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iMotorhome

magazine

Issue 70: Apr 18 2015

Auf Wiedersehen Win!

Crafter

$50 for the! best letter

Trakka bids farewell to Volkswagen’s trusty big van!

Esperance Reprised!

Avida’s top seller gets a 2015 makeover…

Sydney Show Report… A peek inside this year’s Supershow!

Light Bars & LED Headlights Allan Whiting brings us the lowdown…


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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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Jess Ciampa, Emily Barker, Elizabeth & Helmut Mueller

Published by iMotorhome

Design and Production

PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2576. Australia.

Design & Production 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.


The Most Recognised Name in Motorhomes

2015 range of Motorhomes, Campervans and Caravans now available across Australia

Find a Winnebago dealership near you. Visit: www.gowinnebago.com.au Licensee and authorised distributor of Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City Iowa USA


On my mind | 5

Lest We Forget… I’m of a fortunate generation bypassed by war service; being too young for Vietnam and too old for anything after that. My father navigated bombers in WW2 and I lost a great uncle – an ambulance man – in literally the dying days of WW1, so like many people war has touched me personally, but not directly. In January 1982, while driving a winter Top Deck tour in Europe, I spent a couple of days at Gallipoli. It was a surreal experience and one I regularly recall, because from what I’ve seen on TV the site has changed markedly. Back then it was still a deserted spot on a windswept peninsular, scarred by half-filled trenches and littered with rusting reminders of battles long since fought. Standing on the ridge line looking down on the beach at Anzac Cove I remember wondering how anybody survived; it was such a shooting gallery. On the beach the rusting ribs of one of the landing craft lay half buried in the sand. Our rag-tag group of Aussie budget travellers – a larrikin group if ever there was one – explored its remains reverently. All of us were lost in thoughts of what it represented and what that peaceful beach must have been like on that April morning so many years earlier. The only inhabitants in the area were a group of soldiers occupying a semi-derelict concrete bunker at the beach edge, where the Turkish flag flew proud and bright. When they learned we were Australians they downed arms, shook our hands vigorously, invited us in and in broken Turkish/German/English declared themselves brothers. It really was very moving…

Up at the Walker’s Ridge Cemetery, overlooking Suvla Bay, rows of white tombstones stood silently in the winter sunshine. Most, from memory, bore a standard inscription – Here lies a soldier of the Great War – and many were for men aged between 18 and 25. As a 24 year old at the time it was a sobering experience. One personalised headstone I came across was for 23 year old Trooper Harold Rush of the 10th Australian Light Horse, killed at The Nek on 7 August 1915. An inscription read, “His last words ‘Goodbye Cobber God Bless You’”. It’s difficult to recount the emotions Gallipoli evoked during that visit 33 years ago. I remember it being an immensely sad and lonely place – if indeed a place can be sad and lonely. But those memories will always be tempered by the pride and friendship of the Turkish troops, and that of the Turkish people as a whole. The bond forged between our nations through shared tragedy so long ago felt real and quite tangible. I doubt I’ll visit Gallipoli again: The new car parks, roads, monuments and tourists would be an affront to my memories. They say nothing good comes from war, but perhaps that’s not true. As Australians and New Zealanders we’ve chosen this campaign to symbolise our National coming-of-age. On it we’ve built an identity and share a bond that helps define who we are, collectively. Would we have such an identity and bond if WW1 and Gallipoli hadn’t happened? How much better off would we be if we hadn’t lost so many from that generation? Of course those are unanswerable questions, but on this 100th ANZAC anniversary "Lest We Forget" has renewed meaning. Lest our troubled world repeats the terrible mistakes of the past, Lest We Forget…

Richard


6 | Content

3

About Us

8

Resources

Who we are, where and other legal stuff

Find back issues and more on our website

5

On my Mind

11

On your Mind

24

Marketplace

Lest We Forget…

Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!

14

News

26

Touring Test: Trakka Jabiru

42

Day Test: Avida Esperance C7922 SL

54

Technical

57

Technical

58

Sydney Supershow Report

62

Mobile Tech

66

Next Issue

What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond

The latest Marketplace offers

Last of the Mohicans – Trakka’s last production VW Crafter…

Esperance Reprised – A bigger slide-out is just the beginning!

LED Replacement Headlights

Light Bar Legalities

Catching up on the latest happenings…

What Makes You Appy?

What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!


iMotorhome

resources

8 | Resources

because getting there is half the fun...

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Esprit de Cor Blimey!

Road Tests

User Guide

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Dethleffs ‘baby’ A-class is something to ogle at… Review and images by Malcolm Street

Reader Survey

Reader Review


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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

Cheers!

This isn’t a motorhome specific tip but one any driver can enjoy while travelling. In case you didn’t know most 7-Eleven stores sell coffee for $1 a cup. This is fresh ground coffee and fresh hot milk, and even though it’s made by machine (it’s DIY) it’s still a very good coffee. They do larger sizes for $2 and $3 and often have specials like a banana bread for $2 if you buy any size coffee. We use them regularly but find the $1 cups the best bargain! Also, lots of Coles Express petrol stations now have $0.80 coffee – again from a machine but still good – although the cups are smaller than

Congratulations But…

Congratulations on the three year milestone and a great read as well. I do have to comment though on the lead in the bucket “idea” that you have shown (last issue’s winning letter). It is my understanding that this is highly illegal under AS/ NZS 3000:2007 or 3000:2001 (I think they are the relevant standards but please check). It is illegal to have a join in a power lead to a moveable dwelling and it must be protected by a residual current device (RCD switch), hence the Ampfibian. I think it still remains as the only legal outdoor device that can be used to protect joins from 10 to 15 amps. The “bucket idea” may also be promoting

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

7-Eleven’s $1 cups. And to top it off Coles has a loyalty card and after 5 $0.80 cent coffees you get the 6th one free! Anyway, happy birthday to all the iMotorhome people and keep up the great work. My wife and I look forward to the next three years! Cheers, Pete. Thanks for the heads-up Pete, Mrs iM and I are serious coffee lovers and we’ll certainly check them out. Please accept this issue’s $50, which will buy you – let see – 50 or 62 coffees, not taking into account the loyalty card bonus. Cheers indeed!

joining of cables that are not long enough – also illegal. Insurance could be voided if the insured was shown to have committed an illegal act in the unfortunate case of a claim. Regards, Lorraine Thanks Lorraine, I should have known better and stand appropriately corrected. I removed the letter from the magazine and most copies that went out had a blank space with an apology (that’s the beauty of electronic publishing!). Thanks also for your congratulations and for keeping an eye on us. Please keep up the good work!


12 | On your mind

Bucket of Trouble?

Hi Richard, another great issue, don't know how you keep pumping them out. However a couple of comments. The "Bucket of Tricks" article I believe may be promoting an illegal and unsafe practice. I am no electrical expert but I believe it is illegal to connect an RV to a power source with any leads that are joined as shown. This has been discussed on various forums over time. Also the diagram shown could have water in heavy rain trickle down the leads to the plugs. Might pay to check with the experts on this one. Also thanks for the article on Ballarat; we have ensured the Facebook thread has been brought to the attention of Big 4 so we await their reaction. One point however is in your article, the quoted post

by one of our readers at the end would appear to have been made by us. In no way would we call for a boycott of a business which is illegal, but the way the article reads we appear to have done so. Would appreciate if that could be clarified in the next issue. Regards, Arthur. Yes Arthur you’re quite right (see reply to Lorraine’s letter). Re the Facebook article, apologies for that, which was a layout error that was also subsequently corrected. Keep up the good work with your Freedom of Choice Camping website and Facebook page!

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2015 www.sunliner.com.au


14 | News

Duvalay Comp Winds Up!

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his issue is your last chance to win a fabulous Duvalay memory foam sleeping bag valued at $288.95! Duvalays are iMotorhome’s preferred sleep system and we take ours on every test possible. They’ve revolutionised how easily a bed can be made up and how comfortably we sleep. See the competition ad for details and be sure to get you entry in by Wednesday 22 April. The winner will be announced next issue. Good luck!

WIN A DUVALAY!

