Tuesday, 26 January 2021

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Taking a home-away-from-home to a new level

Ewen Satherley has a real passion for rather large trucks while his wife, Julz, has for the last 16 years loved spending the Christmas holidays parked up in the family tent at the Hahei Holiday Resort.

One would have to say on the surface, tents and trucks don’t seem to be the perfect match, but it seems Ewen is never short of a good idea and Julz was not overly surprised when he came up with a plan to ditch the tent and go camping in the truck instead. His masterplan, which he freely admits was conceived over a few beers with mates, was to build what was basically a tiny house based around a shipping container and placing it on the back of his much loved and recently restored 1994 Kenworth T650, a former logging truck.   
“Julz has an open mind and has always been very accommodating to some of the projects I have come up with over the years,” Ewen said. “We both share a passion for camping, so it wasn’t all that hard to get her over the line on this idea, to be honest. It was made a lot easier when I told her that her espresso coffee machine would be part of the fittings along with a wine rack, full queen bed, kitchen cabinets, induction cook top, fridge/freezer, aircon and a deck to enjoy a refreshing drink and nibbles with friends in the evenings.”

Because of its box-like shape, a modified container was seen as the best option for the living quarters and Ewen was able to do the conversion from home in Kinloch. It’s fully lined with high density polystyrene and ply, has double-glazed opening windows and when in transit, the deck folds up via a winch to form the one side of the container with the roof over the deck folding down snugly over that.

A friend of Ewen’s who owns an engineering business in Taupo, carried out a lot of the structural work, including making the frame the container sits on and ensuring everything met the required certification standards. All up the project took Ewen a couple of years to complete.  

Ewen said the truck wasn't roadworthy when he purchased it around eight years ago, but it wasn't in bad shape overall either. “It had been left parked up on a farm and neglected for some time, but coming from a family that has a long history in the trucking game, I saw the potential and I love a long-term project and this one certainly just kept getting bigger and better,” he said. “I replaced all the tyres, fixed some cab details and broken fiberglass on the bonnet, fitted new injectors in the engine and replaced the mud guards among other things. It is still registered as a truck and because the container is designed for easy removal, it can and has been used for other tasks also.”

As heading to Hahei these holidays was their maiden voyage, Ewen and Julz spoke to management at the Hahei Holiday Resort prior to their arrival to make sure there were no issues with access and there was an appropriate site available. “It’s actually no longer than a large caravan, but at 4m it’s a lot taller, so we needed to be mindful of overhead obstacles,” Ewen said.

The total length gets stretched a little when Ewen hooks up his trailer complete with a beautifully restored 1971 XY Ford Falcon on-board. “Obviously the truck can’t be used for ducking up the road to do some shopping or other errands, so bringing along the Falcon seemed to fit the occasion perfectly,” he said. “It was originally my father’s and like the truck had sat idle for some time before I purchased it. With help from my twin sons, the car was completely rebuilt and repowered, so it is very much part of the family and one of a couple of other performance cars we own.”

Asked what the fuel consumption was for the Kenworth fully loaded, Ewen said it was more about smiles per miles rather than litres per mile while the views when travelling were amazing.  “The engine is not working that hard to be honest, so the fuel consumption is actually not as bad as some might think,” he said.

The reaction from fellow campers has been all very positive and the truck has drawn loads of comments. “This year was very much a trial for us, but overall things are working out pretty much as we planned and we are keen to plan some future weekend trips away with friends who own caravans,” Ewen said.

It hasn’t been a total change for some of the family this summer, however. The sleeping arrangements are such that the tent is still used to accommodate the 19-year-old twins. 

After enjoying a few cold ones on the deck this summer with friends, it’s worth speculating what Ewen’s next big project may be. 

Pictured: Ewen and Julz Satherley’s “former logging truck camping container” and restored 1971 XY Ford Falcon at the Hahei Holiday Resort last week.

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