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My friend built an RB44 overland camper some years ago, it's been a reliable and successful conversion (as usual all the 'scare' stories about them have been proved wrong) and we've been away with his family and our Iveco camper many times without problem. Here's a link for the machine but have a look at the rest of the Dodge 50 website for info as well, it covers the RB44. There's some good pages on uprating and downrating plated GVW's as well which apply to any truck - see Andy_Pag's recent post.
Hi Nigel, thanks for the link - looks like a good starting point.
I'm after a no-frills load carrier (sub-7.5tn) that can cope in difficult sand and cruise reasonnably well on tarmac. I've read Chris Scott's account of his old MAN 8.136 - which sounds great, but is possibly a little bigger than I need.
I'm in the same position, Richard, I keep thinking of moving up to a 7.5 tonner but they are a bit too big for my purpose, yet there is little available in the 3.5 (PLG limit) to 7.5 tonne (car licence limit) range. Incidentally, I may be wrong but the ex-army 4x4 DAFs are over 7.5; 4 tonne is the carrying capacity (payload). Go under 3.5 tonne and you are limited to L/R's, L/C's, Patrols, etc.
Well I'm biased but there is the Iveco Turbo Daily 40.10 4x4 high top van (Short WB) or chassis/cab pickup (LWB) which are good choices if you look out for the rust (improved on N reg on) and they are 4 tonne GVW, 100 bhp turbo diesel (hence 40.10, surprise!). The 35.10 is a downrated version for the PLG tax class but can easily be uprated, and they all can be further uprated to 4.45 tonne GVW. Prices are good now (as with any vehicle buy the best you can afford) and you get 100kph cruising, civilised cabs, reasonable overall size and maneouverability, good offroad performance (part time 4x4, transfer box, diff locks in rear and often front axles) on standard 750x16 tyres (9.00x16 on military WM versions). You have probably noticed that they are quite popular with HUBB overlanders.
My partner Linda and I have used our WM for nine years, just the right size and still going strong!
For the benfit of others following this thread; the Army problems with the RB44 were down to small items easily rectified but as usual got blown out of proportion. There was a small issue with brakes but being the Army they took the whole fleet out of service on safety grounds whilst it was being fixed and that caused a lot of misguided speculation. The RB44 is a conversion on the Dodge 50 truck but is well engineered. My mate did quite a bit of research before buying and now knows a lot of owners all of whom swear by them. Whithams were selling some recently, they do come up sometimes.
Both his RB and my Iveco have done all kinds of terrain in Morocco with no problems, including sand with the 9.00x16 Mich XZL's aired down. I accept a Pinz 6x6 is excellent off road but I've never got the Iveco stuck in any situation - including British mud! How much off-road capability do you want for a camper anyway?! I'd happily sacrifice ultimate off road performance which I'll never need anyway, for a decent -sized camper body.
Richard, I'm thinnking about the same issues. I'll let you in on my thinking and see if we are along the same track.
The key understanding is knowing what sort of camoing you are wanting to do. If you want the thrill of burning up sand dunes or doing serious off roading then you're going to need a small 4x4 with a high power to weight ratio.
If you after somthing to do a longer expedition type travelling the you're probably after sleeping and storage space and lets be honist you're not going to do hard off-roading because you then have potential to damage the vehicle and with it possibly your suvival - this is the serious stuff.
I've been looking at these bigger vehicles, Unimog, MJ, Leyland DAF 45, MAN 8.136 and DAF YA???, KAT1, etc. In relation to the small 4x4s these will all be underpowered but yiu get space. Key issues are GVW, Licence, fuel economy and road speed.
My thinking is that we all have about 0.5 - 1ton kit for a expedition, with a Landrover your right on the weight limit, with a truck there is a larger margin for reliability. I want space and I've seen MJs and Leylands with intergral PTO recovery winches which is probably a must have.
I'm looking for a MJ or Daf with one of the MOD signal Boxes to fitt onto the back and then to convert this to a camper. If not, you're the cost of a bodie builder fabing you something up.
Good MJ £4000 10-30KKm, good Landrover £6-7000 but with high miles. You can do a lot of miles for £3K!
To reveal my (utterly biased and subjective!) opinion, for a private overlanding trip with an off-road element, I would always go with a LR/LC/NP or similar. Trucks are generally slow, noisy, expensive to run and stop you from going to interesting places.
Unless you have a large family or a 'thing' about big trucks then there is no reason to burden yourself with anything larger than a standard 4x4. Look at all the people on the HUBB who are having the time of their lives living out of a couple of panniers for years on end?
