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Akela

Akela

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Name: Akela
Type: Mercedes Benz LA 911 B
Build Year:
1977
Performance: 130HP
Weight: approx. 9t
Living Space: approx. 12m2

Equipment

 

Dieseltanks: 1x180l + 1x300l
Refridgerator: Dometic Coolmatic CR110
Waterfilter: Water-jack fresh assembly 3h
Heating: Eberspächer Aitronic D4 Plus
Wood Stove: Hobbit Stove
Stove: Dometic Sunlight
Battery: 6x Optima Yellow Top 75Ah
Tyres: Goodyear Ultra Max 315 80 R22,5
Boiler: Elgena Nautic Therm ME
PV- Anlage: 2 x 250W
Thetford Toilette, Shower,...

 

 

 

Oh yes,... a new toy is in da house! 

 


What we thought we were doing: 
Let’s just renovate this truck a little bit, it won’t cost the world.Not a big thing.
We can make it by ourselves. 

What we actually did:
We spent a lot more money for renovating the truck than we expected.

It was a ridiculous amount of hard work and we put so much time and effort in the preparations for our project, than we have ever imagined.

Fear? Yes!

Tears? Yes!

Anticipation? BIG TIME!

 

 

Assessment

This is how the truck looked like when we saw it for the first time. Not bad, we thought. Even qualified mechanics 

said that the truck is in a very good condition. „LOL“ aka the „beginning of the end“.

We were destroyed when we found out that the truck isn’t in a good condition AT ALL which means rust - almost everywhere.

It took us a few weeks to get it that a full refurbishment would be impossible because the whole structure was beyond rusty. 

That means, we had to make everything new. Really everything. Like building a house from the beginning (which would have been probably easier).

Puh,... stay optimistic...

But was this the end of our world trip? Of course not! But things went even worse.. According to many different opinions and advices from different specialists in this field, we became even more confused with all this truck stuff. As a photographer and a travel agency assistant, we were just not into this topic and furthermore we were really worried to exceed our estimated budget (which happened of course). This huge problems we had right at the beginning affected the whole family. Leander neglected his job as a photographer and had barely space for quality time with his four year old son. Also Leander and Maria had to go through a lot during this very exhausting time.

Supporting frame

The first thing who got broken (in a long row of things who got broken) was the diesel pump.

The good thing was: We met the fabulous guy Gerhard Thonhofer by accident and he was one of the people who helped us the most.

He fixed our diesel pump plus he had experience in frame-and-body construction for trucks.

We planned to build the basic construction out of steel, covered with aluminium.

 

 

We thought that - according to the estimate of costs - the cheapest way to fix everything is to build the truck body completely new.

Like I said.. we THOUGHT so… but it was actually not true.

No sooner said than done, 3 days later we got our brand new galvanized supporting frame. 

We used 50x100x50 U-Profile for the machine direction profile and 50x80x50 U-Profile for the stabilizer.

Beside this, we bordered the frame with 40x100x40 Z Profile on which we putted the truck body.

Furthermore we had to adapt the whole for the access way. Weight: about 240 kg

Steel construction

Luckily we found again someone who helped us in this case. Stefan! We would have been so lost without your help! 

Thank you so much!

Stefan said that we must use 40x40 square pipes for assembling the construction. 

To cut a long story, there would be a million things you would have to pay attention of when you’re doing something like this. 

We did our best but we had no experience and so we did a few things wrong which brought us nearly to a mental breakdown.

The secret word is: galvanizing. We didn’t do it, we decided to lacquer the square pipes because we thought that it’s cheaper and easier to do. 

haha. NOT.

Weight: about 300 kg

Aluminium veneering

We decided to use a Almg3 2mm because 1mm would have been too thin.

The problem is when you try to cover steel with aluminium is that it corrodes. That’s why we used the Sika Glue 265 plus a 3mm double 

sided tape in between aluminium and steel to minimize the risk.

 

 

To make the roof walk-on-able, we sticked silk-screened boards (9 mm) between the steel construction and the aluminium boards.

Last but not least we had to prepare doors and windows. When we look back now, the construction for this was way too massive but now we are happy about this good insulation.

Varnishing

We polished steeple cab and truck body with a pop-up grinder and fixed it with a primer. After that we used Epoxy lacquer for the base coat.

It took us 6 hours for varnishing the steeple cab and more than two days for the truck body.

Never again!

In the end, it was not the blue tone we wanted to have (but we could handle it somehow ;) )

At this time it was already December 2015.

Insulation

This was probably the most underestimated field for us.

We didn’t think about it that we would have to prepare the truck for 4 seasons. And it was again like this: 

 

 

10 different people we asked had 10 different opinions.

We came to the conclusion that we would have to use a 4 mm insulation. 

 

 

We decided to use Armaflex, which is a diffusion resistant insulation material. 