Win your very own 4 cm x 66 cm Duvalay luxury memory foam sleeping bag and matching Duvalay tote bag, valued at $288.95! The Duvalay memory foam sleeping system is simply changing the way people are sleeping away from home. For 2015 the range of colours and sizes has increased, allowing Duvalay to meet most style and size of bed requirements.

• Top quality memory foam comfort • Seconds to make the bed • Bedding that stays put • Easy to store • Easy to wash • Many many uses! Simply go to the Duvalay Australia website – www.duvalay.com.au – and find the answer to the following question by watching the video on the Duvalay memory foam sleeping bag page. Q: What thickness of memory foam is Liz demonstrating in the Duvalay video?

Email your answer to info@duvalay.com.au and like our Facebook page at facebook.com/Duvalaynet

Good luck and sweet dreams!


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16 | News

Butane Cookers Recalled Nationally

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he ACCC has announced the start of national product safety recalls for portable butane stove cookers. The move follows the “stop sale� actions taken by individual States and Territories, in accordance with the suspension of their compliance certification. To find out

more visit their website HERE.

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News | 17

Canowindra Balloon Festival Tribute

M

urdered Leeton school teacher, Stephanie Scott, was originally a Canowindra girl. On the eve of the 2015 Canowindra International Balloon Challenge, competitors and visitors alike launched a mass balloon tribute to the Town’s lost daughter. Balloons big and small rose skyward at 6:30 am on Sunday April 12, under a perfect sky, watched by a hushed crowd.

Industry Survey

R

ecreational Vehicle Manufacturers Australia (RVMA) has an online survey asking for owners’ opinions on their vehicles, as well as their purchase experience. It’s not an in-depth survey but is a good opportunity to let the Industry know what you think of your vehicle – good or bad. To access the survey click HERE.

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18 | News

Stay a Night, Spend a Dollar "I would like to see that everywhere that is affected by drought, so that people could say, 'okay, well if we stay a night here and spend a dollar, we are actually personally helping the people affected by the drought,’ that would be great.

n informal campaign has begun via social media to encourage visitors to Outback Queensland to help small town economies struggling with the region's crippling drought.

The Outback Queensland Tourism Association (OQTA) said it supported any measures to get visitors out west, and that all of the region's natural and man-made attractions were in full swing despite the drought conditions. General manager Peter Homan said data had shown those who travelled to the region had been spending less, but that could be tied up with the mining downturn and work visitors.

Longreach photographer and gallery owner Debbie Scott created an outback image with the slogan "stay a night, spend a dollar”. The image has been viewed tens of thousands of times and shared on social media. She said people wanted to personally help droughtstricken communities.

"Figures that we get from the National Visitor Survey indicate about 400,000 visitors a year to the Outback, with a spend of around $250 million on average," he said. “The numbers are up slightly, but the overall expenditure over about the last three years is down about six per cent.”

"There have been statistics of some businesses saying they would have to shut in the next month if business doesn't improve," she said. "But in saying that, business has picked up in the last couple of weeks, and I think tourists are looking to help drought-affected towns too. They still want to come out and have a look [and] if everyone thinks like that, then you can feel like you are personally helping out small businesses."

Jane Morgan, from Charleville's Cosmos Centre, said the school holiday period had so far been promising, and if the numbers continued through the season it would mean several millions of dollars to the Charleville community.

A

Ms Scott said she had had some grey nomads in her shop, who said they saw the social media post and decided to buy refreshments out, rather than stay in their caravan. She said there was also a group working to see whether billboards could be erected in the region with the same message.

"The Queensland Tourism Industry Council has worked out that a visitor spends about $135 a day," she said. "We work in Charleville on about $85 a day; accommodation is a little bit cheaper than on the Eastern Seaboard and so when you get 65,000 to 70,000 people passing through your town during tourism season, that is a lot of money.”


News | 19

Drug Driving Increase

O

ne in six motorists tested for drug-driving in New South Wales returned a positive result over the Easter long weekend, police say. Officers said they conducted 1300 tests and caught 222 drivers with methamphetamine, cannabis or ecstasy in their systems. Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said the figures were shocking. "One in 6 is a very high figure – we know our average is one in 14," he said. "We are testing more and more and we'll be testing 48,000 drivers this next financial year, towards 100,000 in 2016. "We're very concerned over the behaviour this weekend. It appears the scourge of drugs is across the whole community, not just in driving." Assistant Commissioner Hartley said police would triple their capacity to drug test across the state and move equipment to country locations.

From the ocean to the outback and destinations in between. Fancy some scenic touring through the Flinders Ranges, or paddling a kayak on Cooper Creek? Perhaps a bit of camping solitude in the Gawler Ranges is more to your liking. Maybe a spot of fishing at Beachport or just lazing back at Melrose for a couple of days. Whatever your fancy, this ebook for iPad contains a selection of 12 of South Australia’s most accessible and beautiful destinations that offer travellers great touring and fantastic camping opportunities. Whether you’re travelling by motorhome, towing a caravan or just packing a tent, there are destinations for everyone!

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20 | News

CMCA Announces RV Friendly Wineries!

M

cWilliam’s Wines is renowned for producing world class wines on Australian soil and the CMCA said it is excited to announce that four vineyards/cellar doors have officially become RV Friendly Destinations. They are: • McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate, Griffith, NSW • Mount Pleasant Estate, Hunter Valley, NSW • Brand’s Laira, Coonawarra, Victoria • Evans & Tate, Margaret River, WA Situated in some of the most picturesque landscapes of Australia, a stopover at one of their properties is said to guarantee a memorable experience. Parking for up to 96 hours (negotiable) is permitted at each location, pets are allowed on leads, and there are bins, toilets and water available. CMCA members will also receive a 10% discount off the ‘member’ listed pricing at the cellar door. Simply produce your current CMCA membership card when making your purchase. Note: Brand’s Laira Estate will be bringing a sample of their range to the Murray Bridge rally, so be sure to drop in for a tasting at the Indoor Trade area on Monday and Tuesday.


News | 21

Grant for Denmark, WA

P

ressure on accommodation in Denmark, in Western Australia's Great Southern, during peak periods, will be eased under a new plan to provide overflow camping at the town's sports oval. A grant of $248,000 from Tourism WA will go towards building 68 new sites and upgrades to power, water, sewage and roads at McLean Oval. The oval will be turned into a multipurpose facility for 68 caravan sites. Operators at the Denmark caravan park have been forced to turn away campers during holiday periods because of a lack of berths. Denmark Shire CEO Dale Stewart said the extra capacity would work in conjunction with commercial caravan park operators and provide extra trade for local businesses.

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22 | News

Marketplace Update! The iMotorhome Marketplace Directory continues to grow. Here are the latest additions and renewals; if you’re looking for anything for your motorhome or campervan please consider these great companies who help keep this magazine coming to you! Covers - Motorhomes & Caravans Uncompromising quality is promised by this Australian company, backed by a five year warranty on all its customer made motorhome and caravan covers. Itech World Australia’s leading solar power and satellite TV manufacturer offers 160 W & 200 W folding panels, and the Complete Traveller satellite TV package amongst its wide range. Tiffin Motorhomes America’s favourite motorhome is now available in Australia! Tiffin Motorhomes Australia is proud to offer the Allegro Breeze 32 to the Australian market. Tathra Beach Family Park Frankie J. Holden owns and runs this fabulous beachside park in picturesque Tathra on the sunny NSW South Coast that’s rapidly becoming an RV favourite destination!


News | 23 Mountain View Leongatha An over 55s community opened in October 2012. Luxury communal features in a heated pool, plus RV storage and a 24-hour on-call nurse are just some of the highlights. Webasto Manufactures and supplies comfort on-the-move products including diesel-fired air heaters, water heaters, and cook tops, plus fridges, freezers and more! Skytracks An innovative and transportable modular storage system uses that space above your head. Especially good for campervans and pop-tops! Country Motor Group The official dealer for Avida sales and service on the NSW South Coast, just two hours south of Sydney. D'Angelo Engineering Specialist fifth-wheel hitch and king pin manufacturers, based in Melbourne. Check out the tough MiniMax and their full range of hitches. Nomadic Solutions The unique ‘Lifestyletable' is a fold-down picnic table that mounts to the side of your vehicle. Easy to install it’s the ideal ‘life style’ accessory! Send My Mail A full service mail forwarding business that can scan and/or forward mail or hold it for collection. Includes a monthly forwarding service at no extra charge. Wellington Shire Wellington Shire, in the heart of Eastern Victoria’s Gippsland region is Motorhome Friendly and famous for its lakes, high country, beaches and gentle country lifestyle. Enjoy!


