Newbie questions....BLISS MOBIL and chassis

#1
Hello! We are new to this website and it looks like an amazing resource!

We are looking to buy a 15 foot expedition camper and are particularly interested in out of the Netherlands. Their campers seem very solid and technology forward. That said, Bliss only makes the camper and we would have to purchase the chassis separately. We have never traveled via expedition camper and are struggling to figure out what kind of chassis would work best with the unit that Bliss Mobil could produce. Bliss actually lists several potential chassis models on their website, but they don't seem to be available in the US (e.g., MAG TGM, MAN TGM Toka, Steyr 12M18, Mercedes-Benz 1120-AF, Duro 6x6).

We are from the U.S. and plan to do some North American travel, but also want to travel extensively internationally - South America, Europe, Asia...

What kind of chassis should we be looking at that we can buy and drive in the U.S., but that will also fit this Bliss expedition camper and be easy to maintain and repair around the world?

Does anyone have experience with Bliss Mobil? Thoughts on the durability and quality of their products?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
 
#2
Contact Jay Couch at Couch Off-road in Denver. He is mostly a Unimog supplier, as far as chassis go, but he has close ties with Bliss. He built a Unimog U1300 and outfitted it with a Bliss box. The couple that owns it is here in New Mexico. I see you are in Kansas, maybe you could arrange a meeting to see one up close. The Bliss box is absolutely incredible!

http://couchoffroad.com/
 
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#4
Bliss is doing an amazing job, they looks incredible, no question.
But there are two things that bug me: the heavy steel frame and the container locks. Who needs a removable camper body that requires a container crane? Sure you could take the camper off and ship as a container. But that still leaves you with the chassis that wont fit into anything other than a open platform or Roll On Roll Off boat. Also, do you want your camper body sitting and tied up with other shipping containers? Think about the beating they are getting!
In any case, if you are looking at european builders, check out www.archemobil.de , www.unicat.net , www.actionmobil.com , www.EQ-line.com ,

As for chassis:
We are very limited with options here in North America. For the USA imports need to be 25 years old and Canada 15 years to be able to get them registered. I put a lot of research into chassis the last couple years. If you want a truck for traveling the globe, you basicly need to consider older Mercedes Trucks. Like the 1017 or 1019. These run without fancy electronics and parts/mechanics can be found all around the globe. Older MAN would work too but are a bit more difficult to maintain as there are no dealer ships in North America.
Just in case you only like to travel in North America, I would recommend looking into the line from Steward+Stevenson (military trucks).

Rule of thumb:
For international travel it pays off to go as small as possible. I think a Mercedes 1017 would be the max I would want to drive.

Good luck in your search!
 
#5
I second Victorian's comments. I ended up with a new Mercedes Unimog U500 in 2006 which was sold in North America 2003-6. But the NA version had some differences from the "world" version, namely electrical system was partly 12V (alternator, starter, lights), part 24V (electronics), also air fittings. Not a problem getting it worked on in Germany. But Unimogs in general are excessively complicated for world travel with the portal hubs and drivetrain; with which you are really taking your chances on a used one unless all 4 hubs have been freshly overhauled by a COMPETENT technician. And parts are not ubiquitous (except for engine) like the 1017/1019. I've driven mine all over Australia, in North Africa and to Mongolia and back.
Regarding the S&S military truck option, there is an outfit in Montana that remanufactures them to basically new quality and put in upgrades like good seats, noise insulation and drivetrain necessary upgrades like higher speed differentials and locking differential (at least in the rear).
http://acelatruck.com/
That's what I would do if I were looking for a new chassis right now as a US inhabitant, unless you want to spend hundreds of hours working on it yourself. Even though some of the auction vehicles have very low mileage there are many deteriorated parts on most auction vehicles.

