Unimog U1550 Expedition Truck — Shelter Rework

Core Removal

Driving to the truck scale Driving to the truck scale
Driving to the truck scale

First I thought I can do some slight modifications to make the truck suitable as expedition truck. But this was far from reality. The interior was build completely useless. You can see that it was built in 2014 from someone doing campers and not expedition trucks. The interior was nice but also way too heavy. That’s why I made the decision to completely remove the interior and build the truck up from scratch…

In August 2018 I went to a scale to see where I am. The result was discouraging. With almost empty water and gas tanks I already had 3.6t on the front axle and 3t at the rear axle. This means there is a lot to do!

Small Bathroom Small Bathroom
Small Bathroom
Seating Area and Bed Seating Area and Bed
Seating Area and Bed
Small Pantry Small Pantry
Small Pantry

First a brief demonstration of where we are: The bathroom is so small that it is almost impossable to move in there. Then everything is built so tight that it is not possible to completely open the bathroom door! The seating area is nice and comfy. But if you plan to live for 2 years in your Unimog you don’t want to remove your bed every day completely. Also the pantry looks nice. But the sink is so small you are not able to do dishes reasonably.

Technical Area Technical Area
Technical Area
Broken Lock Broken Lock
Broken Lock
Storage without Door Storage without Door
Storage without Door

The technical area looks nice. But there is no air flow to cool the electronics when the lower door is closed. This definitely leads to overheating of all power electronics in there. Also the first lock is already broken, because of a wrong screw length. Finally there is an open storage area, which is not suitable for expedition trucks. Everything will fall out when going offroad. When examining why this has been done like that you will encounter that they forgot about the roof window space!

Core Removal Front Core Removal Front
Core Removal Front
Old Cabling Old Cabling
Old Cabling
Unsealed Old Cabling Unsealed Old Cabling
Unsealed Old Cabling
Old Cabling Old Cabling
Old Cabling
Core Removal Front Core Removal Front
Core Removal Front

Now it’s time to start with my core removal. First the child beds will be removed at the entry area. Then I remove the whole floor. Now only the fresh water tank is left. While removing the parts I see some old cabling which run into the shelter but have not been removed! Some of them are not even sealed, so that water can penetrate into the shelter itself! Despite that these are thermal bridges to the outside, waisting valuable heating energy.

Fresh Water Tank Removed Fresh Water Tank Removed
Fresh Water Tank Removed
Bathroom Removed Bathroom Removed
Bathroom Removed

After I had built up my alternate water supply in my garage I was able to remove the fresh water tank from my Unimog. Then I removed everything from the bathroom. This was the point where I start to love my universal tool with scraper. Without this tool it would have been impossible to remove the glued ledges and old glue from the interior of my shelter without damaging the internal cover.

Partial Removal of Electric Partial Removal of Electric
Partial Removal of Electric
Partial Removal of Electric Partial Removal of Electric
Partial Removal of Electric
Pantry Removed Pantry Removed
Pantry Removed

Next I will disconnect all the elctrical lines going to the old bathroom and kid sleeping area. I also remove the connection to my solar modules. To be able to remove my old kitchen I also have to disconnect the power lines and especially mains wiring to this area. But I will leave the rest of the shelter as much powered as possible. I am still sleeping in there.

Xmas Tree 2018 Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018 Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018 Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018 Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018 Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018 Xmas Tree 2018
Xmas Tree 2018

2018 slowly comes to an end now. Currently I am spending most of my time in my garage. Therefore I will have a Christmas Tree in my garage this year. Merry Christmas 2018 to everyone!

Construction Foam under Cover Construction Foam under Cover
Construction Foam under Cover

Even at Christmas I am working. After removal of the covers I encounter a huge area filled up with construction foam and glue on top. This is not the work of a professional! Therefore I have removed everything.

Closet Removed Closet Removed
Closet Removed

The next task is to remove the closet beside the entrance door. I already have removed the mains wiring before. Now it is safe to remove this closet. I only leave one aluminum ledge, because a new one would be at the same spot. The old one is thicker than the one I would use but the amount of weight which I will save is not worth the effort. The rest of the aluminum and wooden ledges are quickly removed with my universal tool.

