A new home

The Bolwell edge re­turns after a four year ab­sence. does it still meet mar­ket ex­pec­ta­tions?

Camper Trailer Australia - - CONTENTS - words and pics MAX TAY­LOR

Is lighter bet­ter? There’s no straight­for­ward an­swer to that ques­tion. After all, some peo­ple love their crea­ture com­forts in their cam­pers and car­a­vans. Some love their space. And, ul­ti­mately, there’s a weight penalty to be paid for every ad­di­tional square foot and fea­ture packed into the rig.

But in re­cent years, cam­pers that of­fer a rea­son­able amount of liv­ing space, not to men­tion fea­tures, have come to the fore. Part cam­per trailer, part car­a­van and typ­i­cally re­ferred to as hy­brids, in many cases they of­fer a sen­si­ble com­pro­mise be­tween weight, size and in­clu­sions.

The Bolwell Edge is one such cam­per. It burst on to the RV scene circa 2010, with RV types such as yours truly won­der­ing if this was the rig of the fu­ture. Com­pris­ing in­ner and outer fi­bre­glass shells which, to the ca­sual ob­server, look like a one-piece con­coc­tion, with fully moulded fi­bre­glass in­ter­nal cab­i­netry, the Edge was a sight to be­hold. Frankly, there weren’t too many com­pa­nies mak­ing them like that back then.

While the Edge was un­ques­tion­ably a fore­run­ner in this cat­e­gory, times have changed. But has the Edge kept up? We de­cided to hitch it up and take it for an­other spin.

EX­PE­RI­ENCED HANDS

The Edge and its sta­ble­mate, the Bolwell Air, are now be­ing fit­ted out by Track Trailer, the com­pany be­hind the Tvan and Topaz.

In a nut­shell, the chas­sis, the Sure-Foot in­de­pen­dent coil sus­pen­sion, and the body, are still be­ing built by Bolwell. But after these ar­rive into Track Trailer’s Out­back HQ fac­tory in Bayswa­ter North, Vic, the ex­pe­ri­enced hands at Track will do the rest. This in­cludes the in­stal­la­tion of ap­pli­ances, can­vas, win­dows, wiring, and so on. Out­back HQ also per­forms all as­pects of qual­ity con­trol, in­clud­ing wa­ter del­uge test­ing, and is re­spon­si­ble for dis­tribut­ing the van through its dealer net­work and han­dling all war­ranty claims.

Ad­mit­tedly, our re­view rig was still wholly a Bolwell cre­ation and we’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing the im­prove­ments that Track Trailer will no-doubt make. Nonethe­less, with its small foot­print and (re­verse) teardrop shape, the Edge is an eye-catch­ing num­ber, re­gard­less of who built it. Fun­da­men­tally, it re­mains an in­ter­est­ing rig.

In­side, it’s a no-fuss, sen­si­ble lay­out, with the kitchen along the rear, where the head­room is great­est (2m with the roof up), dinette in the cen­tre, and east-west bed at the front where

the ta­per­ing roofline is of no great con­cern in terms of head­room.

At­trac­tive though it is, the Edge doesn’t have masses of stor­age. There are three draw­ers un­der the rear­most bench, a side nook that uses bungee cord rather than a cup­board door to keep things in place, a small wardrobe in the en­trance, and a two-shelf pantry be­neath the off­side bench.

There’s a stor­age com­part­ment un­der each dinette seat, though you’ll need to re­move the cush­ions and ply bases to ac­cess them, in­evitably mak­ing these spots un­suit­able for stor­ing the stuff you use every day.

It’s the same with the un­der-bed stor­age com­part­ment: after you’ve re­moved the dinette ta­ble, it’s a mat­ter of lift­ing up half of the mat­tress (which is ef­fec­tively two sin­gle mat­tresses, zipped to­gether in the mid­dle so that it ‘splits’ in half) to ac­cess the space be­neath. This is where you’ll find the op­tional Truma re­verse-cy­cle air-con­di­tioner, which vents to ports at the front of the cam­per, as well as the 105Ah AGM bat­tery, with the CTEK charger in the space un­der the near­side seat.

Other fea­tures in­clude a Fu­sion au­dio sys­tem just above the front wardrobe along with iPod dock­ing sta­tion, both of which are paired with the Fu­sion speak­ers at the front of the van.

Light­ing is, nat­u­rally, all 12V, with a strip of LEDs ei­ther side of the cam­per. Speak­ing of

12V light­ing, I like the read­ing light setup at the head of the bed. Rather than fix read­ing lights per­ma­nently to the van, Bolwell has fit­ted 12V sock­ets, so you can plug in your own – Narva lights are avail­able as an option.

