Shachagra- Family of 5 traveles Europe and Turkey, International 7500

shachagra

Adventurer
Great threads here, great to see lots of projects. We just finished touring Europe and Turkey in our home built on a International 7500 chassis.
Large, 33K, 400 gallons water, 200 gal diesel, all diesel fired (stove, heating) with a 2K W solar array and 2100 AH of Lifeline batteries.
The trip was epic- and I don't use that word lightly.
Some photos




You can see some videos- search "shachagra" on youtube
 

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Ford Prefect

Expedition Leader
I would be very grateful for some interior photos of your vehicle. I was so impressed with the bedrooms you built in, and I would really like to learn a lot more about your set up. I have been thinking about ways to build a bedroom for my boys when/if I do get to build my own truck, but it never occurred to me that I might be able to build something they could stand in, without being so intrusive as to require the full height of the roof!

Thanks much!
 

shachagra

Adventurer
Individual staterooms

I'll try and post some pictures- interior shots are difficult without a wide-angle lens, which I don't have.
The staterooms worked out very well and I think the lack of them would have been a show stopper for children the ages of ours (13-18, mixed gender) It is hard to describe them- they are like the bathrooms on a bus, the ones you walk past as you climb into the bus. Add beds that lie under the floor and closet and sink and you have a room. I made a model, three of them actually, that better show the room layout. Did you see the youtube video where my daughter gives a tour - "American Grace"
I'll try and post some pictures.
 

shachagra

Adventurer
http://www.flickr.com/photos/67595391@N02/6288737986/
I'll see if this photo posts and then add more of the interior.
The build was pretty quick, it went from a pile of wood, two 55 gallon drums of epoxy and an International chassis to being our home on the road in 4 months. There was still lots to do but we did it on the road. The truck was specifically built for our trip, the trip was the priority, the "end" so we had to work pretty hard and got her across to Europe over a month later than we planned. We were prepared to just give up and grab our backpacks if it didn't work out.
I have built two boats, small ones, but the techniques are similar- building the RV was easier as there weren't nearly as many curved surfaces and with the big chassis I wasn't as worried about weight as I would be with a boat (I sail multi-hulls) Shachagra is a big box sitting on a truck chassis, but she is designed and built like a boat, with all of the materials and equipment purchased from a boat building distributer (Jamestown Distributers)
It was fun to go through and dig up the pictures. A forum like this is a good way to keep a record, I wish I had started at the beginning, but I wouldn't have had the courage to lay out what I was doing and expose myself to the barbs of the RV'ers who kept telling me I couldn't buy or have built the truck I envisioned. I tried for 6 months to find someone to build her for me but spent more time trying to convince them of what we could do if we tried. This forum has a distinctly different breed of traveler and I'm happy to share with them.
 

shachagra

Adventurer
Some Interior Shots

3070.jpg
Still figuring out the way photos work, but here are some. You can see the staterooms are below the floor, accessed through what looks like a galley cabinet. These photos were taken before the finish trim was installed and it looks much better now. Each child was able to decorated and paint thier own rooms- sometimes hard to take as "the builder" when the colors are pink, and the painting is a bit unprofessional- but they have such pride in their own rooms.
Note the maroon bed off to the left in the first picture, it runs under the main floor and is a very roomy twin bed. It runs across the RV while the beds in the front staterooms run fore and aft. You can see this in the Excel drawing I used until I built a few models. The models were all I used at the work site.
 

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shachagra

Adventurer
A few more photos

A few more shots. First looking aft from where the head (toilet) and the soaking tub and shower are.
A picture of two Turkish soldiers getting a tour. The first time we had men carrying automatic weapons knock on our door it really freaked us out, then it became routine, all very friendly. We would never open the door without opening the high window, and greeting the visitor from 9 feet up and behind a bolted door. But I digress.
 

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Entropy

Observer
Very nice! I'm in the research phase planning for a trip similar to yours, also with a family of five. If you don't mind, I've got a few question! :)

Do you have some stats on your vehicle, like dimensions and weight? I bet you're pretty heavy with all the plywood, batteries and large tanks, but you're on a very good chassis.

From the research I've done, pretty much everyone I've read says to go small in Europe because of the narrower roads, low bridges, tight town centers, etc. You're rig is a very efficient use of space, but not small - how did that impact your trip? What are your thoughts on the tradeoffs between size and mobility?

Does your engine require Ultra-low-sulfur diesel and if so, were there any problems finding it on your trip?

The staterooms are what really make your rig stand out in my opinion. Very unique and it's not something that's easy to design in an RV given the space constraints. As I'm researching options for our own trip to Europe the most I'm coming up with is bunkbeds with the wife and I in a cab-over. I've also been looking at the new US navy style berths (see here for an example). Your stateroom are a cut above that. The only problem I see with your design is that there doesn't appear to be an emergency egress besides the main entrance to each stateroom.

