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Fr8Train's Build: Hoss


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Been lurking here a while, bout time to introduce myself and "Hoss" my '99 Pathy.

 

We are based in Tassie (Tasmania, Australia) I picked up Hoss back in October last year, I was in the market for a 4x4 rig for our tow vehicle and off road adventure machine. It would be used to tow our camper trailer, and to to go out bush and explore the wilds of the Tassie wilderness.

 

It had to meet several criteria:

  • Cheap to buy initially
  • Parts availability and parts pricing
  • off road ability
  • towing ability/power
  • reliability

 

So my search began, in Tassie and the Australia mainland all 4x4/camping/dirt bikes basically anything outdoors related etc... attracted the "covid tax" (a slang term down here for everything going up in price due to the new demand for camping and outdoor activities as people don't like to travel now) so all the Land Cruisers and Patrols that were generally pretty well priced were now pulling 2-3 times as much, $3k vehicles selling for $12k-$16k 🙄 So I turned to internet searches of "list of most underrated 4x4" and "4x4 underdogs" and "Bang for buck four wheel drives" and so on...

 

Three vehicles popped up regularly on the lists, and videos: Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, and Jeep Cherokee (the second two being as most of these lists/videos were American)

 

Ford Explorers and Jeep Cherokees were not a very popular vehicle down here, they are here but just not in the numbers that Nissan Pathfinders are. I watched a lot of video reviews, and build logs, and made lots of parts and price searches across all three vehicles to build an idea of where I wanted to go.

 

At the end of the day the Pathfinder just ticked all the boxes.

 

So the search for the Pathfinder began. There was a white one on Facey Marketplace, it had been listed for some 6 weeks (hmmm, what's wrong with it???) so I went for a look, not bad, some knocks and rattles in the front end suspension, ran fine, and the CV joints were shot, over all the body work presented well, just had high kms and mechanical work that needed doing well within my realm of capabilities (probably a turn off to most), I left it there and told the fella I would think on it, I figured I was pretty safe walking away what's a few more days as it had been listed for 6+ weeks ;)

 

Went and looked at a green one  listed at approximately $1k more than the white one, and it was a real mess, a real "single mum's taxi" kids rubbish and food and stains all through the back, no evidence of recent services or service history for that matter, shot tyres, scratched and flaking paint, and a mouthy lady owner who "Ain't budging on price, I know what I got!"  So she got a Hard pass! from me.

 

I went and had a look at a couple of Jeeps as well, they didn't really float my boat, being in Tassie and they not being terribly popular they tend not to be looked after as well, and a lot of the interior parts in them were falling apart and rattling, creaking or just didn't plain work, both had electric windows that had failed.

 

So we come back to the first one, old mate had rung me asking if I was still keen? I said yeah, but I want to bring a buddy to look over with me to make sure I wasn't missing anything. He said he would consider offers, "oh hell yeah got him on the hook" looks like I was the only looker.

 

So my buddy and I went, I had cash, and was willing to walk away if anything didn't feel right, or I couldn't hit my pre budgeted purchase price.

 

Long story short, my buddy picked up a couple of little things I missed, raised them in front of old mate, and we got it for less than half the original asking price, winner winner chicken dinner.

 

The cheap purchase price allowed me to budget rebuilding and servicing a lot of the vehicle as I seen fit.

 

So I have spent the last few months in between Christmas and camping etc... collecting parts and have spent the last few weeks getting her done.