24 | iMotorhome Marketplace

Parkland RV Centre

Roberts RV World

RV Specialists

Parkland RV is the official dealer for Avida Motorhomes, Crossroads RV and Opal Caravans in WA. We stock quality used RVs and our modern service department can look after everything.

An official Avida motorhome dealer, with more than 50 new motorhomes in the largest undercover RV showroom in the Southern Hemisphere. Our service department is here for all your needs too.

Australia’s leading fifth wheelers, designed here in Australia and built to suit our demanding conditions. Fifth wheelers from 24’ to 36’ available. Call 02 4953 7141 for information!

T: (08) 9493 7933 W: parklandrv.com.au

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Airbag Man

Battery Traders Super Store

Taronga Western Plains Zoo

We design and manufacture air suspension kits for all types of vehicles including motorhomes. Easy to install they let you ‘level up’ for stability and safety.

Batteries, solar panels, inverters, alternators and all electrical parts including cables and switches for your motorhome! We can find and fix all electrical faults and are 12 V power specialists.

Visit our world famous 300 ha open range sanctuary, home to some of the most exotic and endangered animals on earth. Explore by foot, bike, electric cart or in your motorhome!

T: 1800 AIRBAG W: airbagman.com.au

T: (07) 3209 3144 W: batterytraders.com.au

T: (02) 6881 1400 W: taronga.org.au

iTech World

Wellington Shire

Australia’s leading solar power and satellite TV manufacturers! We stock the revolutionary In Flex and Mini Flex panels, Plus our Complete Traveler Satellite TV package is perfect for motorhomes.

In the heart of Victoria’s Gippsland region. Come and enjoy our natural beauty, famous lakes, High Country and expansive beaches. Find ‘Experience 40 Great Things to Do’ on our website too!

T: 1300 483 249 W: itechworld.com.au

T: (03) 5144 1108 W: tourismwellington.com.au

Bony Mountain Folk Festival This great Aussie festival in the bush is on again, featuring the legendary Murphy’s Pigs! Many other great artists, a Bush Poets breakfast, billy tea, damper, great tucker – don’t miss it!

bonymountainfolkfestival.com


iMotorhome Marketplace | 25

FLEXIBLE STORAGE SYSTEMS FOR YOUR CAMPERVAN OR MOTORHOME Store those additional items up and out of the way using our adjustable, transportable and modular storage system!

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26 | Touring Test: Trakka Jabiru

Last of the Mohicans!

Trakka bids farewell to the VW Crafter, but its Jabiru layout lives on‌ by Richard Robertson


Touring Test | 27

At just over seven metres the Jabiru is a big van. VW’s Crafter and Mercedes’ Sprinter are twins, having rolled down the same production line. Only drive trains, trim and badging separate them.

V

olkswagen's launch of the Crafter van and cab-chassis in 2006 coincided precisely with Mercedes’ release of the current shape Sprinter. That’s because the Crafter and Sprinter rolled down the same production line at Mercedes’ Dusseldorf factory. Only when it came time for the drivetrain and trim items did the two part company, with Crafters going off to a VW facility to receive a Volkswagen engine, gearbox, trim and badging. Despite the same structural design and engineering, Crafters have been marketed, priced and perceived a level below the Sprinter due to the differences in engines, gearboxes – and badging. Most notably, Sprinters received more advanced drivelines, especially with a fully automatic transmission over VW’s automated manual option. Visually, the Crafter’s distinctive nose is a styling nod to the Volkswagen Constellation, which is made in Brazil and is

the flagship of the Company’s South American heavy truck range.

Midlife Crisis?

I

n 2011/12 the Crafter received a mid-life update, but did away with the six-speed automated manual, offering only a six-speed manual gearbox. I have no official explanation as to why, but sources tell me there were “issues” with the self-shifter, especially when running at fully loaded weights all the time and in the hands of rental customers. The update included a switch from the gruff 5-cylinder 2.5-litre turbo-diesel to the same 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo-diesel used across the VW passenger car and Amorak ute ranges. Importantly, power and torque didn’t suffer in the capacity downsize. Interestingly, the combination of German engineering,


28 | Touring Test Top: Factory-fitted rear windows are fixed, but on the new model Trakka fits an interior panel that provides privacy screens and something to sit up against in bed. Bottom: Day running lights are a good feature. The van’s relatively slim width makes for easy driving in town and city traffic. sharp pricing and a lowmaintenance manual transmission appealed to many rental operators. In recent years Crafters have become the mainstay of some fleets, especially those of companies marketing to Europeans, who mostly prefer to change gears themselves anyway. Fast-forward to 2015 and the Crafter is no more; a victim of either the run-away success of Mercedes’ Sprinter and the need for more production capacity, or VW’s recent alignment with MAN trucks (depending on who you listen to). As I write, construction is well underway on a massive factory in Wrzesnia, Poland, that will open late in 2016 and produce up to a staggering 85,000 all-new Crafter’s annually. The new model will, apparently, have strong MAN truck DNA and should be a very interesting vehicle when it arrives. Just don’t hold your breath for an Antipodean premier much before late 2017 or early 2018. The subject of this review is Trakka’s very last Crafterbased Jabiru van conversion motorhome (the company


Touring Test | 29

Crafter’s distinctive nose is a styling nod to the Volkswagen Constellation truck from South America. having long-since discontinued its Crafter-based Trakkaway coachbuilt motorhomes). The Jabiru continues as a Mercedes’ Sprinter-based model, and in reality it’s probably where 99 per cent of sales have been in recent years. Trakka says private buyers just don’t want a manual gearbox and it appears those same private owners have punished Volkswagen

accordingly. That is a shame, really, because the manual Crafter has much to offer and is surprisingly refined and enjoyable, and impressively economical.

Less is More

T

he 5-cylinder 2.5-litre engine of Crafter’s past had a coarse feel and gruff note, and couldn’t feel

and sound more different from the test vehicle’s 4-cylinder 2.0-litre donk. Smooth and sweet, the new engine produces a healthy 120 kW @ 4000 rpm and 400 Nm @ 1500-2250 rpm thanks to twin turbochargers, equalling the 2.5 L engine in kilowatts (although 500 revs higher) and beating it by 50 Nm in the torque department, at 500 fewer revs.


30 | Touring Test

REMIS privacy blinds for the windscreen and side windows are our favourite as they take just a moment to close or open. Thermal insulation isn’t up to that of Solarscreen, however.

On the road this translates to quiet, refined progress, with the engine only intruding (mutedly) under acceleration. At cruise – think 1800 rpm @ 100 km/h – the cab is very quiet and the engine smooth a silk. Clutch action is light and progressive, while the hill-hold facility proved handy. Shift quality was a tad notchy but otherwise light and easy to operate. Being rear-wheel drive the Crafter steered nicely under acceleration, and maintained a rocksteady line over rough/broken bitumen on corners. There was a small amount of body roll but it was easily anticipated and overall the ride quality was exemplary. As mentioned, the engine proved impressively economical, returning 8.17 L/100 km (34.6 mpg) over 1045 km of freeway and country driving from 85 of the fuel tank’s 100 litres. True, we were lightly loaded, but even so it was significantly better than any other motorhome I’ve toured in. On return to Trakka, after a week or local running around the Southern Highlands and including a final run in peak hour traffic it

only increased to 10.27 L/100 km (27.5 mpg), which was still excellent. The downside – because there’s always one – is the little engine doesn’t have much in the engine braking department. Its small displacement also means it doesn’t have much off-idle grunt, so taking off in second gear is a no-no unless you’re on a decent hill, even lightly loaded. It’s not that the engine’s torque curve is peaky – max torque is 1500-2250 rpm – just that at times there’s no substitute for cubic centimetres. The gearbox also required a bit of stirring in hilly country to keep revs in the right range, but when it got the bit between its teeth it hung on like a beauty. Over the biggest hills of the Hume Highway between Sydney and Yass it held 6th gear all the way, admittedly dropping from 110 km/h to 95-100 km/h in places. What I absolutely loved was that changing gears didn’t cancel the cruise control, which is always a bugbear with manual transmissions.


