So, we bought a Goldy! – part2

As mentioned on my last post, we bought ourselves a Goldstream Crown 4B camper trailer however we had a number of factory upgrades and modifications applied, plus I made some of my own modifications after delivery, and this post will talk about what we did and why.

In no particular order here’s what we changed:

Standard factory upgrades

  • Off Road Pack, provides the following upgrades:
    • 150 × 50mm Main Chassis Rails
    • 15” Sunraysia Wheels with 31/10.5R15 Tyres
    • Heavy Duty Eye-To-Eye Springs
    • Shockers On Each Wheel
    • 12” Brake Hubs
    • 100amp battery pack with C-Tek charger
    • Checker plate protection front,
    • Water tank checker plate protection.
  • Independent suspension
    • For increased towing stability, robustness etc. when travelling off-road
  • Laminated galvanised tin floor
    • This is placed on the underside of the van, the side exposed to the road, and as standard the painted face of the wooden plywood is exposed to the road which is probably fine in most cases however I felt the galvanised tin laminate would provide extra protection against mud and moisture
  • DO35 hitch
    • I love this hitch!  I’ve only ever had a traditional ball hitch before and when buying this van had decided on upgrading to a Tregg hitch however I did a bunch of reading and took a leap of faith based on what Mr Google had to say on the situation and upgraded to the DO35 hitch.  It’s easy to position and hitch, secure as all buggery and fully articulated for those tricky off road track situations.  I also figure it acts as a bit of a thief deterrent as not many cars have a DO35 towing arrangement so to steal my van you’d have to tow it by the chains only or bodge something up.
  • Hot dip galvanised chassis
    • Whilst I don’t expect to be doing much salt water crossings in the van, I felt the extra cost of galvanising the chassis was a good investment and should see it last longer
  • Additional 9kg gas bottle with change over switch
    • The van came standard with a single 9kg gas bottle, mounted on the a-frame, however I wanted the second bottle so I’m never caught out of gas when I’m a long way from a refill point.  Our van only uses gas for the hot water system however we also had an external gas bayonet point fitted so we can run our little BBQ off the van and don’t have to carry a loose gas bottle for it.
  • 2x additional 12volt internal power outlet
    • As you’ll see below, I’ve done some extensive 12v system upgrades and we can be pretty much power self sufficient as long as we get a few hours of sun every 3 to 4 days.  To utilise this power I had a 12v point put near the bed for charging phones or running a fan and another point under the table for running/charging laptops, camera battery chargers etc.
  • 1x additional 12volt external power outlets
    • The external 12v outlet is for running additional lighting but may also be used for a fan if needed
  • Upgrade of awning to Fiamma brand/model
    • As standard the van comes with a cheaper chinese brand awning which I’d read some people had bad experiences with so we upgraded to the Fiamma awning.
  • Cable installation (pre-wire) for Solar Panels
    • I fit my own solar panels to the roof so to save my having to drill cables holes and trying to fish large solar cables through the roof cavity (if there even is a cavity?) I sent Goldstream my solar cable and had them pre-install it for me with one end in a roof mounted junction box and the other end coiled near the battery
  • Add gas hot water system
    • One of our creature comforts and we love having hot water without having to boil a kettle.  The system is 15l which is plenty for dishes and even quick showers.
  • Add external shower
    • Another one of our creature comforts, one the outside of the van there’s a little hatch which opens to a flex shower head with hot/cold water taps.  Great for rinsing off, or warming up on a cold day.  If we’re remote we go au-naturel but if around people we stand up a little pop-up ensuite tent for some privacy
  • Add extra 60l water tank
    • We lucked it a bit here.  We thought our van came standard with one 60l tank so we ordered a second, however with the addition of the hot water system and shower, we got a second tank included so out tank upgrade means we have 3x 60l tanks, 180l in total, which is plenty for an extended trip off-road
  • External water tap on a-frame
    • Great for washing your hands after you’ve finished setting or packing up.  Also, if we’re mains water connected, I can attach a hose for rinsing down my kayak or the car etc.
  • Add (and relocate from standard position) external gas bayonet fitting
    • We had our external gas bayonet placed at the rear of the van, allowing us to ‘cook out the back of’ (behind) the van to minimise clutter (and smoke/grease) under the awning area.  My bayonet lead is 3m so we can easily swing our BBQ under the awning if it’s raining.
  • LED lighting (inside and out)
    • I think our model was one of the first to come out with factory fitted LED lighting as standard, low power, very bright and no blown bulbs to worry about.

