My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

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My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby RobYorkshire » May 28th, 2017, 3:59 pm

After months and months of flitting between a campervan, expedition vehicle or demountable I eventually settled on a demountable. Due to a change in circumstances, I had to pretty much half my 15k budget. I had initially thought I'd get a suitable pickup and then eventually a demountable when funds allowed. After months of searching I couldn't really find anything (how rare are supercabs?!), until I spotted a Ford Ranger and Suntrekker combo on eBay. (Maybe someone here recognises it?) I only really wanted the truck as it ticked all the boxes - supercab, airbag suspension and a custom loadbed specifically designed for carrying campers. The camper is quite basic compared to what I was after but the seller was reluctant to split. I bit the bullet and went for them both, thinking I could always get a years use out of it and then sell for something a little bigger and more luxurious.

I'd never actually seen a demountable before and upon getting the Suntrekker home, I'm starting to think a "full size" option such as a Northstar would be a tad too big / heavy for long term use on the truck. The bonus of the Suntrekker is as well as the lower weight, there's still room down the sides of the truck that can be used for additional storage. The downside is no separate toilet / washroom. This is fine for when I'm on my own as I can always use the porta potti in the camper, but if I go away with the Mrs we have to pitch up a toilet tent - we're obviously not that close yet! :lol: Not too much of a problem, but it sort of limits our wild camping opportunities which is a shame. I've bought a 12V shower and collapsable bucket which is a rough and ready solution, but gives the chance for a shower if we're wilding for a few days, or in between sites.

2003 Ford Ranger 2.5TD Super Cab
Airbag suspension
Custom loadbed with aluminium dropsides
Uprated Osram headlights
Bravo snorkel
Heavy duty Varta battery with split charge system to charge leisure batteries
LED reversing lights that can also be switched on permanently
Cooper Discoverer STT tyres

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Suntrekker Camper
Compressor fridge
Eberspacher D3 heater
2x 110Ah leisure batteries
1x 75W solar panel
3 burner hob and grill
2 sofas transforming into a double bed
A single bed that slides out from the overcab space
LED lights

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I gave it a good clean and then set about some small jobs. First off was some sort of covering for the skylights and door window. They’re a lot more effective than the photos suggest!

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A friend was having a new carpet fitted and had some spare so I took it to lay down on the area above the cab. The table and storage boxes will be getting moved around regularly so it’ll save scratching the floor. Ties in pretty well!

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We then set off for a trial weekend to Lake Semerwater in the Yorkshire Dales. The leisure batteries are pretty much shot, but a couple of hours driving there provided enough charge to run the fridge all weekend although I did turn it off overnight to play it safe. Despite it being a cold miserable weekend, we had a great time! I had wondered if we’d be cramped but there was enough space to be comfortable. Half hour of running the Eberspacher D3 heater of an evening was enough to keep us toasty all night. This also seemed to use very little diesel. The fact it’s fitted with a diesel heater is a big plus in my eyes as it means the gas will be used strictly for cooking helping to prolong usage. The only thing we found was a pain was the small water tank, I reckon it must only be about 15L. Not a problem if on a campsite but I’m intending to do as much wild camping as possible. I’ve got plenty of empty 5L water bottles so I think next time I’ll fill a few of those up and they can sit in the side of the truck until needed. I also think I’ll remove the slide out single bed from the overcab area as the double is more than sufficient and it’ll help save weight.

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Things to do:

Replace leisure batteries - before I do this I want to check over all the wiring from the solar panel. No point fitting new batteries to find out they’re not being topped up.

Fix sink mechanism - The strut that allows the sink to fold up is broken. It looks like a Seitz window mechanism, so it shouldn’t be too hard to pick one up.

Look at USB charging points - the current ones work fine however each one has an annoying blue LED light that’s constantly on. Rather than just tape over them, I’d like to either replace them with ones that don’t have the light, or look at isolating them so I can turn them off properly.

They’re the essentials for now. The trucks MOT is due in July so I’ll be saving for any work that needs doing then. Once that’s out the way I can look at other modifications / improvements.

Other things I’d like to do are fit a bike rack - not sure if possible? I’m also thinking about wrapping it in a camouflage style wrap. I don’t mind the current grey but it could do with tidying up a little. I also want to fit another solar panel, or at least a higher rated one to replace the one that’s currently there so I don’t have to worry about power.