 

List of works (so far):

  • New CV joints/axles
  • D40 Nissan Navara factory freewheeling hubs (2nd hand from wreckers)
  • New timing belt kit
  • New water pump
  • New thermostat
  • Cooling system flushed, and new coolant
  • Automatic transmission serviced and new fluid
  • Engine serviced oil, oil filter, air filter
  • New steering rack boots
  • New front struts
  • New strut mounts
  • New front raised springs (Kings)
  • Second hand alloy rims (off a Patrol for offset clearance of the struts with bigger tyres)
  • New Falken Wildpeak 265/75 R16
  • New Rear drawer
  • 2nd hand Fridge slide
  • 42 litre fridge (leftover from our old camper)
  • 2nd hand roof cage, all repainted and tidied up
  • Custom made roof rack mounts
  • Hi-lift jack and holder
  • Roll out awning
  • UHF radio external speaker (UHF was already in car)

 

The obligatory before picture:

51040528058_1d2e1148fb_o.jpg

 

As she sits now:

51041352746_b340962e70_o.jpg

 

51040620028_da883274a3_o.jpg

 

My custom roof mounts, these allow a lower mounting of the roof cage keeping wind drag down, and allow 6x bolt removal of cage.

51041352577_2010eb456c_o.jpg

 

51041259636_c6d6feae8e_o.jpg

 

Awning and jack mounted:

51040528428_64ea79cb30_o.jpg

 

51040621833_0229973968_o.jpg

 

Rear drawer and fridge slide setup:

51041352697_8c4ea9d621_o.jpg

 

Things left to do:

  • Trim and straighten front bar
  • Seat covers
  • Missing link and skid plates
  • Electric brake unit install
  • Secondary battery install
  • Get out and use her ;)

 

Thanks for reading, I aim to keep this updated as things get done, and hopefully have a pretty complete build thread before long.

 

Cheers,

Fr8Train

 

Edited by Fr8Train
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Welcome! Looks like a good find and ol' Hoss found itself a great new lease on life! Best regards from the 'states!

Sent from my Mobile Communications Device

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Welcome! I dig the build. Jealous of the aluminum front bumper option you guys had available down there. Is the rig a diesel or petrol? Looking forward to seeing more of it out and about. 

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26 minutes ago, TowndawgR50 said:

Welcome! I dig the build. Jealous of the aluminum front bumper option you guys had available down there. Is the rig a diesel or petrol? Looking forward to seeing more of it out and about. 

Cheers for the welcome!

 

All Aussie R50's are VG33E, with auto trannies, also most nearly all of them got the LSD 46 diff ratios. We were pretty lucky with the way they were optioned for us, but would of loved to see a Diesel one down here, there is an imported Diesel Terrano II nearby for sale but it looks totally different (ugly) to the R50, and I am already invested in Hoss now for the at least the next year or two.

 

46 minutes ago, 01Pathmaker said:

Welcome! Looks like a good find and ol' Hoss found itself a great new lease on life! Best regards from the 'states!

Sent from my Mobile Communications Device
 

Cheers mate, yeah I forgot to mention how Hoss got the name, on the first test drive I took the misso with me, she wasn't really impressed, and was later telling her girlfriend (and the kids and I overheard) calling it a "heap of @!*%", the kids thought it was funny, and after we got it we were discussing names and my eldest joked about mum calling it a heap of @!*%, it got abbreviated to H.O.S = Hoss  😜

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Excellent! I occasionally check out PCoA but it’s great to have some Aussies on here. We have a New Zealander regular & some South & Central Americans but mostly it’s North Americans (Canadian & US). It’s always interesting to see the variants other countries have available. My understanding is that the R50 platform has some decent aftermarket support there - as opposed to here. You also get some crossover from the Patrol, which we don’t have at all.

 

I love your rack - very Australian. Excellent use of the roof rail mounts. Your rear transverse HiLift mounting is unique as well. Love that it came with that bumper & UHF. Are those two longitudinal lines down the sides if the truck something unique or not that uncommon is Australia?

Are they “bumpers”/side protection from other vehicles or a kind of pinstriping.

 

Welcome! Nice handle too!

 

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16 minutes ago, RainGoat said:

 

I love your rack - very Australian. Excellent use of the roof rail mounts. Your rear transverse HiLift mounting is unique as well. Love that it came with that bumper & UHF. Are those two longitudinal lines down the sides if the truck something unique or not that uncommon is Australia?

