Is a demountable the right choice for me?

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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby sabconsulting » 08 Dec 2016 22:22

As I mentioned above, I have been pleased with my 2007 Ranger supercab.

Jim noted that his Ranger has plenty of power, and if you look at the 2007 it is significantly more powerful than Jim's - so that should give you a fairly comfortable feeling.

Supercabs are more difficult to find than double cabs, but as I said before, if you don't need to carry extra adults regularly, the ability to load the camper further forward of the axle makes a big difference to weight distribution and reduces bending stress on the chassis. Whether you go for a supercab or double cab, make sure you get a camper that is suitable for it - you don't want lots of camper hanging out of the back of the pickup. So a supercab will allow you to safely carry a bigger camper than a double cab. The trick is to look at a camper on a pickup truck and in your mind's eye try to visualise where the centre of gravity of the camper is (find some pictures of campers and practice - you'll soon get your eye in and be able to spot ones with poor weight distribution - they just look wrong once you know what you are looking for). You want that centre of gravity over the rear axle, or ideally slightly ahead of it. You will find that in most cases it is probably slightly behind the rear axle. If when you look it appears to be way behind the rear axle then that is putting too much stress on the chassis and risks cracking it. If the camper looks about right on a supercab, then it will likely be wrong on a double-cab (CoG too far aft).

Solar: This is a good idea. If doing it don't mess around. You're going to have to drill holes, fit cabling, buy a controller, etc. So there is no point putting a small wattage panel in and then going back and adding another one when you find it is insufficient. I have 2 panels totalling 160w. I suggest something similar or greater than that. Remember that my panels will generate 160w when clean, at mid day, on the equator! If a bit dirty on a partially cloudy day up here at 52 degrees north in late afternoon in September you'll be getting a fraction of that.

Things you need:

Really thick cable: Don't be fooled by saying "oh, it is 10 amps, so this 2-core mains cable will be sufficient". The amperage rating of cable is to ensure the cable does not get so hot at the rated amperage that it starts a fire. But mains cable is thin enough that it will cause a resistive loss, even if not so much that it gets the cable hot. And you cannot afford to squander your hard won solar power on inefficient cables. Proper solar panel cable looks closer to starter motor cable in diameter (OK, maybe not that thick but you know where I am going) - to minimise the resistive losses. And while you are at it, keep that cable run as short as you can. Double the length of cable and you are doubling the amount of power being lost through the cable.

You need a solar charge controller. Get an MPPT one. These eek the most power out of the panels, while the cheaper PWM controllers waste power because they cannot convert it due to their simpler electronics. I have a very good CTEK D250S DC to DC charger. It is an excellent piece of kit - one side connects to your truck (without needing a charge relay), a second side connects to the solar, and the output goes to your camper battery. It then optimises power coming from the truck alternator and solar and feeds it through a built-in multi-stage intelligent battery charger to your camper battery. If the truck isn't running it doesn't drain the truck battery. If the camper battery is full and it has spare solar it charges your truck battery from the solar :D . About £200, but worth it.

Isolator: Fit an isolator so you can disconnect the solar power to the solar controller, in case you need to do maintenance on the system during daylight.

Battery: If you can fit 2 batteries in parallel then perfect. Ideally a couple of hundred amp hours in total. Don't mix battery types, sizes or ages. Get at least a "leasure battery", but expect to have to replace every few years. Proper deep cycle batteries are expensive, as are AGM batteries, but can be discharged more deeply and more often.

