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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Trip report : A short weekend camping and 4-wheeling

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sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 05/29/14 03:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What seemed like ages ago we decided "we must go on another camping trip down to Salisbury Plain and take the Suzuki". Our friends Toby and Jo were also looking for an excuse to go camping once spring weather arrived, and try out Toby's 101" artillery tractor offroad (rather than its previous task of carrying his WWII Jeep around - Jefe will remember Toby from his excellent talk at Expo last year on crossing Egypt in a set of such Jeeps).

So that was it. We chose a weekend when I wasn't travelling for work and arranged to meet up at the campground.

I was in Geneva, Switzerland all week, but had an early afternoon flight back. With carry-on luggage only, sat in seat 1F close to the door and with my car in short-term parking I was on the highway heading for home within minutes of the plane landing. Sally had already unplugged the camper hook-up so after changing out of my suit, and swapping the vehicles around to release the camper, we were off.

I can't trailer the Suzuki behind the Camper because the nose of the trailer is too short. Last time I tried flat-towing it the suspension geometry meant it would suddenly steer full lock one way or another (replacement springs should have fixed that, but I haven't tried it since), so Sally followed along behind and we kept in touch by hand-held radio. We kept the speed down to 50 since the diff on the Suzuki was rumbling a bit and the transfer lever vibrating quite a lot [emoticon].

There was the usual traffic delay near Stonehenge. It has been open for business for 4000 years so you'd have thought they'd have got the traffic sorted out by now.

Tony and Jo arrived just before us - the rest of the campground was pretty empty despite fantastic weather. We were soon into the liquid refreshments and enjoying the early evening sun:

[image]

Cleverly Toby and Jo had acquired a range of electric slow cookers (from garage sales and similar all for about £1 each) and ran them from an inverter in their truck to keep various curry dishes hot. On arrival we transferred them over and plugged them into the outlet on my camper to continue the cooking while the alcohol took affect. Thankfully they were just out of range of inquisitive noses:

[image]

And very good curry it was too, but the excellent company may have had something to do with that:

[image]

The evening wound on sat around the chiminea Toby brought along. Toby and I got into trouble a few times when our conversation strayed to tyre selection, charge controllers, expedition vehicle selection and other technical matters. I unwisely dug into the random selection of liqueurs I had acquired, which left me feeling the worse for wear over night - the camper is a heavy thing and I couldn't understand how it could spin so easily every time I closed my eyes [emoticon].

[image]

After a leisurely breakfast, some sitting around and some headache pills Toby removed the unnecessary parts of his 101" (it is air-portable after all, so large amounts of it are removable) and we headed out onto the army ranges, past the strange sculptures in the campground:

[image]

We wanted to drive by the FIBUA village (Fighting In Built Up Areas), but explosions and smoke issuing from that direction told us something was up. As we approached a young soldier came over and very politely asked if it would be OK if we took a detour since they were learning how to blow stuff up.

Sally drove the Suzuki so I could navigate, and we headed onto another part of the plain:

[image]

After standing around chatting for a while we headed off the plan and along a section of the 5000 year old Ridgeway. We managed to find some muddy bits too - which gave Toby a chance to try out the 101", Sally to remember what it was like to be passenger in one offroad (being a cabover design it can be unnerving offroad if you aren't used to it), and Jo got a change to try out the Suzuki:

[image]

Luckily there were no red flags flying this weekend (indicating live-firing on the ranges). I've seen some of these tank hulls on the artillery ranges close up and seeing what a shell can do to their armour reinforces my desire to be nowhere near when they are having a go at target practice:

[image]

There was quite a bit of water lying around waiting for us to play in:

[image]

The army have been trying to minimise the environmental affects of hundreds of troops on exercise, so have provided portable toilets which are dotted around the ranges. I don't know what the last user of this toilet had for dinner; some sort of baked beans and chilli combo?

[image]

No trip to the area would be complete without at least sighting Stonehenge. They've built a flashy new visitors centre and apparently it is quite expensive. A couple of trails pass really close to the stone (this picture was taken from the vehicle trail), but they have put up ugly blue plastic fencing to partly hide the stones from those walking on the footpath on the other side - to force you to go to the visitors centre and pay.