Are they “bumpers”/side protection from other vehicles or a kind of pinstriping.

 

Welcome! Nice handle too!

 

 

Cheers, the two lines you refer to the top one that reaches back to the tail lights is just a black and blue vinyl pinstripe, that will be going. And the lower line is a self adhesive rubber bumper, they were pretty common during the 80s and 90s on Aussie cars, basically a door saver for the car parks. They are just fitted with double sided tape.

 

The Hi-Lift I wanted it fitted in a practical position, and didn't want to crowd up the sides of the rack too much, as the rack's main purpose was for carrying the kids swags when the camper is hooked up. Normally the swags go in my work ute, but we are trying to move away from using the work vehicle on camps as we want to get out in the bush more, and trying to explain to my boss why the work ute has a massive scrape up the side wouldn't be much fun.

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Posted (edited)

One of them funny little unexpected things that pop up during a build, I was originally just going to fit the lifted springs with new strut bearings and try and get away with using the old struts, there had been clunking and noise from the passenger side front, but I was putting that down to a flogged out sway bar link and the crunching to the need for new strut bearings, well upon pulling the struts apart I found this on the passenger side upper spring seat (drivers side to you yanks ;) )

 

51047721477_cb0c775fe1_o.jpg

 

So it wasn't the strut bearing as that was gone! and the sway bar link was shot, but I think that was a side effect from the strut trying to eat it's way to freedom.

 

Just a great example of the snowball effect when you start opening cans of worms on these rigs, what was meant to be new strut bearings and springs ended up being whole new strut assemblies. Oh well at least I can sleep well knowing it is right for the next few years now :)

Edited by Fr8Train
Spelling mistakes ;)
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One of them funny little unexpected things that pop up during a build, I was originally just going to fit the lifted springs with new strut bearings and try and get away with using the old struts, there had been clunking and noise from the passenger side front, but I was putting that down to a flogged out sway bar link and the crunching to the need for new strut bearings, well upon pulling the struts apart I found this on the passenger side upper spring seat (drivers side to you yanks )
 
51047721477_cb0c775fe1_o.jpg
 
So it wasn't the strut bearing as that was gone! and the sway bar link was shot, but I think that was a side effect from the strut trying to eat it's way to freedom.
 
Just a great example of the snowball effect when you start opening cans of worms on these rigs, what was meant to be new strut bearings and springs ended up being whole new strut assemblies. Oh well at least I can sleep well knowing it is right for the next few years now

Damn, so was the bearing seized? Do you have any more photos?


Sent from my Pathfinder
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12 minutes ago, R50JR said:


Damn, so was the bearing seized? Do you have any more photos?


Sent from my Pathfinder

 

All that was left of the bearing was half of a wafer of it's remnants, the bearing had disintegrated. 

 

I will get some more pictures tonight when I get home.

 

The strut top bush that goes onto the threaded strut rod top where the nut goes was what was wearing through the seat. Hopefully my pics will help show exactly what happened.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/18/2021 at 12:06 PM, R50JR said:


Damn, so was the bearing seized? Do you have any more photos?


Sent from my Pathfinder

 

Fished the bits out of the bin, hopefully clears up exactly what was happening.

 

Looking from underneath the upper spring seat, you can see strut top bush eating it's way out of the upper spring seat:

51080203347_4a33f5f5b0_o.jpg

 

Top side view (minus bottom half of strut top, now in car):

51080203312_d2dba0a432_o.jpg

 

Apart:

51010924815_658ab91b15_o.jpg

 

Remnants of the strut bearing:

51079416518_d1b6693fb8_o.jpg

 

Underside of remaining strut bearing:

51010924705_f120838d8d_o.jpg

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got Hoss out for the Easter break for a shakedown run on the van towing duties. The good news it tows like a train hardly knew the van was hooked up, the not so good news the arse end sagged like a mofo with the weight on the drawbar, time for some airbags. They will allow me to level out with the van and swags loaded up, and air down for when we go off road adventuring with no load allowing some flex :)

 

51099822242_637129267d_o.jpg

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Going back to the first post I think you mentioned there was no upgrade done to the rear springs? If you want to eliminate that sag Id recommend the land rover 9449 coils. I think you should be able to get them shipped there and they seem to just shrug off the weight of anything short of a boat. 