Also, your solar system is very impressive. Do you know about how much power you used daily? With no propane, I assume the fridge and reefer are electric?

Thanks!
 

shachagra

Adventurer
She weighed 31K with full water tanks and and fuel, which is less than I calculated by 2K but I went very conservative in those weight and balance calculations. I might have been able to get away with a single rear axle, but I am very glad we went double- we unloaded her two days ago after a year living full time and it took 8 hours! She must have been up around 35K. The chassis will handle 52K so she is still way under weight. Some numbers
8' 4" wide, 36' long, 12' 9" tall. 400 gallons water full (including the soaking tub and hot water heater) 270 gal diesel including a rear 70 gal tank for just the household services. Reefer and fridge are 12v. Reefer is a drop in 9 cubic foot which was really handy.
It was a large truck for Europe but I wouldn't go any smaller. Once you get bigger than a camper van and a standard parking spot it really didn't make a big difference. The roads are narrow in Western Europe, off the highways, but we had no problem even on single lane roads up in the Scottish Highlands, trucks go everywhere, and we can go wherever a truck can. You just can not trust the GPS and we never entered the cities without a specific route planned and checked on google earth. That was after we got stuck in Toulouse France and had to have the police back out traffic so we could back out! (they were super nice about it) The height limit for Europe is 4 meters and we are 3.9 so we fit on all ferries and under all bridges, there were some lower but they are well marked before the turn onto them and always an alternate route. Overall I think we were a good size- going tall vice long was good.
Europe has been on Ultra-Low sulfer fuel for years, you can't find anything else, even in the remote spots like Turkey, Albania and Bulgaria. We went with 200 gallons because I just wasn't sure, but we could have easily gone with 100 gal total.
I love those navy racks- having done 6 deployments on aircraft carriers I can attest to how tightly we pack people in. The emergency egress issue is actually easily solved- I was going to put an exit door from each room, they are near ground level but didn't due to security and time, we we on a tight build schedule and doors take time to make. My initial plan had access only from the outside because of initial interior access problems, but that would have been to hard, leave the RV to go to bed. We had extinguishers in every room, actually in every bed, and we had 6 fire alarms. Every compartment had one.
We used about 300AH a day and the panels will easily produce that much on all but the worst days. I think we could have had less battery capacity, but it was nice when we needed it and lower discharge cycles will keep the batteries heathly exponentially longer. Once the batteries are full the Outback system will divert the extra to high loads such as the electrical element of the hot water heater.
Don't hesitate to ask any more questions, its nice to find someone not bored by my Shachagra talk (I hope)
 
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Riptide

Explorer
I would say this is easily one of the most innovative camper designs I've seen in a long, long time. I did a stint on submarines, so I can vouch for compact sleeping arrangements. The convenience of not having to set up and tear down sleeping quarters cannot be underestimated. You managed to accomplish that and still leave the day spaces basically untouched. Remarkable!!

I don't think you'll find any of us here getting bored with "shachagra talk".

More, please!!
 

shachagra

Adventurer
I warned you........Thanks- I had planned to have 3 slide outs and it really bothered me, the complication, difficulty to build and potential for problems. On a long flight I was doodling, trying to figure a way to use all the space below the floor without accessing it through the outside or through the floor. We had under floor storage when we lived in Japan and it was so hard to get at stuff. I lamented that I couldn't just stick the beds under the floor with the batteries and water tanks and then it hit me. It would never be a commercial success because you have to climb a ladder to get into the rooms, great for children, not so good for Grandma.
The lack of slide-outs was great- pull into a truck stop or the side of the road outside an attraction, pull the shades and off to bed, ready to tour the next day.
The name is not a Zen meditation technique or anything so deep, it the first 3 of each child's name Shannon, Charles and Grace.

Here's an article that does a better job than I do at a concise summary. Note the picture of us parked in town North Shields England, couldn't do that with a slide out.
http://www.cnic.navy.mil/navycni/groups/public/documents/document/cnicp_a192573.pdf
 

Entropy

Observer
I would say this is easily one of the most innovative camper designs I've seen in a long, long time. I did a stint on submarines, so I can vouch for compact sleeping arrangements. The convenience of not having to set up and tear down sleeping quarters cannot be underestimated. You managed to accomplish that and still leave the day spaces basically untouched. Remarkable!!

I don't think you'll find any of us here getting bored with "shachagra talk".

More, please!!
X2! Would be interested in hearing more!

Thanks also for the information. We've tried to figure out how to stay short (less than 26 feet) with five and I just can't make it work for us. Not that it can't be done, of course!

Now that you've lived in it for more than a year, is there anything you wish you'd done differently on the build?
 
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