Battery monitor: Without one of these you have no idea of how much charge remains in your battery. And if you don't know the state of charge you are in danger of either overestimating and running the battery below 50% charge and killing it (unless it is an expensive AGM or lithium), or underestimating and sitting in the dark even though you had plenty of battery power. You can buy a cheap battery monitor that just reads voltage (or just read the voltage using a voltmeter and work it out), but for those to work you need to turn off everything that is pulling out of or charging the battery. If it is daylight the solar will be pulling the battery voltage up and will therefore cause the battery to look fuller than it is; if you are running lights etc then they will be pulling the voltage down. A better bet is a device like the Victron monitor I use (about £100). It measures the amps going in and out of the battery, and once programmed with the battery size can keep a track of its state of charge. So whenever you look at the display you can see how much power is left and therefore if you need to ration your use of electricity. Knowledge is power :lol:

Consider what is using your battery power: Change any incandescent bulbs in the camper to LEDs. Avoid running stuff off inverters unless you have to. Consider if you need to charge camera / phone batteries now, or wait until the truck is running tomorrow. If you can do something using propane rather than electricity, use propane. But the big killer is compressor fridges. I like compressor fridges - they work like your fridge at home, get cold quickly, maintain a temperature even in the hottest climates and work even when parked at 30 degrees. But they draw a lot of current - maybe 6 or more amps when the compressor is running. A propane fridge, as traditionally used in caravans, lacks the above advantages, but won't drain your battery.

Steve.
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby derestrictor » 09 Dec 2016 17:44

Hello Rob its by far the best way to get these questions answered at this stage and you do have them all jotted down,
definitely use the brains-trust here abouts though and don't forget that cheap damp meter when you do go and look at used campers (invaluable bargaining tool)
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby RobYorkshire » 15 Dec 2016 01:34

Really appreciate the replies gents, thank you.

I'll definitely be looking for a super cab model of a pickup to minimise any chassis damage. I was hoping a double cab Ranger and one of the Northstar 700DLX / Skarosser EC6L models would be an ideal "safe" combination but it seems fulltimers Chris & Rachel have suffered the dreaded chassis problems. Sure I read a post on here from Tony saying the same for him too.

The cylinder head also seems a fairly common issue on the Ford trucks too, I appreciate most people take to the Internet when they have a problem rather than to sing praise but a quick Google brings up lots of forum posts on it.

I've ruled Navaras out, Isuzu Rodeo's seem quite high priced for what they are. The L200 is in budget, will have to research them. Same goes for a Hilux, albeit it'll have slightly higher miles.

I must admit, part of me is tempted to go for a LWB Sprinter or similar and work on converting it myself. Would work out a lot cheaper, probably just as capable in 90% of situations (always the option to convert to 4x4 and install a lift kit too) and would allow me to build the interior to my fancy, however buying something "off the shelf" and ready to go, really does appeal. Hmmmmm, decisions!

I'm not keen on the idea of travelling abroad to buy although this is looking like the common thing to do? I've been checking eBay and on here on a daily basis and nothing really suitable coming up although I suppose it's the wrong time of year. A look back through the for sale thread shows some old adverts that would be suitable, and in budget, so I guess it's just a case of waiting.

Itching to get something and get on my travels! I've spent the last 2 days working on a map of climbing / cycling / kayaking spots along with possible stopover places across the Highlands, so that'll be my first month away!
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby zildjian » 15 Dec 2016 09:24

Think you are absolutely on right track for what its worth
and resale aside developing a tailor-made rig is a great idea, European sales are popular and We only feature known makes as a rule as they are usually still manufactured so parts if needed are available.
If you like, Jens at the in Germany has a building full of campers you can fly and check out
or another centre in Southern France run by Wilco Lensen offers most of the French manufactured units
both have arranged hotels & transfers in the past for prospective customers, other that that there are many private sales as you can see.

UK offer possibly 4-5 outlets for new & used campers and of course our members are happy to see you on a weekend for a look over our range for ideas and advice
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby RobYorkshire » 16 Dec 2016 15:48

Thanks for the links, Wilco Lensen seem to have quite a few within budget. Apart from the known makes they stock, the rest are made by them? How do these compare to the likes of Northstar and Skarosser models?

I was hoping 10k would get me a decent camper, 5k on a truck and then a couple of grand on installing solar, any little tweaks to the camper plus the various accessories I'll be needing like camping chairs, a portable stove and so on. Although I'm a bit reluctant to plough that sort of money into something I have no idea if I'll get on with! Hopefully a visit to Niche RV will make up my mind.
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby RobYorkshire » 16 Dec 2016 15:57

Spotted this on eBay which would have been ideal if a supercab. I think a single can just wouldn't cut it due to lack of storage. Anyone on here?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DEMOUNTABLE-C ... SwPCVYAPHG

I presume the Northstar 850 is no longer made as I can't find much online about it?

