Conversion of U3000 into a flatbed, box van and camper. - Page 10 - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #91 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 03:50 AM
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It's a great looking truck and camper. Well done.

Which part of the process wouldn't you do again? Restoring the truck or custom building the camper?
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post #92 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 05:27 AM Thread Starter
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... Which part of the process wouldn't you do again? Restoring the truck or custom building the camper?
Good question

Restoring the truck was fine, apart from an EAS gearbox problem which took ages to diagnose, so that part was easy.

Building the camper box and fitting it out was the hard part - mostly because I'd never done anything like this before, and have never owned a caravan or motorhome, so had to research everything from scratch.

I found that researching materials - what to use and where to buy them from - took as long as doing the job! (If any future UK builder has questions about parts and suppliers please ask, it might save you a lot of time.) Then there's reading pages of boring regulations to be sure the finished vehicle would be legal.

I now understand why top-end conversions like the Unicat cost so much. Everything takes a long time and needs, if you're employing people commercially, many different skills.

I'm lucky in that I grew up playing on building sites, and electrics are a hobby, so I could do most of the trades myself. Except for welding the aluminium

I only say I wouldn't do it again because it took me a total of six months full-time work. That's a non-trivial part of one's life! And that was fitted between fee-earning work and a major house restoration project.

Now is the time to use it! We're off the western Scottish islands at Easter.
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post #93 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 05:23 PM
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Building it from scratch in 6 months is good going.

Being positively dangerous with hand tools I'm spared the option of a self build so am looking at local and European options. Did you investigate the tier below Unicat, say Atlas4x4, Woelcke, Langer and Bock, Urocamper or the other European camper builders, for a largely standard build?

We have two very good options locally, both pop tops, both on existing 4x4 mid sized truck platforms. Once I get the U1300L's axles sorted I'll work with them to see whether we can drop a largely standard camper onto an Atlas4x4 subframe.

Enjoy the Scottish isles.
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post #94 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-05-2018, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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... Did you investigate the tier below Unicat, say Atlas4x4, Woelcke, Langer and Bock, Urocamper or the other European camper builders, for a largely standard build?

We have two very good options locally, both pop tops, both on existing 4x4 mid sized truck platforms. Once I get the U1300L's axles sorted I'll work with them to see whether we can drop a largely standard camper onto an Atlas4x4 subframe. ...
Yes, I did a lot of research before deciding which route to take. Initially I looked at the Iveco Daily 4x4, and had quite an extensive exchange with the very helpful people at Travel Trucks in Brisbane, about buying a 'Scrubmaster' box from them and shipping it to the UK.

Then I looked at the slightly larger Fuso Canter. It was while driving one of these at a Mercedes demo day that I had a quick go in their Unimog, and was immediately converted

I was massively lucky in seeing, the very next week, a low-mileage, RHD, UK-registered U3000 on EBay UK. I gave up all thoughts of the Iveco or Mitsubishi, and bought the Mog immediately!

I recommend the Atlas 4x4 subframe: that's what I used to replace the original and extremely heavy cherry-picker version. Michael Dennig is a helpful bloke: all he needs to know is the wheelbase and chassis tube diameter, then the frame will just fit. Atlas can optionally supply it as an kit of parts to weld up locally, which might make shipping a lot cheaper. It's full of holes so relatively lightweight: I fitted it on my own, using a mini-digger arm as a crane, without any problem.

In the end, I went the bespoke route as I couldn't find an off-the-shelf configuration for two adults + one child on a SWB chassis, and weighing in at under 7.5 tonnes all-up. (7,500kg is the UK/EU driving licence break point below which no truck licence is needed.)

Also the self-build bespoke route meant I could have everything exactly as I wanted, all within the same budget, or less.

I took great care with weight: I weighed the bare chassis-cab, then kept a record of EVERYTHING which went into the build, as it went in. My last visit to the weighbridge confirmed it was OK... just!

With full fluids (200l diesel, 50l generator petrol, 342l water) and allowing for one spare wheel, 120kg of personal effects, clothing, food and tools, and a standard regulation driver of 75kg, it stands at 7,375kg. It's fine, especially is it's down-plated anyway: the 7.5t plate is only for marketing purposes, the technical max is I am sure greater.
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post #95 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-05-2018, 07:34 PM
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What was the EAS problem?
BTW, on weight, I think you will weigh at least 1 ton more when actually travelling unless you plan on no spare parts for a fairly rare vehicle, recovery gear, and an extra spare unmounted tire on the back or roof.
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post #96 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 01:22 AM Thread Starter
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What was the EAS problem?
BTW, on weight, I think you will weigh at least 1 ton more when actually travelling unless you plan on no spare parts for a fairly rare vehicle, recovery gear, and an extra spare unmounted tire on the back or roof.
The gearbox fault turned out to be the 'Clutch Protection Valve'. The thread is here:

https://www.benzworld.org/forums/unim...l#post15705762

There's no way I'm going to carry an additional ton[ne] in parts etc! Do Unimogs, with only 30,000 Km on the clock, really break that much, to the extent of a full mobility kill?

Err... I do hope not!

Plus my style of off-roading is only to use the full capabilities of a vehicle when absolutely necessary. I no longer go looking for trouble just for the fun of it (In my personal life too ). I gave that that up when I left Series III Land Rovers behind.

The Unimog undoubtedly has spectacular off-road capabilities. However, as with nuclear weapons, the best plates, or a long-neglected mistress, one wouldn't dream of actually using them. But it's nice to know they are there.

