Tag Archives: 4×4 Camper Trucks

Live-in trucks

We have moved into the trucks again.
The lovely long summer seems to have come to a finish the moment we put the stove flashing in place. An almost frosty morning, as if the weather has been waiting for us to be ready. I say ‘as if’ because some people do not believe in having a working relationship with the weather, so this is for you. Do not be offended, after all the Welsh love it when it does not rain.

Having just been to the Overland Adventure Show, it was interesting to see how others convert their live-in vehicles, how other people like to travel: there seems to be more travel focus than living focus for most.
Sitting in 6 wheel Land Rover Defenders that have more kit I would dare jam in a full size truck.
I guess people like their gadgets. I like having space, and a stove and a cabin-like feeling. I think we only really feel at home, on some level, in the trucks so we keep them home like, with loads of wood all around.

Some Live-in trucks from the show




Of water and the spirit (making overland camper water tanks)

The making of an overland camper water tank: we have been doing a little series of blog entries about nomadic fire and water, the titles of which we borrowed from the name of that great book.

This one is going to be about how to make a hot water system to run from the engine of the truck, to heat up the drinking water. The main problem with having water tanks on living trucks is that if you have them outside they freeze in the winter, and as we tend to be journeying through some cold fronts for some reason, and as we always end up having serious snow in winter, we decided that this time around we will have a heated water tank. It means we can de-ice the tank very quickly so we can use it in deep cold, but also that if we run the system whilst driving we can have a very hot shower the other side.

Again like in the stove design we have shared this is my personal design, but it is an adaptation from a pattern taught to me by a fellow nomad that has spent considerable time building live-in trucks.


4x4 camper water tank

Stainless steel water tank

The first step is to find or make a suitable tank, stainless steel of course is best. Next you need to make a hole at the bottom and drive a stainless steel pipe or coil (preferred) this must be welded shut so it is not open and the water running through it does not interact with the drinking water.

Overland camper water tank

Hole for heat element

Overland camper water tank

Heat element pipe through tank

overland camper water system

Heat Element welded with stainless steel wire

At the end of the pipe there are connectors for the water pipes, so if you are still unclear, the water running through this new pipe is the radiator water so it is not drinking water and should never mix with the tank water, next step is to make brackets on your truck.

overland camper brackets

Water tank brackets made

Put the tank in, and connect the pipes.

Mercedes overland camper water tank

Water tank in place

Mercedes 814 4x4 hot water system

pipes and valves

Next and last thing is to split the radiator pipes in two places (you can use the heater pipes) and run them to the the tanks. Make sure to put valves in the pipes so you can shut them off, because you don’t always want to be boiling your drinking water, nor even heat it in those hot summery days.

Mog on the Blog

unimog 1300l

The Mog

The Group Mind seems to doing its job as the morning I was writing the entry about the Elfi Yurt Edifice, I got to thinking that the Unimog needs its own entry and right then, there was an email from a guy who wanted to buy it…we sold it over 2 years ago.

So that was a sign that the Mog did indeed merit it’s own entry which looks like this. .

It’s a bit of a long story, as many of these are, but the vision for the Unimog and maybe the whole adventure came at the Hoopoe Yurt Hotel (a story in itself), when we were sewing their oh-so-big yurt cover in time for Santa and it looked like this: heart of the world, 4×4 trucks and tent palaces.

Morning Star had always wanted an excuse to get a Unimog so we began looking and found a nice looking one in Essex, of all places. The boss, (who had a  grand piano in his office) took us to his playground out back to show us what the Mog could do and drove to an extremely steep cliffside, “No way” we both said. The Unimog did it without even blinking…..and then back up: an impossible angle. It is often said that the Mog has more balls than you.

This Unimog had quite a colourful history as a mobile welding unit in Kazakhstan and thus had a 25KVA hydraulic generator, which ended up under the bed and meant we had endless power on the road.

The generator

The generator

 The welders in Kazakhstan were Brits who drove it back to their local pub in Essex, and opened a book on how many miles it would do. The story is that the clock stopped in Dover…..

With combination saw on tail lift

With combination saw on the tail lift


The million-dollar question was how we were gonna afford this vehicle, but the Spirit was with us, because as I sat in the old box (we changed the box to a bigger one) pondering this question, the ‘phone rang and it was a woman called Penny (get it?) confirming an order for 2 yurts. So there it was…

Now (it’s not an excuse) I hadn’t driven a Unimog before with its unusual steering and a Left-hand drive (this unimog is LHD) on the left, and when I went to collect her and drive her home, I had a bit of a meeting with the tail gate of an oncoming truck which meant I lost the right side wing mirror making it even more of a challenge to drive. Luckily they think about these contingencies and I got one in a fuel station, and made it to the B&B for the night, where this came from Morning Star…..

