Lowly the Lorry. . .

Lowly (shop) Update:

Progress continued quite steadily thru the summer and now that Autumn is upon us we have been racing the weather to get the shop sealed up.

All roof and wall sheeting is now installed with just a bit more trim work to complete.

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The side doors will open into shipping container sized storage areas while the large center door will be the main workshop.

A 28 foot long glue-laminated beam will span across the back of the shop for storage above and post-free workbench space below. The janky scissor lift once again came in handy to do the heavy lifting.

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Door installation and interior framing will hopefully be completed by week's end. Lowly's winter hibernation location is getting closer to completion!

- Sheik
 
Lowly & Shop Update:

Over the past few months the shop has been plumbed, electrical wire run and sheet rocked. The last remaining item to tick off before I could move the truck in was installing all of the lights, switches and outlets. Finished those up a couple days ago, cleared out all of the detritus from the main shop space that had accumulated during the build & prepared to move in Lowly. Easier said than done.

Over the past year Lowly's main engine belt has been slipping (not sure the culprit yet), resulting in drastically reduced hydraulically assisted power steering and alternator output. This resulted in longer periods of time between startups and ultimately a set of batteries no longer able to start up the truck. "Just jump-start the truck", you say. Easier said than done. Being a big European truck, Lowly operates on 24V and I don't have anything else that would play nice in terms of a jump start. "Just trickle charge the batteries", you say. Easier said than done. The batteries are housed in an enclosure underneath the cab of the truck. In order to access this tidy little battery house the cab has to be tilted up. In order to tilt the cab using its electrically driven hydraulic pump, the truck has to either be running or there has to be enough juice in the batteries to operate the pump's motor.

There is a manual pumping attachment for this hydraulic cab tilting cylinder but I couldn't figure out how to make it work (possibly frozen in place due to corrosion though more likely user error). So there I sat with a shop ready for its new tenant, Lowly's cab stuck in the down position, no access to batteries, can't start the truck. Par for course.

Enter genetics. "Genetics?" you say. Thankfully the double helices of DNA floating around in my body's cells had the instructions to grow a human with somewhat "twiggy" arms. The result is a red-blooded American who can reach way back into little spaces (while grunting and blindly fumbling around) and manage to not only gain access to the correct battery terminals but attach the alligator clips of my 24V trickle charger to them. The hum of my charger kicking on and doing what it does best resulted in bodily pinches to determine I wasn't dreaming and sincere thanks to the Almighty.

All this to say that Lowly the Lorry is now ensconced in his new, somewhat purpose-built home! A huge milestone in what has been a very large undertaking. And while it is still a very unfinished shop, it is now a shop with a yet-to-be-modified truck parked cozily inside. Stay tuned.

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- Sheik
 

Sitec

Adventurer
Oh how I know the feeling of having to build the shed to build the truck!!! How good does it feel putting your truck in your shed for the first time though!! So, hot tip number 1... Make sure the shed and other jobs are 100% finished before you start on Lowly, because if you are anything like me, having to do other boring jobs like plumbing, retaining, gardening etc once you have properly started the big project comes hard! I am really into my build now and hate being pulled off it to do other stuff! Very antisocial I know! Another tip (that came from Steve Wigglesworth's book), don't let it consume you. I have had to have a few weekends away from it from time to time, and it helps going back with a clear head. Following your build with interest as I know where you are at. :)
 

nicknoxx

New member
Glad to hear you're making progress. Did you have to connect the charger terminals directly to the battery, wouldn't somewhere else do?
 

Wazak

Member
It's surprising that there isn't a jump start plug or connection allready fitted to the truck or even a hook up (Shore line) to mains power to keep the batteries charged.
Is the starter motor easily accessible? You could couple the battery charger directly to the battery power lead at the starter end and a good chassis earth.
I wish that I had a workshop like that to work in.
 

4x4for9

New member
Hey Sheik

A random question about your building. Who manufactured the building for you? I’m looking at doing something similar and currently searching the market for manufacturers. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Nate
 
Hey Sheik

A random question about your building. Who manufactured the building for you? I’m looking at doing something similar and currently searching the market for manufacturers. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Nate
Apologies for the delayed response: rmsteel.com was the manufacturer.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

mog

Kodiak Wrangler
A. Eight lugs, eight holes. Sort of an 'industry standard on 'large wheels' the number of holes matches the number of lugs.
UltraOne40Lbs.jpgG160211-2.jpg
 
Lowly Update:

Summer is over, and my excuses for not working on the truck finally ran out.
Spent the better part of 4 days chopping out the back of the truck in order to gain access to the chassis and give myself an idea of my "blank canvas".

Here is the link to the very rudimentary time lapse video of the process: https://youtu.be/QtAtJnf_JyI

Here are the before, after and remains photos:

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Not shown is the additional 400 pounds of aluminum I pulled off for scrap!

Why didn't I just unbolt the sucker and lift it off?
1) Too many hydraulic lines snaking through the custom built box.
2) Hold-down bolts were "captured" under inaccessible areas
3) I didn't have a reliable way to lift the entire box straight up (and it was HEAVY!)
4) I figured the custom built box's frame had likely "rust welded" to the chassis
5) What could be better than hanging on the back end of a reciprocating saw for 4 days straight?

