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iMotorhome

56 : Sep 20 2014

magazine

Issue

Lovely

because getting there is half the fun...

Win!

$50 for the! best letter

Leura!

Avida’s new baby B-class with a pleasing price tag…

Wilderness Escape 2!

Malcolm tours NZ’s ski fields in a compact Euro rental

Front Wheel Jive?

Putting front-wheel drive to a real world test…

Roof Rack Update… A reader reports!


WE’VE BROADENED OUR HORIZONS

The Horizon Motorhomes family just got bigger and you’ll love the new additions.

*ELWB

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Now you can choose from eight Horizon models, all passionately built by master craftsmen using only the finest fixtures and fittings.

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Introducing the BANKSIA +2 with additional seating and a permanent double bed and the CASUARINA, bringing extra space and flexibility to the Fiat Ducato*


About iMotorhome | 3

iMotorhome eMagazine is published twice monthly and available by free subscription from www.imotorhome.com.au. Your letters and contributions are always welcome! Contributors Facebook “f ” Logo

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Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Jess Ciampa, Emily Barker, Rob Davis Elizabeth & Helmut Mueller

Published by iMotorhome

Design and Production

PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2576. Australia.

Design Manager

ABN: 34 142 547 719

E: agnes@imotorhome.com.au

Agnes Nielsen

T: +614 14 604 368 E: info@imotorhome.com.au W: www.imotorhome.com.au Editorial

Advertising Advertising Manager Keith Smyth M: 0408 315 288

Publisher/Managing Editor

T: 03 9579 3079

Richard Robertson

E: advertising@imotorhome.com.au

T: 0414 604 368 E: richard@imotorhome.com.au Roadtest Editor Malcolm Street E: malcolm@imotorhome.com.au

Legal All content of iMotorhome eMagazine and website is copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of content, however no responsibility is accepted for any inconvenience and/or loss arising from reading and/or acting upon information contained within iMotorhome eMagazine or the iMotorhome website.


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ph (07) 5597 4400 - email info@paradisemotorhomes.com.au Paradise Motor Homes products are protected by registered designs, patents and copyrights ™ © 2013


On my mind | 5

Back in the USSA… A scant three months after our last USA adventure we’ve just completed another and again I’m writing this – and publishing this issue – from the kitchen bench at our friend’s house, about 120 km from Los Angeles, on the edge of the Mojave Desert. This trip – part milestone birthday celebration part motorhoming wish list – has largely been made possible by the good folks at El Monte RV and to them a big Thank You. In Issue 59 on 1 November I’ll be running a mini-USA feature on this trip. It will include a road test of our Thor Windsport 34J ‘Bunkhouse’ A-class motorhome, an account of our travels from LA to San Francisco and back, a breakdown of costs and our thoughts on what’s been a most enlightening adventure. El Monte will also be offering iMotorhome readers a special discount offer should you wish to follow in our wheel tracks, or make some completely different ones of your own! I have to say the A-class motorhoming experience does spoil you when it comes to comfort, vision and the overall feeling of ‘doing it right.’ Our past experiences in the USA in C-class vehicles, while fine and thoroughly enjoyable, now pale a little in my memory! Speaking of past experiences, I’m still working on the promised special issue of our earlier adventures this year. It’s becoming something of a bumper issue (sorry Agnes) and so it’s release date is still uncertain, but I’m thinking it might make ideal summer reading for the first saturday in January when traditionally we don’t publish. I hope you can wait until then. I’ve learned that making timing predictions – be they for issues, website upgrades, apps or feature stories in upcoming issues – is almost a guarantee for failure. Our resident consulting psychologist Robert Davis once mentioned

belief systems to me in passing and I’ve come to realise what profoundly powerful things they are. Belief systems control our lives in obvious and subtle ways, like religion and superstitions. I’ve almost created a specific belief system around writing about the above-mentioned timing predictions and it’s only my recalling Rob’s insights that actually stop it morphing into a fully blown ‘superstition.’ Hopefully Rob will have more on the subject in an upcoming issue (even though I’ve now written about it happening, so something is sure to go wrong). Planed articles and issues aside there are some exciting things in the pipeline at present. These include the Australian exclusive launch of an impressive line-up of motorhomes from Europe and some interesting and unusual Australianmade units. One was supposed to appear next issue but was delayed at the 11th hour, so I’m feeling rather pleased I didn’t announce it last issue (is that a new reverse belief system?). Finally, I’d like to congratulate Lorraine Smith for her decisive election victory to the position of Director on the Board of the CMCA. I’m sure Lorraine will bring new insights and points of view to her position and all of us here at iMotorhome wish her, and the rest of the board, well. See you all in two weeks when I’m firmly Down Under again – for the rest of the year at least!

Richard


6 | Content

3

About Us

5

On my Mind

8

User Guide

Who we are, where and other legal stuff

Back in the USSA!

How to get the best from iMotorhome eMagazine

11

On your Mind

14

News

Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!

What’s happening in the wider RV world - and beyond

23 iMotorhome Marketplace The latest Marketplace offers

24

iTherapy Loneliness…

Sneaking through the bush, Avida’s new Leura!


Content | 7

28

Touring Test: Avida Leura

40

Touring Test NZ: Bürstner Nexxo t687

54

Feature: Front Wheel Jive

62

Reader Reviews

66

Mobile Tech

70

Next Issue & Show Calendar

Avida’s new B-class that’s sure to please!

Touring in the Wilderness Escape 2!

A real world front-wheel drive experience

Roof Rack Update – One reader’s ultimate quest.

Oz Atlas! Flora, fauna and more at your fingertips…

What’s coming up and what shows are on soon

Malcolm wilderness escaping in a Burstner Nexxo t687


8 | User Guide

How to get the best from iMotorhome eMagazine Note: This magazine is designed to deliver the best reading experience on an Apple iPad.

General This magazine is published in the Portable Document Format (PDF). This means that once downloaded it is a self-contained document that can be stored on your smartphone, tablet device, e-reader, laptop or desktop computer and read off-line at your convenience. PDFs are clever things that allow a degree of interactivity not possible with a conventional magazine. For example: The front cover and contents pages feature links in their headings that will take you directly to the relevant articles in the magazine. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer you will see the mouse cursor change to a small hand with a pointing finger, which signifies you can click on the link below it All advertisements are ‘live’ and linked to the advertisers’ websites. This means if you touch one (smartphone/tablet) or click on one (laptop/ desktop) you will be taken to the appropriate website automatically if you are connected to the Internet. If you are not connected to the Internet you will be asked if you want to connect, to complete the action Text that is highlighted and/or underlined in blue is also a ‘live’ link that will either take you to the webpage or website of the topic being discussed, or open an email (if appropriate).

iPad and iPhone Users Important: Be sure you have the free iBooks app installed. Books displays a full page at a time and allows you to read the magazine by swiping the pages sideways, just like turning the pages in a printed magazine. iBooks also has a Library function that displays a small thumbnail of the front cover of each issue. You can even create Collections so that you can store each year’s issues separately or by vehicle brand tested, or however you desire.

Using iBooks On downloading each issue of iMotorhome eMagazine on your iPad or iPhone you’ll briefly see a message at the very top of the front cover that says “Open in iBooks.” If you miss it, don’t worry. Just tap the space immediately above the iMotorhome title and it will reappear for a few seconds. When it does, tap it and your issue will be moved to iBooks and reopen. You need to do this with each issue you download. Once open in iBooks you’ll see a number of icons across the very top of the page and a strip of tiny page thumbnails across the very bottom. To get rid of them simply tap the page anywhere there isn't text (touching text will take you to the relevant article). To make the icons reappear just tap anywhere on the page again. To read your copy of iMotorhome eMagazine, swipe the page from right to left. Reverse this to go back a page. To go to the front cover at any time just tap on the page your on and then touch the tiny page icon at the far left, along the very bottom. To leave the issue you’re reading and go back to your Library, tap the page and then touch Library in the top lefthand corner.


User Guide | 9

How to get the best from iMotorhome eMagazine Laptop/Desktop Computer Users The software that allows you to view a PDF document – Acrobat Reader – has a number of controls at the top of the page. Chief amongst these are two square buttons in the centre; one showing a page with an arrow across it and the other showing a page with arrows across and top-to-bottom. Press these and you can view the page at the full width of your screen, or the whole page fitted to you screen, respectively. For further help or information email info@imotorhome.com.au.

