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  #1  
Old 15 Sep 2008
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Ex-Mil Trucks & 'Wild Camping' in suburbia?

Hi,

New to the site (I think this is my 5th post - got carried away in the bike section) and I need some honest advice.

Currently I run a SWB Renault Trafic Panel van with a low roof. My hobby is racing dirt bikes, my job is IT 'consultant' (we can argue 'til the cows come home over the term consultant / money grabber / mercenary if you wish). Basically I work away 50+ weeks of the year and this is seriously messing with my bike racing (and fitness).

The type of racing I do is based in forests which means narrowish tracks and farmers gates, it also means site conditions are not always the best - people have had to be winched ON to the sites in the past.

I've stayed on my current assignment in a hotel for 14 months, but my van isn't big enough for me to prep the bike in betwen races hence the impact. I've looked at race transporters, but although they're a hotel on wheels and have a garage, they're no use in the Langdale forest (4x2 size of a planet anyone)

I was thinking about a LWB 4x4 sprinter (looks like Ford have dropped the 4x4 option) but they're big money new & like hens teeth second hand, followed by huge depreciation (not keen on that bit).

Looked at Overland campers (the posh ones) and then realised that they cost REALLY big money (my wife still quite likes to live in our hose), which go me onto the ex-mil trucks.

They have a lot going for them in terms of cost Vs what you get, and I could honestly say that I COULD make use of cab controlled tyre deflation. But am I just looking at a big head ache?. I was looking at the ex-radio boxes which I could mod to form a temporary bed for the night (save on hotel bills) and has the height to work on a bike at night (nothing else to do!).

I was thinking about a Gaz66 or a Tatra 815 6x6 (not sure of the cost), but then the fuel consumption is horrendous (I know you can allegedly get contaminated fuel for free, but that may be an urban myth), not sure of the insurance, but more importantly is it legal to pitch up at the road side and camp?.

I've scouted the area and I'm OK on the area being away from dwellings, it is already used by the big horse boxes overnight during races and it doesn't have a weight limit - I just don't want to inadvertantly get someones back up.

Only problem with the 6x6 is that I'm into LGV territory, and I can't work out if that's a path I really want to go down right now.

So opinions please, what is the downside of going ex-mil, offseting the fuel against the hotel bills and being self contained. Do the ex-mil trucks come with any toys, Genny, air compressor and winch would be very handy (and they cost a fortune to fit to a civi van).

I'm also after negative comments, showed the missus a picture of a KTM Dakar Kat1 6x6 Support Truck - might as well prep her with something that has KTM on it.... went down faster than the Titanic I'm afraid, but hey - she's got her car... I have my Van / Truck / Rocket Ship - Never the twain shall mix.

Only need three seats Driver + Kid1 + Kid2, Missus won't ever come camping, but as I'm away 5 days a week, me going camping with the kids and the wife having free weekends is pretty much as close to being a god as I'll ever get.

Regards,

RTS.
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  #2  
Old 15 Sep 2008
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Just re-read the post, apologies for the typo's (pet hate)... we don't live in hose.... honestly.

RTS
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  #3  
Old 16 Sep 2008
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Well 6x6 is really getting there.

There was a Ford motorhome 4x4 on fleabay about a month ago.
It looked quite good.
I think the cost was about £5000, but may be way out.

FORD TRANSIT COUNTY 2.5 TURBO DIESEL 4X4 CAMPER VAN on eBay, also, Campervans Motorhomes, Campers, Caravans Motorhomes, Cars, Parts Vehicles (end time 03-Sep-08 18:01:40 BST)

6x6, not really,
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  #4  
Old 16 Sep 2008
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Thanks for the reply.

I've downloaded the Ford Transit brochure and it transpires that they still do an AWD option in combination with a factory fit crew cab in a LWB configuration.

The AWD is a bit soft as in threre is no driver input required, it decides what power to send where, so I'm assuming that it might not have diff locks as such.

