FG buildup

dhackney

Expedition Leader
We're starting the buildup of our FG based rig.

You can follow along at:
http://www.hackneys.com/mitsu/

I'll add ongoing photos and comments to the site on the fabrication & assembly process as the project progresses.

We plan to take delivery in late October and depart for 2-3 years in early January.

Doug
 

ZooJunkie

Explorer
Wow! Most excellent! Your rig is amazing, can't wait to see the completed rig and all your photos from your expedition!

:clapsmile
 

Scott Brady

Founder
Thanks so much for posting this up Doug.

Have you had the opportunity to drive the FG on a trail yet? I have never heard a first hand account of its performance.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

haven

Expedition Leader
Fuso on White Rim Trail

A fellow posted a note at www.expeditioncampers.com about driving 100 miles of the White Rim Trail at Moab in a Fuso FG 4x4 flatbed (without expedition cabin). He had no difficulty.

Chip Haven
 

dhackney

Expedition Leader
expeditionswest said:
Thanks so much for posting this up Doug.

Have you had the opportunity to drive the FG on a trail yet? I have never heard a first hand account of its performance.
Scott,

I have not personally driven one on a trail, we've only test driven an FE on pavement.

We spent a few hours in AZ with Don and Kim Green who have an FG rig in South America and they instilled in us a very high level of confidence in the FG's off-road abilities. They've got a pretty extensive off-road pedigree (at least from a 4x4 virgin, dirt-biker perspective) and sang the praises of the FG in the terrain they've encountered so far on that continent. They've got the same kind of "hey, that wash looks interesting, let's see what's up there" mindset that we do, so we felt they've blazed a relevent trail for us in this regard.

I don't know enough to have an opinion on the dual rear wheels, and can only go on the experiences of the Greens and others who have taken this chassis on global expeditions with great success.

Our concept is "base camp," so when things start to look dicey for the rig, we'll park it and get on the dirt bikes. Which is a great theory until you need to get everything over a remote pass...

If we stay on schedule we'll be in Baja for the middle of November running a pit for a friend who is soloing the Baja 1000 and then field testing the rig. Interested in coming down and seeing what it will do?

Doug
 

Colorado Ron

Explorer
Are you looking for suggestions? If so, I would seriously look at the departure angle. IMO you would have way too much hanging off the rear!

If your not looking for suggestions: Great Project and ignore the above!:D
 

dhackney

Expedition Leader
Colorado Ron said:
I would seriously look at the departure angle.
We're always open to suggestions! That's one upside to being a novice in a new area of expertise, just about everyone knows more than we do about this area, so we're open to learning from everyone.

I agree that the departure angle with the stock wheelbase (as illustrated) would be a real challenge unless we stayed on main roads.

One thing I didn't make clear on the web site is that we are planning to move the rear axle back 12-18" by lengthening the frame. We will determine the exact rear axle location once the camper arrives and we've determined the location of the house bank batteries, LP tank, adl. fuel tank, etc.

It will be a balancing act between weight distribution, turning radius and departure angle.
 

BajaTaco

Swashbuckler
AHA! I was just asking Scott not too long ago if he knew what you ended up doing/deciding on. This is pretty wild! It sounds/looks very fun.

"One thing I didn't make clear on the web site is that we are planning to move the rear axle back 12-18" by lengthening the frame. "

I was wondering about that departure angle too. One downside to moving the axle back is that you will decrease the breakover angle. The BOA is probably the lesser of the two evils though. Looking at the driveline photos on your website, it looks like this will be a consideration, no? My tendency is to think about the cab-over part of the camper actually being over the cab. BUT, I know you want a place for the moto garage, and I also see the height is over 11' as it is. This may sound crazy, but have you considered mounting the camper body backwards? You could fab a pass-thru from the cab into the camper (yea, I know you'd have to crouch-down to get through), and somehow make another main entry from the side or rear? This would allow you to move the moto garage more over the rear axle, and create a sloping rear profile that would tie the "cab-over" part of the camper into the frame. In that angled portion of the garage, you could fit the sliding gear stow, etc. Maybe this would allow a much better depature angle without lengthening the wheelbase? LOL, I know... this is brainstorming... it might look bizarre...
 

Colorado Ron

Explorer
Im glad to hear your open to suggestions. Ill try to be to the point and be honest, as Id hate to meet you on the road somewhere saying," why didnt you just tell me it was wrong!"

Anyway, Bajataco--he cant make it go over the cab because the cab has to tilt foward for one thing.

Hackney, if it were mine.......

