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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Trip / show report : Adventure Overland 2014 UK

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sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 09/30/14 01:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's the time of the year for our local overlanding show - conveniently less than 2 hours from home in Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon; to be exact at their race course.

Sally pretended she was still sick and unable to attend, but in truth she didn't want a weekend listening to unshaven middle-aged men comparing makes of truck tires and swapping stories about African border crossings. As a result this would actually be the first time I had slept in the camper on my own (apart from Thierry's birthday in France, but in that case Sally was outside drinking her way through to breakfast, so that doesn't count).

By mid afternoon Friday I had finished my day's work and was able to hit the road, knowing the camper still had some water in it (I don't use much) and was always stocked with plenty of food. All I had to do was throw in some suitable clothes for late September UK weather - thick shirts, fleeces, waterproofs, etc. This choice of cold-weather clothing turned out to be a mistake.

[image]

A steady 55mph on the highway - I was disappointed not to be passed by any exciting vehicles heading for the show, but that is often the way, even at Overland Expo in Arizona.

Sunny Friday afternoon and Stratford town centre was packed with people enjoying the unseasonable sunshine. I had the window down and The Doors on the stereo.

The layout of the show this year had changed. There were no early booking discounts for display vehicles so I just went into the regular camping field, which was closer to the action than the display position I had last year, and was still chocked full with fascinating overland vehicles and great people to chat to. This was the view from my roof that sunny afternoon:

[image]

No sooner had I stopped was I tracked down and interrogated by a nice couple with a truck camper on a Mitsubishi pickup truck. I'm not sure where they were camped, but they had seen me coming in and chased after me.

I got chatting to Chris - the owner of a well prepared Land Cruiser with roof tent parked next door. We had been wondering about the annoying background noise coming from the other side of the hedge and just assumed someone had a big generator - turned out we were wrong:

[image]

Time for a quick wander around the show field. There were portable toilets on site (those blue plastic outhouses), but if you had a bit of an emergency it seemed this nice chap had provided facilities for you to use:

[image]

Ah, the ever popular ambulance version of the 101" air-portable Land Rover I used to have - nice camper conversion:

[image]

Bimobil were there - very nice build quality, though I wonder about the centre of gravity of some of these:

[image]

Returning to the camping field I thought I should seek out some fellow truck camper owners and say Hi - A nice 4-wheel-camper on a 2006 Nissan truck:

[image]

Silversand started a thread the other day about grey tanks if you don't have a built in one, and this is something I could do with. And guess what, the first truck camper I look at, the owner has built an external grey water tank - if you look closely this is made of drain pipe from the local hardware store, costing probably less than $100. Now that is my type of engineering:

[image]

Another interesting little camper:

[image]

After a sit down and another cup of tea on the camper stove I wandered off to see who else I could find. In the main show area I was admiring the Land Cruisers on the Overland Cruisers stand when someone called my name - I looked around and it was my friend Chas, member of the same 4x4 club as me. He had brought his battered old land Cruiser along and it was taking up a space on the Overland Cruisers stand. After chatting for a while my camping neighbour Chris came over and it turned out Chris and Chas knew each other well too. The weekend was full of such connectedness, though I suspect that is an inevitable consequence of a fairly narrow interest like overlanding.

It was starting to get dark so I wandered off and before long another familiar voice called out to me - it was Toby. He had brought his Land Rover Carawagon camper, a trusted beast that had taken him all over North Africa and the Middle East, often supporting archaeological expeditions. The Carawagon has a clever aluminium and wood pop-up roof - this is the inside of one, with a Toby inserted to give a sense of scale:

[image]

Appropriately Toby had found his way to the Land Rover Classic Camper club's stand and set-up next to the other Carawagons. I stuck around for a very pleasant evening in front of the fire (built from a propane cylinder cut in half). Toby was a real gent and not only pulled out the leatherette couch from his camper for the two of us to sit on, but produced some bean casserole for me to eat which had been cooked on the slow cooker running from his inverter since leaving home:

[image]

