TOTAL BUDGET = N$ 1,106,400 | WEIGHT = Kg 7,160See our idea in 3D | hide content
Play the video below to get the idea of the different layers of the build... or play with the 3D Model at the bottom of the page.
After several years (or decades) of brainstorming on which truck to get to build my dream camper, I found this quite unique unusual medium size 6x6 truck from the Swiss army... the Bucher Mowag Duro. Then I manage to connect with one owner, Garry & Debbie. We quickly became internet friends and a few weeks later, Garry told me that there was a truck for sale in Swaziland. I immediately contacted the seller, Sam and immidetely had that kind of good feeling when you know that this is the one. The truck was totally unbuilt and with no running engine. I took the challenge and since then, it is quite amazing how many nice people I have met!
I bought the truck for R150K. Then in order to keep the truck registered on my name in Swaziland, I had to register a business, pay a trade licence and the road licence. The reason is that the truck is a left-hand drive and I could not import it into Namibia. The good news is that the licence is way cheaper there!
I bought the above engine from Kyle (Cummins Powered SA). It arrived in Durban early July. It has been sent to Pretoria where Fana (Incredible Engineering Projects) will overall whatever needs to be fixed to install into the truck in Swazi. Peter will fit the 6BT in the truck & test it. He will also service what needs to be done. If everything is OK, Peter's best driver will drive the truck through the border to Pretoria and come back by bus. Fana will then finish the conversion.
The truck currently has an automatic 4-speed Alison gear box with no overdrive.
Fana has a lot of arguments to fit a manual gearbox... let's see when the truck arrives in Pretoria.
The gear level (and handbrake) must be moved so the passage to the habitat is easier.
Peter will only make the support brackets for the new engine and service the truck in Swaziin order to drive it to Pretoria.
Then only Fana will start the conversion...
The total budget for all but gearbox... R100K
The truck has an amazing suspension with 8 coil springs (double on each middle wheel). In order to accommodate for 8T fully loaded, Gary advised to fit extra springs inside the existing ones. At the same time the Bilstein shocks will be serviced with new seals.
Ted offered to supervise the project that will be done by Darell (Mikem Suspension).
At the same time the coil springs are installed, the Biltein shocks will be serviced with new seals.
The 20" current size of the rims does not allow much choice of tyres, and on top of that, they are very expensive. So at a later stage, when the current tyres are weared off, I will get 8 new 22.5" rims made from scratch from Neville Liebenberg of NJ Wheel & Steel Germiston SA (+27 82 404 3216 - 82 921 6358) or Jaco Pepler of Titan Wheels (+27 82 563 4445). The cost will be around R3-3.5K per rim.
The current tyres (275/80/20) still have about 80% of rubber... so I will keep them for now. Garry offered his old rims & tyres which are stored at Titan Wheels in Heidelberg. So I will collect 2 rims from Jaco Pepler with the best tyres when I go fetch the truck in Pretoria.
Later when it is time to get new tyres, I will get bigger rims and 8 new tyres (best size 295/80/225). Budget R40-48K.
The truck only has one spare wheel but I will get 2 wheels from Garry (just in case one gets damaged).
The idea is to fit the 2 spare wheels on a steel rack at the back of the frame. The back wall will be reinforced internally/externally to support the weight of the spare wheels and bike on steel frames.
In order to get the frame down/up with the 2 wheels (>200kg), a small 1.5 T electric winch with 2 pulleys will be used. The same winch rope will also be used to move the bike frame at a later stage.
An expensive but very much appreciate add-on to the truck is the hydraulic lifting system to allow levelling the truck for camping but also lifting the truck high enough so all 6 weeks are off the ground. This will facilitate the rotation of the 6 tyres.
The 4 2-stage telescopic hydraulic cylinders with mounting brackets and round disc as foot, 4-lever operated directional valve plus mtg bracket connected to the truck steering pump, oil filter, 17 litre oil reservoir, interconnecting hoses and fittings will be done by Gert of Vaktin Hydraulics (+27 82 556 8019).
Install the 6-wheel tyre pressure monitor system (TPMS) with 2 spare programmable sensors (in case one fail) on the dashboard.
There is an air compressor and an air tank at the back. Make a spider air pipes for each tyres so the pressure can be adjusted up or down in one go for the 6 wheels at the same time, then a single line for inflating only one tyre.