Found this video on YouTube which says it's the largest model available, I'm guessing this would extend too far back even on a supercab?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhVzs8u3Hgc

(Look so purposeful with a lift kit and snorkel!)

Another one of his - this time with a L200.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYrhVdRmOJ0

Does anyone know who he is? Seems to build demountable rigs / expedition vehicles going on his YouTube channel.
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby zildjian » 16 Dec 2016 17:24

OK Hi.
Wilco mainly deals in used campers
He offers a range that will include everything you've seen here except Apollo and Northstar because they aren't widely seen in France,
In terms of construction design and robustness
I'll rank commonly seen campers:
Tischer/SKarosser
Loge/Clemenson/Northstar/Shadow cruiser [](rare)[/i]
Ranger..



& Apollo

In answer to 'knowing if you like the idea or not' I would have to suggest not buying something with a damp problem unless you are both patient and good on tools to repair
Instead dig deeper and buy something with resale value as Jim did with his Northstar, use it for a year or so then either buy up or move on,
I say this as time and again people have honestly bought problems from UK manufactured. Campers and had a negative experience
By all means take some weekends to come and visit members campers and buy a cheap damp meter for viewing campers for sale

(Might add visiting Niche will certainly answer some customer service questions for you quite comprehensively)
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby zildjian » 16 Dec 2016 17:47

On the 850 Greg at Niche marketing could answer your questions, the L200 & Apollo was put together by a member here and ultimately bought by another one but as a case in point it finally went the way of many of those and rotted away largely
(I saw it earlier this year)

The video is quite old now and when I last spoke to Him He explained the main projects a van campers and then demountable's as and when there's time
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby RobYorkshire » 17 Dec 2016 01:00

Yeah I must admit I'm in two minds:

1. Aim for a high end model such as a Skarosser EC6 / Nordstar 6S / Easycamper (?) with all bells and whistles. I think if I got one "ready to roll" with the interior more towards how I want it and options already fitted such as solar, bike rack etc I'd be much more inclined to use it and be more willing to live with the compromises / downsides.

2. Get a cheap (but sound) model to get a feel for things. If I have to start adding solar, racks, rebuilding the interior and so on I think all the compromises / downsides would start stacking up, and I'd be less likely to get on with it. Also, If I'm putting money into addons and repairs I might as well go for something better in the first place, eg I saw rubberrats old post where he sold his old EC6 for around 13k, which would have been 31k new.

It wouldn't be so bad if I had the pickup to begin with but as I'll be buying that too, it's an additional expense. Fair enough I'll get some money back from selling my current daily driver but it's just more hassle.

In an ideal world I'd manage to get a Skarosser at an absolute bargain price :lol:

I've managed to dig out some old pages on the 700, 750 and 850 models which might be of use to others:

http://www.niche-marketing.net/700dl-plan.htm
http://www.niche-marketing.net/750dl-plan.htm
http://www.niche-marketing.net/850dl-plan.htm

(I think I'm just about getting my head around all the different models / codes!)
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby zildjian » 17 Dec 2016 09:50

thank you for the Northstar specs I'll add those to the buyers guide as they always useful in comparison.

Easycamper is the french title for French marketing of SKarosser,
and (confusingly) 'Nordstar' the German title,
here in UK Nolan Rumsby a member here imported them as 'NSR' which is still a vinyl advertising on rear of campers seen on sale.

Agree on financial terms, buying too cheaply almost invariably doesn't sit well so if you are in a position to buy better then suggest you do,
as Steve mentioned earlier add solar and try and do it the once, on a SKarosser you can double up on batteries as I have and thats enough capacity for a few days off-grid

plenty of practical help, advice & offers of camper views so no need to buy blind
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