Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Spinifex Outback Explorer Needs a New Home

"This Spinifex Outback Explorer 24ft, Off-Road Caravan is Possibly The Most Comprehensively-Equipped & Competent Van in Australia"

This serious off-road caravan is perfect for your travels around Australia ... without having to depend on caravan parks ... or rely on bitumen roads. (We've camped for ten days without having access to external water or power, and did it easily).

Aluminium frame, completely self-contained ...water, power, everything you need ... and it doesn't matter where you want to travel, on-road or totally off-road, your Outback Explorer will take you there and back in absolute comfort and safety.

Snappy Overview...
Model:      Spinifex Outback Explorer Off-Road
Length:     24 ft Ext.  (22" internal)
Colour:     Champagne Powder Coating/Maroon & Black Decals
Year  :      2010 (October)
Chassis     Laminated 2X4" (50mmX 200mm) hot dipped galvanised.
Frame:     Custom riveted aluminium  (No chance of wood rot here)
Tare:       2840Kg (The empty weight)
ATM:        4200Kg (Total allowable weight of the van and contents.  Note: Landcruiser
                   towing maximum 3500Kg)
Ball Wt:    280KG  (Down force exerted on tow ball)
Reg To:     10/2011
Brakes:     12" Electric over hydraulic disc brakes on all four wheels
Wheels:    17 inch, 5-stud Landcruiser
Water:       1X90 litre dedicated drinking plus 3X90 litre shower etc.
Tyres:       275/75R17 Cooper Discover A/T on 17 inch, 5 stud alloy wheels.
Susp:        Vehicle Components Independent Airbag with shock absorbers.
Tow Hitch: Vehicle Components DO45 (4500Kg capacity.)   
Beds:        Custom Made Queen  (6'10" X5'1")
Fridge:      230 litre, 2 door, Vitrifrigo, 12 volt compressor.
Solar:        Three X Kyocera 130 Watt solar panels (Capable of 32 Amp
                charge in full sun)
Batteries:  Three X 120Amp/hr, Absorbed Glass Matt Sealed, 12 volt.
Charger:    Fully automatic Phoenix 1600 watt/70amp charger. (70amp 
                    charger allows for rapid recharging of batteries in a very short time).
Inverter:    Fully automatic Phoenix 1600 Watt integrated with charger.
                Supplies 240 volts to all 23 power points whether using shore power or not.
Insulation: Fully (and carefully) insulated with 25mm poly foam.

The Spinifex and Us
Trish and I have been travelling Australia full-time for the past three years in a serious off-road van (of another brand) but as soon as we saw one of the Spinifex vans and read the owners' reports we reasoned that the Spinifex would be far more suitable for our lifestyle ... and better riding ... and more spacious.

We noted that Spinifex Caravans are fully customizable with a robustly engineered chassis, advanced air-bag suspensions, and critically important for us, they were built with a properly engineered aluminium frame.  That's another story which we'll be only too happy to explain to you at another time.
This is Easy Travelling for the Spinifex

We ordered our Spinifex Outback Explorer in June 2010 and Steve Thompson, the owner of Spinifex Caravans, delivered it to us at the end of October. We immediately displayed it in the Brisbane Camping and Caravan Show for three days ... to rave reviews ...and then Steve asked us if we would use it to film a DVD on the caravan lifestyle.

So as soon as we'd finished with the van show we headed off on a 2000km jaunt to Stanage Bay near Rockhampton with a film crew and spent ten days shooting a DVD on the caravan lifestyle and featuring our Outback Explorer in particular.

Since then Trish and I have been living in it and using it as a display van in Steve's Factory yard at Deception Bay, and we recently moved to Mt Isa ... and that's the total mileage she's done.(About 5,000 KM)  We're now going to give Steve a hand with some product research and development so here's your chance to get into one of Australia's most comprehensively-equipped and competent serious caravans ... WITHOUT the six-month wait to have another one built.