 

I was fully loaded for my last trip with at least 500 lbs counting two people, two pets, two full sized spares, 5 gallons of spare gas, 7 gallons of water, a trunk full of tools and spare parts, coolant, atf, oil, power steering fluid, plus 3 suitcases and a large metal framed backpack on the roof. And the 9449s only compressed about an inch. So the truck ended up riding perfectly level and handled the moab trails without even getting close to bottoming out. The coils make the ride a little rougher when you’re low on weight but I don’t really mind it at all, I think it gives it better handling characteristics anyway

 

I don’t have any experience with airbags but I’ve heard people say that they are a bit of pain and will eventually fail whereas the 9449s will probably outlast the truck 

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3 hours ago, PathyGig12 said:

Going back to the first post I think you mentioned there was no upgrade done to the rear springs? If you want to eliminate that sag Id recommend the land rover 9449 coils. I think you should be able to get them shipped there and they seem to just shrug off the weight of anything short of a boat. 

 

I was fully loaded for my last trip with at least 500 lbs counting two people, two pets, two full sized spares, 5 gallons of spare gas, 7 gallons of water, a trunk full of tools and spare parts, coolant, atf, oil, power steering fluid, plus 3 suitcases and a large metal framed backpack on the roof. And the 9449s only compressed about an inch. So the truck ended up riding perfectly level and handled the moab trails without even getting close to bottoming out. The coils make the ride a little rougher when you’re low on weight but I don’t really mind it at all, I think it gives it better handling characteristics anyway

 

I don’t have any experience with airbags but I’ve heard people say that they are a bit of pain and will eventually fail whereas the 9449s will probably outlast the truck 

 

Unfortunately the Land Rover coils are little more expensive to source here, I probably could get some through one of the spring companies down here, but I will cross that bridge if need to later.

 

The rear springs had been upgraded to Kings raised springs with MaxiTrac shocks prior to my acquiring of the Pathfinder. My idea is if I invest in some bags now if I need to tweak the springs and shocks later I can, the beauty of the bags is that I can level my load when loaded, and maintain a comfortable ride when not loaded. The set I am looking at have high pressure sleeves that slip over the bags for added protection. I have several mates that have fitted bags to their vehicles and have held up to and over 10 years in their rigs.

Image_157bcca0-694f-4253-9374-7706b6f2af

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I ran AirLift 1000s for over 15yrs (plus another decade + on my Mom’s 2006 JGC). My experience was that they do everything they say & the ~$100 USD are their selling point. (I would also note that while both vehicles suffered a couple failures over those years, it only took a call or an email & the company sent a full replacement free of charge).

 

That said, they require vigilance. You need to make sure you keep their minimal inflation up or they can get pinched or slightly out of place & damage the neck. Also, be careful while inflating them as they are a low volume system. One short distraction & you blow & have to diagnose the system.

 

As an FYI, you’ll need to drill the hole in the spring perch a bit bigger to accommodate the fill neck. For safety’s sake, I would also do a single fill line so that you don’t end up with an unbalanced suspension due to an occult failure on one side. Personally, I left my bump stops in place in case of failure on the trail as well - this had no apparent detrimental effect.

 

We can get the Britpart LR springs delivered from England to the USvWest Coast for $85 USD so, personally, having had both, and being a long term owner, I’d go with the advice of [mention=41155]R50JR[/mention]

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Interestingly, those additional bags don’t really seem like a great idea to me. They will make install significantly worse, will undoubtedly degrade in a relatively short time (compared to 10+ years with the bags alone), and it seems to me they may effect performance negatively. That said, I suppose none of those are certain or terrible detractors- I just wouldn’t pay more for them.

