It’s nice to escape the Melbourne winter and take in the some northern sunshine, and that’s exactly what the CTA team recently had the opportunity to do. Kenilworth is a pretty little cottage town in Qld’s Sunshine Coast hinterland, with a tree-lined main street the focal point for the surrounding rural properties and farms.
My fellow CTA companions and I sat soaking up the mid-winter sun over lunch at one of the many little cafes, enjoying the mellow ambience, when suddenly the Trayon camper rolled down the main street with an air of confidence. This is no average camper; it’s got presence and individuality and it certainly commands attention.
TRAYON SLIDE-ON CAMPERS
The Trayon TMO (Trailer Mount Option) is a modular, slide-on tray-back-style unit fitted to a heavy duty galvanised offroad trailer with separate bathroom and storage modules. This was towed by a Mitsubishi Triton dual-cab driven by Vernon van der Walt, one half of Trayon’s father and son team. He was followed by his father, Scholtz, with a Trayon module fitted to a Ford Ranger dual-cab tray. These guys may be of Dutch origin but they’re staunchly proud of their Aussie-made camper heritage, a fact that was drummed into us within minutes of our rendezvous.
Trayon Campers has been producing the Trayon slide-on camper since 1994, and next year marks its 20th anniversary. It has made over 800 campers in the slide-on division alone, and the boys believe all of them are still out there going strong. They have immense confidence in their product, evidenced by the 10-year structural warranty. The TMO trailer has been around for the last 12 years, with two previous generations leading to the current TMO Gen III.
The plan was to travel into the Imbil State Forest through some wide, shallow creek crossings and on to one of the van der Walts’ favourite campsites nestled in the subtropical forest. It wasn’t a particularly hard trek, but I was pleased to see the immensely strong, high-clearance trailer traverse the corrugations, immersions and ruts with ease. It certainly filled us with confidence in this premium-quality product.
The Trayon is a camper with a difference. The fully self-contained main module has power and water, and can either be fitted to a trailer or a tray-back, single- or dual-cab ute.
Trayon says that in designing and manufacturing this camper, it had four key objectives in mind: to provide a complete and compact self-contained unit; to be lightweight; to keep the majority of the weight in the front third for safe transport; and to provide a fully functional ‘tradesman’s’ trailer with the accommodation module removed. After thoroughly inspecting the rig, I can tell you these design criteria have been met.
SETTING IT UP
The main accommodation module comes in at a surprisingly light 390kg. Trayon achieves this by manufacturing from aluminium and composites, instead of heavier fibreglass.
On arrival at your campsite simply fold down the moulded stairwell on the passenger side, climb inside the unit and push the entire hinged roof section over 180°. Twin gas struts ease the unit down as it falls over centre. The strong Bradmill canvas tent and separate tropical roof follow easily on a simple cantilevered frame.
The queen-sized dual-density foam mattress is strapped to the inside of the roof section, and hence is immediately in place as the camper opens. All that remains for a simple overnight stop is to fold out a pair of adjustable support legs, clip down the bottoms of the tent with bungy cords and hey presto — you’re camping!
The stairwell is a little tight but it is nice to be camping well above ground level, especially in the tropics where sand flies, midges, green ants and other creepy crawlies (including crocodiles) can ruin your day.
As you enter the Trayon TMO you find a Lido Junior stainless steel twin-burner stove with grill to your left, which can be moved to a fold-out kitchen bench next to the stairwell under the shade of the solid awning if you fancy cooking outdoors. Under the internal cooktop is a premium Nova Kool 12/240V 100L fridge/freezer featuring a Danfoss compressor and stainless hardware.
Vernon emphasised the Nova Kool is a quality Canadian-made unit. A good fridge is important anywhere, but particularly in the tropics. I recall a session cleaning out a maggot-infested cupboard caused by a lesser-grade front-opening fridge on one of my trips, so I can well appreciate the sentiment.
KITCHEN, BED AND STORAGE
There is a good amount of bench space for the limited confines, including the small table top of the dinette, which also converts to a short bunk for the kids. At the rear, or on the driver’s side to be exact, there is a stainless steel sink unit with hot and cold pressurised water supplied by the Truma gas hot water system, while there’s the option to upgrade to a Webasto diesel hot water system that also delivers internal cabin heating. There are 240V and 12V outlets for the accessories and LED strip lighting overhead.
The bed is accessed by stepping over the dinette edge. It’s a little awkward and a little sharp on the leading edge but I’m getting very picky, particularly considering the many attributes of this very compact module.
There’s a heap of storage in the shelves and cupboards as well as hard-wearing laminate benchtops. What you don’t see immediately is the 110L food-grade poly water tank and the 120Ah battery complete with a smart charger for trickle charging in storage mode. It will actually dump all the charge and reboot the whole system once a month to ensure battery longevity. Extra batteries and inverters are available as options.
The overhead tent is Australian Bradmill canvas that basically hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years of production. There are large windows all round with strong YKK zips, midge mesh fly screens, and internal clear UV-resistant PVC and canvas awnings. There is a fully lockable security screen door to keep the rest of the undesirables out.
