Part 30: The 1017A Experiment


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The Trip

We have spent more than a full year, in aggregate, in our Alaskan Camper over the last few years.  It is a superior solution for high mobility in a go-anywhere package.  The 1300 makes off road easy and is arguably the best platform for hard-core wheeling.  The problem is that we don't do that much hard core wheeling any more.  So, while the Alaskan is a great package, it is just too small for an extended road trip.  This current trip is at 5 months at the time of this writing, so we are in a pretty good position to assess the situation.

We located an alternate platform that would offer 85% or more of what the mog offers in off road capability and would have nearly double the living foot print.  The Mercedes 1017A is a world-class off road cargo hauler and is capable of hauling 10 metric tons.  The platform is in wide use in most of the world except the U.S.  When we discovered one for sale, we thought about it long and hard and finally decided that it would make a grand experiment.  The objective is to get a truck-cabin combination that allows us to go where we "normally" go and provides additional living amenities.

The photos below show the truck and the planned cabin.

The 1017A with the bed still attached.  This unit is shown with stock tires which are 10.00R22.5 street tires.  Note the duals in the rear.

Above is the battery box with the air system below.

On the left of the photo is the cab tilt hydraulic system.  On the right is the 4-way valve and feed lines.  At the top, the compressed air line comes through the frame from the engine-mounted air compressor.

Stock 30 gallon diesel tank.  The tank is in pretty good shape, but has lots of crud inside.

The cab seats 3 (with the center seat installed) and the seats are user adjustable.  The small lever is the parking brake, the long lever is the shifter.

Standard Mercedes truck dashboard.  Oddly, the mog's setup is exactly reversed with the gauges on the left and the speedo on the right.

Looking down from the shift lever.  On the left is the parking brake.  The large center knob is the headlight level adjustment -- the lights can be lowered if you have enough cargo in the bed and it causes the headlights to point at the moon.  The rear axle differential lock is the right knob.

Controls under the dash: ether injector, idle adjust and an anti-EMP cutoff switch.

The plan is to remove the stock bed to provide a lower mounting platform for the cabin.  Above, Rob backs the truck to where the fork lifts are located.  The bed has already been unbolted from the frame.

One fork lift on each side, removal was easy.

No problem.  Note the tool boxes still attached to the bed.

With the bed removed, the frame rails are clearly visible as are the rear springs with overload.

The mounting saddle for the bed was a massive chunk of cast iron.

Like most trucks, there is a lever arm that controls the brake boost when loads are heavy.

We did an articulation test by backing the truck over a loading ramp.  I doubt that this is the full limit of travel, but we used the full height of the wall.

The transfer case, unlike the Unimog, is separate from the transmission.  But, this guy is beefy.

I found a brand new 18' HiLo camper for sale and about 1/2 of the list price.  So, after some careful measurements, we decided that it would fit nicely on the 1017's frame.  In general, the plan is to cutoff the tongue, remove the wheels and axle, remove leveling jacks and then place the resulting cabin on a 3-point mounting frame on the 1017.  Along the way, we will likely remove the cargo compartments under the trailer and replace them with something bigger and more robust.  The propane will likely be mounted directly to the 1017's frame.

The inside of the cabin is roughly double the footprint of the Alaskan.  In the photo above, we are about 1/2 cleaned up from using the unit for sleeping the previous night.  Note the deep alcove next to the front window.

Unlike the Alaskan, this galley has a oven in addition to a cook top and sink.

The control panel is along side of the 3-way refrigerator.

3 way refrigerator.

This cabin has a/c which was a requirement for us.  In addition, the factory supplied an iPod-ready stereo.

The cabin has a normal RV toilet system.

The lavatory has a sink with a shower nozzle.  Somewhat minimalist, but will likely work fine.

I parked the mog next to the 1017A for size comparison.  The 1017 is a bit taller at the cab than the mog, but it will be at least 6" taller when the off-road tires are installed.

A parting shot of the trucks.  The frame heights of both rigs are about the same.

This will be a grand experiment.  I think that the chance of a successful conclusion is high.  In question is the overall robustness of the cabin, but there will be no way to tell until we take it out on the trail and beat it up awhile.  In the case that the cabin is not up to the task, we will purchase or design an alternative while retaining the basic platform.

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