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CAMPER TRAILER TEST Track Trailer Tvan Murranji

VERDICT

PROS - Lightweight - MC2 suspension - Versatile set-up options

CONS - Noisy tailgate springs - Not suited to a family

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Are the Tvans all they’re cracked up to be? WORDS BY BRENDAN BATTY PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY WARRY 69


CAMPER TRAILER TEST Track Trailer Tvan Murranji

If the weather was bad you could just climb in and shut the door

There are lights all over the place

They are a great trailer for a

single person or couple here aren’t too many camper trailers on the market today that are quite as unique as the Tvan. Looking like a teardrop camper on steroids, a 4WD towing a Tvan will turn heads almost anywhere it goes. In fact, if you were reversing one down a bush track onlookers might even wonder which end is actually doing the towing. In all seriousness though, what are the Tvan’s like off-road? Is their unique MC2 suspension system all it’s cracked up to be, and are they as easy as they say to set up? We were just as interested as you to find out, so borrowed a Murranji from Alan Graham‘s Caravans in Gosford and took it away on one of our trips. Behind our Defender, the Tvan may as well not be there. At only 750kg, there is barely any weight to it and the MC2 suspension lapped up potholes, gravel roads and corrugations. If you couldn’t see it through the rear window,

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you might forget about it. Fitted with Koni shock absorbers and with this highly developed suspension package, we wouldn’t be surprised if riding in the trailer would be more comfortable than most vehicles (we are not condoning or encouraging anyone to put this to the test, however). Off-road when the going gets tougher than you expected (we swear these tracks were easier last time), the compact design of this trailer is most noticeable. The excellent departure angle means that anything our tow vehicle could get down without scraping was going to be easy for the Tvan. If you stop and have a really good look around the camper you will get a good idea of their quality. The combination of steel, alloy and fibreglass construction goes a long way to keeping the weight of this trailer right down, while not compromising its strength or reliability. Everything is really tucked away,

which not only adds to the visual appeal of the camper but means less bits sticking out to get caught on. One of the best aspects of this camper is how versatile it is when you pull into camp. If you are planning on staying for a while, all of the canvas can be set up. On all of the models this includes a full length awning as standard and a wind break for the kitchen. For shorter stays you can just put up the tent, which folds out of the tailgate and sets up easily with the use of only two uprights. The only thing that needs adjusting is the main hoop. On warm nights you have the option of just setting up the flyscreen over the entryway, or you could even just open the hatch climb in and close it all up. This last option would be best suited to a night of terrible weather when setting up a whole tent just seems too hard.

TVAN AT A GLANCE Model: Tvan Murranji Cost: $42,300 ex Melbourne (contact local dealer for interstate delivery price) Hard/Soft Floor: Hard Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.5m x 1.9m x 2.05m Tare Weight (kg): 860kg GVM/ ATM (kg): 1128/1250kg Towball Download (kg): 122kg Material: Fibreglass, powder coated steel and aluminium and timber Coupling: AT35 Axle/Hubs: 1600kg Suspension: Track Trailer’s own Asymmetric Link MC2 Type Independent Coil sprung with Koni shock absorbers Chassis: Track Trailer’s own hot dipped galvanised torque tube chassis

Wheels: 15x7 Steel (standard) but can be matched to tow vehicle Tyres (size and type): 31x10.5x15 Goodyear ATR (standard fitment) but can be matched to tow vehicle Brakes: 10in off-road electric drums Tent Construction: Dynaproofed canvas Interior Accessories: Curtains, high-density foam mattress and liner, side wall pockets, water tank gauge Exterior Accessories: Full-length awning, sail awning, two 70L water tanks, five jerry can holders, two gas bottles, insect screen, stone guards, fire wood rack Electrical: 12V with 50W solar panel, three stage charger and instrument panel Optional Extras: Drawbar extension, innerspring mattress, second battery, annexe walls, under bed storage boxes, outboard motor mount. Contact Track Trailers for a full list of options

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CAMPER TRAILER TEST Track Trailer Tvan Murranji

