Lowly the Lorry. . .

Geo.Lander

Active member
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.
Hi @VerMonsterRV !

Id love to have your contacts for the parabolic spring kits you mentioned. Im thinking of changing these over this winter to improve ride and save some weight while I change wheels at the same time. Can you recommend some uprated shocks too?

Regarding the 3 vs 4 leafs, it appears 3 leaf parabolic springs where available from MB (Definitely don't have them)..
Screenshot 2020-11-25 at 14.13.45.png
 

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VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
Hi @VerMonsterRV !

Id love to have your contacts for the parabolic spring kits you mentioned. Im thinking of changing these over this winter to improve ride and save some weight while I change wheels at the same time. Can you recommend some uprated shocks too?

Regarding the 3 vs 4 leafs, it appears 3 leaf parabolic springs where available from MB (Definitely don't have them)..
View attachment 627123
We got our parabolic front/rear springs from DFF in Germany. They are aftermarket and not OEM. Harald there are DFF will ask for your front/rear weight balance. We ended up with a 4 spring pack in the front and a 4 + 1 helper in the rear. Depending on your expected final weight you might be able to go a bit lighter in the rear (no helper). There is another 917 owner in the USA that has also just recently replaced his rears with the DFF springs. I think he got a 3 spring pack, but he does not have a rear lift/motorcycle. I am not sure at this point how often our helpers are being put to use as they are not touching while parked.
 

Geo.Lander

Active member
We got our parabolic front/rear springs from DFF in Germany. They are aftermarket and not OEM. Harald there are DFF will ask for your front/rear weight balance. We ended up with a 4 spring pack in the front and a 4 + 1 helper in the rear. Depending on your expected final weight you might be able to go a bit lighter in the rear (no helper). There is another 917 owner in the USA that has also just recently replaced his rears with the DFF springs. I think he got a 3 spring pack, but he does not have a rear lift/motorcycle. I am not sure at this point how often our helpers are being put to use as they are not touching while parked.
Thanks! I have reached out to them and already gotten a response from Harald! I am not sure how accurate my final weight calculation are atm, also, I have no idea how to split that front and rear...
 

VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
Thanks! I have reached out to them and already gotten a response from Harald! I am not sure how accurate my final weight calculation are atm, also, I have no idea how to split that front and rear...
You see our truck, we are roughly 11k lbs on the rear axle and 9k lbs on the front. This is fully loaded with water, diesel, food and toys.
 
Thanks! I have reached out to them and already gotten a response from Harald! I am not sure how accurate my final weight calculation are atm, also, I have no idea how to split that front and rear...
Keep in mind that my truck is a DOKA (aka Quad-Cab) so weight distribution will vary. Here is a picture of the decal made by the fire station (previous owner) as a reminder for the maintenance fleet on the weight distribution of Lowly when he was fitted out as an Emergency Response Vehicle in his former life:

IMG_5082.JPG

- Sheik
 
Lowly Update:

Happy 25th Birthday Lowly the Lorry!!

For those considering going through this crazy process, it is possible to import a vehicle into the USA that is younger than 25 years old. This is accomplished by petitioning for and receiving a Temporary Import Bond (TIB) by the US Dept of Transportation Import Division. This TIB is good for 1 year and can be renewed twice, for a total length of 3 years. Lowly's maxed out TIB expires at the beginning of February 2021. Thankfully, as of today (12-1-2020) Lowly is 25 years old and eligible to be permanently imported into the USA without having to be brought up to current safety standards.

All well and good, but now that I've completely lain to waste to the back end of Lowly, I now need to begin the hurry-up process of getting him drivable again as his temporary import expires in 2 months! If I don't get him back up to the Canadian border before it expires I will be kicking over the proverbial hornet's nest with US Customs should I then try to permanently import him into the USA. Those electric and hydraulic systems I had so much fun yanking out now (see resulting "rat's nest" below) need to be sorted in order to make sure the truck can make it up to Canada and back from our humble abode down in SW Oregon.

