December 31st – When most people are about to celebrate the new year with friends and food, we, on the contrary, left town on a road trip to the desert. We did bring food!
We have been back a few days, the truck has been fully serviced, and the first episode of the video report is ready. Once again the truck behaved beautifully. I remain convinced that it was a good choice for us and our way of traveling. We enjoy the fact that it is a compact vehicle in respect to all the functions it carries as a daily vehicle when necessary, and a comfortable go-anywhere camper truck as well. It does not call much attention since it looks more or less stock and plain. It is fairly light with an estimated full load of slightly over 400 kg loaded, out of a total payload of 1250 kg. The suspension is not stressed, neither is the engine. The compact size gives us access to pretty much all the 4×4 trails a Jeep or a Land Rover can drive. The length and limited ground clearance are the only limiting factors when trails become really rough, but our travels do not require us to drive these trails. I will soon replace the stock tires with more serious off-road tires of a slightly higher profile, and gain a couple of centimetres of ground clearance. Not much, but every little bit helps. I will report on the new tires soon.
We got used to life inside the camper, which is small but enough once organized and a routine established. We had to cook inside under the rain a few times on this trip and managed quite well. The bed mattresses are very comfortable and we sleep well. We haven’t yet had to face really high temperatures, but with the side windows open and the tailgate window up there should be enough ventilation.
The only part that has been giving me headaches is the electrical system. It seemed to be performing worse and worse, as I tried to improve it more and more. It started super simple: switching source of power was manual via un-plugging and plugging of cables. Now it is all automatic. All I have to do is turn the 12V power ON inside the electrical compartment and the source is detected and switched from engine to home battery to camping site 220V all by itself. But the fridge has been underperforming, the battery chargers as well. The home battery should be charged after a day of driving, sometimes it is, sometimes not. The fridge runs and runs but the temperature doesn’t drop. Yesterday I was running some tests and suddenly realized that there was a bad ground where the camper battery connects to the truck body. I repaired that then still had an intermittent connection. It turned out that the 100A fuse in the engine bay had a bad connection on each side. But still the camper had an intermittent connection somewhere else! It turned out that the 12V line from the engine in the camper had also bad connections. Incredible. I did all the electrical installation myself, only the 12V cable from the engine to the back was put in by a professional. I can’t believe he would not have tightened any of his connections. So I concluded that the vibrations, probably from the trip to Patagonia a year ago, loosened everything and gradually caused things to work only intermittently. I added a “Check/tighten electrical connections” to my Pre-trip checklist and will add thread-lock compound to the main connection screws. We will see on the next trip if the electrical behaves better now that these intermittent connections have been repaired.
The first episode of the video report is uploaded on youtube. See it here!