From work ute to campervan in 100 stages
We initially bought the Toyota (a 1985 Cab Chassis Ute) in 1992. She has very much been a work truck and mobile tool box but the long term plan was always to make the necessary modifications to enable her to be fully self sufficient for 4 wheel drive trips. She was 7 years old when we bought her and still had the plastic on the door skins. The previous owner (Doug Jones) had taken very good care of her, God knows if he’d recognize her now though!
The first change was to remove the Ute tray and cut the head board off. This gave us room behind the cab to install the 2 tanks –water capable of carrying 150 litres, and diesel 110. A sheet of 4mm alloy was then bolted to the chassis giving us a good base plate for the tanks to sit on and on which to install the trundle box of 2.2 m x 950mm (width) x260mm (height). This runs the length of the tray and gives us a vast amount of extra storage space enough for 2 surf boards, tools and sundry other extra provisions
When re-installing the tray we moved it back by 300mm and raised the tray 125mm. The next big challenge was planning the tray layout to incorporate the canopy. We made a frame to bolt to the underside of the canopy, from 1.2mm roofing perlin which is made from high tensile steel perfect for the job. The perlin had to be 280mm in height to give us clearance to put in the 80 litre Engel fridge as well as giving us sufficient headroom up top. The back perlin frame had to be cut and hinged to form a tailgate to allow access to the fridge.
My mate Damo of Colloray Plumbing gave me heaps of help setting up the tanks. First we mounted a Sureflow 2000 series pump with 2 inlets and 3 outlets. This enables us to either pump water from the water tank or take water directly from a creek or other water source on the inlet side. On the outlet side one outlet is connected to the water purifier, the second outlet is connected to the Glynn Hot Water Heat Exchanger which is mounted in the engine bay for hot water showers. The 3rd outlet is for cold water showers which thus far has been used far more than the hot showers one though this may change!
The next stage was setting up the dual battery system which was needed to provide battery power for the fridge via the solar panel. The fridge is an 80 litre Engel and since first installed (now 2 years ago) it has run every day without fail. Engel also kindly provided us with a console fridge which will be really useful, thanks guys. Check out Engel’s products in the link on our sponsors page.
We then installed 2 rhino racks on the cab roof and attached a small basket which contains the awning, and other tarps and recovery gear. The lid of the basket is an 80 watt solar panel with a frame around it for strength which is hinged to the front edge of the basket creating a fasten able lid. A third Rhino roof rack provides a surface on which to attach the lock to fasten the lid. George Adney a marine electrician was a huge help providing input and knowledge on the electrical side of things. Thanks George.
We would like to thank some other companies for their assistance in making this project possible. Fifteen years ago I installed a Hayman Reese tow bar which supports the rack which carries our 2nd spare tyre (very important!) and it is truly bullet proof. We also have a Hayman Reece lockable pin giving us extra security. Paul and Kate at North coast Tidy Car tinted all our windows, helpful for both security and heat reduction. They also provided good advice for detailing the car to keep us on the right side of the quarantine guys as we cross various borders. Mike and Dolores at Territory Materials Handling were very helpful providing all our heavy duty plastic storage containers in which we store all our food camping gear and clothes. Finally Howard and his team at Aussie Signs added the finishing touches in the sign writing. Thanks to you all guys- please go to our sponsors page to find the location of these companies or check out your nearest stockiest.