These are questions we have been asked about our truck since mentioning it is going to be for sale. This section covers general questions including questions about lasting off-grid.
Do the solar panels provide enough power?
For our use, they do most of the time. We have 4 x 120w solar panels on the roof. These charge the 3 leisure batteries whenever there is sunshine. The leisure batteries are also charged by the engine whenever we drive anywhere. We have only ever had a problem in the depths of darkest Canadian winter when we parked for too many days in one place and the sun did not come out at all. We also had a problem in the Baja one day because we hadn’t realised that we were too much in the shade for too long. We do have the ability to hook-up to electric should it be required and sometimes we plug in because we are using an RV park for laundry etc and you pay whether you use it or not.
Does it have a water filter to purify the water?
No, but one could be fitted. We have not needed this. We use a water additive when we fill the tanks. It is called Micropur and can be bought online. The only time we have not been able to fill our tanks easily was when we found the water too salty in a couple of places in Baja. On one of these occasions, we just waited until the next place to fill up [as we had enough to carry on] and for the other occasion we bought a container of water from the Purified Water Shop in the town to use until we were able to fill up again.
How long can you manage off-grid in this truck?
1 week if you are careful with water. After this you will probably have to get water from somewhere.
Can I put motorbikes/bicycles etc on the back?
The existing frame could be modified for mounting items on the back of the truck.
How good is the build? Have you done this before? Did you do this for a living?
I am a trained engineer. Over the last 20 years I have built numerous overland trucks for myself, for Dragoman Overland Travel in the UK, and also for private clients [as my own business]. I have created custom-built camper conversions for clients who own Landrovers including pop-up roofs, bodywork modifications and engine transplants. I have also built 4 for my own use over a period of 10 years.
What is the current mileage on the clock?
At Christmas 2017 the mileage is around 33000. We intend to drive towards Baltimore over the next month so this will increase accordingly. The truck was serviced and I did an oil change at around 30000 miles. When we purchased this truck it had around 5000 miles on the clock. We have done a lot of miles since January 2016 and it has proven itself to be reliable and robust so far. The reason the mileage was so low when we acquired the truck is that it was a British Military Reserve Vehicle and it stood around without being used for some years. Before we left the UK I ensured that all working parts were as they should be and took preventative action for any potential issues [from it standing around] and my efforts have paid off.
What about rust?
There is a little bit on the front left hand wing around the wheel arch that is just starting to rust. It has appeared in the last year. If it were cleaned and painted sooner rather than later, it would be fine. Otherwise I cleaned and painted the chassis in 2016 before we left the UK.
What is the actual weight of camper with gear etc. in it (shipping weight)?
When we crossed from Baja California to mainland Mexico the truck was weighed at 5300kg including all our gear, 2 people, full water tanks, full reserve fuel tank plus a quarter full main fuel tank and food.
Obviously it would depend on the particular weight of your own gear as to how much it would be for you.
What is the box made of and how much insulation and type?
The box is made of composite sandwich panels. These consist of fibreglass, plywood and 40mm styrofoam [insulation].
There is no metal frame and there are no cold bridges.
What about sourcing spare parts?
Please see our blog posts titled “Can he fix it” to see what I have actually had to do/chosen to do since leaving home in this truck. Basically, I have pretty much managed to get by so far with items from Home Depot and Walmart. All the spare seals etc that I brought with me are still packed under my seat as this is being written.
The truck has been regularly serviced and I inspect it several times a week.
In 2016 I had all the brake cylinders stainless steel lined. I did this to prevent any issues that may have arisen from it standing around whilst being used by the British miltary. Obviously I also cleaned the chassis and re-painted it thoroughly before mounting the camper body and leaving the UK.
Parts are available in the UK but, as with any vehicle of this type, you have to look for them. This is a mechanically-based vehicle [no fancy electrics that will need computers to fix] and a solution can generally always be found as long as there is someone with mechanical ability in the vicinity. I would just make some items myself or find someone on the road who can do it for me. Bearings and seals are readily available from anywhere.
The truck has a Perkins Engine so parts for this are available worldwide.
I would happily buy another one of these trucks and, personally, would not be too concerned about this sort of thing. In my experience, in many places, it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you have, parts are not always available – however there is always someone who can find someone who can either fix or make a part from another vehicle to fit.
Would you sell it sooner than next year; specifically November 2017?
Only if someone made us a huge offer that we couldn’t refuse that compensates us for the trouble/costs that this would cause. Specifically, we have just paid a large sum of money for USA road insurance for 6 months that ends in March 2018 so we intend to use at least a few months of this. Also we have tenants in our UK home so cannot have our house back yet. If anyone wants us to change our plans this side of Christmas 2017 then the price of the truck will increase substantially [sorry!].