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Turn your Oliver into an Aussie beater. Anyone?


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I've seen many of you ask for better suspension, hitches, etc. to make this thing more like an Aussie trailer, why hasn't anyone done it?  Who would pay more if Oliver had some of this stuff as options?  

Suspension: Cruisemaster components are used on a lot of the top Australian caravans (check out Zone RV) and we can get the stuff in the US fairly easily.  The fact that Oliver uses a steel subframe that bolts to the aluminum chassis actually makes it a fairly simple build as long as you can jig it up to get it aligned properly. https://cruisemaster.com.au/suspensions/ 

Obviously the offroad handling would be better and your trailer would last longer but other game changers with airbags....raise ride height when you need it, lower it on the highway for stability and stop looking for perfectly level camp sites.  Just push a button and level with air. 

Hitch: I know some of you have used Mchitch but you can get a Cruisemaster that looks great for $350. https://cruisemaster.com.au/cruisemaster-do35/   

Tongue Exterior Storage: Ditch the fiberglass propane enclosure and build something useful out of aluminum.  Dry exterior storage that doesn't effect turning radius.  BBQ slide out, genset slideout, jerry can storage, tool storage, etc. 

Rear Bumper: Ditch the fiberglass tire cover, build a swing out spare tire holder on one side with a fold out table on the back.  Aluminum swing out drybox on the other side with whatever you want but a basic exterior kitchen with more fold down table space is in my future.  Configuration would be endless here.  Above all that would be a ladder to the roof and bike rack.  Bike rack could also go above the tongue box.  

Roof: Rear ladder goes to a aluminum roof rack and more dryboxes.  Roof rack would use existing awning and solar mounts so no new holes to waterproof.  Build long shallow boxes with solar panels attached to the tops.  Add more panels if needed.  Finished height would be below A/C unit.  I would use this storage for all the gear you don't use on a daily basis like seasonal or gear you can't use in certain locations.  When you're traveling full time there are things you won't use for months that you still want to have.  

Water: Remove black water tank and install fresh drinking water tank not connected to factory fresh tank.  Install separate water pump and run it through UV filter then drinking water spout on kitchen sink.  As far as I can tell the bathroom floor is just caulked in place.  You could wire both pumps to a single switch I'm sure so no difference in how things work.  Rain catchment to the main fresh tank anyone?  More capable pump so you can take river water from more than 2ft away?    

Dust: Dometic makes a lot of cool stuff, just not for the US market cause Americans buy garbage campers.  https://www.dometic.com/en-au/au/products/climate/ventilation/vents/dometic-dust-reduction-system-_-225606

Diesel: Get rid of propane all together?  Diesel heat, water heater and stove just like Earthroamer does.  You could add the fuel tank to the tongue storage box. A compressor fridge? 

Lithium: Lots of it. 

Thats what I've got off the top of my head, any additional ideas?  Try to keep the fear mongering out of this (world has enough of that right now) and just assume everyone is smart enough to balance their loads and not do anything stupid.  Just ideas on how to make the Oliver a more useful extended boondocking machine.  You could include mods to your tow vehicle too.  I'm planning to either buy a F250 tremor or if Dodge gets off their asses and adds a 10 spd tranny, I'll build an AEV Ram 2500.  Everyone carries different stuff of course.  The corona economy is going to collapse guys, its on you to spend all your money, its the American thing to do!     

 

 

 

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Good ideas here.  The Oliver shell and frame are solid, the weak points are the standard RV parts and appliances found on most campers.  Maybe someone could start an Oliver Custom Shop to do mods now that there are more Olivers on the road.  Mike

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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Some of these fall in line with some of my dreams.

Maybe not quite as robust as the aussie suspension, but now with 5" of travel and great disc brakes (always worried about how much I should let the trailer vs truck brake in some of the bigger descents around here) and maybe a little wider US-penetration/parts/service availability would be the MorRyde IS system.  https://www.morryde.com/uploads/downloads/1462812776-IS Booklet Updated.pdf  Probably 'good enough' for most of my needs.  At some point it's time to park the truck and trailer and take out the SxS.

When I was looking at it for SOB it was $6k installed.