I want to fit split aluminium rims (If only someone would sell me some!) which saves carrying a spare wheel, and also saves a bit of unsprung weight. Then maybe I would carry two tyres.

My calculated weight includes an electric winch and mounting, and the roof rack and wheel carrier, none of which is yet fitted. For winch recovery in sand all one can do is to use another vehicle, or bury something. Or not get stuck in the first place. See my earlier point

Cheers, Mark
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post #97 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 08:05 AM
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Maybe more of my weight gain is recovery gear, but I do carry a lot (an excess I am sure) of tools (example: 4 foot torque wrench for the lug nuts = 450 ft-lb and portal disassembly special tools I got "on sale") and parts (examples = clutch, alternator, starter, air compressor, portal parts). As far as recovery gear, things like like 2 Pull-Pals add up. My fully loaded weight when I picked the truck up at Unicat was about 6500 kg rear, 4200 kg front; now it is 7900 rear, 4600 front (added front winch, carry heavy cables and chains on front, kinetic ropes in roof rack) with cabinets and storage compartments full except for perishable food. GVW is 15000 kg, axle limits 7200 front, 8500 rear.
No they don't break much they are pretty thin on the ground and except for Europe parts and repair facilities specifically for Unimog aren't very prevalent.
I agree with your philosophy of not looking for trouble but occaisonally it is unavoidable.
As far as aluminium rim are concerned, I am very happy with a set of 5 Hutchinsons I purchased from wartimefinds.com for about $125 each, now I am using the beadlocks that Mercedes forgot to install in the steel 3 piece wheels at the factory. But they have a 10 bolt pattern and would require an adapter for your 6 bolt pattern, which I believe you can source from Atlas or Hellgeth. Also they have a offset of only about 90mm (back spacing of about 9.5") so they sit 71mm further out than the stock wheels and 20mm further out than MB's widest track on my application, the 495/70R24 XM47s on 24x16 wheels. Hellgeth sell a similar wheel with 120mm offset (sit 30mm further in), 10 bolt pattern, 969 euros.

Last edited by m37charlie; 02-06-2018 at 08:07 AM.
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post #98 of 103 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quick-and-Easy fitting of an Electric Winch

I bought a 17,000lb (7.7 tonne) 24V winch from the X-Dyna company. Cost only USD 290 so worth a try!

Not being able to find any commercially-available winch mount, I made a simple one yesterday. The OE Mercedes brackets, apart from being expensive, would appear to be overkill for what will be a little-used item.

I have no idea what other people do, but looking at the layout of the front rails, and finding that they already have 16mm threaded mount blocks, makes it easy to attach a self-built mounting rail.

I made this from a piece of 76 x 38mm m/s channel, with 10mm mounting plates welded to the ends, and the open rear of the channel reinforced with some 5mm plate.

This assembly supports a standard winch mounting plate in 6mm, continuously welded on.

The whole thing was then mounted to the top of the front chassis rails using 4No. M16 x 50 10.9 bolts.

The winch mounting plate extends across and just above the upper face of the front bumper, the centre section of which may still be easily removed without disturbing the winch assembly.

I was a little concerned about the cantilever effect, but considering that the winch comes as standard with four mounting bolts which are only M12 10.9, my new M16 bolts would fail last! The pull is mainly from the lower half of the drum, so the forces applied should be a straight pull across the welds and the shafts of the bolts, rather than a twisting action.

I'd be interested to hear what any professional engineers on this forum think of this arrangement. (I am not an engineer :-) )
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post #99 of 103 (permalink) Old 03-15-2018, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Cab Aircon

One more 'nice to have' addition as the project nears completion ...

After a lot of research into all-electric aircon units, I changed my mind and ordered a Webasto 'Diavia Rimini' 6,2 kW roof-top unit (Part No. 62U003FF053EF) which, running from an engine-driven compressor, will be much less demanding on the batteries. I'll never want to run cab aircon with the engine off anyway.

This fits the roof hatch of a square-cab Unimog quite well. All it needs is a flat mounting plate, with air holes in the right places, and a couple of angles riveted or welded on, which can then be fitted to the original roof hatch mount via six Rivnuts. The plate sits on top of the original rubber gasket, and appears well-sealed.

The OE Mercedes compressor is a Denso 10PA15c, which of course would be ridiculously expensive.

Rather than buy locally, I ordered a compressor directly from China. It arrived, duly marked 'Made in Japan'. Yes, sure .

But for only USD83(!) it's worth a try. It actually looks not bad.

Here are pictures of work so far. Next is to fit the Webasto internal air distribution plate, which is easy.

Not easy is fitting the compressor to the engine, without proper parts and drawings. The MB records say that factory option F61 ('Preparation for retro fit of a/c on roof') was never available on the U3000. Which sounds very odd.

Has anyone else done this please?
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post #100 of 103 (permalink) Old 03-15-2018, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Roofrack

This is a ready-made aluminium rack bought some time ago from Atlas 4x4.

It was reduced in price as the supplied feet on this earlier design were found to be inadequate.

To fix this, I copied the system used on Hannibal racks from South Africa, one of which I have on my Land-Rover.

The three legs each side, which on their own wobble about and give too great a point load, were welded to a strip of 30 x 5 m/s bar. This stops the legs from flexing, and spreads the roof rack load along the whole of the gutter.

It now feels solid. All that's going up there is one tyre so it should be fine without needing to construct a very heavy rack with struts down to the body. The whole assembly weight less than 40kg.
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