Eco-Roamer - F650 based Expedition Vehicle

jayshapiro

Adventurer
Eco-Roamer Update

Hi Guys,

OK, here is the long overdue update on the Eco-Roamer project. It's been a packed month...

The truck has spent the past few weeks in Tulsa, Oklahoma with Ron Turner and his guys at Tulsa Truck Manufacturing. They have been working on the 4x4 conversion and stretching out the frame. I can't recommend them enough, as they have been amazingly helpful and Ron has 30yrs of experience which he's been happy to share in advice with me.

I was in the states last week on a business trip, and stopped by Tulsa for a day to see my baby... Here are some latest pics:


4x4 CONVERSION:
We swapped out the Ford front axle for a Meritor 14,000lb drive axle, it's HUUUGE:


The differential is offset to the right hand side.

The truck cab had to be raised substantially to clear the new axle and all the drive parts. (The old axle was U shaped to bend under the cab/transmission.

(Sorry about the dust in the photo - just to give it some scale, those are 43" tires!)

Here's the Meritor transfer case, the whole thing is activated with air solenoids run off the existing compressor for the air-bags and brakes:


Here's the controls they mounted on the dash in the cab. Very clean I think. One activates the 4x4, the other switches between high and low gears:



FRAME EXTENSION:
While the truck is in Tulsa, they also stretched out the frame to make room for the camper box. I really would have preferred to buy a truck from Ford with a solid single frame that was long enough (to save strength) but since we wanted the slightly used 2007 truck (to avoid the emissions changes) we had to take what we could find.

Here's how they did it:

STEP ONE: "The first cut is the deepest"
Slice the existing frame rails, and add length with an angle weld joint. Talk about your scary cuts. Make sure you get the right spot!




STEP TWO: "Make a Sandwich"
Sandwich the joint with another 18" piece of steel to reinforce that section.





STEP THREE: "The L word"
Add 2 pieces of BIG L-Channels running the entire length of the frame (up to just under the cab) to strengthen the entire truck and reduce any frame flex.



STEP FOUR: "Test, Test & Test some more"
They then re-mounted the rear axle in its new position further back, swapped in new gears for the differential and had a new drive shaft custom made to the right length.



Finally, I took a lesson from Joaquim Suave (Thanks!) and decided to do a simple test on the chassis flex. We attached the very rear corner of just one of the frame rails to a chain-block lift in the shop and picked up the rear end by about 3ft.

The deflection between the two frame rails at the rear end was just 1.5 inches, and at the front end (just behind the cab wall) it was only 3/4 inch. I'm really impressed with how much that has stiffened up, and I think that all of our concerns about the dynamic sub-frame mount may not come in to play.

Thank you to everyone who made great suggestions, but given the lack of flex I think we may be ok with some substantial rubber bushings...
 

jayshapiro

Adventurer
Eco-Roamer Update - Part 2

Continued...

Wheels and Tires:

The other news this week is that I finally got the chance to see my new wheels and tires.

Some of you may recall, that I had posted a thread several months back "Looking for Michelin XZL's or alternate 20" tires" In the end we decided on the 14.5R20 Continental MPT81's which I ordered from Expedition Imports. The guys there were very nice. They made a shipping mistake (forgot to send me the tubes I ordered) but were very fast to correct it.

I haven't had a chance to drive on the tires yet, but they look great and I can't wait to try them.

UNFORTUNATELY, the tires came mounted on the set of 20" split rim wheels that I ordered from USA6x6, which were scheduled to arrive 2 months ago...

Well, they finally showed up and they're pieces of junk at the moment. Four out of the five wheels have leaking welds that won't hold air (didn't they test them!?), they also forgot to put in the O-rings, and the stud holes are the wrong size. AAARRRGGHH! I've sent them back now and hope that they don't take another 2 months to come back. If I hadn't paid for them already I would just cancel the whole order, I'm so frustrated.

Hopefully they will get all fixed and be ok in the end. Here's what they look like though:



Next Steps:

The truck is going to go over to Car Toys, to have a new anti-hijack immobilizer and stereo put in. More on that in a future post.

Then it is headed up to Alton in Michigan who are going to work on the cab.

In the mean time, planning on the camper box is progressing very well. Construction hasn't actually started yet, but I think we have (almost) all the components sorted out now, and the CAD drawings are almost done.

Stay tuned....

Jay.
 

Bayou Boy

Adventurer
I have to ask.

Most of the time you size a winch for double your vehicle's weight or 1.5 times the GVWR. Why did you go with the "small" 16500lb Warn on a 30000 pound truck? Couldn't you have used some kind of PTO or hydraulic winch that would actually be useful in a self recovery. I can't help but think that that Warn would only be useful in the recovery of another much smaller vehicle.

On another note, this truck is going to be a pretty awesome travel vehicle.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Jay, the truck looks great. Sorry to hear about the USA6x6 experience. From what I've read lately, you're not alone. Good luck on the final CAD mockup, can't wait to see the pass thru after the big chop.
 

jayshapiro

Adventurer
Winching out

Bayou Boy said:
Most of the time you size a winch for double your vehicle's weight or 1.5 times the GVWR. Why did you go with the "small" 16500lb Warn on a 30000 pound truck? Couldn't you have used some kind of PTO or hydraulic winch that would actually be useful in a self recovery. I can't help but think that that Warn would only be useful in the recovery of another much smaller vehicle.
Bayou,

You raise a very good point that we thought quite a bit about. My original plans was for a hydraulic or PTO winch. We decided to go this route because:

HYDRAULIC - Would have been a pain because the truck has no existing hydraulics (air brakes, air suspension, no hydraulic pump) so the weight & complexity of adding it would have out-weighed (har har!) the benefits.