The DRS from Dometic looks interesting - basically ram air scoop with a filter attached.  So not sure how much positive pressure it would generate while at slow speeds/stop though, which is when the dust cloud is at its worst.  I also wouldn't want to give up the roof real estate for this.   Personally, I want the roof from belt line to belt line (ie solar is wide as the trailer's widest point) and front to back to be solar.  TOne to give more power, and two to keep the water and snow mostly off the roof. Then maybe at the front, something similar to the DRS but with the addition of a DC blower to keep the positive pressure - maybe with some more crazy filtration options for the smoke/pollen seasons.    I think another dust fix would be external shutters with gaskets for the exterior windows.  That would fix most of the dust intrusion we have seen as our door does seal fairly well - bonus would be in winter the ability to insulate even better.

For extra water, I'd probably look at just throwing an extra tank or blivet in the truck and just use the boondocking port or gravity feed into the fresh water tank.  Then I can make water runs with the truck too.  We've just used 2x 5 gallon jugs thus far for the purpose.  I'd also look into a gray water "diversion" system with UV to work with a drip hose where legal/appropriate.  These aren't full treatment systems, but generally "safe" the graywater for outside use/watering.

For the roof, the best system I've seen is the Winebago Revel (sprinter 4x4).  The ladder is removable, and can connect on the sides and rear by connecting to the top rack.  This eliminates the biggest hazard with ladders - tipping.

For heat, I do like the hydronic diesel heaters - one because then I could share fuel with the TV (maybe get a Diesel SxS too).... Can use the same loop to heat cabin, tanks, and water lines.  So this would do something the australian campers can't -- live in sub-freezing temps.  Interior stove would have to convert to induction and fridge to something more efficient on DC power.  As I've said before in other threads, I'd also add a heat pump to get the AC off the roof and add the possibility of solar being enough for heat/cooling in the right conditions.

 

 



 

 

2019 LE2 #529.   Standard Floorplan.

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 Duramax

 

 

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Idk. I think if we were ready to do the Aussie camper route, we'd buy a Bruder  exp-6 gt. 

During the madness of 2 months of quarantine (so far),  we actually debated the merits. We don't "need" most of the great off road stuff, but we both love what Bruder did with hitch, suspension, frame, dust control, etc. Diesel heater.  Induction cooktop. And, the interior is pretty sweet for a small(er),  narrow trailer. 

I particularly love the slideout kitchen. And a lot of things, like standard 200 ah lithium batteries ( woohoo), freshwater capacity, etc. And, a lovely interior,  with room for kids or guests.

Oh, and that space for a washer/dryer combo? Awesome. Though, I'd probably turn it into a freezer. 

What we don't love. The price. Roughly 106,000, us, base. Plus shipping.

I don't mind taking a chance on a new guy. We did that in 2008.😃

I  don't think we'd be able to use the value of it. But some of you younger folks might be able to.

Our plans to camp around the last third of Australia  this year are pretty much trashed,  but there's next year, hopefully.  If and when we get to go back and camp a third time in Oz, we'll try to see this one. 

Sherry

 

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Posted (edited)

Oh, and my #coronaquarantine daydreams have included both my reserved cybertruck and a tricked out Ram Rebel in granite/black two tone as tow vehicles. I could live with either. With the hemi in the Rebel. 😁

A girl can dream...

Sherry

Edited by SeaDawg
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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Well  as much as I like your dreams Sherry, I can dream too -  I'll have another larger shop, filled with all the fab tools and equipment I could use, all the aluminum tubing, composite materials, and associated parts I could source. I have a few designs in my head mulling around. Most involve 4wd HD chassis, diesel, multi alternator, and super component interior. Ahh dreams. Think Earth Romer DYI. 

At $167K Aus., the Brueder will have to wait.... Lottery perhaps

 

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Cindy,  Russell and  "Harley dog" . Home is our little farm near Winchester TN

2018 Oliver Legacy Elite II - 2018 GMC 2500 Duramax 

"Die young - As late as possible"

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I looked at the Brueder too but decided I couldn't justify it because it wouldn't really fit my needs.  I think the Kedron Caravans look the biz if I'm making a wish list.  Problem is none of the Ausi trailers are good in the cold.  My plan is to make the Oliver handle rough dirt roads and the occasional pucker worthy obstacles.  The Cruisemaster XT with airbags should be pretty great as well as their hitch.  If we weren't planning to travel full time for a few years, I would have bought a shorter trailer but as you know there aren't a lot of choices.  I could see taking an 18' trailer just about anywhere.  

