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7 Questions to ask before choosing a camper

Going on camping trips is a national pastime here in Australia, whether you’re striking out for a solo wilderness trek or taking the whole family out into the sticks. While you could invest a few hundred thousand dollars in a mobile home or caravan, many people who only plan on camping a few weeks out of the year see a lot of practicality in buying a camper trailer instead. These handy little camping units pull behind a vehicle you already own and can be set up into a cozy portable camping cabin pretty much anywhere there’s room to park. 

But which camper is actually the right choice for you and the adventures you plan to have? Travel trailers can be luxurious or basic, they can come with RV-hookup bathrooms and kitchens or simply serve as a very sturdy tent. The right Camper for you will depend on your style, budget, and how you want to use it. To help you decide, we’ve put together seven questions to ask yourself when choosing a trailer camper.

1) How Will You Camp?

The way you want to camp will be the most deciding factor for your travel trailer. Most people prefer full amenities and all the comforts of home brought along, but this can also run up the price. If you’re more of a hardcore camper and like to ‘rough it’, a dry trailer might be more authentic and affordable while still providing the safety and comfort of a more indoor setting. You may also want to consider campers that ‘pop out’ for extra space when parked but a compact driving mode.

2) Where Will You Camp?

Where you want to park and camp will determine a lot about your camper because it will have to get to those locations. If you want to head into the heart of forests and down unpaved trails, look for compact and lightweight models that won’t sink into the mud or be too wide for certain paths. For a spacious and luxurious camper, you may be planning on spending more time in safe designated camper parking areas.

3) How Long Will You Camp?

Or more to the point, how long does your camper need to be your home away from home? The longer you want to camp, the more space and amenities you’ll want to consider. Three weeks of camping is very different from two days of camping, especially in terms of your ability to clean up the camper, bathe, and store food.

4) How Far Will You Drive?

Another question is how far the camper will go before you stop and camp. Weight and size of the camper will matter when it comes to gas mileage and maneuverability on long drives. If you want to cross Australia for your camping trip, consider more mobile models rated for efficient travel and comfort when you park.

5) How Many People and Pets?

Most campers are only rated for a certain number of occupants, usually about two. It’s generally assumed by camper and caravan manufacturers that the occupants will likely be one adult or a couple though families often travel together. You’ll need to calculate for both sleeping and living space for however many people and pets will be coming along.

6) What’s Your Towing Vehicle?

The last thing you want to do is get your heart set on a camper only to realize that your old pickup simply doesn’t have the hauling power to get the thing across the country to your favorite campsites. Before you even begin your search, know which vehicle will be commissioned to tow and what it’s towing power is so you know your camper maximum weight.

7) Who Will Drive?

Finally, whoever is going to have to drive the towing vehicle needs a say in which camper you choose, as well as how everyone else rides. It’s possible to conduct camper trips either as road trips with everyone in the car or with passengers riding in the trailer as long as there is safety glass in the windows and an easy way to escape in case of emergencies. Talk to your family about how you will travel when deciding which camper to buy.

Choosing a camper is a highly personal decision because it is based on how you like to camp and will shape all your future camping experiences.Choosing a camper loan is also a personal decision. With Ezilend we can make the process of owning your camper trailer an easy choice. Take a look at our competitive rates to see what it will cost you to get into your camper trailer experience.

3 Reasons to make your first vehicle a motorbike

As a young adult, when you’re first starting to get your financial feet under you, it can be hard to know what to invest in first. Do you start building equity by trying to save up for a starter home, focus all your finances on quickly paying off student debt, or get yourself a car so you can stop taking the bus and catching rides with friends and family? No doubts all of these goals are important but for most, the urgency of a vehicle usually wins out. For the freedom of mobility to get to new jobs, go shopping when you need to, and take care of private business, nothing beats having a vehicle you have bought with your own money. Of course, cars come with their own whole new set of expenses from maintenance to gas prices, not to mention the initial investment and size of the loan required to get one.

