What to replace my rig with?

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What to replace my rig with?

Postby RobYorkshire » October 2nd, 2018, 12:53 pm

My recent trip to Ireland was the longest I've spent in the camper so far - 1 month covering 2300 miles and it's made me think I'd like to do more long trips, maybe even a year or so at a time.

I love my current setup however I wonder if there's something I could replace it with without compromising on the current advantages.

99% of my trips are "wild camping" all year round - forests, quiet spots along rough tracks and muddy fields along with snow in the winter months, so I consider the 4 wheel drive and probably more importantly - higher ground clearance, a necessary.

There's a few areas I'd like to improve on.

My Suntrekker doesn’t have a wetroom, we’ve managed fine with the porta potti and outdoor shower however having nowhere to dry wet clothes is a problem, especially on longer trips as they stay wet and make the truck or camper seats wet too! I doubt we'd be as inclined to use the outdoor shower on the winter trips too!

The 15L water tank is on the small side for long trips - I usually take a couple of 25L water containers along with me too, but it’d be nice not to have to refill the main tank as often.

The Suntrekker is set up for Campingaz 907 bottles - much more expensive compared to the larger Calor butane bottles, and probably borderline useless on really cold trips (saying that, it worked fine when I was in Wales in minus temperatures). I’d like the option of being able to use Calor propane bottles or perhaps a refillable LPG tank would be more cost effective.

I’m just stuck on what I could get to replace it with. The obvious solution would be a more modern camper unit, but I’m not confident my current truck, a 2003 Ranger would be comfortable with the extra weight. The average MPG is around 20MPG which is probably on the limit of what I can justify if I’m honest - there probably wouldn’t be much difference cost wise in me taking my 3.0 BMW convertible and paying for budget hotels (although I appreciate that’s not what the trips are about but it’s still worth pointing out).

I reckon I’d be looking at say 10k for a more modern, used pickup (then there’s the issue of hunting out a well looked after supercab model - it took months to find my current one), and say 15k for a newer camper. That’s 25k - quite a large amount of money for what is essentially, a small upgrade on my current combo.

The DAF 4x4 army trucks that have been converted to overland campers seem excellent value for money when you consider the amount of kit inside but I'm worried they’d be too big for the small single track roads I often frequent in Scotland and Wales. I’d also have to fork out for my HGV license and then a suitable storage facility. Admittedly MPG would probably be 20% less than what I get now but when you factor in the refillable gas and no need to buy bottled water, overall i'd probably be better off.

There’s the option of a standard panel van but the 4x4 models (mainly Sprinters I’ve seen) seem quite rare and therefore expensive. I’d also have to do the conversion myself and to be honest, I don’t have the time, skills or space to do so. Perhaps a FWD van with a lift kit / AT tyres would be a good compromise but again I’d have to do the camper conversion myself.

I’m currently looking at the American demountables - there’s been a Bigfoot 10.6 on eBay for a few months now at 14k and compared to the smaller European campers, they seem really good value.

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I suspect a suitable American pickup would be much worse on fuel than my current 20MPG but perhaps paired up with a diesel 4x4 van flatbed would be a good idea. This would probably set me back around 35k though which again, makes the proper overland trucks seem a worthwhile buy.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2013-63-MERC ... Sw0rNbOXYG

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https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bigfoot-10-6 ... Sw9LpZz8IM

One of the smaller purpose built 7.5T overland trucks is another option but these are rare as hens teeth. I think I'd be looking at importing from America / Australia which I'd like to avoid.

Has anyone else thought about upgrading / replacing their setup and come up with any other ideas?
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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby zildjian » October 2nd, 2018, 6:07 pm

You really are considering all the options here aren't you,
i can't comment on going up to what is essentially an expedition truck with 4wd, I might have the licence still but no desire for that fuel bill & running costs, pretty sure you'd be into next MOT band probably.

On safer ground with Bigfoot and yes you'll need a suitable gas guzzler to go with it though its width is going to be a shock after your present go-anywhere setup,

so a Jap pickup (but xtracab) which as you say is hard to find,
the camper to go on it probably easier though maximum choice on both German/French market for best price,

used UK market hasn't built up properly yet still
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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby mjb666 » October 2nd, 2018, 9:43 pm

Hi Rob
I was interested to read your actual 20 mpg figure. I have a Mitsubishi L200 Singlecab 2wd with the lowly 88bhp engine and my ancient De-mountable is 1000kg. I get 26-28mpg at the moment and am now looking at getting it re-mapped after reading the walshy ways suggestions.

Over the last ten years i have owned a Nissan Navara Kingcab, re-mapped & 44mpg And two Isuzu's Extended cab's, standard EMU and both returning 45mpg. I'am really pleased with my current Isuzu and will at some point get another De-mountable for it.

Mike.
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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby RobYorkshire » October 2nd, 2018, 10:26 pm

Hi Mike,

Yes, the 20 MPG was a result of my latest trip around Ireland, around 2300 miles. I think the best I've had is around 22 on my 1600 mile trip around the Highlands this summer. Admittedly the an old school engine and brick like aerodynamics don't work in it's favour but I don't drive it hard and was expecting more. However from looking on the Ford Ranger forums it seems that's pretty normal.