Touring Test | 31

I'm a particular fan of van-conversion motorhomes because they retain the strength and rigidity of the steel body and are designed for a lifetime of exposure to the elements.


32 | Touring Test

Top: You sit deeper in a Crafter/Sprinter than a Fiat Ducato, and the wheel is more upright and car like. Insert: Semi-automatic climate control provides temp settings in ºC, but you have to work the fan and A/C manually. Bottom: Boot space is good. The outdoor table and awning winder store up under the bed, while a shelf in the centre compartment is surprisingly handy. The space to the left is deep enough for a suitcase or other bulky items.

I also appreciated the choice of using cruise control or the speed limiter; the latter proving very handy on suburban roads, in country towns and in traffic on freeways. This feature is common across the Crafter/Sprinter range and alone is almost a reason to buy! The test Crafter had a range of standard features that enhanced the driving experience, like front and rear parking sensors and a multifunction steering wheel. They were in addition to remote central locking, cab air-conditioning, an AF/FM/CD sound system with Bluetooth, a trip computer, electric windows and mirrors, height adjustable headlights and more. Dual airbags, ABS brakes, traction and electronic stability controls were also standard fare. About the only thing to detract from the driving enjoyment was the slightly thin plastic steering wheel, but I’m being picky now!

Outside and In

T

he Crafter/Sprinter body is 57 mm (2.2 in) narrower than the Fiat Ducato’s, but the long wheelbase (LWB) version used for the Jabiru is some 582 mm (1 ft 11 in) longer than the longest Ducato available, the extralong wheelbase (ELWB). I mention this because Trakka builds van-conversion motorhomes on


Touring Test | 33

both platforms – the Crafter/Sprinter is called the Jabiru and the Fiat Ducato is the Torino – and physical size differences aside they are very similar inside. For many buyers the final choice comes down to brand preference as much as anything. I'm a particular fan of van-conversion motorhomes because they retain the strength and rigidity of the steel body and are designed for a lifetime of exposure to the elements. There are minimal opportunities for water ingress – especially as they age – while external maintenance is simple and straightforward. There are also less susceptible to expensive damage from minor knocks and bingles and in no way should be considered the ‘poor man’s choice’ alongside coachbuilt motorhomes. The Crafter’s Jabiru conversion includes two roof hatches: one for the bathroom and a powered one for the bed area. There are four flush-fitting, opening external windows (two on each side); one of which is in the bathroom wall and really doesn’t need to be there. A four metre wind-out awning, electric entry step, external shower (cleverly concealed in the wall and accessed via the toilet cassette hatch) are all standard equipment, along with a single 4 kg gas bottle and Trakka’s signature inbuilt power lead. The standard Waeco reversing camera – one with dual lenses that automatically switch between vertical and distance views – is another Trakka signature and the best in the business. A pair of 100 AH house batteries are standard, along with 110-litres of fresh and 80-litres of grey water. Rooftop solar and a diesel fired heating system are optional. Stepping inside, the floor plan is entirely conventional. It features a front lounge that incorporates the swivelling cab seats, a mid

Top Waeco’s dual-lens reversing camera is shown here in reversing mode. When driving, a shield covers the big lens, leaving the small one looking out through a hole at following traffic. It’s a ripper! Bottom: Ingenious ‘hanging’ wardrobe provides foot room below for sleeping. Overall finish is impeccable.


34 | Touring Test positioned kitchen and bathroom, and a rear bedroom. The decor is classic Trakka and uses a combination of light timber finishes with aluminium accents and dark grey roller shutter doors on the overhead cupboards. Lighting throughout is LED that’s dimmable (including the exterior lights) and includes another Trakka signature: purple/blue “mood” strips in the kitchen. I was also pleased to see a good selection of 240 V power points, 12 V sockets and 5 V USB charging outlets.

Livin’ & Cookin’

N

o van-conversion can truly claim to be spacious, but the Jabiru makes good use of available space. Those missing two inches of width, however, compared with the Fiat Ducato-based Trakka Torino, are most noticeable between the kitchen and bathroom. There, the combination of a convex bathroom wall and kitchen benchtop narrow the aisle, making through-vehicle access while one person’s cooking an excellent opportunity for a cuddle. Unless, cough, you’re just travelling with a mate… Trakka uses multiple floor levels to maximise headroom in the centre of the vehicle, while keeping a level floor in the cab/dining area and providing good bedroom storage. It’s a proven system, but one you need to be mindful of when moving around the vehicle in the dark. Up front, both seats swivel easily and a polemounted dining table fits neatly into a floor socket between them. During the day the table stores in a holder on the inside of the sliding side door, while the pole stores in the kitchen end unit. Care is needed when closing the door behind you on entry to avoid an abrasion and big bruise on the back of your leg from the table’s substantial mount. Just ask Mrs iMotorhome!

Top: The kitchen has a surprising amount of work space. Above: The pole-mounted table works nicely with the cab seats and keeps the dining occupant well away from the chef at work! New models have a second, smaller coffee table as well.


Touring Test | 35 Gas is the standard cooking and hot water fuel, but the optional Remote Pack includes a diesel cooktop, water heater and room heater, leaving the Jabiru LPG-free. Note tap on the right for filtered drinking water.

Immediately behind the driver’s seat, in the corner formed by the end panel of the unit that houses the elevated fridge and microwave, is a small floor unit with a drawer, benchtop and a compact flip-up table. Apart from being an ideal place for coffee cups during a quick stop, it makes a great little workstation when the driver’s seats is swivelled 180º. The main kitchen unit runs along the kerb-side wall, amidships, and intrudes a little into the open door space. It has six self-closing drawers – good to see a manufacture who understands kitchen cupboards are largely wasted space, and usually the cheap option – as well as a long run of bench top. The bench is largely occupied by the two-burner gas cooker and the round sink-sans-drainer with folding tap – both with glass lids. There’s also a filtered drinking-water tap and a glass-lidded rubbish

bin that does double duty as a removable wine cooler! Above the cooker is a rangehood – the best place for it – above which is a small cupboard that houses all the electrical controls. These comprise a multifunction display for most systems, including battery and water tank levels, inside and outside temperature, and switches for the water pump and 12 V system. Alongside is the fridge master switch and individual controls for the LED mood lighting strips. Across from the forward end of the main kitchen unit, opposite the door as you enter, is the tall unit that houses the elevated fridge with microwave above. It has a cupboard below that’s home to the house batteries and extra storage. At the aft end of the main bench is a small bulkhead divider that conceals a concertina door for bedroom privacy. What


36 | Touring Test Top: The small flip-up table makes an good workstation. Bottom: The cassette toilet retracts beneath the hand basin, providing a spacious shower cubicle.

makes the bulkhead special are two small, deep, recessed shelves with power outlets for charging all manner of mobile devices, in addition to a normal double 240 V power point. Very nice.

Switch Mode Bathing

T

rakka’s patented Switch Mode Bathroom (SMB) is standard in every bathroomequipped model, with the exception of the range topping Trakkaway 860, which has separate shower and bathroom cubicles. In a nutshell the SMB combines a generous shower, slimline hand basin and bench, and mirrored shaving cabinet, with a remotecontrolled, retractable cassette toilet. The sum of this innovation is the best bathroom space utilisation in the available floor space, with minimum inconvenience/compromise. The unit's convex outer wall maximises interior space, while a sliding roller shutter door (matching those of the cupboards) provides


Touring Test | 37 Top: Single beds or a spacious king, the choice is yours. Our Duvalays fitted the singles perfectly, leaving easy access up the centre. Bottom: The table stores neatly in the sliding door, just watch the mount when you pull the door shut behind as you enter. New models have relocated the table. requisite privacy. The cassette toilet unit ‘hides’ under the handbasin when not required, while a close fitting shower curtain press-studs into place, keeping toilet paper and towels dry, and preventing water splashing into the aisle if the door is left open. It’s a clever system made cleverer by using the hand basin tap, operated by a separate flick mixer, for showering. Pulling the tap out of the basin converts it to a hand shower by revealing a long, flexible hose, plus there’s a wall mount to convert it to a conventional shower. Over time we discovered it’s best to leave the toilet extended at night, to avoid fumbling for the remote control and its small, unmarked buttons in the dark. Innovation aside, this is still a ‘wet’ bathroom, so it’s also a good idea to wipe the floor dry after showering to avoid cold, wet feet in the middle of the night.

