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VW Long Wheel Base VS Short Wheel Base – which is right for me?

There are a number of factors that come into play when deciding which size VW Transporter to purchase for your campervan conversion:

  • Price: The SWB vans are about $2000 cheaper than the LWB.
  • Availability: If you are looking for a used Transporter there are a lot more SWB vans available as opposed to LWB.
  • Internal space: 30cm does not seem like a lot, and it isn’t. However in such a small space it does feel like you are in a larger area with this extra 30cm, PLUS you get an additional 30cm wide storage area.
  • Your driving ability: Do you live in the inner city and use your campervan as your everyday vehicle? Think twice about a LWB. Yes it’s only 30cm but this small amount of space makes a world of difference when parallel parking on busy city streets or squeezing into the last spot available at the supermarket carpark.

We’d suggest – take a test drive at your local VW dealer of both the SWB and LWB and do some parallel parking of your own to see if you are comfortable in the larger van.

One last thought – having travelled in both many times, we do love the larger feel of a LWB, especially if you are travelling for extended periods of time in colder weather (and spending longer periods of time ‘living’ inside your campervan. HOWEVER, you will not miss the additional 30cm if you get a SWB.

Campervan pop top roofs – the difference between the European style and Vertical lifter

A question we get asked very often about campervan pop top roofs: why do you use the ‘European style’ pop top roof and what are the advantages of this type of roof compared to the vertical lifter style roof which is still commonly used in Australia.

There are two main reasons why we believe the European style roof is a much superior product:

  1. It is not ‘spring loaded’ (like the vertical lifter), but fitted with gas struts. This means we can tailor the difficulty of pulling down and up the roof to each client’s strength by letting in or out some gas to adjust the pressure.
  2. The gas struts do not make a sound when you are driving, as opposed to the springs on a vertical lifter which clang while driving.

Need more proof? Look around…the leaders in Campervan manufacturing and the big campervan markets are in the United Kingdom and Europe. They stopped using the vertical lifters 20 years ago. Volkswagen and Mercedes also have their own brand of campervan (not yet availbale in Australia but possibly soon!), the ‘California’ and ‘Marco Polo’ respectively, both also use the European style pop top roofs, and are at the forefront of auto innovation.

European pop top roof

European pop top roof

The difference between the VW T6 TDI340 and TDI400

Getting a new VW T6 and don’t know what all the jargon is about? Hopefully we can help!

Background: the 2.0Litre turbo-diesel engine is available in two ‘output level’s’ (VW calls them ‘output levels’ but from what I can ascertain this relates to the amount of power in the engine).

The TDI340, 103kw, 340Nm

Average fuel consumption from 7.2L/100km.

The Bi-turbo TDI400, 132kw, 400Nm.

Average fuel consumption from 7.6L/100km.

Basically, the TDI400 has an extra turbo giving it more power, which means it also uses a TINY bit more diesel.

Which do you need for your campervan? Either! The TDI340 is perfectly fine. “You would get the TDI400 if you want some extra “oomph””. (straight from the mouth of our VW contact!)

CAMPERVANS FOR SALE IN ADELAIDE

Looking for a campervan for sale in Adelaide? We don’t currently know of any companies that have campervans for sale in Adelaide so if you don’t plan on travelling out of the state your best bet is to visit caravancampingsales.com.au and browse through any local options for new or used campervans for sale. Although it’s ok to purchase from a private seller, it is always safer to purchase from a dealership if you can.

If you are up for the trip, Achtung Camper is a short flight away (Adelaide to Avalon airport) and only a 20 minute drive from Avalon airport (we would organise airport pickup/drop off).

If you do not want to make the trip down its easy to have your van sent on a truck or to have a driver pick it up. The cost is about $700.

We have many clients from Adelaide and ordering is done easily over email and the phone as we are able to post out any samples of material colours you are thinking about in the mail so you can see them in the flesh before deciding on your campervan colour scheme.

We also have many Achtung Campers driving around Adelaide and will try to organise for you to catch up with one of our happy customers to see a van in the flesh and hear about the experience first hand.

To view Achtung Camper’s campervans for sale visit http://achtungcamper.com.au/for-sale/

 

 

Campervan accessories – websites and shops to check out when shopping for your campervan

You’ve got your campervan but now you need the accessories! Where to start?

We’ve put together a list of the best value shops and websites to check out before you start your journey.

Justkampers.com.au

This is a UK based VW campervan accessory online shop that has EVERYTHING you need and more. Now with an Australian online shop based in Sydney, they have van hardware to electrical items to the kitchen sink. Literally.

Ikea

Yes that’s right, Ikea. They have great storage solutions for small spaces plus amazingly cheap bathroom and kitchen accessories, in plastic and other travel safe materials. We’ve picked up amazingly compact clothes racks, magnetic spice rack containers and tiny portable LED alarm clock/temperature gauges just to name a few.

Ikea storage

Ikea storage

BCF, Rays Outdoors and Aussie Disposals

Although Aussies seem to win on price, they just don’t have the range that you’ll find in the other two stores.