Having said that, the engine light has been flashing ever since I bought it with the previous owner saying it was a result of him dislodging a throttle position sensor which was then replaced. These trucks don't have an OBD port which means connecting it up to a diagnostic machine is a nightmare and garages with the necessary equipment are few and far between. I did find a garage not long after I bought it who said the error code was relating to the throttle position sensor, however I don't get TPS symptoms so I'm unsure what to do next. It picks up and pulls fine with no smoke whatsoever, even under heavy load.
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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby RobYorkshire » October 2nd, 2018, 10:36 pm

zildjian wrote:You really are considering all the options here aren't you,
i can't comment on going up to what is essentially an expedition truck with 4wd, I might have the licence still but no desire for that fuel bill & running costs, pretty sure you'd be into next MOT band probably.

On safer ground with Bigfoot and yes you'll need a suitable gas guzzler to go with it though its width is going to be a shock after your present go-anywhere setup,

so a Jap pickup (but xtracab) which as you say is hard to find,
the camper to go on it probably easier though maximum choice on both German/French market for best price,

used UK market hasn't built up properly yet still


Hi Rich,

I'm under the impression these mostly tend to be reregistered as campers and a normal MOT is required. Running costs don't seem to be too bad and with the simple mechanics have the advantage of being able to be fixed anywhere. Deep down though I think this would be overkill for my needs.

I saw a lovely combo up a few months ago on eBay but - a fully restored Unimog 100L with an American "Lance" camper on the back along with custom storage lockers etc. Was up for 20k which is a steal. The Unimog is probably worth that alone.

I do think the American camper is the way to go although I think I'd prefer a diesel van-based flatbed over an American pickup. Admittedly I haven't seen one of these in the flesh to see their true size but it's probably the best option before going up to a full 10T truck.

I'm not comfortable with a European camper on a Jap pickup for long term travel - despite coming in under the payload it's only just, and it feels like you're running the vehicle on the limit all the time which isn't good. Especially once you start factoring in carrying bikes, table, chairs and all the things you'd tend to want for longer trips.
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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby zildjian » October 3rd, 2018, 11:16 am

Unimog/Lance would appear to ✔ the boxes for you, was it this one you saw, we featured it for sale a couple of years back
and I think it went for around that money


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Might have been on sale in Kent I think back then?
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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby WK57ABF » October 3rd, 2018, 7:07 pm

We have recently acquired a Bigfoot camper and are thrilled to bits with the build quality, all the appliances work well ,the generator only has 7 hours on it - we have replaced the front legs with the updated jacks and also replaced the water heater with a dual gas/electric unit,
Another guy that we met at the annual gathering at Celtic Camping has a Bigfoot and i think he said he had owned it for 10 years.
Great campers that suit our full timing lifestyle which does not involve using the vehicle daily - we travel from one campground to the next and the camper sits until we next move on - so MPG is not an issue. We explore the surrounding area by motorcycle/bicycle/walks/bus passes
Please don't dismiss American trucks as expensive, i have been into the American car scene all my life (79) and had various trucks for a few decades now - they are built for really heavy duty abuse, very rarely need spares - 1/4 million mile engines - and some of the gas motors can achieve mpg into the high teens - that Bigfoot camper at Preston is a lot of RV for the money.

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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby Gordmac » October 3rd, 2018, 9:25 pm

Would converting an American truck to gas (proper gas not what they call petrol!) Makes it cheap enough to run?
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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby WK57ABF » October 4th, 2018, 8:23 am

Hi Gordmac - converting to autogas seems to improve mpg figures - have seen some fancy figures banded around - but - the guy who is looking to change his outfit travels to locations where petrol stations are few and far between, and even fewer sell leg.
We use re-fillable propane bottles in our camper and have noticed a decline in garages where autogas is available.

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Re: What to replace my rig with?

Postby sabconsulting » October 6th, 2018, 9:17 pm

Before you jump into spending a lot of money on a much larger truck think carefully about emissions.

If you want to travel to places outside the EU then they are not likely to be a problem, but affordable heavier duty trucks may well not come with Euro-4, let alone Euro-6 emissions. You could end up spending a lot of money on a truck and finding that in the near future you struggle to take it to certain places in Europe.

I went through a similar dilemma the other year. I was considering a 4x4 camper that could replace my current demountable and have a bathroom and greater payload. I fancied building something on a Mercedes Vario chassis. However two things resulted in me making do with a regular pickup truck and camper (i.e. keeping my existing rig):

1) Concern about emission regulations. I've already had to apply for a Critair sticker for France and Umwelt sticker for Germany proving my truck is Euro-4)

2) 3.5 ton weight limits (the Mercedes would have been 7.5 ton gross). On a trip across Europe we looked out for these and they were everywhere.

I decided to park the problem and live with our existing camper. Another consideration is that we could have easily spent £20k+ upgrading, and that is a lot of diesel and therefore a lot of trips. I would rather spend the money travelling (the entire reason for having the camper) than spend the money on a more impressive looking truck and camper leaving little for travelling.

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