I've got quite a bit of undercarriage rust to deal with, along with massive wire runs and hydraulic lines to remove; goodie, goodie.

- Sheik
 
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VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
Awesome progress! The fun is starting. Looks like your fire box had a more substantial subframe than ours had, maybe a good base for you to start with and would save time and money. One thing I see though is it looks like your rear leaf springs might be sagging. From the picture it looks like the helpers are resting on the stops (ours were not when it was a bare chassis, but once the habitat was installed they were). If/when you get to that point I know of a place in Germany that can supply some parabolic springs for your truck (both rear and front). I could never find anyplace in the USA that would build springs for our truck. We have the rears installed as our rear springs were sagging due to rust/age (I assume the truck was stored with a full water tank, so lots of weight). The fronts are now on order to try and get a softer ride over corrugated roads. I wish I would have changed ours out when at your stage as it is much easier/cheaper to do with less weight on the truck.

Also one thing I noticed, but not sure. It looks like maybe your front fenders do not stick out as far as the ones on our 1120, we have the standard single cab? I only mention this if you do decide to go with the SRW rims from Germany, just to check the amount they might protrude from the wheel well. The outside edge of the our front tire is right at the edge of the plastic fender.

And when you get a minute, I would love to see some pictures of your cab lift and attachment points. We really wish ours had come with one.
 
Awesome progress! The fun is starting. Looks like your fire box had a more substantial subframe than ours had, maybe a good base for you to start with and would save time and money. One thing I see though is it looks like your rear leaf springs might be sagging. From the picture it looks like the helpers are resting on the stops (ours were not when it was a bare chassis, but once the habitat was installed they were). If/when you get to that point I know of a place in Germany that can supply some parabolic springs for your truck (both rear and front). I could never find anyplace in the USA that would build springs for our truck. We have the rears installed as our rear springs were sagging due to rust/age (I assume the truck was stored with a full water tank, so lots of weight). The fronts are now on order to try and get a softer ride over corrugated roads. I wish I would have changed ours out when at your stage as it is much easier/cheaper to do with less weight on the truck.

Also one thing I noticed, but not sure. It looks like maybe your front fenders do not stick out as far as the ones on our 1120, we have the standard single cab? I only mention this if you do decide to go with the SRW rims from Germany, just to check the amount they might protrude from the wheel well. The outside edge of the our front tire is right at the edge of the plastic fender.

And when you get a minute, I would love to see some pictures of your cab lift and attachment points. We really wish ours had come with one.
Jon,

The leaf spring situation is worse than you imagine - several are cracked. That is one of the big items on my to-do list and I just need to knuckle down and start calling around. Being in log-truck country out here on the west coast I might have better options for rebuilds. I'm also considering going to an air bag suspension and need to have that conversation with a local big-rig suspension refit company.

I would be very interested in getting the contact info for the German spring supplier.

I'm very close to getting the tires and wheels sorted out - not too many options due to the bolt pattern on our trucks but I may have come up with a rim that doesn't require me to fabricate one from scratch!

- Sheik

PS. I'll try and snap some pics of our lift cylinder and attachment points for you.
 

Joe917

Explorer
We have air bags in the rear of our 917 beside the parabolics. there is not enough room in the front for airbags. Our front is a conventional spring pack, 13 leaves! Any heavy truck spring shop should be able to replace your broken springs. The issue with our trucks is not that the can't do it, its they don't want to bother.
 

VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
The problem we ran into with replacing leaves was that our MB leaves had a rib that looked like it helped align the springs. We had a single broken leaf and did get a replacement but it fit a little odd because of the old leaves with the rib. Plus in pulling the packs apart there was a lot of rust (it flaked off in chunks) on the other leaves (hence the saggy butt). My guess is you will find the same since you have broken leaves. Now about getting the springs in the US, we have a "military eye" (I think that is what it is called) that wraps the top 2 leaves together. The top 2 leaves are the tough ones, I could not find anyone to make those. Plus the 6' length is a bit uncommon. These were the issues I kept running into. So the supplier in Germany is https://www.dff-autofedern.de/, I spoke with Harald there (feel free to reference our truck). He is very familiar with these trucks and the parabolic springs were made for conversion to RV to give a better ride. Our rears were a great improvement and now there is a second 917 in the USA that is now using these springs in the rear to fix a "sagging butt". The trick with Harald is he will ask your weight front/rear. Kind of hard for you at this point, but being nervous about still having a sagging butt I got the 4 leaf pack with a helper spring (so far with this setup there is no need for an airbag). We ended up having to remove the MB spacer block (it is about 3" tall beneath the springs) and replace with a 1" one to get the back down enough. They fit the existing hangers. Even now we sit slightly higher in the rear than the front, but with the new parabolics that are currently jetting across the Atlantic we are supposed to gain 30mm, so help even things out. Before you commit to a US source, Harald's prices are very good, the expensive bit is the shipping, but it still may be comparable and you get a proven spring for these trucks. With any luck I will be reporting the new cushy ride once the springs are in ;).
 
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