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Overland Explorer Expedition Cabin on 2020 Ford F350

Trail Talk

Active member
We are eagerly awaiting completion of our old/new build from Overland Explorer Vehicles of Red Deer, Alberta, aka OverlandEx.com, hopefully within a few weeks, and are pleased to share the details.

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Take note of the Summit cabin on the right edge of this Facebook photo taken recently at the OverlandEx facility. It is being prepared for a new home.

The reason I say both old and new is because we are having the prototype Summit expedition cabin, manufactured in 2019, mounted on our new 2020 Ford F350. This cabin was the personal camper of OverlandEx co-owner Mark and some may have seen it in articles about his field-rescue ’65 Chev C30 modified with modern running gear.

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This smallest Summit cabin has a 10.5’ floor and 15.5’ overall length, designed for a one ton chassis. All models (Summit, Summit X, Summit XL) share the same construction: fibreglass-skinned honeycomb foam core composite panels surrounded with an aluminum exoskeleton and having an integrated pivoting base frame.

No wood was used in the structure. The interior cabinetry is also powder-coated aluminum with polymer doors. It has a double upper bed and another, slightly larger, double bed can be made-up in the dinette area. It also has generously sized wet bath with cassette toilet. But I’ll chatter less and get on with the specs:

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2020 Ford F350 XLT 4X4 Super Cab
  • commercial chassis-cab model, single rear wheel
  • Magnetic (grey)
  • 7.3L gasoline engine, 87 octane
  • 11,300 lb. GVWR
  • 168” WB
  • 4.30 rear axle
  • 151 litre fuel tank (40 gal.)
  • dual alternators, dual batteries
OverlandEx Summit Cabin
  • 45 gal. fresh water/35 gal. grey
  • 2 Victron AGM batteries
  • 2 170 watt solar panels
  • Victron solar controller and battery monitor
  • Xantrex 2000w inverter/charger
  • Blue Sea breakers
  • 2 Sureflo water pumps
  • Webasto gasoline-fired hydronic air/water/coolant heater
  • Nova Kool 100 litre compressor fridge
  • Dometic propane cooktop with Viking 20 lb. composite cylinder
  • Thetford cassette toilet
  • Bullfinch outside shower with 23 Zero shower enclosure
  • LED exterior lighting at sides and rear
  • rear tire carrier with winch
  • rear carrier for two 5 gal. jerry cans
  • rear ladder access to roof
  • Seitz windows, Tern entry and cargo doors
  • Bomar roof hatch
  • MaxxAir roof fan
  • custom Pendleton wool-blend dinette upholstery
  • custom wood-block counters and table top
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Overland Explorer is only about 2 hours down the highway from us so we’ve visited their facility several times now. Actually, we’ve come full circle, having returned to them after nearly three years of frustration and ultimate disappointment with a Sprinter conversion from another builder in Ontario. As well as understanding our needs better, that experience taught us to appreciate the build quality, engineering creativity, and straight-dealing from Mark, Arnold, and everyone else at Overland Explorer Vehicles. I can't stress this last point enough. This entire project was initiated on a handshake with co-owner Arnold. Sure, contracts came later, but we began with a promise between honorable people which, sad to say, is rare in today's business environment. This promise to do their best was tested when we experienced a glitch due to changes in vehicle specs which were unknown to OverlandEx and could have delayed or cancelled the project. However, Mark stepped-up without hesitation and found a way to make it right.

Our first plans are to travel through the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver and visit relatives, then devote a winter in the backcountry of our mountain National Parks. To that end, we’ve asked OverlandEx to fabricate an external aluminum box mounted on the rear cantilever to carry our skis and gear, with a fold-down table to provide a work surface.

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Around April we hope to head North and continue our explorations from the last few years by driving the Dempster to Tuk and Aklavik via the ice roads. As of now, however, the Northwest Territories is imposing a 14-day quarantine on visitors, so we’ll see.

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After that, its eastwards for the summer to explore the rest of our vast country; targeting some of the most iconic multi-day backpacking trips in each province and territory, with the camper as our home base.

I promise to return with photos of the completed rig, but for now I just wanted to share this project.
 
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Trail Talk

Active member
As can be seen with my previous post, the unit sits quite level and I think great credit goes to the stock Super Duty commercial-grade rear suspension of the chassis cab. Comparing this F350 chassis cab to a 2020 F350 long box with FX4 and camper package we had also considered reveals the rear spring pack of the chassis cab, with 11300 gvwr, has seven leaves plus an upper overload spring. The pickup, with 11500 gvwr, had 3 leaf springs plus an overload spring. I'm expecting the rear suspension of the chassis cab to offer a softer, more progressive ride with the cabin mounted.

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Here is the rear helper with the <2500 lb cabin on but in dry configuration. There is some space left before the overload spring engages so once we have water and supplies onboard I anticipate they will be actively working as designed. I'm quite happy to forego air bags or other helper springs/stability devices.

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Doc Foster

Adventurer
That is a nice looking rig. What are the dimensions of the bed, it might be the pic, but it looks a little small. Keep us posted as to how it all works out.
 

Trail Talk

Active member
What are the dimensions of the bed.
I do see what you mean from the angle of the photo. The frame is almost 9 ft (107.2") from back of the cab. OEV add an extension with bumper and hitch receiver to support the full cabin footprint.

There is an option for an additional 2 ft of frame length on the F450/550 chassis cabs, which might be required for Overland Explorer's larger Summit models.

Edit: as for the symmetry of truck vs cabin, its within 6" of being 50/50. From the back of the cab, our rig is 12.2 ft forward and 11.7 ft back. Not the usual large rear overhang, for sure, and the weight is comfortably forward of the rear axle.

Also, turns out the frame rails were spot on for the cabin length, no extension required.
 
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Doc Foster

Adventurer
I do see what you mean from the angle of the photo. The frame is almost 9 ft (107.2") from back of the cab. OEV add an extension with bumper and hitch receiver to support the full cabin footprint.

There is an option for an additional 2 ft of frame length on the F450/550 chassis cabs, which might be required for Overland Explorer's larger Summit models.

Edit: as for the symmetry of truck vs cabin, its within 6" of being 50/50. From the back of the cab, our rig is 12.2 ft forward and 11.7 ft back. Not the usual large rear overhang, for sure, and the weight is comfortably forward of the rear axle.
Actually I meant the sleeping bed. I have been watching this manufacturer for some time now, they put out really nice rigs.
 

OverlandFT

Active member
Wow, I really like this setup! The interior layout really utilizes the space well.

Do you happen to know the total length? (I'm guessing 25ft)
 

Trail Talk

Active member
Received the final weights from OverlandEx. Total weight of truck+cabin with full fuel and propane came to 10,075 lb. Add a full load of water and we are at 10,367 lb., leaving 933 lb. of additional weight capacity before we hit our GVWR of 11,300.

With 4,245 lb. on the front axle and 5,830 lb. on the rear (w/o water), we are at 88% of the max front axle weight, and 86% at the rear - near perfect weight distribution!

Will visit OEV soon for a final consultation on the few additional options we requested. Delivery date is drawing very near...
 

gregmchugh

Observer
Looks like a nice build.

I wonder how close to GVWR you want to be? Does getting close to the GVWR result in increased probability of component failures, reduced component life, etc., when you do a lot of off highway use?

Any guidelines based on actual usage?
 
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