Sweet Dreams

T

he bedroom, which occupies about the rear third of the vehicle, is another multifunction area and provides a number of sleeping arrangements. Primarily set up with two lengthways single beds, it has a pull-out extension and drop-in cushion that effectively makes it into a king-size bed if desired. At 2.05 m (6 ft 9 in), bed length is about the best in the industry. Single beds measure 0.65 m (2 ft 2 in) wide, while the king bed set-up measures 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) across. If there isn’t room for you in the back of this vehicle you’re unlikely to find a motorhome to suit! Storage space can be found beneath the front sections of each single bed, plus there is quite a bit accessible via the rear barn doors. There are also overhead cupboards on both sides and an unusual ‘floating’ wardrobe unit with roller shutter door above the foot of the driver’s


38 | Touring Test Both tables fit together well, making the dining area highly practical. There’s a TV in the bedroom that can easily be watched from up front, but our iPads provide individual program viewing when desired.

side bed. Under the bed at the back is also where you’ll find the awning winder and the outdoor table, which attaches to a rail on the outside of the sliding side door. The rear door windows are fixed glass that come standard with the Crafter, but there are openings side windows and the afore-mentioned powered roof hatch for night-time ventilation. The only option fitted to the test vehicle was a 12 V fan in the bedroom and it’s a must-have, especially in the absence of air conditioning. There were no ceiling lights in the bedroom, just reading lights by the rear doors. Speaking of the rear doors, the gap between the bed end and windows made sitting up in bed difficult without a lot of pillows, but this has been resolved in the latest models (see Evolution).

What I think.

S

omeone recently said, “You seem to like every vehicle you test”. That’s true to a degree, because I try to present vehicles in their best light. I’ve learned that just because I might not like specific features that doesn’t

mean they won’t appeal to/be important to other people. Mrs iMotorhome is more critical, but like me she was sorry to see the Crafterbased Jabiru go. We both appreciated its roomy cab and the refined driving experience provided by its small-but-powerful engine. I was very happy with the manual transmission and we were both well pleased with its economy. Given all that it seems a shame Volkswagen’s Crafter has reached the end of its time, for now, and we can only hope the next model does its predecessors proud. In the mean time, this Last Mohican is available for the special price of $115,000 driveway, a saving of some $15,000! If you’re after something a little different and don’t mind changing gears this is well worth a close look. Just be quick because like the Last Mohican there won’t be another. It also means you’ll end up with a special place in history as well as a great motorhome. How? Call Trakka now…


Touring Test | 39

Strip lighting above and below the cupboards features in the latest Trakka interiors and does away with celling lights. It provides soft, even light that’s far more natural and has many switching combinations for personal tailoring.

Evolution…

Trakka continues to refine the Jabiru design and for the 2015/16 model year has introduced a range of refinements to make an already good design even better. They include: • New trim materials that provide a smoother, more up-market look and feel • New trim colours, with gloss white surfaces and lighter timber tones • New lighting. The ceiling lights are gone, replaced by integrated LED strips beneath and above the overhead cupboards. These provide softer and more even, natural lighting, while still retaining the ability to be dimmed. In the kitchen there is a strip under the benchtop edge that shines directly into open drawers. • Kitchen drawers have larger handles that are easier to hold and use • Trim panels now cover the rear door’s fixed-glass windows, but have cut-out window openings with built-in privacy blinds.


40 | Touring Test

Specifications Manufacturer

Trakka

Model

Jabiru

Base Vehicle

Volkswagen Crafter LWB

Engine

2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel

Power

120 kW @ 4000 rpm

Torque

400 Nm @ 1550-2250 rpm

Gearbox

6-speed manual

Brakes

ABS Ventilated Disc

Tare Weight

3380 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

3880 kg

Licence

Car

Approved Seating

2

External Length

7.10 m (23 ft 4 in)

External Width

1.99 m (6 ft 6 in)

External Height

2.76 m (9 ft 1 in)

Internal Height

1.94 m (6 ft 4 in)

Bed Size (singles)

2.05 m x 0.65 m (6 ft 9 in x 2 ft 2 in)

Bed Size (king)

2.05 m x 1.78 m (6 ft 9 in x 5 ft 10 in)

Cooktop

2-burner LPG

Fridge

Waeco 136 L

Microwave

Yes

Lighting

12 V LED

Batteries

2 x 100 AH

Solar Panels

Optional

Air Conditioner

Optional

Space Heater

Optional (diesel)

Hot Water

Truma 14 L

Toilet

Thetford cassette 19 L

Shower

Extendable with wall mount

Gas Cylinders

2 x 4.0 kg

Water Tank

110 L

Grey Water Tank

80 L

Price on Road

$129,500 drive away NSW

Special price as tested

$115,000 drive away NSW

Pros • • • • • •

Refined engine Excellent economy Driving experience Quality Bed size and combinations Rear storage

Cons • • • •

Manual only No forward roof hatch Limited engine braking Limited off-idle torque

Contact Trakka

9 Beaumont Rd, Mt-Kuring-gai NSW. 2080 T: 1800 872 552 E: trakka@trakka.com.au W: www.trakka.com.au

Click for Google Maps

For more iMotorhome Road Tests click here


Visit trakka.com or call 1800 TRAKKA


42 | Day Test: Avida Esperance

Esperance Reprised A bigger slide-out is not the only change to Avida’s top selling model range‌ by Malcolm Street


Day Test | 43

A three-quarter length slide-out is the main feature of this new Esperance model. New colour schemes for 2015 look good, too.

I

n something of a surprise move (well to me at least) Avida recently announced the arrival of three new models in the Esperance, Birdsville and Eyre ranges. Since I really couldn’t test drive three motorhomes at once and the Sydney show was looming – hence availability was limited – I opted for the Esperance on what turned out to be a wet and misty day in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

The Vehicle

T

he most interesting news here is that the Esperance is built on the updated Iveco Daily 50-170 cab-chassis, which comes with new mechanicals. Not only is there an uppowered 3.0 litre turbo-diesel, the best news is a fully automatic 8-speed gearbox replacing the hesitant 6-speed automated manual that really wasn't up to slick changes, particularly at low speeds. Well, sort of. I had part of the new Daily: the body part. As I drove up the hill towards Glenbrook it became clear the old sixspeed AMT was still with me. I was only glad I had not opted for my usual test track, the windy Old Bathurst Road to Blaxland. If you want

more of an explanation of this in-between model read Richard's Paradise Integrity review in the March 7 issue. Back with the new body style, sadly it doesn't seem that Iveco has done anything with the handbrake/ swivelling seat conflict. Build wise, the Esperance has a fully welded metal frame for the walls, floor and roof. That frame has a foam sheet filler that Avida reckons both acts as an insulant and road noise reducer. For the walls, all are laminated with backing panels and an outer fibreglass skin. Slightly differently, the one-piece floor panel has a ply timber sheet above and metal sheeting below, for underfloor protection. Additionally, the Luton peak/cab surround, rear wall and roof are fully moulded fibreglass. In the door and window department, Avida has opted for its favourite items: a Hehr door and windows. I particularly like the latter, being glass, but also being narrow hoppers (louvers) they can be opened for good ventilation even in the rain and don't stick out too far. It would be nice though if a security screen door was a standard item.


44 | Day Test Louvered ‘hopper’ windows might look a bit dated but provide good security and can be left open in the rain – provided it’s not too windy! The big slide-out has its own external storage lockers, but hinders access to the larger lockers below.