As the unit folds out and over it becomes its own all-weather veranda. You have a choice of five different optional canvas and screen awning walls to enclose the solid roof area if desired.
Twin rubber seals completely encase the entire shell for complete dust protection even in the harshest environments with no need for a vacuum, pressure or venturis. Outside the shell there is a fully compliant locker housing the 9kg gas bottle, weatherproof 240V inlet and more lockable storage compartments.
Trayon emphasises that weight distribution is vital whether the module is tray mounted on a vehicle or on the TMO (Trailer Mount Option). As the unit has two thirds of its overall weight concentrated in the front third, its load is well centred, for optimal tow vehicle performance and minimal sway.
TRAILER CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION
Make no mistake, this is one solid trailer. I often look at trailer chassis, particularly on many so-called ‘monocoque’ designs, and worry about their longevity. I was involved in trailer-mounted machinery for many years and I have seen the results of poor design. I can’t help but conclude that nothing beats a true full chassis where strong drawbars continue for the full length of the trailer frame, with a box network for the support. Such is the TMO trailer of the Trayon.
Its one-piece, through-rail chassis and drawbar is made from 150x50x3mm hot-dipped galvanised steel with a tare weight of 1300kg and an ATM of 1998kg, allowing nearly a 700kg payload including water and batteries. It incorporates fully independent offroad coil springs with twin shocks and an optional upgrade to independent airbag suspension. Trayon is upgrading future offerings to a new design that features vertical shock absorbers and spring loading, which should further improve an already excellent ride.
The trailer has 12in electrical drum brakes including handbrake with a single axle with independent swingarm coil suspension, and up front is an articulated 2-tonne Hyland 4WD coupling which mates with a readily available 3.5-tonne 50mm tow ball. Trayon supplies 16in Sunraysia-style powder-coated steel wheels with all-terrain tyres as standard but other options
The long drawbar length makes the Trayon TMO exceptionally easy to reverse, but you will have to allow for the long 5.5m overall length in tight bushland scenarios.
THE ‘GRANNY FLAT’
I was particularly impressed with the provisions at the front of the trailer. Firstly, there is a very well-constructed, aerodynamically shaped fibreglass storage box. It’s huge, in fact our editor Emma reckons she could sleep in it, and I can tell you I’ve ended up in worse places myself! There’s a tonne of storage room for all your accessories, and then some. It has strong lockable side doors on each side, and whilst it has some shelving it could be further customised to individual needs. Vernon said one customer used this compartment to transport his two large dogs in built-in cages.
Behind that is the ensuite and it’s a ripper. The roof cantilevers up with canvas sides above an aluminium shell to reveal a full head-height bathroom complete with a chemical-free china-bowl ceramic toilet, vanity and moulded shower base.
This is a major feature of the Trayon system that women will absolutely love, and so will the blokes if they are truly honest. Entry is via another fold-down staircase; it has a full hot and cold shower headset and the toilet cartridge is serviceable from outside the compartment.
Now here is what makes the TMO a game changer. Simply swivel down the twin spare wheels via the convenient rear mounting system, attach the worm-drive legs with simple split pin mounts and wind the whole camper module up to allow the trailer to be driven away. There are further stabiliser cables should you wish to secure the freestanding unit even further.
The beauty of this is you are left with a very versatile trailer with a one-tonne payload on the 1980x2200mm aluminium tray. Not only can you use it as a firewood collector when out camping, but imagine the benefits for a tradesman back home; the entire trailer becomes a mobile workshop/toolbox complete with a working tray as well as a complete site toilet and safety shower. I reckon I’d be having a good talk to the accountant about the tax advantages of that one! Vernon tells me he even built one with a 7.5-tonne capacity with airbag suspension for an earthmoving contractor to haul his bobcat.
The trailer has its own 90L water tank as standard but the mounts are already in place for two further 90L additions if required. There is also the capability of adding up to five additional batteries for on-site power.
THE CAMPER TRAILER AUSTRALIA VERDICT
The TMO trailer combined with the Trayon slide-on module is truly a multi-purpose camper. There are loads of additional features like twin heavy duty, internally mounted jockey wheels and levelling jacks, extra lockable storage compartments, sliding drawers and much, much more.
It’s not a huge internal living area but certainly it’s enough for two people on the road, perhaps with one child. I would be looking at the optional annexes to increase the living space for extended stays. That said, its multi-purpose design is a beauty and I can’t fault the high quality, Australian-made build. The trailer leaves no doubt in my mind as to its strength and durability, and overall it appears to be a great camping alternative for a serious offroad junkie.
As Vernon says, “It’s the twin pack: two spare wheels, two showers, two toilets, two ladders, two jockey wheels, two tyres, two water tanks; it’s not too expensive but it is too much fun!”
> Low module weight, with weight forward for towing
> Strong trailer
> Great bathroom
> Practical tradesman’s trailer
> Easy assembly
I WOULD HAVE LIKED
> Easier stairwell access
> A comfier mattress
> To see the annexe options
Originally published in Camper Trailer Australia #68, August/September 2013
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