Ready for any­thing

When it comes to solid, well-built vans, Gold­stream RV nails the brief, and the 2013 16ft FKST is a prime ex­am­ple.

Motorhome & Caravan Trader - - Contents Issue 202 -

Gold­stream RV’S 2013 16ft FKST is a solid, well-built van

Pic­ture this. You’re tour­ing north along the Stu­art High­way. Des­ti­na­tion: the Kim­ber­ley. Just north of Alice, you have a de­ci­sion to make. Take the short­cut along the red-earthed Tanami – 1000km of ruts and cor­ru­ga­tions that’ll rat­tle the bones of the stur­di­est car­a­vans – or take the long way around, via Ku­nunurra.

If you’re any­thing like me, you’d want to get off the bi­tu­men and camp un­der the stars, beer in hand, boots filthy. Parked at that turn-off, I’d kick my­self if I didn’t have faith in my van’s abil­ity to with­stand the tribu­la­tions of that for­mer stock route.

That’s the niche filled by Gold­stream RV. Its vans are the prod­uct of cus­tomer feed­back gleaned from rough-and-tum­ble out­back tour­ing, and from builders who ev­i­dently en­gage their grey mat­ter when putting their rigs to­gether.

The man­u­fac­turer has been plug­ging away in Pak­en­ham, Vic, since the early 1990s and it’s not a com­pany that rests on its lau­rels, ei­ther. The 2013 16ft FKST (front kitchen, shower and toi­let) pop-top re­view van came smartly dec­o­rated with a mod­ern CNC in­te­rior that be­lies the van’s out­back at­ti­tude and is sure to turn heads.

VER­SA­TILE TOURER

The 16ft (in­ter­nal length) FKST has been on the mar­ket in one form or an­other for a num­ber of years. While the op­tions have changed a lit­tle, its ba­sic ethos hasn’t. This is a pop-top for com­bined black­top and rough-road trav­el­ling. The Tanami and Gibb. The Ood­na­datta. The Gun­bar­rel? Why not?

Fit­ted as stan­dard with Gold­stream’s Aussie Ad­ven­ture Pack, there’s plenty of tour­ing ver­sa­til­ity on of­fer in this 2013 model. Al-ko in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion, a cut­away rear for a much-im­proved de­par­ture an­gle, a cou­ple of jerry can hold­ers, 3mm com­pos­ite alu­minium walls (a con­tem­po­rary and prac­ti­cal re­vi­sion over the pre­vi­ous alu­minium cladding), and check­er­plate ar­mour plat­ing form the ba­sis of the pop-top’s ad­ven­tur­ous in­tent.

Ex­ter­nally, the pop-top also has a near­side pic­nic ta­ble, Dometic dou­ble-glazed win­dows, a 12V point, LED light­ing, two 9kg gas cylin­ders on the draw­bar, dual-clamp jockey wheel, 15in al­loy wheels, and a Dometic awning.

The front boot, while small, is lined with easy­clean ma­rine car­pet. It’s also home to the house bat­tery and a CTEK 15A charger. What I re­ally liked, though, was the ser­vice point for the shower’s

plumb­ing. Very few man­u­fac­tur­ers would think about this. It’s the grey-mat­ter thing I men­tioned ear­lier, the lit­tle touches that build your con­fi­dence in the pop-top’s over­all qual­ity.

The 16ft FKST came with a stan­dard ball cou­pling, but I’d think about up­grad­ing to a Hy­land or one of the many other of­froad hitches avail­able, from the DO35 to the Mchitch, for greater ar­tic­u­la­tion. Speak­ing of cou­plings, the Gold­stream’s is mounted to a thick steel plate that’s welded to the un­der­side of the 6in A-frame rails. We found this gave the van a nose-down, bum-up at­ti­tude when hitched, but rais­ing your tow­ball, if nec­es­sary, would level it nicely.

Un­der­neath, the pop-top has its act to­gether. I’m not a fan of PVC grey wa­ter plumb­ing. It’s one of my bug­bears (as well as un­pro­tected A-frame taps). I’ve had too much PVC shat­ter on me when trav­el­ling on rough roads. So for my money, any van with claimed rough-road/of­froad ca­pa­bil­i­ties should have none of it, or it should be well pro­tected. Thank good­ness, then, that Gold­stream used flex­i­ble, stone-re­sis­tant hos­ing, and what lit­tle PVC there is, is pro­tected by a cus­tom check­er­plate guard, even the grey wa­ter out­let.