Undoubtedly the major feature of interest with this Esperance is that the driver’s side slideout is much longer than previous models and runs for over two thirds of the body. Being that long it not only includes the dinette but also the bedroom. External bin space is quite good although there is the usual awkward problem of getting to those bins under the extended slide-out. Mostly it’s just a matter of remembering to keep less frequently used items there. Unfortunately, the gas cylinders are a bit of an issue if you like turning them off overnight.

On the Road

T

he only surprise here was having the previous model Iveco’s drivetrain, but otherwise it was quite a pleasant drive. There were a few squeaks and rattles from the rear but nothing unusual, except for something in the slide-out right behind the driver's seat. Since this was model #1 or 2, that wasn't a total surprise. Keen observers might notice the lack of any sort of radio in the driver's cab. That's not because Iveco forgot to put one in but rather because the multi-media units required by Avida had not yet arrived.


Day Test | 45

The interesting news is that the Esperance is built on the updated Iveco Daily 50-170 cab-chassis.


46 | Day Test

Top: Cab seats swivel, but the handbrake is still an obstacle. Insert: Electrical outlet location creates a trip hazard when used while siting at the dinette. Bottom: Under seat storage is handy, but drawers would be handier.

Living Inside

I

nside and with the slide-out closed the Esperance appears to be almost usable. Almost, I say, due to the fact the eastwest bed blocks access to the full-width rear bathroom. The bed lifts for storage, but not in a way that allows bathroom access. With the slide-out opened – the switch is nicely located under the kitchen sink – there is of course plenty of room to move around.

Avida has retained its look, although there seems to be more LED strip lighting around and the overhead lockers now have a two-tone look to the faux timber finish. Not too hard on the eye at all, I think. Layout wise, the kitchen bench runs along the kerb-side wall, leaving space for the dinette opposite and the east-west bed further back. With the fridge and microwave in between, it's all fitted into the slide-out. Being a C-class motorhome there’s also a bed above the


Day Test | 47 Top: Although it blocks the doorway the bench extension provides a ton of usable work space. Bottom: With the slide-out extended there’s plenty of usable and valuable living room. Light decor adds to the feeling of spaciousness. cab and it can be lifted out of the way if not needed, for easier cab access, or just used as a storage area. Generally the electrics, both 240 and 12 volt, seem to be well sorted, with switches and controls in mostly logical places and the main control panel by the entry door. The undersink location for some items might seem a bit odd, but everything is easily reachable and handy. Located well too are most of the LED light fittings, including the strip lighting.

Lounging Around

I

n this layout you get a choice of seating. Both cab seats swivel around – after the usual Iveco wrestling match with the driver's seat, door and handbrake – and they are good for sitting back in. Alternatively, there are the seats of the cafe-style dinette.


48 | Day Test Top: Swivelling cab seats are handy for extra visitors but don’t really ‘gel’ with the dinette. Dining table is generous and the dinette seats deep and comfortable. Bottom: The big pop-up TV makes great viewing from the bed, but not the dinette. A second unit up front would be a good idea.

Given the location of the slide-out, the cab seats don't integrate with the dinette, neither is there provision for a small table between them. For the dinette seats, there's the very efficiently designed Zwaardvis multi-adjustable table mounting. Given the fixed location of the TV in the bedroom there isn't any provision for a TV further forward, which does make TV viewing a bit awkward from the front seats. Both dinette seats have floor lockers for storage that is also accessible via external doors, and there are low height lockers above the dinette as well. Also fitted to the underside of the rear seat are a 240V power point, inverter power point and 12 V and 5 V USB sockets. These are definitely a good idea, but whilst the location is reasonably accessible I ponder their location, given power and charged leads can easily be knocked by legs/feet or worse, tripped over.

Time to Eat

A

t first glance the kitchen bench looks quite small, but that’s a little deceptive. It does have the usual features – four-


Day Test | 49

Left: The kitchen is well-equipped and chefs will appreciate the full cooker, oven and grill. Note the overhead wine rack! Below: The bed blocks bathroom access when the slide-out’s retracted. The bed tilts, but only sideways (north-south) for storage access.

burner cooktop/grill/oven and stainless steel sink/drainer – but with minimal bench top area. However, the wider-than-usual wire-basket pantry has a laminate top and at the other end of the bench there's a lift-up extension. It does close off the entry doorway, but I figure if you are doing serious cooking it's a small price to pay.

After Hours

W

hat having the bedhead in the slideout has done is to provide more storage space in the bedroom. Measuring 1.9 m x 1.4 m (6 ft 3 in x 4 ft 7 in) the bed has not suffered any size reduction, but it now allows for a narrow cupboard fitted under the kerb-side window, while a small wardrobe is fitted into the driver’s-side corner. Large In the kitchen bench itself, general storage enough to contain hanging space, shelves and consists of three drawers, the aforementioned drawers, it's quite handy. Not quite so handy slide-out pantry, two overhead lockers and are the power point and 12 V and 5 V sockets, a wine bottle holder. Additionally, the narrow cupboard (connected by the hinged flap) behind located under the bed near the fridge. They are easy to get at, but anything charging has to sit the passenger seat does have a few useful on the floor. A better position would be the shelf shelves. on the opposite side. For accessing the under-


50 | Day Test The rear bathroom is almost full width and includes a large shower cubicle and comprehensive vanity unit.

bed area, it's a matter of lifting the bed from the side. The upside is easy access, the down side is there's no way of lifting the bed base to get to the bathroom when the slide-out is closed.

Keeping Clean

A

feature of this layout is a slightly larger sliding door giving access to the rear bathroom. It's not quite full width – given the wardrobe – but still very usable. The shower cubicle is on the driver’s side, the cassette toilet is in the middle and the wash basin cabinet is in the kerbside corner. Two overhead lockers and the vanity cabinet provide storage. For ventilation the rear window doesn't open (except in emergencies) but there are two ceiling fans.

What I Think

W

hilst some features look much like earlier Esperance designs, there's no doubt that the fuller length slide-out offers much potential and more room to move around.

Having the kitchen bench that can be extended is certainly a good feature, as is the extra storage created in the bedroom. Indeed when stepping inside when the slide-out’s open there is a very real feeling of spaciousness. Apart from the lack of opportunity to try out the new Iveco mechanicals, this new Esperance layout is looking like a good variant of the existing line up.


Day Test | 51

Specifications Manufacturer

Avida

Model

Esperance C7922 SL

Base Vehicle

Iveco Daily 50-170

Engine

3.0-litre turbo-diesel

Power

151 kW @ 3500 rpm

Torque

470 Nm @ 1500rpm

Gearbox

8 speed full auto

Brakes

ABS Disc

Tare Weight

3930 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

4495 kg

Towing capacity

3500 kg

Licence

Car

Approved Seating

4

External Length

7.94 m (26 ft 1 in)

External Width

2.50 m (8 ft 2 in)

External Height

3.18 m (10 ft 5 in)

Internal Height

2.10 m (6 ft 7 in)

Rear Bed Size

1.90 m x 1.40 m (6 ft 3 in x 4 ft 7 in)

Luton Bed Size

1.98 m x 1.22 m (6 ft 6 in x 4 ft)

Cooktop

Dometic 4 burner, grill & oven

Fridge

Dometic AES RM2555 150 litre

Microwave

Samsung

Lighting

12 V LED

Batteries

1 x 100 AH

Solar Panels

Optional

Air Conditioner

Truma Aventa

Space Heater

Webasto diesel

Hot Water

Truma 14 L

Toilet

Dometic cassette

Shower

Separate cubicle

Gas Cylinders

2 x 4.0 kg

Water Tank

100 L

Grey Water Tank

100 L

Price on Road NSW

$177,700

Pros

• • • • •

Spacious interior External bin space Bedroom storage cupboards Lighting (both natural & 12 V) Kitchen bench top extensions

Cons

• No bathroom access with slide-out closed • Location of under seat/ under bed power sockets • Limited TV viewing from the front seats • Lack of Security door

Contact Avida

32 David Road Emu Plains NSW 2750 T: 1800 428 432 E: sales@avidarv.com.au W: www.avidarv.com.au

Click for Google Maps

For more iMotorhome Road Tests click here


52 | Day Test

When stepping inside when the slide-out's open there is a very real feeling of spaciousness.


