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Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

 
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Old 20 Nov 2008, 06:14 pm
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Cool Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

G’day…

I have seen this forum off and on for a while…thought I might join up and share the PT joy…

I drive a stock manual 2005 silver 2003 since new…and I still enjoy the car. Down here in Australia, they are fairly rare on the roads, so you still get a wave from other owners and kids like to check it out at the lights…



So…I also thought there maybe some interest in where I have been taking the PT and how I went about making it into the world’s smallest, coolest temporary motor home!

I just did 8 days in her to shake out the bugs and am interested to see if others have got some more ideas. People may be interested in seeing some of the country side down here, if so…let me know as the camera went everywhere with me and I’m planning more trips as summer starts to set in…



In order to make myself comfortable and for all this to be ridiculously affordable, I took out the back seats and made some clips to hold a 10mm plywood floor over the back seat well. This enabled me to just get 6’ of air mattress in the back with the front seats rolled forward (lucky, as I am 6’). I made push in soft foam window panels for back windows that provided insulation and privacy…throw a big beach towel or cloth over the front seats screens off the front area. I made some screens from mozzie netting and duct tape to fit over the front windows so that they can be wound down to provide plenty of ventilation. Very comfortable for one, could squeeze in two with some adjustments to the concept.

So…more room than a tent, comfortable and safe from the elements, off the ground away from the critters…almost zero set up time…and in most places the accommodation was ZERO…which is cheap in anyone’s currency.

Plus, the cruiser loved the road, got admiring or puzzled looks in some of the more out of the way places, was a joy to drive on the roads chosen (obviously it is not an off road vehicle…but it did find some interesting out of the wayplaces) and was surprisingly comfortable for this purpose…



So…for the first trip…I drove Victoria’s “Great Ocean Road” a truly spectacular drive and a real treasure…



Yes...that's right, I'm driving on the wrong side of the road!!!


Victoria is at the bottom of Australia and so is a bit different from what they show on the Australian advertising I imagine…this road winds for miles and miles of ever changing spectacular views around this coastline of surf beaches and through temperate rainforests.

Eventually, it opens up to spectacular limestone cliffs and monoliths in the southern ocean and then the sand dunes as you head across to south Australia.

Staying this way, I got to see all the usual Australian wildlife up close and personal and by taking advantage of the national parks and taking the PT a little ways down dirt roads into well managed National Parks, most days I could stay for free.

One more photo teaser…the most expensive place I stayed was $15 in a caravan park in Morengo bay (it’s good to have a hot shower occasionally!)…unlike the rest, the cruiser camper could take advantage of unpowered tent sites with no set up (other than to move a few things about and blow up the air bed)…and as an added bonus, the tent sites were clear of the caravans and other riff-raff and in the morning I woke up to this incredible sunrise out the back hatch…



Cost of the set up…maybe $100 odd dollars with no mods to the car including a butane stove, air bed and sleeping bag…adventure, priceless…

I’m happy to share if people are interested in doing this kind of thing or if others had done similar (I couldn’t find much) or seeing a bit of the trip and the beautiful landscape once you travel a little ways out of the city and perhaps some views of Australia that you haven’t seen…as well as helping plan a few more refinements and some more adventures…

Cheers…Pete
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Last edited by aussie_cruiser035; 20 Nov 2008 at 06:17 pm.
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Old 20 Nov 2008, 06:39 pm
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Default Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

G 'day aussie_cruiser035. I haven't seen anything like you are describing, but a number of PT's over here draw small teardrop trailers, usually to haul accessories for car show. We here normally stay at motels are they within everyone's budget and near all interstates and in small towns as well.

Good luck with your cruising!!!!
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Old 20 Nov 2008, 08:43 pm
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Thumbs up Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

Cool, AussieCruiser!
I see a few of your "mates" over on the West Valley Cruisers site.
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Old 21 Nov 2008, 12:16 am
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Default Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

I did a road trip last summer from Manitoba to Ontario. It was 5000km's round trip, I drove it in about 3 days, 2 getting there, and then 21 hours and quite above the speed limit on the way back! Lol! (It's a 26 hour trip driving speed limit)

The PT is THE ultimate road trip machine, I loved every second. I was on a tight schedule though, so I couldn't enjoy my time much as I had only a week off work, then in the middle of my visit my grandfather passed away. But to get to the point...

I had decided to camp in my PT at a truckstop on the way there, and had rigged up a way to make the PT into a nice bed. I folded the passenger seat flat, kept the rears in but folded them flat as well, put the parcel shelf across the "hole" between the front and rear seats, put a mattress on top, and instant bed! There is 8' of room or more from dash to tailgate which is more than ample for even the largest giant, and aside from having not realized that it would reach freezing temps at night and having grabbed the wrong sleeping bag for that, it was very comfortable. I still had room for lots of stuff in the car with me, even when sleeping in it.

