Pulled the trigger

#1
Hi folks, long time lurker here been observing from a distance. I have just agreed a deal on a u1550l37 which will be the platform for a 4ish meter box build over the next couple of years. Looking forward to continuing to learn from you all and sharing thoughts and choices!

All the best

Nathan
 
#5
So first few questions around the build, I'll post them here but more generally too. These are questions that I think are fundamental to the box/chassis integration and component mount location options hence covering them at the start.

1) Lithium Ion or Lead acid for leisure batteries? I'm leaning towards Li. Reasons - weight and longevity. In general I'm hoping to keep the weight of the overall package reasonably low without incurring ridiculous cost or compromising on durability. I know that the Li-ion set us is going to be a chunk of change but feel it's probably worthwhile. Views?

2) Heating. I'm inclined towards an eberspacher hydronic system with underfloor heating matrix. Reasons: single fuel, integration into engine allows water heating from engine, preheat ability for cold climate engine starts, draft free whole box heating. Thoughts?

3) Cooking. Electric with induction and combined microwave/oven. Reasons reduce multifuel complexity, diesel has poor reputation (although I've never used it).

4) Toilet. No idea yet between chemical, tank or compost. In the early years the use case is likely to be Europe and Morocco for 1 month trips. Longer term Australia, remote USA/Canada as a certainty with possibly trans Asia connecting the two in a 1-2 year trip. It may be we need to change because of geography and timeframes as we gain freedom and time to travel. I'd love thoughts on this one.

5) aircon. Yes/No and if yes, cab, box or both. I'm also unsure on this. I'd like to think that we will travel based on seasons and avoid discomfort by being somewhere else! However not sure how realistic this will be. Whaddya think?

All the best

Nathan
 

Jostt

Adventurer
#6
So first few questions around the build, I'll post them here but more generally too. These are questions that I think are fundamental to the box/chassis integration and component mount location options hence covering them at the start.

1) Lithium Ion or Lead acid for leisure batteries? I'm leaning towards Li. Reasons - weight and longevity. In general I'm hoping to keep the weight of the overall package reasonably low without incurring ridiculous cost or compromising on durability. I know that the Li-ion set us is going to be a chunk of change but feel it's probably worthwhile. Views?

2) Heating. I'm inclined towards an eberspacher hydronic system with underfloor heating matrix. Reasons: single fuel, integration into engine allows water heating from engine, preheat ability for cold climate engine starts, draft free whole box heating. Thoughts?

3) Cooking. Electric with induction and combined microwave/oven. Reasons reduce multifuel complexity, diesel has poor reputation (although I've never used it).

4) Toilet. No idea yet between chemical, tank or compost. In the early years the use case is likely to be Europe and Morocco for 1 month trips. Longer term Australia, remote USA/Canada as a certainty with possibly trans Asia connecting the two in a 1-2 year trip. It may be we need to change because of geography and timeframes as we gain freedom and time to travel. I'd love thoughts on this one.

5) aircon. Yes/No and if yes, cab, box or both. I'm also unsure on this. I'd like to think that we will travel based on seasons and avoid discomfort by being somewhere else! However not sure how realistic this will be. Whaddya think?

All the best

Nathan
Is nice to see you has the same questions than me in some points, so one by one
About the bateries I never use litium for These aplication, by the price, I consider they are out of Range , the price
Some times is three o for times the UGC , and there is one advantage in price and weight but not proporcional to the diference, so I prefer yo change any few years, I dont Think litium has 4 times bether endurance than Acid ones
For heating I decide to use webasto dualtop, I can recomend If you dont expect to use a Big cuantity of hot water, just You have 11 liters
For cooking, I have webasto diesel, It is slow, thats true...but....It is a nice piece of engineering, It works very good and You save gas.....this was my point.the con is the price , but when do You recibe It , You understand , the main problem on the old units was un the high mountains, but It looks to be solve on the last units, i have a button to solve this situation , just in case
The toilette Im using the tettford c404 , It is expensive for the quality if the product , but It works fine, the only Think Im afraid is when It becames old, by muy point of view , if the Camper id small like my case , chemical is the BEST way, to make a tank for the black water is not a joke ....It must to be easy to clean and bla bla bla
In the Air cond , Im still fighting to find the way to keep cool the cabine and the truck, It is not easy whit the same machine, maybe some mate from here has some idea, for me should be very very helpfully....thinking in Morocco wheater.....
 