Rather than stressing about which model of car is best, take a second look at the situation. If you’re young, athletic, and have reasonably good reflexes, a motorbike might actually be a far more strategic option and here’s why:

1) Lower Cost to Purchase

When you’re trying to put a whole adult life together, buying a vehicle is a huge decision, one that can potentially take a chunk out of your paycheck for a decade or more before the car is even officially yours. A motorbike, on the other hand, is smaller and they are usually much more affordable than a new or four-door sedan. If all you need is a motor and some wheels to take you from place to place, a nice new motorbike can be far more enjoyable and easier on your wallet than even a used car.

2) Fuel Efficiency

One of the biggest calculations anyone looking to buy a vehicle should make is what their average weekly fuel price is really going to be. All too often, someone without a lot to spend will buy a used car or some old junker that seems cheap at the selling price but burns inefficiently through fuel and stacks up the maintenance cost. Not only can you afford a nicer quality bike with a good warranty plan for lower than the price of a lesser-quality car, but the price of driving will be lower as well. This is because fuel efficiency is greatly affected by the weight of a vehicle and motorbikes are made lightweight with far less frame to support and haul around. If you’re looking to get around on a budget, we highly suggest considering the benefits of a motorbike.

3) Easier to Park

A major sticking point in home design, workplaces, and apartment rental is parking spots. As cities get more and more packed, not only are builders skimping on parking for more structural space, but there are simply more cars taking up the spaces that are available. Unlike a car which always needs a full parking space to safely turn it off and walk away, a motorbike can be parked in half-spaces, ‘dead space’ in a parking lot where nothing really goes, and even hauled up onto medians, patios or, or pavement if there’s no other place to put it. This is especially useful for apartment-dwellers who are not provided with a spot, as you might even be able to store a small motorbike on your porch.

Whether you’ve always loved motorbikes or are simply looking for the most practical way to get a nice vehicle in a price range you can afford this year, a motorbike is a great alternative to a low-quality car. From a smaller-sized bike loan to a greater selection in parking spots, you can ride free while you’re young and wait to get that four-door sedan until you’ve gotten a promotion or two and are ready to settle down.

At Ezilend, we specialise in loans of all shapes and sizes. If you are in the market for a motorbike and need a loan to finance your purchase, please give us a call and see how we can help make your dream a reality.

5 Things you’ll need when buying a new boat

The desire to buy a boat exists somewhere in all of us. Seeing the open water often inspires the desire to go boating, just to find a nice place to float in the sun and sip a few drinks with the people you enjoy most. Whether you love fishing or are just want to putter around the coast enjoying the views and visiting friends, a personal boat is a great recreational purchase the entire family can enjoy. Of course, boats are not independent vehicles like cars. They require a lot of planning and care to keep them comfortable and in good working order. When planning to buy your new boat, make sure all your other boat-related ducks are in order to ensure your boat experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Let’s take a look at the top five boat preparation steps you will need to take.

1) A Boat Trailer

Let’s start with the fact that boats can’t just be driven into the garage and forgotten about until the right weather and opportunities come along. Not without a boat trailer anyway. A boat trailer is a special hitch-rig that you can slide a boat up onto, fasten it, and then drive your boat around like a camper. For smaller personal boats, this is how most individuals and families keep their boats at home and launch from whichever coast is most convenient and fun to be around when they’re ready to go on a water adventure. Make sure you have a boat trailer that works for the boat model you’re going to buy or that your boat comes with a trailer.

2) A Place to Dock

Of course, for larger boats or for lucky homeowners on the waterfront, you may want a docking place instead or in addition to your boat trailer. A dock is anywhere deep and secure enough to park your boat where it would be legal to do so. This means the border of any waterside property you have permission to use with a pier and a tie-up point. You can also rent a spot in a marina if you’ll be boating often or your boat is too large to use a trailer and store on land.