I'm still thinking about the military route as the LWB vans are in the £25k to £30k + VAT territory and that can buy a shed load of fuel. I'd also like something that I may stand half a chance of fixing if it goes bang (£2.5k for a Trafic gearbox anyone?).

Any thoughts on roughing it (so to speak) in suburbia?

RTS
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  #5  
Old 16 Sep 2008
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Considered?

What about an Iveco - one of the Prototype Ambulances that had been converted to a camper was on ebay a couple of months ago!

Other options, Mil spec trucks? - Unimog, Pinzgauer, Iveco, Renault, Merc, MAN, Daf, Leyland, etc, etc.......

MAN might be an option at reasonable money -look up Chris Scotts reports on his Sahara trips.
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  #6  
Old 17 Sep 2008
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Hi Chris, thanks for the reply.

I've tentativly looked @ a VAB Pinzgauer, but the gent hasn't supplied me with any further info such as photo's. I don't think the load area is flat which may be an issue with the dirt bike and lift.

I've also queried a Tatra on the RussianTrucks.co.uk web site, but again - no feedback.

Not sure what I'm missing, but last time I purchased a van / car I wasn't the one ringing up asking someone to sell it me - I'd have thought they'd have been contacting me.

Having said that, I had a similar issue with a VW dealer - looking at purchasing a Crafter and a Maxi Caddy, pretty much the guy thought he was doing me a favour by talking to me - left it at, when you need to sell a van / car to hit a target, give me a call & if I've not purchased something else - maybe we can talk.

I'll look at the other makes, Iveco may be worth a dabble as I've seen them reasonably often in 4x4 configuration.

Had some spare time today, configured a 4x4 LWB, high roof, Crew Cab Transit - Limited edition trim on the Ford web site....£37k inc. VAT.... that's a lot of money to lose over three years.

RTS
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  #7  
Old 22 Sep 2008
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I have chris scotts old MAN and am building a bike rack on the back for my ktm450.
There is enough space inside for the camper convesion and bike maintenance would be under an awning for me but you could arrange the interior differently.
Cab has 3 seats, drives like a lorry- just had a 'test' run to norfolk and did 50 mph with 12-14 mpg, not the best but cheaper than travel lodges.
Not done any enduros for a while due to an op but let me know which ones you are doing as i may be about if you want to have a look- there are some photos of chris's exploits with the truck at Overlanders Handbook 2008
E-mail me if you want me to send any photos of the set up..
You can get this truck in Germany for about 10k..
Cheers
Stan
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  #8  
Old 22 Sep 2008
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For ex.Warsaw Pact mil trucks go to zil131.com which is a friendly forum where they will answer all and any questions on mil trucks for your needs.

As a quickie - the GAZ66 is an unstoppable 4x4 with a 6 litre petrol V8 which will do all you want but not the largest box on the back. Price - £2.5-£5k

Next up is the Zil 131 6x6 with the same engine as the GAZ and is larger and will have a slightly larger box. £2.5-£6.5k. For around £10-£12k you can have a new Zil131 with a fully equiped workshop on the back including lathe, drill, press, welder and comprehensive tool kit etc in fact all you need to repair anything from a tank to a truck, even a KTM

Ultimate is the URAL 4320 (diesel) / 375 (petrol) 6x6 for which you will need a LGV or HGV as it's over 7.5 tonnes. £4k-£7k

All the above have winch, CTI (central tyre inflation) are ultra reliable and ultra simple and simply unstoppable.

Consider also the PRAGA V3S a rugged and simple Czech mil truck with clever axles. £1.5k - £3k

All the above can be had from "conservation" unused but maybe were built in the '70's. You will have to fettle them as they will have been standing for 30 years but if you buy one that's been sorted the price will be about the same. There's plenty in this country.

TATRA 813 and in particular the 815 are the best off road trucks bar none. They are heavy mil trucks and available from four to twelve(!) axles and can be had for as little as £3k up to sky's the limit £££££'s.