#7
Well you asked for an opinion :)
1) Li is interesting but I am coming from a sailing background and just finished sailing around the world. I mention this because of replacement of Li batteries in remote areas would likely be very difficult. We use 6 Trojan T125 6V wet cell batteries and have been able to replace them as needed as we traveled. For our MB 1120 AF build we will probably stick with the 6V batteries.
2) We will be using a Webasto ThermoTop with a marine 6 gallon water heater which have internal heat exchangers.
3) As our plan for this truck is to now drive around the world we will be cooking a lot onboard. For this reason we are installing propane and will have a 3 burner stove/oven combo (we have used ones like this for years). With 2 20lb tanks we get about 5 months of full time use and have only had a few problems around the world filling these tanks. Although we did not have a selection of global fittings for our sailing trip we will this time and should have very few issues filling them.
4) Well the toilet is still up in the air. The cassette ones seem to require pretty frequent dumping. The composting never really have time to compost. Don't really want a black water tank.
5) AC, yes in cab and habitat. The habitat will likely end up being a wall unit. I really do not want one mounted on the roof as the truck will already be tall enough. I am planning on using a Total Composite box so should be well insulated and would not need a large unit.
 
#8
Thanks folks, this is good stuff.

Nice to have a reason beyond cost to save money - I like the field replacement argument for lead acid and will be very happy with the saving!

Webasto seems popular, 2 out of 2! I'll do a compare to the eberspacher. Are you using calorifiers with them and getting engine heat?

I agree with the toilet comments. I think chemical sounds right and possible to swap for compost down the line if we get to long trips.
 
#9
About heating water, my plan is to replace the 110v ac heating element with a 12v dc one. Hook up a dedicated solar panel/charge controller. The Webasto will handle the coolant circuit. The engine is tempting but not sure i want to tap into the coolant circuit (though this is how our boat works).

There is a SOG kit for the Thetford cassette toilet. Supossedly if you use it you do not need to use chemicals at the expense of a small electric fan. If we go this route i will install the SOG.
 
#10
Hi,

Good luck with your truck! :)

Where are you based?

1) I think the quoted lifespan of lithium is still a little unproven. But, we hope to still have that to run a washing machine or maybe a/c when the sun is shining with a roof full of solar. You can do that with a lot of lead acid but that would be big and heavy (too much on a "small mog?), take a long time to recharge properly from a normal domestic socket, and maybe take up too much space. If they stop working that same amount of space a pair that could run a washing machine could be swapped for a pair of big lead acid starter batteries to still run everything except the A/C and washing machine. They would still work when hooked up.

2) I still can't grasp how underfloor heating can work from a heat source producing 80 deg C (?) without a mains water supply to constantly blend it down to maybe 37 deg C for the floor?

3) We'll have three gas burners, maybe individual ones so we can determine the spacing for our pans, probably one 6kg refillable bottle and space for a 12kgish swappable one. Plus a portable induction cooker when we have lots of power free. Then we're not building in something hard to replace if it breaks. We get by without a microwave or an oven. We do have a pressure cooker, an Omnia oven which isn't that used, and maybe we'll have a slow cooker too.

4) Thetford is not enough capacity even for two I think. Two of us had a 70-80l black tank which was a struggle to empty in Europe sometimes. We will have a compsting one with a spare bucket and lid or two.

5) I'm looking at a portable A/C unit, vented into the cab probably when we're parked up. 12KBtus isn't that big, no plumbing issues, built to survive the odd bump hopefully, not megabucks.
 
#11
Thanks Grizzly.

I'm based in the UK.

I've just started doing a full build plan gathering weights and costs of various system and component options. I'd like to try to keep the total wet/stocked hab unit weight to 2,500kg for a 4.2m box. Don't know how feasible this is yet.

Where I come out overall will then allow me to start prioritising options based on available budget and cost effectiveness of weight saving.

This is probably going to be the biggest test for the Lithium battery. However I also thinking of using an induction hob and microwave and so the ability to have some bigger capacity might be helpful. I still need to run the numbers on power consumption to spec everything out.