3) A Boating License

It’s one thing to buy yourself a boat, but an entirely other thing to actually drive it. Just like motorcycles and large trucks require a special license to drive because they are unique, recreational watercraft also require a special license. Unless you plan on also hiring yourself a captain, buying a boat isn’t exactly useful until you also have your own boating license. Fortunately, these are not hard to get.

4) A Maintenance Plan

Boats are like cars in terms of maintenance, except that they have to withstand a lot more natural decaying forces. Salt water, in particular, along with all the natural little growing things in the ocean, can do some serious work on your boat hull. Not to mention the kind of maintenance needed on anything with an engine and high-end driving and navigation equipment onboard. You will need cleanings, oil changes, inspections, and the occasional update.

5) Boat Insurance

Finally, never boat without insurance. No matter how careful a captain you are, you never know when a storm or random gust of wind could cause you and several tons of water to move suddenly. Boat insurance is there to keep you, your passengers, your boat, and anything you might hit safe from accidents and is often required by boat loan providers as a protection of your shared investment.

If you’re thinking about buying a boat or are already making arrangements to do so, don’t forget to dot all your i’s and cross your t’s before the final sale. This way, you’ll be completely ready to enjoy your boat legally and safely from day one. Take a look at our boat loans to learn more about your financing and repayment options.

Do you own a classic car?

Or would you like to? Here’s the thing about that phrase ‘classic car’ – it means different things to different people. That’s what makes it pretty easy if you’re the editor of a magazine or website with the words ‘classic car’ in the title – you can choose almost any car from any era (and then justify your choice).

classic car

One theory holds that a particular car is likely to earn that classic car status approximately thirty years after it was either…

  • a very common car
  • a popular luxury or sports car

And you don’t necessarily need to be a billionaire to get a bit of fun out of a classic car and make money on it when it comes time to sell. As making money on the stock market is not quite as straightforward as it used to be, quite a few people are turning to classic cars as investments.

1967 Alfa SpiderA quick look at, as an example, the Alfa Romeo Spider model (1967 model pictured here) on an Australian car sales site confirms this – the oldest car listed is a 1974 red Alfa Spider priced at $34,000, whereas a 1998 model is only $4,780. Even a low kilometre 2008 model Spider is $9,000 cheaper than the ‘classic’.

And at a certain point some car values just start heading into the stratosphere. Ferraris of course figure quite highly in the lists of ‘highest prices’, and they have always had an interesting approach to selling their cars. Apparently, when deciding how many of a particular model to manufacture, they work out the size of the market for that model, and then make one less.

A combination of short model runs and a design that catches the eye, can make a particular model a classic.

As you might expect, Ferrari dominates the international auction price records, with a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO currently holding the record for highest price paid at auction – a whopping US$38M achieved at auction in Carmel in California in 2014. But it might also be worth hanging on to that Alfa Spider for a bit longer as well – a 1939 Alfa 8C 2900B Lungo Spider fetched nearly US$20M at auction in California in 2016 – in ninth spot for the highest price paid.

The other problem with buying cars at this end of the spectrum is that there is very little incentive to take the car out on the road (see below), which surely is the main reason for having the car in the first place. So what quite a few car lovers do is have their main vehicle as a pretty standard (reasonably) modern and reliable model, and the other car in the garage is the classic.

One interesting combination we’re aware of is one owner, who has (or had) a garage with, on one side, the daily commute – a Hyundai four wheel drive – sitting pretty next to a classic Ferrari 308GTB on the other.

Unlike the phrase ‘classic’, other descriptors of older vehicles, such as ‘vintage’ or ‘veteran’ have more precise definitions. A ‘vintage’ car is technically one that was made between 1919 and 1930. A ‘veteran’ car is a car made before 1919, although some purists limit the use of the term to cars made before 1905.

One of the great things about buying any car that’s over 30 years old, is that most of the states around Australia allow you to pay a lower registration fee as long as you meet certain conditions – such as limited driving on public roads. South Australia for example, relaxed the rules around ‘historic’ vehicle registration recently so that they can be driven on the open road for up to 90 days in any one year and you only pay a minimal annual registration fee. Other states generally do not allow a vehicle on a ‘special interest’ registration to drive on public roads unless you’re going to and from a classic car meet or other similar function.