IMG_5147.JPG

I haven't started Lowly in about a year and I'm not sure how much of his electrical system is going to be happy with my recent efforts. Before I can even try to start him I've got to clean out his diesel tank in order to remove all of the rust and dirt that cascaded down into it when I had to cut through Lowly's filler tube with a reciprocating saw. Anyone care to share the best way to go about such a task?

Once the tank is cleaned and refueled I'll get to investigate the results of me cutting out a bank of batteries that lived in the rear box (back-up batteries?).

If I can get the truck started then I will move on to re-plumbing the remaining hydraulic system so I can retract the rear claws whose original purpose was to keep the truck stationary when using the rear winch; I plan to modify them for double use as stabilizing/leveling jacks.

Don't forget the temporary rear lights and mudflaps I need to install to make him road-legal.

On top of that, I'm nostril deep in the process of replacing wheels, tires, leaf springs and shocks. More to come as events unfold on these topics.

So much to do, so little time. Stay tuned!

- Sheik
 
Lowly Wheel & Tire Musings:

I've spent the better part of a year researching the wheels and tires I intend to swap out Lowly's present shoes with. Here is my criteria:
Two-piece rims for being able two change a tire in the field.
"Super single" replacement of the rear dualie tires/wheels.
Front and rear tires tracking in line with each other.
Any wheel can be mounted on any of the truck's hubs (no specific front/rear).
Larger diameter tire with substantial tread.

I started the process by measuring the width of Lowly's axles (see post #173 on this thread). These measurements dictate that for the replacement wheels to track in-line with each other from front to back that the wheel's centers (mounting flanges) needed to be approximately 4 inches off of the wheel's centerline. The front wheel would be mounted with this flange towards the outside of the truck and the rear wheel mounted with a flipped orientation.

I then began wading into the debates between 22.5" diameter wheels (global standard commercial truck wheel size) vs 20" diameter (US military truck wheel size). 22.5" wheels use tires that are common around the world, however with the wider tire I intend to run, these wide 22.5" tires aren't as common as a standard commercial truck tire. 20" wheels use tires that are not common globally but are readily available in wide width here in the US as military surplus tires. I ended up settling on 20" diameter even though I intend to use this truck outside of North America. I know I can source the tires I want to use from suppliers here in the US, even if it means having to ship them overseas. I can't say the same for the type of tire I would want to run on a 22.5" diameter wheel. "Better the devil I know than then devil I don't"

If you happen to decide that 22.5" diameter 1-piece wheels will work for your application, check out www.expeditions-lkw.de as they have wheels in the bolt pattern for these types of trucks.

With the decision to go with a wide 20" wheel and therefore a wide 20" tire I started down the trail of sourcing tires. I settled on Michelin XZL+ 395/85R20 tires due to their size (width and diameter), tread pattern, capacity and foreseeable availability at very reasonable prices. There are quite a few military surplus tire re-sellers but I strongly recommend www.feltztire.com for their competitive pricing, adequate selection and very helpful customer service (thanks Dustin!).

Off I went trying to source 2-piece 20" wheels with Lowly's bolt pattern (8 lugs on 275mm bolt circle diameter, 221mm pilot hole diameter) that also fit the tires I wanted. I didn't find much at first and even went so far as to consider fabricating my own using water jetted centers and blank rims from www.heywheel.com. Not enough confidence in the robustness of a home-made wheel so off I go down another rabbit hole. Come to find out that Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC Topkick trucks use this same bolt pattern and 2-piece wheels can be sourced from both military surplus and custom wheel manufacturers; this looks promising. . . . . .

***START CAVEAT*** Military surplus 2-piece wheels and custom wheel manufacturers who are selling their wheels to the Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC Topkick crowd are likely selling wheels with bead flanges that are not tall enough for proper factory recommended mounting of 395/85R20 tires! ***END CAVEAT***

I was just about to pull the trigger on a set of wheels from a reputable military surplus seller in the eastern portion of the USA whose own glamour shots of their wheels show them mounted to the exact tires I intend to use. Thankfully I came across EXPO's DarkBladeRunner who had gone even farther down this same rabbit hole on his build and was kind enough to lead me back out. He pointed out that the glamour shots found on the surplus seller's website clearly show excess bead face on the tire when mounted to their 2-piece wheels; there is not a tall enough bead flange on these particular rims. Can the 395/85R20 tires mount up to these rims? Probably, but the mismatched bead/flange heights don't inspire confidence, especially in an aired-down, off-road situation.