None of these trucks are really practical for every day use (unless you are an army!) as the fuel consumption is high but if you are doing low milage, going outside Europe or doing a major expedition I wouldn't choose anything else.

I have seen various trucks fully kitted out on ebay.de for ~£7k with less than 4k km's.

The guys at Zil131.com will give you chapter & verse so do check them out.
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  #9  
Old 23 Sep 2008
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The more recent GAZ-66s are 66-40s which have a 4cyl 4L turbo diesel and get really fairly good economy for their mass, about 15L/100km. That's really a great truck (forward control, CTIS, diesel), and I'd have one if they were around Anchorage Alaska or anywhere in the US (which they aren't). They fit neatly under 7.5 tonne for Europeans. In the states you only need a commercial driver's licence for gvw>26000 lb (11.8 tonne); unless it's a motor home, in which the sky is the limit. Which is lucky because my U500 completely loaded is 12.8 tonnes.

Charlie
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  #10  
Old 24 Sep 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTS View Post
Thanks for the reply.

I've downloaded the Ford Transit brochure and it transpires that they still do an AWD option in combination with a factory fit crew cab in a LWB configuration.

The AWD is a bit soft as in threre is no driver input required, it decides what power to send where, so I'm assuming that it might not have diff locks as such.

I'm still thinking about the military route as the LWB vans are in the £25k to £30k + VAT territory and that can buy a shed load of fuel. I'd also like something that I may stand half a chance of fixing if it goes bang (£2.5k for a Trafic gearbox anyone?).

Any thoughts on roughing it (so to speak) in suburbia?

RTS
A friend of mine who does 4x4 and 4x2 driver instruction, was just on the launch of the new 4x4 transit (a kind of corporate launch, there were representatives from the AA, RAC, paramedics, national grid etc there) and he said that the off road capability was awesome.

no driver input needed at all (in "pulling levers/pushing buttons") but you do have to drive them slightly differently to get the 4x4 to work fully (i think it's just a case of clutch control and engine revs that makes the difference)

But in all, they were very impressed. Not as hard core as a landrover/cruiser, but for general off road/tracks/grass fields (where the AA/RAC/national grid people venture) it was more suitable, and had a bigger carrying capacity than a LR
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  #11  
Old 26 Sep 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTS View Post
Hi,

New to the site (I think this is my 5th post - got carried away in the bike section) and I need some honest advice.

Currently I run a SWB Renault Trafic Panel van with a low roof. My hobby is racing dirt bikes, my job is IT 'consultant' (we can argue 'til the cows come home over the term consultant / money grabber / mercenary if you wish). Basically I work away 50+ weeks of the year and this is seriously messing with my bike racing (and fitness).

The type of racing I do is based in forests which means narrowish tracks and farmers gates, it also means site conditions are not always the best - people have had to be winched ON to the sites in the past.

I've stayed on my current assignment in a hotel for 14 months, but my van isn't big enough for me to prep the bike in betwen races hence the impact. I've looked at race transporters, but although they're a hotel on wheels and have a garage, they're no use in the Langdale forest (4x2 size of a planet anyone)

I was thinking about a LWB 4x4 sprinter (looks like Ford have dropped the 4x4 option) but they're big money new & like hens teeth second hand, followed by huge depreciation (not keen on that bit).

Looked at Overland campers (the posh ones) and then realised that they cost REALLY big money (my wife still quite likes to live in our hose), which go me onto the ex-mil trucks.

They have a lot going for them in terms of cost Vs what you get, and I could honestly say that I COULD make use of cab controlled tyre deflation. But am I just looking at a big head ache?. I was looking at the ex-radio boxes which I could mod to form a temporary bed for the night (save on hotel bills) and has the height to work on a bike at night (nothing else to do!).

I was thinking about a Gaz66 or a Tatra 815 6x6 (not sure of the cost), but then the fuel consumption is horrendous (I know you can allegedly get contaminated fuel for free, but that may be an urban myth), not sure of the insurance, but more importantly is it legal to pitch up at the road side and camp?.

