Overland Exposition in Amado, AZ

Trip Report 20110401-05

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The Experience

I became aware of the Overland Exposition some years ago.  It looked interesting, but was always held many miles from our home, so the effort required to attend was large.  Recently, they moved the venue to close to Tucson, AZ and therefore close to friends and family and we decided to attend.  We brought our 1300L Unimog in addition to our 1017A in hopes of locating a new owner for the Unimog.

The photos below are what we saw.

In preparation for the trip, there were some mechanical maintenance items that needed to be performed on the 1017.  One in particular, the belts, was crucial.  The belts were 20 year old original equipment and needed to be changed "just because".  To service the belts, tilting the cab is required.  This action is easy since the cab is meant to be tilted during service and the hydraulic lift mechanism is part of the truck.  To tilt the cab, the truck should be positioned on level ground and then the cab retention pins are unlocked.  The pump is hand actuated until the full lift is attained.  Above, the cab is fully tilted, showing the angle of the cab relative to the bumper.

On the front bumper are rubber snubbers to prevent the cab from damaging the bumper and vice versa.  The photo above shows that my hopes of putting a large winch in a "conventional mount" on the front are going to have to be re-thought.  Also note the brush scratches from our recent Baja trip.  The large canister at the lower left of the photo is the air filter.

The photo above shows the right side of the motor when the cab is tilted.  Top center is the fuel filter, which is a single filter (the Unimog is a double filter assembly).  The large tube is some kind of muffler on the air intake to reduce cab noise.  Also visible is the front shock absorber tower (left lower) and the power steering pump (upper right).  The bar that is at the top of the photo is an extension mechanism for the shift lever that allows the cab to be tilted.

The left side photo clearly shows the shifter extension.  Also visible are the cab mount shock absorbers, shock tower, turbocharger and the cab lift hydraulic piston (lower left).

We drove the 450 miles from our place in San Diego to Amado, AZ (south of Tucson) to the Overland Expo.  We arrived after dark and found that the camping area was quite full.  Not needing any external services to camp, we just picked a spot and set up.  Most of the camp area was just a big dirt lot, so the dust was incredible.

This was an interesting vehicle parked next to us.  This rig had many high-dollar add-ons, but lacked several items that would give it credibility: brush scratches and mud.  Plus, the snorkel was hooked to nothing; just a pipe hanging in air.  Later in the day I would determine that the roof lights were about $500 EACH, so this fellow has plenty of money tied up in his vehicle.

We saw several Fuso rigs at the show.  They are popular because they are quite functional and reasonably priced (the truck at least).  But, they are pretty hard to find.  The one above is a custom built camper.  Note the cage on the air conditioner.  This fellow knows what happens when you go through low-hanging brush.

A Sportsmobile van conversion camper with a pop-up roof.  I had heard that these are pretty pricey in the range of $100K.

The Overland Expo target audience is cross-country bikers.  There were plenty of them at the show.  This is their parking area.

The camping area hosted all manner of innovative, pop-up tent devices.  Some of the devices were roof mounted.

The tools on the rear bumper suggest that this fellow may know his stuff.  The lack of brush scratches would argue that the thesis has yet to be proven.

If you paid for the full "experience" you had the ability to drive your vehicle on the test track.  And, there were loaner Land Rovers being offered for those that did not have their own vehicle.

Nary a brush scratch to be seen on this virgin H1.  But, he has trick racks and big dollar lights so maybe that makes up for it.

There were quite a few folks from Mexico at the show.  And, many from Europe, Oz, NZ and Canada.  This fellow had nice trick graphics on his truck.  Still no scratches.

The two ends of the camping spectrum.  The large, deluxe motor coach is of course restricted to flat ground.  In the background is an M35 ex-army duce-and-a-half 6x6.  We spoke with the couple who owned those 6x6 trucks and they drove from the Joshua Tree area to Amado via "maximum  dirt roads".  This means that they only drove on the highway when there was no other way.  Interesting.  And, in those trucks, quite uncomfortable as well.

A shudder to think about having to get up in the middle of the night, drunk, and then needing to deal with that ladder.

A number of interesting rigs parked close to us.

A custom tent trailer that had a built-in galley.

The tow vehicle for the BMW motorcycle demo trailer.  Some kind of 4-door GMC truck.

Dirk and Kristie drove all the way from the Houston area in their 416 camper.

There were plenty of vendors in both the motorcycle and four wheel vehicle area.

I was amazed at the number of camp trailers that were available at the show.  While not applicable for us, these did show a high level of careful thought put into their design.  The one above has the galley built into the side of the trailer.

A very nice camper built on a Ford platform.

A pop-up built on top of an older Land Rover.

The sleeping area is up top in this configuration.

An older, cab-forward Land Rover.  The area at the right of the photo above is one of the conference areas.

A nice 1300 camper that was asked to display their rig.

Yet another roof mounted tent system.

Global Expedition Vehicles had several rigs at the show.

Everything you want, nothing you need.  This would be fun, but not that useful.

For those awash in spare cash, Unicat has this rig available for you.

This rig was much more modest.  Frankly, a soft-sided camper would be problematical in high winds.  The sides will flap and make noise.  And, they are not well insulated, so cold weather would be an issue as well.

Another one of many camp trailers that were on display.  This one has the galley on the rear and in accessed via the lifting rear hatch.

A front view of the 1300 camper.  Note the URL on the windshield.

I was provided some photos from a fellow mogger in Dallas with a U500 that camped next to us.  These smaller format photos were taken by him.  The photo above shows a Fuso-based, fiberglass camper called an EarthCruiser.  The price for the camper, less truck was $80K.  I did look inside and it was nice.

The entrance portal to the 'Cruiser was low, so mind thy head.

Another view of Dirk's 416.

Dirk's 416 camper.

Lehel and Laura's Fuso camper.

Lehel and Laura use to have a 404 Unimog camper called a MogHaus.  The Fuso camper is the 404 replacement.  He mounted the racks for the bikes and kayaks since the last time I saw his rig.

On Saturday, we were joined by Mark from Tucson in his 1300 DOKA firetruck (red).  Not paying close attention, I did not get a photo of his rig, but Vince did catch part of it.  Mark's rig has a custom, extended DOKA cab and an auto-spooling Werner winch visible on front.

A parting shot of the 1017, 1300 and U500 rigs.

From Amado, we headed north to Tucson to visit my family.  Then, we headed back to San Diego.  On Tuesday, we returned to San Diego along I-8.  East of Gila Bend, we encountered this downed aircraft next to the highway.  I shot the photo above as we were driving by, but did not stop.  That section of I-8 is lightly traveled and quite remote.  I am wondering if it was a drug runner plane making a nighttime landing and missed the road.  The landing gear are up (or ripped off).  The cops were there en mass.

The balance of the trip to Yuma was uneventful, even boring.  At our fuel stop in Yuma, we were surrounded by emergency vehicles.  There is a man down on the other side of the white ambulance.  I did not take his photo for privacy reasons, but I did walk over to assess the situation.  My assessment was that the victim was a drunk transient that fell at the entrance to the Circle K store.  This store has the dubious distinction of being triple blessed: close to the freeway, close to the railroad tracks and close to the hobo jungle.  A small bit of excitement for an otherwise boring drive home.

The Overland Exposition was interesting.  We did see some interesting products being sold by the vendors and many of the exhibitor's vehicles were interesting as well.  But, our mission in attending was to get leads for selling our Unimog, so neither Kathleen nor I attended any of the presentations.  If we attend again, we will do that.  The only down side was the dust in the camping area was extreme.  It was warm, but not hot.

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 Copyright Bill Caid, 2011