It is possible to live in it completely independent of shore power and reticulated water almost indefinitely ... and live in an almost climate-controlled environment ... and run a business from the inbuilt office ... and be in communication with the world through the Telstra NextG broadband and satellite TV.

Now follow us as we take you on a tour of the various aspects of this absolutely awesome, custom and purpose-built caravan ...

The Chassis & Suspension
The basis for any decent caravan is the chassis and the suspension.  Now most caravans sold in Australia have main chassis rails that measure 2 inches by 4 inches.  (50mmX100mm)  And they're painted, (which means that they chip and rust) NOT hot dipped galvanised as is the Outback Explorer.
Hot Dipped Galvanised Chassis

Most "off road" caravans have single chassis rails that are 2 inches X 6 inches (50mm X 150mm) but our Spinifex Outback Explorer has a chassis that is manufactured from two 4inch rails laminated giving in effect a chassis that is 2 inches X 8 inches (50mm X 200mm).  "But that's not all" ... as someone famous once said. 

Shane, Steve's boilermaker builds his chassis with a 20mm upward curve so that when mounted on the suspension and the furniture is installed it will go to a level position ... and no further. 

A quick glance underneath will reveal that the bumper bar is part of the chassis and not just bolted on.   The whole structure is hot dipped galvanised and no further welding is permitted on the chassis so that it maintains it's proof against rust.

This van is designed to travel off-road and on corrugated dirt roads ...and bitumen if you wish ...and every facet of its construction is designed with that in mind. 

And speaking of ground clearance ... if you've ever watched some on-road (and some so called "off road" vans) drag their rears on dips and evens some driveways, you'll really appreciate the generous ground clearance on this van.

The Suspension
The Incredible 4.2 Tonne Rated Air Bag Suspension
Ask any truckie and he'll tell you that the ultimate suspension is air bag and caravans are no exception.  We've owned vans that have solid axles on leaf springs (cheap but great on smooth bitumen) and two types of independent leaf spring suspension (not bad but we still managed to break the odd cup or drawer lock). 

Coil springs are excellent and very supple but after towing the Outback Explorer with independent air bag suspension we're convinced that nothing equals the ride suppleness, smoothness and control of these air bags.  We've found that we could leave items on the tables and benches ... even Trish's little dolls on top of the pelmets remained there over hundreds of kilometres.

And now for a great plus ... we've ditched our levelling ramps because the air bags allow us to level the van on uneven ground simply by flicking a few switches and the air bags do the rest.  And you can even use the compressor to inflate your tyres.

The Incredible Disc Brakes
Now THESE Brakes Really Work
All our other vans have had drum brakes and if you've ever had to service, adjust or repair them ... well you'll know what I mean.

Prior to ordering our van we anguished over the cost and benefits of the disc brakes but in hindsight we need not have worried.  The discs stop straight and true every time, even on wet corrugated dirt roads.  And they don't fade on mountain descents, a great safety factor you'll agree.

And I'd rather replace disc brake pads than drum linings any day.

The Extended A-Frame
We've opted for an extended A-Frame which apart from making towing and reversing easier, allows us to carry jerry cans, the diesel heater fuel tank, firewood, hoses and assorted "stuff" ... yep, even our tea chest bass ... outside the van.

To minimise the possibility of stone damage to the front of the van we've installed a mesh stone guard and a large set of mud flaps.

The All-Important Aluminium Frame
Rot Proof Aluminium Frame
We know from bitter experience that if a wood-framed van leaks then there is a high possibility that the wood will rot, the staples will rust and the integrity of the whole van will be compromised.  For this reason all Spinifex caravans have custom-built pop-riveted aluminium frames which are glued to the inner walls.

All joints and window frames etc are properly sealed with quality silicone ... NOT sticky foam tape.

This permits strength and a degree of flexibility ... and no chance of frame damage.

The roof framing has a small pitch and is fabricated from aluminium square tubing and angle which resembles house roof trusses.  It is very strong and the roof sheeting is taut without dips and hollows which can cause water to pool.
Note the Pitch on the Roof Trusses

The walls are sealed with quality silicone against the chassis and bolted to the steel chassis.