[image]

Back at the campground and it was time for "sundowners" before heading for the nearby pub:

[image]

The pub had a new sign - I guess this was installed after the royal wedding:

[image]

Sally ordered the usual bottle of Prosecco:

[image]

I was particularly pleased with the meat content of my dinner:

[image]

The one thing you can guarantee to find loads of in our camper is torches and lights of one type or another, and of course it turned out this was the one thing none of us thought to bring. So the walk down a dark road back to the campground was more hazardous than usual, especially since Sally seemed to be having trouble walking (or even standing).

Next day I checked the Suzuki. There seemed to be a non-standard amount of play in the rear differential pinion (sorry Jo, more technical talk) - i.e. I don't think it should have been wobbling around quite as much as it was, and I don't think there should have been quite so much axle oil sprayed over the underside of the vehicle. More playing offroad that day would be pushing our luck.

So instead we had another leisurely breakfast and sat around in the sun chatting before eventually packing up around mid day and saying our goodbyes.

We headed back slowly with Sally on the radio.

We got within about 30 miles of home when I heard a suspicious hissing noise from somewhere behind the truck, followed by Sally screeching on the radio that the axle had locked. This was on a bend on a very busy section of 65 mph two-lane highway. I had to drive to the next junction, turn around, drive back again, observing the growing traffic jam behind Sally, and then turn around and inch my way back until I could get the truck in front of her and pull her off the road. I used low ratio rear wheel drive (no centre diff in the truck so I didn't want to use 4x4 on the road and have 2 vehicles with damaged transmissions). Left some slight marks on the road:

[image]

If the Suzuki had a fully floating axle I'd have remove the drive shaft and half shafts and she could have driven in front wheel drive, but with semi-floatings that wasn't an option. I phoned the road service company we use and emphasized that we needed a flatbed truck, not just a tow, and about an hour later a nice guy with the perfect vehicle turned up:

[image]

So we didn't get home too late after all, but I was glad that I wasn't flying to Johannesburg until the following evening.

Despite the breakdown we had a fantastic weekend - to be honest it was more the camping with great friends that made the weekend as opposed to the offroading, but the offroading was fun too, and good for the sun tans in the soft top vehicles.

Now to get the camper re-filled ready for this coming weekend [emoticon]

Steve.


'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
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the tc life

colbert wa.

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Posted: 05/29/14 04:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

as always, a great report. this one really got some smiles and laughs from me.


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Tiger4x4RV

Inland Empire, Southern California

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Posted: 05/29/14 05:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great adventures and good food. What more could a TR want?


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Nemo667

Louisiana

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Posted: 05/29/14 05:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks like you and Sally had a great time of it. Thanks for posting Steve.[emoticon]


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cewillis

Tucson, az, usa

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Posted: 05/29/14 05:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

baked beans and chilli combo

Sounds explosive.
Looks like great fun, except for the Suzuki rear axle. Somebody should put this in TRs.


Cal


dadwolf2

Henderson,NV

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Posted: 05/29/14 05:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks like you guys were having lots of fun. That looked like Texas size meat proportions!


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Steeljag

Florida

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Posted: 05/29/14 06:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks like you had a great time!


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sleepy

Oak Ridge,Tennessee

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Posted: 05/29/14 08:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing....

You know... maybe the real reason for Stonehinge was a bunch of friends sitting around a campsite dreaming up something to draw in the tourists...

it's still working.

Is it on private land? Who gets the admission fees?

I've always wanted to see it... up close.

Sleepy


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Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

Seattle

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Posted: 05/29/14 09:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That was fun, thanks for the post.
Baked beans and chili combo,,,,,


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whazoo

Idahome

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Posted: 05/29/14 10:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Uh Steve , you look a bit crazy happy with that plate of meat. Had you eaten lately? And that's it, I'm moving to England to go camping with you guys , having all that fun. What a blast. Speaking of blasts, looks to me like the last user of the loo mixed some C4 with the beans. Cool trip Steve, very cool!

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