|Page created: 30-Jul-08
|Desert Wolf Trailer
After several years of using a caravan, I re-discovering tent-based camping during a trip to Morocco in April 2002. However, despite it being good fun, the limitations of living out of the back of the vehicle with a small ground tent were all too apparent. After searching on the internet, I came across several different ideas for expedition-prepared off-road trailers, which seemed like an excellent compromise between the comfort of a caravan and the flexibility of the Land Rover. The problem was that they were all in places like Australia or South Africa. Then, during a visit to the Caravan and Outdoor Leisure Show at Earls Court, I came across the Desert Wolf Lynx and the newly established UK importer, More X 4. I was so impressed with the trailer that a deal was struck to buy the demonstrator there and then, which meant I owned the first one ever imported into the UK!
The trailer itself was an excellent piece of engineering, designed by somebody who understands the requirements of overland travel. The entire unit, including the chassis, was constructed from stainless steel, with different grades being used for different components depending on the application. The suspension comprised leaf springs with axle stabilisers and adjustable shock absorbers, and the brakes and running gear were off-the-shelf Alko items. The axle was rated at 2.5 tonnes and the hitch was a commercial 3.5 tonne unit, which both far exceeded the typical loaded weight of about 1 tonne. The axle track and the wheel stud pattern were matched to the towing vehicle, which in my case was a Land Rover Discovery I. I used Discovery steel wheels and the same BFG Trac Edge tyres on the trailer, which with appropriate wheel nuts were interchangeable with the alloy wheels on my Discovery and provided a handy second spare for travel in remote areas.
The layout of the trailer was designed to optimise cross country travel: the short rear overhang providing an excellent departure angle and the high chassis giving ample ground clearance near the hitch. The A frame incorporated a large heavy duty chain loop that can be attached to the tow vehicle as a safety measure, in the unlikely event that the trailer separates from the tow ball under extreme articulation.
The Lynx trailer is the mid-sized model of the Desert Wolf range; the smaller being the Fox and the larger the Leo, and it has a whole host of practical features designed to make overland travel easier, including:
The outfit proved to be very versatile, being as equally at home on a relaxing weekend in the New Forest as it iwas on a trek over the Alps. Generally, if the plan is to stay in one place for a few days, it was useful to be able to put up the kitchen tent to create a large living space as shown above. Conversely, on an overland trip where the camp may be moved every day, only the main tent was used and it wasn't even necessary to unhitch the trailer to pitch it. In those circumstances it was possible to set up camp in about ten minutes and packing way again takes barely any longer.
For security I added a hefty wheel clamp and a large padlock that locked the hitch to the safety chain in an upside down position. Apart from that and the few minor modifications detailed below, the set-up was pretty much ideal. Until, that was, small children came into my life and overland travel took a back seat. Eventually, the trailer was sold as it wasn't practical for a very young family - a decision I've come to regret now that the children are older!
I made a few modifications to accommodate some slightly different camping conditions and conventions in the UK from those of its native South Africa. The first was the replacement and repositioning of the mains power inlet. Originally, this was a fairly ordinary blue mains connector located inside the front bin alongside the battery charger and a small mains distribution board. The disadvantage of this is that it was necessary to leave the bin door open to connect the trailer to the mains, which was both insecure and allowed rain in. I suspect that neither of these are much of an issue in South Africa where they have better weather and are unlikely to use mains hook-ups out in the bush.
Anyway, I changed this arrangement by re-locating the mains inlet to the outside front face of the storage bin and changed the connector for a fully water proof type. I also added the facility to secure the connector with a padlock to prevent it being tampered with.
Next on the list, and related to the above, was the addition of a few sockets for plugging in mains accessories when pitched on a site where power is available. I installed double sockets in the front bin adjacent to the fridge, in the kitchen, and a single waterproof external socket on the side of the trailer. The latter is on the same side as that where the tent folds down and, with a short extension lead, means that electrical items could be used inside the tent. Primarily this was used for a fan heater and electric blanket when camping in colder weather.
The next thing I added were some 12v lights over the kitchen, which proved much easier to use than balancing a torch or a lantern. The lights themselves were marine quality twin 8w fluorescent units, which I mounted on a plywood plinth and screw fixed to the overhanging underside of the bed platform. Routing a permanent power cable to this location proved difficult to do neatly. I therefore wired up the lights to a surface mounted Hella socket on the plinth and then made up a short cable with Hella plugs on each end that was used to connect them to the Hella socket on the rear crossmember of the trailer. Removing the cable means that the lights can't be tampered with when the trailer was left unattended.
The final addition were two stainless steel 'door pockets' inside the left-hand fridge and main bin doors. On the right-hand side the main bin has pioneering tools mounted inside the door and in the fridge bin the fridge itself projects into the door space. But on the left-hand side these spaces were basically wasted. I designed the 'door pockets' and had them made up by a sheet metal fabricator. They were each attached by four stainless steel nuts and bolts that match those used elsewhere on the trailer.
As shown, the fridge door pocket was ideal for storing the mains supply cable, whilst the larger main bin door pocket was used for more general items.