So if you like historic and classic cars, perhaps head over to SA! And if you’re going to buy one, make sure you give us a call…

Image credit (Alfa Spider image): https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1967-Alfa-Romeo-Duetto-Red-Front-Angle-st.jpg

Is your car up to towing a caravan?

A caravan is a hefty piece of kit – it can weigh anything from around 1500kg to 3500kg or more, and so it’s important to make sure that your existing (or prospective new) vehicle can handle the load. What’s more, it’s a good idea to leave a little room for manoeuvre rather than have a car/caravan combination which is near the max.

If you’ve seen any of the ‘caravan’ episodes of Top Gear you’ll know that, when things go wrong with caravans, it’s not pretty. However if you’re a caravan newbie, reading all of the information online to help you work out safe – and legal – car/caravan combinations, you’d be forgiven for thinking you need a PhD in physics. There’s a lot of jargon involved, although the concepts are in fact fairly straightforward.

Interestingly, when it comes to the law, there are in fact no legislated ‘safety margins’ as such for caravans (or ‘trailers’ as they are referred to in the legislation) in Australia – there are simply maximum towing weights for all vehicles and maximum laden weights for all towed vehicles, including caravans, and maximum combined weights.

The Caravan Council of Australia, however, advises that in all cases ‘the laden tow-vehicle should weigh 30% more than the laden caravan/trailer’.

To fully understand what is ‘legal’ and what is ‘recommended’, it’s important first of all to understand the jargon. Here are some of the terms you will hear bandied about…

Tare Mass
This refers to the weight of a vehicle or caravan when it is empty (ie ‘unladen’). It is specified by the manufacturer and includes those fluids (eg oil/coolant/fuel in the tank) that the vehicle would need to run, but does not include driver/passengers/luggage or any aftermarket additions.

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)
This refers to the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle/caravan ie how much extra load it can carry before exceeding its limits. GVM for a towing vehicle must include any extra weight put on the vehicle via the towball (see below).

Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)
This refers to the maximum weight of a caravan when it is being towed. It is the tare mass plus any other load in the caravan itself. This rating is set by the caravan manufacturer. It only applies when the caravan is in motion, not when it is parked, and needs to include the weight of any accessories added after purchase, and the weight of any onboard gas and/or water etc.

Tow Ball Download (TBD)
This refers to the weight of the caravan transferred to the towing vehicle via the towball. It must be included in the calculation of GVM for the towing vehicle above to determine whether it (the towing vehicle) is within its permitted maximum weight. As a very general guide, TBD is normally around 10% of the total weight of the caravan.

In addition the towing vehicle will have the following important specifications (listed in the manual or on vehicle specifications, which can normally be found on the manufacturer’s website)…

Maximum Braked Towing Capacity – this is the weight limit for a caravan equipped with brakes
Maximum Tow Ball Download – as above
Gross Combination Mass (GCM) – the maximum combined weight of the vehicle and caravan

If you are in the process of buying a caravan of course it’s very important to be aware of these limits and to heed the association’s advice. If you get a combination which maxxes out the towing vehicle’s specifications, you will considerably increase fuel consumption and maximise the load on the chassis and suspension, not to mention the tyres and brakes. You will also have little room for manoeuvre on steep hills, and during high winds and other challenging driving conditions.

For these reasons, a smart option is to choose the caravan you like first and then choose the most appropriate towing vehicle!

Whether you’re getting just a caravan or a caravan and new vehicle to tow it, give us a call at Ezilend and we’ll of course help you sort out the finance…

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/50415738@N04/6262976143/in/photostream/

Playing the game at the dealership

If you’ve ever bought a new car from a dealership you’ll probably know the routine. Financing the new car is of course very important, and our advice is to shop around for a loan before you go into the dealership. Feel free to give us a call here at Ezilend and we can get your finance sorted, so you can go into the car dealership with finance ready to roll.

car dealership

Although finance is pretty important, there’s more to it than that (and read our previous article on this here – Keep your wits about you before taking up dealership finance). In fact it’s a game that plays out along very similar lines, irrespective of which car you’re interested in.