Two piece wheels with a 20" diameter are very common thanks to US military MRAP trucks. They even come in the aluminum variety (yeah weight savings!). Better yet, these MRAP wheels are built with the proper height bead flange for mounting up to the 395/85R20 tires I want. However, they do not come with the same bolt pattern as found on Lowly the Lorry. If I were to use these MRAP wheels, the mounting center flange would have to be modified or replaced.

Enter www.stazworks.com who I'd come across previously in my investigations but filed away as too custom. DarkBladeRunner recommended I contact John at Stazworks as modifying MRAP wheels with alternative offset spacing and lug mounting patterns is his bread-n-butter. John took the time to deal with my inquiries and we settled on the proper wheel design for my particular application. With his location near Feltz Tire he also is willing to pick up, mount my tires and ship the entire lot in one shipment.

Big shout out to Stazworks, Feltz Tire and DarkBladeRunner for providing the advice, service and experience necessary to achieve all of my wheel/tire criteria. This was a large piece of the puzzle I had to sort out in order to continue on with the build of Lowly.

Stay tuned.

- Sheik
 
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mog

Kodiak Wrangler
On the 22.5 size.
I certainly think that 20" rims are better for 'off-roading' as the rim lip design facilitates airing down to much lower pressures.
5deg-15deg-rims.jpg
Also, the XZLs are the benchmark for large high GVWR tires,
but there are some defined pluses to the 22.5 size.
Certain a standard size in the US and Europe (much more so than 20s). With perhaps a 30% market share of 'super-single' for OTR trucks here in the US, and I would venture to guess 80%+ in Europe. I don't think I have ever seen a class 8 OTR truck there (Baltics to Balkans, France to Poland) running dual tires. I can not speak to the ROW, but I don't see why it would be much different. Based on personal experience (both knowing 'operators' and from shows in Europe) I'd say 40% of the big expo trucks are running 22.5. It is a very popular size, probably even more so as they don't have the huge access to 'surplus' military tires like we do in the states and have to pay full price. And on that angle, like everything 'surplus' that will one day go away and the only source will be new $$ XZL, etc.

When I bought spare 395/85-20 for my 1017, it was no problem getting 80% tires shipped to me for $225 each. BUT shipping, even from So Cal was $260 for a 'pallet' so 1, 2 or 3 tires were all the same price for shipping. I bought 2, so about $350 each with shipping and a week or so wait, with a trip to the freight depot in Medford to pick them up. When I needed a spare 385/65-22.5 tire my local Les Schwab got me an 80% in 10 minutes for $150.

As far as needing two-piece rims (or with 'adapters' 3-piece rims) for 'changing tires in the field', the same lip design that makes 22.5 not so great for airing down, makes them super easy to remove with tire irons. I am about as far from a 'tire-guy' as possible and when my friend's 1120 was at the local tire shop for balancing and rotating, I removed his 5 tires from the rims, in 5-10 minutes per wheel, just using a tire hammer and 2 tire irons. easy-breezy. Certainly quicker than unbolting/bolting 16+ bolts. A 'standard' on tire repairs for semis, is to charge the tire while the rim is still on the truck. Check out youtube for a boat-load of videos.

