Norwegian Unimog U1700L camper build

So, time has finally come to our own build thread for the Unimog camper that propably will take shape over the next 2-3 years:)

Thngs are still on an early stage and nothing is written in stone yet, so plans may (and most propably will) change along the way. But the basic idea is ready; we (I and my wife) want to build a expedition camper / overland camper, based on a Mercedes Unimog. The main purpose for vehicle will be to take us on a journey from Norway to the eastern parts of Asia for a 6-12 months trip. But again, things are on an early stage and only time will tell what plans the future brings!

The idea is that the camper should be an upgrade from the Mercedes Geländewagen with the Maggiolina roof tent which we use on our travels around Europe today. A short list of some key features which the new camper should try to fullfill would be:

- Seating for minimum 3 persons (but 4 will be preferable if it is possible)
- Fixed bed for 2 persons, bed(s) for additional passengers can be a foldable solution based on the sofa+table or simmilar. Passenger seats in camper should be faced in driving direction.
- Bathroom with shower inside the camper
- Kitchen with oven and hotplate, sink, storage sollutions +++
- Seating around a table in the camper for minimum 4 persons.
- Lots of storage compartsment for both inside and outside access.
- Heating sollution for camping in cold climate (live in Norway...)
- Water and food supplies for 10-14 days without refill.
- Diesel for min. 1500km range.
- No fancy electronics, just pure mechanic which in theory should be easier to maintain and repair in remote locations.
- 4x4 and sufficient ground clearance.
- Walk/crawl-through from camper to cabin.

We soon decided on the Unimog, the next step was just to find a good candidate for our project. Since the Unimog is quite rare and extremly expensive in Norway the solution was to import a truck from Germany. After testing a couple of old U1300L ex. German Army trucks we discovered a 1981 u1700L for sale in the southern parts of Germany. It had low mileage, although many hours on the clock, but the mechanical parts seemed to be in good shape and the prize was right. So after a testride and an overall inspection we decided to go for it!:wings:

After a couple of weeks with planning and various paperwork it was time to pick it up and drive it home to Norway (1650km).
My father joined me for the trip and we decided to use his 1972 Hanomag Henchel F55 home made camper (Mercedes 508) as a back up vehicle for the journey!

Everything went alright an the next 3 days we spendt "flying" along the German Autobahn's:cool:


Expedition Leader
Seems odd that Mercedes used the old name "hanomag" for that model in the early 70s - its definitely more of a Mercedes truck then a Hanomag. Looks like a nice rig either way.

Is that the Unimog with the crane on it?


Low mileage but many ours on the clock: no problem, the engine always ran on 1000 rpm whitout heavy duty to make the crane work. Ideal to keep the engine in good condition while the vehicle didn't move much.
Low mileage but many ours on the clock: no problem, the engine always ran on 1000 rpm whitout heavy duty to make the crane work. Ideal to keep the engine in good condition while the vehicle didn't move much.
This was my thought also! Hopefully it will be ok, but I got a good prize, so even if I need to do an overhaul, I think it will be worth the prize.
Seems odd that Mercedes used the old name "hanomag" for that model in the early 70s - its definitely more of a Mercedes truck then a Hanomag. Looks like a nice rig either way.

Is that the Unimog with the crane on it?
Mercedes bought the Hanomag Henschel factory in the late 60's. For some time they had a parallel production of some trucks at both the Mercedes and Hanomag factory, both versions identical except from minor details like logo on the steering wheel and grill. My fathers truck is one of very few surviving Mercedes 508 which were produced at the Hanomag factory and sold as a "Hanomag Henschel F55" It's an old but quite well kept truck which my father converted to a camper in the early 80's, so I myself have practically grown up in this truck with camping trips around Europe every summer holiday :)

And yes, it's the one with the crane, the crane will have to go to make room for the camper but it's a well made crane so hopefully i cand fin a newhome for it at someone who can take use of it.
Some more pictures from the trip back to Norway: testing on the Danish beaches:)


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The plan now is to do some minor repairs and get it registered on Norwegian license plates. After that i will strip the chassis from it's crane and supportframe, and I will do a complete repaint of both the cabin and main frame before the real fun begin with fabricating of the camper box. The basic concept for layout of the camper is finished, and I will try to post some pictures of the 3D-model for it in the next days.

To be continued!
Sorry for the long break since last update, seems that the last few months just flew away... But anyway, here is a status update:

As I wrote earlier I managed to get the truck safely back from Germany to Norway without any problems! :) After that I went straight to work and started the possible long and difficult process to get it licensed on Norwegian license plates.

I talked to the authorities before I bought the truck and informed them about my plans about converting the Unimog from a crane truck and into a camper truck. They then informed me about that the best way of doing this would be if I bought and imported the truck, and then got it licensed in Norway the way it was originally in Germany (with crane and everything attached). After that it would be no problem to re-license it as a camper once the build was complete.

I am happy to say that this process turned out to be much easier in reality than what I first feared it would become. Whit the help from two very friendly guys at the registration office + the correct German documentation for the truck the Unimog was registered on Norwegian license plates within three weeks after I bought it in Germany :)

During the summer I didn't manage to do much with the Unimog. A very hectic period at my work, combined with a 3 weeks road trip with my wife to Balkan put a stopper to the progress. But one thing I managed to do was to sandblast, repaint, dismount and sell the complete sub frame with the big Atlas crane :)

Before crane renovation and removal:

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During this autumn I have spent most available time on corrosion work on the frame and axles. When I got it the truck was in overall quite good condition, but it had been neglected for quite some time, so the surface rust on both axles and the frame itself was quite bad. I then decided that it was needed to put an end to the misery, so I sandblasted all the rust away and went ahead and painted it with four layers of painting (Zink, and epoxy) according to the Norwegian offshore standards, so probably rust won't be any issue in the nearest future!

Before sandblasting and painting:
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During painting:
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Sorry, but seems that Idont have any good pictures ofthe finished result after painting, but I will take some pictures of the frame next time I remember it.

I have also cleaned and painted the gearbox with the same green color as it original was. Later on I will also go ahead and paint the engine. I just need to come up with a jacking device first, so it becomes easier to tilt the cabin, now it is a very time consuming affair..

Painted gearbox:


I also managed to reposition the exhaust so that it now again is connected to the stack up above the roof (it was rearranged by previous owner because of the crane)

Otherwise I have been busy working with the design and layout of the camper box itself It will not win any design awards, but we are quite happy with the concept we have come up with, but nothing is final yet, so adjustments (read: redesign:)) may still occur.

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We also decided that we would like to make a height extension to the cabin, similar to what Unicat used on some of their earlier Unimog campers. This because we wanted more headroom inside the cabin, combined with our plan about integrating all auxiliary controls / knobs /gauges /communication systems +++ into an overhead dashboard above the windscreen. We decided that it will be fabricated from steel HUP 50x50x3, with 3mm stiffener plates welded in between, and then this frame will again be covered on the outside with 3 mm aluminum plates which are glued on using Sikaflex or similar. The latest concept for the extension looks like this:

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The horisontal "hole" in the front is for mounting of LED-bar(s). The roofhatch is from Outbound, total weight: aprox 150kg, so its heavy enough, but hopefully also strong enough!
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19,5L / 100km, my fathers Hanomag, similar to your 508, with OM314 runs at 9,8 L / 100km, cruising speed for both of us was approx. 85km/h.