The next morning started cool and cloudy, so I put a fleece on, which I soon regretted, and wandered around the campground to see who else had turned up after dark on Friday night:

[image]

I met Tony who had a very clean truck and camper. We spent ages chatting. Part of the cleanness of his truck turned out because he had been rear-ended, luckily without the camper loaded, to the extent he had to replace the entire load bed AND cut off part of the frame and weld on part from another truck from the junk yard:

[image]

One 1994 Land Rover camper owner had been co-opted into the Carawagon group by virtue of parking next to them - we had some fascinating conversations the night before about his global travels in this truck, which he was hoping to extend to Australia in the near future (i.e. driving there):

[image]

Elsewhere in the field were other truck campers - this 1992 model didn't look as good a match as others I had seen on the Land Rover 130" chassis - the height of the Land Rover cab is a real challenge:

[image]

In comparison this 1992 Land Rover 130" and camper seems a much happier match:

[image]

A 1993 Iveco flatbed with truck camper:

[image]

Earlier this year Sally and I had discussed what camper to get longer term. This was possibly our perfect combination - A Mercedes 814DA 4x4 16,500 lbs MGWR van (9700 lbs payload). These are rare as anything in 4x4 form. In fact I suspect most of the UK 4x4 models of this van were in this field, and there were only a handful of them. Since then we had been somewhat put off by the growth in 3.5 ton weight limits and low emission zones in Europe. Anyway, I spent a fascinating time chatting to the owner of this:

[image]

He had converted the interior really well, with an east-west bed at the back, dry bath and small dinette using the swivelling driver's seat as one half of the dinette. He had driven this all over South and central America on some of the worst roads - the state of the roads had taken its toll on the interior which needed a lot of repairs, but the underlying van / truck had no breakdowns.

Walking around the field I kept feeling my face itching, then I noticed people I talked to seemed to have small spider-shaped fashion accessories clinging to them. A hunt around Julian, the owner of Overland Cruisers' tent showed that this was clearly the epicentre - Julian's big box of spiders:

[image]

My phone buzzed - it was Butch - military amphibious vehicle fanatic - arriving on his motorbike with his girlfriend. Probably better that than arriving in his amphibious M2 bridging unit. That gave us a chance to wander around together and go for a coffee whilst looking at the various vehicles. Butch maintains a fleet of heavy commercial trucks as a day job, and had some interesting professional views about the axle weights of some of the expedition vehicles on site, though he did particularly like this one - a rare medium duty 4x4 Renault van converted to a camper:

[image]

Butch got the chance to try out his new Nikon DSLR before we returned to my camper for a sit down and more coffee:

[image]

After a nice rest I made my excuses and headed for the make-shift theatre. It was time for Toby's talk about his bicycle ride across France, over the Alps to a friend's house in Italy shortly after his 60th birthday:

[image]

As usual Toby tells a smashing story with associated photographs, though before long many notice that most photographs seem to include some form of alcoholic drink [emoticon]

It was time for another sit down, not helped my a headache that was now 24-hours old despite robbing Toby of his last Aspirin pain killer earlier in the day. I decided a relaxed evening lying on the over-cab bed reading a novel would be safer than getting drawn into an alcohol-fuelled evening.

Julian was having a barbeque (or Braai as the South Africans say) and Toby disappeared off to that with a bottle of red. Chris (my camping neighbour) also disappeared off to the same event, only to return shortly looking for a plastic bowl for dish-washing - it sounded like he was going to have to work for his supper. I was briefly woken some time before 3 AM by the sound of Chris returning - he made less noise than I expected - this will become more surprising later.

The following morning I treated myself to a long lay in bed, though it wasn't that peaceful since the 3 families camping together in the row behind Chris and I had 4 six-year-olds who started running around the campground at full volume from 6 AM. One of the fathers had a shiny 2004 Dodge Ram 1500, and Chris and I had already noticed unsupervised children climbing all over the leather seats, through the pass-through window, onto the roof and running metal magnetic toys over the immaculate black paintwork. Now they probably weren't helping Chris' hangover.

