect of it.

 

This is a really nice upgrade.

  • Thanks 1

John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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Well, I was hesitant to join a forum until I saw the conversations you guys were having. Been looking at the Black Series HQ15 but decided its gonna be too much work to make it worthy of our shoulder season elk hunts here in Montana. Came across Oliver and am strongly considering the double axle. We spend 90+% of our time off road. I wouldn't say that we're full on overlanding through rivers and crazy articulating obstacles, but we intend to test the lifetime warranty. I've gone through multiple RV's over the years and I'm trying to justify the Oliver's price tag on the fact that I can be done swapping trailers every few years before they fall apart completely.

I'd love to get some feedback from you guys if you've got the time or desire. Either way I'll check out some of your past posts so I can limit asking you to repeat yourselves. Thanks for all the info, glad you guys are here.

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ahattar,

 

One of the reasons I went to the HQ19 (which I don't actually have yet do to a delay in production), is the suspension. If you thumb through various posts you'll find some of us wish the suspension was better on the Oliver. It has very limited travel and hits metal to metal as a stop.

 

The vibration while traveling on rough roads seems to be something very hard to tame in all trailers with conventional equalizer/leaf spring suspension. HQ uses independent swing arm and coil suspension with large dual shocks on each wheel. It also has larger 265/16 LT tires with twin spares.

 

Another point that figured into the decision was the outside kitchen. We do a lot of cooking outside, to help keep the interior clean, and because there is much more room to prepare the ingredients outside. So I always carried a table, a stove and a quick disconnect hose for this purpose. Not with the HQ. It has a large preparation area, a sink, drawers and stove. The whole thing pulls out like a large drawer, with no setup time.

 

The Oliver is extremely easy and efficient to tow. The HQ15s don't tow as well (unstable), they have a very small refrigerator, and no counter space in the kitchen. The HQ19s tow well (stable), but have more wind resistance than an Ollie. The HQ19 really shines on interior comfort, so it will be very comfortable to live in for longer trips. The Oliver is much better in cold weather as it comes from the factory. Ducted heat, interior piping and interior tanks make the difference. The ducted heat is not so useful for interior comfort as it is for freeze protection. The HQ series have external plumbing and need a winter upgrade to do well in the cold. Mine will have that before I pick it up. The HQ trailers all have excellent ground clearance. They use standard 5200 lb axle bearings and 12" brakes. They have dual heavy duty off-road shocks on each wheel and they come with a parking brake. Olivers use 3500 lb axles and 10"brakes on the LE2. The heavy duty jockey wheel on the HQ is another plus off-road. It enables the trailer to be towed out when disconnected from the truck and it allows the trailer to be turned around in it's own length if you get trapped at the end of a one-lane road. Having rock sliders and two spares are also nice features for off-road.

 

So, for traveling efficiently on the highway, using the toilet and shower mainly at campgrounds, and cooking mostly light meals, (with no oven or hood), the Oliver is an excellent choice. For living in the trailer comfortably, cooking larger meals, or cooking in an oven, traveling rougher roads where excellent suspension and ground clearance really count, and for unexpected recovery situations, the HQ is the better choice. The HQ17 is an interesting choice because it has bunk beds in the rear and a large fridge. This might be better for traveling with kids or to bring along a couple of buddies.

 

One other interesting feature for off-road use, is the dual water system. 16 gallons of drinking water with a triple filtering system as standard equipment. Plus, a 50 gallon general water system for washing dishes doing laundry, showering and general cleaning. This can be filled with lake or stream water while keeping the drinking water entirely separate. The HQ19 also has a washing machine!

 

Either one seems structurally superior to others with similar design. The double fiberglass body, with insulation, on the Oliver is excellent. The HQ uses a structural aluminum tubing frame for the body and composite aluminum walls that are very tough. It has a diamond plate lower area all the way around for even more strength, and rock rails. The frame is heavy steel box members and is hot dip galvanized for absolute rust protection. Then the whole underside is coated with a bedliner like material. Olivers have their famous aluminum frames that are also very nice. Both have long tongues that allow the truck gate to be opened while connected. The HQ has a front propane locker built into the body and the Oliver has a nice fiberglass shroud over the bottles. The HQ has a nice equipment and jerry can storage locker on the other side of the front, next to the propane locker. Very handy for wheel chocks, hoses, power cords, a shovel, fuel cans, ropes, etc. All the miscellaneous stuff that always goes along.

