Why a big truck??? It began in Malaysia during a tropical downpour, we had come to realise that we loved our life and wanted to travel for many more years but a roof tent on a Land Rover was not a long term living solution. Our friends had a very nice Iveco but mechanical problems and almost impossible part availability ruled that vehicle out. Almost all other options were too expensive.
We flew to the U.K for a visit and hopped over to Germany in search of a MAN 8.136 but, after looking at it, we decided it was too small to justify the cost of purchase and conversion. Then we saw the Mercedes 911, a vehicle that we had never considered, yet it is found all over the world, with spare parts aplenty, lots of living space and a engine that just keeps going. We fell in love and drove her home to Scotland, sleeping on the bench seat that converted into a bunk bed, cooking with a single ring stove purchased on the way. She was put into storage until our return from Asia.
A 1977 ex police vehicle that was used during the cold war as a mobile radio unit to listen into the Russians on the other side of the Berlin wall.
Serviced regularly, stored in a heated garage and driven less than 600 miles per year - almost as new!
Mercedes Benz 911 LA 4x4
Engine: 5.6 litre
Gross weight 9 ton but plated down to 7.5 ton
so it can be driven on a normal licence.
Height: 2.85 mts Length: 7.00 mts Width: 2.45 mts
Diesel tank capacity - 135 litres
and facility to carry 4 x 20 litre jerry cans
Split rims with 8.25 R 20 tyres x 7
12v + 24v
Power assisted steering and air brakes, mechanical clutch and oil bath air filter.
Metal cell shutters for each window providing security and ventilation whilst blocking out all light.
Webasto heating system.
You could easily just put a kitchen, bed and sitting area in and go but we decided to strip her completely.
The roof had a very heavy metal walkway, a collapsible safety rail and a large antennae.
Inside we discovered that the bench/ bed system was very heavy, the electrical system was outrageously complex and ridiculously weighty comprising of a solid copper inverter, transformers etc.
In all we stripped 700 kg’s off the original weight!
The old rock wool insulation was taken out, the walls painted with Rust-oleum paint, to prevent rust, and spray foam insulation applied to prevent condensation, topped with a fresh layer of rock wool.
Dave built the inside using 6mm ply for the walls and roof, 9mm ply for the unit doors and 12mm ply for the bathroom walls and bed base. Light weight CLS and battens were used for the frame work.
A new and less complex electrical system was fitted with 12 & 24 volt on separate systems, 4 x 110 amp deep cycle batteries and 2 x 85 watt solar panels.
4 x 12v L.E.D internal lights were fitted.
We purchased the ‘Build your own Motor Home’ Haynes manual - it was NOT worth buying as the information inside was too general and basic, where-as the task specific manuals looked better ie. Electrics manual or plumbing manual.
SOURCING SPARE PARTS :
ALLRAD forum users are superbly helpful.
Go to NESSIE ON THE ROAD for on trip improvement details.
Go to NESSIE ON THE ROAD for on trip improvement details.
Seagull IV water filter system -
We decided to upgrade from the Nature Pure system only because the filters last longer making the Seagull system more economical in the long term.
National Luna Weekender -
40 litre fridge and 10 litre freezer combo. A freezer facility is very useful for carrying meat/ chicken. Excellent after sales service from N.L South Africa and APB trading, who we purchased the fridge from.
Water heating options -
Truma ultra store is gas operated to provide hot water for showers but has a printed circuit board that could cause complications.
You could convert the trucks Webasto to give you hot water as well - can’t remember what the conversion kit costs.
Or you can purchase a calorifier sourced from www.surecall.co.uk - a simple water heat exchanger that operates via your engine radiator.
Sure flow 24v water pump -
A reliable pump we also used in our Land Rover.
Sterling Power product - Power Q 1,000 Watt. Stopped working after 3 months. We phoned to get advice on problem solving and the technical man basically said there was nothing he could do and promptly put the phone down - bad buy, terrible after sales service.
Solar panels -
2 x 85 watt panels - should be plenty of energy for our needs.
Solar controller -
Stecca 30 amp with LED display panel.
24v to 12v dropper -
Victron energy Orion.
Oscillating fans -
Cheap 12 & 24 volt fans. Two for the cab and one for the bed area.
Stainless steel shower tray -
Made to order by local company - ensured we got the size, depth and quality we wanted.
Thetford porta potty 365 -
We didn’t want to spend a lot on a fancy swivel toilet. This does the job.
Water tank -
Purchased from C.A.K tanks. 189 litre capacity. It leaked the first time we filled it - not our best buy!
Waste water tanks -
A simple 45 litre tank for the shower room and a 10 litre water can for the kitchen.
Internal Lights -
4 x 12 volt lights with LED. Bought from O’Leary’s Caravan shop near Hull.
Kitchen sink and taps -
Smeg sink found at reduced price on the internet.
Gas cooker -
Simple 2 ring gas stove with small grill bought in local shop.
Fiamma F45 ti - purchased from a company advertising on Ebay, essential for shade on sunny days.
Road noise -
These trucks can be noisy - the floor is made of wood which doesn’t help and the insulation tends to be very old. We bought lead lined insulation for the engine compartment and sound proofing mats for the cab interior which made a big difference. Tyres can also increase road noise - radials are best for quieter driving but not ideal for the South American dirt roads.
Our tyres are 17yr old Michelin XZY 8.25xR20 with split rims. We spent weeks deciding whether we should keep our tyres or not. Selling them and the split rims second hand in the UK would only raise £700. Our tyres are special order at more than £300 a tyre - it didn’t seem a good idea to sell unused tyres for almost no money. It is not recommended to drive with tyres older than 10 years but we decide to take the chance and squeeze as much value from them as possible. They carried us for 12,000km’s in Europe.