Top Closet Removed Top Closet Removed
Top Closet Removed

After I have removed this closet I start to work on the first top closet. They were screwed and glued on more difficult, but eventually the first closet gave in. Now I see why it was so hard to remove it: The closet next to it was screwed on the ledge with screws too long! That’s why the first closet was also screwed on at the second one!

Wall Removed Wall Removed
Wall Removed

I also to plan to make my bathroom slightly bigger. There is the chance to have 2 inches more before I hit the skylight. That’s why I have to remove the old separation wall, which is also way too heavy! It weighs 22lbs! Even with a warm water heater I am sure to get the weight lower!

Removing Ceiling Removing Ceiling
Removing Ceiling
Removing Ceiling Removing Ceiling
Removing Ceiling

Next is to remove the cover of my ceiling. This is a real ugly job, because it is glued all over with Sikaflex. The only chance is to work in with my universal tool inch by inch and then carefully brake out little pieces from the wood with a chisel. You work all the times with your arms up which definitely safes you from going to the fitness studio.

Bad Skylight Mounting Bad Skylight Mounting
Bad Skylight Mounting

Slowly I am approaching both skylights. That’s why I have to remove the inner frame to be able to remove the ceiling cover there. But I am shocked again when seeing the clamps holding my skylights. Nothing is done right at this truck! The clamps are almost loose and everything has been glued with Sikaflex on the back — the white stuff next to the clamps is very thick Sikaflex glue! Sure this will not hold onto the isolation material. All clamps have now a gap to the bare isolation which gives humidity a perfect chance to penetrate the isolation material! Lucky me this truck seems to have never been used during winter time. Otherwise the condensing water would have rotted all the isolation away!

More Ceiling Removed More Ceiling Removed
More Ceiling Removed
More Ceiling Removed More Ceiling Removed
More Ceiling Removed
Wall Cover and Front Part of Ceiling Removed Wall Cover and Front Part of Ceiling Removed
Wall Cover and Front Part of Ceiling Removed

After I have finished removing all ceiling cover in the front I start to work on the last remnants of my former bathroom. There is just one wooden ledge and a wall cover left. It’s great to finally not to have to work above my head! But I am sure, I will have a bad muscle ache tomorrow! At least I have made it to empty out the first half of my shelter completely! Welcome 2019, this was the last job for 2018!

Battery and Electrical Removal Battery and Electrical Removal
Battery and Electrical Removal
Storage Compartments Removal Storage Compartments Removal
Storage Compartments Removal

Due to the start of my own business I have to delay my Unimog work. It takes me until February to remove my Christmas Tree! Now I have enough room to build up my sleeping quarter here to eventually start the removal of all the parts in the back of my Unimog shelter. First I start to remove the lower storage compartments. Then I disconnect the batteries and start the removal of all electrical parts. But here I encounter the next sloppiness: The screws at the distribution lines have no locking washers. Therefore the solar charging unit connection was completely loose! It’s good that I decided to redo everything…

Then I remove the big 165Ah batteries. This is a real challenge because one of them weighs around 110lbs! The next challenge is to lift them out of the Unimog. But I make it without any accidents. Then I remove the left upper storage compartments. These are quiet easily to remove and I get the whole compartment in one piece. It’s getting more and more empty…

Top Storage Compartments Removal Top Storage Compartments Removal
Top Storage Compartments Removal
Bent screw! Bent screw!
Bent screw!
Top Storage Compartments Removal Top Storage Compartments Removal
Top Storage Compartments Removal
Lower Storage Compartments Removal Lower Storage Compartments Removal
Lower Storage Compartments Removal

Now it’s time to remove the middle and right top storage compartment. While unscrewing everything I am wondering why one of the screws is so hard to remove. When I see the bent screw I know why — and this has been a professional company doing the interior! But the lower storage compartment has no further surprises.

