MAN 6x6 camper


Blue Thunder is now a solar power station!

It is time for another update.

I have added some images about the cooler modification to my last post.

In 2011 there wasn't any change to the truck.

For vacation we went to Sweden and had a great time.

After our vacation I wanted finally decide regarding solar power installation. As I have mentioned in my last post, in 2010 I had changed the type of the modules from the flexible thin-film to glueable mono cristaline modules with a total of 1,680 Wp. But here had finally the same problem like with the Unisolar modules - they weren't available immediately and were considerable more expensive than nor modules. The prices of modules have dropped very fast here in Germany, with prices below 1 $/Wp for some modules. So I reconsidered my decision again, and looked for other modules, especially modules with measurements to maximize the power on the available roof area. I finally found modules that allowed 1,960 Wp on the roof for a reasonable price. I ordered them in China and in November 2011 they were delivered directly from China to me.



As the power now was much higher than the Morningstar could handle, I also needed a other solar charge controller. For fault tolerance I now use two Mppsolar PCM-5048 I ordered directly in Taiwan. They can run in master/slave mode and have nice features regarding controlling external relays depending on system state.



I installed them on top of the external power chargers. Finally I installed the modules on the roof.



Everything is protected against tree branches as good as possible. Some will argue that there is very low cooling possible, because the distance between roof and panel is very low. But this isn't much of relevance, because in summer there is more then enough energy available, and in times with less sun the temperature isn't an issue and the extra Wp will help. I also didn't want to go higher than necessary, so the additional height is less than 2". In summer the surplus energy is used to electrically heat warm water.

The first test of the installation was end of June during a small offroad meeting in Meran, Italy (first image above) and everything worked perfectly. At temperatures of up to 38° C (100 F) it delivered about 6 kWh (250 Ah/24 V) per day, mostly for heating the warm water and electrical cooking.

Here you can see how everything is connected:


After this we fixed again some oil leaks at the engine. We had to replace the injection pump against my spare one, because it leaked considerable oil. The injections pump was also tuned to get a bit more power at revolutions below 2000, and it now feels much better when driving highway hills in highest gear.

Before our vacation another change was due - replacing the old 6 kW inverters against 6 kW true sine inverters. It wasn't easy to find one that had a reasonable price and fits into the available space. But I finally found it at a Chinese company and it was delivered within 2 weeks. The installation was easy.


All the devices that are sensible to the wave form (microwave, coffee machine, ...) are now running without problems. As before it is enough to use only one inverter when cooking a meal.

Everything was ready for our vacation in Ireland in August. We had a great time in Ireland, even the roads were very narrow. :sombrero:

Even it was raining and we didn't move, the batteries were 100 % full every day at least once. The complete warm water was provided by the solar power.

Currently there are no plans for further changes in the near future, but who knows ...
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Solar Charging Sensitivities


It is very interesting to see how you have worked out and are still adapting solutions to your requirements. I don't in any way want to highjack this thread, but thought to share with you and other solar users something I learned up near and above the Arctic Circle [Yukon territory, Canada] this summer.

It was surprising to me how much more solar power I could capture with a change in the length of days, even when there was major cloud cover. I live at 45°N and have traveled at 0° [the Equator]. But I was very surprised by empirically how much more energy my panels could stuff into my modest-compared-to-yours battery bank when I exposed them to as much as 20 hrs per day of generation rather than something closer to 6-8 hrs. I hit 100% every day for three months, most days by noon. I had more juice to burn that I could ever use, esp. since I am cooking with propane and heating with diesel fuel.

It makes me wonder how much more gain I could get if I could tilt my panels optimally?

Very interesting build; I enjoy following you!!

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Adventurer Wannabe
If I'd known you were coming to Ireland I would have loved to have seen the camper in person. I hope the country treated you well.



Hi Ian,

I am sorry that I missed the chance. I should have announced our journey her in expo to get contacts with first hand information. :(

As you can see in the travel log, we were in the Wicklow mountains, probably not very far from you.

We enjoyed Ireland very much and all the people we met were very friendly and helpful. But the country itself doesn't treat camper and motor home users very well. A lot of parking space is blocked by height barriers and overnight parking is forbidden at a lot of places. Even some counties forbid overnight parking at all public parking space by a bylaw. Even shopping isn't easy because the smaller super markets have height barriers. Only the parking space of Aldi, Lidl and Tesco was open. You know were we left our money, and probably most oft the other campers touring through Ireland. This is totally different in Germany and France. When we returned by ferry to France the first thing beside fueling up :) was to visit a supermarket. This supermarket had a parking area especially for campers with extra large parking lots. Even our truck had enough space.

Beside the caravan parks there is practically no infrastructure for campers and motor homes available. There are no discharge stations for grey and black water, no places were you can get rid of litter and charge fresh water. This wasn't much of a problem for us, because we have capacity for about 10-14 days. We explore larger cities mostly by public transport and stop then on a caravan park. But for those with standard campers this all is a real problem.

