New Expedition Camper - Overland Explorer

So my four plus year process is nearing completion. Phase five was recently completed.

Phase one was really about determining my needs. Expedition quality vehicle with the ability to sleep four, 4-wheel drive and the ability to tow 9000 pounds. There were/are other less important considerations but those are the main ones.

Phase two was to decide upon a vehicle. I decided to try a LMTV so one was purchased. It was used for a few short day trips and one long multiple day trip last winter. I also added a receiver hitch and did one three day trip which involved towing my boat. Came to several conclusions. The LMTV is a wonderfully capable vehicle within it's design parameters. I decided that those parameters were too narrow to be a best fit for me. Therefore I purchased a F450 cab chassis model with diesel, crew cab and ability to have a 12' bed. This was ordered and delivered.
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Phase four was to deliver the F450 and build the flatbed. That has been done and I am already using the truck. I must say the fit, finish and attention to detail of the flatbed is superb. All my friends that shook their heads at my going ten hours away for a flatbed no longer do that upon seeing the finished product.

Phase five I guess was to actually order and place a down payment on the camper. I am expecting a fall delivery. Also ordered super single wheels and will install 285/70/R19.5 tires. I made this choice based upon All Terrain Warriors and Overland Explorer's recommendation to stick with 19.5 wheels. Also ordered and have scheduled an ARB air locker for the front axle as well as their high capacity duel pump air compressor.

I am sure I have missed some important details but I can always add them.

I am very excited and eagerly anticipating using my new Overland Explorer camper for this fall's steelhead season.


Expedition Leader
What parameters of the LMTV were too narrow for you? Others might find your analysis helpful in making their own decisions.
Kerry, in no particular order

Big and heavy. Over 20,000 pounds empty.

Slow - yes you can install higher speed axles etc. They seem more of a help then a fix. My truck worked best at 35-45 MPH on non paved roads.

Availability of parts and service. Despite what I was told about off the shelf parts etc. I didn't really find that to be the case. I live in an agricultural area with lots of heavy equipment also.

More tractor like then truck like. No AC, or other amenities such as power windows. Everything is "rough" and utilitarian.

Tall - really tall. Many people, ladies, especially complained about the difficulty in getting in.

Poor fuel economy. No matter what you do it will always be a big heavy truck and it takes power to move pounds. I always got right at 6.6 mpg.

Many things such as engine and transmission are rock solid. Other parts such as window cranks are down right cheap.

I now understand how companies get tens of thousands of dollars into making these rigs "right" for civilian use.

My conclusion was that after all the pluses and minuses were calculated you still needed time, knowledge and tools to keep the rig running. That is not my skill set.

That being said there are some great features as well.

Geared to be nice and slow and just WORK in that 25-45 MPH range and on rough non-paved roads. The only bad part is the travel time to reach those roads. LOL

Ride is actually pretty good. Better then my F350 was. Also with dynamat sound deadening that loudest noise at 50 MPH was the tires.

Short vehicle for a 12' bed.

Tall with cab over wheels and a huge front windshield. The terrific visibility was very possibly my favorite part of the whole truck.
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West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
What a fine description of the woes/winners with the 1078. Nothing like hands on experience for those in the dark.
Did you order the 450 with 4.30, or 4.88 gears and a factory L.S. rear end?
I hope Mexico or other 3rd world countries are not in your plans.
I like your methodical movement toward a purpose-built rig.
The 19.5 tires will not allow you to lower the pressure for running in deep sand.
I hope the super single tires and wheels are at least the wide model.
Keep us informed of your fascinating build process.
Did you order the 450 with 4.30, or 4.88 gears and a factory L.S. rear end?
I hope Mexico or other 3rd world countries are not in your plans.
The 19.5 tires will not allow you to lower the pressure for running in deep sand.
I hope the super single tires and wheels are at least the wide model.
Keep us informed of your fascinating build process.
4.10 limited slip. To me its a bit low. I hope the taller tires will drop the RPM enough. I just towed a 31' travel trailer from home to SLC and back. I pulled every grade, that speed constraints allowed, in top gear. Didn't down shift once. To me this means I have power to spare for a taller ratio.

Not sure about the meaning of your Mexico comments.

I'm not sure I agree with your comment about the 19.5 tires. All Terrain Warriors is very clear on the positive results they have achieved with these tires and the ability to air them down. All the way down to the 20-25 lb range. "Of all the Single Wheel Conversions that we have undertaken since making the change to the 19.5” tyres back in 2007, we have never had a customer report that they have broken a bead when aired down and many will air down well below our recommended minimum pressure in order to cope with a tricky situation."

"The main factors that led ATW into developing SWC's using 19.5” tyres were based on real world experiences and feedback from commercial operators and numerous privateers. Prior to 2007 all our SWC's were based mainly on 37” x 16” tyre packages. We had limited success with these on 4x4 vehicles that were downrated to under 4.5 ton but all of our other customers with slightly heavier trucks were plaqued with constant wheel failures, costly tyre damage and excessive wear."

The bottom line is that first and foremost you have to have the ability to carry the weight, everything else has to be secondary to that. Honestly I think the extra 800 lbs of the diesel engine is going to be more of a hindrance then any inability to air tires down. This truck will never go in sand like a half ton to say nothing of a jeep type vehicle.

Not sure what you mean by wide model. My plan is 285/75/r19.5 so whatever wheel would be the appropriate width for that tire.
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The LMTV actually do have a very low crawler gear. Its first gear. Normal operation only gives you gears 2-7. You manually shift into 1st and your are locked into that gear. Pretty darn low gear.

I think I am putting the best wheel assembly together FOR MY USE! I don't see a long heavy rig being a rock crawler or a sand machine. Why waste money trying to make it one?

Last weekend I passed an Earthroamer with those big tires. He was doing about 60-65 on the freeway and I could hear the tires howling as I passed him. If I find myself actually in situations where different tires would be helpful I can always make changes. Plus I don't want a tall top heavy rig.

Regarding the flatbed. My truck has lots of uses other then a dedicated camper rig. Its my tow vehicle, and I will use it to haul whatever needs hauling. Also the manufacturing slot was available for the flatbed. To my mind the flatbed and the camper are two separate stand alone components that are designed to work together. Also at the time of ordering the flatbed I was envisioning another year or so before being able to purchase the camper. I have a rule. I don't borrow money to pay for toys!

Now if I can just figure out how to post pics. Thanks for the comments and questions.


Expedition Leader
Here is the pic you tried to post.

Looks really nice! I am in for the build. What tires did you decide on? I would love to do a SS on my F450, but Its getting heavy. Hence i'm interested what you end up with for the rear tires.

Im not sure that airing down a 19.5 is a very good idea, but maybe the ATW trucks are light enough its not stressing the tire.