PTO - The used, non-emission trucks we found didn't have a PTO on them. I understand from CAT that this can be added after-market, by changing the crankcase I think. However, the people I've spoken to suggested that PTO is not a great option for winching because you are solely reliant on the winch and cannot engage the drive to help wheel out of a sticky situation. (The way you would with an electric or hydraulic winch)

WARN - We're thinking that the truck is going to come in around 22,000lbs. If we ALWAYS double back the winch wire with a pulley that gets us a capacity of 33,000lbs at half the speed. It's not the 2x rating that you suggested, but it should still get us about 1.5x which I think wil be ok.

Ideally, the winch will be a 'last resort' and we will rely on the kindness of fellow ExPo travellers and a tow strap, if we can...

No matter how you cut it though, it's a big truck and if those 42" 4x4 wheels do get stuck, chance are we're going to be really stuck...

Cheers,
Jay.
 

Jeep

Supporting Sponsor: Overland Explorer Expedition V
Looking good Jay,

Leaking welds mean porosity and lack of penetration, you might be farther ahead to ditch the wheels before they ditch you...catasrophically. In the next few days I am going to be posting some pics of a popular aftermarket LR winch bumper that blew apart and turned a minor collision into a much more dangerous situation. Review the pics I will be posting and then take a real hard look at your wheels and what is riding on top of them, including your family.

There should be a PTO take off on your transmission or transfer case, we install PTO pumps right on the transmissions and hydraulic winches/pickers all the time. I have been a Warn dealer since 1994 and that 16 500 is for the people you will be helping, not for you!

Frame work looks excellent! Looking forward to the rest of your build.

Cheers,
Mark.
 

spencyg

This Space For Rent
An amazing amount of work. I hate to be too forward, but I'm sure I'll ask what everybody is thinking...

How much is the budget on this thing? Just the parts and base truck alone have got to be over $150k at this point, and you're paying for labor too! Woudln't it have been easier to buy an Earthroamer? I know you're building something bigger than an Earthroamer, and obviously you have money to spend, but it seems like you could already be on the road for alot less money....

Just curious:) It looks AWESOME!!!

Spence
 

Robthebrit

Explorer
Jay,

Things are looking great, I am glad you Expedition Imports did you well, they are really nice guys. I get most of my mog parts from them.

I am suprised by the small amount of flex but you did add a lot of steel to it. Remember even if you use rubber bushings for mounts there is still some stress on the box, enough to stretch/compress the rubber.

You probably don't need these any more but these are the photos of my campers mounts on a mog frame.

center mount 1 and center mount 2 so two different pictures of the rigid center mount. Its basically a piece of 100x50x6 that is welded to the frame and mounted to the camper. This is just in front of the rear wheels, you can see sway bar hardware in the bottom left of the pictures.

pivot1 and pivot2 show the pivot mounts which are at the front and rear, the pictures are of the rear mount. These are custom but are made from original mog pivots. Normally a mog would have the pivot above the frame but these where modified to be at frame level so the camper box can be lowered a few inches. Basically one part of the pivot is on a cross member of the ladder frame and the other part is on the camper. They are held together by a giant bolt and some rubber bushings.

The idea is that any tension is taken by the mounts and not by the camper itself, the mounts are all pretty hefty and your camper will be way heavier than mine. The floor of my camper is fiberglass on the outside and marine ply on the inside, the wheel wells are just fiberglass inside and out. Overall the floor is about 2 inchs thick.

Hope that helps, let me know if you want more info. I have some of the original drawings but they are all on paper. Same offer here for the beer, if you are in LA, stop by because I am buying.

EDIT: Ok you can't see the filenames.. the first two pics are the center mount and the second two are the pivot mount.

Rob
 
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805gregg

Adventurer
So each one of your family needs 8,750lbs to survive, not even eco anything, try going with a smaller footprint to be eco.
 

Bayou Boy

Adventurer
805gregg said:
So each one of your family needs 8,750lbs to survive, not even eco anything, try going with a smaller footprint to be eco.
Weigh your house and contents and get back to us.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
That's it, I've decided not to buy a new truck or a hybrid. I'm checking craigslist for a good mule. Does anyone know where to buy a cassette toilet with a very large seat. I hear mules !@#!$% a whole bunch.

This is a very interesting build that may or may not be everyone's cup of tea. He bought a used truck and is trying to show his kids the world. If the rig gets 10mpg for 4 people he'll be using less gas than your average daily driver sitting in traffic. Cut the man some slack.
 

calamaridog

Expedition Leader
jayshapiro said:
We are calling the project ECO-ROAMER and the intention is to build it in as environmentally friendly a manner as a diesel-belching-round-the-world-20,000-pound-truck can be...
I mean seriously, give the guy a break with all this self-righteous crap about what is ECO and what isn't.

Keep up the good work Jay. This is one of the more interesting build threads on the forum right now:beer:
 
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calamaridog said:
I mean seriously, give the guy a break with all this self-righteous crap about what is ECO and what isn't.

Keep up the good work Jay. This is one of the more interesting build threads on the forum right now:beer:
LOL, not too many build threads can you get into heated environmental arguments with. Kind of a same, but keeps people interested I guess.
 

pygmyowl

Observer
Don't mention anything about being eco friendly on this post - I tried - the boys will jump down your throat big time - screw the Polar Bears - so what if they go extinct on our watch - keep on trucking in your 25,000 lb rigs - what the heck the kids are getting an education!
 
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