Phase one is of course to do your research. Don’t just read the reviews, have a good look on all of the car sales sites and see what prices various dealers are putting on the car you’re after. That way you can make sure that when you choose the dealer/s to go into, you have a good idea what you should be paying. And if you’re planning on trading in your current vehicle, do the same research on it too, so you know if you’re being offered the right trade-in value.

Phase two is walking into the dealership. The process is very much choreographed once you’re in and it’s a psychological battle as much as anything. Of course today the internet gives the buyer a lot more power – you can research every last detail, but don’t underestimate the lure of that brand spanking shiny new car sitting right in front of you, literally begging you to pull out your hard-earned on the spot. Resist the temptation. Let the car salesman (or just as likely saleswoman) go through the process. There may be various offers and incentives put your way – just remember the research you did, and ideally visit a few dealerships for the brand you’re after to make sure you’re getting the best deal. This does take a bit of time though – expect to spend 1-2 hours in each dealership.

Car dealerships rely on the initial excitement and a well-honed strategy of starting with a high price and coming down, often linked into a ‘promotion’, which normally ends the day after you go in. You may often get a ‘this price is only valid today’. This is very rarely true, however – if you are able to forward plan your purchase – it’s a great idea to buy either at the end of the month, or the quarter, or best of all at the end of the financial year. This is when stock must get moved on.

Should you get the extras?

Once you have identified the dealer offering the best price, and the car is definitely the one you want, you will be shuffled off to see the last person – the person who will talk to you about all of the essential ‘add-ons’ you should take with your new car. For many dealerships the margin on the car is very small, so they’re interested in extra income from add-ons and, of course, from the income from the ongoing service schedule you will need to keep to, to make sure your warranty remains valid (a new car warranty is not in fact invalidated if you take your car elsewhere to be serviced, although it can complicate matters should you make a claim).

Add-ons generally fall into three categories…

  • Paint protection
  • Upholstery protection
  • Tinted windows

…and sometimes a service to fix those occasional dints and scratches that it’s generally not worth claiming on insurance. Are these extras worth the money? There’s no clear answer to this. Here are the pros and cons…

Pros

  • If you get the add-ons at the dealership you just take the car back in if there are ever any problems related to that add-on
  • It’s all done for you before you pick up the car – no need to take it in later to have the work done
  • If you are financing the car it’s easy to add the extra cost into the entire car loan
  • You can be fairly certain that the work will be done to a reasonably high standard – the car brand will not want to be associated with any problems relating to the add-on down the line

Cons

  • the add-on may not be necessary – it is a new car after all
  • getting add-ons done at point of sale at the dealership can be more expensive that getting the same job done at an external company

To an extent the dealership relies on the fact that you probably don’t know about latest paint protection technologies, or how much it would cost to get the same treatment elsewhere, so again… a bit of research goes a long way.

Once you have – quite literally – negotiated your way through the buying process, don’t forget the other stuff you need to organise just before you pick up the car… make sure you’ve swapped your insurance over to the new car, and don’t forget to take your toll tag out of your old car and inform the toll company of your change of vehicle. Then you can relax, and enjoy your new wheels!

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sports_car_dealership,_West_Swindon_-_geograph.org.uk_-_598715.jpg

Could you live on a boat?

Living full time on a boat conjures up a picture of an idyllic lifestyle – cruising from one beautiful location to another. But… practically, what is it really like? Is it affordable? Is it doable?

The answer to these questions is really ‘it depends’. There are plenty of people who do live on their boats and there are plenty of great stories on the web about how liberating the lifestyle is. On the other hand you have to be prepared to live in a lot less space, with a lot less storage than you’d find in even the smallest house.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the advantages and disadvantages of a life on the ocean wave… (we’ll start with the bad news)

Disadvantages

Weather
You can’t do much about the weather, and you’re even more exposed on the water than you are on land. You do need to keep your eye on the weather and be prepared to move your vessel to a safe haven if very bad weather threatens.