 

The electrical system in the Oliver is a standard type system used across the RV industry. An inverter is optional and needs a transfer switch to tie it in. It has automotive type fuses on the 12v side. The HQ uses an inverter/charger combination that is very nice as standard equipment. Much more up to date in design. And it uses circuit breakers for the electrical, serviceable tank monitor sensors and Square D residential circuit breakers on the 120 volt system. These breakers are readily available at Home Depot or any hardware store. The HQ comes standard with 300 watts of solar. Oliver offers their solar as an option. Both have all LED lighting, but the HQ also has LED flood lights on the front and rear, as well as both sides.

 

Oliver uses the high quality and very well proven Bulldog hitch coupler. The HQ uses a fully articulating hitch that is better for off road use. The movement of the trailer can never get to the extreme limit of hitch with the articulating system, as it can with a ball hitch. But again, for normal use with a ball system, the Bulldog is the best there is.

 

Over the years, with Oliver, there has been some trouble with cabinet doors, and drawers, not staying closed. Various things have been done to fix this. The HQ series uses locking catches that will not open.

 

I think either brand is the best in their areas. Molded fiberglass, Oliver. Non-molded, Black Series. Towing efficiency, Oliver. Ease of towing, Oliver. Living conditions, HQ. Off-road, HQ. Modern design, HQ Long term durability, ? Factory commitment to the customer and proven reputation over time, Oliver.

  • Thanks 1

John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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Hey Raspy.....or John......Thanks for taking the time to write all that.  Not to sound like the ungrateful new guy, but none of that is new info to me.  I do appreciate hearing it from an X oliver owner though.  Its not new because I spent a fair amount of time at the dealer in Bozeman checking out the Black Series and communicated a fair amount with the company in LA.  The biggest thing right off is the cold weather issues.  I'm not talking cold either, I'm talking winter almost anywhere in America other than far south.  This thing will freeze up during travel in North Florida in Jan!  If they weren't asking for all the money, it might be worth it to me to come up with a closed in basement with ducting and all that jazz, but I think we all know it would be a nightmare trying to get an actual air sealed finished product not to mention it would be just as inefficient as any other cheapo RV in the US.  I don't think the Oliver is particularly well insulated but there is nothing on the market with better air sealing, which anybody that has built homes in cold climates and pays even the smallest amount of attention to modern building science knows is the most important thing.  That said, I am a little skeptical of how the Oliver will perform in actual cold weather.  They play the "R" value game like every other company in the RV industry and the building industry.  The thermal bubble wrap style insulation (reflectix) is a hoax.  It might help a tiny bit in reflecting heat if it was exposed and used in conjunction with actual insulation, but by itself between walls its almost useless.  In other words, science has not invented anything that takes the place of wall thickness which is why every single RV will run the furnace non-stop in cold weather.  Its why my last three rvs have had small wood stoves in them so that we could do late season Elk hunts when it often drops well below zero.  Since there is very little sun that time of year its either burn a fire or run a generator or have a $10k lithium bank and extra propane tanks.  That said, the Oliver is air sealed and has a thermal air break between the inner/outer shells, hopefully it does an ok job at least not losing heat.  The other problem with RV's is that there is no real thermal mass to hold heat so you just end up constantly heating the air which is getting the heat zapped out of it by all the cold materials in the cabin.  With a wood stove, it holds heat so even on very low settings you get some actual radiation which is ultimately what provides comfort.  Ok, rant about cold is done, but thats a main reason I'm not going with Black Series but I also remain skeptical of the Oliver so if you've done any camping even in the teens I would love to hear anybody's performance reviews.

