Cabin Fever

After a few delays, some minor, some not so minor, my cabin was transported from KrugXP to Hellgeth Engineering in Germany just over a week ago. It has arrived there safely and we are now waiting until the work is finished on my chassis and fuel tank, before the cabin and chassis will be joined in glorious matrimony. Having given them a respectful couple of weeks to get to know each other, I plan on visiting Hellgeth on November 16th to sign off the project as “complete”. Almost 11 months after I ordered the chassis, it will be a red letter day for me.

Then the complete truck will be shipped from Bremerhaven by Deugro, with whom I was put in contact by my good friend Henrique Pimental of Daimler Commercial Vehicles. Deugro work with Mercedes, Oberaigner and Hellgeth, transporting their vehicles around the world, so I could not be in safer hands when it comes to the shipping and clearing arrangements here in Dubai.

Busy, busy

I’ve kept myself busy finding a company who can fit additional soundproofing to my truck once it’s here, whilst also planning the fitting of the additional lights, GPS antennae, front recovery points etc. And continuing to learn German. S L O W L Y. I had a meeting with a radio station last week to discuss the possibility of sending in monthly reports about life on the road, and have started selling off a few of my personal possessions in order to liquidate some funds to be spent on equipment for the truck. So if you are in the market for a set of Tannoy 611 speakers with Adcom power and pre-amp, Pearl Vision (Birch) drum kit, Canon 300mm L IS lens or Series 1 Land Rover Discovery, let me know….

Discovery 1 For Sale
My Discovery 1 is for sale. Please give generously…

My second visit to KrugXP; checking the cabin build.

I returned to KrugXP’s factory in Cherkassy to see how my cabin build was progressing and to discuss the details and formalities of the export process with the guys at KrugXP. Although there had been rather less progress than I’d been hoping for, I already knew that the necessity to redesign the A/C storage unit to give better service access had caused a delay, and I’ve now agreed to travel to Germany at the end of October to check over the finished, completed vehicle, before it is shipped to Dubai.

Whilst there I was able to confirm a couple of things with Joerg Eden, Krug’s chief design consultant and my main contact, about the location of the rear brake light, rear ‘scene illumination’ light, and rear view camera, plus the installation of the additional reversing lights I’ll be adding in Dubai. KrugXP agreed to run the wires for these through the roof rails, allowing me to operate them from a separate switch in the cab.

Orders from around the world

I continue to be impressed by Krug’s attention to detail and quality of installation, and am happy I made the right choice of cabin builder. Clearly I’m not the only one who feels this way – Krug are now incredibly busy building cabins destined for delivery to the Middle East, Russia, Europe, even the U.S., so I reckon I did quite well to ‘get in early’. German chassis manufacturer Excap, whose Steyr truck chassis rebuilds are widely regarded as excellent large truck bases for overland vehicles, had just delivered a chassis to KrugXP, to be fitted with a demo cabin which Steyr will use to promote sales of their chassis. However such is the demand for their trucks (there’s a two year waiting list I believe) that I can imagine the demo truck will be sold long before it’s finished – and Krug will soon be busy building them another.

Truck For Sale

If you want to get hold of a finished vehicle right now, outside in Krug’s yard was a finished MAN based vehicle which sleeps 4 or 5 comfortably and which is available for sale immediately. I believe the asking price is around EUR 275K. Tell them Tim sent you and who knows, maybe I’ll get a discount on my own cabin! Also at the premises was a Swiss owned MAN truck just back from a South American expedition and in for some refurbishment, plus a Sprinter Van based mobile home into which new furniture was being installed. So busy times for KrugXP, and it was good to be able to turn up and put some pressure on to get my own cabin finished ASAP.

More photos of the cabin build

Overview of the cabin design

I received some more photos of my cabin build from KrugXP in Ukraine, which show the structure from all sides, and details of the interior. I plan on visiting the factory again on or around September 8th to take a look at the finished cabin, before it’s moved to Germany for fitting to the chassis. While I’m in Ukraine I’m thinking of visiting the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor melt-down. It’s quite possible to take a safe, professionally organised trip around the site these days, and since I work with X Rays in my ‘day job’ I’ve done my research and have no concerns about visiting the area. But I may be pushed for time so am still looking to see if this can be arranged.

My bedroom has under mattress heating!
My bedroom has under mattress heating! Nice and snug when I reach the Andes.

The bedroom has an access panel above which allows me to get onto the roof from within the cabin. It is hinged at the front, which means it’s impossible for it to open accidentally, even if I foolishly leave it unlatched, when driving. It also provides access the spare tyres which will be mounted at the top of the rear of the cabin (out the way of light fingered passers-by). Its other purpose is to allow me unhindered panoramic photography from the rear of the truck.

The panoramic panel opens fully to suit my photography needs
The panoramic panel opens fully to suit my photography needs

Likewise the large panel which opens next to the seating is designed to give me excellent visibility for photography. It’s also just nice to be able to sit down for a meal and have the hatch wide open, to take in the view. Within the panel there will also be a window. The cut out to the left is for the bathroom window and below it, the access panel for the cassette toilet. Bottom right you can see that access to the lower rear store is from both sides. Also note the exterior lighting near the roof line. This can be strobed to make it difficult for anyone trying to break into the cabin at night, to see clearly, and equally, to draw attention to the incident.

Water tank below, eye wateringly expensive Li-Ion battery above.
Water tank below, eye wateringly expensive Li-Ion battery above.

Inside the store is the water tank (the large white box) with the Li-Ion battery above. These are twice the price of similar capacity AGM cells but can be discharged to around 30 to 40% of their capacity each time, whilst AGMs can only be discharged to around 70%. So in theory I’ve twice the useful capacity for the same nominal capacity. Time will tell how rugged and durable this battery is. If it’s not, I’ve made an expensive error of judgement! To the right are the solar power controller, inverter, and various other elements of electronic wizadry. Don’t ask me to explain – I need the manual….  Planning this cabin build has taken me many years and KrugXP several more weeks in order to pack everything safely into these confined spaces, yet maintain service access where necessary. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s easy!

In an emergency I'll use this access door to get to the driving seat.
In an emergency I’ll use this access door to get to the driving seat.

This is the front of the cabin – there will be a door which can be accessed from the cabin, to get into the cab, and vice versa. This allows me to drive off in an emergency (and in the pouring rain 🙂 ) without leaving the safety of the (dry) cabin. Above the door, the area where you see the sloping roof line will have a rack fitted which will hold the spare wheel and perhaps an additional secured steel storage cabinet, if I find I need one later. An access ladder will be bolted to the front left hand side of the cabin (the right hand side of this picture). This neatly folds and locks up out of the way, so no-one can climb it and gain access to the spare wheel, or the solar panels on the roof.

Some of the extensive plumbing being installed under the seats
Some of the extensive plumbing being installed under the seats

The plumbing is going from the tank in the rear (on the left) to the bathroom (to the right) via the calorifier or “water heater” to you and me! The seats will be installed above this area. No, that white stool is not one of them…. The tools and cardboard box are seen here on top of the rear wheel arch.

View of the cab access door and to the right, my huge wardrobe :-)
View of the cab access door and to the right, my huge wardrobe. Kitchen cabinets to the right.

Not much room for hanging clothes as you can see, but I suspect I will be living in shorts, jeans and T shirts or wrinkle free specialist travel shirts (no need to iron anything!) most of the time. However I will try to squeeze one decent pair of Chinos and a sports jacket in there. You know, just in case I’m invited to dine at the occasional British Embassy, or lecture at a University from time to time. Ha!