I will keep the original diesel tank which is about 100l but reinforce the support brackets where necessary. A second diesel tank of about 250l made of stainless steel 3cr12 by Neurosta in Windhoek will be added in the middle of the truck above chassis level below frame & insulated floor. This tank will connect to the original tank.
The idea is to have 1500-2000km fuel range.
The diesel tank will feed the small diesel tank of the air/water heater.
When the truck is in Pretoria, we will look at the option and cost of upgrading the brakes especially front ones.
In the meantime, I found brake pads for R450/4 at Masterparts in Windhoek.
The air filter will have to be moved to under the passenger seat and a waterproof snorkel added up to the roof of the cabin. In the past, I used the Donaldson cyclone air filter as a pre-filter. It is available from Colin taylor of Gerrit Technoparts (+27 82 347 3359) for 5.9 l engine +/- R1000.
I bought an air horn in China... just a boy toy!
I bought strong LED bulbs to replace the original ones. I also have 2 LED driving lights that can be added and a 1-m LED bar for off-road. I also got new LED rear truck lights to replace the brocken ones at the back and LED multifunction strips to add to the top of the rear wall.
I intend to raise the roof of the driving cabin to allow more height to walk to the habitat but also offer a better aerodynamic. The rear wall will also need to be re-inforced as a bigger openning will be cut through. The cabin walls are fiberglass.
Some challenge here to keep tilting cabin with the new design of the driving cabin as well as to make sure it is 100% waterproof!
Get a double anchoring system from another truck... ask Fana.
A thick insulation will be added under and inside the driving cabin to reduce the noise of the engine to a minimum.
Choosing new comfortable truck seats with armrests and air suspension base has been my biggest challenge so far. I had to report the first company I bought 2 seats from that increased the price by 20% after payment to Alibaba. Then at the end of the discussion with my second choice company, the seats I was looking for were not available anymore... so back to square one with 3 other companies.
With all these discussions, I learned that Chinese manufacturer prefer PU leather to cloth fabric... which is against my belief of comfort when it is cold or hot. I also discover that seats can be equipped with heating, ventilation or even cooling AND 6-point massge system which could be very welcome from my old poor back!
The decision is imminent...
As I also intend to add a swivel base, at least to the passenger seat and maybe to the driver seat, the box covering the engine might have to be modified. Another challenge in perpective!
Just a small budget to make the driving cabin as much comfortable as nice-looking.
The dashboard will also be revamped to accomodate new switches & instruments as well as the android car radio navigation 13" screen and tyre pressure monitor system.
I bought a VHF/UHF 2-way radio Radioddity DB-25G from Amazon as well as a portable one Baofeng UV-9R from Take-A-Lot.
I still need to choose a good antena to fix on the roof of the driving cabin.
After different considerations, I decided to buy an android car radio navigation system like I have in my ranger but with a hires 13" screen. That will serve as GPS and radio/music player connected to 4 speakers, 2 in the cabin and 2 in the habitat. The system comes with a remote controller that will be usefull when in the habitat.
The same company also sold me 4 360-degre cameras to see all around the truck. The rear camera will also switch on when reversing.
I will add central locking on all doors, including door & hatches of the habitat. When the truck is here, I will also add electric windows.
The truck runs in 24V but as some accessories can only work with 12V, there will be a voltage reducer in the driving cabin, as well as a additional fuse box with auto/resettable fuses.
Thanks to the unique independant suspension of the Duro, the subframe can be fixed directly onto the chassis through 8 points. I will use 60 m of 40x20x2 steel (1.88 kg/m = 110 kg), weld it and primer/epoxy paint. 2 mm steel sheets will be added around the will to protect the fiberglass box from stones.
I was very pleased to find a company in Port Elisabeth that manufacture composite panels and fiberglass profiles : Cape Comp – Nathan +27 72 300 7410.
As their price is much cheaper than buying from Namibia, it will come cheaper to import from South Africa.
The whole box will be made with 50 mm thick composite panels (2 mm of fiberglass sheet on both sides press-glued together on 50 mm high density polystyrene) and re-inforced by 5 vertical walls of the same material inside. Door & hatches will be made of the same material but only 25-30 mm thichness.