Thinking about a self-drive touring adventure?

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On your mind | 11

Win $50 for the best letter! It’s only fitting that since Ed has his say in On My Mind, you should be able to have yours too. If you have anything to say – or ask – just drop a line to letters@imotorhome.com.au and we’ll share it with our readers. We’ll also reward

the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.

Trip Tips! We’ve just recently come home from a 4-5 week holiday with friends and done a bit of free camping and caravan parks. The free camps we stayed at were awesome and here are some I’d like to share with your readers!

Cheap places we stayed that we would recommend:

The O'Connell Pub – halfway between Bathurst and Oberon. We spoke with the publican and he was happy for us to camp in the paddock next to the pub. Awesome food and very friendly, we had a fire and got our wood from down the back near the creek. Highly recommend and can’t wait to go back!

•P  rinceton Recreation Reserve. I think it was $17 a night with power. A great spot for Great Ocean Road

Others included: • Bethungra Dam • The Police Paddocks, Rutherglen •L  ock 10 at Wentworth (on the Murray). We ended up staying 5 days – just beautiful! • Mount Bryan, opposite the pub •W  e were supposed to stay at Christies Beach near Echuca, but it was too wet to get in or out

•K  illarney camp ground (just out of Port Fairy) for $20 including power and free laundry

Kind Regards, Kel-lea. Thanks Kel-lea, I’m sure a lot of readers will follow up your tips and I’m thinking iMotorhome will be checking out the O’Conner Pub at the earliest opportunity. Please accept this issue’s $50, which will pay for a few extra nights away on your next trip!


12 | On your mind

Solo Considerations… Hi Richard, re the loneliness of the long distance traveller; actually when I am out on the road travelling proper and staying in freedom of choice camps I rarely feel lonely, although I’m more a loner than an out-and-out social butterfly. In freedom camps most people will have a chat and there is usually a happy hour of some sort happening and I have learnt/ steeled myself to go over with a drink, some nibbles and a chair and ask to join in! On the road when travelling, when I stop in a town for a coffee or lunch I make a point of talking to as many locals as possible to. It’s here that my Whippets come into their own as many people, especially my age-plus will stop to talk about, or even to, the dogs! But as a women of rather limited means I do a fair bit of house sitting to stretch my dollars a bit further and whilst doing house or farm sitting it does get a bit lonely as I cannot afford to go out coffee shopping every day, and the whole point of doing the 'sits' is to save some money. One thing I am certain of in these times of so called 'social media' is that it is not a medium

On This Day 20th September

to encourage or truly keep you social, and if you do not actually practise truly talking, face to face with other real live people you run the risk of losing the skills of communication, of reading or listening between the words. Sometimes, what a person does not say tells you a great deal! The skill of connected listening and of being connected to that person, however short a time is involved, I think that sort of connectedness is necessary to keep a healthy perspective of yourself and others too, and to keep that dammed black dog in check – or at least under a semblance of control. Best wishes, Annie. Thanks again Annie, between you and Rob I’m thinking we could start iShrink.com.au! But seriously, you’ve raised some great points and I’m pleased you’ve worked out that sometimes as a single traveller you need to ‘take the offensive’ when it comes to meeting people. Well done! I’m sending you one of our little note books so you can keep a track of other thoughts of wisdom.

1519: Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with about 270 men on his expedition to circumnavigate the globe. 1946: The first Cannes Film Festival is held, having been delayed seven years due to World War II. 1967: RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched at John Brown & Company, Clydebank, Scotland. It is operated by the Cunard Line. 1934: Sophia Loren, Italian actress from Naples, is born. First actress to win an Oscar in a foreign language film.


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Personalise your journey....


14 | News

Ugly Food Initiative

C

onsumers and farmers can now benefit from a new range of imperfect-looking discount produce from NSW retailer Harris Farm Markets. The 'Imperfect Picks' range features fruit and vegetables that are just as edible as regular ones, but sold for up to 50 per cent less due to their visual imperfections. Misshapen or blemished fruit and vegetables comprise about 25 per cent of all produce grown and are often dumped, ploughed back into the ground or fed to livestock because they don't meet consumer expectations for appearance. This represents about 277,000 tonnes in Australia every year.


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16 | News

Recall Website

P

roduct recalls are a fact of consumer life and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has an extensive section of its website devoted to recalls on all manner of products.

Motorhomes, fifth wheelers and caravans are included and you’re advised to check the website to see if your make and model is listed.

CMCA Milestone The ceremony attracted numerous representatives from the CMCA, several senior management personnel from Tourism Victoria and tourism representatives from across the region. CMCA members in more than 30 vehicles also attended, adding vibrancy and excitement to the day.

T

he Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia’s (CMCA) RV Friendly program continues to grow and this month Kyneton, Victoria, was recognised as Australia’s 200th RV Friendly Town. The RV Friendly program is made up of RV Friendly Towns and RV Friendly Destinations, spread across rural and regional Australia. To celebrate, a ceremony took place and a plaque, located next to the Kyneton Visitor Information Centre, was unveiled by Amanda Millar, MLC, representing the Victorian Minister for Tourism.

CMCA Chairman Vincent Moran said, “We are very proud of what the Club has achieved for regional tourism in Australia over the past eight years through our RVFT program. The Club has worked with State Governments and Local Councils to install more than 300 wastewater dump points, which are lowcost but critical infrastructure for servicing self-contained RVs. The network of RVFTs across Australia currently injects an estimated $200,000 a day into local businesses, delivering more than $70 million a year in tourism revenue for RVFT communities.” The development and implementation of an RV parking facility requires minimal infrastructure costs but is an important investment in RV tourism. The CMCA says it will continue to promote this to rural and regional towns throughout Australia and encourage them to support the RV Friendly program.


News | 17

GeraLdton Invites Submissions

T

he Western Australian regional city of Geraldton is inviting submissions to help it prepare the draft Making Geraldton RV-Friendly strategy, which is now available for public inspection and comment. The draft strategy is available for inspection during office hours at the Geraldton Civic Centre, Cathedral Avenue, Geraldton; the Mullewa District Office, corner Padbury and Thomas Streets, Mullewa, or can be

downloaded by clicking HERE. For further information please contact the City’s Economic, Tourism and Property Development Services on (08) 9956 6661. Submissions close on Friday, 7 November 2014. This draft Strategy is available for inspection in order to provide opportunity for public comment and it should not be construed that final approval will be granted.

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18 | News

Coolum Park Upgrades

U

pgrades at a popular council-owned Sunshine Coast caravan park in Queensland will include a reduction in the number of small sites. They are being sacrificed as part of a $520,000 upgrade at the 3.5-star Coolum Beach Holiday Park. The work includes replacing 70 smaller sites with 46 larger ones to cater for a rise in the number of larger RVs on the road these days. Meanwhile, an unpowered

tent area is being added to the park's eastern dunes area. It is hoped the upgrade will turn the holiday destination into an all-weather camping and caravan park. Work is scheduled to be completed next month and follows the provision of a new amenities block in 2012. from CaravanningNews.com

Rate Rises Ahead?

K

empsey Shire Council in NSW has decided to map out the future of its five coastal caravan parks. It has called for tenders to draw up a business plan for Horseshoe Bay (66 caravan and tent sites), Grassy Head (150 sites), Stuarts Point (124 sites), Hat Head (300 sites) and Crescent Head (250 sites) holiday parks. The council is anxious to maximise their competitiveness, growth prospects and uniqueness. And this, it has admitted, would not rule out higher park fees. "Caravan parks need to cater to all demographics, but we won’t let them become inaccessible," a spokeswoman promised. from CaravanningNews.com


20 | News

Business Booming

B

ooming caravan and camping industries pump $1.4 billion into the Victorian and national economies, according to the Caravan Industry Association Victoria. Chief executive Rob Lucas said they employed over 5150 people in Victorian trade businesses and were "significant contributors" to the economies. He said Victoria also had "lots of places" to experience and visit, including over 500 caravan and holiday parks. Mr Lucas was speaking as work forged ahead on staging next month's major Melbourne Leisurefest at Sandown Racecourse. from CaravanningNews.com

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22 | Resources resources

iMotorhome

because getting them is half the fun...

