Unimog Camper under construction

Ford Prefect

Expedition Leader
If I would have to do it, I would create a lift roof!

Like this one: http://unicat.net/de/pics/BS6KD-2.html
I think that one like this would allow for an inordinate amount of rain, bugs etc etc into the camper portion when you are raising and lowering the roof. (If you look close the sides, front and rear all fold into the camper prior to the lowering of the roof. If it was raining horribly out, what would you do with that thing? Better yet if it was tornado rain outside, and you wanted to park and go to sleep? Could not raise the roof and thus could not sleep. The bed is too near the roof. Imagine if you could not get one of the long sides up due to the high winds.

I don't know, looks fine in concept, but IMHO it is poorly thought out for a year round live-in vehicle.


Are you saying that you have one of the MAN unicats with the lift roof (as pictured in the link you posted)?


Thanks for all the comments and advice - we looked at a pop top but found it too complicated and since the raised roof on the cab puts it higher than a container - height was not a major concern.

The chamfer on the roof are there basically for protection - the tilt of a truck on a dirt road here in Australia will mean the corners take out, or get taken out by overhanging branches. All the radio boxes and the military trucks I have driven in my SA army days have had chamfered corners, except for one model and i would have to estimate that around 80% of the trucks we had at the base had one or the other top corner dented or damaged.

The chamfers on the rear corners are there because I want the truck to look different - the chamfer is quiet simple, with light bracing and folded sheet metal, however it made a very strong "roll bar" at the back for minimal weight, and I have a similar "roll cage" at the front - we will have passenger seating in the back and I want them protected as well. The loss of interior space is minimal, and because it is in the bed area, it would not be usable space anyway. I plan to have the bed quite high up - so maximising the "boot" underneath.

Still - as you can tell I'm in the planning stage, so things can change.
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A bit more work on the camper this weekend - I got the subframe and the start of the camper box welded up. A lot more work to go - but a lot of "visual progress" - makes it look like something now.



Approved Vendor : Total Composites
Looking good! I see you are using the original mounting hardware between frame and box. That very good.


Looking good! I see you are using the original mounting hardware between frame and box. That very good.
The subframe comes off a military U1750 - it was cut down to size. The U1300 subframe has a single oval tube design, this one has twin tubes and probably adds an extra 50kg but overall it is substantially stronger. I will also be adding shock absorbers to the rear subframe and the cab to limit the rocking motion. The u1750 frame came with a big shock absorber which I will re-attach to my truck and I've seen photos of the shocks for the cab.


A few more progress shots - the doorway is lower than the rest of the cab so that the ladder can be store underneath - and the recess will be the "wet area" with a show head etc.

As you can see from the one with my daughter and son in it - there is enough space in the back.

The bed takes up over a 1/3 of the room, but the huge storage space underneath makes it worth it. I will have some large wind out windows - so the whole place will feel light and with the only full height cupboard being next to the door right behind the cab, it will not feel claustrophobic like many of the campers I've been in.



It has been a while since I posted the progress - so here is an update of where it's at.

All the welding is more of less done - even though every time I say that I end up adding another few bits of bracing. This weekend was not exception - when I trial fitted the aluminium sheet - I decided it needed some more members to hold the sheeting a bit better. I'm sure it is more "just in case" than anything else, and adding another 6kg seemed worth it. I also fitted the door frame, and the frames for the two side access hatches - soon it will be the only way to get into the truck.

Cutting out the sheeting took no time at all - the plasma cutter made things easy. I've gotten into a system - so, it takes around 1 hour to get a sheet cut, prepared, cleaned and primed ready for gluing. The gluing part is quick - I have around 20 minutes from when I first start putting on the glue until it is too stiff for anything to move. The pneumatic glue gun helps a lot - it would be very difficult to squeeze out the amount of glue I use by hand in a short space of time.

The inside is starting to look more truck like - the holes in the sheeting are for the windows - so it should be fairly light inside. I've measure out the rear sheet - and will take it to the sheetmetal shop to get a 10 degree fold put in the bottom 65mm. The steel rear quarter panels will stay uncovered - once the sheeting is all glued on, I'll feather off the edges and then fill in the gap with body filler. The was no point covering the solid steel quarter panels with a soft aluminium sheet.

We also had a visitor today - Ron McGehee came over from the the USA and brought his U500 Unimog with him. He is touring around Australia for the next 6 months or so. All going well we might be joining him for a trip up to Cape York at the end of the year - providing I get my backside into gear.

The truck is huge - it is higher, longer wider and a lot heavier than mine - it weights in more than 12 tons, and is 3.9m high. Trish and I went for a short drive in it, it is great. It is a much more modern Unimog then mine - loads of gizmos - the gear change is air operated, the steering wheel and pedal can slide from one side of the truck to the other, and the cab is made from carbon fibre. The tyres are the 395/85-20's. Ron says he can't lift up the tyre it is laying flat it is so heavy. Ron's got a sneaky way of getting the spare tyres down - the whole frame lowers down to the ground hydraulically - all he has to to is wheel the tyre around. His truck is very well equipt, and every thing runs on diesel - he has a diesel generator, air-conditioner and even a diesel stove. He also has a mini reverse Osmosis plant on board - he can turn sea water into drinking water.