Do both your front seats fold flat? It almost sounded that way to me. I had thought of modding my drivers seat to fold flat as well, and then there'd be room for two people in comfort in the car.

Neat idea on the window screen. Is the duct tape visible on the car when it's not on or is it out in the open? In the morning I had windows that were 100% fogged up and very hard to defrost. Obviously I could have used a bit of air movement in there.

Ben
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Old 21 Nov 2008, 02:56 am
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Smile Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

Hey their aussie_cruiser035,

Welcome to the Forum, and thank you for sharing a bit of your adventure with us!

I don't know of too many fellow PT'ers that have camped from their PT, but have seen some variations of tents, and trailers around that actually are available for making the PT into a really cool little camper, and so I figured I would take the opportunity to share a couple!

As mentioned above, most opt for pulling a Tear Drop Trailer, as the pT is great for pulling most any knid of trailer as long as it is at, or below 1000 LBS. The Tear Drop Trailer is made up of steel, and wood, and their are dozens of great in depth websited around with cool designs, and how to bluefprints to build one, which really overall looks to be pretty simple.



Then their was a cool looking little PT Tent Trailer manufactured by Global Truck Retrofit Ltd., a small company based in Kelowna, B.C. Unfortunatally, rumers had it that either Chrysler issued a law suit over the design of the trailer, or bought out the design, but the company shortly, and abruptly disappeared from the radar shortly after their debut in 2005.




Next you have the PT Tent which as far as I know is still available at this website.

Mopar OEM Chrysler PT Cruiser Outdoor Tailgate Tent 01-Up - AutoTruckToys.com





And last, but not least, we have the one guy I know of who said to heck with it, and built his own trailer out of a wrecked PT. I am not sure if he uses it for camping, or rather just for storage, but it does look kinda cool to me!





Interestingly enough, their was a guy who had posted a similar type of project that had been started, but never finished in the Classified section in this forum for $600 located here in Southern California. Too bad I didn't have the money, or I might have seriously looked at it!

Like Sooner Cruiser mentioned above, The Chief from I believe Sidney posts pretty regularly over at West Valley Cruisers on PT clubs, and stuff happening around Australia. Maybe one of these days, swing on by, and check him out in the Australia PT Club Chapter in the Forum over their! Chief always keeps us up on all the latest going on! You can find a link over their just under my signiture at the bottom of all my posts!
Anyways, I thank you again for sharing your road trip with us!

Anyways, thank you so much again for sharing your road trip with us! It looks like it was a great time!

Thake er easy!

Candyman
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Old 21 Nov 2008, 02:40 pm
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Default Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

I'd love to see photos of how anyone set up their Cruiser for overnight camping. Since we got our Cruiser a while back we've talked about the possibility of wife and I taking the Cruiser out next summer for a camp night or two. Over the years we had a motorhome, pull trailer and at the last, a great little pop-up camper. So, we're used to cramped quarters and making every inch count when loading for camp. Anyone have any photos? Just the Cruiser - not a trailer or tent. Love to see 'em.
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Old 21 Nov 2008, 03:45 pm
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Default Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

WELCOME!!!!

Aussie,

Where's a pic of your PT?
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Old 21 Nov 2008, 06:20 pm
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Default Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

Thanks everyone…

I have slept in the car with the seats folded and a mattress on top… It’s ok for a makeshift thing… but I didn’t find it at all comfortable…mainly because you end up at window height and very close to the ceiling. The back seats take up a surprising amount of space (the same space no matter how they are folded, but they are so easy to remove on this car, if you aren’t using them…taking them out and laving them home is a good plan.

I did have far more elaborate plans…I was thinking that I would have to make a tent kind of thing with the hatch open like that little cruiser pop-up thing…I was working out plans to do that, but my resources are limited (no sewing machine for instance). I might do something along those lines if I use it a bit so I could sleep at night with the rear hatch open on hot summer nights, but without the fear of bug bites!

I’ve seen pics and admired a lot of the teardrop things, but they aren’t super cheap…then there is maintenance, registration, limited towing weight and the stress of pulling a trailer (in fact a lot of places I went, you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to tow anything), increased camping costs in most commercial parks, extra fuel consumption, having the space at home to house the thing (a lot of people in cities don’t have the space to even consider it, yet perhaps need to get away more)…some may want to fish and tow a small boat I guess…some might not use it often at all, so don’t want to make that kind of investment…for me there was a whole range of things that I couldn’t overcome…my entire setup cost less than half the cost of fitting a towbar!



