6x6 defender off road camper build

Jitterbug

Adventurer
This is my first post on here so I will start with a quick introduction - my name is David, a british expat living in Brisbane, Australia.

I am in the early stages of planning an 18 month trip starting in South America, heading up to Canada, the going from the UK down to South Africa, aiming for 2015/16 start with the goal of raising money for and visiting projects of a yet to be decided charity.

As the 1st stage of the preparations I have just taken delivery of a 1992 civilian variant of the 'Perentie' (Australian military) 6x6 defender, it was originally a tour bus in Darwin and the idea is to turn it into an off road live-in camper for the 'big trip' as well as short and medium breaks in Aus in the meantime.

I settled on the 6x6 as a good compromise on size between a 130 and a Unimog and it could also help gain public and media interest, being a unique/interesting vehicle, rather than an off the shelf Unicat or Foley defender (not to mention cost), this should help with the charitable fund raising! Plus it happened to come up for sale at the right time for a good price!

The chassis and driveline appear to be in very good condition (chassis came out of the factory galvanised), the body is in need of some TLC with a bit of rust and a some minor damage to be delt with, and the interior virtually needs gutting.

The first job is to scope out the extent of the rust etc and tackle all the time consuming/cheap jobs whilst saving the cash to swap out the ford 302 V8 back to a isuzu 4BD1-T (no idea why that was swapped out in the 1st place!!!) and sort any other mechanical issues. Once that is sorted I will get to work on the camper side of things including electrics, fridge, water system as well as table, bed, storage etc etc.

The intention is to have it as a 4 seater with fixed bed for 2 and occasional sleeping for 1 or 2 (might end being a roof tent).


Off the top of my head the jobs include:

Mechanical:
Engine swap
Recon of anything / everything that might need it: Brakes, diffs, steering box, gearbox, transfer case (inc 6x6 system), fuel pump, UJs, bearings, brake pads/drums/disks etc
New shocks
Springs if needed
Seating whilst driving
Raised air intake with prefitler
Respray – probably yellow for ease of painting/non military look and to keep it as bright and offensive as possible.
Steering guards
Diff locks
Also considering some form of ROPS (have access to commercial work shop with lots of pipe bending and fabrication gear). Extra weight justified?
Anti-theft security (retina scan/voice recognition – or just keep it simple with a hidden cut-off switch J)

Electrical
Stereo / speaker system
Dual/Tri batteries
Solar panel
Fridge
Led interior lighting
Maybe LED light bar? Really needed or just begging to be stolen?
Maybe winch? Really needed or just extra weight?
Several 12v ports


Camper/comfort
Double Bed
Storage – (under the bed, kitchen, wardrobe, misc)
Kitchen – LPG burner, fridge, bbq for outdoor cooking
Awning
Outdoor table
Indoor seats/table (converts to bed) – ideas to utilise the 2nd row passenger seats both as a seat at the table and as part of the ‘occasional’ bed by having them swivel.
Black out limo tint on rear windows
Security mesh on all rear windows (these are slide type and not very secure) maybe some security film on front windows and windscreen.
Sound/heat proofing

At this point I am thinking I wont bother with hot water, auxiliary heating, internal shower or toilet. All added cost/weight/complexity I can live without. We intend to chase the summer through northern/southern hemisphere.

I have not figured out exactly how most of this will work, I am still at the stage of random ideas floating around in my head, so any advice or input on the truck or the trip will be greatly appreciated!

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AeroNautiCal

Explorer
Hello and welcome!

I recall seeing (in a LR mag, IIRC) one of these completely rebuilt by a young British couple who then went off ATW, seem to remember the woman painted lizards (Perentie) on the self built, custom cabin.

First one I'd seen.

Edit! Found it, it was the October 2008 LRO Magazine, "Meet the Perentie".
 

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Snagger

Explorer
This will be a fascinating project to follow. Is it 6x6 or 6x4?

Your plans seem very sensible. Here are a few suggestions regarding issues you mentions:

Seating
The easiest option for the front seats would be to fit 2007 model seats as they're much more comfortable but will fit easily and leave the underseat areas accessible. The mesh seats from Exmoor Trim are also a good option as they allow water or sweat to dry out quickly and allow air circulation in hot climates, though you couldn't fit heaters for cold climates. You could get removeable covers with heaters sewn in for that, though.

Batteries
Two would be essential, but if the auxilliary is of decent capacity and you have solar panels, a third is unlikely to be of benefit.

Winch
Given the weight of the vehicle, I'd say this would be essential - a Tirfor or farm jack is going to struggle, but not as much as you would! Mount it at the rear, though, to pull you out the short way of what you got stuck in, rather than drag you the long way through all of it. I like electric winches for one primary benefit - the engine doesn't have to be running to use it, so if you get stuck in deep water, you don't have to worry about the engine idling too slowly when you get out to set up, and you can use it at more extreme body angles. You don't need to worry about leaks, either.

Securtiy
Regarding high tech systems vs hidden switches and fuel valves, I'd go for the latter every time - the last thing you want is a faulty electronic unit immobilising the vehicle in the middle of nowhere and a lengthy rewiring job to bypass it. A few simple measures are better than one complex one... and cheaper.