The box shape will keep ideal angle at the back of 35 degre.
There was a bit of discussion on the use of aluminium profiles to be used for the outerframe... it seemed that because the 2 material react differently to exterme temperature, they could possibly weaken in the long run. So better use fiberglass profiles and glue it with resine.
Derick recommends the following paints:
The entrance door will be in 2 parts, so the bottom can stay close when having a shower and the top equipped with a sliding insect screed. Bothe parts will have lock with handle plus electrical lock top & bottom. Piano stainless-steel hinges and rubber seal for 100 % water/dust proof.
A 4-step ladder will be needed to climb onto the truck 106 cm higher. Ideally the step ladder will be rigid and slide inside under the truck. It might be possible to use a linear actuator to move it in/out.
The same door lock with hadle in combinaison with electrical lock will be used for the hatches. Piano PVC hinges and rubber seal for 100 % water/dust proof.
RV windows can be very expensive. I hope my choice of Chinese supplier will pay off... for the price of one window in Europe...
The Duro is a small truck and its driving cab is only 2 m wide. The habitat will be 2 m wide inside (2.15 m max outside).
With 60 cm depth cupboards on both sides, the passage is only 80 cm... which is ok... but why not sliding out the whole kitchen counter by 50 cm so the passage is now 1.3 m!
The idea is to operate the slide-out kitchen block with 2 actuators placed in the subframe and add 2 or more heavy-duty sliding rails on each side. The roof of the kitchen block will be sloped out to avoid rain to run inside and a double rubber seal will be used to close the opening when opened.
Some slide-out also have a small canvas unrolling out when open but I don't think that is a good idea.
Two is better than one when it comes to water tanks... in case one tank is leaking or compromised by bad water. The ideal spot is in the middle, above chassis level but inside the wall insulation so the water will never freeze. Each tank of about 150l will have its separate filling from hose pipe connected to either distribution water or pumped from lake/river. A bottom tap will allow empying the tank and the outlet to the booster pump will plunge to the bottom from the top.
The tanks will be made of the same composite panels as for the door/hatches and glued together with fiberglass resine. Each tank will have 3-4 separations not touching the bottom to limit the movements of the water. Each tank will have a water level sensor linked to Raspberry/Victron control panel.
Do not forget breather pipe about 1 m height.
The 24V booster pump will boost the pressure to 2-4 bars. A small pressure tank will control the pressure in the water pipe.
The same pump model will be used to fill up the water tank with a pre-filter and 30 m hose pipe from a river or a lake and serve as a backup in case of failure of the booster pump.
I have not decided yet which pipes & connectors I will use.
A 3-stage water filter accepting standard size cartridges plus an odor-free top filter will be placed after the pump for all water lines. Always have stock of all cartridges!
The hot water supply advised by Garry includes the diesel air/water heater and a twin-coil 22 l calorifier (I had never heard that name before). A calorifier is like a indirect solar geyser but much smaller.
The principle is that when the truck engine is running, the coolant water will be modified to pass through the heater and the calorifier, so the 22l inside will quickly heat up to 85-90 degre. The same will happen when parking heater will be used and the benefit is that the truck engine will also warm up at the same time. The very hot water inside the calorifier will then be mixed with cold water down to about 40 degre max when taking a shower or cleaning dishes. The insulated calorifier will keep hot water for about 2 days, even 3 days if extra insulation is added.
The calorifier needs a 2l accumulator tank.
The only problem is that the calorifier can only be found in UK and transport is expensive... but there might be an option to add it inside a container.
I still believe it is better to have a 40-50l grey water tank from kitchen/shower/washing machine when not really in the bush.
In order to empty the tank easily, the drain walve will be electrically operated. The tank will have a water level sensor linked to Raspberry/Victron control panel.
Do not forget the overflow!
A 24V Chinese air conditioning (AC) split unit will be used to cool down the temperature in the habitat.
The outside unit will be integrated inside the roof in front of the solar panels, so it does not pertrude too much above the roof. A outlet drain pipe must be place so the rain water does not accumulate inside the box.
The inside unit will be placed under the seat just below the outside unit so pipe can be as short a spossible. From there the cold air will flow through the corners along the walls to be distributed at ceiling level all around the habitat.