 

Non-standard factory modifications

  • Upgrade 3way fridge to 12/240v compressor fridge
    • We already have an 80l Engel fridge/freezer and love it.  The compressor fridges (Engel, Waeco etc.) are well proven and reliable.  Based on my reading I’d learned that ‘standard’ 3way (gas / 12v / 240v) fridges 1) struggle in temps above 30C 2) can’t be run on gas whilst driving (for obvious safety reasons) and 3) whilst on 12v for driving, that they don’t actually cool, rather they run a 12v fan which trys to keep the cool air circulated to maintain a temperature..  You can upgrade these to a ‘tropical’ rated fridge however this only address point1 above and even then I had still read of people having fridge cooling issues when the temp got above 36C which isn’t that hard where we travel.  So, an upgrade to a compressor fridge (Waeco CR110) was an obvious choice for us and it’s great.  Admittedly it does chew a bit of battery power, particularly when the van is warm, however I’ve got plenty of solar and battery power so that’s not an issue.  This fridge can run all the time, even whilst driving, so we always have a cold beer waiting for us.
  • Remove Microwave (240v only) and replace with additional large pot drawer
    • Jules and I had a longish chat about this..  Whilst the microwave would come in handy for those times where we had 240v mains hooked up, we figured we’d never needed a microwave whilst we were camping in tents so why did we need one now, so we got it removed and had a large pot drawer put in its place.
  • Upgrade window flyscreens to Midgey Mesh
    • Once bitten twice shy they say.  If you’ve ever been bitten by midgeys in Australia’s north you’ll understand why midgey mesh is so important.  Normal flyscreen has holes around 1mm x 1mm whereas midgey mesh is 0.6mm x 0.6mm and stops the bugs.  We were concerned that the reduced mesh size would stop the airflow/breeze through the windows however our experience has been that this isn’t a problem.  Luckily our van has 360 degree windows so when they’re all open we get a lovely breeze through the van.
  • Relocation of standard external 240v power outlet
    • By default the external power outlet is located on the left/passenger/door side of the van in the middle however we had it move to the rear of the van (on the same side) so that the power lead doesn’t run straight through the under-awning camping area which all the seats (and seat legs) are.
  • Upgrade to swing-up jockey wheel
  • Remove of slide out bed supports (posts on a-frame)
    • The chassis is a standard one which caters for the slide out beds of the other models so we had these posts removed.
  • Mounting of the 12v water pump on carpet
    • Helps minimise the noise (rattle) of the pump when it’s operating

 

Custom modifications I made after receiving the van

  • 12v power system upgrade
    • This was the bulk of my custom modification work as I wanted to be pretty much self sufficient from a (12v) power perspective.  To do this I bought and installed:
      • 4x 100W flexi solar panels to the van roof.  These were sika flexed to the roof and wired in parallel (for 400W  total) to my pre-wired solar cable
      • The Redarc BMS30 (often called “The Manager30”) battery management/monitoring system, this replaced the factory supplier 240v C-Tek battery charger.  I could write a page on the Redarc BMS30 (in fact I may make it another post) however i summary it’s a single unit, fanless so no noise, that accepts solar, 240v mains and 12v ancillary power inputs and picks the best, most green, of these sources to keep the batteries charged.  As it controls all input sources at the same time as monitoring all output (loads) it can monitor, manage and forecast your power usage.  I love it.
      • A second 100amp deep cycle battery to give me 200amps of power
      • I also had to partially rewire the 12v side of my van to ensure the BMS30, second battery and solar panels were setup how I wanted them.  This wasn’t as difficult as it sounds and anyone with google and multi-meter could do it.
        • If I get time I may create another post specifically talking about my 12v setup and include some wiring plans however if you want more info in the meantime drop me a line via this page
  • Fitting of water tank level sensors (3 off)
    • This was a pure cost saving thing, Goldstream were going to charge me $150 per sensor but I bought the three sensors and a triple panel for about $160 which were easy to fit.
  • Changing of all locks, including the lockable water filler caps with a CAMEC one-key lock system
    • My van has 7 external locks, not including the door, for things like the boot, water fillers, shower etc.  Every bloody lock was keyed differently so I replaced them all with the CAMEC one-key lock system.  I think it’s over priced for what it is but it is brilliant just having a single key for all external locks now.
  • Replacement of swing up jockey wheel with a ratcheting jockey wheel
    • My shed has a slight incline in the floor (for water runout) and we found pushing the van in very difficult so an Alko ratcheting jockey wheel makes this very easy
    • Note for carrying the jockey wheel whilst driving, I’ve also fitted a second jockey wheel lock to the rear bumper of the van so it hangs there, rather than having to bounce around inside the car of van boot, damaging things.
  • Fitting of combined 12v (cigarette) and dual USB power outlets in lieu of single 12v (cigarette) power outlet near bed
    • Let’s us run the fan in the 12v outlet and charge our mobiles at night
  • Installation of a Stone Stomper stone guard system
    • Again Dr Google pointed me down the Stone Stomper path.  We haven’t done a lot of off-road driving yet however the Stone Stomper seems to be doing a great job.  I’ll know more later this year as we’ve got a couple of thousand kms of dirt roads to drive in our next big trip.
  • Fitting of a bunch of holders and brackets to keep all the handles, winders etc neat and accessible
  • Fitting of a carrying tube for things like fishing rods or tent poles (but probably not a good idea to carry both at the same time)
  • Fitting of a rear, external video camera for reversing (also included fitting the camera and video display in my Prado)
    • For a couple hundred dollars I got a dual camera kit with the integrated rear view mirror/video screen from Elinz. Following the guides on Google, it was easy to install in the Prado with a small reversing camera and the extended it through to the van.  The biggest unplanned benefit of this camera is that I can switch the rear van video on whilst driving, allowing me to see what’s happening behind the van, who’s approaching etc.  Even though our pop-top is low when driving I still can’t see anything out of the rear mirror so this camera is gold.
  • Fitting of shelves in above bed cupboards

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