 

I think the suspension, hitch, outdoor kitchen, etc are all awesome and like you I'm sure, its what drew me to the brand.  BTW, Jayco started making very similar units in Australia.  If they introduce them here I think they'll crush BS.  https://www.jayco.com.au/promo/adventurer

 

Towing.  I think unless you have a full size diesel, these things are going to be a bastard to pull.  Even with a full size and the trick suspension, I think they'll buck and sway, especially the single axle models.  I don't think they paid much attention to towing behavior just based on where they mount their holding tanks which also has me skeptical of their tongue weight specs.  They are also just heavy in general across the line and I'm not 100% sure why.  I'm sure the chassis is a pig but I guess cabinets and everything else.

 

Lux.  I agree completely that the layouts, full shower, finishes look very nice and liveable.  However if you look closely with an anal eye, the fit and finish is similar to other cheap RV's.  Plumbing, electrical, etc.  You are right about the charger/inverter and electrical components in general.  I also feel Oliver has quite a markup on some of the upgrades, not all, but for most people thats fine because they get the unit ready to go.  I don't intend to get many upgrades, I plan to do them myself.  For example, Zamp does not offer a MPPT controller and at 340 watts, a 20% gain in panel performance starts to make a lot of sense.  Upgrade to 510w and you're leaving a lot of power in the sun.  The inverter upgrade is a good efficient (.8 non-load draw), but its a $375 inverter that would take 20 minutes to wire in, Oliver gets $1200.  Again though, 9.9 out of 10 buyers will never need anything more and the premium they charge is well worth it for them to have it dialed from go.  A combo victron charger/inverter is how they should do it and just make it a standard feature, but I guess some people want to save the $1200 if they're only gonna plug in at campgrounds so I get it.  Must be hard to create value for all types of buyers.

 

I don't even know what I'm writing at this point, I'm just writing so sorry if its unorganized thoughts.  Another thing I really like is the narrow egg shape design.  As much as we're way off road a lot of the time, there is also inevitably going to be a lot of highway time, especially on shotgun runs to BC and Alaska for our beloved Sockeye runs.  Or cross country to Florida for some lobster diving.  Obviously fishing and hunting dictate our lives!  Now even off road I find the narrower camper to be a huge plus for getting into tight places.  Lets be real, unless you're a crazy SOB which maybe you are, at the end of the day a 23+' trailer is only going so many places.  I am a bit hesitant with the Oliver because of that, but a good amount of their length is the rear bumper and long tongue.  At least with a 7' wide body and the long tongue you can get that thing cranked over pretty good on those tight switchbacks down into some secluded mountain lakes and rivers.  When my wife and I sold our business in 2012, we traveled in our truck camper with cargo trailer for 3 years.  We thought back to all the places we camped and could only come up with a handful where we don't think we could get the Oliver in but if we couldn't we could camp close and drive in.  Not the same but the sacrifice for some extra comfort and storage capacity.

 

Ok, not sure I addressed everything you said, probably not.  But now you know how I think a little so you can run next time you see me post!  I appreciate the input and congrats on the HQ.  Its a badass unit that I for sure lusted after for a while, but once I really looked at what I needed I just don't think it will fit my needs.  I cant wait to see one being hammered on flying past me on a dirt road!

 

 

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ahattar,

 

You and I are pretty much on the same page. All trailers are a compromise.

 

Some years ago I finished out a 42' fiberglass ketch, from a mere hull and deck, to a finished sailing yacht that I sailed to Mexico and back, among other places. The electrical plan that I devised turns out to be just what Black Series did and it worked very well for me while being simple.

 

I've had three "stickies" and the electrical systems were all disappointing. The Oliver has been trouble free, with the exception of a couple of bad connections and a missing grounding cable to the frame, but I think the inverter/charger design is the way to go and should probably be standard equipment.