I gradually got up and got my old gas grill out to cook myself a nice cooked breakfast - bacon, sausages, eggs and fried bread. I used extra virgin olive oil, so I claim it was a healthy breakfast.

[image]

Despite the noisy children Chris was still in his roof tent, but when a friend came shouting for him that didn't last. He was the worse for wear not just because of the alcohol, but because he had fallen out of his roof tent in the early morning. I made him breakfast to help mend his sore ankle. He was about to return to bed when a couple turned up to spend an hour asking questions about his vehicle - I made my excuses and went for a walk.

[image]

A very nice and rare in the UK FJ series Land Cruiser:

[image]

The owner also had a very genuine Australian cattle dog that looked the business next to the Land Cruiser. Unfortunately I caught it doing its business in the middle of Julian's stand the day before [emoticon]

There were a huge number of VW Synchro 4x4 campers attending the show too - very nice:

[image]

At lunch time Toby had another talk, so the carawagon owners and I queued up to grab the optimum row of seats for prime heckling, sorry I mean support. This talk covered Toby's February expedition through Gautemala wielding an Explorer's Club flag.

After the talk and a quick ice cream it was time to hit the road and hope I hadn't made too much of a mess of the camper, since I knew Sally would be inspecting it quite carefully on my return for signs of a boys weekend away.

Luckily I think I got away with it, the weather had been great, I had spent a lot of time meeting some fascinating people and existing friends. Looking forward to next year.

Steve.


'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
'98 Jeep TJ 4.0
'15 Ford Fiesta ST
'09 Fiat Panda 1.2


DesertHawk

Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Posted: 09/30/14 02:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Neat report, very interesting & I enjoyed the photos. Thanks! for sharing.


">DesertHawk- Las Cruces, NM USA
*2015 Lance 1985~Casita de Campo~23' 4" Tongue to Bumper, Dinette Slide
160 watt Solar Panel/GoPower! Solar Controller
*2009 White Ford F-150 Reg. Cab
Long Bed with A.R.E. Molded Fiberglass Topper
*Previously~ 2005 16' Scamp


silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 09/30/14 08:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I caught your overland report just before turning in for the night. Lots of interesting characters attending. Fun to read all the details of the adventure overland as you experienced it over that sunny weekend !

Thanks for the nightcap,
S-


Silver
2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4x4 6.0L Ext/LB Tow Package 4L80E Michelin AT2s| Outfitter Caribou

RobertRyan

Australia

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Posted: 10/01/14 03:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Steve,
I saw one of these parked in the street not far from me. Manuacturer has disappeared but the IVECO, Mercedes Cab Chassis versions are being used here for Slide Ons
[image]

~DJ~

Boise, Idaho

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Posted: 10/01/14 05:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great report Steve. Felt as though I was there with you. Reminded me a lot of our Arizona OX except the vehicles were even stranger!! lol

Surprised to see we have identical folding aluminum tables.

You take any of those spiders home to surprise Sally? [emoticon]


'17 Class C 22' Conquest on Ford E 450 with V 10. 4000 Onan, Quad 6 volt AGMs, 515 watts solar.
'12 Northstar Liberty on a '16 Super Duty 6.2. Twin 6 volt AGMs with 300 watts solar.

btggraphix

Golden, CO

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Posted: 10/06/14 11:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice report Steve, always enjoy reading your TR's and taking us along. You'd think I'd have had my fill of looking at these sorts of setups from this weekends expo but nope it's still fun. I guess I'm addicted. And the people that attend are the same.....you meet the nicest and most interesting people at this kind of event.


2006 LanceMax 1191 - loaded and well-used
2005 C4500/Kodiak 4x4, GVWR 17,500


CptnBG

Salem and Smith Mtn Lake, Va

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Posted: 10/07/14 02:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the report, lots of similar rigs on this side of the pond at OE East.


'03 2500HD CrewCab SB 6.0 Gas 4x4
'04 Northstar Laredo SC
Bilsteins 5100
2014 1500 Silverado 5.3 Double Cab
1951 Chevy 3100
Formally OBXcamper


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