Tuesday, November 18, 2008

OOOPS! Fall shipment date change

Due to our freight forwarding company's error in quoting a delivery date for our Fall container, we need to inform everyone that the container will not be unloaded until the second week of December. We had expected it be here last week.

Our apologies to anyone who is waiting on delivery of tents and accessories from this container.

Maggiolina AirLand on a JK

Walt Gibson of Reno, NV sent us a nice note and a photo of his Jeep JK with Maggiolina AirLand fitted to a Garvin Wilerness rack system - a good choice for Jeep soft-tops. The rig also has modified suspension and a 12V fridge to keep the beverages cold. Thanks, Walt!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Going off the beaten track?

As many of us know, traveling off the beaten track often means zero cell phone service. Away from major cities and interstate routes providing cell service doesn't pay a carrier. 

For years we have been using a satellite phone from Globalstar for routine and emergency communications, and what used to be an expensive luxury is now affordable. Globalstar is offering a service plan with unlimited hours for $39.99 per month, and a Qualcomm sat phone for under $300.  

The first time you really need communications this pays for itself with one critical call. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Setting up a Maggiolina

User Brett Houston sent us a link to his YouTube video - opening his Maggiolina AirLand on a Jeep Wrangler... Thanks, Brett!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

NEW Carbon Fiber Maggiolina

AutoHome has just debuted the new Maggiolina Carbon Fiber. No specifications, pricing or availablity yet, but we expect to have them in the Fall. The new model is simpliar in profile to the Maggiolina AirLand, but will have the complete array of features, and is expected to weigh about 25% less (and be much stronger) than the standard Maggiolina models. Price will be announced when we have definite availablity. 

We hope to have this great new tent available in the Fall.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Model Landcruiser with OverLand tent...

This 1:87 model of the classic FJ40 Landcruiser from Busch of Germany is complete with an AutoHome OverLand roof top tent that folds up! Very cool, and nice to keep on your desk for the days that you can't get out to the wider world. For sale HERE for about 15 Euros (about $24 USD).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Supporting African conservation on the ground

AutoHomeUSA is supporting efforts of the African Conservation Fund to undertake economic development at the grass roots level in Eastern Africa.

ACF is a nearly all-volunteer organization that assists people in East Africa to create economic opportunities resulting in improved wildlife management and wealthier, healthier communities. Roseann Hanson, executive director of the ACF, is seeking support for a vehicle to assist in projects in Eastern Africa. ACF has secured a Toyota Landcruiser and AutoHomeUSA has donated a Columbus Carbon Fiber roof tent for use on this vehicle.

ACF works by developing and supporting community-based projects or research efforts for which they raise funds and/or connect project leaders with experts and volunteers to help them succeed in their efforts.

We encourage you to find out more at the African Conservation Fund website

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Overland Journal, the first North American vehicle-dependent expedition publication.

Our friends, Scott Brady and Jonathan Hanson, and their talented editorial and business team, are about to celebrate the first anniversary of the ground breaking OverLand Journal. The goal - firmly attained, in our opinion - is to present an adult publication for environmentally responsible, worldwide vehicle-dependent expedition and adventure travel.

Overland Journal is dedicated to expedition travel and exploration in North America and around the world. Featuring over 100 pages of expedition vehicles, travel stories, equipment reviews, and conservation news, Overland Journal will set new standards in adventure travel journalism.

This is not your average 4 wheel drive magazine at all. Two thumbs up!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Understanding rooftop load specifications

Fitment of roof tents and vehicle top load limits demystified

Supporting the tent platform
A well made tent has a rigid bottom platform that distributes weight to the rack system and does not require propping up with multiple load bars. Theoretically, it can be functionally mounted on a single pair of proper cross bars. Adding a full rack system that weighs 100 to 200 lbs. is a BAD idea, because dynamic roof load limits (see below) are finite, and should not be violated. If your rack and basket combination weighs 150 lbs. and the tent and gear weighs 130 lbs., the total load is 280 lbs, which exceeds the dynamic roof loading limit of almost all vehicles in the US. The Hummer H1, I think, is rated for this type of load. A Landcruiser or similar vehicle is not.

Specified dynamic roof loading limits
Load limits specified by vehicle and roof rack manufacturers deal with allowable limits while the vehicle is moving. In no case does the use of any rack allow carriage of weights in excess of the vehicle manufacturer's recommended load limit. The issue is NOT the absolute strength of the roof - modern vehicles are engineered to sustain roll-over loads. The limits are imposed by the braking and handling characteristics of the vehicle, as well as the absolute total vehicle load specifications. I tell people to imaging driving into a downhill curve at 50 MPH in a snow storm, and a deer jumps into the highway. How will the vehicle handle in an emergency? If under the rated laod limit, it should do fine. With 300 or more pounds on the roof - not so fine. Load limits may vary by country, but we, and vehicle manufacturers, tend to be conservative. You should be too.

It should be noted that pick-up truck are rated for laods in the beds that are far higher than SUV roof loads. A truck with a 130 lb. tent on a bed mounted rack system or camper shell, with a load of 500 lbs. in the bed would present no problems in a standard half ton pick-up truck.

Absolute load limits
As far as we know, no vehicle or rack system manufacturer has published static load limit specifications. In nearly one thousand tents over the years we have never found that the static loads of the tent and occupants is a problem.

Distribution of load weight
The distribution (transfer of weight from the tent to the vehicle is dependent upon how the load bars are configured. If the factory side rails or tracks are used, they will distribute the weight of the tent fairly evenly across the roof. However, the factory cross bars provided with the standard factory rack are not suitable for any serious loads. Many are mainly cosmetic - made of hollow aluminum covered with vinyl or painted. Many are curve to form a bow shape. The side rails or tracks are quite strong and should be used to support an aftermarket rack system - Thule and Yakima are what we usually recommend. The tent mounts to the aftermarket load bars. This is a proven combination that has been used by many hundreds of our customers.

If a gutter mount roof rack system is fitted for mounting the tent, the weight of the tent and occupants are supported by the vehicle gutters. In this case we recommend the use of three or more cross bars when travel over rough surfaces is expected. The feet of the gutter mount towers also have to be set up properly to keep the pounding from rough roads from cracking the waterproof caulking in the gutters - which will lead to leaks and eventual rust in the roof pillars. We recommend that the lower edge of the gutter foot be fitted with a piece of split silicone tubing to act as a cushion between the gutter foot and the bottom of the gutter. In addition, when the tower is mounted, pull the foot to the outside edge of the gutter before tightening the clamp completely.
Distance between front and rear load bars
All of our hard shell tents - Maggiolina and Columbus models - have minimum and maximum limits for the distance between the front and rear load bars. The maximum distance is 54" - the minimum distance is 30" - and we find about 48" is about optimal.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rack systems and mounting

We get a lot of questions about tent mounting and roof rack systems for roof top tents. There are frequent discussions on expedition and off-highway travel websites on this subject as well. A full discussion of this subject will develop over time, and there are several variables to consider when selecting a rack system for your tent.

Many late model vehicles are equipped with factory side rails and crossbars. The side rails are quite strong, but the factory crossbars are more cosmetic than structural. For this reason, we suggest that the factory crossbars be removed, and a stronger bar system put in place. 

In the photo above, the factory side rails on this Toyota 4runner support Thule 450 Crossroads clamps that secure a pair of Thule load bars. The hardware on the Maggiolina fits into a pair of recessed steel channels in the bottom of the tent, and the U bolts and mounting plates secure everything to the crossbars. This is a strong and reliable mounting set-up.