I've scouted the area and I'm OK on the area being away from dwellings, it is already used by the big horse boxes overnight during races and it doesn't have a weight limit - I just don't want to inadvertantly get someones back up.

Only problem with the 6x6 is that I'm into LGV territory, and I can't work out if that's a path I really want to go down right now.

So opinions please, what is the downside of going ex-mil, offseting the fuel against the hotel bills and being self contained. Do the ex-mil trucks come with any toys, Genny, air compressor and winch would be very handy (and they cost a fortune to fit to a civi van).

I'm also after negative comments, showed the missus a picture of a KTM Dakar Kat1 6x6 Support Truck - might as well prep her with something that has KTM on it.... went down faster than the Titanic I'm afraid, but hey - she's got her car... I have my Van / Truck / Rocket Ship - Never the twain shall mix.

Only need three seats Driver + Kid1 + Kid2, Missus won't ever come camping, but as I'm away 5 days a week, me going camping with the kids and the wife having free weekends is pretty much as close to being a god as I'll ever get.

Regards,

RTS.
AS IF BY MAGIC: Gaz66 Ex Army Russian Truck 4x4 Expedition Camper on eBay, also, Campervans Motorhomes, Campers, Caravans Motorhomes, Cars, Parts Vehicles (end time 29-Sep-08 16:41:42 BST)

TOP TRUCK AT A TOP PRICE BUT THIS IS AS GOOD AS YOU'LL GET
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  #12  
Old 26 Sep 2008
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Many thanks for all of the feedback...

The chap wanted £30k for a Tatra 815..., I've seen the eBay item before & it's cheap enough for a punt, I'd spoken to him when it was previously listed, but I think my queries can be more targeted now.

I was slightly put off by some of the obvious bodges / lack of fittings finesse, but I suposed they can be reversed.

RTS
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  #13  
Old 28 Sep 2008
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Location: Barnsley s.Yorks
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I might be biased but withams still have some refubished bedfords left - you'd need to beat them down on the price though.
Welcome to MOD Sales Online - Military Vehicles for Sale - #16929 - BEDFORD MJ SERIES (REFURBISHED)
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  #14  
Old 2 Oct 2008
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go mog!

L. Jackson - for Ex. MOD and NATO Disposals

when i went to wander round their site a few months ago there was about 60 ex nato u1300l unimogs, at i think £14500+vat. flat bed with three seater cabs. top speed only about 50, but faster then heavier russian stuff?? these are a 7.5ton chassis, so may be ok on a car license depending when you passed your test. (also lots of other cool stuff to dribble over! how can i get a tank transporter on the drive?!?)

pinzgauers have a rear similar to a landy with a "channel" down the middle of the back between the wheelarches giving more headroom. any big ex-military ambulance/radio cab type thing will be a perhaps overbuilt box on the rear, i'm assuming so it doesnt flatten if rolled, but mostly dont have clear standing room clearance. i'm 5'6, and with my head at an angle in the skylight of a mog ambulance i can straighten my back just.

BC Explore Unimog adventure and Off Road Travels

these folks bought a mog ambulance, converted to a camper, then after a few years lifted the roof so they could stand up!

i'm no bike mechanic, but you can stand upright in a sprinter, i wouldnt think if your main concern is fixing your bike inside you dont want to be wearing a hard hat or bashing your head.

my own mog

It's Huge!

built by the previous owners, has a double bed above the cab, giving lots of free floor space for kitchen, shower/toilet, dining area or bike bits etc, with a bit much headroom forced by the bed above cab position, also resulting in a nearly 13 feet (3.950m) high vehicle, with the floor 4'5" (1.350m) up. getting me in is ok, but a bike too? big ramp required!

good luck either way!!

jason
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  #15  
Old 2 Oct 2008
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Jacksons are really expensive as are Unimog's.
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