A home away from home

A mo­torhome from Bris­bane is ready for any­thing, re­ports MARK HINCH­LIFFE

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

ATORTUROUS six-month, 37,000km test that in­cluded the no­to­ri­ously rough Road of Bones in Rus­sia has en­sured an Aus­tralian-made all-ter­rain mo­tor home is ready for any­thing.

Bris­bane ad­ven­turer Kym Bolton had two pro­to­types for his 2007 trek and af­ter in­ter­est from fel­low trav­ellers he went into pro­duc­tion with the ve­hi­cle he calls the EarthCruiser.

‘‘I had done a lot of ad­ven­tur­ous travel and looked around the mar­ket for a ve­hi­cle to tour the world, but there was noth­ing that ex­isted,’’ Bolton says. ‘‘So I de­cided to de­sign my own ve­hi­cle and had it sub­con­tract-built — which cost a small for­tune, be­ing all hand­made.’’

Two pro­to­type ‘‘ex­pe­di­tion ve­hi­cles’’ were built and he set off to see how they man­aged ex­treme tour­ing.

‘‘I made a list of 48 im­prove­ments and ap­proached a col­league of mine. We formed a com­pany and de­cided to build it,’’ Bolton says.

‘‘Noth­ing went wrong with the ve­hi­cles through­out the whole trip, but we changed the lay­out in­side and added an ex­ter­nal shower and the same type of wa­ter-pu­ri­fier used on in­ter­na­tional air­craft.

‘‘There were no se­ri­ous in­ci­dents, but we did have a cou­ple of Rus­sians drunk on vodka knock­ing on the door one night, and had some wash­ing and shoes stolen an­other night. So we put an emer­gency lighting sys­tem on the out­side.

He says the re­sult is a ve­hi­cle with se­ri­ous ad­ven­ture travel and off-road po­ten­tial.

More than 60 per cent of in­quiries have come from out­side Aus­tralia.

Bolton’s All Ter­rain Mo­torhomes was es­tab­lished with truck ac­ces­sory im­porter Lance Gil­lies. They don’t have a fac­tory; in­stead, they use spe­cial­ist com­pa­nies to in­stall parts to build the $185,000 mo­torhome.

‘‘The new cab/chas­sis ve­hi­cle is de­liv­ered to a spring man­u­fac­turer, where all the sus­pen­sion is changed and chas­sis work done,’’ Bolton says.

The ve­hi­cle then goes on to get the body­work with Bolton and Gil­lies mon­i­tor­ing qual­ity.

EarthCruiser uses a Mit­subishi Can­ter 4x4 chas­sis, pow­ered by a 4.9-litre, in­ter-cooled turbo-diesel with 117kW and 471Nm.

‘‘That is nor­mally a six-tonne truck, and we only have 1000kg on the back. So the power-to-weight ra­tio is quite spec­tac­u­lar,’’ Bolton says.

The EarthCruiser weighs less than 4500kg and can be driven on a stan­dard li­cence. It has a five-speed gear­box and two-speed trans­fer case. The sus­pen­sion is tuned for hard roads and the tyres are mil­i­taryspec­i­fi­ca­tion.

The rear pro­tec­tion bar in­cor­po­rates a 3500kg tow bar and tyre car­rier. The in­te­rior has moulded cab­i­nets, large win­dows, shower, toi­let, kitchen and a dou­ble bed. It has so­lar pan­elling, a diesel wa­ter/air heater and a diesel ce­ramic cook­top.

Ver­sa­tile: the EarthCruiser mo­tor home han­dles the rough (above) with the smooth (left).

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