We were supposed to be having the canvas fitted for the trailer “soft top” tomorrow, unfortunately they’ve had to postpone due to “production issues” but the frame is ready to go at least.
For the first time today, we had the chance to open the tent out and check that everything works as expected regarding the drop of the living area to the floor etc… It’s a lot bigger than I’d thought, the living area is bigger than I expected and with the addition of the multi room it’s going to be very spacious. Obviously, on the tarmac, we couldn’t extend the two porches out which give a very large covered area.
The batteries have arrived and parts of the mains hookup so plenty to get on with while we wait for the canvas to be ready.
Dom at Maddison 4×4 managed to convert my CAD drawings into reality and now the Howling Moon trailer tent has finally arrived from South Africa the “first fit” can be started.
It all seems to work and the height measurement matches the recommended height on the HM web site.
We’re booked into the canvas designer/manufacturer for a measure and design session towards the end of February with a fitting date toward the end of March/beginning of April.
The reversing solenoid arrived from the US this week and I need to source some adaptors to allow it to be plumbed into the brake circuit between the master cylinder and T block.
The weather has been bloody awful this winter and, as a result, progress has been slow with what seems like 3-4 months of constant rain. We’ve not opened the tent out, even on the drive, because it will get wet and we’ll have no chance of drying it out afterwards.
CAD design of the support structure and tent on top of the Sankey.
The Sankey should make a really good basis for our overland/camping trailer. The intention is that, after using it last year for extra storage space on a number of UK camping trips, for next year we will turn it into a standalone camping unit.
Rather than mounting our roof tent on top of the Sankey we decided to go for the trailer tent offering from the same manufacturer, Howling Moon. After living in the Roof Top Tent for 5 months without any issues we know it’s a quality product and, unlike RTTs there aren’t anywhere near as many manufacturers making dedicated trailer mounting tents.
The design of the tent means that the sleeping area (our bed) has to be a specific distance above the floor to give a clean drop to the floor. This is significantly higher than the top if the Sankey tub so the first task was to figure out a way of supporting the tent at the correct height. To help figure out how it would go together and help visualise it I started off with a CAD package to come up with a design. The tent needs to be offset to the Offside of the trailer as it drops down vertically to the ground at that side when opened.
The supporting bars will be covered with a custom made canvas to give a large covered area in the trailer with access panels through both sides and the back.
The fridge that used to live in the back of the 90 will now live in the trailer and the trailer will have it’s own 12v batteries. The trailer will also have electric hookup, allowing the batteries to be charged from the mains as well as providing mains sockets for other items when mains is available.
An automatic changeover on the 12v electrics will allow the fridge to be powered from the 90 auxiliary battery when it’s connected and has a suitable voltage level. This will allow us to extend the life of the trailer batteries as the 90 will charge up it’s auxiliary battery during day trips away form the camp site.
Our trips last year showed one failing of the Sankey – the lack of auto reverse brakes. The brakes themselves are so good that when reversing up the slightest incline the trailer stops the 90 in it’s tracks as the overrun brakes engage. The manual override for this works OK as long as you remember to put it in before you start reversing ! To resolve this I’ll be using a solenoid in the brake line, connected to the reversing lights. That should give a really effective auto reverse.
If we can get this completed for the camping season next year we’ll try it out on a few “local” UK trips before starting to make plans for any trips further afield.
Collecting the Sankey trailer October 2014
It’s been a while since we’ve updated the blog. Since returning to the UK we’ve been trying to recuperate our finances somewhat and started planning and preparation for some future trips.
The addition to our household of, not one, but two Border Collies has pretty much destroyed the practical aspects of our overland camping setup. The rear of the 90 is now pretty much filled entirely by 2 dogs and their crates and so we’ve had to have a rethink.
To help carry all the “stuff” that we carried in the rear of the 90 on our trip around Australia we ended up purchasing a Sankey trailer. These were designed by the UK armed forces to tow behind Land Rover Defender 90s and, as a result, are designed to go anywhere a Defender can both on road and off. The geometry of the trailer and hitch is such that the trailer wheels follow precisely in the tracks of the two vehicle’s rear wheels, making it a pleasure to tow.
We’ve had a few trips out now with the Sankey, the roof tent and the dogs and all in all it’s been a success but for extended stays especially, the lack of mobility when the roof tent is deployed led us to embark on a new project… turn the Sankey into a self contained camping trailer.
Well, the 90 is cleaned and packed with (hopefully) everything we need, all ready now for the truck to turn up tomorrow morning so it can be loaded up and sent on it’s way.
The last couple of days have been spent packing, unpacking, packing again and in the process we’ve added a number of additional tie down points so all the heavy items are strapped down and secured now. The dining room, which has been used as a “staging area” for the last year is looking very empty !