Storage
As mentioned above, there’s generally very little on a boat. Catamarans have a little more than single hulled boats.

Getting wet
Nobody likes getting soaked, not even hardened boaties, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Privacy
Especially if you’re berthed in a marina, you’ve got a fair bit less privacy than in a house. Plus most people living aboard don’t have a washing machine, so the local laundromat – wherever you are – may become a regular haunt.

Value of your new home
Unfortunately your new home on water is more likely to go down in value, rather than go up – a bit different to buying property on land.

And now for the good news…

Advantages

Costs
A lot of costs which just go with the territory with a house, are much smaller (or non-existent) on a boat. These include for example power bills and council rates. There are some costs of course, such as mooring fees and/or marina fees. But if you still own your house and rent it out, the rent will generally more than cover any marina fees.

Neighbours
Although in a marina you might have the occasional boat-based party, as a rule barking dogs and the like are a rarity. Neighbours are generally pretty friendly and have the same interest in sailing/boating as you do. They can also be a great source of help and knowledge, particularly if you’re relatively new to life on the water.

Living a free lifestyle
By free, we mean, free to do what you want, when you want. If you’d like to sail to another part of the coast, or even to another country, you can do so on a whim (almost).

Maintenance
Maintenance is a double-edged sword – if you own a boat, but don’t live on it, maintenance can be a bit of a chore, but if you live on the boat you are there so maintenance is a little easier. However a boat owner needs to be reasonably ‘handy’ and having some knowledge of how engines and other devices/machines on board work is a definite advantage. You can get people in to fix things on the boat, but marine specialists generally charge more than your standard tradie.

 

In the final analysis, you have to do your sums* and work out whether you’d be happy living onboard the boat you can afford, and whether you are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices for a life on the ocean.

One of the most important pieces of advice we have seen repeated over and over is the importance of checking out the seaworthiness of any boat you like the look of – get both the hull and the motor checked over by a professional before buying any boat. It’s no good falling in love with a boat, only to find out that it has major problems. This can be a problem buying anywhere to live, but getting it wrong with a boat is a bit more serious – your new home could sink or at the very least require a lot of money spent on it to keep it shipshape. Makes sure that BOAT doesn’t stand for Better Organise Another Thousand!

*and when you’re doing your sums give us a call and we can help you with your boat loan

Image credit: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Cancun-Sail-Yacht-Yucatan-Mexico-Caribbean-2551631

A short history of park assist technology

It’s one of those manoeuvres that separates the men from the boys – or women from the girls if you prefer – the reverse park (or ‘reverse parallel park’ to be pedantic). In theory, if you have passed your driving test, you should be able to perform the manoeuvre, however not all driving tests around Australia have a compulsory reverse park as part of the test – so you may be able to get away with not mastering it – maybe.

tight parking

Given the difficulty some people have with parking in a tight space, it won’t surprise you to know that car manufacturers have been looking at ways to help people reverse park for quite a while.

Of course, now there are many vehicles for sale in Australia that feature some form of assisted parking, but it was back in 1934 that the very first car was fitted with a system to assist drivers to park. For some strange reason it didn’t catch on, although perhaps it had something to do with the way it worked – the car was manually jacked up onto another set of wheels at ninety degrees to the main wheels and literally moved sideways into the parking spot.

Today’s systems, which are available on a surprisingly wide range of different brands and vehicle types, are one of two broad types – those where the car steers itself into the space but the driver must select the gear and control the accelerator, and those which are largely autonomous, that is the car controls the entire manoeuvre from start to finish. There are even some cars where you can get out of the car and instruct it to park itself, using the key… or your smartphone.