Charlie
 
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#6
I am a Canadian owner of a 15 feet Bliss Mobil since last year. I did extensive research before buying. I ended up with Bliss for two main reasons. First quality and solidity are premium. Second, since the Bliss Mobil unit is sold separately from the truck, I was able to import a new living unit not submitted to the 15 years (25 years in USA) like the truck. And this is a big plus. As for the truck my fist idea was to find a new 4 x 4 trucks in Canada. International truck maker had a model suitable for the Bliss unit, but since it is a long nose truck, it had significant longer wheelbase compare to a flat nose truck reducing maneuverability. Also a new diesel truck has a lot of electronics and run with urea. So I ended up with a Mercedez Benz truck (1429AF) bought in Europe. It was a 1992 firetruck with only 29K kilometers. A mechanic made the appropriate modifications in collaboration with Bliss Mobil with overland specs in mind. I have to say that I am very happy with my choice. Both Bliss Mobil and the truck perform very well.
 
#9
Hi there, I just joined this wonderful sight. How did you find your truck and did you use a broker to get it into Canada? Thank you
 
#10
Hi there, I just joined this wonderful sight. How did you find your truck and did you use a broker to get it into Canada? Thank you
Bliss Mobil introduced me to a very knowledgable mechanic in Germany who can make modifications to existing vehicles. First he found three trucks suitable for the Bliss unit. I then choose the one that met our expectations. Finally he made all the transformations whit Bliss Mobil requirements in mind.
I did all the importation of the truck by myself. I used SeaBrige transportation from Antwerpen to Halifax. They use a broker from Halifax in order to have the papers needed to go to custom. Of course you need to have all your invoices, sale agreement and clearance from the broker when you go to Canadian custom.
 
#11
Unimog or not, contact Couch. He has worked very close with Bliss, probably the most knowledgeable and connected to the company here in the US. You are close enough to Denver, it would be worth your while. There is also Earth Roamer in Denver. Global X has produced some iconic campers, but I hear a bit of dissatisfaction with their support and some unethical sales issues.
 

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#12
I've seen the bliss units in person at the Abenteuer and Allrad and they are very nicely done. Build quality appeared to be extremely high and the team was very friendly and proud of their product. I do think that this method does have some tradeoffs that should be considered vs. building a box for a specific chassis. With the requirement of integrating all the equipment into the box I don't think they are quite as space efficient as a custom build which can integrate more mechanicals into the chassis. Also, as already mentioned, the requirement that it can be lifted separate from the truck leads to having to have a heavy steel frame that wouldn't otherwise be needed.

I seriously considered buying one with the plan to buy a chassis to use on a continent, then when finished with that "area" to sell that chassis and ship the box onward to drop onto the next chassis. If you wanted to go that route then buy a chassis for NA that will work until you're ready to move on. You'll save substantial money in shipping if you just send the box rather than the whole truck. You can get some low mileage Stewart and Stevensons from govplanet that should be relatively trivial to adapt for the Bliss Mobil box.
 
#13
You'll save substantial money in shipping if you just send the box rather than the whole truck.
Shipping is a relatively trivial expense. To ship my Unicat/U500 across the Atlantic cost less than 4000 euro/dollars each way. That is for a 12 metric ton vehicle that is about 70 cubic meters. A whole lot less than buying a new chassis for Europe.
Look at Seabridge's rates:
https://www.seabridge-tours.de/html/verschiffung.php?language=english
It is actually cheaper to get to Australia via Halifax and Antwerp than to go from LA to Aus east coast. And using Halifax as one's port of entry/egress for N. America allows one to avoid US Customs and US ports, a huge benefit.

Charlie
 
#14
Shipping is a relatively trivial expense. To ship my Unicat/U500 across the Atlantic cost less than 4000 euro/dollars each way. That is for a 12 metric ton vehicle that is about 70 cubic meters. A whole lot less than buying a new chassis for Europe.
Look at Seabridge's rates:
https://www.seabridge-tours.de/html/verschiffung.php?language=english
It is actually cheaper to get to Australia via Halifax and Antwerp than to go from LA to Aus east coast. And using Halifax as one's port of entry/egress for N. America allows one to avoid US Customs and US ports, a huge benefit.

Charlie
Thanks for the info! I just received some insanely high quotes for Seattle to South Africa. I'll take a look!


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#15
Hi Charlie,

Is it better for someone living in the U.S. to ship their Bliss vehicle in through Halifax and then drive it down to the U.S.? Is regular land customs easier somehow than going through U.S. port customs?

Thanks!