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The Big Trip: Tow Rig and Van Modifications, Take 2

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Unfortunately we didn’t have the luxury of a test run before we headed off on our trip. It wasn’t until we were living on the road that we realised we didn’t have adequate power and storage, and that some things didn’t work as well as they should. So, after two months on the road, we made more modifications to our tow rig and van that made for a smoother journey.

Tow Rig Modifications

Car Storage

Even though we removed the back seats from our car we realised that the space wasn’t being used to its full capacity, so we made some modifications. Now, on the bottom level of the back seat area, we keep off-road gear such as our tent and stretcher beds, a folding table, chairs and beach tent. On the top tier we keep a gas burner, toolbox and what we call our ‘day tub’, which has books, bathers and anything we want to access quickly without setting up the van. There’s also space for jerry cans that carry 80 litres of water.

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Solar Panels

Setting up our 120W portable solar panels at each stop was proving to be tedious, and as we weren’t stationary for long our fridge was often lacking necessary power. As a solution, Drew joined the two foldable solar panels into one, bolted it to the existing roof rack, and wired it to the car auxiliary battery. Now, with constant solar exposure, we’re no longer slaves to powered camp sites.

Fishing Rod Storage

We love fishing but found manoeuvring our rods in and out of the car was quite a pain. Plumbing pipe fixed to the side of the roof rack was an easy and cheap solution.

Caravan Modifications

Deep Cycle Battery

The original van battery was constantly going flat even though it was powered by an 80W solar panel. Because it wasn’t holding charge we needed a new battery and chose a larger one (75Ah). We now have adequate charge for longer periods of time without relying on 240V power.

Three-way Water Tap

After a few weeks the van water tap started leaking into the cupboard underneath. We ordered a tap rebuild kit online containing the necessary parts to fix it (ours is called a ‘low boy’ tap). In hindsight, if we had a spare kit we wouldn’t have gone without a tap in the van for nearly one month.

The modifications made to our tow vehicle and caravan have made life on the road much easier. While we’re sure other necessary repairs and adjustments will crop up along the way, we hope it is mainly smooth driving from here.

Drew and Court are a Melbourne couple who are travelling around Australia for the next 10 months. They’ll be writing about their experiences for Without a Hitch, giving us the real story of life on the road.

Make sure you Sign Up to the Without A Hitch newsletter to keep up to date with Drew & Court on their travels or join the conversation on the Without A Hitch Facebook Page.

In their next post, Drew & Court will run throutalk about a simple but fundamental part of their van – the jockey wheel – and how their plans for use has affected their choice.

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