One more plus is rim weight. My 22.5 Alcoas weight 62 pounds, my 20" Hutchinson's (no bead locks) weight 85 pounds each, and some of the steel MRAP wheels weight >120 pounds. AND most (99%) of the MRAP wheels can not be mounted flipped due to the lip on the rims.
mrap-mb.jpg
NA to you as you are going the Stazwork route, but for others looking at 'standard' MRAP rims. The MRAP 'Atlas' rims (NSN#2530-01-479-2916) are smooth on both sides so 'flippable', BUT they are rarer than a leprechaun riding a unicorn and are 10-lug, so they will not work on the 8 lugs rims (MB, Kodiak, etc). A huge plus with custom 3-piece rims is getting the off-set you need to run front or back.
So, I'm not trying to talk you out of 20s, they certainly are the go-to hi-capacity tires to use. Just bring up that 22.5 are not that bad.
22.5 Minus
Should not be aired down to below 30-40 psi
Very hard to find suitable 8 lug rims (check with @Cowpig on those Eastern Surplus rims NSN 2530-01-559-5894, he had less than stellar luck with them) UPDATE, according to Cowpig the wheels are AOK
22.5 Pluses
USA, Euro, and perhaps ROW easy available
Greater selection and general cheaper
Lighter and more available rims (in 10-lug)
A good resource for MRAP wheel info is STEEL SOLDIERS

As always YMMV
 
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Cowpig

kodiak guy
wow lots of great info! just to update - the eastern surplus rims weren't my problem, it ended up being the goodyear g275 msa (335/80r20) that I bought from Stazworks .... all of them are egg shaped and were in fact the cause of my violent shaking above 45+mph.

I'm currently about 1700 miles into a roadtrip and on alcoa 22.5 with sailun tires... not what i wanted, but at least i'm finally on the road. the last mileage check had me around 12.8mpg (with about 12-1500 lbs of extra stuff....helping a family member move.....all interstate 65+). I boondocked last night and this morning took the rig down a desert ranch road that crossed several arroyo's (sugar sand!). I put it in 4x4, went through okay, but I have to say that before i do any real 'rough road' boondocking I would definitely want to be back on singles (I am 'probably' still going to put it back on the staz mrap wheels + mpt81's to replace the GY). I'll post more results and info later - either update this post or add to the conversation.
 
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Lowly Import Update:

With Lowly turning 25 years old (age at which a vehicle can be imported into the US without being brought up to current safety standards) and his temporary import bond (TIB) maxed out and expiring in February 2021, it is high time to sort out the upcoming import/export dance. Keep in mind that the truck is currently registered as a Canadian vehicle in British Columbia and I am a US citizen (complicated by necessary for my situation). After multiple calls to both US & Canadian customs, along with both US & Canadian import brokers, here are the dance steps I've learned thus far:

1) currently, due to COVID, non-Canadians cannot enter Canada
2) if the truck has to enter Canada during this COVID lockdown era, it must be driven/transported by a commercial driver with cross-border authorizations
3) if a vehicle has been modified in the US under TIB, it will be subject to a 5% tax by Canada when brought back into Canada
4) there is at least one US border agent willing to process my TIB closure and permanent import without the truck having to enter the US from Canadian soil (cue the angels singing hallelujah!)
5) I will need to drive the truck up to the US border crossing to perform my dance moves
6) I will need the following documents to satisfy all of the bureaucratic paper-pushing that will take place during this dance: DOT HS7, EPA 3520.1, CBP 7501 & CBP3495
7) in addition to all the other importing paperwork I've accumulated through this process I'll be taking along an email from my import broker showing that my TIB extensions were submitted and granted

So, mid-January will see me stretching Lowly The Lorry's legs up to the Canadian border to get him made into a permanent US vehicle. Thankfully I won't have to get him onto Canadian soil in order to pull off this caper, thereby saving money on hiring a truck driver and paying Canadian import taxes.

Now I just have to get Lowly road worthy again!

- Sheik
 
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DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
Keep an eye on your Stazworks wheels. The bolts on all of mine snapped on the road with sporting consequences. (Note the ten missing bolts.) MB 917. And contrary to Stazworks' claims, the MPT 81 was NOT underinflated. (And there were broken bolts on all of the other wheels as well.)