The Exterior
The sides, rear and roof are powder coated aluminium cladding which is glued and screwed to the alloy frame.  The sides and part of the roof are powder coated champagne which gives the van its distinctive appearance. The bottom 55cm on the sides and the rear is aluminium chequerplate. 

The front boot is galvanised steel lined with outdoor carpet and is fitted with two chequerplated doors which open fully allowing easier access to the boot.  The body above the boot to the roof line is covered with a clip-on padded vinyl bra (for want of a better word) to protect from stone damage.

The Left Side
A walk down the left side will reveal the collapsible and removable clothes line, the triple lock door and security door, the external TV and power box with outlets for terrestrial TV, Satellite TV, 240 volts and 12 volts, the drop-down picnic table and the rear through-boot.

The roll-out awning is covered by a flexible aluminium cover when rolled up to protect it from damage and sun.

The Rear
The double rear bumper is fitted with two spare tyres and a bracket for the satellite TV dish.  A filtered drinking water tap on the left of the bumper permits easy access to safe drinking water when cooking outside.  (The tap on the front A-Frame draws from the three shower tanks and is normally unfiltered).

Right Side
Rear right is the hatch for the Honda 2KVa generator; An extra mounting bracket for the clothes line; External Shower; Water tank fillers; Hot water system; Extra 12 volt Anderson Plug; Toilet hatch with SOG (ventilation system)

The Sophisticated Electrical System
Kyocera 130 Watt Solar Panels With 25-Year Guarantee
The heart of this caravan is it's electrical system.  The three Kyocera 130 watt (with a 25 year guarantee, incidentally) solar panels on the roof provide power to the three 120Amp/Hr batteries in the front boot as does the Phoenix 70 Amp charger and it's all taken care of automatically.  This arrangement provides sufficient power for you to stay almost permanently off mains power if you receive a few hours sunshine every day.

The batteries can also be charged from an Anderson plug at the rear of the Toyota which feeds 12 volts to a Ctek 12 - 14.4 volt automatic charger.  This charger permits your batteries to be charged to almost 100% as opposed to a maximum of 75% when connected directly to your vehicle's 12 volt system.

The Automatic Phoenix Inverter
Fully Automatic Charger/Inverter
The really sophisticated part of this system is the Phoenix automatic inverter/charger.  Perhaps the easiest way to explain this system is by example.  Imagine you were plugged into 240 volt power in a van park (or using your Honda Generator) and were using an electric toaster, a couple of small battery chargers and a computer. 

If someone dislodged the power cord and disconnected the power (or the Honda ran out of fuel) none of your 240 volt equipment would stop because the Inverter would sense that the power stopped, and immediately draw 12 volts from your batteries, convert it to 240 and feed it into most of your 240 volt outlets.

And now for another bit of electrical magic ... Say you're free-camping beside the Gregory River in Far North Queensland and you have the air conditioner running, powered by your Honda generator.  Now the output of the Honda is just sufficient to power the air conditioner but not much more, but your wife decides she'll use the washing machine whilst the Honda is running.

Now with a normal inverter system the Honda would sense an overload and switch off.  But that won't happen to you because the Phoenix senses that there is a power shortfall and immediately makes up the difference from your batteries, the washing machine will do its stuff ... and no one will even notice.

The Three Independent Water Systems
Dual Water Pumps.  Separate Drinking Pump on Right
The Outback Explorer is fitted with Three totally independent water systems.  One separate tank, pump and filter is for drinking water only and the other three tanks are for everyday water use such as showering, washing up etc.

But if you're in a van park you can connect to the town supply and use that independently of your tanks. 

The Interior Layout
Space.  You Wanted Space and Lots of it.  Note Office/Extra Lounge at Far End.
The interior of the van has a rear bedroom, front office (yep, there's a complete office with a desk, multiple 240 volt power points, 12 volt power, NeXtG broadband and TV) and shower and toilet, and a mid kitchen and dining.