Missed an Issue? We've got them all saved in one spot for you. Click HERE to view the complete list of back issues.

Missed a road test? No problem! Click HERE to find them all listed by manufacturer. because getting there is half the fun...

Taste of Freedom!

because getting there is half the fun...

Grand Design -

because getting there is half the fun...

Revisited

English Holiday

iMotorhome

magazine

iMotorhome

magazine

iMotorhome

magazine

magazine

iMotorhome

because getting there is half the fun...

Esprit de Cor Blimey!

Malcolm Street spends time roaming New Zealand in this compact ex-rental Kea…

Two years on how has the Trakkaway 700 evolved?

Auto-Sleeper’s Malvern is an English motorhome that’s a fine holiday destination in its own right…

Dethleffs ‘baby’ A-class is something to ogle at…

Story and Images by Malcolm Street

Review and images by Richard Robertson

Story and Images by Malcolm Street

Review and images by Malcolm Street


iMotorhome Marketplace | 23

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24 | Feature: iTherapy

Loneliness

For Annie and those who tread her path… by Robert Davis, Consulting Psychologist

I

n I want to thank Annie for her insightful, open and grounded views on travelling by necessity rather than by choice. I suspect many of us traveling this land do so in good company, with money in the bank, a base to return to and nothing but the unencumbered delights of wondering what's around the next corner. Annie’s voice should be heard. She didn't seek sympathy for her dilemma, she just eloquently put it out there for those who might like to broaden their comprehension of the difficulties a disadvantaged section of our travelling community experience. Travelling by choice is exciting; travelling alone by necessity is another thing altogether. I'd like to explore the emotional difficulties that derive from such constraints and what we can all do to help those less fortunate than some of us.

The Confessional…

A

disclosure about loneliness from me to start things off. I migrated to Australia at age 19. I was the insecure, immature, poorly educated, rebellious ‘ten pound pom’. I got off the boat alone, with 25 English pounds to my name and nobody who knew me. An ethnic family with little English paid by the Government to provide accommodation held a sign up with my name on it at the port I disembarked. We travelled in silence to their home in Ashfield NSW where I was shown my room. That was the end of any further social interaction with this family who had no interest in me or my needs whatsoever. Uninvited, I ate alone in my room from takeaways while the family dined together. I had not lived away from home before and I


Feature: iTherapy | 25

Being alone and being lonely are not the same. was desperately homesick and lonely. I had no clear plans for my future. I'd come to Australia to get away from the snobbery and discrimination that Poms without qualifications experienced in England in the 1960s. I'd come to Australia because my first and second choices of Canada and South Africa refused me entry due to my lacking any suitable qualifications or trades. Australia was accepting pretty much anybody without a criminal history, so Australia it was. Those first two years were the loneliest of my life. The emotional pain of social isolation is difficult to accurately describe. If somebody, anybody, could have guaranteed me release from this torment providing I accepted loosing both my legs I would have jumped (well, not for long) at the chance. I sat in my room and cried like a baby; sobbing, talking to myself, confused but determined not to fail. The rest, as they say

(whoever 'they' are), is history, but I can still recall the sheer hopelessness and unmitigated fear that this pain would never end and that I would eventually lose whatever little sanity remained. One of the benefits of becoming a psychologist who has laboured in factories, dug ditches, been a postman, a salesman, a corporate manager in IT and a small business owner is that I can truly relate to those who have – and continue to suffer – the insidious loneliness, isolation, fear of failure and financial despair. In two years nobody asked me how I felt. I can't say I recall hearing anyone asking anyone else how they felt either. Being alone and being lonely are not the same. Some enjoy their own company: Enjoyment is not compatible with loneliness.


26 | Feature: iTherapy

You just feel sorry for me ...and I don't need that. By Definition

W

hat physical characteristics identify the lonely? It’s hard to tell really, they look just like the rest of us; no broken bones, bandages or plaster casts. I'm reminded of Roy Orbison's hit "Only the lonely… know why I cry". If you haven't been to this desolate place it’s hard to understand or identify someone who has. A good place to start is to assume that a person travelling alone might enjoy a friendly approach. Keep in mind loneliness does not equate to zero pride. Sometimes lonely people are so trapped inside their own thoughts that they feel embarrassed and uncertain at how to react to others making such approaches. You might interpret their response to your initiative as disinterred or dismissive and decide not to press the point. If you do withdraw they will most likely assume that you didn't give a damn

anyway and that their sometimes negative thoughts about others are probably right. You're probably thinking its a no-win situation no matter what you do. You know how you feel when you are in physical pain and someone is trying to get your attention? The intensity of pain obscures your thoughts and it’s hard to be friendly and relaxed. A part of you values a genuinely friendly and compassionate approach and the other part just wants to be left alone. This conflict results in frustration and you may become dismissive or outright angry. This behaviour then often leads to feelings of guilt when you objectively realise you may have unintentionally hurt someone's feelings. We are a complicated species, are we not? Resistance to friendliness from others might take the form of “You just feel sorry for me and I don't need that.” So how do you make a genuine non-charitable approach? You might


Feature: iTherapy | 27

its’ ok to give to receive know from experience what works for you, but if not try asking a few questions. Questions show you are interested in the other person's thoughts and possibly company. If you ask whether this person would like to join your happy-hour or just sit around with others, remember that when you have been on your own for a long time it can feel awkward. A refusal could just mean they haven’t got to know you well enough as an individual to trust the wider social setting of your recommendation. Let them know how much you would like to enjoy their company rather than how much they will enjoy your company. Extend an open invitation and if you're camped for a few days or more a gentle reminder now and then says you weren't just being polite.

In the Team Room

I

was waiting in the tea-room of Robert's RV World chatting to a lady whom I had not met before. She was waiting for repairs to

her motorhome and presented somewhat sullen and ‘down.’ It occurred to me I had just upgraded to the guide book Camps 6 and still had Camps 5 in my Winnebago Longreach. I retrieved it and offered it to her. I had no idea how much that was going to make her day! She became quite animated and a smile appeared on her sad face. She told me it was the nicest thing anyone had done for her in a long time and that she was delighted to have this gift, having previously avoided buying it due to the cost. Was she living on the road? Was she lonely? I don't know, but a simple gift said more to her than the object itself. As discussed earlier and contrary to conventional wisdom and edict, it’s ok to give to receive because for every positive show of interest you will receive that special feeling that you were kind enough to give. Even if your gesture of kindness is rejected outright you will know in your heart that you tried and that makes you a compassionate caring human being.


Lovely Leura!

28 | Day Test: Avida Leura

Avida RV adds a compact B-class sure to appeal to many buyers‌ Review and images by Malcolm Street


Day Test: Avida Leura | 29

At just 6.8 m (22 ft 4 in) the Leura is compact enough to go almost anywhere yet provides a large amount of living area and a comparatively huge bathroom.

F

or several years Avida has had a steady range of motorhomes, with the emphasis on improving the breed rather than introducing new models. Recently, however, a new model rolled out of the factory doors: The Leura – presumably named after the town in the Blue Mountains. It’s quite a small looking motorhome, partly due to its B-class low profile style but also because of its 6.71 m (22 ft) length. Indeed, looking at the window locations

– a large one on either side – did make me wonder how everything is fitted in!

The Vehicle

A

vida has used the familiar Fiat Ducato cab-chassis as the base vehicle. In the case of the test vehicle it’s the Multijet 180 with the 3.0-litre 132 kW turbo-diesel, which is an option over the standard Multijet


30 | Day Test: Avida Leura Fiat’s Ducato cab-chassis makes the ideal base vehicle and helps keep the price down without sacrificing comfort or safety or economy. The lack of a rear window means a high mounted bike rack would fit perfectly, too!