Above, the cruiser finally met it’s match and found the road impassable! Once into south Australia a lot of these back roads were compacted limestone and pure white and the car traveled along with a huge cloud of white dust behind it…the surface itself was quite smooth, but a little sandy. At the end of the road, it came to this dune…but there was camping spots in the area and a ‘donation’ of $5 requested. Just over this dune was a surf beach that went as far as the eye could see in every direction and there was nobody around for miles and not a foot print on the sand when I was there.



As I tend to over think things…it was good to find with the front seats pushed forward there was just enough length for my six foot frame…often I admit I had to sleep a little diagonally to really stretch out what with a pillow and the front seat against my head…but I assume not everyone is as tall as me!

Certainly, a lot of places I stayed cost absolutely nothing and were better than the commercial caravan parks in so many ways. A lot of these places would not have been accessible at all with a full set up. It is also handy if you are planning a trip…not a single destination. It is a hassle to carry everything around like a snail if you need to go somewhere in the car but intend to return to the same spot.

On my trip…I had no plans at all. Around 3-4 in the arvo I started thinking about where I should head from where I am to somewhere I could stay, in the morning, I would decided where I would head next and see what I found along the way. All I planned was that I had to be back by Thursday the next week!

I am aware of the Aussie cruiser clubs, but this was more about me escaping for myself for a little while. Some of it was for my health too, and when I got back I had to have a check up and my blood pressure had dropped over ten points for only a week away (more than any medication has ever done) plus I got a healthy tan, light exercise and was a lot more relaxed!

The idea was that I have been under a huge amount of stress, and this was a way to get away cheaply (money is always a stress of course) and at a moments notice without having to make an itinerary or any real plans at all. As a result I went and saw a lot of places and met a lot of really interesting people that you could never have planned for. I went to places that others told me about along the road that I should check out that were not really on the map…serious cruising where I didn’t have to worry about time or being somewhere or seeing something…just getting away.

While there is not a Mrs Cruiser035 anymore, I did keep this in mind…next post I will show the practical ways that I worked this out…maybe people could come up with some improvements. I went out yesterday looking at some tents, there are a few that go over the hatch…but again, expense and hassle and space in a small car might be prohibitive...

Pete

Quote:
Where's a pic of your PT?
oh..yeah, sorry...here's one from the road...



A little out of it's element...50km of dirt track to get here for the night...the only other people around were in a huge 4x4 with tents and stuff and they kept waiting for me to set up some kind of camp as I pulled in fairly late...instead, I just made myself a snack at the picnic tables and curled up in bad come the night...in the morning I was up and moving on within ten minutes...no fuss. Lot's of koalas and roos and things around, they claimed to see a tiger snake (another reason to sleep in the car!) but I didn't see anything so dangerous myself...the camp was very net and tidy, clean composting toilets and on the top of a hill...just out of the camp though it doesn't look like it is rain forest, lots of ferns and exotic birds flying about...very neat...surprisingly free!
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Old 21 Nov 2008, 06:25 pm
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Default Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

Ok…so, here’s how I did it…

“Construction” couldn’t be simpler.

Go to a hardware store and get a piece of plywood about ½” thick…if I recall mine was 12mm…make sure it is a nice smooth on both sides quality piece with no “voids” or anything…no point in skimping with something this small. A piece the width of the interior of the car and that fills the space the rear seat wells.

Take out the back seats, push the front seats as far forward as they can go…measure accurately and cut out to get something like this…



I have a router to round over the ends, but you could do this with a sander and all the cuts could be done with a common hand saw. Make sure you sand out any potential splinters (another reason to get a piece that is of some quality) and coat with a varnish or something.

The two piece design is very useful…with just me, I only need the larger one which gives even more space and the seat well behind the driver’s seat for sitting, changing and exiting the car. It also makes it easier to handle into the car, store and build…they can even make useful table tops at a picnic!

Make sure you cut the panels close (not necessarily tight) to the front seats as these stop the boards sliding around. You will need to cut out around that rear consol and the forward edge of the panels simply sit on the front seat mountings you will see with the seats forward.



At the same time, you will need to make 4 brackets. Aluminium is easy to cut with a hack saw but you will also need a vice for this job, some filing and sanding to ensure these things have no sharp edges that could puncture an air mattress.

The aluminium is 3mm (1/8”) thick and 40mm (1-1/2”) wide stock. What you are attempting to make is 4 simple L piece with a long side of about 3-1/2” and bend up about ¼”. Thake the whole bar and clamp it in the vice straight and firm with a half inch or more in there and bend by hand…tap it with a hammer till you get a right angle. Then cut it off to this size (this is a lot easier to do than trying to bend it exactly with such a small bend)…a pic makes it clearer…



These simply slide in to the rear seat mounts and extend half an inch below the floor level (handy as this should be the thickness of the ply…btw, don’t think of using chipboard or MDF…it needs the strength and durability really). The weight of the board should hold them in with the small hook level with the top of the seat mounts…make sure that the corners are rounded and no sharp bits and nothing sticks up…the result will be something like this…



This should give about 6’ of flat floor space with the seats as far forward as they can go and provide some handy storage space under as well. Of course with driving, you are going to have to take them out and slide the seats back, but on my trip, I kept the wider one in behind the passenger seat with three brackets and simply tilted back the passenger seat for the whole trip.