The windows are unique to Spinifex, are double glazed and tinted and let in an incredible amount of light.  And each window has insect and light-proof screens.

The walls are a light patterned colour and the flooring is simulated pine timber giving the interior of the van a unique light, airy and spacious feeling.

The furniture is light coloured Tassie Oak and is beautifully finished.  All the drawers are metal framed and on nylon rollers so they close easily every time.  In fact, they are self closing once they're over three quarters of the way in.  Even the side-opening overhead lockers have self-closing hinges. 

All Electronic Controls In One Place
Monitor Everything From Here
Most of the electrics and electronics are automatic but with the comprehensive control panel in the kitchen you can monitor or adjust most of the functions of the van.

The picture looks complex but in reality is quite simple and you'll catch on with a few minutes practice.  Easy.

Chequerplate Flooring and Fade Resistant Walls in the Shower
If you've ever owned a van with a plastic-lined shower with walls that go yellow after about a year, you'll really appreciate the shower in the Outback Explorer. 

The walls are full-gloss and look a bit like the shower in your home, but they won't yellow or crack.  And neither will the floor ... it's aluminium chequerplate so there's absolutely no chance of cracking or leaks, regardless of the roads you traverse.

No More Expensive Loo Chemicals
Tired of spending seventeen or so bucks for a litre of chemicals to treat your van toilet ... and having to buy a new bottle very fortnight? 

Well those days are over as the Outback Explorer toilet (ceramic, by the way ... NOT plastic) is fitted with a thing called a SOG which is a fan drawing air through your cassette and vented to the outside through a charcoal filter.

No smells and NO CHEMICALS REQUIRED so you can even dump into a septic system.  'Nuff said?

And both the toilet and shower doors are not those scary glass doors on flimsy hinges, but real wood with solid frames, proper round doorknobs and catches, and they're not likely to spring open.

In The Kitchen
Note Stove and Full Oven and the Incredible Vitrifrigo 12 volt Refrigerator
The first thing you see when you enter the front door is the 230 litre Vitrifrigo 12 volt, 2 door compressor fridge mounted high off the floor so you don't have to stoop to get your beer out.  If you've ever owned one of these fridges you'll know what I mean when I say they're awesome. 

They use very little power and ours keeps the freezer compartment at minus 15 degrees and the refrigerator compartment at less than 5 degrees ... regardless of the outside temperature.

The Vitrifrigo fridge in our previous van maintained an internal temperature of less than 5 degrees Celcius, even in the 45 degree summer in Kununurra in WA... and this one will do the same..  You couldn't ask for a better fridge.

To the right of the fridge is the stove (3 gas burners plus one electric element) with griller and oven, and the sink with a proper drainer, filtered water tap and a hot/cold mixer tap.  On the far end is the microwave and the 21 inch Digital TV, four power points and connections for Digital and Satellite TV as well as 12 volt power.

The Dinette
The dinette is immediately on your right as you enter the van and will comfortably seat four.  The upholstery is very comfortable and lifts up to allow access to under-seat storage areas.  There are also roll-out drawers for storage under the seats.

The table is one of those new tri-fold ones that fold back to turn your dining area into a lounge.  Very practical and really opens up the space inside the van.

There is a double 240 volt powerpoint next to the table which is very handy for running laptops, battery chargers and the like.

Heating Your Water and Drying Your Clothes
The Diesel Heater to Warm Your Van and Dry Your
Washing Economically ...
and Without Using 240 Volt Power
In the compartment under the fridge are your gas/electric water heater and the diesel burning air heater.  Now if you've ever sat through a wet season and tried to get your clothes dry in the laundromat, you'll know what a difficult task that can be.

Well not with this van as we have a hot air vent from the diesel heater into the shower and we use that as a drying room.  And it works like a charm at bugger-all cost because the heater uses only 120ml of diesel per hour.  In the recent rain in Brisbane we've had the diesel heater running for up to 6 hours per day and we've used very little fuel ... and dried all our washing.