An­other elec­tri­cal item worth men­tion­ing is the ‘post’ that pops up out of the kitchen bench, com­pris­ing four 240V pow­erpoints. It looks nifty but I’m not sure how prac­ti­cal it is to have four pow­erpoints all in the one spot, es­pe­cially in the kitchen. I’d pre­fer them to be spread out around the cam­per.

LOW PRO­FILE

The Edge has an un­mis­tak­able – edgy? – pres­ence on the road. With its low pro­file and a sus­pen­sion setup specif­i­cally de­signed for the chas­sis and cam­per body, it dis­plays ex­cel­lent tow­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics. Hitched to my old Land Cruiser Ruby by its D035 of­froad cou­pling, the cam­per be­haved pre­dictably, al­ways keep­ing to heel.

While it could prob­a­bly with­stand some of­froad pun­ish­ment, this rig isn’t built for those kinds of adventures. Think rough roads rather than Cape York’s Gun­shot.

When it’s time to set it up, it’s just a mat­ter of un­do­ing two clips at the back, head­ing in­side, and pop­ping up the roof.

The Edge rides on a cus­tom Bolwell gal­vanised steel chas­sis, com­pos­ing 100mm main rails welded to 75mm rails that run back

to the sus­pen­sion – there’s a lot of steel sit­ting un­der this rig. How­ever, there’s also a lot of ca­bling un­der­neath and while it’s not in harm’s way, it could be pre­sented more neatly. The wa­ter tank is pro­tected with a sheet of gal steel.

Aside from a stor­age bin in the rear off­side cor­ner, the main ex­ter­nal stor­age com­part­ment is the front boot which, de­spite hous­ing a ded­i­cated bin for the dual 4.5kg gas cylin­ders, is sur­pris­ingly large. It’s a good thing too, be­cause the Edge’s op­tional awning and rear en­suite tent are both can­vas num­bers, so you’ll need some­where to store them when un­der way. Bolwell has, sen­si­bly, fit­ted a holder for all of the as­so­ci­ated poles, though.

The big­gest ex­ter­nal fea­ture of this cam­per is un­doubt­edly the moulded fi­bre­glass, slide-out kitchen, with a two-burner cook­top that plumbs to a nearby gas bay­o­net, and hot and cold wa­ter at the sink.

Vis­ually, the fi­bre­glass curves with gel­coat fin­ish of the Edge are ap­peal­ing and func­tional. The rear-mounted spare wheel, for ex­am­ple, is nes­tled within a moulded re­cess, sur­rounded by tail­lights and the rear-view cam­era above. Mean­while, the black ure­thane stone chip pro­tec­tion should pro­tect the cam­per for years – it’s very tough.

Next to the spare wheel, the Edge gets an ex­ter­nal shower as stan­dard, to go with the afore­men­tioned op­tional rear en­suite tent.

Now, the stan­dard wa­ter tank ca­pac­ity of 80L won’t last long if you use that shower and wash your dishes more than once in the same week. But the good news is that a sec­ond 80L tank is avail­able as an option. Bet­ter yet, you can hook the Edge straight up to town wa­ter, so your hot shower will be lim­ited only by the ca­pac­ity of the 14L Truma hot wa­ter ser­vice.

The Ver­dict

While the Edge hasn’t changed dras­ti­cally since those early days, it re­mains a mod­ern tourer for two.

It tows as well as any sim­i­larly sized and weighted rigs on the mar­ket – if not bet­ter – and it has a rea­son­able amount of equip­ment on board.

Not every lat­est gizmo and gad­get is fit­ted, mind you, but enough to en­sure com­fort­able trav­els around Australia.

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: The spare tyre and tail-lights are re­cessed from over­growth and harm’s way; Au­to­mo­tive styling im­proves aero­dy­nam­ics en-route; Drop-in bread boards con­ceal pot-deep stor­age in the com­pact ex­ter­nal kitchen; Bolwell builds its own in­de­pen­dent trail­ing arm sus­pen­sion; The DO35 drop-on cou­pling de­liv­ers ease of use and am­ple ar­tic­u­la­tion.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Car­pet in the front boot sta­bilises gear en-route; Camp­site vis­tas from the kitchen; 140L fridge for all your essentials; Glass cov­ers for the in­ter­nal sink and two-burner gas cooker max­imise bench­top space; Ex­tend your tour­ing season with the op­tional Truma air-con­di­tioner; Store pressed clothes for spe­cial evenings be­tween camps; Although vented, aux­il­iary gas sup­plies are well pro­tected against gravel.

CLOCK­WISE FROM RIGHT: For­mal din­ing or break­fast in bed, you choose; The CTEK charger pro­tects the bat­tery; Com­put­eraided de­sign is ev­i­dent through­out.

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