If you couldn’t see it through the rear window, you might forget about it

We found these springs very noisy when lowering or raising the tailgate

The MC2 suspension is one of the trailer’s best features

OWNER’S OPINION If you have a good eye, you might have recognised Mike’s name and trailer from the Avon Wilderness article in this issue. As one of our travel writers, Mike and his wife Anita do a fair bit of travelling towing their Tvan. We managed to catch up with him while he was stuck at his real job to get the low down on his Tvan. Q: How long have you owned your Tvan? A: We bought it in August 2006. Q: What model did you purchase and what accessories have you had fitted? A: It’s the Canning with the solar panel on the roof. We’ve fitted LED tail and clearance lights, clear skylights in the roof so we can look up into the starry night, a Latex mattress, en suite, draught skirt, awning sides, and a few other bids and bods. Q: What vehicle do you normally tow it with? A: Our GU 3.0L Patrol is our trusty tow vehicle. Q: Where have you taken it? A: Being Melbourne locals we do a lot of trips to the Victorian High Country, but have also been to the Big Desert, Murray Sunset National Park, the Red Centre, Goog’s Track, done the Binns Track from Dalhousie to Alice, The Mereenie Loop from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon, Palm Valley, Fraser Island, and Flinders Ranges.

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Awesome. Can’t wait for the next trip! Q: What made you choose this trailer over the others available? A: Its light weight (750kg dry) and proven off-road capability. Our previous camper was a Track Desert Eagle (soft floor) with the same MC2 suspension, so it was a natural progression to move up to the Tvan with its solid roof and walls and flexible set-up options. Q: Have you had any problems with the trailer? A: None at all Q: Is there any way you think the trailer could be improved? A: Apart from maybe having an easy set-up, self-supporting awning, not really. If they made it bigger and heavier it would compromise what I like so much about it. Q: Is there anything you don’t like about the trailer? A: Anita gets a little claustrophobic so we sleep with our heads facing the back of the camper where there is greater headroom. That requires a backward somersault in the middle of the night to sneak out to the bathroom. You quickly get used to the gymnastics though! Q: Who would you recommend this trailer to? A: They are best suited to a couple with young or no kids, due to their compact size.

For all of its versatility, we can’t imagine these campers being a great choice for a family with a couple of kids. Although there is probably enough floor space for some small kid’s beds, once they got older you would start to run out of room. The other alternative is buying extra canvas for a kid’s room, but this would not be ideal. This is not to take anything away from the Tvan, they are a great trailer for a single person or couple, but maybe not for someone with a family. The kitchen is very spacious and plumbed up to the drawbar mounted gas bottles and twin water tanks. For such a compact design they have managed to include quite a lot of bench space. One criticism we have heard of these trailers is their overall lack of storage areas. While they are quite different to most traditional trailers, there still seemed to be plenty of room under the bed and in the front compartment. With so much included as part of the actual trailer, hopefully your normal load could be significantly reduced. We suppose this all comes down to what you are after in a trailer though. At the end of the last millennium, the Tvan was awarded the Camper Trailer of the Millennium award by the Caravan Industry Association, and has received a fair amount of praise from a lot of other media outlets over the years. While it is a bit early to tell if it will take out the award for this millennium, there is no doubt it is a contender. Starting at around $35,000 for a base model and up to around $45,000 for the Murranji, they are actually quite good value. Track Trailers back their product with a three-year warranty, which is very brave for a product that gets towed behind a 4WD over all sorts of terrain. If they are in your price range and you are looking for a capable trailer for only a couple of people, do yourself a favour and at least have a look.

CONTACTS Track Trailer are located at 403 Dorset Rd, Bayswater, Victoria, 3153 and can be contacted on 1800 69 8826 (1800 MY TVAN) or (03) 8727 6100. For more information check out www.tracktrailer. com.au or email them on sales@tracktrailer.com. au. Thanks to Alan Graham‘s Caravans and RVs in North Gosford for supplying the Tvan for this test. Check out their website www.alangrahams.com.au

T- Time Are the Tvans all they’re cracked up to be?  

There aren’t too many camper trailers on the market today that are quite as unique as the Tvan. Looking like a teardrop camper on steroids,...

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