130 with the 2.3-litre 96 kW engine. It’s built on a steel sub-chassis with fibreglass composite walls, moulded fibreglass ends and an out-ofsight aluminium frame inside the body panels. Apart from the gas bottle storage and toilet cassette lockers there is just one other external locker, which accesses the underlounge storage area as well. A Fiamma F45 awning neatly covers the kerb-side wall area. With a tare weight of just 3106 kg, the 3.0 litre Ducatopowered Leura is certainly a spritely performer. I gave it a little run up through the Bells Line of Road to Lithgow, then back along the Great Western Highway to Emu Plains. Even though there were plenty of hills and dales the Leura confidently maintained posted road speeds without a problem.

Inside

U

ndoubtedly the key feature of the Leura is its elevating bed. It sits in front of the full-width rear bathroom and above the sideways facing lounges. That


Day Test: Avida Leura | 31

Large side windows provide excellent light and ventilation, while the Zwaardvis table mount allows plenty of table movement for ideal positioning.

The electric bed stows in the ceiling to provide a large amount of usable living area – ideal for entertaining. allows for a kitchen bench to fill the wall behind the driver's seat and a small cabinet behind the passenger seats. One of the striking features inside is the striped pattern of the lounge upholstery that is (optionally) coordinated with the cab seats. Like any good Ducato

conversion the cab seats swivel around, but they just act as extra seats rather than integrating in with the other seating. That is not necessarily a bad thing as with this design, once the bed is lowered for one person, the lounges cannot be used for seating but the swivelled cab seats certainly can.

A feature of the sideways lounges is that they are 1.5 m (5 ft) long and so offer plenty of seating space. Both seat backs are L-shaped at one end, which does solve the problem of seat backs moving around when travelling but does make them rather awkward to stow out of the way to fully lowering the bed.


32 | Day Test: Avida Leura The front entry door position means those seated inside aren’t in the way of the cook or anyone entering or leaving.

With the table, the Zwaardvis mounting is offset to the kerb side, but is quite flexible in its swivelled positions. As noted above, the under-seat area on the kerb side can be used for storage and accessed either from inside or out, but the driver’s side area is taken up by the water heater and in the test Leura, by the Saphir split-system airconditioner.

from either the lounge or swivelled cab seats, and as long as the pillows are on the kerb side, the lowered bed as well. On the opposite side, in the space between the seat and the bathroom, a full height wardrobe is fitted.

The Kitchen

C

ompact would be a good word to describe the Leura’s kitchen, with the Between the driver’s-side lounge and the bench being just long enough to have a bathroom wall a half-height cabinet is fitted, with stainless steel sink and drainer plus a sideways the space above occupied by a flat screen TV. fitted two-burner cooktop. Under the bench This isn’t a bad location given it can be seen resides a Dometic 106-litre 3-way fridge plus


Day Test: Avida Leura | 33

The small kitchen is best suited to short break travel and simple meals, while the dining table will become the default kitchen bench extension.


34 | Day Test: Avida Leura

With interior storage space at a premium this tall cupboard, which also houses the house battery and charger, is invaluable, although it blocks the swivelled passenger seat.

two drawers and a cupboard. Above is an overhead locker, complete with an extra shelf, alongside the microwave oven. A nice useful touch is the narrow shelf below the overhead locker. Under the bench-top lip in front of the sink, in the Avida style, are switches for lights, hot water, airconditioning and the elevating bed. As I said, all very compact.

Between the entry door and passenger seat the space has been filled with a cupboard: the lower area occupied by the house battery and charger and the upper being general storage. The downside of this cupboard is that it blocks the swivelled passenger seat, but the upside is it provides storage space.


Day Test: Avida Leura | 35 Keeping Clean

I

n the rear, the full-width bathroom almost seems disproportionally large compared to the rest of the Leura. It’s terrific if a large bathroom is on your wish list, especially in a smaller vehicle. The bathroom has a kerb-side shower cubicle; a Thetford cassette toilet opposite and a midpositioned vanity, which is almost a stand alone unit featuring a two door cupboard below the basin and a wall mirror above. Additional storage is provided by a locker above the loo and there’s a towel rail on the rear wall.

For a small motorhome the bathroom is capacious and a big selling feature; especially the convenience of a separate shower and, um, convenience…


36 | Day Test: Avida Leura The bed can be left made-up when stowed, but just how far you lower it depends on how much work you want to do storing the lounge backrest cushions. A portable step is probably the simplest solution for easy bed access.

Bedtime

L

owering the bed is quite simply done by operating the switch. Just how far it’s lowered depends on how lazy you are, as not removing the lounge seat-backs means you’ll require a small ladder or box of some sort for easy bed access. But with a little more work and the seat backs stowed on the floor, under the bed, it’s easy. Your choice!

Size wise, at 1.96 m x 1.5 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft 11 in) the bed measures up well and is quite comfortable to sleep on. Slightly awkward, however, are the bed reading lights: The person at the rear gets one on the kerb-side wardrobe, the person at the front gets one on the driver’sside microwave cabinet, at the opposite end of the bed. It might sound strange but it does give you the option of sleeping with your head at either end. However, I’m sure pelmet mounted LEDs could not be too difficult to fit at either/ both ends if desired.

Just how far you lower the bed depends on how lazy you are.


Day Test: Avida Leura | 37 Top: The TV’s rear corner position makes it easily viewable from all seats and the bed. Bottom: Looking forward, the Leura’s generous living area is apparent, as is the diminutive size of the kitchen. The louvered Herh windows might look a bit old fashioned, but they can be left open in the rain and provide good security.

What I think

O

ne of the most attractive features of the Leura is its price. Another is the roomy lounge/dining area the elevating bed creates and a third is its compact dimensions. I suspect though for some, however, the smallish kitchen and smallish fridge are going to be an issue. It does of course depend very much on your cooking style and how you travel. From some points of view the Leura might be more regarded as a weekend escape machine rather than a long term tourer. However viewed though, it’s certainly a good addition to the existing Avida lineup!


38 | Day Test: Avida Leura

Specifications Manufacturer

Avida RV

Model

Leura

Base Vehicle

Fiat Ducato Multijet 180

Engine

3.0-litre turbo diesel

Power

132 kW @ 3500 rpm

Torque

400 Nm @ 1400 rpm

Gearbox

6-speed automated manual

Brakes

ABS Disc

Tare Weight

3106 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

4250 kg

Towing Capacity

2500 kg

Licence

Car

Approved Seating

2

External Length

6.70 m (22 ft 4 in)

External Width

2.32 m (7 ft 7 in) - incl. awning

External Height

2.89 m (9 ft 4 in)

Internal Height

1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)

Rear Bed Size

1.96 m x 1.5 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft 11 in)

Cooktop

Dometic 2-burner

Fridge

Dometic 106-litre

Microwave

LG

Lighting

12 V LED

Batteries

1 x 100 AH

Heater

Optional

Solar Panels

Optional

Air Conditioner

Truma Saphir ducted

Hot Water Heater

Suburban 23-litre

Toilet

Thetford cassette

Shower

Separate cubicle

Fresh Water Tank

124-litre

Contact

Grey Water Tank

100-litre

Avida

Price (as tested, on road NSW)

$117,200

Price (Standard, on road NSW)

$114,300

Pros

• Small motorhome with all facilities • Good size bed • Spacious lounge/dining area • Big bathroom • Good water capacities • Zwaardvis table fitting

Cons

• • • • •

Smallish kitchen Smallish fridge Limited external storage Bed reading light positions No 12 V charger points

Click for Google Maps

32 David Road Emu Plains NSW 2750 T: (02) 4735 8116 E: email contact form on website W: avidarv.com.au

For more iMotorhome Road Tests click here


Day Test: Avida Leura | 39

From some points of views the Leura might be more regarded as a weekend escape machine. However viewed, it’s a good addition to the Avida lineup!


40 | NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687

Wilderness Escape!

Malcolm Street samples a little Euro sophistication in New Zealand’s snowy alps…


NZ Touring Test: B端rstner Nexxo t687 | 41

Winter touring in a properly designed and equipped motorhome is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

I

'd been contemplating a week's skiing in New Zealand; specifically in the Wanaka area, which is handy to the resorts of Cardrona and Treble Cone. Because I was travelling on my own a motorhome seemed a good way to get around and I was able to borrow an Escape 2 from Wilderness Motorhomes. Wilderness is a little unusual in NZ (and Australia) because unlike just about all their competitors who use locally built motorhomes, Wilderness also run imported units as part of its rental fleet. The imports are all from the German manufacturer B端rstner and since I have not really had the opportunity to try out any over an extended period I was keen to get one to play with.