IMG_0613 - Copy.jpg
 
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mog

Kodiak Wrangler
Keep an eye on your Stazworks wheels. The bolts on all of mine snapped on the road with sporting consequences. (Note the ten missing bolts.) MB 917. And contrary to Stazworks' claims, the MPT 81 was NOT underinflated. (And there were broken bolts on all of the other wheels as well.)
@Mattersnots had issues with Stazworks wheels on his Kodiak Ambulance ,
TOM20180801_150036_DRO.jpg

but the 'new and improved' wheels are better according to Cowpig with these Changes
 
Lowly Update:

Draining of the bank account has started up again:
* Custom modified aluminum 20" MRAP wheels purchased from Stazworks, quantity 6
* Michelin XZL+ 395/85R20 tires for mounting to the above wheels purchased from Feltz Tires, quantity 10
* Internal beadlock donuts for the above wheels purchased from Feltz Tires, quantity 6
* Parabolic replacement leaf springs and hardware purchased from DFF-Autofedern, all 4 corners

Here's the primary reason for needing new springs - yowsa!:

IMG_5185.JPG

Based on these cracked springs, the amount of rust on all of the stacks and the reports from Jon (EXPO's VerMonsterRV) on the improved ride characteristics from his spring replacements, I decided to go with direct replacement parabolic springs rather than modify the suspension with airbags and/or US supplied springs. I figure if something breaks in the field in any part of the world outside North America, it would be better to retain the stock mounting hardware/geometry as MB trucks and replacement parts are much more common than some sort of semi-custom USA kit's geometry.

I didn't pull the trigger on replacement shocks as they aren't mission critical at this point and a stateside supplier might be possible. New shocks are likely needed and will probably get replaced before too long.

Stay tuned!

- Sheik
 
Lowly Update:

Started mapping out the remaining hydraulically operated components and their lines. While removing the truck's rear box, I removed the hydraulic reservoir, hydraulically driven generator and the hydraulic lines/fittings for connecting up the "Jaws of Life" on either side.
IMG_5181.JPG
I kept the hydraulically driven winch (front & back) and the two claws that pivot down at the back of the truck for stabilizing the truck when utilizing the rear winch. I plan on modifying the claw's hydraulic cylinder mounting geometry to provide enough downward force to lift the rear of the truck for leveling purposes when parked.
IMG_5182.JPG
All of the remaining hydraulic lines from the PTO driven hydraulic pump to the various valves and levers is a spaghetti mess that needed some mapping out before I could wrap my head around it. I need to at least get this sorted out and cobbled back together in some fashion before I head up to the Canadian border for permanent import in January.

- Sheik
 

Geo.Lander

Active member
Lowly Update:

Draining of the bank account has started up again:
* Custom modified aluminum 20" MRAP wheels purchased from Stazworks, quantity 6
* Michelin XZL+ 395/85R20 tires for mounting to the above wheels purchased from Feltz Tires, quantity 10
* Internal beadlock donuts for the above wheels purchased from Feltz Tires, quantity 6
* Parabolic replacement leaf springs and hardware purchased from DFF-Autofedern, all 4 corners

Here's the primary reason for needing new springs - yowsa!:

View attachment 632303

Based on these cracked springs, the amount of rust on all of the stacks and the reports from Jon (EXPO's VerMonsterRV) on the improved ride characteristics from his spring replacements, I decided to go with direct replacement parabolic springs rather than modify the suspension with airbags and/or US supplied springs. I figure if something breaks in the field in any part of the world outside North America, it would be better to retain the stock mounting hardware/geometry as MB trucks and replacement parts are much more common than some sort of semi-custom USA kit's geometry.

I didn't pull the trigger on replacement shocks as they aren't mission critical at this point and a stateside supplier might be possible. New shocks are likely needed and will probably get replaced before too long.

Stay tuned!

- Sheik
I think it's it was a good idea to replace those, my rear leafs also look like this and they are completely dependant on the helpers on both sides. I also ordered from DFF (Jon should get a commission for sending so much business theri way) all four corners and dampers too. I had not really thought about custom setups, but my mechanic told me a rear airbag system at the rear was very doable and inexpensive to adjust the ride height along with the parabolic springs and shocks..
 
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