Toolbox
By Ros Bromwich

Glen Wallace from Tough Country Offroad Campers in Qld tells a now-familiar story. “We’ve been building our camper trailers for seven years,” Glen told us.

 

“It grew from my own liking of camping – it started eight or nine years ago with us going out to buy a camper, and not being able to find one that was either tough enough or that suited our budget at the time.

 

“I put pen to paper, recorded what I thought I wanted and approached a couple of builders and asked them to build one for me – from that was the birth of Tough Country. One of the guys that was manufacturing the trailer was quite impressed and from there word of mouth spread.

 

“Our trailers went mainly north, into the Cape, and that’s where we found our weak points and strong points. Feedback from customers helped with the development of the product.”

 

The business grew and Glen took the trailers to a couple of shows and that led to opening the company.

 

“We’re always looking for the perfect camper – I think we’re 98 per cent there – but we keep our ear open for good ideas from customers. We pride ourselves on our back-up support and the personal touch with customers.”

 

ON TOUR

 

The main Tough Country model is the Grand Tourer and Glen has also released the Weekender. “The Grand Tourer is designed as a serious offroader and not everyone is going to do that, so the Weekender is built along same construction methods as Grand Tourer – with the full length chassis, etc – it’s just not as heavy-duty and is designed for small 4WD and smaller cars.”

 

Suspension on Tough Country trailers is leaf spring and manufactured by Vehicle Components, a local company. Independent suspension is available as an option and Tough Country can supply independent airbag suspension if that’s what the customers want.

 

The Grand Tourer is a substantial unit, its dark powder-coated finish giving it a striking look. The trailers are all Duragal, excluding the checkerplate because you can’t buy it like that, says Glen, and Tough Country is one of the first companies to fully powder-coat an offroad trailer.

 

The sides of the 7ft x 4ft x 500mm trailer and the bed base where mattress sits are 1.6 zinc anneal; the chassis is made out of 100 x 50 x 3mm all galvanised RHS, with 2.1mm industrial black metal checkerplate.

 

The trailer is fully seam welded, completely sand blasted, epoxy prime etched and powdercoated twice. They do this for durability – it is highly resilient to stone chipping on rough tracks, and probably most important, tough enough for beach driving, to protect the running gear.

 

The Grand Tourer is quite purposeful-looking. Chassis features include extra long (1.65m) drawbar for better manoeuvrability, shackle to shackle All Terrain six leaf rebound springs rated at 1.6 tonnes, polyurethane bushed, steel sleeved, inbuilt shockie eyes, axle 50mm sq with six-stud hubs (five-stud optional), electric brakes (10in) standard on Grand Tourer and Tourer models, All Terrain (AT) offroad coupling rated at 3.5 tonnes, recovery points front and rear.

 

Useful features of the Grand Tourer include the full-width utility box at the front for high lift jacks, long shovel, brooms, extra poles, etc; at the rear under the chassis there’s bracketry prewelded for a pole carrier. On the nearside a box to house a 1kVA generator is supplied, with twin gas bottle rings. Other feature include four jerry can holders, 60 litre water tank, pneumatic jockey wheel (swing-away type), six-stud hubs with 15x7 Sunraysia rims fitted with two new tyres, (spare is second-hand).

 

The swing-open tailgate at the back is fitted with automotive dust seals to stop any dust ingress into the closed down camper and the kitchen is available whether the unit is in travelling mode or the camper is fully set up.

 

The kitchen swings out on the tailgate and is pretty basic, with two gas burners, griller and stainless steel sink with a handy snap-on connector to the water tank.

 

“There are two reasons, one is many people have their own gear and also the Grand Tourer is designed for serious offroading – a lot of fittings you see such as drawers and cheaper stoves can’t handle the corrugated roads and collapse very easily,” says Glen.

 

“Another thing that people don’t think of until they experience it is that it’s hard to keep ants and rodents out, so we don’t run drawers and cabinets because you can’t seal them properly. We prefer sealable container buckets (from kitchen stores) instead. But we’ll do whatever the customer wants.”

 

The Grand Tourer followed obediently enough behind our resident Falcon station wagon. Setting up the side-opening canvas section is the usual up and over procedure, with one central bow stretched to its full extent before pegging out and putting in the two corner poles, but is definitely for two able-bodied people. With practice one strong person could do it solo, but Glen says that gas-assisted struts on the trailer lid make it possible for someone with a bad back to manage and he is always happy to design something that a customer needs.

 

First step in setting up is to remove the strong black zip-on cover. This is designed to be roomy so there’s space to carry items, such as tables and chairs on top of the tent section.

 

Camper sleeping area is 3m x 2m (10ft x 7ft6in) and sleeps a family of up to six comfortably. The main bed (step supplied) has queen mattress (with storage under, can be accessed from outside), there is a heavy duty PVC vinyl floor and five windows in main camper plus one big ocean view window. All models are supplied with midge-proof screens giving plenty of ventilation. Grand Tourer comes standard with 8ft annexe with zip-on walls. The tent area of the camper is made from quality Australian-made Dynaproof canvas with 12 gauge zips: 12oz on the walls, 15oz on the roof, with reinforced pressure points on peg tie-downs. Poles are height-adjustable and guy ropes are strong and easy to handle.

 

Optional extras include a toolbox, boat carrier, bike carrier, Flojet pump system and more.

 

SUMMING UP

The Grand Tourer is a large camper but is versatile: its living area can be as big or as small as you want. You can turn it into a four-bedroom camper, but for a quick weekend away the main camper and annexe roof can be put up in 15 minutes or so, while putting it up in its full glory might take over an hour. It’s been built to tackle the rough stuff and Glen backs his claim that it is a serious offroad unit.

 

Tough Country has a network of dealers in NSW, Vic and Qld.

Pricing is competitive, with the Weekender starting from $8995, and the Grand Tourer from $16,495 (depends where you buy as taxes, etc, differ between States). Tough Country Offroad Campers are backed by a 100 per cent manufacturer’s 12-month warranty.

 

Tough Country Offroad Campers has dealers in NSW, Vic and Qld, call (07) 3207 9380 for more information, website www.toughcountry.com.au.

 

TOUGH COUNTRY GRAND TOURER SPECIFICATIONS

Advised Tare  :           650-740kg depends on model

Advised ATM:            Not supplied

Advised ball weight:  48-90kg depends on model

Price:   From $16,495

 

GOOD POINTS

Roomy build for family holidays

Rugged construction for tackling the rough stuff

Powder-coated finish

 

NOT SO GOOD:

Kitchen very basic

Hitching on needs muscle

 

 

Published : Tuesday, 31 July 2007
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