It’s been 6 months since we have been living full time in the van. Our tiny home on wheels. So how has it gone, how have we found it, are we ready to pack up and head back to a brick and mortar home, are we still married 😁 or are we just getting started and settling into this life and looking forward to many many more great times ahead? How much has it cost us, what difficulties have we faced, any repairs or anything broken?
This information is for our records, those that are travelling, those thinking of travelling and our followers who might also find it interesting, these are questions people often ask us. Our costs and experience is based on our setup, how we like to travel, there are only 2 of us and the dog Jess. Each state and destination is going to bring about different costs and challenges.
So let’s get it out there. No we have no intentions of going back to a brick and mortar home for a long time. Yes we are still married 😂 We love our tiny home on wheels and feel like we have only just starting to settle into living in it full time, with loads more places to explore.
Any issues with the van? In the first few weeks the tyres gave us some issues with several punctures, so we replaced the lot with better quality tyres but with a slightly lower tyre rating which meant we needed a new compliance plate on the van stating the new rating of the tyres which does give us a much broader range of tyres to choose from moving forward. The old rating was very hard to find tyres that matched.
The rear lights on the van had to be replaced as Chris mistakenly thought they would handle 24v from the truck but they didn’t AND there was supposed to be a 12v trailer plug converter on the truck, but that hasn’t been wired up properly by the SSM. So we bought some nice new larger much better ones, 12/24v, that just happen to be the same as the trucks. Chris changed these over in Townsville.
We did have some warranty work done in Innisfail that Snowy River Caravans covered where the floor needed some extra support beams under it.
Apart from those few things the van has gone great, everything has stayed put in cupboards, no breakages, we are very comfortable. The 12v setup of lithium batteries, solar, inverter charger etc have gone great. Chris has been very impressed with it’s performance, so much so we will be making some significant changes in the very near future. In a sunny climate we have been able to run the 3 way fridge mostly on 240v and heated the hot water on 240v all off grid.
The Isuzu NPS truck is a beast, it has gone awesome. We don’t do big day travels so don’t find it uncomfortable, we can see so much more, it tows the van easily, we feel so much safer in it.
You have to think about parking a bit more, park a little further away, use double parks or Chris backs into a park where the rear of the truck can hang over a garden bed or nature strip not in anyones way.
Jess absolutely loves the truck, she gets very excited when we tell her it’s travel day. Racing to the truck with her front paws on the top step ready to be lifted in. We did have a ramp she could race up but it was more hassle to setup than just lift Jess’s butt up. She lies in a soft crate in the middle of the back seat on a board and looks out the front window, one very happy dog.
The only issue we had was a rock hit the front windscreen from a passing car and cracked it. It needed to be replaced, covered by 1 free replacement under our insurance. A few weeks later we had the same thing leaving a star chip that Chris was able to patch before it got any worse and hopefully will hold. Seems these big windscreens are a little prone.
One other issue we should mentioned is not so much an issue with the truck itself but a mistake made by AAV at time of registration, who are the SSM (Second Stage Manufacturer). Our vin number was mixed up with another truck’s vin that went to South Australia. Our 2nd set of keys also went to the same truck. Result our registration and insurance had the wrong VIN and engine numbers. Qld Transport are also responsible as they did not confirm the right VIN number at time of inspection. We were made aware of this at Charleville, we quickly informed our insurance of the correct Vin and next business day went into the TMR at Charleville, the lady there was excellent. Due to the other truck being in SA it required action by the owner of that truck and the SA rego department before the current Vin and Engine numbers could be associated with our truck and the registration details reflecting that. This all took approx 4 weeks with the lady at TMR Charleville keeping us informed at every step. Mistakes happen, but the the sales person we dealt with when buying the truck and who made the mistake was not very helpful, did not take any responsibility and brushed us off. The owners of AAV were the opposite tried to be helpful and apologetic. We have been told since then further checks have been put in place so this can’t happen again.
The setup in the back of the canopy & solar/ lithium battery setup are going awesome. The truck is like our generator and we can move power from it over to the van. We have also been able to and have done so many times fill the water tanks in the truck and transfer water over to the van. Only issue we have had here is a pump failed with a small $3.50 microswitch failing. A visit to Jaycar and all fixed.
Overall we are very very happy with our combined setup of mobile home on wheels. We have had soooo many admiring comments about the truck and how well Chris has set it up. Soooo many questions, and soooo many dropped mouths drooling looks as we drive past. It kind of stands out in a crowd.
The fuel economy on the truck and this is pretty well mostly towing the van has been very pleasing at 22L per 100km. This is on par or better than Landcruisers and Patrol wagons. With 240L fuel on board you do have to close your eyes when filling it up 😁
You are also very much at the mercy of the weather. We left in rain and had overcast, or wet weather on and off for months. It was not until we got to the Atherton Tableland area that we got consistent sunny days. Often the weather determines which destination, direction and roads you will take.
Our Costs 💰💰💰 will be covered in part 2.