The first genuine attempt to implement self parking technology in a modern vehicle was in 1992, when VW demonstrated the Futura concept car, which had four wheel steering – using the main wheels this time – and could again move sideways into a parking spot. This feature was never incorporated into any commercial VW vehicles.

The first global manufacturer to actually sell a vehicle with park assistance was Toyota, who released their Prius hybrid model in 2003 with an automated parallel parking system called ‘Intelligent Parking Assist’. It didn’t take long for other brands to follow suit, with Lexus adding parking assistance to their LS model in 2006, and Ford and BMW coming to the party in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

As you might expect, Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar are at the forefront of the park assist technology. The Mercedes system, on board the C-Class saloon, will even scan parking bays for an empty spot as you drive slowly along. When you have decided where you want to park, the car does the rest for you. If you buy a C-Class at the SE model level or above, it comes as standard.

Both the BMW 5 Series and the Jaguar XF work in a similar fashion to the Mercedes, in as much as they will ‘hunt out’ a space for you. The Jag however has another interesting feature – it will also steer itself out of a tight space when it’s time to leave!

You can’t discuss park assist technology without mentioning the Tesla S, which has a pretty advanced parking system – all fully autonomous. It also has a feature James Bond (or maybe Johnny English) would be proud of, called ‘Summon’, where the car can drive itself out of a tight space – presumably while you watch on. The next step – promised by Tesla – is for the car to drive itself up to the front door when ‘summoned’. Chauffeur service without the chauffeur!

But don’t think you have to get a high end car to get park assist – the latest Ford Fiesta comes with a parking assistance system. Overkill, anybody?

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Arpingstone

Excavator or skidsteer, or something else?

When it comes to getting the right equipment for your job, or for your business, here’s a quick and dirty (pardon the pun) look at diggers and excavators, and which types are suited for various types of jobs.

excavator

From small to large…

Skidsteers

The main manufacturer of these is Bobcat and in fact their name has become synonymous with this piece of kit. A skidsteer is essentially a small, highly manoeuvrable digger that is good to have when you’re working in a confined space or when getting to where you need to do the work involves narrow access, for example if you need to go round the side of a house to get to the backyard.

Skidsteers are able to literally ‘turn on a dime’ as their steering is independent on each side, so while the wheels (or tracks) are going forward on one side, they are going backwards on the other, enabling so-called ‘zero radius’ turning. Skidsteers like the Bobcat also come with a huge range of different attachments for different types of jobs – from stump grinders, to mowers and blowers for landscaping type projects, to more conventional buckets and even forklift type pallet forks.

The only downside of skidsteers is their limited size and power, which makes bigger jobs, like digging huge holes in the ground, not the ideal use for them.

Skidsteers are a great choice for work involving for example…

  • Excavating a hole for an in-ground swimming pool
  • Rubbish removal on a building site
  • Landscaping work in backyards with narrow entry/exit points (as above)
  • Backfilling

Excavators

If you’re looking to make light work of a bigger project and can get wide access to the site, a conventional excavator will be the right choice. Major projects like large scale construction, building demolition and major landscaping projects will get done more quickly and easily with an excavator. Excavators can be anything from 1.5 tonnes to 13 tonne behemoths.

Loaders & Backhoes Loaders

Other types of equipment that perform similar, but slightly different roles are the loader, predominantly used for scooping up and transporting larger amounts of material (eg earth, sand, rubbish) from one spot to another, and the hybrid backhoe loader.

They are not really designed to do any digging, however (confusingly) the iconic JC Bamford (better known as JCB) digger seen on building sites around the world is technically a ‘backhoe loader’ and designed to do the digging and the transporting. Developed by JCB in the UK in 1953, the machine rapidly became a fixture on smaller building sites, for its relatively small size and flexibility. Much like the Bobcat, backhoe loaders can be fitted with a wide variety of accessories to allow all sorts of jobs to be performed, from digging holes to trenches, to moving material around.