For the floor we used 6cm Syrodur. We framed it with 60x40 mm square timber to make it more stable. 

 

 

A good friend of us (he is an architect) gave us the advice to use a vapour barrier because the risk of mould is very high in this case.

After doing this we put another 9mm silk screen board on the floor for stabilization.

Steeple cab

In this case it was more about minimizing the noise than insulating the truck. You can’t image how loud it is in the steeple cab of such a truck. So far, we had just 2 seats which was not enough and so we removed the old seats. 

Even though the steeple cab looks huge from the outside, there’s not much space inside and every cm counted.

We decided to use mechanic spring-loaded ISRI seats and we’re still very happy with our choice.

Paneling

The time went by really fast and suddenly it was may 2016.

Our next step was the panelling and for this we decided to use Okume ply wood (walls 6mm / ceiling 4mm).

Unfortunately, this type of tropical wood is totally not sustainable. We didn’t think about this before. 

We could have used birch as well but we didn’t and we still regret it.

Passage

For finishing the passage we needed a flexible bellow. Finding something like this is almost impossible. Either it’s not insulating or crazy expensive. We wasted a lot of time for finding the right bellow and in the end - we did it by ourselves ;) It was much easier than we thought and we saved a lot of money! yaay!

Furniture

To be honest, when we came to this part it felt reaaally good. Finally something REAL, something that gave our new home for the next 2 years a real face. Unfortunately, this was also one of the most expensive parts.

But for a reason. Investing in good and long lasting furniture gives us first: a feel-like-home feeling during our long and exhausting  journey and second: it lasts for years or even decades. 

We invested a lot but we’re still happy with this decision.

Facilities in the shelter

Water system

Wassertank: 2 x 150l Plastiktanks
Wasserfilter: water-jack fresh assembly 3h
Boiler:
Elgena Nautic Therm ME - 15l
Wassertankanzeige: Philippi Ultraschalltankgeber UTV
Wasserpumpe: Jabsco PAR MAX Plus  4.1bar 12V

After a bit of a research we decided to use the following items for our water system:

Water tank: 2x150 l Plastic

Water filter: water-jack fres assembly 3h

Boiler: Elgena Nautic Therm, ME - 15 l

Water fuel indicator: Philippi  Ultrasound Tank disposer UTV

Water pump: Jabsco PAR MAX Plus 4.1 bar 12V

We put a lot of time and effort in this topic. Water is one of the most important things during our journey and we didn’t want to do something wrong.

We created a proper map with all branches, outlets, hot- and cold water pipes.

The system itself is from „famous water“. They are just the best in this field. Quality, customer support, pricing… everything is great definitely worth the money. Big thanks to Joachim and Sonja at this point. They helped us a lot and they didn’t laugh because of our stupid questions (that was probably quite hard) :)

 

 

Heating

Standheizung: Eberspächer Airtronic D4 Plus
Holzofen: Hobbit Stove
Dachdurchführung:
Ejot Dektite

Independent vehicle heater: Eberspächer, Airtronic D4 Plus

Wood stove: Hobbit Stove

Roof penetration: Ejot Dektite

Our journey brings us through a lot of different countries aka different temperature zones. In most of these countries it’s really warm but in a few it can be very could as well. That’s why we needed a proper heating system.

There are many different heating systems like hot water heater, gas heater, electric heater, wood stoves, oil heater etc..

The easiest thing to do for us was using a  independent vehicle heater.

We also needed a height kit for higher regions (up from 2000 m) because independent vehicle heater doesn’t work anymore when you are beyond this height.

Kitchen

Backofen: Dometic Sunlight
Kühlschrank: Dometic Coolmatic CR110
Gas:
2x 11kg Gasflaschen

Oven: Dometic Sunlight

Fridge: Dometic Coolmatic CR110

Gas: 2x 11kg gas bottles

It’s not a lot to say about the kitchen… The fridge is electrically driven and the oven works with gas.

Electricity

Batteries: 6x Optima Yellow Top 75ah PV construction: 2x250Wp Poly Solar regulator: 2x Victron Bluesolar MPPT 75/15 Battery computer: Victron BMV 700 Charger: Victron Blue Power IP22 Inverted rectifier: Waeco Sinepower MSI 3512T For the basic supply we are using 6 pieces Optima Yellow Top Batteries are constantly charged through the 2nd alternator plus a photovoltaik system on the roof.

Zusatzfeatures


Zweite Lichtmaschine 


Und für was jetzt genau eine zweite Lichtmaschine?? Nun ja, wie bereits vorher erwähnt haben wir im LKW eine Spannung von 24V und im Aufbau 12V. Und irgendwie gehören die Boardbatterien ja auch geladen. Von dem her gäbe es für uns zwei Optionen. Entweder ein Spannungswandler von 24V auf 12V, oder eine 12V Lichtmaschine.