I wouldnt stretch the wheelbase. You sacrifice too much turning radius and break over angle. You gonna have to come up with a different type camper if you wanna keep it off the cab and reduce your departure angle. I personally wouldnt extend anymore than 12-15 inches past the back wheels unless it was at an angle, then maybe up to 3ft max. Another delima I see is weight. With all those boxes and gear, that is going to be one heavy sucker. I would seriously consider going to a single track setup like this:



Id also get Nospin setup so you got true 4wheel:
http://www.ferret.com.au/articles/2d/0c012f2d.asp

Another thought--have you considered a custom canopy with walls as your garage and just mount the bikes on the back. With all the boxes youll have plenty of room for your tools and such. By doing this and having a canvas type garage would save a ton of room and really help its offroad abilities. Kinda like this:


Cant find a decent pic of my canvas with walls idea at the moment but Ill post it as soon as I find one!
 

Scott Brady

Founder
As we discussed, I would avoid lengthening the WB by much. In the US we have the luxury of big roads, left hand turn lanes, etc. As you know, small villages will be impossible to navigate if the turning radius changes much.

Since you are bringing the bikes, I believe that the FG should retain as much road and town driveability as possible. If you want to explore a remote area, use the FG as a base camp and explore from there.

Dragging the rear end is much less of an issue than high centering a 12,000lb home on wheels. :smiley_drive:
 

dhackney

Expedition Leader
Guys,

Thanks for the input! These are all great ideas and valid input.

I did consider mounting the camper backwards for the reasons cited. If it had a side opening door we might have done that. A pass through can be handy, even if you just use it for passing drinks, food, etc. We had a crawl-able one for our proof of concept rental and found it handy for that. In our set of compromises we chose to keep the camper as stock as possible, so no cutting of doorways or passages for this one.

We also considered mounting the camper in a traditional position over the cab, with the bikes stored on the bumpers or behind the camper in some way. With the integrated camper jacks it wouldn't be a big deal to remove it for cab tilt (assuming the chassis was functional enough to drive or roll it forward out from under the pivot frame/camper). The owners I've spoken with have indicated it is a fairly rare requirement to tilt the cab. But, height would be extreme with that design. We'll end up at around 12' / 3.66m as it is, and I think that will be a pretty limiting dimension where we tend to end up.

As to an exterior bike mounting position, we found that simply covering our bike whenever it was parked was a fantastic deterrent to tampering/theft/etc. The only time in over a year of global travel that we had anyone mess with our bike was when we left it parked uncovered in front of a national guard post. The bored soldiers apparently couldn't resist checking it out and tipped it over when they tried to sit on it and the alarm scared the p@## out of them. Out of sight really does = out of mind in most of the world. So, given that experience, we feel keeping the bike(s) under wraps is a good idea. We also know that anything that makes the bike(s) a hassle to mount and unmount like a fussy cover will keep us from riding them. Our goal is to design a clamping/ramp system that will allow extraction from the garage in a minute or so.

Scott hit on the real sleeper issue: weight. Our weight will probably preclude a single rear wheel conversion due to tire weight limits. We will be at or close to GVWR with this thing and the thought of extracting a 12-14k vehicle is humbling for me, whether up to the axles in mud or high centered on a rocky two track.

Another sleeper issue with this chassis is ground clearance. It's not all that much under the axles due to the small wheel size. While we plan to have our fabricator build bash plates for critical components, we won't be able to take on the more radical terrain if it requires high ground clearance for passage.

The people that we've spoken with who have taken these rigs around the planet have told us that they've never come close on departure angle (with the exception of one ferry in China), so it may be less of a limiting dimension than we are thinking right now.

In the end, the rear axle position will be determined by a delicate balancing act between weight balance, turning radius, departure angle and as you've pointed out, break-over angle. The front axle capacity of 5,730 lb / 2,599 k will probably be our limiting factor.

I agree with Scott that turning radius is a very, very precious commodity and one that I will guard jealously and sacrifice grudgingly.

One thing we learned with the proof of concept rental is that a long overhang not only limits you with departure angle, it also creates a huge aft-axle swing/sweep that can be equally limiting in the typically tight environments of developing economies.

We will, no matter where we place the rear axle, end up with a vehicle that will be large by developing world road/village/bridge standards, and we must be pragmatic about that and develop / adapt an exploration style that takes that reality into account. It is our hope that having the bikes will mitigate the inherent limitations of the rig. It is also our hope that the living space, comforts and carrying capacity provided by the rig will enhance our 2-3 years of exploration.

But as they say, hope is not a strategy...

Please keep the observations, suggestions and critiques coming. We can use all the help we can get.

Doug
 

flyingwil

Supporting Sponsor - Sierra Expeditions
Doug-

IMO, the limiting factor is the pre-made camper portion. Why not go 100% custom?
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Dreaming of Jupiter
by Ted Simon
From $16.12
Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide
by Tom Sheppard
From $136.95
Road Fever (Vintage Departures)
by Tim Cahill
From $8.99
Top