A few random pictures from my iPhone…
One of the restrictions that using a 90 places on us is a distinct lack of space to store stuff ! With the spare tyre on the roof (the only place that can go) the only place left for the MaxTrax boards to go is to mount them on the bonnet. I had toyed with hanging them on the sides, putting them on top of the spare tyre, putting them on top of the tent and so on but it didn’t really work.
The boards (there will be 4 of them, 2 shown in the pic) are a great aid for getting the vehicle moving, especially on soft sand, and as such they really need to be readily accessible when we do need them and quick and easy to stow again when we get moving. We bought a set of the official mounting pins for them from Australia (much cheaper than buying them in the UK and they were delivered within 3 working days – very impressed !). They hold the boards firmly and the boards don’t touch the bonnet at all. Obviously their position on the bonnet had to be carefully thought through – as far back as possible but far enough forward that the bonnet can be opened without fouling the roll cage !
We chose the purple boards as the colour kind of blends in with the pearlescent blue of the 90 which tends to take on a purple sheen in sunlight.
Last job on Saturday was to remove the roof tent for the final time before it goes in the container and with gale force winds forecast for Sunday and Sunday night the last thing we need right now is to have a tree land on it ! It’s currently sat in the living room, opened up, so we can clean it out thoroughly and give it a final check before packing it for shipping.
After a couple of restful nights in the New Forest and a couple of hours looking at short and long range forecasts we took the decision to cut our losses and head for home. If the forecasts were to prove anything close to true than we wouldn’t get a chance to test out most of the things we wanted to test out anyway and we could get more done at home where the forecast was much better.
On the way home we made a slight diversion to another of our favourite places from our regular trips to the New Forest 20 years ago, the Hawk Conservancy. We could only stay for the morning display as we wanted to get home in reasonable time. It’s changed a huge amount since our last visit, in fact we could barely recognise the place. It was strangely reassuring to know that at least one of the birds of prey (Frodo, the Tawny Eagle) is still part of the display. It gave me an opportunity to test our compact camera out on some “wildlife” though – we’ve decided not to take the SLR with us to Australia, too bulky and too heavy !
The results from the small Sony compact “super zoom” were pretty impressive really although the lack of a view finder is probably going to leave us looking for an alternative. in strong sunlight it’s impossible to see the display making taking any photo a bit of a guessing game. I’d noticed this previously but it really became obvious when trying to frame shots of the birds of prey with the sun behind you. The shot I got of the Bald Eagle really turned out well and from the distance it was taken the SLR would have struggled without going out and spending a fortune on some huge lenses.
The rest of the week will be spent sorting out a few jobs around the house and hopefully fitting the engine monitoring system and finishing off building the battery monitoring system.
With the weather forecast looking pretty bad for the rest of our planned trip, this morning we had to make a decision. After much discussion we decided that we’d need to follow the weather and abandon the planned route. Rather than complete our tour of the south west coast where wind gusts are forecast to be around 65-70 we have diverted to the new forest for a couple of days to see what the weather actually does.
The good news was that, on arriving after a 4 hour drive, there was very little wind and the sun was shining !
We’ve not managed to test out a lot of the things we wanted to test on this trip but one thing we have learned is to adapt rather than stick to a plan.
So we’re now in the New Forest for a couple of nights, two pubs within easy walking distance and a nice secluded and sheltered location should the winds start to pick up as they are forecast to.
Another “trial run” is under way, this time a slightly longer trip with a different camp site every night and varied roads and distances between them.
The first night was a pleasant enough stay in the Cotswolds with reasonable weather albeit with a smattering of rain overnight.
The second night was more of a “trial” than anticipated. During the late evening the winds got up and we paid the penalty for being in a high tent on what was essentially an open hillside overlooking the sea. The tent itself weathered the onslaught well without any problems at all really, the occupants on the other hand got very little sleep. The combination of noise from the wind and the Land Rover seeming to want to roll over as each new, more powerful gust hit it, made it nearly impossible to sleep. It didn’t help that we’d pitched it side on to the most powerful gusts of wind.
In the end we called it a day not long after dawn, deciding trying to sleep was a pointless exercise and we’d be better off getting up and packing the tent away and moving on.
More gales are forecast for the rest of the week so we’re looking for more sheltered sites and taking care to try and park up with the Land Rover facing into the wind.
Spent a good part of today packing, unpacking and repacking the 90 in preparation for our latest mini expedition. This will probably be the last real shakedown before we ship to Australia so lots to learn and test !
We eventually managed to get everything we need in and still have some space to spare… It is starting to get a bit crowded in there though. In the next couple of weeks we should finalise the list of what’s worth taking and what can be left behind and hopefully we’ll also get an idea of the fuel consumption we can expect when fully loaded.