 

BTW, I threaded the fill Schrader valve through the lower inside lip of my rear bumper where it was easy to access & out of sight.

 

Also, since it’s a low volume system, I kept a palm sized bicycle CO2 inflator in my glove box for rapid fills. After having them for years, I could eyeball it.

 

Also, I found that I would use them to pop my tail up when offroad for a better departure angle.

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How much is that airbag system you're looking at? I doubt it'd be cheaper than a pair of LR coils.
I'm pretty sure I got mine (LR9447) for less than NZ$150 shipped... I'd love to find an equivalent that's as cheap for the front coils.

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On 4/9/2021 at 8:37 AM, jtchal said:

How much is that airbag system you're looking at? I doubt it'd be cheaper than a pair of LR coils.
I'm pretty sure I got mine (LR9447) for less than NZ$150 shipped... I'd love to find an equivalent that's as cheap for the front coils.

The airbags are $360AUD, but after chatting with some of the guys on the Aussie Pathfinder FB group, I am going a slightly different route now. I am fitting GU Patrol rear springs, the factory Patrol springs fit straight in, and give approx 2-3" of lift and still give a comfortable ride, one of the mods there have them in his and tows regularly with it, and is happy with their performance. Beauty is my local wreckers have some for around $50, so I am getting some of those, will keep you all updated.

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1 hour ago, Fr8Train said:

The airbags are $360AUD, but after chatting with some of the guys on the Aussie Pathfinder FB group, I am going a slightly different route now. I am fitting GU Patrol rear springs, the factory Patrol springs fit straight in, and give approx 2-3" of lift and still give a comfortable ride, one of the mods there have them in his and tows regularly with it, and is happy with their performance. Beauty is my local wreckers have some for around $50, so I am getting some of those, will keep you all updated.

That’s fantastic man. As long as they aren’t too heavily used it sounds like they should be great

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The airbags are $360AUD, but after chatting with some of the guys on the Aussie Pathfinder FB group, I am going a slightly different route now. I am fitting GU Patrol rear springs, the factory Patrol springs fit straight in, and give approx 2-3" of lift and still give a comfortable ride, one of the mods there have them in his and tows regularly with it, and is happy with their performance. Beauty is my local wreckers have some for around $50, so I am getting some of those, will keep you all updated.

Sounds like a great answer. Even new they’d probably be reasonable. Really wish we had the Patrols here. The current Pathfinder Armada is supposed to be close to the same but it’s just not like those older Patrols.
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/16/2021 at 12:31 PM, Fr8Train said:

My custom roof mounts, these allow a lower mounting of the roof cage keeping wind drag down, and allow 6x bolt removal of cage.

 

Love this idea, Im having trouble finding roof racks for my Terrano here in NZ and I reckon something like this might be perfect to get me through.

 

Any chance you can elaborate on the design of these mounts a bit more? I'm guessing these are bolted directly to the fixed points in the rain gutter?

 

Love the rest of the build too!

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On 4/21/2021 at 1:51 PM, KingKiwi said:

Love this idea, Im having trouble finding roof racks for my Terrano here in NZ and I reckon something like this might be perfect to get me through.

 

Any chance you can elaborate on the design of these mounts a bit more? I'm guessing these are bolted directly to the fixed points in the rain gutter?

 

Love the rest of the build too!

51041352577_2010eb456c_o.jpg

 

The Aluminium box section/RHS is drilled to and bolted to the factory mount holes using the factory supplied flared M6 nuts, with M6 stainless bolts.

The angles cut on the end of the box section allow the bolts to accessed.

I placed brick layers gap waterproof rubber foam under the box section to seal the box section to the roof rack mount/cup.