The main issue with the AC is that it uses a lot of energy and this is from 24V, not directly from the batteries... another challenge!
A chinese diesel air/water heater will be used to warm up the habitat as well as the hot water. From the heater, the hot air will flow through the floor corners to 4 outlets located under the seats.
A multipurpose sink with wooden board, various trays and various water faucets is the ideal sink for the truck.
I have always found that a separate bathroom/toilet can be a waste of space in a relatively small truck. So the idea came to have the shower in the entrance... which needs to be free and can also be seen as a waste of space.
The challenge however, is to keep the entrance open with no visible toilet and at the same time have a toilet and shower as functional & comfortable as possible. In order to achive that, the shower tube/floor will be a step lower than the floor of the camper and will be made of fiberglass resine & sand to make it totally anti-slippery. As the entrance is 15 mm lower than the habitat floor, the shower head will not be in the way.
To close the door of the bathroom, simply close the accordeon door made of composite plates attached together by a silicone strip and sliding on a floor & ceiling rail.
Open the top door, and the shower becomes an outdoor shower!
After some research on compost toilets and feedback from Garry, I clearly decided that is the way to go... I once had the experience to queue in Canada to empty the toilet casette... never again!
The idea is to separate the liquid from the solid which can dry quite quickly especially if a good airflow is created and a fan (server fan to fit in 110-50 PVC pipe reducer) added to extract the bad smell outside. Either buy the urine divider in UK with the calorifier or make one in fiberglass.
So the pee goes straight to the middle under the truck and the poo goes into a plastic bag inside a bucket place under the toilet. To reduce bad smell and speed up the drying process, ashes or wood chips/dust is added to the solid (double the dose in case of diarrhea!).
The toilet room will also be equipped with a shower gun in place of a proper bidet.
There is space on the roof to fit 4x 425W = 1700W 48V solar panels (about 2000 x 1000 mm). The panels must be fixed all the way to avoid any vibrations and be protected from trees.
The rolls-royce of solar system for camper seems to be Victron. So lets go for it especially when a friend is selling the material in Windhoek at a competitive price.
A 48V system is cheaper than 24V one. The system will accept charging from solar panels (48VDC), the truck alternator (24VDC - 100Ah) & main (230VAC)
In addition to the 48-24V converter, a 48-12V will also be needed to operate the few equipment only running in 12V.
The only issue is to have the 48-24V big enought to run the AC.
As almost everything will run from 230V (induction stove, microwave, fridge, dishwasher...), it is important to have a big enough battery storage. So 2x LiFePO4 48-51.5V/100Ah batteries seem necessary. Again better to have 2x 100Ah than 1x 200Ah... if one fails there is a backup!
The dilema is which ones and from where...
The Victron Cerbo GX coupled with the display is nice but expensive. While looking for alternatives, I discover that a Raspberry Pi3 with a good 7" screen can do the exact same job... for a fraction of the price... so another challenge there!
What is nice is that the control panel can also display the tank water levels.
It is very important to have good lighting where it is necessary. Thus there will be LED light strips in the ceiling as well as mini directional LED spot lights for the office and bed. At night, ambiance light at lower level will be created by blue LED light strips.
All hatches will also haveLED light strip operated by door & toggle switches.
All lights will be on 24VDC through miniature latching relays operated by push buttons.
At a later stage remote control or wifi could easily be added if necessary.
On each side of the truck, there will be 2x LED lights for security or when camping. Again these lights, as well as the reverse LED working lights at the back and the LED bar light at the front will be operate through the same latching relays and push buttons.
Many people say that a normal 230VAC works well in a camper, instead of a highly expensive special model for RV. Thus a good A++ or A+ 200-250l freezer (at the bottom) and fridge (at the top) will be used. Ice maker & cold water tap will be a good feature to have.
All items will have to be secured in the fridge.
It seems better (allows wider pan/pot) and also cheaper to get 2x 1-burner induction stove instead of 2-burner one. There will be 2 of these on the kitchen counter and one extra sliding out of the rear left cargo for camping cooking outdoor.
A combined convection oven / microwave seems the best choice so the oven cooking can be used occasionnaly.
The coffee/espresso machine is an absolute must to have. Ideally with integraded grinder and ground coffee feeder so 2 different coffee blends can be used for 2 people having different taste!