Part of the attraction of travelling is leaving all the crap behind - the trappings of home are.. er... trappings (man). Simplicity reveals a great deal and leaves space for new things and new people IMUBASO.
With new trips the focus is often on kit, private space and easing the neuroses, but ask anyone - the more you go, the less you take.
Pack like a hiker or a motorcyclist and – even with a couple of extra luxuries – your 4x4 will never break a sweat or a spring. Free as a bird!
Our problem is a probably bit more work-a-day - we have a 1,600-2,000 kg liquid load and a lot of soft sand to cover. The question is: 2 x 4x4 or 1 x truck?
RB44 - sloping off with it's tail between it's legs
Back to the RB44, I posted a question on the REME section of the Army Rumour SErvice forum (acronyms, eh?) and those guys really, really, (I mean really) dislike the thing.
Shame, as on paper it sounds so good as an affordable mid-ranger. Great Perkins engine, low weight, solid transmission etc. Apart from the procurement scandals, feeble brakes and sloppy steering (surely that's all MOD trucks?) it's hard to get specifics on just why it's so hated and I can easily imagine, as Nigel says, the faults are mythologised and correctable to a degree.
Nonetheless, I'll wait till someone else tests it in the barchan fields!
If anyone is interested I've got a SUMB for sale. 3.5t, selectable 4x4, Ford flathead V8 100bhp. Tax free and also MOT exempt and the best bit is my standard AA membership would get it recovered as it is just under their limit for length, width and weight. Basically an early MOG but on coil springs and a suspension cab with pick up bed. Would make a good overland conversion and it's cheap but you'll need a recker truck, it's been stood a bit.
I’m not convinced by emotional “it’s a dog” reactions; particularly from REME kitbashers. There are so few vehicles in this weight category it’s worth looking at the complaints closely before abandoning the idea.
Just like a series LR, a live front axle on leaf springs tends to get pushed left or right by the steering pushrod. The suspension movement will also push or pull the rod, giving a weave effect if you compress too much.
Jeeps, trucks and old LRs have had this problem for ages, The fix is a good stiff steering shock between axle and outer pushrod mount, and for even better precision, you can install a Panhard rod parallel to the steering rod. That way the compression of the steering rod is taken up by the Panhard rod and the steering becomes nice and crisp (well, as crisp as 9x16s can be!). Wiki Panhard rod and you’ll see what it does.
A triangular link like the design LR stole from the MAN KATs would also work well
It’s a truck, it’s slower and you have to anticipate more. If you jump out of a LR wolf and into a truck you’ll find it brakes slower than the LR.
Change the cylinder seals when you get the truck and carry a spare set, you’ll out manoeuvre Murphy’s law. If you’re really adventurous you could convert the front to the Iveco disks and 4 pot callipers, they’re good.
Maybe the braking is heavier, but if the truck is homologated, and it passes the MOT each year then the brakes are within European leg effort standards. (I HATE these modern cars which stop almost before you’ve thought about the brake pedal)
You get used to most things, but swapping vehicles often can lead to jolty braking.
If it were famous for popping half shafts I would be less enthusiastic, but those who have bought a Dodge and written about it on the web all seem to be happy.
The Pinzi’s great, but too small for my personal tastes. It’s a pity it didn’t take its dimensions from the Tatra 805, of which the drivetrain and suspension is a direct copy. (The Tatra’s 2m wide)
The forward cab gives more liveable length in the vehicle and may reduce how hard you drive because you get more thrown about.
Vehicle speed; really annoying if you’re crossing Europe to get to Africa with limited time, but if you’re off the beaten track it isn’t an issue until you convoy with incompatible vehicles (drivers).
The argument on the size of travelling vehicle:
The thread’s not about that, but tastes change. I was happy riding around southern Africa on my bicycle in the 80’s, now I’m in a coachbuilt Iveco Daily 4x4 and looking to go bigger. I’ve gone through most of the steps in between.
I don’t agree with those who say that this size is better than that, my needs are not yours (and you don’t have my wife ;-) ) It’s cool to travel light, and comfortable to take the “trappings”. It’s reassuring not to have to fill up at every fuel station if you’re not sure about fuel quality, it’s great to get up those tight mountain tracks but you can’t do both in the same vehicle. Travel and let travel, and let’s share our experiences so that others can enjoy their preparations.
Gosh that sounds really peace and love. I must be in a good mood
I’ll sink back into silence and get some work done now.
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