His is one of the first of the Global Expedition Vehicles made.

This is his website on his tour "down under"
Unimog U500Global Expedition VehicleMog Heaven - Down Under Australia

Ron says he will be re-building the truck when he gets back to the US, there are a few things he does not like and now with the experience he has living in it for a few months, he know what he wants to change.

The last one also gives as sense of scale - my Landrover hardly even comes up to the mirror!


bob kenny

New member

Hi Ian
My name is Bob Kenny & Im from SA,Just happenned to come across your article and thought youd be interested to know that we have a group of ex military vehicle enthusiasts from all over Australia, meeting in Nerang area around 3rd august this year to leave in covoy on the 5th for a trip up to the Gulf country making our way back down to the Hall of Fame in the Alice. Amongst this group of around thirty mainly older WWII vehicles will be my ex NZ military U1300, a friends U1000 and another friends hybrid U2150, all of which are pretty well decked out expedition vehicles and Im sure would be of great interest to you.
Even the little U1000 has full facilities including onboard toilet and shower.
I suggest that you contact me by email for further info, my address is rpkenny@aapt.net.au.
Best Regards Bob k


Cladding almost finished

The cladding is almost finished - just one complicated piece on the rear end and I'll have a box. I've left the floor off until I sort out all the mechanical bits - makes for easy access whilst making sure I have the clearance necessary.

First thing is the exhaust - have to find a route through the frame as our design rules require the exhaust to exit "behind the last occupied compartment" - so as I'm having two passenger seats in the back - that means I have to have the end of the exhaust out the back of the truck.

This weekend I'm also off to the Brisbane Caravan and Camping show - time to find the gear that will fit into the empty box.

The photos show a few view of the camper on the chassis - and a few internal views - first of the passenger seat frame - two Jaguar S-type leather "arm chairs" will go there, and the second of the queen size bed. Still have to figure out the cabinets and drawers - my wife wants a dishwasher fitted somewhere as well.



Just thought I post up a bit more progress on the build.

The cladding is complete - except for the floor which I have left off to create easier access to all the brake lines and air lines. I've mounted the main fuel tank - used the OEM brackets and spaced them out from the chassis to clear the various cross members. I'll mount the tank on 10mm rubber to allow fro some flex in brackets when the chassis flexes.

This weekend I'll finish off the rear storage boxes, and weld it to the camper back. I have to finish this off to enable me to finish the exhaust system which winds it way through the body out the back. I made that up out of some 3" pipe and mandrel bends - it should be a whole lot better than the OEM one with it's concertina bends. I will be ceramic coating the whole system to reduce the heat radiated out - and adding the necessary heat shielding where the air lines come close to the exhaust. The Mercedes Benz Body builder handbook has been great in specifying all the necessary clearances and allowances for frame flex and suspension movement, although since the rear plate on mine is substantially stiffer than those I've seen on the other Mogs, I doubt I will have as much frame flex after the centre fixed pivot point.

I've also sorted out a mount for the air tanks - so soon I can start the re-plumbing of all the air lines etc. The parts I bought as a job lot included new brake boosters, master cylinders and various air valves. anyway, here are a few photos of the progress since last time.



New member

Can you please talk a bit more about putting shock absorbers between the chassis and the camper.
Will this transfer stress onto the camper?
Is there a reason that MB did not do it?
Will you mount them at the front or rear corners where the movement is greatest?

My camper moves about +/-150mm sideways at about the same height as the top of your box. This is somewhat disconcerting at first but its actually doing what it was intended to do - stopping twisting of the box.

BTW Great camper and interesting thread - keep it coming :)


MB did use shock absorbers on the U1700 tray - my tray came with one, but I did not re-fit it. I want to first see how it performs before I spend the money, but I will weld on the brackets for shocks as it will be easier to do now then to retrofit later - brackets don't cost must. Sorry for the bad photo - not one of mine. It shows the OEM show on the end of one of the subframe tubes, mounted onto the chassis just in front of the transmission - the grey blue thing under the spare tyre is the shift cylinder. The brown brackets are the fuel tank brackets.

I think my subframe is very rigid and since it original had a shock absorber, so it must be strong enough. I don't think any more stress will get transferred to the camper box. I think the idea is to stop the rocking, just to dampen the movement but still allow it to move and flex - just not as fast.

I'm also looking at fitting shocks to the cab - MB supply them as an option as well.



That's very interesting, I didn't realize MB had shock absorbers installed on the subframe as stock components. It makes sense thinking about how the truck would react if you hit a big bump at high speed - in that case you don't necessarily want a really flexible frame, you want the truck suspension to take the hit. But at slow speed you want the frame to flex for traction and to reduce stresses.