54 | Technical

LED Replacement Headlights The way forward is bright, if expensive‌ by Allan Whiting of outbacktravelaustralia.com.au

T

ruck-Lite has teamed up with Narva to produce a second generation LED replacement headlight for vehicles using seven-inch round lights. Truck-Lite/ Narva LED headlights are direct swaps for existing halogen or sealed beam 178 mm (7 in) headlights. Many older 4WDs, old and new trucks and motorcycles have these fitments. The supplied connector clicks directly to the existing halogen-bulb headlight loom plug.

LED technology provides a whiter, cleaner colour temperature, representative of daylight conditions and displaying truer colour tones. Due to the instant-start-up nature of LED, there is no warm-up time before full beam power is delivered. Low beam (1.8 A) and high beam (3.6 A) power draw is around half that of halogen systems, saving alternator output for other vehicle applications. The long-life nature of LED means that the lamp lasts significantly longer than halogen equivalents and the quality of light output does not diminish significantly over time.


Technical | 55

Each LED unit has a free-form reflector and three lighting levels: park lights, low beam and high beam. Complex reflector design is said to target areas of the road where traditional projector systems are unable to reach, providing the driver with optimum visibility, without compromising the safety of oncoming traffic. The light housing is militarygrade, die-cast aluminium that is corrosion and impact-resistant, and has an impactresistant polycarbonate clear lens with nonyellowing coating. The assembly is sealed to IP68 waterproof immersion standard and has a breathable membrane vent. The LED lamp has heat-handling properties that allow it to operate in open or closed headlamp recesses. It is also EMC-R10 / CISPR 25 and ADR approved, as required for original equipment headlamp applications.

Inside, the solid-state LED design has no filaments or bulb tubes, making it highly shock and vibration resistant. The electronics feature over-voltage protection up to 600 V and are sealed in epoxy, to resist corrosion or moisture damage. The first generation of this lamp was manufactured for US military vehicles, including the iconic Humvee. Narva is backing the TruckLite LED product with a three-year warranty.

LED Headlights on Test

W

e fitted a pair of the Truck-Lite LED headlights to our Project 75 Series ute. The job was straightforward enough, because the lights come standard with a three-pin plug that connects with standard seven-inch headlight sockets. However, the plug is a tight fit in the socket and the standard rubber gaiter doesn't shield the connection, so it needed a few wraps of insulation tape. The only additional precaution we took was a careful check of the mounting ring tags and small attachment screws, because the LED units are heavier than sealed beams or halogentype headlight units. The LED lights come with additional wiring to illuminate small parking light LEDs inside the housing. When lit up the LEDs were obviously much brighter and whiter than the halogens they


56 | Technical

replaced. We tested them against halogens, using an identical stretch of road and found that the LED light intensity was much greater. Low beam from the LEDs had a very sharp cutoff point; no doubt to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers, so correct adjustment was critical to provide enough distance vision before that cutoff zone. The beam was much wider than the halogen beam, giving a much better view of the road edges. LED high-beam performance was far better than that of the halogen headlights and rivalled the beam distance of some driving lights. The highbeam setting retained the low-beam pattern, but added a longer-distance beam on top of it. We noticed that the more complex reflector shape for a low-high-beam LED light added some unevenness to the light pattern, when compared with the blotch-free beams from most LED

driving lights, but we feel that it's a price worth paying. Speaking of price, the lights are selling in the $400-$495 bracket - each - so they're not cheap. However, with virtually shatterproof lenses and long-life LED bulbs they're a longterm investment. Check out our comparison video:


Technical | 57

Light Bar Legalities Putting a spotlight on light bar requirements… by Allan Whiting of outbacktravelaustralia.com.au also be installed in alignment with the following requirements: • The lamps should, as far as is possible, be installed symmetrically in pairs to the front of the vehicle • If lamps are not fitted as pairs (e.g. one, three etc), they must be fitted to the front of the vehicle, symmetrically about the centre

I

n some Australian states you can be booked for mounting a light bar. We've listed the Victorian position and NARVA has posted a video that summarises the current state of play. Under the requirements of Australia Design Rule (ADR) 13/00, additional lamps must be fitted in pairs in accordance with the requirements for driving lamps. However, the Commonwealth has commenced issuing approvals for the certification of new vehicles fitted with LED light bars that are not fitted in pairs in order to respond to this new technology. In addition, an amendment to Australian Design Rule 13/00 is expected to be published soon that will formally clarify these arrangements. Certain constraints remain on the fitment of LED light bars. These include that they must be fitted symmetrically on the vehicle and must not exceed a total of four lamps. They must

• A maximum of four driving lamps (including LED light bars) can be fitted to a vehicle in addition to the vehicle’s main beam headlamps • The lamp/s must be installed in a way that the light produced does not cause the driver of the vehicle discomfort either directly or by reflection • The lamp/s must only come on when the main-beam (high beam) headlamps are used, and must automatically turn off when the main-beam headlamps are turned off • The lamps must not obstruct the driver’s view of the road.


58 | Show Report

Show Time!

Sydney’s annual Supershow had all the right ingredients, but bigger crowds would have been good…

T

he picturesque Rose Hill Racecourse, near Paramatta in Sydney’s west, was again the setting for the annual Caravan, Camping & Holiday Supershow. As of this issue’s publishing day the show is still running and finishes tomorrow, Sunday 19 April. The weather has been kind, but after visits by the iMotorhome team on Monday and Wednesday, the word from participants was one of noticeably smaller visitor numbers and quiet business days. Indeed, we noticed how easy it was to get around and how thin the crowds were. One exhibitor placed the blame on too many shows in general, plus moving the show forward by a couple of weeks and having it too soon after the Newcastle show

(where he did excellent business). Interesting thoughts… On the established manufactures’ front, all the expected brands were there and we’d like to congratulate Alex Berry from Trakka for designing their display, which won best stand in the motorhome category. Trakka had no new models on display; instead displaying evolutionary changes in finish and detail that’s been implemented across its model range (see the end of the Jabiru test on P39 for more details). Horizon Motor Homes reported strong interested in its 4X4 Waratah, built on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter van. It’s the same


Show Report | 59

Wirraway’s luxurious 4X4 (top right) and Sunliner’s new Renault-based Vida (bottom left) are different and interesting. Frontline’s brilliant orange VW campervan and Horizon’s 4X4 Waratah attracted plenty of attention too. model we drove across the Plenty Highway from Alice Springs and returned to Ballina in winter two years ago – see Issue 30, 03 August 2013 – and it looked impressive. Frontline had an impressively large display of its campervan models, with a pair of eyecatching bright orange VW T5 campers attracting a lot of interest. Proprietor Peter Farrugia said he had nine vehicles on display and was pleased so far with response. There certainly seemed to be quite a few people on the stand, when others nearby were relatively quiet. Paradise was well represented and had a prime position by the Champagne Bar; a happy coincidence that might well have

encouraged suitably ‘primed’ visitors to extend their champagne taste to a matching on-road lifestyle! Sunliner had a display that circled it’s wagons around the new Vida with slide-out, built on a Renault Master, and we’re keen to get our hands on it to try something different. Avida’s big stand and its new Esperance, Birdsville and Eyre layouts attracted plenty of interest, too, along with its revamped Menindee, with dual slide-outs. Boutique manufacturer Wirraway had a particularly interesting 4X4 Sprinter-based motorhome on display and which we plan to be reviewing soon. Winnebago had a full range of locally manufactured motorhomes on display, as well as a colourful display of its


60 | Show Report

fully imported caravans that certainly attracted attention! Meanwhile, TrailblazersRV showed off a custom pop-top fifth-wheeler built for a client with parking height issues, and the forerunner of a production model. Complete with airbag suspension it reportedly tracks nicely on the highway while keeping fuel consumption down a bit, too. European brands of fully imported motorhomes – Swift, Auto Trail and Knaus – were well represented, with offers on some of up to five years Fiat-backed warranty. This was disputed by at least one local manufacturer we spoke to, who also raised a concern that some are coming in under low volume certification and don’t fully comply with Australian Design Rules. It’s still a grey area and one iMotorhome will be investigating and reporting on in the not too distant future. On the accessory front, industry giant Dometic announced it has acquired the Aircommand RV air-conditioning business. It has also released a new range of airconditioners under the FreshJet banner, developed in conjunction with LG. These are claimed to be smaller, lighter and more efficient

A custom off-road 5th wheeler from Trailblazers garnered plenty of attention, as did Swift’s ‘tailgated’ Rio, which we look at next issue.