This little poem is about the real way
Some have forgotten some seemed to sway
The half moon is light of new dawn
It is time for the flautist, the sun rise of his day.
It is the peak of his life,
to go unfortold To a magical place called the dot dot dot dot
No one as been there, because nobody knows
That the spirit itself is the one who has called.
The magic has been such, that many have written
the story of one, but one is that flautist that have lead them away. To the point of conjunction, to the place that is called the center of lines,
a mind of it`s own, or the warriors way.
So it is time for a flutist to bring this new dawn
That all possibilities WILL BE surly forgone.
To invent this new language, the tongue of the hearts
To play it, and walk it, and dream it about.
If you have heard his music, you know, it is sad.
and for longing, it captures your soul
it is sad as you know you must go.
but your body is unable, to let go of his hold.
to move to the music, to truly be bold.
But yet the music still lingers,
not to be followed but as, a real note
to the composer itself, that some of us know.
And we still do follow those haunting notes
of unearthly music played by unearthly fingers
walked on unearthly toes.
The day is not breaking
but it is nearing the point where
the night of the dreamer
Be followed by a true living day.
When the music will play, in the hearts of the few
to go to that point of conjunction, that center of all
the place where the music as lead all along .
This morning twilight is the last hold of known
The flautist has waited, not for someone unknown,
but for his completion, to cleanse his own music,
for the truest of tunes, a tune he can own.
So the day is now breaking, even if the star
of the dreamer still lurks in the sky
or a cloud may obstruct him From the view of the eye.
The music is playing, to the strings of the world,
A voyage beginning to that place unfortold,
To The heart of the world.

Now a Unimog is basically a fancy tractor so has 8 forward gears, all quite high geared, so when you drive off, you have to very quickly do the whole range 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 which makes traffic lights quite interesting, and not only that but it has 8 reverse gears as well, the full range of which, we were never in a situation to need.

When we eventually got on the road, the Unimog, being a tractor, isn’t known for her speed at the best of times, and being loaded and towing the trailer, made us the slowest thing in the West. On the mountain roads of Austria where there is nowhere to pull over, we sometimes had to deal with a 10 mile tailback of angry Austrians. A bit scary for the Wandering Jews.

Having such a powerful generator aboard was fun and made lots possible….like running the combination saw in the forest or welding stoves next to the road.  (We were once parked in a (rare) lay-by in Austria where Morning Star was welding a stove when the tall blonde Aryan cops came along. They were very suspicious and a bit scared which intensified when they asked for our passports and Morning Star pulled out his new Austrian one, curtesy of his grandfather, and they realised that he didn’t speak a word of German. Nicht koscher).

After many adventures, we sold her, as the type of terrain we drove on didn’t really justify such a juicy vehicle, and we miraculously found a buyer for both the Mog and trailer in Lancashire.

With the others

With the others

Truck Boxes and Overland Campers

Truck Boxes and Overland Campers

morning star

Morning star

We are getting ready to go on an adventure, to take the Zodiac tent and create a centre. It means we needed to get some kind of a storage container so we can store in movement. So the other day early in the morning saw the Morning Star on the way to Bristol, to get a storage container to go on the back of our bigger Mercedes 1823 .

Burnt transit

Burnt transit


Tnt box

Tnt box

I did a turn at westeligh (westerly road) and the guys in the scrap years were hard core but funny, so we soon got it on the back of the truck. One can’t believe how much weed grows around parts of Bristol, It was surprising to me anyhow.


Surprising weed

Then back home it was time to quickly knock some windows into our Mercedes 814 4×4 overland camper.

mercedes 814 4x4 overland camper

mercedes 814 4×4 overland camper windows knocked (quickly)


Mercedes 1820 4×4 de-craning

We have had this truck for some years now and have traveled quite intensively in it.


Mercedes 1820 4×4 with unimog U1300L friend


Making yurt covers at the side of road by Elfi valley


Preparing for the feast of fools

When we built it up I decided that having an 18 ton truck just as a camper is overkill, and felt that a truck should earn its keep, and having a few ton extra capacity to play with, I decided to put a crane at the back of the box, as we already mentioned before, we don’t mind committing vehicular atrocities.

So although extending the chassis was already taxing the Mercedes body building manuals some, I did put a 3.5 ton palfinger crane behind the camper unit.

We had this vision at the time to make a two storey yurt, so we built the truck with that in mind.


Lifting the two storey yurt upper deck


Putting the spiral staircase in place

We have now found a buyer for it and, as having a yard full of newer trucks (and newer visions), deemed it a good moment move it onwards.

The new owner decided he does not need the crane so today we finally got to de-crane it for him.


Lifting the palfinger with the palfinger


In the air


And here it is de-craned


1820 4X4 De-craned

The Crane vs. the Winch and Deep Sheep

The snow cliff on the track

The snow cliff on the track

Being snowed in was kinda fun, but when the clocks sprang forward, and British Summer Time began and our track was still chest deep in snow, despite the fields either side being totally clear, the farmer kindly cleared the bob sleigh run with the forklift.

Getting trucks stuck, then unstuck, became the latest Welsh Hill Sport. Thor must be undecided about something as he got stuck on the fence, when he went up with his new homemade snowchains.

Homemade snowchains

Homemade snowchains

Thor sitting on the fence

Thor sitting on the fence

He tried getting out by winching himself off a friendly willow…

Old Man Willow lends a trunk for the Winch

Old Man Willow lends a trunk for the Winch

But ended up having to ask his big brother for help, proving that the crane is mightier than the winch.

1820 to the rescue

1820 to the rescue

Some of the sheep didn’t fare so well, and became food for the foxes. There is this power spot right by the house, where several sheep have come to die, and this time, for some days after these guys found the special spot and laid themselves down, there was always at least one sitting vigil right by them, illustrating that sheep are deep.

Sheep are deep

Shepth Depth