 

The biggest drawback with the Black Series is freeze protection. I spotted that right off and had to resolve how to fix it sufficiently before committing to the trailer. Fixing it requires some work and expense, but I think it will be fine when I'm finished. Here is how I plan to do it. 1. The dealer, RVs of America in Lindon Utah, is installing a "winter package". This includes all insulated piping underneath, tank heaters and tank insulation. This is not the ultimate answer and would certainly not be sufficient for very cold weather, but it will help with what we do. 2. I am going to install a recirculating hot water system that will provide two benefits, while being very simple. The first thing it does is give instant hot water at the rear shower and sink, to save on water usage. The second thing it does, when turned on, is provide just enough heat to the lines, both hot and cold, to keep them from freezing. This draws about .5 amp of DC and will recirc water from the water heater to fight the cold. It will cause the water heater to fire up occasionally, but that's fine as the main energy source will be propane and not electrical. I also plan to put low point drains on wherever needed so I can leave it parked at home in the winter. Previously, with my stickies, I would simply hook up a compressor to the shore tie water port and blow out the lines. Then leave an oil radiator style heater set low inside. This worked for years. My Oliver spent winters in the garage which has radiant heating, so winter freeze protection for it was not a problem, but the HQ will not fit through the door.

 

I'm towing with a Ram 3500/Cummins. Having enough power and weight in the tow vehicle is not a problem, but the HQ will be significantly harder to pull than an Oliver. I know it will cause a mileage hit with it's higher profile and 1,400 lbs more weight.

 

The thing that really caught my eye with the HQ was the suspension. I will not be tearing across the desert at speed, but I have not been able to make a conventional leaf spring, equalizer setup do what it seems they should do, that is ride smoothly with little vibration. Going 60 miles or so into Death Valley on gravel rutted roads is not friendly to this arrangement. Every trip out there is painfully slow, or causes stuff to go flying, cabinets to open, screws to back out, window coverings and cushions to go adrift, and the microwave to try and escape. If I never strayed off the highway and paved roads, The HQ would seem like severe overkill. On roads, I'm sure the Oliver would be a much more friendly partner.

 

Compromises, compromises. I'm sort of a restless type, I guess, and I also like the engineering aspect of designing and dialing things in. It's so much fun to be out there, have everything I need, and have everything working well. So we'll see how it goes.

 

The whole Australian trailer concept seems like it will be a game changer over here. For years, I've been sorry we could not get stuff like that here. All the way through, there are differences in the trailers that make sense. It seems like every American sticky is just a variation on the basic theme, that are all built in Indiana with the same parts and at the lowest quality they can get away with. It's about time there were more options. Oliver has been a wonderful addition to the whole scene. Their frame and fiberglass work are outstanding. They are artists with fiberglass. Now, Black Series is a third option that is not a cheap sticky, and has game changing features. It's aluminum, but not fragile like an Airstream. Fiberglass is undeniably a fine material for trailers. And it has the advantage of being produced in such a streamlined shape. Me deciding on one, doesn't mean the other is bad.

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

 

 

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John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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Hey Raspy, have you studied the rock rails closely to see how they are mounted to the frame underneath? And do you know what the tubing material and thickness is? This is a little unnerving - a spot-welded piece of 1/4" (?) angle with no gussetting.:

 

HQ19-15.thumb.jpg.e689c0a82c245eebd260cf922b9d16c5.jpg

 

I hope that they are more than a visual "nerf bar" styling feature. From the outside they sure look great IMHO, especially if they also work well to fend the trailer off a tree trunk or an out of control ATV....  but rock sliders need to be rock solid to work. https://www.roundforge.com/articles/rock-sliders-and-rocker-guards/

 

Thanks.

 

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John.

 

All I can say about the rock sliders is that they are better than nothing. But they are not as strong as they could be, or should be, from what I can see.

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John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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You are right about the charger/inverter and electrical components in general.  I also feel Oliver has quite a markup on some of the upgrades, not all, but for most people thats fine because they get the unit ready to go.  I don’t intend to get many upgrades, I plan to do them myself.  For example, Zamp does not offer a MPPT controller and at 340 watts, a 20% gain in panel performance starts to make a lot of sense.  Upgrade to 510w and you’re leaving a lot of power in the sun.  The inverter upgrade is a good efficient (.8 non-load draw), but its a $375 inverter that would take 20 minutes to wire in, Oliver gets $1200.  Again though, 9.9 out of 10 buyers will never need anything more and the premium they charge is well worth it for them to have it dialed from go.  A combo victron charger/inverter is how they should do it and just make it a standard feature, but I guess some people want to save the $1200 if they’re only gonna plug in at campgrounds so I get it.  Must be hard to create value for all types of buyers.