The rig comes fit­ted with two 80L wa­ter tanks – suf­fi­cient for a few days’ away from civil­i­sa­tion – mounted fore and aft of the axles.

Un­der tow, the 2013 FKST was steady and true be­hind our VW Touareg and D4 tow ve­hi­cles, just as I re­mem­bered this model from pre­vi­ous tests.

NEW LIFE

Step in­side to a mod­ern, vi­brant in­te­rior, thanks to a ma­jor makeover re­sult­ing from Gold­stream RV’S foray into Cnc-cut fur­ni­ture around the time of man­u­fac­ture. The lay­out in the 16ft FKST re­mains largely the same as its pre-makeover days – front

kitchen with ad­join­ing combo bath­room, near­side dinette, offside bench and rear bed­room – but the re­vised in­te­rior breathes sig­nif­i­cant life into the old for­mat.

Over­all, the at­ten­tion to the in­te­rior’s de­tail is pleas­ing. The cab­i­netry, with its glossy fin­ish, is eye-catch­ing and ev­ery­thing fits to­gether like it should. As part of the Aussie Ad­ven­ture Pack, the Gold­stream has 25mm ply bench­tops and 12mm ply doors for cup­boards and lock­ers.

The front kitchen is home to a Thet­ford four­burner cook­top and grill, as well as a sink with mixer, fil­tered drink­ing wa­ter, and plenty of draw­ers, cup­boards and lock­ers.

Fit­ting an is­land bed and a cor­ner shower/toi­let cu­bi­cle is quite a neat trick, es­pe­cially when a dinette and front kitchen is part of the mix. Bench­top space isn’t a high­point as a re­sult, but it’s a worth­while trade-off, I reckon. By na­ture, this is a com­pact pop-top so you have to ex­pect a com­pro­mise or two.

The combo bath­room is a moulded fi­bre­glass unit that sits neatly in the for­ward offside cor­ner. There’s a vari­able-height shower rose, cas­sette toi­let and 12V fan hatch. The dinette, mean­while, fea­tures LED down­lights built into the cab­i­netry above, and the

over­head locker doors feel very se­cur e. The lounge it­self is com­fort­able, though ac­cess to the stor age space be­neath is a bit of a squeeze .

Op­po­site, a tall cab­i­net houses the 128L Thet­ford three-way fridge and Jabiru air-con­di­tioner. The cab­i­net is tall be­cause it hides the air -con con­denser. In­side the cab­i­net, be­hind a locker door, is the 14L Truma gas-elec­tric hot wa­ter ser­vice and Flo­jet wa­ter pump. The Daewoo mi­crowave above the fridge is at a sen­si­ble, Oh&s-friendly height.

In the rear is a north-south bed (1.9x1.53m) with twin LED read­ing lights. The stor­age space be­neath, how­ever, is some­what com­pro­mised by the cut­away rear. Ad­di­tional stor­age is gained, though, by neat cor­ner cup­boards at the foot of the bed and by wardrobes ei­ther side.

Other fea­tures in­clude a Wine­gard TV an­tenna, flatscreen TV, stereo/dvd player, and wa­ter tank di­vert­ers and gauges.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The 2013 Gold­stream RV 16ft FKST is built by a com­pany that ob­vi­ously knows how to bolt a van to­gether. For an ad­ven­tur­ous cou­ple who want to ex­plore out­back tracks and na­tional parks, this pop-top has a lot to of­fer. The Aussie Ad­ven­ture Pack equip­ment – fit­ted as stan­dard – adds scope for trav­el­ling deeper into harsh ter­rain while your mates stay back in town. As a rough-road rig, this Gold­stream hits the mark.

That aside, its ap­peal lies in the fact that it con­tains ev­ery­thing – or most things – you’ll re­quire within rel­a­tively com­pact di­men­sions.

Above: The cut­away tail sig­nif­i­cantly im­proves the de­par­ture an­gle. Words Max Tay­lor Pics Ellen De­war

From top: Two 9kg gas cylin­ders sit in front of the boot, which is lined with ma­rine-grade car­pet; a drop-down pic­nic ta­ble was a stan­dard fit­ting; ex­ten­sive check­er­plat­ing and cut­away rear as­sist the Gold­stream’s rough-road cre­den­tials.

Clock­wise from top left: Gold­stream man­aged to squeeze in a dinette, front kitchen and front cor­ner combo bath­room; bench space is lim­ited but it’s a rea­son­able com­pro­mise; the rear is­land bed has plenty of stor­age and twin read­ing lights; se­cure and well

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