It did not take long for Garry to convince me to have a mini 6-place dishwasher! More economical (uses only 4-6 l) & more hygienic against tropical diseases.
Impossible to find locally but still a good thing to have in my opinion is a compact automatic washing machin. So I bought an 8Kg model in China.
The machine will need to be secured while driving!
I even found a space for the laundry basket!
I bought a mini wireless vacuum cleaner in China which also has a blowing function.
It bseems that StarLink mobile internet by SpaceX will become available sometimes this year in Namibia... but it is expensive and I do not need it now!
Having access to internet is crucial for worker/traveller... so in order to increase reception signal, a booster antenna can be fixed on the roof and linked to a wifi router.
Having a fixed 24" monitor fixed in the bed area will be a must to watch movies in bed in the evening. The same or another 24" monitor should also be available next to the table for office work or even to watch movie while cooking. Ideally that monitor can be attached onto a strong pivoting arm to turn it in almost any direction. On good roads, the screen could stay on but of course, off-road it will need to find a secure spot.
The music player will be either the phone, tablet or computer connecting via bluetooth to the car player in the dashboard connected to 2 speakers in the driving cab and 2 speakers in the habitat.
Another thing to consider is to have some kind of a media player computer to pay movie or access the internet without the use of a computer. To be investigated...
The 4 360-degre cameras are coming together withe the car player.
A good quality queen mattress 157 x 200 cm. Below the bed, there will be 3 drawers for clothes/shoes. These drawers could be used to climb into the bed unless steps can be integrated with the nearby wardrobe.
Another idea is to have a sliding tablet below the bed & above the drawers to extend the working area when cooking.
Part of the wardrobe will be made with 50 mm composite panel to re-inforce the box structure and the rest with suprawood/MDF 12/18 mm panels.
The wardrobe will have space for hanging clothes as well as for the small washing machine, laundry basket & 10KW rack-mounted lithium batteries.
The control panel for electrical & water supply will also be integrated into the wardrobe.
The dinning/office table will be on 1-2 telescopic pedestral and made of 2 panels. In normal use, the right panel will be folded down to allow easy passge from driving cab to habitat. When needed for meals or work, the right panel will be lifted up.
In the case of travelling with guests, the table will be lower down manually to serve as a base for the guest bed.
The seating area will accommodate 4 people. Another 2 people could occasionally squeeze in or sit on the swivelling seats of the driving cab.
When the table is lowered it will serve as a base for all the cushions to make the guest bed. The cushions will be made by Marie at Marey Upholstery in Windhoek.
The box under the seat will have some of the truck components, the AC indoor unit but also some space for food stock or other gear.
The kitchen counter made of prosopis plancks will receive the multipurpose sink, the double induction stoves, the microwave & a good-size spice rack. Under it, the dishwasher and plenty of space for kitchenware & food in the cuboards & drawers.
Special attention for the use of flexible pipes fixed in the floor but sliding through the slid-out.
A very useful 5 x 2.5 m awning hidden inside the wall will come out oblically to offer shade and rain cover while camping.
The box door secured by electric locks will open before the 24V electric motor will unroll the awning supported by 2 folding arms on each side and extra poles attached to the truck wall.
A panel normally fixed on hinges on the side of the truck will be put flat and receive a basin from the small hatch behind the washing machine where a shower gun will deliver cold & hot water. For cooking outdoor, an extra convection stove fixed on a drawer will slide-out of the rear left cargo bay.
In the same bay, there will be space for 4 camping chairs and a folding table.
Definitely not immediately, but this seems the way to go... to have an electric motorbike that is cheaper and weight less than a conventional one.
Soon there will be more on the market and more competition... 50-100 km/h - 200 km autonomy - charging 6-8 h
I bought a 10T/24V electric winch with 50 m synthetic rope in total & remote control in China. The winch will be installed in the front of the truck between the chassis and attached on a very strong plate.
I still need to find where to buy these aluminium sand plates at a cheap price...
Other recovery accessories should include:
All power tools should ideally be wireless and operated with the same batteries:
Unfortunately, the 3Dviewer will only work within this page if you are logged in (just create a free account if you are interested to digg inside every corners of the truck). Sketchup team is working on fixing the bug... but it seems it is taking some time!