Merkabah: MB 2626 AK 6x6 tipper to expedition truck conversion


It was, indeed, Neil. Our love to Pat.

One day I found this pick up at the shop and she told me, in a whisper, to buy her. She was in a pretty good condition but with some problems with the DPF, very common cause of pain because of the quality of diesel here. It was really a bargain so I obeyed and said okay.


We made just a few kilometers and the problem with the filter got worse, so she went to pits and got a new DPF and a new clutch and some other stuff. It was still a good bargain, though.


With the gearbox of the Merkabah split around, I went on with the rest of the parts and got the pieces of the long delayed restoration of the steps of the Merkabah. I worked hard to clean them and to make the appropriate repairs and fabricate missing pieces as they were pretty worn out at some places, especially and obviously on the driver side.


Once repaired, I primed them heavily and then sprayed a lot of hands of paint. Maybe they were suitable for galvanizing instead, but I wanted not to depend on third parties at that moment.


The step boxes, don’t know what their actual name is, had been disassembled and flattened out a few years ago at the beginning of the project. They were again covered by superficial rust and the quality of the job was at a lower level of the current standards. I made the best I could do to get it well done and then gave them to a guy who completed the job with plaster and paint.


When all the parts were ready, I assembled them and made a lot of efforts to install them, though it was not easy at all as the cabin was not in the same position due to the adapted suspension. After a few hours of work, the Merkabah had her steps back on.



Next: the AC compressor. Actually, I was never totally comfortable with the support and the belt adjusting mechanism, and there was an oil leak from the engine block that I needed to inspect so I took out the whole thing.


I modified the support splitting it in two and made a sliding adjustment system easier to use, with an extra fixing strut, very similar to the MB original system.


Took some time, though.


There was also a pretty bad oil leak coming from somewhere in the rear of the engine, presumably a defective oil seal at the rear end of the crankshaft.

I hung the engine from the winch and tackled it between the exhaust manifolds and the frame rails to allow the bellhousing to be removed.


Once the press and the disc were out it was clear that in effect the problem was the seal. It was brand new, but failed the same.


After replacing the seal for a new and tougher one I reversed the procedure, and after only a couple of days the engine was again complete.

The only piece I needed to ask someone else to make was the adjuster cone of the gear shifting rod. It was bent by accident when pulling up the cabin and it also was a little short so I asked my friend Verardo to make a new, longer one.




One day I will get a lathe of my own.

I was stuck with the disassembling of the gearbox, but I followed my brother-in-law tip and took a subtler approach to take the pin of the intermediary gear out, and it worked.


After a few efforts and applying the right amount of force from the right angle, the bloody pin was finally out. It had delayed the disassembling of the gearbox but forced me to go on with the completion of many of the half finished issues, so I was pretty grateful for that in the end.

So, I proceeded with the disassembling of the gearbox using all the tools I had at hand, even some home-made ones like a hydraulic press right for the occasion.


It was a struggle, but guess who won at the end.

During the process I found out that the synchronizer cone of the 3rd gear was broken as well. Many parts were not that bad, but I wanted to replace as many critical components as possible depending on their availability. For that I would have to wait for the spares to come from abroad.


Finally, after a few weeks of labor and patience for the parts to arrive, the old and faithful Montero was ready. We went to some mountain tracks nearby to check whether the transmission was working or not, and it was, pretty well.


Both the Montero and the Navara repaired and functioning meant that there was not more place for the stolen and recovered Terrano, parked at home waiting for resurrection since the beginning of time.

She was then moved to the countryside to make room for the working cars. She would make company to the unconcluded Blazer 6x6 and to many other wrecked cars there.



At some moment, the gearbox was completely disassembled. It was quite interesting and amusing sometimes, when things did not get stuck.


All the gears and the bearings and the stuff were out. It was just a matter of having the new pieces and the process would be carefully reversed, but there still was no courier service.


I left them well under cover and went on with the pending issues that still filled two pages of the to do list.

As you may remember, the cabin of the Merkabah was put on the hinges taken from Spare the truck. They included a suspension system which raised the front up to 8 centimeters. That made the cabin look tilted backwards, which was the actual state, and I wanted to level it as it was not very pretty and a little uncomfortable for the sitting position for my wife.


The only option was to put a supple and adapt some pieces of the supports of the rear shock absorbers. Using the materials at hand, following the guidelines of the whole project, I made the pieces and then assembled them. Unfortunately, when tested, I found that the alignment between the cabin and the shock strut was lost by far.



I had to correct the inclination of the stretched support to make both cabin and shock match perfectly, though it implied a lot of work and time, which I never have too much of.


Anyway, it went good and was absolutely necessary, even if the gap was over-corrected and there was a little inclination frontward. This, though, I hoped would correct itself when driving the truck and the shocks settled.


Not long ago, some long ago actually, Eduardo had bought a truck with a crane and a blown up engine which was being overhauled during the lasts months.