I'm lucky enough to have a full fab shop at my disposal with CNC tubing benders, press breaks, mills and everything else a little boy could wish for.  I'd be curious to hear about the designs in your head, maybe we can build them.  Should be pretty fun doing the aluminum work, I think the Oliver is going to take on a pretty mean look and be a pretty darn functional basecamp.  I'll shoot and cut a bunch of video while we build it so if any Oliver owners like what they see I'm sure my friend would build it in his offseason.  

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On 5/2/2020 at 12:07 PM, WhatDa said:

Some of these fall in line with some of my dreams.

Maybe not quite as robust as the aussie suspension, but now with 5" of travel and great disc brakes (always worried about how much I should let the trailer vs truck brake in some of the bigger descents around here) and maybe a little wider US-penetration/parts/service availability would be the MorRyde IS system.  https://www.morryde.com/uploads/downloads/1462812776-IS Booklet Updated.pdf  Probably 'good enough' for most of my needs.  At some point it's time to park the truck and trailer and take out the SxS.

When I was looking at it for SOB it was $6k installed.

The DRS from Dometic looks interesting - basically ram air scoop with a filter attached.  So not sure how much positive pressure it would generate while at slow speeds/stop though, which is when the dust cloud is at its worst.  I also wouldn't want to give up the roof real estate for this.   Personally, I want the roof from belt line to belt line (ie solar is wide as the trailer's widest point) and front to back to be solar.  TOne to give more power, and two to keep the water and snow mostly off the roof. Then maybe at the front, something similar to the DRS but with the addition of a DC blower to keep the positive pressure - maybe with some more crazy filtration options for the smoke/pollen seasons.    I think another dust fix would be external shutters with gaskets for the exterior windows.  That would fix most of the dust intrusion we have seen as our door does seal fairly well - bonus would be in winter the ability to insulate even better.

For extra water, I'd probably look at just throwing an extra tank or blivet in the truck and just use the boondocking port or gravity feed into the fresh water tank.  Then I can make water runs with the truck too.  We've just used 2x 5 gallon jugs thus far for the purpose.  I'd also look into a gray water "diversion" system with UV to work with a drip hose where legal/appropriate.  These aren't full treatment systems, but generally "safe" the graywater for outside use/watering.

For the roof, the best system I've seen is the Winebago Revel (sprinter 4x4).  The ladder is removable, and can connect on the sides and rear by connecting to the top rack.  This eliminates the biggest hazard with ladders - tipping.

For heat, I do like the hydronic diesel heaters - one because then I could share fuel with the TV (maybe get a Diesel SxS too).... Can use the same loop to heat cabin, tanks, and water lines.  So this would do something the australian campers can't -- live in sub-freezing temps.  Interior stove would have to convert to induction and fridge to something more efficient on DC power.  As I've said before in other threads, I'd also add a heat pump to get the AC off the roof and add the possibility of solar being enough for heat/cooling in the right conditions.

 

 



 

 

Not all Aussie suspension is super robust.  Cruisemaster makes an independent setup for highway use and one for like fire road type stuff.  I think you might be surprised on pricing.  You don't have to get crazy burly articulating setups.  They come with the choice of drum or disc too.   https://cruisemaster.com.au/cruisemaster-crs2/

Nice thing about a totally separate water tank for us is that we often pump out of rivers.  9 out of 10 camp spots for us are on the water.  Having them completely separate would allow you to use your UV filter less for drinking water.  In the current 32 gallon fresh tank you'd pump from rivers through a simple two stage filter and then just add a little bleach.  You can use that tank for showers, sinks, dishes, etc.  

That Revel ladder system does look cool, good call.  I don't know if I'll make it moveable until I see how much room is up there.  I'm hoping to design it to where I could climb up the back and walk around up there.  