When we first ordered this van we stipulated that we wanted lots of lights and Steve obliged ... he doubled up on all the lights, and they're all LEDs which use only a fraction of the power used by a fluoro or halogen.

There are two giant LEDs over the sink and four over the dining area as well as three in the office and five in various places over the bed area.  You will not want for light in this van.
12 - 14.4 Volt Charger Allows You to Charge
Your Van Batteries to 100% when Connected
to Your Vehicle

Ventilation ... and Lots of It
We've put a lot of though and experience into the ventilation system in this van.  We have a four seasons hatch with towel drying racks installed near the kitchen and two Fantastic Vents, one over the bed and one over the office space.

These Fantastic Hatches allow you precise control over the volume and direction of air over your bed and throughout the van.  As a f'rinstance, if you don't want your cooking smells to go throughout the van simply open the window over the stove and turn the Fantastic Hatch to blow air into the van from outside.  The higher pressure forces the cooking smells straight out the window far better than the range hood over the stove.

The All-Important Bedroom
The bed at 6'10 X 5'1" is larger than a genuine Queen size and is situated at the rear with hanging cupboards on each side. 

Some manufacturers advertise their beds as Queen sized but quite often we find those to be 4'6" X 6'2" and in our opinion there is a major difference in comfort between the two. 

We've also found that the north-south bed provides much more walk-around space than an east-west arrangement.  Our daughter's caravan is fitted with an east-west bed and she claims that a north-south bed would be her first choice if she was to buy a new van.

The storage space in and around the bedroom is incredible.  There are overhead lockers above the bed head, bedside tables with slide-out drawers, and to top it all off, two large vertical storage compartments set into the corners at the foot of the bed.

The bed lifts on gas struts to reveal cavernous storage space.

This storage is sufficient for us to live out of the van for long periods of time.  The ample hanging space permits crease-free storage of shirts, dresses and blouses.

The picture is completed with two adjustable LED reading lights, one on either side of the bed and two LED touch lights each above the pillow.

Internal Colours
We've noticed a trend of late to decorate caravans with very dark wood on the walls, benches etc.  Trish and I found this depressing so we were insistent on light colours with splashes of contrast throughout the van. 

Very light coloured walls and contrasting blue curtains and trim make this van extremely comfortable in which to live. 

The van is equipped with two digital TVs and three TV mounting points, one of which is in the annexe.

The TV antenna is an omnidirectional (doesn't need to be rotated to find the signal) Saturn which can be raised or lowered with the push of a button.

A CD/Radio is installed next to the kitchen and plays to twin speakers mounted in the roof and two external speakers.

The roof-mounted IBIS Air Command air conditioner keeps the whole van crisp and cool, even when the outside temperature is in the mid-forties.  And when it's not so hot but you still need a bit of air, just turn off the compressor and it blows refreshing air throughout the van.

The Air conditioner also has a heating facility which warms the van in winter but you'll find the diesel heater much more efficient in winter ... and you don't have to be connected to 240 volt power.

Stabiliser Legs
Seven Seconds down and Three Seconds Up
If you've ever owned an older van with the wind-down stabilisers, you'll really appreciate the drop-down legs on the Spinifex.

Simply pull the handle and the leg drops down and all it then needs is a small adjustment to its length ... and we make that really easy by using a battery powered drill and a socket.  Seven or 8 seconds to lower each leg is about average.  Three seconds to raise.  We'll even throw in the battery drill if you wish.

Dust Proofing
We've travelled only on 100km of dirt and the fan was totally dust proof.

Your Tow Vehicle
I believe we've mentioned it before but this van weighs 2.84 tonnes empty (that's the Tare) and can lawfully weigh up 4.2 tonnes fully laden (the ATM or Aggregate Trailer Mass).

Ideally you'll need a tow vehicle which is legally capable of towing 3.5 tonnes and there are quite a few 4WD vehicles capable of doing that.  We've towed it with our 100 Series 4.2 litre Landcruiser turbo diesel and it does it quite comfortably but we're careful to load it to only 3.5 tonnes. 