All in all, I think a demountable was definitely the right way forward. Looking forward to many trips away. Will continue to update as and when I do bits to it :)
Ford Ranger 2.5TD Super Cab 4x4 & Suntrekker Demountable
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby zildjian » May 28th, 2017, 5:06 pm

Interesting write up Rob thanks, thats a useful lightweight combination, Suntrekkers appear to be very much sought after just lately,
the lack of washing being a small trade off against weight and almost utterly dry inside

LED's on all night are an annoyance I agree though till now I've either unplugged anything or as you say 'taped over' to ignore them.
If you're about in June bring it along to Yorkshire We'd love to look over the camper and truck as those especially are rare
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby Alexd » May 28th, 2017, 5:51 pm

Cannot be a lot of those Ford superb about, seen a few hilux and maybe Nissan among the tree surgeon community!

congrats it looks a good set up, as you say there is still extra space outside beside camper for water etc if needed and that diesel night heater is a bonus, they usually just sip diesel on trucks overnight not that i'd expect you would need it in such a small space anyway
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby Big Jim » May 28th, 2017, 7:44 pm

Great outfit . The Suntrekker is hard to beat !
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby Big Jim » May 28th, 2017, 8:00 pm

Do you have the "Aires" book of free/small charge camper sites in France ? If not let me know which areas you are going to and I will send some info .

Sorry , wrong place !
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby derestrictor » May 29th, 2017, 6:10 pm

Hello rob welcome to the site, i can see why you bought that outfit, that looks brilliant

well done!
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby sabconsulting » May 30th, 2017, 5:42 pm

You have acquired an excellent truck and camper combination there.

I love the dropside / flatbed.

Decent weight distribution with that lighter camper on the supercab truck. The truck itself has the simpler engine which could be a bonus (I have the later model and I wouldn't like to try to fix much on its engine - DOHC, 16 valve, variable geometry turbo-charging, fly-by-wire, etc.).

The camper is strong, easily fixable being fibreglass rather than fancy laminates, waterproof, compact enough for a bit of offroading.

All the negatives can be worked around.

Bathroom - We don't have a bathroom on our larger American Shadow Cruiser. Initially I experimented with what we referred to as "the poo tent", but that was hassle. Now we have realised that using the portapotty inside is not a problem - one person can go outside to provide some privacy.

Water - you might consider carrying 5-litre bottles of drinking water behind the cab - good place for weight distribution, and means you aren't drinking water from the camper tank which might not be that clean. 5 litre water bottles can be filled easily even when you can't get the camper close to a water tap. The rear of the cab is a great storage area. If you need more space you can liberate quite a bit by removing the folding rear seats.

Leisure batteries - they don't have a long lifespan anyway as they don't really like being discharged much. Check you have a good intelligent mains battery charger to maintain the batteries when plugged into the mains, without over-charging them. A good quality battery monitor is a very useful tool for maintaining your batteries. They can be around £100 for a good one (e.g. Victron that calculates running state of charge), but they allow you to check you are not draining your batteries too low and hence manage usage to avoid killing the batteries. Having solar is great because it will maintain your batteries and prevent them going flat when not using the camper. Check you have a proper charge controller in there (PWM is OK, but for optimum efficiency consider a MPPT controller). Try to avoid getting down to 50% charge and certainly don't go lower unless you have very expensive AGM batteries instead (or Lithium). No point buying 2 new batteries and then killing them in no time - hence worth sorting out the charging and monitoring. Remember to replace both batteries at the same time with identical batteries to avoid one battery pulling the other down.

Obviously colour is your choice, but I think the grey looks quite cool.

Excellent purchase.

Steve.
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby RobYorkshire » June 1st, 2017, 12:28 pm

Lots of positive comments :)

The supercab was hunted out especially for the weight distribution aspect that you stressed on my first thread Steve, plus the additional advantage of extra storage space is always welcome. A single cab model would have been too limiting as even though we're trying to be mindful of unnecessary luggage, it's surprising how much stuff you accumulate. The toilet tent, outside chairs, table and BBQ all live in the back at the moment and on future trips, additional water bottles. We buy 5L bottles for drinking and just use the campers tank for things like washing up but it's surprising how quickly you can get through it.

In all honesty the bathroom issue isn't a huge deal breaker compared to the other advantages the Suntrekker gives us. We use a pop-up tent so it's only a couple of minutes to pitch up / down, and I think once the bed is down there wouldn't be enough remaining room to put the portapotti out if one of us needed the loo in the night. It can also double up as somewhere to shower if needs be, although I'm keeping an eye on your thread Jim and looking forward to seeing what you conjure up.

Onto the electrics, I've read up on the battery monitors and charge controllers and they seem like very worthwhile purchases. There's a Solsum 8.8F controller in there at the moment. I know the current batteries have pretty much had it but I'd have thought the solar panel would have held them at the last remaining voltages as they're not under load - they seem to have dropped from just under 12V down to 9V according to the (basic) battery meter over the last few weeks. Electric hook up works, but only powers the 2x 240V sockets inside which is a shame, it'd have been nice if it included the fridge too. Switching the inverter on and off didn't seem to make any difference with hook up disconnected, I'm hoping this is just because the batteries are too low, although the lights are still working. I haven't got a clue where electrics are concerned so before spending on new batteries, it might be a good idea to take it somewhere where everything can be checked and maybe given an overhaul to work how I'd like them. If anyone has any recommendations for somewhere close to Yorkshire that'd be appreciated.