Can you elaborate on the heat pump?  How does that get the A/C off the roof?  Holly crap, I plugged in for a second and turned on the furnace and the roof unit came on I guess because I didn't have the fan on the thermostat set to auto.  Its so damb loud it almost seems unusable anyway.   

 

 

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55 minutes ago, ahattar said:

That Revel ladder system does look cool, good call.  I don't know if I'll make it moveable until I see how much room is up there.  I'm hoping to design it to where I could climb up the back and walk around up there.  

Can you elaborate on the heat pump?  How does that get the A/C off the roof?  Holly crap, I plugged in for a second and turned on the furnace and the roof unit came on I guess because I didn't have the fan on the thermostat set to auto.  Its so damb loud it almost seems unusable anyway.   

 

 

I don't get on the roof, I know some do.  I used the ladder to clean behind the awnings and make sure the solar panels were clean.  So something movable that I don't have to worry about tipping would be nice.

For the heat pump, it'd be like a residential mini split.  So there'd be an outside unit (I'd put it on the tongue) as far away from where we sleep as possible.  Longitudinally mounted.  Even the outside unit is vastly quieter than the "RV" air conditioners out there.  Then there are a set of hoses that connect to the inside unit.  There are wall mounts and floor mounts that could work in a few different places.  They also have ducted models as well that could take the place of the existing furnace and would work through all the existing ducting.  Heat pumps can work in both ways, transferring heat from outside to inside and inside to outside.  Models now function down to -15F - which is pretty good.  Efficiency does decrease when it is near the bottom of its operating range.  Some of the more efficient ones have COPs of around 4-5.  So compared to that 1200W space heater, it would use ~250W for the same heat.  They're also roughly 3 times more efficient than the Dometic Penguins that inhabit some of our roofs.  The ductless internal units are very quiet.  Some of them can dehumidify and filter too -- which are two separate small appliances we carry with us.  The mini-split in our house scans the rooms surface temperatures with an IR sensor and probably reads our minds too.  We spend hardly anything to heat and it's always comfortable.  I'd still want a diesel fired backup for when it gets cold, the sun isn't shining, and the panels get covered in snow/leaves/etc...

I can't find Overland's thread where he did the AC runtime test, but imagine that with 3x the runtime or more --- as now you can have the whole roof for solar (and since then batteries have about twice or more the energy density).  So using Zamp's new obsidian series panels, it'd be possible to fit 1800W of Solar power (stock is currently 340W) on the roof alone (the panels would be wider than the roof, but only stick out ~1 inch past the beltline of the trailer.  The bonus would be that it should keep the rain off the fan covers and the muck out from behind the awnings.

Downsides? there are no "RV" rated mini splits.  But I don't think the reliability of any "RV" appliance is that great to begin with.  Many of them run on 240V, which means two MultiPlus inverters to get the separate phases, and a separate charger so you can still plug into 30A connections and have electric heat/cooling.  There are some 110v systems, but less variety there.

 

Edit to add on the suspension: I'm just a little cautious to have my running gear be something I might have to wait to get parts from Australia. 

Edited by WhatDa

2019 LE2 #529.   Standard Floorplan.

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 Duramax

 

 

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Ok, so a residential mini split.  I installed a Fujitsu in my guest house a couple of years ago.  Problem is the exterior unit is huge to be carrying around.  I haven't seen any small versions but I've never looked.  Other problem is when you need heat the most, the sun is generally not out for very long.  I just don't see how you could power it in cold temps.  I've installed wood stoves in a truck camper and my last 18' trailer.  That has been by far the best solution for cold weather camping.  I've spent only 3 weeks in my Oliver so far and it was barely below freezing and I was already missing my stoves.  Keeps everything super dry, so no condensation.  Its warm enough to sleep with fresh air coming in.  No power, no fuel, silent.  You can put a small log in, go hunting or rafting all day then come home to a warm camper with a pot of stew ready to eat.  Problem is it takes up a lot of space.

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The Oliver fits all our needs, but guess that is why we bought i. Solar keeps us powered, propane keeps us warm, high ground clearance keeps us out of most trouble spots. 

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