If you want to load it to its maximum of 4.2 tonnes you'll need an F250 or similar.

Some Jeeps, Land Rover Defenders, Range Rovers and Discoveries are 3.5 tonnes capable.
Comprehensive Stone Shielding and The Fully-Opening
Boot Lids

Fuel Economy
Fuel economy varies according to your driving habits, the road, hills, and even the wind direction and speed.

Our Landcruiser uses about 12 litres/100Km when not towing and about 17/19litres/100Km when towing.  Petrol motors will use considerably more with the same task.

Don't Take our Word ... Read What Others Say
To see what other Spinifex owners (and would-be owners) have to say it's a good idea to join our Forum at http://spinifex.freeforums.org/   Just register with your email and create a unique password and you're party to the chatter and ideas of members of the group ... and feel free to introduce yourself  and even ask questions if you wish.

Check our lifestyle on our Blog at http://lyallandtrish.blogspot.com  

So if you're after the ultimate all-terrain caravan to live in or to do a lap around this great country, on or off the road and to any remote places on your list, this is the vehicle for you. 

You can do it in climate controlled comfort with all the comforts of home ... and you could be doing it later this week because the van is available for immediate delivery so you can dodge the 6 month or so waiting list.

We'll deliver to Queensland or parts of the NT ... and we may even consider taking a cheaper trade off your hands.  How's that for a deal?

You Can Have Scenery Like This At Your Door
(Stanage Bay near Rocky if You're Interested)

There's nothing extra to buy as it comes complete with 2KVa Honda generator, terrestrial digital and analog TV, radio/CD, 21 inch Digital TV and DVD player, satellite TV, hoses, Hayman Reece Load levellers, mounting brackets for all the commonly-used items in the front boot, and we'll even throw in the battery drill if you wish.

There's enough gas and diesel for you to live for weeks away from civilisation, NextG communication so you can send photos of your great lifestyle back to friends and family so all you have to do is chuck in some tucker and a few clothes, hitch up and start your new life regardless of where that takes you.

Or You May Prefer Water Views

It's in show room condition and comes with current Queensland rego, Steve's new van warranty, two full gas bottles water hoses ... and we'll even throw in the chocks and the battery drill if you wish.  (You won't need levelling ramps as the air bags do that for you).

Just ring us on 0427 977 970 or email us at lyall444@bigpond.com for any further information or to inspect the van.

$132,000 and she's yours. (That's about 8 Grand under new price ... and you still get the full 3-year manufacturer's warranty... and you dodge the six-month waiting list)

She's free and unencumbered (not under HP, lease or any similar arrangement).

Before you part with your hard-earned dollars it's probably a good idea to spend a few hours with the van. 

Or Even Mowed Grass and Trees

If you're reasonably new to caravanning or haven't experienced such a fully-equipped caravan as this you Trish and I recommend that you spend quite a few hours with us so you can familiarise yourself with the full potential of this very competent caravan.

Just let us know what you want to do and we'll gladly do what we can to help.

But ring us first on 0427 977 970 or email us on lyall444@bigpond.com to make sure we're in when you arrive.

Finding Us
Until recently we were at the Spinifex Caravan Factory,  Deception Bay Qld but Trish has been headhunted for a job in Mt Isa and that's where we are now, parked in the Argylla Van Park on the Cloncurry Road.

Just ring us on 0427 977 970 or email us at lyall444@bigpond.com and we'll arrange a suitable place to meet you.
To see our last article look for a DVD Magazine called Heading Off in the newsagents.   Also check out our story on workin' on the road in the March issue of CaravanWorld.
To order your copy visit Gil Schott's website http://www.headingoff.com.au/ where you can have a preview of the mag and even a preview of Gil's new electronic magazine.

To find the towing capacity of your particular vehicle just go to http://www.google.com.au/ and type in the following ... "towing capacity"+Patrol (or whatever brand of vehicle you are checking).

Looking forward to hearing from you shortly.


Lyall & Trish Booth
0427 977 970