I have also talked a lot to Irish campers and all told me that they feel discriminated by the local and national administrations, and their complaints are constantly ignored. I have also talked to a few people visiting us, having a function in the village. They told us that this barriers were build to prevent tinkers from parking, and most of the older Irish people touring around in the country, aren't spending their money in the local community. They are just watching TV every evening and move to the next location next day. I told that they have to spend there money somewhere (food, clothes, fuel), if not here in some other community were they are allowed to stay.

This also could be no reason for the communities and counties to discriminate camper and motor home users. I also told him that 10-15 years ago in Germany there was a similar situation as in Ireland now (without barriers). But then especially the smaller villages and towns found out that by attracting motor home users be providing a small amount of infrastructure (parking space, discharge station), a lot of people staying for a night and are spending money in the local shops. A lot of this places are free of charge and some with a bit more infrastructure charge a few euros. I also told him that we wouldn't have spend about 100 € this day in this community (dinner, museum, supermarket), if we wouldn't have been allowed to park overnight. We move always on if we are not welcome and spend our money were we are welcome.

Beside this, we had really a great time in Ireland, even the weather was acceptable. ;-)

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Ford Prefect

Expedition Leader
Beside this, we had really a great time in Ireland, even the weather was acceptable. ;-)
haha, that cracked me up. Aside from the above tirade it was swell... haha

It is a shame that they are so difficult for campers. Wal-marts in the USA almost all expect to have overnight campers. They typically (Not always, but they try) have extra large parking lots. They do not make camper parking, but the campers and Semi trucks all just park across several spaces. It means that the folks with time and money to park in their lots will always know where a Wal-mart is, and they will head their before anywhere else when they need something. It has been a strategy that has paid off well for the company. You can see that as one of the contributors to K-mart and Target companies are struggling nation wide. (IMHO)


New member
MAN SX44 6x6 440 horse power

Hope anyone can find a relative price tag for one of these,
say around a 2007, same type the army uses here in UK.



as this is the newest model of the series, this will not be cheap.

As the newest models of the old KAT1 A1 from year 1990 go for 50.000+ Euro, I would assume that this about 5 year old trucks go for considerable more than 100.000 Euro.



New member
Thanks for your estimate, did not want to take over
Your thread with more questions.
I have found a damaged army one for sale
Is missing quite a few parts but, priced
Quite low.
Seems the army rolled it over, and just
Took parts of it for other trucks, so hard to
Know what is missing, engine gearbox transfer
And diffs are all where you would expect them.
But the electrics (some ecu looking boxes)
And both the bottom props shafts are not where
I usually expect them, but are all over the the place.


Sorry, I wasn't here for a long time and missed your posting. But in the meantime you are registered at anyway. :)

I had never driven the Saurer, so I cannot compare both trucks. Beside the truck of the driving school I have never driven any other truck heavier than 15 metric tons as our KAT. ;)

Since the last technical upgrade posted here, there have been a few more upgrades:
  • Replacement of AGM batteries against DIY LiFeYPO4 batteries with a total of 1020 Ah/25,6V
  • Replacement of the standard steel wheels against Hutchinson aluminum wheels
Countries visited with Blue Thunder:
  • 2007 - Sweden, Finland, Russia, Baltic States, Poland
  • 2008 - Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Serbia
  • 2009 - Germany, Czech
  • 2010 - Baltic States, Poland
  • 2011 - Sweden, Czech
  • 2012 - France, Ireland, Italy
  • 2013 - Austria, Slovenia, Croatia
  • 2014 - Greece, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria
  • 2015 - France
  • 2016 - Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Italy
  • 2017 - Sweden, Norway
  • 2018 - Italy, France
  • 2019 - Italy
In 2019 we bought a Tesla MX100D and a Camping Trailer, and used it for traveling to Italy. 2020 we hadn't a chance for trips with BT, because of Corona pandemic. :(

We hope that the restrictions are lifted next year.

Do you find the temperature sensitivity of LiYFePO4 (even with yttrium) a problem? Remember that I live in subarctic (similar to Helsinki).


Especially the Winston LiFeYPO4 have a temperature range of -45° up to 85°.

But I would never use the full range. Even this batteries probably work below zero with much lower power, charging below 0° C with high power may cause lithium plating and shorten lifetime considerably.

This is not relevant in my case, as the batteries are placed inside the cabin. When used the temperature is well above 10°. In winter storage it is well above 0° C and normally not charged.

DIY Battery Modules 100Ah/25,6V with 200/400 A continues/peak and active balancing (1.Gen):


DIY Battery Modules 100Ah/25,6V, 200/400 A continues/peak, bluetooth, active balancing (2.Gen):

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