Purchased an Expedition G Wagen

#1
Greetings. I have been reading this forum for several months now and it has helped me tremendously in the process of learning about my recently purchased G Wagen Expedition vehicle (and expedition vehicles in general). Thank you all for that. It is a pretty cool and well executed build. I've taken it out a couple of times now and have explored about 2000 miles of New Mexico back roads. About half of the miles being on the dirt in very remote parts of the state. She runs like a champ. I started with a big list of things I want to do to it and an equally sized list of places I'd like to explore. I've already covered at least a dozen roads/places that have been on the list for years and have been steadily modifying and outfitting so as to be well prepared. Attached are a few pics.
 

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#2
Yesterday I started building a rub rail to go along the upper edge of the vehicle. I also added a rear corner panel "bumper" of sorts that will contact an object before the camper body does. I designed the mounting brackets to have a "weak link" so that it will bend before the frame of camper does. That being said, the brackets are pretty stout. They stand at a 45 degree angle off the corner of the vehicle and stand off about 1 1/4". I am hopeful that they will protect from bumps and abrasion, protect lights and will provide a tethering point for awnings and such.

I need to figure out an elegant, practical and lightweight means of terminating the ends of the pipe. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have attached a few pics so you can see what I mean.
 

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#3
Among the cool things the builders did was add a front receiver hitch and winch wiring harness to the front of the vehicle. It is concealed behind the front flip up G Wagen plate. The winch is a receiver mount Warn 9000. Here is a pic.
 

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#5
Here are a few details on how the vehicle is set up for those who are curious.


- Frame, suspension and differentials are from a 1981 460; front, center and rear locking differentials. Front and rear are hydraulic actuated.
- Engine, tranny, electronics and dash are 461.
- Engine is a 290 GDT with an intercooler and has been chipped for added power. The chip controls the fuel pump voltage. It can be turned off and on via a switch on the dash. With it on this thing screams around like a beast; I keep it off other than on hills when I am on the highway and vehicles are behind me. I get better mpg with it off. I use Stanadyne fuel treatment for antigeling, performance, lubricity and to mitigate any potential water issues. I've just ordered an auxiliary fuel filter/water trap designed for this engine and used on the Marine IFAV as I understand water is the biggest enemy of the Bosch rotary injection pump.
- Transmission is a 4 speed automatic.
- Has a transmission cooler
- Front cab is a 463 as I understand it.
- ORC springs and Bilstein shocks. She handles beautifully and the suspension feels nicely tuned. No sense of being top heavy due to a heavy duty rear sway bar setup. Super smooth on dirt roads and big hits don't seem bad at all (I avoid them but they sneak up on you sometimes).
- Dual fuel tanks, main is a bit over 25 gallons, is plastic with a protective plate and the 10+ gallon auxiliary is stainless steel. There is a transfer pump between the two controlled by a dash switch. Part of me would like more fuel but I haven't even come close to needing it so who knows.
- Economy is 12+ mpg when driving hard, 14+ mpg when cruising in the woods. Range is 425 miles when driving hard, 500 when taking it easy.
- Top speed is 60mph. It is very low geared but is quick with tons of torque all the way to 60mph. I believed it is governed; shuts down at @4200 rpm even though it is pulling hard to that point. Shifting is very smooth. I just stay off the interstate. Interestingly, the speed limitation has made me choose 2 lane highways and dirt road options which has turned out to be really nice due the areas it has taken me. I could change the gearing and go faster but I won't. I understand that the builders changed the gearing numerous times to get it like it is and I really like it. It doesn't feel like a 6500 lb vehicle (I'm more like 6800lbs full loaded).
- I got it with 13,000 miles on it. It has 16,000 miles now. Engine seems to be getting smoother and stronger. Burns no fluids to date.
- Headlights are Hella H4. Front Rallye lights are Hella 2000. Night runs are awesome. Rear lights are PIAA.
- Has air conditioner
- Dual Battery setup
- Has a sink with a 5 gallon tank and electric pump
- Engel fridge
- Propane 2 burner stove
- Lots of storage. I can stow all my gear and nothing is out.
- 6000 BTU Olympian safety heater - propane
- 9' long bench seat that slides out to a bed - I sleep better on it than I do at home!
- Recaro seats
- onboard air; Viaire 450H - I installed it after reading about airing up and down on this forum - makes a huge difference. Thanks
- all the usual gear like ARB tire kit, snatch and tree straps, shackles and pulley, hi-lift with accessories, tools
- tires are BFG Mud Terrain KM2, 32x11.5x15. It has two spares. Rims are AMG alloy; surprisingly light for their size.
- interior floors are rubber, walls are Formica on thin marine grade plywood.
- camper frame is steel, skin is aluminum, has insulation.
- 4 12v interior dual bulb light fixtures. Battery powered LEDs are also mounted for when I need to conserve power.
- I've assembled a comprehensive spare bulb, fuse and relay kit.
- it has a cargo net on the interior of the roof. It is very handy for light items like chips, towels, paper plates etc.