42 | NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687

Europeans design motorhomes for conditions like this and it’s no coincidence most Euro base vehicles are front-wheel drive.

What’s In A Name?

T

he Escape 2 is actually a Bürstner Nexxo t687; the 687 bit referring to its length of 6.87 m (22 ft 4 in). The Nexxo is built on the very familiar Fiat Ducato cab-chassis; in this case the Multijet 130 and I'll get to that shortly. It's right-hand drive of course, but the house entry door is on the driver’s side, left-hand drive style. For some reason, even though these and a number of other German-built motorhomes are built for the British market, doing a mirror (right-hand drive) layout isn't the done thing. I did wonder if that particular feature would be annoying, but I discovered that after a few times of forgetting which side the door is on, it wasn't a problem. Indeed, at the site given to me at the Wanaka Top 10 caravan park it worked very

In slippery conditions (front-wheel drive) is a real winner: traction and steering on the same wheels.


NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687 | 43

The Nexxo’s low profile and short length make it great for sightseeing in even the smallest towns.

well. Instead of stepping onto muddy grass, the pebbled footpath was so much better. I did note there was a large warning notice on the entry door re stepping out into traffic, however.

wet and damp (it’s okay Wilderness team, I did have a few large plastic bags with me!).

One of the features of this Bürstner Nexxo is that not having a Luton peak it's very low profile; indeed having an external height of just Outside 2.55 m (8 ft 4 in). Although useful on normal rom the outside the Nexxo t687 is quite roads, when driving in strong crosswinds it an attractive looking motorhome. That's was very advantageous, especially on narrow partly due to its low profile B-class shape, mountain roads where windy conditions often which Bürstner calls “semi-integrated”, and prevail. also the eye catching colour scheme. From a practical point of view the most useful external Still on driving, I'm not a fan of this size feature is the large rear storage area. Although motorhome using the smallest of the Ducato diesel engines: the 2.3 litre 96 kW/320 Nm it looks like a tunnel boot with doors all round, 130 Multijet. To be fair, it gets along okay on the offside door is actually for the gas cylinder bin. Even with that taking up space (along with most roads, but in steep mountain country, especially when driving through snow with the spare wheel, camping chairs and table) chains on, there's no reserve power and it’s a there is still an amazing amount of storage. A slow grind in first gear (which doesn't seem to feature I liked was that at the end of the ski like extended use). I certainly prefer the more day, I could simply load everything on board powerful 109 kW/320 Nm 150 Multijet, or without worrying too much about what was

F


44 | NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687

Double glazed windows and efficient heating are central to a good winter tourer. Note the style of the Nexxo’s bedroom furniture, too. better still the larger 3.0 litre 132 kW/400 Nm engine. Apart from anything, they’re simply more relaxing to drive. On that same note of driving, I had no problems with the much maligned frontwheel drive of the Ducato. In slippery conditions with snow chains on it's a real winner: traction and steering on the same wheels. An additional benefit is that fittings snow chains is considerably easier when you can turn the wheel to get to the rear connection of the chains.

Inside

I

nside the Nexxo is for me a very neat and workable layout as well as being one that is very appealing to the eye. In the rear is an island bed. It's raised slightly


NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687 | 45

Top to bottom: The lounge/dinette is compact but well designed, including the fold-out table leaf, but adjustable reading lights did get in the way. Under-bed storage is not only generous, it’s well compartmented and also partly accessible from the front. Nice… higher than usual but the possible downside of the height is hugely outweighed by the benefits of the under-bed storage area. More about that in a minute. Mid station on the kerb side is the bathroom, whilst opposite are the kitchen facilities. That leaves the front fully for the lounge/ dining area, which being a Fiat Ducato fully integrates the swivelling cab seats. Apart from the cab’s swivelling seats there's a forward facing two person seat behind the passenger cab seat and a sideways facing single seat on the other side. All the seats are at the same level and the table has a second level, which can be easily swung out. A slight problem in this area was the two ceiling lights. Like the under-overhead locker fittings, they are on a track and


46 | NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687 can be moved along or taken out altogether. The lights were vulnerable to being hit by my head and I finally pushed them to one side, but I did think less obtrusive fittings would be appropriate. In the “doh” category, for the first day or two I found it awkward going to and from the cab seats because of the table sticking out a bit. The solution? Swivel both seats slightly and leave them on "freewheel" even when not being used. The third seat was a bit of a mystery until it registered that it’s a third bed (for a child). More of that later

Bits and Pieces

S

lotted between the driver’s-side entry door and bedroom is the kitchen bench and I have to say it's one of the smallest I’ve seen. It consists of an under-bench 106-litre 3-way fridge with a 3-burner hob above, alongside a round sink. Three drawers and two overhead lockers form the kitchen storage. Whilst it was functional it was a bit too basic for my simplistic catering style; not having a grill, oven or microwave. Fortunately the Wanaka Top 10 had an excellent kitchen and I tended to use that in the evening.

The tiny kitchen lacks even a microwave, which is unfortunate when wanting to quickly reheat something, especially on a cold winter’s day. The Nexxo makes good use of the cab seats by integrating them totally into the lounge/dining experience.


NZ Touring Test: B端rstner Nexxo t687 | 47

The bedroom is cosy and well designed; ditto the compact bathroom with its hinged divider that conceals the shower except when required. Going back to the fridge, it was a three-way unit with manual changeover. However, the 12-volt supply was only available when the engine was running. Designed to prevent the house battery from being discharged, it took a little getting used to remembering to turn the gas on each time I stopped. Whilst the kitchen might have been a bit basic the bathroom certainly was not. Typically European in style and size, i.e. large enough to be usable but not space greedy, it came with a cassette toilet, flexible hose shower, vanity cabinet and a generous selection of storage cupboards. The really clever part of its design is that the entire vanity cabinet section hinged on a pole on the side wall. Swinging it one way has the toilet and vanity readily usable, swinging the other way covers all that up and just leaves the shower cubicle. A very neat and effective arrangement!


48 | NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687

Whichever way you look at it the bedroom is modern, well designed and appealing – especially when it’s 10 below outside!

Bedroom…

I

n the rear, the island bed measures 1.95 m x 1.45 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft 9 in), which does make it a suitable size for most couples. Storage cabinets on both sides; one being moveable shelves and the other hanging space, offered plenty of clothing storage, as did the overhead lockers. Getting around the bed wasn't too awkward, although there was a small step on either side and the gap between the bathroom and bed is a bit tight

for larger people. A point of note above the bed are the three levels of LED lighting: general down lights, reading lights and a string of pin lights. I particularly liked the latter – if getting up in the middle of the night they gave just enough light for getting around without being blinding! Now I don't usually spend much time on the under-bed storage, but the one in this Nexxo t687 is an interesting case study. As noted earlier there are two external bin doors


NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687 | 49 that give access to the rear, which can be gained by lifting the posture slat bed-base. Frequently, under-bed storage is just open space, but not this one: The rear part is, but the front is nicely compartmented. Part of it is taken by the Truma Combi water/space heater, which might seem like it's taking good usable storage. However it's not and for winter travel – especially when skiing – it’s terrific. On a cold day (or night) the ducted space heater does a terrific job of keeping the motorhome warm. One of the heater ducts runs into the bathroom, which not only keeps it warm but also makes for a good drying room – hanging line provided. In addition, as I discovered, if the heater is left on low idle overnight, it not only keeps the bed warm but also dries out and keeps warm one's ski clothing and boots if they are left stored under the bed. Now, anyone who has ever skied will know that putting on a warm ski boots on a cold snowy morning is a real treat, to say the least! A little warning here is only to leave the heater on low idle – anything more and the bed becomes far too toasty. Also hiding under the bed was a 600 W inverter; a most unusual item in a rental


50 | NZ Touring Test: B端rstner Nexxo t687 I have to say I enjoyed my travels in the Wilderness Escape 2 motorhome. Very aptly named I thought.

motorhome that meant if camping sans mains power it was possible to keep the lap top, iPad, et al up to charge!