Besides the camper…this floor board idea might be of interest to people using the PT as a van with the seats out. You would have to make shorter floor boards and possible a way to have them supported in the well…but the brackets would be the same.

Next time I’ll show some pics of the mattress and some other basic needs and considerations…plus the window shades and ventilation system…

Pete
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Old 21 Nov 2008, 06:46 pm
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Default Re: Aussie Cruiser...Camper and Ocean Road adventure!

OK…you have a flat 6’ floor...a single mattress is about the width of the wider of the boards…a double should fit in between the rear wells ok but take up the whole floor space.

I have had those PVC velour type air beds and they always seem to get a mystery puncture. As you don’t need to carry them around…I found this box style older rubberized canvas heavy duty ones a lot more reliable, comfortable and hard wearing. Better and cheaper too!

Make sure you have the available space measurements worked out before shopping for the mattress…you don’t want it curling up at the sides around the rear wells or squashing up with the rear hatch closed because it is too long. Here’s mine…



Ah...I just noticed...this pic also shows my curtain...some fabric strung between an elastic from the roof handles and tossed over the front seat...hung up with pegs. In the end, I rarely used it like this...but the set up worked well for drying towels strung between trees...I just threw the cloth over the two front seat head rests...a beach towel would work just as well!

I had a matress like this but it had a slow seam leak before it even went anywhere…the photo shows though how it could work with a single bed and a single rear seat as well. Good perhaps for a trip for three potentially with accommodation in the car for one and 2 in a tent maybe. The wider board again is used to do this…



You will need a pump…this one has been good…



It will both inflate and deflate the bed in less than 3 minutes from a lighter socket.



The window shades are important…they provide privacy and insulation plus prevent condensation…they are also useful to pad a seat or stop things rattling around while dring and such…



from the outside they are fairly discrete…in fact I’ll be looking for some black ones and they will be invisible against the tinted glass…



However…this is the cheapest way. They are made from these very cheap ½” soft foam mats…I found them for $5 each at a discount place…you will need two. They cut easily with scissors but it helps to make a rough cardboard window shape and trace them onto the foam as they are held in by pushing them into the edges of the window frame. The rear hatch window required two parts joined with tape in the middle…this added a little stiffness as well that seems to help as well.



The ventilation is very important…especially if there is any heat…but sleeping in small unventilated space can be dangerous...at the very least you will wake up groggy and hung over!

So…to address this, I made up these things…they worked well, but are a work in progress still…



This is not a good picture…I’ll try and find something better. Basically…I got some insect mesh from a material shop ($2 a yard) and folded it around the front doors/windows. I then folded it over and used cloth tape around the edges (as I don’t have a sewing machine) and so they slip right over the door with an inner and outer layer.

Exactly the same idea as those window sock things but cheaper and fitted to the front doors. Open the windows an inch or so and I found that I got no rain in on the one day that might have been a problem…no mosquitos or other bugs at all!

Ah...here's a better pic...very DIY I know...but they held up and worked very well...now I might have to make something a little better perhaps...



This was at beautiful Blanket Bay that I came across by accident...I had the best bath ever in the crystal clear water in the rock pools down on the beach, heated by the sun then rinsed off with some cold water from a bucket...I have never felt so clean! No possible way of getting a van in there at all, very secluded...but again good composting toilets and "undrinkable" but exceptionally clean tank water (I am sure it's safe, but carrying drinking water is advisable). As I was setting up this little roo came out to watch me about two yards away...very cute...again, lots of wildlife (those koala's are embarrassingly loud at night!), beautiful safe beach and only a few people about...oh, again free at that time of year.

I also got a cheap silver tarp and cut it to the shape of the windscreen and into the doors that I used sometimes…it holds on by the front doors and window wipers. This added some more privacy and keeps the sun off the window. Also useful to lay on the ground for a picnic or something...most places I stayed had tables and sometimes fires...

Originally I got some elastic and strung it between the roof handles to support a cloth curtain hanging over the front seats…in practice I didn’t use it, simply throwing the cloth over the front seat headrests fine…with the windshield thing on…not necessary at all.

Next post I’ll show how it worked out in practice…

Pete
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Last edited by aussie_cruiser035; 21 Nov 2008 at 06:54 pm.
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