 

Then I made the angle brackets that sit in the roof channel and rest on the roof, secured laterally via M6 stainless bolt and M6 steel rivnut. This means the bolt is only holding the bracket in place, and does not need to support the weight on the rack, the roof does.

 

Hope this makes sense?

 

If you want any more info just yell out.

 

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In general, love the out of the box innovation. A couple questions meant in the spirit of perfecting this approach.

 

Don’t you worry the supporting piece resting against the rain gutter will eventually wear through the paint & maybe even metal. I expect you’ll see vibration for sure & maybe even flex.

 

Also, what about lateral support? It seems like you’ll only have 1cm wide bases in six places to counteract any tendency to crumple sideways, it seems like it could be alot of pressure/weight per unit area with very little lateral resistance.

 

Love the clean look & more expeditionary styling. Keep us posted over the months & years. This is the kind of conversion I would consider.

 

 

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9 hours ago, RainGoat said:

In general, love the out of the box innovation. A couple questions meant in the spirit if perfecting this approach.

Don’t you worry the supporting piece resting against the rain gutter will eventually wear through the paint & maybe even metal. I expect you’ll see vibration for sure & maybe even flex.

Also, what about lateral support? It seems like you’ll only have 1cm wide bases in six places to counteract any tendency to crumple sideways, it seems like it could be alot of pressure/weight per unit area with ver little lateral resistance.

Love the clean look & more expeditionary styling. Keep us posted over the months & years. This is the kind of conversion I would consider.

 

I am very conscious of any weight put on the rack, the rack is predominately there as a way to carry the kids swags lucky to be 20-30kg max, the green one (in the picture with the van hooked up) is a Kings Big Daddy and weighs around 16kg and the other swag is a single which is lighter again.

 

There is no lateral movement on the mounts, they are seated firmly on the mount points in the channel, the box section is 20mm x 50mm (3/4"x2" for you yanks ;) ) and it fits and seats nicely on the mount points. These box section mounts have the same if not more contact on the channel as factory mounts, and they are bolted using the factory hardware, I have evry faith in them.

 

The angle bracket resting in the channel is a very tight fit and I have not had any vibration evident as yet. As for wearing through the paint, I am not too concerned as she is a bush basher, and I may be Raptor lining the whole rig yet, and from what experience I have with the product it will withstand and protect the panel/paint from that sort of wear. Plus the way the 6 points are mounted to the cage give added rigidity.

 

I will keep an eye on it, either way.

 

Thanks for the questions and feed back :)

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I like it alot! With a family of 4 & a dog, alot of my gear ends up on the roof these days - a world different from when it was just my wife & me. It’s alot of weight that gets thrown around & after 2 decades of running light, I can certainly feel it.

One advantage of the longitudinal aluminum roof rails is that they distribute the roof weight over their entire bottom surface (408 square inches 2x 3”x68”- not counting the 4 plastic end pieces which slot in. And yes, I’m in the sciences & realize just how stupid it is that the US doesn’t use metric, even England largely abandoned the Imperial measurement system). It’s alot of area - though it has the same 12 bolts. One problem you help alleviate though is concern about roof flex. I limited my rack to 8 connections to the rails - though that’s arguably too many. Four is probably ideal to five 2 axis flex rotation but I’d use all six, as you did, for strength. It’s a great look. We salivate here when we see the ads from Australia & NZ for such great gear at reasonable prices.

BTW, swags are essentially unknown here in the States. I only know the term from some Aussie friends & YT overlanders.

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20 hours ago, RainGoat said:

BTW, swags are essentially unknown here in the States. I only know the term from some Aussie friends & YT overlanders.

 Just so you can see what a swag is 😉

This is our regular camp set up. the boss and I in the camper trailer, and the kids in their swags. The swags are basically heavy duty canvas dome tents with built in mattress and can be rolled up with all bedding and pillows ready to go :)

 

51138271377_942a8b1eb6_o.jpg

 

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