Track Testing the Gibson from Trakmaster
We’ve now done over 40,000km with our Trakmaster Gibson, the latest trip being a 30,000km six month sojourn around the western and northern sections of our great country. For the most part, we stuck to dirt roads and tracks as we headed from Port Augusta, SA, to Perth, WA, and then wandered around the Pilbara for three months looking for out-of-the-way places to camp and explore.
With the Pilbara behind us, we headed along the Gibb River Road through the Kimberley, across the gulf and then up the back way from Normanton to the Jardine River before heading south through Mt Mulligan to Mt Isa. From the ‘Copper City’ we took the Sandover Highway and the Arltunga road to Alice before wandering down the Oodnadatta Track, through the Flinders Ranges to home once more.
Our Gibson is a compact van, just 6m overall in length and weighing around 1700kg when it is fully-loaded with 140L of water and all the goodies we take away with us.
Its trailing arm suspension is backed up by 285/75R16 Cooper STT tyres and even though these are bigger rubber than what Trakmaster recommend, we’ve had no issue with the set-up in any way. The suspension has worked extremely well whether we are cruising on the blacktop at 100km/h, along a heavily corrugated road at 80km/h or crawling along a rocky, highly eroded track at 10km/h. There are no signs of wear or tear apart from where a few rocks have pounded the shocks, but they are continuing to work just fine. We opted for a Vehicle Components DO35 tow coupling, which we’ve found to be excellent, even in very dusty conditions.
The build quality inside is first class and, best of all, we’ve found, even in the dustiest of conditions, dust ingress has been basically nil! And while we have hammered the rig over many thousands of kilometres of dirt and corrugated roads, not one thing – not even a screw – has come loose or fallen off.
But on the outside, which has been hammered by rocks and gravel and scraped by bushes and branches as we’ve dragged the rig down narrow, scrub-lined tracks, we’ve suffered a few casualties. The 240V power inlet socket sits proud on the side of the Track testing the Gibson van (as does the 240V outlet on the other side of the van) and a wayward branch wiped this out. The battery compartment lost its door when the latch holding the battery tray broke on yet another section of corrugated road, allowing the tray with its heavy contents to slide out and wipe off the door.
We rigged up a latch and covered the space with some cardboard and that’s been with us now for a few months and is holding strong.
That’s a small price to pay, though, we reckon, for our off-the-beaten track travels. Viv’s a happy girl because she has a dust-free and fly free environment to live and work in, and I’m happy as very few things have gone wrong and I can get this rig into most of the places I want to go.