Exterior lighting
LED lights for camp are good because of their low drain, but for driving, they will be hugely expensive. I don't know how attractive they'll be to the sticky-fingered, but if they don't provide much more light than halogen lights, why bother? You're not going to be driving at night with the engine off, so current draw isn't going to be a big issue.

Hot water
A warm shower now and again, while not a necessity, is a comfort. Being able to wash cooking ware and sterilise towels/cloths for first aid use would be beneficial, and hot water shifts oil from hands, tools and clothes much more easily than cold after repairs or servicing. It doesn't need to be a high capacity or rapid heating unit, but a small supply of hot water would be useful.
 

Jitterbug

Adventurer
The car is a 6x6, full time 6x4 with selectable 6x6. The 3rd axle is driven off a PTO on the transfer case and is vacuum operated. The propshaft runs up over the 2nd axle then down to the 3rd.

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It is coil sprung front with a load sharing leaf set up on the rear, the leaves are attached to a central pivoting arm at each side that also allow the axles to be closer. Not the best articulation and the extra HD land rover leaves on there at the moment arent helping things!

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Re hot water, some kind of electric heating element could be a cheap easy way to get warm water if the temperature is too low for cold water showers.

I have a few more options for the seats as I dont have the storage boxes beneath the seats, these have made way for fuel tank number 2 and 3. No idea what the total capacity is but the rear fuel tank is BIG then there are 2 more meduim sized ones!

Perhaps a winch tray and mounts at the front and rear could be a good option, that way i can go forwards or backwards and the winch stays dry and dust free inside the truck when not in use...

And i was only joking about the high tech security, cut off switched for critical bits of kit will be the way forward.



Finally, here is my 1984 90, 3.9 efi V8 with Wolf3D engine management, 35" baja claws, HD axles, pegged R&Ps, front and rear ARB lockers, cranked arms, steering/diff guards, raptor dash, winch, bumper, spotties etc etc


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The Rover Shop

Explorer
That looks awesome... not sure if you have read it or not but I have a build thread on the top of this page for the same thing basically, I will be home in 2 years time back in Newcastle Australia and will be opening a Land Rover shop there then and I would be happy to give you any assistance I can, by then I should have plenty of real time experience to pass on as well.., take a look at some of my systems as they address your needs and your concerns..particularly the shower thing as well.. In regards to the charity thing, take a look at the Muskoka foundation... get in touch with Jonathon and Roseanne Hanson and they will be happy to give you some pointers... we will be doing some charitable volunteering but for the benefit of wildlife conservation..such as the big cats, elefants, rhinos etc in Africa...Good luck with the build...subscribed..
 

Jitterbug

Adventurer
That looks awesome... not sure if you have read it or not but I have a build thread on the top of this page for the same thing basically, I will be home in 2 years time back in Newcastle Australia and will be opening a Land Rover shop there then and I would be happy to give you any assistance I can, by then I should have plenty of real time experience to pass on as well.., take a look at some of my systems as they address your needs and your concerns..particularly the shower thing as well.. In regards to the charity thing, take a look at the Muskoka foundation... get in touch with Jonathon and Roseanne Hanson and they will be happy to give you some pointers... we will be doing some charitable volunteering but for the benefit of wildlife conservation..such as the big cats, elefants, rhinos etc in Africa...Good luck with the build...subscribed..

Thanks for that, Muskoka looks like just the thing we were looking for, i sent them an email this morning and we will see where it goes from there!

I just spent the last few hours reading through your build thread, a great read and an awesome truck, a few ideas I will have to borrow for sure. I will be living vicariously through you for the next couple of years, with a lot of envy, whilst I build the truck and plan my trip! By the time you get back I am sure you will have revised your design several time, would be great to pick your brain on vehicle and countries and to hear some stories of the trip, the best ones are always when things go wrong (I have some good ones about breaking the front diff housing in two in Syberia, getting trapped on top of a volcanoe in a snow storm in Eastern Turkey (frozen fuel lines) and getting warning shots fired at us by the Syrian army, good times :smiley_drive:)!

Thanks again,

David
 

Jitterbug

Adventurer
I spent the morning looking over the truck in the light and trying to come up with a plan of action and deciding what I should do first. Obviously the engine swap should be high on the list but I am still saving the cash for that!

So the first job is going to be stripping the interior, assessing and treating rust and removing the giant roof mounted air conditioner. A section of the roof at the from may also need replacing. I am hoping the raised section that currently allows cold air to be channelled to the rear passengers will give me the extra couple of inches in need to stand up straight!

I also discovered that I can JUST lie width ways across the back. Ideally it would be a couple inches wider but i can easily make do and if I really want to stretch out I can lie diagonally for a bit. To have the bed length ways would take up a lot more space so I want to avoid that.

Some more pics of the 'Bush Commander'

The shabby interior:
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At home in the bush

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And the best bit about the truck: the rest of the drive line, including red chassis, blue diffs and gold prop shafts!

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Jitterbug

Adventurer
After I finish stripping the interior, the 1st major job is to give it a respray. I have been thinking and narrowed it down to blue, yellow or sand (LR colour 'epinema sand' is quite non military looking)
I have been messing about in photoshop, what are other people's thoughts/preferences/ideas? My GF also likes gold but I can't do it in photoshop!

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