What I think

I

have to say I enjoyed my travels in my Wilderness Escape 2 motorhome. Very aptly named I thought. With the exception of the smallish kitchen I thought the B端rstner Nexxo t687 layout a very practical one for something just under 7 m in length. I'm just going to pontificate here for a bit because the thought occurred to me that if I was going to buy a motorhome this length and could persuade someone to build it for me, I'd

choose the same layout except for deleting the seat directly behind the driver's seat and putting the entry door there. That would give space to extend the kitchen bench along the wall and make it a more practical proposition. It would be a reversed layout of course, with the entry door on the nearside. That's the dreaming over. In short I've no doubt the Wilderness Escape 2 is an excellent touring motorhome for summer, but as I learned, with all its features it's well up to the task of winter travel too.


NZ Touring Test: B端rstner Nexxo t687 | 51

Fitting snow chains is considerably easier when you can turn the wheel to get to the rear chain connections.


52 | NZ Touring Test: Bürstner Nexxo t687

Specifications

Manufacturer

Bürstner

Model

Nexxo t687

Base Vehicle

Fiat Ducato Multijet 130

Engine

2.3 litre

Power

96 kW @ 3600 rpm

Torque

320Nm @ 1800 rpm

Gearbox

Six speed AMT

Brakes

ABS Disc

Tare Weight

3100 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

4250 kg

Towing Capacity

2500 kg

Licence

Car

Approved Seating

2

External Length

6.9 m (22ft 4 in)

External Width

2.3 m (7 ft 7 in)

External Height

2.55 m (8 ft 4 in)

Internal Height

1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)

Internal Height (front)

1.85 m (6 ft)

Internal Height (bed area)

1.82 m (5ft 11in)

Rear Bed Size

1.95 m x 1.45 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft 9 in)

Cooktop

Dometic 3 burner

Fridge

Dometic RM8501 106-litre 3 way

Microwave

No

Lighting

12 V LED

Batteries

2 x 90 AH

Gas

2 x 9 kg

Solar Panels

Solar optional

Air Conditioner

No

Hot Water Heater

Truma Combi 230 V/LPG 10-litre

Toilet

Thetford cassette

Shower

Variable height, flexible hose

Fresh Water Tank

120-litre

Grey Water Tank

90-litre

Wilderness Motorhomes

Price (ex-rental)

NZ$109,900

11 Pavilion Drive Airport Oaks Auckland

Pros

• Low profile streamlined design • Large rear external storage capacity • Under-bed compartments • Under-bed space heater • Bathroom design • Front lounge/dining area • Having an inverter

d f f f r rid d d i e e r l e e i c i i e o e e l n n i c uniqu endly d i o d u s ly ly Cons

• Small kitchen • Low hanging light fittings above lounge • Not being able to run fridge on 12 V on short stops.

Contact

Click for Google Maps

y...royuG orurG r rfG ..y... ou if if itrf

US URES SCULPTURES

T: (+64) 0508 945 337 E: explore@wilderness.co.nz W: wilderness.co.nz

For more iMotorhome Road Tests click here


l l u u l f f t t u f h h t g g i i l l h deligde de eluicsious o delightful friendly

unique

delicious

...your Griffith too.

CITRUS REAL SCULPTURES JUICE COMPANY 13-26 OCTOBER CITRUSOFSCULPTURES FESTIVAL GARDENS 18-21 OCTOBER 12-25 OCTOBER 2014 EASTER 2014 La Festa, Jet Boats, Pioneer Park Action Day FESTIVAL OF GARDENS JUNE 2014 17-20 OCTOBER unWINEd, Sikh Games 2014

Come and visit us this Spring! There’s plenty to explore, see and do. More than sixty large There’s plenty to explore, see and do. More than fifty large 3D citrus sculptures. Nine private gardens, cottage gardens 3D citrus sculptures. Eight private gardens (cottage gardens totocountry estates.Meet Weekend garden tours, festival country estates). ABC Gardening Australia’s Tinolaunch amongst sculptures. Meet ABCgreat Gardening Tino Carnevale.the Enjoy fabulous local wine, food andAustralia’s coffee. Carnevale. Enjoy fabulous local wine, great food and coffee.

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www.visitgriffith.com.au


54 | Technical: Traction Controlled

Front Wheel Jive?

Can a front-wheel drive Fiat Ducato really drive up a wet grassy slope or loose gravel road? Richard Robertson finds out first hand…

I

n motorhome folklore there are few topics more hotly debated than the merits (or otherwise) of front-wheel drive motorhomes; specifically the Fiat Ducato. The slinky Italian dominates the sub-4500 kg market in Australia, due in no small part to its keen pricing and motorhome friendly features like a long range fuel tank and swivelling cab seats as standard equipment. Detractors – mainly those pure-bred Aussie blokes who’d never drive anything but rearwheel drive – delight in recounting stories of the countless times they’ve towed hapless Ducato owners back from the brink of disaster.

These same people will tell you no Fiat Ducato can make it up any wet or loose incline and that venturing off the smoothest blacktop is a recipe for disaster. To them I have one thing to say: Bollocks. Especially when you consider Ducatos have had electronic traction control for quite a few years now. I’ve driven countless Fiat Ducato-based motorhomes over about 15 years and until recently never been stuck – or even looked like getting stuck – anywhere. Well, until recently…


Technical: Traction Controlled | 55

Our creekside campsite; idyllic, but would we be able to escape the next morning, especially after more rain overnight?

A Reader Writes

T

his story has its genesis in late July 2013, when reader Colin from Oberon on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains wrote the following letter: “I have just been reading issue 29 (July 20 2013) of iMotorhome in which the Trakka Company show one of their campers (Trakkaway 700) on page 41 with the slogan ‘See Australia? Take a Trakka’. The vehicle is powered by a Fiat Ducato. The picture gives the impression that this vehicle will navigate off road conditions, albeit a rocky outcrop. Nothing could be further from the truth. My wife and I own a brand new Winnebago Birdsville powered by the Fiat Ducato MultiJet 180 engine. Even on the slightest slope on damp or wet grass this vehicle is unable to obtain traction.”

“The Fiat has a ‘traction lock’ electronic coupling device to assist with this scenario but it does very little to alleviate the situation. At home we have a solid gravel based driveway with an 8° gradient. From a standing start this vehicle looses traction after about 10 meters and is unable to proceed further. I have tried many gear combinations ranging from ‘full auto mode’ to manual first or second gear starts but the end result is the same… no traction.” “When we first bought the vehicle in February this year I brought the issue to the attention of the selling dealer who promised to contact me but 5 months later they have never made contact with me. On bitumen roads this vehicle is a dream to drive with the only issues being getting used to the quirky “comfortmatic” gearbox.” Colin and I communicated for some time over his letter and later I received this:


56 | Technical: Traction Controlled

Colin’s new tyres and a subsequent suspension lift have transformed his Birdsville’s capabilities. “My wife and I in our past, younger, life have been avid 4x4 travellers and have bought countless vehicles over the years ranging from Cruisers, Mavericks, Ford Bronco’s to Toyota 4 Runners and with each vehicle bought it became the norm to rip out the OEM suspension and tyre/wheel combo and fit aftermarket gear.” “Thinking about this the other day I thought is it worth changing the OEM tyre which are Michelin 225/75 R16 “Camping” tyres to something with more of an aggressive tread pattern. So today I visited my local tyre specialist here in Oberon and discussed the issue with him. His suggestion was to go with Mickey Thompson 245/70 R16 Baja STZ’s on the front only (FWD Fiat).” “This was completed a couple of hours ago

and Richard let me tell you the difference achieved to this vehicle is unbelievable. First of all the ride quality has been improved to that of our Ford Territory road car. Secondly and far more importantly is the Winnebago is now capable of all the things it was unable to do prior.” “I have just put it through its paces on reasonably long green grass without any traction issues at all and to my amazement it was also able to handle my gravel driveway, with traction control engaged, without even spinning a wheel. Maybe you could put together a small article at some stage just to let owners be aware of the benefits in what affects replacing tyres can have on their vehicles performance and handling characteristics.”

My local tyre specialist’s suggestion was to go with Mickey Thompson 245/70 R16 Baja STZs.