 

If you haven't seen them already, you may be interested in taking a look at this thread, and this one.  Given Oliver's high upgrade prices, it definitely works in your favor to forgo them on the front end and put that money toward better components, especially if you have the skill to install them yourself.  When considering the price, be sure to factor in the possibility of taking a tax credit for whatever you buy, since the Ollie qualifies as a second home.  When I did mine, the final figure was only about $2,000 higher, including lithium batteries and doubling the solar, relative to what I otherwise would have paid Oliver.  I'm sure that calculation has changed a bit, since they offer more components standard, but it's still much easier to justify financially on the front end rather than trying to do it later.

 

 


Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Thanks for the links, I'll definitely read through those.  Glad to see other people are doing cool stuff with these things.  I'm not sure I totally understand what you were saying about the tax credit, etc.  I've only factored in that I absolutely want Lithium and I absolutely want another panel on the roof.  I'm hoping to get Oliver to just build the trailer with a solar port wired in on the roof and some wires hanging somewhere for the charge controller, but we'll see.  I've literally never seen an Oliver so I'm not sure how easy it is to run wires once its built.  Maybe your two links will show me.  I don't really like how they mount the panels on the roof so I'm trying to get them to add additional aluminum backer plates that I can tie into after building a roof rack.  A friend of mine has a nice shop where I can build aluminum dryboxes which I'd mount the panels too so I can have storage under the panels.  I'll also build a moveable ladder into it.  If I ever want to add more panels, I can attach to the rack rather than trying to fasten to the fiberglass.

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Running cables around the lower hull is no big deal. Going from top to bottom is trickier.

 

Rideadeuce has had good luck adding panels with only VHB tape. I got Oliver to do 640w on my roof but that was back when they were still doing customs. I’m not sure what you can do about getting Oliver to add extra backing plates - probably won’t have much luck these days. It would be major surgery, but I’ve often considered what it would take to cut out the center section of the ceiling for access to the outer hull, then installing a fabric covered false ceiling to cover the hole, possibly adding some LED perimeter lighting in the process. It should be possible but would require some serious planning.

 

You can also keep an eye on the tracking mount that one of our other owners (hardrock) is developing.

 

Personally, I think you’d have better luck adding a nice custom dry box to the old style bike rack. Oliver has drawings of the old rack (which I prefer to the other home made solutions I’ve seen), so it wouldn’t be hard to build. And adding a box there would be so much easier to access, and surely would affect stability less than anything on the roof.

 

The tax credit is for solar install. So long as you buy at least one solar panel (can be portable), then you can take the credit on the entire system, including batteries. It’s being phased out but it was 30% when I bought so it made quite a difference to the cost. Ask your accountant or just google for ‘solar tax credit’.


Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Gotcha on the tax credit, thanks.

 

Problem with adding storage to the rear is ground clearance.  Departure angle through some creek crossings can get pretty steep.  One reason to have it on the roof is security, just harder to rob me.  I'm not talking crazy tall boxes, thinking more like the final product would be about the level of the A/C/  Figure I can build around it too cause I think the A/C makes campers look ugly, especially the Oliver.  Silly, but hey, if you don't have pride of ownership, whats the point.

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I am not so sure about departure angle issues with the Elite, but my rack in no way affects it on my Elite II. I have to worry about the extra length when backing, but the rear view camera takes care of that.

 

406DD75D-1E5B-4488-AB0A-EB1DC07F872A.thumb.jpeg.cb455a4ac88604a54996ea173e16a664.jpeg

 

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/how-to-move-the-factory-cargo-tray-to-a-rear-rack/

 

I too think putting cargo on the roof is a poor idea in general, regardless of how well it is built. Tongue is best, if your TV can deal with the weight, rear is next, in moderation, followed a distant last by stuff ten feet off the ground.

 

Remember that these are narrow trailers, so they would be more susceptible to problems when adding a bunch of mass up high. The factory experimented with spring over axle raised suspension on this trailer and did not like the results.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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