Show Report | 61

Trakka’s Alex and Alister Berry look like they have the family owned company’s future well in hand. Right: This Thule platform bike rack also tilts with the bike/s in place to allow boot access. Clever!

and include a ‘soft start’ function that reduces current draw on start up, making them ideal for running off generators. It will be interesting to see what the final number of visitors numbers turn out to be. iMotorhome, like many exhibitors, believes there are too many RV shows in Australia now and that something has to give. Although it seems unlikely the major city shows will go, their high costs, long durations and falling attendance are making the shorter, cheaper but more frequent regional shows significantly more attractive. We guess only time will tell, but the first sign will be exhibitors voting with their feet. Interesting times…


62 | Mobile Tech

What makes you Appy? A selection of the interesting and unusual‌ By Emily Barker


Mobile Tech | 63

W

hen it comes to software rich devices the iPad is one of the best, although to be fair the Google play store actually contains more active apps than iTunes. With over 60,000 new apps uploaded every month the world of mobile digital software is one that is still rapidly gaining momentum. Would you believe there is now even an app to make apps? Codea lets you write code and publish apps directly from your iPad or Tablet. Recently, smart device usage surpassed TV consumption, web activity and even time spent on desktop or laptop computers. The incorporation of apps into Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 8 is indicative of just how serious our relationship is with handheld devices. “There's an App for that!” a modern catch phrase born with the smartphone, but one that resonates across many areas of our busy lives. As a result of this growing

technology there is now an app available for pretty much everything, and if there isn’t there probably will be soon! Some obviously are better than others and like any product, quality and usefulness varies a great deal. While games and entertainment make up a large proportion of all apps many are focused on productivity and utility, and gradually some of these are making their way to the top of the charts. The range of functions an app can perform is also increasing as technology develops. The following is a brief list of some weird, wonderful and often obscure apps! Cardiograph Price: $2.49 Size: 26.4 MB iOS and Android devices Personal heart rate monitors are not really a new thing and they can range in price from $50 to $150 dollars, but one that works using your mobile phone is certainly a little novel. Cardiograph measures your heart rate utilising the camera lens as a sensor; simply placing your fingertip over the camera records your pulse. Results can be saved for future reference and multiple profiles can be created to accommodate several people. Results can even be emailed or printed. The reasons for downloading this type of app can be quite varied and while there is an obligatory liability disclaimer regarding accuracy, it seems to be quite accurate. Whether you use it while exercising, to detect and monitor stress or if you have a heart-related medical condition (or just out of curiosity) it’s a handy little app. RunPee.com Price: Free Size: 22.3 MB iOS & Android devices Cinemas these days don’t have a good old fashioned intermission, which is a little weird when you think about it as movies are getting significantly longer. While the need to switch


64 | Mobile Tech film reels may no longer exist the need to pee certainly does –especially when a three hour movie is not an uncommon experience. Enter RunPee, which is something of an oddball app that pretty much lets you know when the best time is to make a run for the bathroom during a movie without missing the best scenes! Not only will it subtly alert you with a non-audible vibration so as not to disturb anyone else, it also provides a complete synopsis of events you have missed! There are obviously enough sensitivebladdered cinephiles downloading this app to make it a viable business as the app is updated the day movies are released in cinemas. Amazing! Melon Meter Price: $2.48 Size: 7.6MB iOS & Android devices Now we must be pretty lucky in Australia because when the app was launched in 2011 the world went a little nuts for this perfect watermelon detecting tool. Me personally, I’ve never encountered an unripe or over ripe watermelon, but maybe I’m just secretly talented? We all know to tap the watermelon to hear if it’s ripe (we do? – Ed), well this app has turned that theory into a “scientifictechnological algorithm”. It allows your iPhone via its microphone to analyse the signal produced by thumping a watermelon and informs you of its suitability. Who would have thought! Now unless you have a seriously hard time selecting ripe watermelons I would not recommend actually purchasing this app, however it is a wonderful example of app obscurity!

Police Scanner 5-0 Price: Free ($1.99 with advert removal upgrade) Size: 9MB iOS & Android devices Scanners have been used for years by journalists and curious eavesdroppers and now app technology allows the curious to listen in on the process of law enforcement in real time. It appears police scanner apps available are a result of socially-based technology overtaking police technology, combined with difficulties in authorities communicating with one another using digital or encrypted channels. Offering coverage of more than 2500 police, fire, air, sea, rail and rescue live-feeds from literally all over the world, Police Scanner 5-0 is an app intriguing to many. It’s certainly a bizarre experience to listen in on day-to-day police activity anywhere from Cairns to Chicago!


Mobile Tech | 65 It’s important to note too that sensitive information is either relayed through locally encrypted channels or via telephone, certainly never over these publicly accessible frequencies. Many popular channels are listed or you can search by region or use your GPS to find the nearest frequencies available to you. While it is legal to listen to police communications, information cannot be passed on to a second party or published. Technically, listeners could find themselves in trouble if sharing private information or providing tip-offs to others. You have been warned – but enjoy! Shazam Price: Free Size: 38.0 MB iOS & Android devices “What’s that song?” tune recognition has an app. In fact the company behind this app has been around since 1999 and it seems technology has finally caught up with its vision. Shazam uses a massive database to identify a ten second recording – called a ‘fingerprint’ – of any music playing around you. This is called ‘tagging’. If you don’t have a data connection, Shazam will save your tag and attempt to identify it when you reconnect. Once you have tagged a song you are able to view all sorts of information about it. You can play a sample of the song, follow the lyrics, read the artist bio, view their discography, share with others or watch the song’s music video. This app is always being updated and can now even tell you what TV show is playing in the background! Its free to download, free to use and can prove quite useful if music is a passion. Shazam Encore is the company’s advert-free product costing $7, but doesn’t include any extra features.


66 | Next Issue

A Day in Rio!

huge lift-up tailgate. From the inside it literally brings the outdoors in, while from outside it provides unimpeded access for loading bicycles, passengers or whatever. A fully imported English motorhome built on a Fiat Ducato with the smallest engine and a manual gearbox, it will be interesting to see if it’s really up to the rigours of life Down Under.

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ish we could say we’re jetting off to Brazil! The truth is we’re ‘flying’ out to Sydney RV in Penrith, in Sydney’s West, for a quick visit to get to know the brand new Swift Rio. An interesting design that blurs the boundaries between coach built and van conversion, the Rio’s key feature is a April 17-19

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Issue 71 will be out on 2 May and will, of course, include more. Like a look inside the AL-KO factory in Melbourne and how they engineer specialised motorhome chassis specifically for Australia. Until next issue why not join our more Friends and Twitter than Facebook followers to share the laughs, fun and news. See you in two weeks!

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2015 South Queensland Caravan & Camping Expo

Mackay Home Show & Caravan, Camping Expo

Hunter Valley Caravan & Camping Show

Nambour Showgrounds Coronation Ave, Nambour. Qld. 4560 • Open 9:00-5:00 daily • Parking: Free • Adults: $10 • Seniors: $8 • Kids: School age free with adult

Mackay Showgrounds Mackay. Qld. 4740 • Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Not specified • Adults: $10 • Seniors: $8 • Kids: U16 free with adult

Maitland Showgrounds Maitland. NSW. 2320 • Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Not specified • Adults: $15 • Seniors: $11 • Kids: U16 free with adult

Visit Website

Visit Website

Visit Website Click for Google Maps

Click for Google Maps

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.

Profile for iMotorhome Magazine

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 70 - 18 April 2015  

Get a FREE subscription from our website!

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 70 - 18 April 2015  

Get a FREE subscription from our website!

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