Technical: Traction Controlled | 57 Fate?

E

vents recently transpired to provide me with the very Trakkaway 700 Colin had first written about and the opportunity to visit his Oberon property. This seemed like too good an opportunity to pass by “And so it came to pass” that we rendezvoused in Oberon and followed Colin home. What Colin had never mentioned is that he lives on the edge of a State Forest and that access to his property is via fire trails – in all their rough, steep and muddy splendour. The preceding week had dumped several inches of rain on the area and when we finally arrived at Colin’s rural retreat (in every sense of the term), he led us down a steep gravel driveway, past the shed where his Birdsville lives, through a farm gate and across a paddock to a creek-side camping spot. The grass was reassuringly firm, but it did rain again overnight and as we turned in I wondered what the morning would bring.

Spin Doctor!

T

he test Trakkaway 700 benefitted from new front-end suspension, which provided a 40 mm lift and provided an average 190 mm ground clearance. On leaving our campsite in the morning we made it easily back up the slight incline to the farm gate, with just a slight pause as we passed through it as the front wheels encountered slick mud and the drive system (sans traction control) scrabbled momentarily for traction. From there it was just 10-15 metres of grass to the base of Colin’s steep gravel driveway, but for a while it looked like being a grassy bridge too far. The problem was that 10-15 metres traversed a dip and rise of thick, rain-soaked paddock grass. Despite my best efforts (and with traction control engaged) all I could produce was track after track of increasingly deep muddy tyre tracks as the standard Michelin Aligis tyres quickly became slick and caked with mud. As Colin had done I tried using

Top to bottom: It doesn’t look that bad, but the inclines are deceptive and the grass was soaked after inches of rain in the preceding week. Try as I might the Trakkaway 700 was going nowhere in a hurry…


58 | Technical: Traction Controlled

Colin to the rescue! From the standard 80 psi he lowered the pressures to 35 psi, or so we thought…

first and second gears in manual mode, but first gear spun too easily and second couldn’t keep the momentum going quite enough. It was looking like 4WD towing time, but first I suggested we lower the tyre pressures. Colin’s Micky Thompson’s run at 45-50 psi and so I suggested we first try lowering them to about 40 psi, thinking they were probably running about 60 psi and not realising the standard Fiat Ducato tyre pressure is a whopping 80 psi. No wonder they were having troubles! Colin produced a type pressure gauge and in short order reduced both front tyres to 35 psi – or so we thought.

The next attempt – starting in second gear and tracking the longest route (across relatively pristine grass) got me to within a metre of the driveway before running out of steam. I then selected first gear and drove on to the driveway with no trouble. Not only was there cheering all round, it was then I realised I hadn’t engaged traction control since lowering the tyre pressures. From there, Colin’s steep, loose driveway presented no problem – again without traction control engaged – as in second gear (manual) the Trakkaway 700 ambled steadily upwards without even spinning a wheel. To make sure


Technical: Traction Controlled | 59

By the time the pressures were lowered the front tyres were well and truly slick with mud. that wasn’t a fluke I turned around at the top, drove back down and repeated the exercise with the same result. Once back at his house, Colin went to adjust the tyre pressures and he discovered something else interesting; one front tyre was at 35 psi and the other was at 50 psi. It seems in the mud and excitement of lowering the pressures he’d mis-read one of the readings. Knowing the road back into Oberon contained some challenging climbs (Colin has an alternative exit across paddocks he often uses with the motorhome), I elected to keep both front tyres at 50 psi. There was one particularly steep, climbing left-hand hairpin that Colin said I’d need to take in two bites, reversing onto a more level area at the apex

for the second go. Following him out I took the corner wide, but decided to try in one go as the engine was pulling strongly and there were no apparent traction issues. Sure enough the little Trakkaway 700 sailed right around and up, again without wheel spin or raising the slightest mechanical sweat. Other climbs were treated with equal disdain and at no point in any of this did I feel ground clearance was an issue.

So?

W

hen I first corresponded with Colin I said I believed vehicle layout was possibly a factor, i.e. the positioning of water tanks and other heavy furniture items. His Birdsville has a rear bathroom and uses a standard Fiat Ducato cab-chassis,


60 | Technical: Traction Controlled

The carnage after the fact – and the long hill (8%) ahead. With pressures lowered the Trakkaway 700 sailed up without trouble, but I believe it would have anyway. with comparatively heavy leaf-spring rear suspension. The Trakkaway 700’s lighter AL-KO chassis allows central water tank placement and does away with the heavy rear leaf spring; instead using simple torsion bar suspension that also serves as a structural chassis cross member. All these factors affect front/rear weight distribution, as does vehicle load such as tools, extra water containers and so on. By changing tyres to slightly wider, lower pressure items with a more aggressive tread pattern Colin was able to overcome any weight distribution problems and his Winnebago Birdsville – which now also boasts raised front suspension and rear assist air bags – is a capable tourer he’s no longer afraid to point down a dirt road.

Given no two motorhomes are ever going to weigh exactly the same; have weight distributed identically or be operated by equally skilled/experienced drivers, it would be foolish to suggest any front-wheel drive motorhome can be taken ‘bush’ without a second thought. Or that lowering the tyre pressures is a cureall for all front-wheel drive traction problems. However, this experience did show that with the right tyre pressures and a calm approach, such a vehicle – in particular a Trakkaway 700 – can certainly go places straight off the showroom floor many people wouldn’t think possible.


Technical: Traction Controlled | 61

Food for thought

easy. You’re much more likely to check them that way

Would a rear-wheel drive motorhome have struggled in this same situation? Again it • Carry a good quality portable 12 V air depends on weight distribution, tyre pressures compressor, not something from a cheap and driver technique, but given the conditions I tool shop, and make sure you have enough believe it would have, to some degree at least. power lead and hose to reach all wheels (or Here are some tips to help avoid embarrassing have a 12 V outlet/s in close proximity). yourself in a mildly difficult traction situation, • As a guide, when lowering tyre pressure regardless of which end of your motorhome start at about 50% of normal. If that doesn’t powers the wheels: work go to 25% – but only to get you out of • Know your standard tyre pressures and trouble. Reinflate as soon as you’re through. realise that a highly inflated tyre with smooth The danger when lowering pressures is on-road tread will provide little traction on you’ll go to far and break the seal between loose surfaces. the bead and rim that keeps the air in (all tyres these days are tubeless). If that • Carry a good tyre pressure gauge and check happens you’re 12 V pump won’t have pressures regularly enough ‘oomph’ to reseat the tyre and you’ll need to fit the spare. • If you have dual rear wheels fit valve extensions to make pressure adjustment


62 | Reader Report: Roofrack

Roof Rack Update by Wayne Eagan

One man’s quest to find the perfect motorhome roof rack!

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his is a follow up on my letter in December 2013 where I was canvassing the options for a roof rack for carrying surfboards on a Fiat Ducato I was buying from Trakka; what I ended up doing and how it’s worked over various trips.

sourcing the Fiamma rack – easier said than done. After going through various aftermarket Fiamma agents in Australia I could not find anyone who imported the racks for retail sale.

I looked carefully at all the suggestions from some of your readers, especially side racks, plus everything available on the internet before I made a decision to go for a Fiamma roof rack. The idea was that I could use a telescopic ladder for both access and security, and it would integrate with the Fiamma F65s awning without drilling into the roof of my new motorhome. My only problem then was

ortunately and much to my relief, Martin Poate from Trakka came to my rescue with an offer to do a special import and install it during my vehicle’s fit-out. The outcome can be seen in the attached photos; the purpose made rack integrates very well with the vehicle and the Trakka roof layout of a solar panel, aerial and hatches. The result is I can now fit a surfboard or two with no problem.

Help!

F


Reader Report: Roofrack | 63

Yes the question you are no doubt thinking is how do I safely get the board up and down and how much effort does it take? That has been the surprisingly easy part, using a lightweight standalone telescopic step ladder that weighs 10.3 kg and folds to 830 mm in length, with the bonus of it fitting nicely under the bed. I put marine carpet/underlay on top of the vinyl floor to protect it and stop any movement, so as they say I am a “happy camper”. I considered a number of ladder systems including Fiamma's; my criteria was fairly straightforward – it had to be sturdy, Australian safety compliant, lightweight and easily stored. The last thing I wanted was a cumbersome ladder in the motorhome. The set-up and pull-down procedure is quick and has surprised a few doubting friends, although it took me a bit of trial and error to get the right handling system that both suited me and was safe, with minimal effort.

