Our North American Rig
It had a few accessories we didn't really love too much as the young buck who owned it previously thought that a truck like that had to sound loud, sit on big wide tyres and have a suspension that was lifted but the ride was rough, especially before we put the camper on it.The straight-through exhaust was way too loud, so that was the first thing we had done – now we can talk to one another across the vast expanse of the cab without yelling too much!
We changed the rims and tyres to something a bit less radical and fitted 285/70R17 Cooper ST Maxx tyres (http://us.coopertire.com) on 17x8 'Fuel' alloy rims.
At the same time we got ourselves an ARB compressor, a set of MaxTrax recovery tracks (https://us.maxtrax.com.au) and a few other odds and sods for the big rig.
Back at Flagstaff in Arizona, where we had bought the vehicle, and at the local Flagstaff 4x4 Centre (www.flagstaff4x4.com) we had a big service and a set of wheel arch flares fitted. Then we lowered the truck - it's still 2-inches above normal, and that is with it loaded. We've fitted Rancho shocks all round (a fair but not great shock, I reckon) and fitted Firestone airbags to the rear to keep the rig level, without upgrading the rear leaf-spring pack.
These Dodge Rams, I've since found out have a great engine, and an almost indestructible transfer box and diffs. The auto boxes aren't great (only good for 200,000 mile by all accounts) and the front end steering and linkages leave a lot to be desired. We've spent a fair amount of money doing the front end up, while the gearbox at the 165,000 mile mark is still doing fine.
Cruising at 60-70mph on the freeway we regularly achieve better than 16L/100km, or around 18mpg (imperial) or around 15mpg (US gallons), out of the big Dodge with the camper on the back. Wish I could get that performance and economy out of the Patrol!
The Hawk features front dinette seating, quite a bit of storage, and has a 110-litre fridge/freezer, a 2-burner gas ('propane' as the Yanks call it), which is fine for small meals and the occasional times we use it – we cook outside on a Coleman stove generally. A gas/elec water heater system and an external shower and a powered roof vent to name the major features. To keep all the electrics running, we had fitted two deep cycle batteries, an axillary battery charger system along with a 100-watt solar panel. We also have a 'porta-poti' for those times we need a chemical toilet and a very useful 'Fiamma' awning on the side.
It is perfect for the travel we want to do and after 25,000 miles we haven't had an issue with it and it still looks as good as new!
See you in the bush.
Ron and Viv.