Lower Cupboard Removal Lower Cupboard Removal
Lower Cupboard Removal
Top Cupboard Removal Top Cupboard Removal
Top Cupboard Removal

Time for the final removals. The last cupboard has to be removed. I start with the top part and then the lower part with the rest of the electrical installation. Now it’s getting really empty. Only all these unconnected wires are worrying me. I am not sure if there is really no power on these lines…

…to be continued…

Buildup

First Aluminum Frame Draft First Aluminum Frame Draft
First Aluminum Frame Draft

First I was thinking a lot on how to build up a low weight kitchen countertop. I have built a bunch of aluminum frames to see and check what is possible. I planned to put thin aluminum plates on top and bottom and fill up the interior with polyurethane foam. But it is difficult to achieve this without any hollow space. Finally I discarded this approach after many days of work and thinking.

Cottonwood Plywood Core Cottonwood Plywood Core
Cottonwood Plywood Core
Aluminum Protection Top Side Aluminum Protection Top Side
Aluminum Protection Top Side
Aluminum Frame Bottom Side Aluminum Frame Bottom Side
Aluminum Frame Bottom Side
Aluminum Frame Top Side Aluminum Frame Top Side
Aluminum Frame Top Side
Rounded Frame Edges Rounded Frame Edges
Rounded Frame Edges

My next approach was to use cottonwood plywood as core and build an aluminum frame around it. I sealed the plywood to get it humidity safe. I left the bottom side open to give the wood a chance to breathe. I don’t expect any force or direct water from the bottom side. To safe my hips from pain I rounded all frame edges. The total weight is now 7.5lbs, which is not too bad for a kitchen countertop!

Compound Saw Compound Saw
Compound Saw
Building Carrier Building Carrier
Building Carrier
Building Carrier Building Carrier
Building Carrier

Next is to build a carrier for my countertop. First I started with a jig saw. But after a while I made the decision to buy a compund saw. This was one of my best investment I ever did! Now the build up went way faster and after two days of work I had my countertop with carrier finished. I used Sika 260N glue to connect the aluminum ledges. This glue is extremely strong after a while and a good preparation. Glueing has also the advantage to keep the material strong and does not weak it with holes for screws or rivets.

Kitchen Sink Fits! Kitchen Sink Fits!
Kitchen Sink Fits!
Side Walls Side Walls
Side Walls
Rear Stabilization Rear Stabilization
Rear Stabilization

Now came the thrilling moment of putting in the sink — and it fits! Then I put on the side walls of thin aluminum. I also glue them to the frame and this makes it extremely strong. To stabilize things further I glue in an additional carrier at the rear. Things are slowly getting final!

Kitchen Countertop Foiled Kitchen Countertop Foiled
Kitchen Countertop Foiled
Kitchen Countertop Foiled With Sink Kitchen Countertop Foiled With Sink
Kitchen Countertop Foiled With Sink
Kitchen Sink Test Run Kitchen Sink Test Run
Kitchen Sink Test Run
Kitchen Sink Side Wall Foiled Kitchen Sink Side Wall Foiled
Kitchen Sink Side Wall Foiled

Next step is to start putting foils on for a nicer look. If you take a deeper look you will see that I need a lot more training. But it’s not too bad for a first try. And I really like the stony look! Also the sink looks good in my countertop. Time for a test run! I connect my cheap China pressure pump and connect my water can. Unfortunately it is not possible to get the connections at the pump completely sealed — China stuff. But it was worth the try. At least the rest works fine. Also my electrical heated faucet, whereas the temperature is controlled by the amount of water flowing through. The faucet always heats with the full power of 3kW. But at least I know the heating power is sufficient for a sink. Finally I put some wood foil on the side wall. The result is not the best because I got a slight angle which led to a wrinkle. Once there you have no chance to fix it. But it is still a test, so I left it as it is. Now it’s just time to learn for the final build which goes into my Unimog.

Test Run New Pantry Test Run New Pantry
Test Run New Pantry

Finally I bought some cans to remove the fresh water in my Unimog from the tank. To have things more stable I built a wooden shelf for water cans, pump, and grey water bucket for my long time test run. It was also time to get a refrigerator and test it. This one would also go in my Unimog once I start to build up things in there.

…to be continued…

Unimog Truck Rework