There are plenty of resources on the internet to help you decide which piece – or pieces – of equipment you will need for your project or business. Just like cars have people like Jeremy Clarkson to tell us which car to buy, there are also a few people out there who review building, landscaping and construction equipment! Here’s a site that has reviewed a range of mini excavators for example – ‘6 awesome mini excavators’ and there are also reviews of individual models such as these…

McLoughlin J1T Mini Excavator
CAT 308E2 Mini Excavator

As well as speaking to the manufacturers and dealers, it’s also worth hiring out different types of equipment first to get an idea of how they work and how suitable they would be. Once you’re ready to get your own, call us at Ezilend and we’ll help you with the equipment loan!

The fastest cars… in the world

The urge to go faster must be deep-rooted in the human psyche – before cars it was trains and horses, but still the same urge. Perhaps it has something to do with our ancestors having to outrun large hungry marauding animals with big sharp teeth.

hennessy venom

Despite the fact that the vast majority of roads in the world have speed limits imposed on them (the well known exceptions being stretches of motorway in Italy or Germany), the need for speed is still there, and there’s no shortage of car manufacturers willing and able to help people satisfy that need. That satisfaction can be pretty pricey though – top speed cars command top speed prices.

There’s also the issue of how you define the word ‘fastest’. The Guinness Book of Records has a category for ‘production’ cars as opposed to say F1 cars – the vehicle must be in production, that is not be a one-off prototype, it must be road legal, and produced in sufficient number to be classified as available for the public to buy. This can be a pretty small number*.

Also, what aspect of speed are you measuring? The traditional top speed measurement is not the only one. A more useful measure is of acceleration – this is much more useful on the road than absolute top speed. If you’re driving a Porsche 911 behind three cars towing caravans on a single lane road, you’re much more likely to be able to overtake them all in one go than if you were driving a Hyundai Getz, and this is all about the acceleration, not top speed (witnessed by your author once in the UK).

Again your ability to get from point A to point B on a windy road has as much to do with the handling of the car than its sheer engine power. So by these three measures it’s perfectly possible you’d have three different cars winning the coveted title of fastest car.

Having said all of this, US-based website Digital Trends has recently put up an article about the fastest 25 production cars in the world and defaulted to top speed as the base measure, so that will have to do.

What’s really interesting with this list is firstly, how quickly things change in the rarified world of sper fast cars and secondly, how some brands you’d expect to be near the top just aren’t. Beautiful cars though they may be, Ferrari and Lamborghini are present in the list, but not really anywhere near the top.

A surprising late entrant to the list is Tesla’s new roadster, coming in at number 7 with a claimed top speed of 250mph (402 km/h) and all on electric power, with a battery pack twice the size of either the Tesla S or X models. Elon Musk has always worked on the premise that the electric car must compete on all measures with its petrol powered equivalents, and the new Roadster seems to have pulled this off, also boasting an impressive range of 620 miles (998 km) before it runs out of puff.

And some brands you’d expect to see included aren’t – BMW for example, although its engines power some of the cars in the list – the McLaren F1 has a 6.1l V12 BMW engine in it for example.

The other surprise is how many quite old models are still in the list – as well as the McLaren F1, the Jaguar XJ220 is also still there (with a top speed of 217 mph / 349 km/h), despite the fact that it was built in 1992.

Finally, another sign of the times is how the list is not completely dominated by conventional internal combustion engine driven cars. The Tesla is the only pure electric car that makes the list, but there are three other hybrid drive cars that also appear – the Porsche 918 Spyder, the McLaren P1 and the eponymous Ferrari LaFerrari models. How long will it be before all the cars in the list are electric?

Did we forget to mention the fastest car? According to Digital Trends (but not, we might add, the Guinness Book of Records) it is the Hennessy Venom F5 with a top speed of 301 mph (484 km/h) and a price tag of AU$1.53M. It’s based on the rather less pricey Lotus Exige which comes in at a (comparatively) more affordable AU$139,000. Give us a call when you need to arrange the car loan. For either model.

*25, apparently

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/el_ave/14768831359 Hennessy Venom GT