On the underfloor I need to investigate this. I'm assuming I'll use a dual coil calorifier, first coil in the engine coolant/heater circuit heating the tank, second coil a flow managed underfloor heating loop that will be warmed by the hot water in the tank ie a dual stage heat exchanger.

I need to work out if the flow dynamics (volume of underfloor circuit coolant in the circuit vs in the calorifier coil) but I hope that essentially the heat cycle means that the coolant never gets anywhere near 80 degrees before you reach a pleasant ambient box temp as the whole system warms and then the underfloor circuit shuts down. Does that make sense?

I'm trying to avoid 3 fuel systems by not doing gas. I'd like to avoid the space, weight and systems complexity. This will depend on being able to get a reliable induction solution. I've used these in a domestic environment for probably 15 years now without issue so I hope there won't be reliability issues, the key question will be power consumption.

I'm now leaning towards chem toilet for early years when we are likely to be primarily Europe based. My limited experience suggests emptying chem is much easier than black in Europe. I will take into account a potential change to black/compost down the line when doing layout.

Interesting idea on portable. Worth thinking about.

Thanks again for all the encouragement and input.

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
 

Jostt

Adventurer
#13
Nice project base, I have very good experience whit Atk guys, I Hope we help whit Our Ideas and experiencies, in my case It was very important , if you need more details about something let me know
 
#14
That's very shiny :) Did you sample some of the cake shops in Bentham? There seem to be more than the size of town should be able to support! Pennine Outdoor on the High Street made us some nice spare tyre covers too.

Thetfords seem ok using clothes washing liquid with enzymes in, so "Bio" in the UK at least, then no nasty chemicals when disposing. All the public loos round here just have a septic tank then straight into the sea so anything nasty is bad news. They are usually much easier to empty than a black tank in Europe (unless you have a macerator and hose maybe)?, but you may struggle even with three cassettes sometimes unless you dig a big hole to bury it, and will that mean bagging loo roll separately just in case of that scenario? If our composting loo really will be three months between empties, and even if we have to carry that bucketfull around for another three months until it is safe to dispose of then that is such a leap above and beyond our black tank and cassette experience I really can't wait. Weird, I know.

We have a lovely induction hob at home as do our neighbours without any problems after a few years use and would probably choose the same again. But bouncing in a truck? And one pic possibly on this site was of one hit by something taking off from an overhead locker and smashing it. If you explore in winter or too far from the Equator for a big solar array and big expensive alternator to provide enough power for your cooking then you may decide to carry a genny? So is that bigger than two gas bottles? And petrol?! :)

You are also supposed to keep the engine coolant separate from the camper circuit, so a heat exchanger between the two and their own pumps. Otherwise I think the engine struggles to pressurise it's own bit as it should. But many don't seem to bother. What you suggest makes sense though. I have a mains powered coolant block heater that will pump out water that is too hot for that, but hope to run it as a separate circuit under the mattress and maybe behind the dinette cushions so not too close to you just to add a bit of extra heat or just to assist getting rid of moisture. Under our previous overcab mattress was a real pain. A dual coil calorifier was suggested to me but to run the feed from the heater through twice for faster warm up. You may have to have a cut off for the floor heat at the point it's too hot to stand on rather than the desired room temperature? And if that is in the 30's, and with a small floor area it might not do much? But if you had an underfloor void of maybe 75mm throughout with ducts up behind all cupboards then the bit you stand on might be far enough from a hot pipe to still be ok, and the bigger volume of air being warmed and circulated might help it actually being effective? No idea :) I know we had about a 75mm void under our kitchen area floor and where the heater pipe went to the calorifier it did very locally get too hot to stay standing on from a pipe too hot to touch with the heating on for a while. But if we got cold out during the day we kept the heating on until we sometimes had maybe 35degC inside :)

No intercooler? Claas? You know you really need a centrally mounted Rotzler obviously?!
 
#15
We had a 12k portable AC unit for our sailboat in Malaysia. Really did not work that well, after thinking about the design it is always venting air outside. Which means it has to pull in a like volume of outside air in. We had a 7k window unit in Guatemala and it worked well (it could recirculate interior air).