Der Spannungswandler war nicht wirklich sympathisch für uns, da es eine weiter Fehlerquelle wäre. Zumindest ziemilch wahrscheinlich anfälliger als eine Lichtmaschine. Und die vorhanden 60A Lichtmaschine minus Leistungsverlust der Übertragung haben uns auch nicht sonderlich überzeugt. 

Daher haben wir eine zweite Lichtmaschine mit 120A verbaut. Jetzt haben wir sozusagen 5 Keilriemen zu tauschen ;-)

 

Dachträger 

 

Dachträger ist an sich selbsterklärend. Den haben wir aber benötigt, um zum Einen unsere Solarpanele zu befestigen und zusätzlich Stauraum mit den Stauboxen zu generieren. Nicht zu vergessen ist die Markise, die daran befestigt ist. Hinten ist auserdem unsere Rückfahrkamera montiert, die, wie wir schon festgestellt haben, goldwert ist. Mit 8m einparken ist dann doch anders als wie mit dem Auto. Als Rückfahrkamera verwenden wir die Perfectview RVS 580 von Waeco.

 

Dieseltanks - Stauboxen 

 

Mit dem Originaltank mit 135l wären wir nicht sonderlich weit gekommen. Und um einerseits die Reichweite zu erhöhen und vor allem günstiger Tanken in größeren Mengen zu können, benötigten wir einfach mehr Volumen. Ein Volumen von 1x 180l und 1x 300l. Plus Reservekanister. Und bei ca. 14cent pro Liter Diesel im Iran zahlt sich das schon aus. Die Tanks sind nicht zusammengeschlossen und können vom Führerhaus aus über einen Schalter umgeschaltet werden. Da wir auf dem Trip sicher nicht immer guten Diesel zu tanken bekommen, haben wir auch bei jedem Tank zusätzlich einen Vorfilter verbaut.

Bei den Stauboxen wollten wir wieder einmal etwas sparen, und die Alten restaurieren. Super Idee!!

 

Reifen 

 

Reifen sind auch so ein Thema, wo man fast eine Doktorarbeit drüber schreiben könnte. Stollenreifen, Baustellenreifen, Winterreifen,..?? Um es kurz zu fassen. Wir haben uns für normale Winterreifen entschieden. Stollen- oder Baustellenreifen haben sicherlich mehr Profil und sind im Gelände sicher besser geeignet, haben aber auch wesentlich mehr Spritverbrauch und sind lauter. Und über die Lautstärke im LKW wisst ihr ja schon Bescheid ;-)

Reifendimension ist: 315 R80 22,5
Reifen: Goodyear Ultra Max D 

Da sind schon keine Spielzeugreifen. Original hatte der Mercedes viel kleinere Reifen drauf und war zwillingsbereift. Dementsprechend waren auch die Radkästen dimensioniert - klein halt.

Daher haben die neuen Reifen auch im Radkasten gestreift, wenn er etwas eingefedert war. Also, Radkästen abflexen und anpassen.

 

Hilfsrahmen 

 
Über den Hilfsrahmen habe ich ja schon berichtet. Allerdings haben wir im Nachhinein noch eine kleine, aber feine Änderung vorgenommen. Ursprünglich war der Hilfsrahmen mit dem Hauptrahmen vom LKW fix verschraubt. Da wir aber auch in unwegsamen Gelände unterwegs sein werden, wird sich der Truck mit dem Koffer hinten drauf auch dementsprechend verwinden. Und wir wollten natürlich sehen, was passiert wenn wir ihn voll verschränken.

Hmmh.. schon gut dass wir es probiert haben, aber naja... wieder eine zusätzliche Baustelle aufgerissen. Denn bei solchen Verwindungen wirken enorme Kräfte in den Koffer und in den Rahmen. Was wir an den verbogenen Schrauben und Rissen im Koffer (hoffentlich nur im Lack!! - Momentan ist er noch dicht ;-) ) leider festgestellt haben. Von daher haben wir vorne eine Federlagerung eingebaut, um den Koffer etwas „Luft zu lassen“ und er sich etwas freier bewegen kann - sprich wir haben versucht die Kräfte die in den Koffer geleitet werden zu minimieren.

 

Heckträger 

 

Zu guter letzt brauchten wir noch einen Heckträger. Wo sonst hätten wir Platz für unsere Reservereifen? Und ach ja, eine alte Enduro muss ja auch noch mit.

Daher haben wir einen Heckträger konzipiert, der Platz bietet für 2 Reifen und eine Enduro. Und er musste schwenkbar sein, damit wir von hinten in den Stauraum kommen. Schwenkbar und senkbar, ja wie bekommst du denn nun die schweren Reifen und das Moped da rauf und runter?, war dann schon sehr komplex. Zu komplex. Daher haben wir noch eine Handseilwinde integriert. Und ein bisschen Gewicht auf der Hinterachse schadet in unserem Fall auch nicht. 

Final