From what I understand, I need to fit a DC to DC charger to get the best out of the current alternator to leisure batteries system (preferably with an input for the solar panels - would this replace the current charge controller or work alongside it?) and also a intelligent mains charger, to charge the batteries when I'm at home or on site?

The only other issue is a flashing glow plug (old style EML) symbol on the dash which I've read can be anything from a simple wiring issue, through to a dodgy injector, and everything in between. The truck starts instantly, pulls fine, and doesn't smoke at all so I'm confident it's nothing mechanical. Will need to investigate further.

Recent purchases are a collapsable washing up bowl, the standard sink is tiny and this will allow us to wash up outside, and a Gelert folding table for outside. Lightweight, sturdy and just the right height, perfect. :)
Ford Ranger 2.5TD Super Cab 4x4 & Suntrekker Demountable
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby keeflester » June 5th, 2017, 8:39 am

I used to get that warning light on my Supercab Ranger. Best I could figure it related to getting dirty fuel, but it never stopped anything from working.
2003 Ford Ranger 2.5 TD 109 Supercab, sold to Simon
Tandy Pony, sold
Northstar 750, sold
K33F-built Penthouse Pee Pod, sold to Simon with the Ranger
Built the lozenge for my wee sister, its now finished and in regular use
Now converting a blue Tranny.
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Re: My Ranger & Suntrekker - Intro / Updates

Postby RobYorkshire » June 28th, 2017, 11:13 am

I thought about running an injector cleaner through the tank or filling up with V-Power diesel for a couple of tanks. I think I'll change the fuel filter too as they're only a few quid so worth a try. The thing is I can't tell if it's in some sort of limp mode or whether it's just slow :lol:

I've had another trip up to the Dales recently. We stopped at Semerwater again for the first night. I'm sure it's always raining here!

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We then drove to the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail and spent the afternoon there. It's only 4.5 miles long but with the inclines and declines and multiple viewing points it pads an afternoon out nicely.

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From here it was on to Seat House campsite which I'd found online. As stated previously, I intend to do as much wild camping as possible but these "certified sites" from the C&CC are an ideal compromise, allowing a maximum of 5 vehicles on site. Facilities were spotless, and allowed us to have a shower / dump the waste. I would definitely recommend Seat House if anyone is in the area.

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The next morning we drove the short distance to Malham for a walk up to the cove, up around the tarn and then back down via Gordale Scar. Due to the recent rainfall the water levels at the Scar were a bit too high to descend down (without getting extremely wet) so we had to turn back and find another route. 10 miles all in, to say I was relieved to get back to the car park and see the truck waiting for us was an understatement! :lol:

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We were intending to head back to Semerwater but I thought sod it, I'll see if there's any "wild" spots nearby. I remember seeing a couple of parking areas up on Buttertubs Pass the last time I drove over it and headed that way. Our first choice was getting the wind with the demountable rocking slightly, it probably would have been fine but I didn't want to settle down and then have to move later if it got worse so I headed further up the road and found a spot on the opposite side of the road which was more sheltered. The other half was a bit wary but I assured her we'd be fine. Both the police and park rangers drove past without battering an eyelid. It turned out to be a great find, as it got later the rabbits came out and were running around the truck and we had the sound of the stream in the background. I think there's something about the wild spots that are even more special.

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The next morning we drove along to Aysgarth Falls before heading home. I was really impressed that the batteries held out as they desperately need replacing. It seems that an hour or two driving a day will keep enough charge in them to keep the compressor fridge running nicely.

MPG is a little disappointing at 20MPG. That included 130 miles sitting at 55MPH behind trucks on the motorway, and 140 miles around the Dales which admittedly was pretty much constant hills. The truck was empty too other than a bag of clothes each and some food.

I mentioned I wanted to fit a battery charger to allow me to top the batteries up when stopping on a site, or say for example at home the night before we go away. Powerpart chargers have been recommended time and time again, so I think I'll be going with one of them, probably the 20A version. I looked into the CTEK ones but wanted something rigged up where I could just connect the hook up lead and forget about it.

http://www.homesteadcaravans.co.uk/acce ... ormer-.htm

The cheapest price I've seen it is £93 delivered, and then depending on how complicated it looks, I'll be getting a mobile caravan servicing guy to fit it. I can look for some new batteries and I should then be all set.

I had a problem this weekend where a leg failed when demounting. There's some sort of tension pin that runs through the bolt that you use to raise / lower, and the cog, and this had disintegrated. It was a major "oh shit' moment and I had visions of it costing big money! Luckily I measured it up and bought a pack of 5 off eBay for a few quid. Reassembled it and all is well.

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And on a final positive note, the truck passed the MOT this morning with no advisories 8-)

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Last edited by RobYorkshire on June 28th, 2017, 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ford Ranger 2.5TD Super Cab 4x4 & Suntrekker Demountable
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