Features The Fiamma roof rack system works well for me because: • The rack integrates perfectly with the Fiamma awning and the Fiat Ducato roof with no drilling • The low rack profile allows the motorhome to fit into my garage • Blends nicely with the vehicle and is not a visual eyesore • Gives me the security, especially with the Kanulock tiedowns, that I can leave my vehicle anywhere safe in the knowledge my boards will not be stolen when I am away for long periods. I am surprised that the Fiamma roof rack is not readily available in Australia given the popularity of Fiat Ducato van-based motorhomes, although I do understand some


64 | Reader Report: Roofrack

may have a reluctance to use a standalone ladder. I had planned to go to the snow this season and rack would be good for our skis, though this is another trip now on for 2015. It took a bit of trial and error to get the easiest way to put a board on the roof and the main thing is that it works for me The cost was $1695 to get a special one-off import and then have it installed to coincide with the vehicle fit-out. Had I found out about it at the time I ordered the vehicle the roof rack import would have been part of a routine order.

Verdict?

A

fter a number of trips up and down the East Coast of Australia I can happily report that the Fiamma Roof rack works, for me anyway, with no wind noise when travelling either with or without surfboards. Another advantage is when I am away camping I do not have to worry about theft, whether free camping, in a caravan park or at the beach. Thanks again to Martin at Trakka, otherwise I would be no doubt still looking for the right roof rack system!


Reader Report: Roofrack | 65

Why the Trakka Torino?

I

had longed for a Trakka Motorhome and we looked at everything, including the rare second hand ones that occasionally come up. We also tried a caravan for a year or so but it was just not us. Probably the big thing for us is that because it took a couple of years since first looking at the Caravan and Camping show to signing on the dotted line we did not suffer from any “buyer regret,” which can happen with a big outlay. We did plenty of research – probably too much – including hiring different size motorhomes on inland holidays and looking at all the conversions around before making

that big step. Fortunately, once we signed up the instalment process from order to pick up cushioned the financial blow and allowed time to sell our caravan and second car, plus save a few more pennies . I have been pleasantly surprised how well our Trakka Torino performs as a second car in the suburbs. It just sometimes takes a bit of extra time to find a parking space. I find reverse parking very easy, with both the cameras and side mirrors making it no problem at all. Being a 3-litre diesel it’s economical, both in the city and country, and on the open road is excels with plenty of power, comfortable seating and great vision.


66 | Mobile Tech: Oz Atlas

Oz Atlas!

Flora, Fauna and more at your fingertips‌ by Emily Barker


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ot much can surpass the natural beauty of the Australian landscape. It’s breathtakingly vast and incredibly diverse; so too is the abundant native flora and fauna it uniquely contains. Whether it’s orchids or trees, wildflowers or mammals, birds, insects, frogs or fungi that captivates your interest, there’s bound to be a smartphone and tablet app specifically designed to help you identify and even record and submit your sightings if you wish, contributing to a nationwide biodiversity project. Depending on your level of enthusiasm you might want to invest in detailed field guides specific to your areas of travel, but from a general identification point of view there are many free apps providing more than enough information.

Top of my list is OzAtlas! The Atlas of Living Australia (Atlas) is a public initiative designed to gather and present a comprehensive national database of all of Australia’s flora and fauna. Initially it was to

Mobile Tech: Oz Atlas | 67 be accessible via a single web site, but as technology has evolved so too has their vision. OzAtlas is a neat little app that celebrates the wonderful natural biodiversity of Australia. It encourages users to engage actively with their environment, recording and submitting sightings of interest with the aim of assisting scientific and environmental researches and policy makers by providing up-to-date data. Developed and administered by the CSIRO, OzAtlas is a handy tool for any amateur, casual or keenly seasoned wildlife watcher, or naturalist. This app contains a variety of features that makes it both user friendly and incredibly informative, including the ability to adjust settings to sort results by common or scientific name. There are over 30 million occurrence records, 170,000 species pages, extensive photo galleries, distribution maps and full classification details for each plant, animal or fungi. No other single app provides anywhere near this scope of information, especially for free!


68 | Mobile Tech: Oz Atlas

You can search for a specific species by common name or genus, explore your current area using your device’s GPS or simply typein a selected address. The ‘explore your area’ function allows you to access a list of species found within an adjustable radius from 2 to 100 Kilometres. This produces a list of groups; birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, plants, dicots, monocots, apricots (just kidding -Ed), ferns, fungi, etc that can be further expanded to show individual species. Each listing gives you the opportunity to record a sighting by uploading an image, written details and your location. In order to do this you must first be registered via the website, which simply involves an email verification process.

It’s interesting to note this is only version 1.1, with the last update being in 2012. OzAtlas did, however, still manage to make it to the very top of the list in this year’s Australian Geographic’s ‘Best Australian wildlife apps of 2014’. At 12.4 MB it’s not a huge app, but with in-app downloads which, although free, have the potential to use up valuable data it does pay to keep an eye on them. Conveniently available for both iOS (Apple) and Android devices, OzAtlas is designed for use on a variety of screen sizes. It should also be noted that the Android version was released in March 2013 and contains a few more polished features.


Mobile Tech: Oz Atlas | 69

Fast Facts

Name: Oz Atlas Cost: Free Size: 12.4 MB Platform: Apple iOS & Android Register here: www.ala.org.au/ Note: Should you wish to be more involved, the Atlas of Living Australia in collaboration with the Australian Museum has developed an online volunteer portal called DigiVol. It’s designed to utilises the power of volunteers to digitise or transcribe scanned, written biodiversity data that is ‘locked up’ in biodiversity collections, field notebooks and survey sheets. You can also sign up for various Citizen Science projects, which usually involves studying the distribution of a specific species in an area of interest. You can read more HERE


70 | Next Issue

Another New Horizon!

vehicle queen bed. And being a Horizon Motor Home, it’s a quality motorhome packed with experience-backed features.

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e sample a “quick taste” of Horizon Motor Home’s newest model – the Casuarina. A conversion of Fiat’s popular Ducato van, the Casuarina is built just for two and provides a surprising amount of living space. Best of all you can choose between lengthways single beds, a combo that makes into singles or a king bed or even an acrossOCT

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September 26-28 24-26 26-28 Central Coast 4WD, Caravan, Camping & Boat Show Mingara Recreation Club, Tumbi Umbi. NSW. 2261. • Open 10:00-4:00 daily • Parking: Not specified • Adults: $10 • Seniors: $8 • Kids: 5-16 years $5

Visit Website Click for Google Maps

OCT

Malcolm continues his New Zealand theme with another model from Christchurch-based UCC: the Pearson. Based on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter, the B-class Pearson has front and rear living areas and flexible sleeping options, which makes it a very interesting machine. And that’s just for starters! Next issue is on Oct 4, so until then why not join our more Friends and than 14,000 Facebook Twitter followers for news and more than a few laughs? See you in October!

OCT

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October24-26 02-0526-28 02-05

OCT

02-05

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October 24-26

OCT

24-26

Sandown RV & Camping Leisurefest

SA Boat, Fishing and 4WD Adventure Show

Sandown Racecourse, Princes Highway, Springvale. • Open 10:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $15 ($13 online) • Seniors: $10 ($8 online) • Kids: U15 free with adult

Adelaide Showground Adelaide. South Australia • Open 9:00-6:00 daily (5:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $15 ($13 online) • Seniors: $12 ($8 online) • Kids: Free U 16

Visit Website Click for Google Maps

Visit Website Click for Google Maps

Know of a local or regional show coming up that attracts and promotes motorhomes, campervans and the great RV lifestyle in general? Drop us a line at info@imotorhome.com.au and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.

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Profile for iMotorhome Magazine

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 56 - 20 September 2014  

Get your FREE subscription from our website now!

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 56 - 20 September 2014  

Get your FREE subscription from our website now!

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