Right at that time, the red Ford was ready for rolling again and we were both pretty excited to take it for the first trip. Unfortunately, when moving back and forth the cars clearing the exit for the truck, Eduardo accidentally left the door open of the little Fiat Fiorino, recently restored. The door smashed against the font bumper and the winch rollers, though the Merkabah hardly noticed it. The Fiorino, on the other hand, was notoriously damaged. Life is hard.


We both shrugged and went on with the trip to the country. Took only a few days and little money to fix the damage of the little pick up.

The Ford behaved pretty well and the crane was used to help with the building of the shred of the new house. We have a new toy, Pairoa! Shouted my brother in law, pretty satisfied.


I had to remove the lining of the passenger side because the door misaligned. I had absolutely no desire to do it, but the suspicions that something was wrong from the beginning were pretty strong. And that was the case, as I found out that the lower bolts of the hinges were loose. Ops.



A few days passed and I got bad news; after three attempts the spares for the gearbox could not be sent from Germany. Double ops.

What happens with this project that there is always something trying to make it more difficult and frustrating? From cat pee on the engine block to a life threatening world spread hybrid virus, there was any kind of difficulty. Patience, Pairoa, patience, seemed to whisper the old Lady. She knew a lot about that too.


Well, one of the items I had deliberately neglected was the top element of the snorkel, no idea of how to name it. Anyway, that boxy thing was clearly not original and furthermore it was in pretty bad shape.


I decided to build a new one from scratch as it was clear that getting the original part was not possible, not even in Stuttgart.

Got some steel sheets and began to cut and shape the pieces with the elements I had at hand. The result was pretty encouraging, but the menace of a total lockdown shadowed the near future.


The day before the forced seclusion I helped Eduardo to repair the bed of the Ford. I cut and welded some steel pieces and he finished the welding session late in the afternoon.


Since then the Merkabah remains untouched at the workshop, waiting for better days.


It's funny to see you doing what I have just done. I lifted the cab on our truck the same as you. Our 'spare' truck had all the mounts. You can see in this picture that there are spacers as standard on the chassis just like you have made! :) There should be a little rubber guide on top of the shock absorber/spring, as mine touch the guide like yours, but sit perfectly vertical when the cab is latched....

Donor Merc 3.jpg

I have also just removed the top of the snorkel so have the piece you have just made spare. It is for the left though not the right. Yourright snorkel is like gold!! :) Great work so far!!


Active member
All the new pieces took their time to fabricate and fortunately they all came pretty good.
Hello Pairospam, as always fantastic work, I have a question or a Doubt even about how you have mounted your front Tire air line. It looks neat and it will be functional but my concern would be when you are off road and have most of a field worth of clay and mud on your wheels this will build up and drag the solid line with it untill it rippes the air line out. I know from the fert spreaders that use CTIS systems they mount these over the top of the wheel well and then come down on a flexible ( spring loaded) pipe so it is out of the way and the down pipe can deflect as it gets hit with everything the wheel throws at it. I would hate for this to go wrong for you the first time u get all muddy. I hope this is taken as constructive :)

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Hello, Madoxen:

Yes, the air tube over the wheel looks pretty close to it, and it actually stands at neat 6 centimeters above the knobs.

I have studied every possible way of getting the air to the rotary valves, and seen many designs even though there is not a lot of functional systems around. I personally do not like, at all, the lines coming down from the wheel wells.

In the end, I made a compromise and took the bet privileging the design that follows the movement of the front steering wheel. I set it to that distance as it was the farthest I could put the pipe from the wheel to avoid hitting the fender with maximal deflection of the axle. The pipe is placed frontward from the center of the axle also for minimizing the odds of beeing hit by stones driven by the mud itself.

If by chance mud builds up, or a rock hits the pipe, it is pretty resilient and kind of flexible . If it gets ripped off anyway, the flexible lines can get disconnected or directly torn out and there would be no air loss in the circuit, and the inflation pressure would remain stable. Later, with just a couple of connectors and a piece of tecalan, you can regain control of the pressure.

You are not the first to note this issue, and I thank you for dropping here your concern.

Greetings from Chile.

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Ah, Sitec:

Yes, one way or the other I always find out that I invent nothing new.

Unfortunately, the support for the shock absorber/spring of the cabin makes it quite rigid and do not allow it to tilt much, at least not the amound needed to settle without risking of bending the shock strut despite any rubber component.

I would have liked pretty much to have the spring working vertically, as it should, but there was no other way.

Thanks for your words too.


Active member
Hi Pairoa , knowledge is power , u have looked at all your options and done ùr research then made ur decision :) im sure it will wouk fine and like you said if in the unlikely event it gets hit there is the fail safes and an easy temp fix. Please keep up the great work,, looking forward to the next update.


Active member
Hey Pairospam, how are things going. Have you managed to make any progress? Really hope you and ur family are well.


Yup, I too am curious as to how it's going over there. I think I'm almost at the same stage as you now... Any more plans with your Hab Box and it's layout? :)