I am fortunate that the mechanic in charge of the build still has a shop in town and has taken care of the few issues I have had. He knows this vehicle (Mercedes in general) like the back of his hand. He is an automotive engineer and is Mercedes trained. He is a G Wagen master and is impeccable in his workmanship. I'm surprised at the price of most Mercedes parts. Not any more expensive than my other domestic vehicles. Maintenance items could be considered to be cheap.

I'll post some interior pics when I get a chance as well as my modifications as they progress.

Again, thanks to you all for this forum. It has been super beneficial. Who knew there was an a sub-culture called "overlanders"? I wish I would have found it years ago.
 
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Capo

Happy Camper
#9
Congratulations, what a nice overlander!

On your request for ideas on the tube rail, why not extend the tube to interconnect with both sides? That way you also get more protection for the lights. A straight tube or perhaps a contour shaped tube that arches on top of the lights? A straight tube might be the best option in case you decide to change to lights of other shapes, like LED.

You may also want to extend the tubes at the rear to give better protection for the back lights. Those are quite exposed and typical to get damaged.
 

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#10
That, is a very nice piece of kit. If I can lever anything wrong with it, is those spares might be a bit of a hassel. Not getting them off the roof but getting them up there. You did say the rims were quite light which is a good thing.
 

Capo

Happy Camper
#11
That, is a very nice piece of kit. If I can lever anything wrong with it, is those spares might be a bit of a hassel. Not getting them off the roof but getting them up there. You did say the rims were quite light which is a good thing.
I agree on the spares. I would sacrifice some rear view and install them on the rear where they are handily manoeuvred. Top heaviness is also a matter.

I'm glad to hear you have a good suspension setup. It's a great feeling with a nicely tuned suspension. I used to have that but it didn't last long due to bad material and mechanics not knowing where to find the right stuff. Hopefully now that I've found a G guru who knows what material is available for the G, a correct setup will be achieved again.
 
#12
Very nice. It sure looks well balanced as far as size, not overly heavy like a lot of rigs end up.
I'd second the idea of moving the spares to the rear unless they are up front to keep the front - rear weights at a certain point.
I look forward to your updates.
 
#13
Greetings McBride,

Its great to see this truck back on the road being used as intended, I remember watching this project slowly take form, It must have taken over 7 years. Do you know if Dave H. ever got to take this thing on any real journeys before he sold it? He was hoping to drive it to Russia and Argentina, but being bought out by MBZ may have changed his course a bit.

How fortunate for you to know Eric, he will prove to be invaluable to you, I hope his moto shop is doing well.
Exploring NM backroads in a G is how I grew up (born and raised in Cerrillos/Galisteo, Dad was first G tech @ Europa).

Im hoping to drive my G500 back home to NM this spring and explore some of my favorite ghost towns and mining roads, Ive always wanted to throw together a little G adventure and share the many treasures the area has to offer. PM me if this is of interest to you.


Saludos,
Christopher.
 
#14
Interior Pics

Greetings,

Here are some interior pics. Sorry, I'm not the best photographer. I forgot to rotate a couple.

You'll see that I installed some USB and new 12v outlets.

Underneath the bench seat is a lazarette for storage, battery #2, compressor etc. The bench seat slides out and the back folds down creating the platform for the bed. Takes about 15 seconds to convert between bench and bed.

I put the heater on the counter where I have ended up using it. It travels on the floor.
 

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