BCF is handy when looking for outdoor shelters/tent style marquees to attach to either the side or back of your van.

Rays has a great selection of camping chairs, kitchen necessities and lighting options.

Jaycar

If you pass a Jaycar pop in and check out their range of camping accessories, most being electric. They have some great lighting options and power solutions and can usually help you with any advice you’ll need on getting the right product for you.

Methylated Spirits camping cooker – product review

It seems that all the campervans for sale these days come with the same camping cooker – the Origo 3000 2 burner alcohol stove (available in Australia from Dometic). For those who have only ever cooked with gas we’ve got the lowdown on cooking with metho and why it seems to be the way of the future.

At about 10 times the price of a gas stove and the same size, you would be excused for doubting it’s value, however this cooker’s major benefit is a big one – No gas. No gas means no fumes, completely safe for inside cooking and no carrying around heavy and potentially dangerous gas bottles.

Fill up your alcohol cooker with 2 litres of metho before you leave for your trip and you’ll have enough fuel for a week of cooking. Don’t be deceived when you open the top of the cooker to fill it up with metho, it fits A LOT of liquid in there!

 

Pull out cooker in campervan conversion

The only downside that we’ve encountered is that they’re very slow cooking in windy conditions. If you are cooking outside, there’s a breeze and your water is taking AGES to boil then you’d be best to move the cooker inside out of the wind. We also supply a wind/weather protector with the cooker so you can use it outside in all conditions!

How does the leisure battery work in my campervan?

With an Achtung Camper campervan and most other campervans you will be fitted with a second leisure battery to run your campervan electrics from. This works automatically and ensures that your main car battery will never run flat.   The leisure battery automatically charges whenever the car is running and usually only needs about half an hour of the car running to get it back up to a nice point to be able to stay another night somewhere and run all your 12 volt appliances without a problem.

When stopping somewhere without power for a few days in your campervan (or if you don’t have a 240 volt connection in your van) you’ll be able to run your fridge, lights, TV, charge your mobile phone and laptop without a problem. You will be able to stand parked with your van and not turn it on for about 2 days if it’s colder weather and about a day if it’s quite hot. After a certain amount of time if you haven’t started the van and have been running all of these appliances your leisure battery will go flat. You will notice if it’s flat as the internal lights in the campervan will not turn on or will play up when you try to turn them on. The fridge will stay cold for a good 8 hours even if the power is out so this is not something to be worry about.

If you have noticed your leisure battery is flat have two options:

You can either start your car up and run it for 30 minutes or so to re-charge the battery or you can get your solar panels out and connect them which will recharge the battery.

You’ll need to have your solar connected for about a day to fully recharge your leisure battery if it’s completely empty.

If you are free camping and plan on spending longer periods in the one spot we’d suggest getting out your solar as soon as you arrive and placing it in a nice sunny position so you can forget about it and have unlimited power.

If you’ve got a 240 volt connection fitted in your van all you’ll need to do if you start running out of power is plug into a Caravan Park’s 240 volt outlet as opposed to getting out your solar panels.

To pop top or not to pop top? That is the question…

So you’ve decided on a campervan conversion and now need to make the decision of whether you want the added pop top roof. The answer depends on many different factors, all important when you are considering whether to fork out $8000 for an extending roof…

Your camping style – Do you plan on travelling or spending any time staying in cooler weather? If you actively avoid the cold weather and have an aversion to cooking inside your van then you need to have a think about how much time you will spend standing up inside your campervan. If your cooker is portable and you can sit down to prepare/cook food inside the van or don’t plan on cooking or washing dishes inside the van then you may have no need for the additional height a pop top will give you.

Your age – Without being ageist, I am going to make the assumption that the older you are, the more issues you may have with your back and the more likely you are to require the ability to stand up completely straight while moving around inside your campervan. Similarly, someone young might not mind walking the few feet from the bed to the door with their stooped slightly.

Your health – As per the above, if you have issues with your back you will most likely need a pop top roof.

Your height – Although this doesn’t have to be a deciding factor, if you’re over 6 foot you might decide the additional height is a must.

Your budget/alternate options.- If the additional $8000 for a pop top roof is going to break the budget but you’d like a bit of additional height consider the alternatives.

Re-sale – How long are you planning on keeping your van? Vans without a pop top roof are harder to re-sell as the majority of people assume they require one (even though they may not!).

The VW Transporter is also available in a mid roof. Although you’ll need to check on the internal height of your garage if you plan on keeping it inside, this is often a good option if you don’t want to pay for a pop top. Keep in mind that you can’t stand up completely upright in one of these unless you are quite short. They will however, give you that extra bit of height which will make the van feel more roomy inside and also give you additional storage space inside the roof above the front seats.

VW mid roof and low roof

VW mid roof and low roof

VW Campervan with pop top roof.

VW Campervan with pop top roof.

A motorhome/larger size van such as a Mercedes Sprinter or Fiat Ducato (think ambulance sized!) are larger sized vans both in height, length and width. This means you can stand up inside and also have more room for campervan features. On the downside they may be that tiny bit too big for those living in cities and built up areas or who aren’t the best parallel parkers…