Children of the Pamirs Education Fund Opened – August 6, 2019

August 6, 2019

BREAKING NEWS!

 

We were shocked when this young girl waded out into the creek and took the brush from Gary's hands.

We were shocked when this young girl waded out into the creek and took the brush from Gary’s hands.

A feature article on The Magic Girl of the Pamirs has been published in the Fall 2019 issue of Overland Journal. The story describes how we met a young 11-year old girl we are now sponsoring. We had backed into a small creek to wash dust off The Turtle V, high in the Pamir Mountains (10,000 ft.) of Tajikistan during our Silk Road Expedition in 2014. This fearless young girl simply walked into the water, took the brush from Gary’s hands and started helping. Without a common language her eyes, her smile and her no-fear self-confidence told us much more than words could have said.

Masha’s ability to transition from herding and milking goats to a city life and a very demanding education program was remarkable. Yes, she still knows how to milk goats!

Her ability to adapt from milking goats to city life and a very demanding education program was remarkable. Yes, she still knows how to milk goats!

In the course of the last two years, with our help, she has transformed her life from gathering firewood and milking goats in her remote mountain village to becoming a teenage “city girl”, now studying at the prestigious Aga Khan Lycée private school in the town of Khorog, with 17 subjects 6 days a week and extra English and math classes on Sunday.

Masha’s transition into becoming a student and a teenager in the city has been remarkable and rewarding for both her and us.

Her transition into becoming a student and a teenager in the city has been remarkable and rewarding for both her and us.

During a short visit last year to see firsthand how she was doing, we learned about many other young children that, for lack of funds in this very poor region of Tajikistan, could not get a better education which would help improve their own lives, their family’s and their community. The average income in Khorog is about $100 a month, putting better schools and learning tools like a computer and access to the internet out of reach for most families. Seeing this on a personal level prompted us to start “The Children of the Pamirs Education Fund” through DonorBox.

During a visit to Tajikistan's capital she and her friend enjoyed city life with ice cream, pizza, malls, escalators, movies and a beauty parlor. It was a new world!

During a visit to Tajikistan’s capital she and her friend enjoyed city life with ice cream, pizza, malls, escalators, movies and a beauty parlor. It was a new world!

If you wish to help with our efforts, there is a link on our home page, www.turtleexpedition.com or you can access the DonorBox Fund directly. All donations will be used exclusively to help a child get a better education. If you wish to sponsor an individual child for a year or longer as we are doing, given the internet and apps like WhatsApp, we can help you establish a direct contact with the young person to get involved in his or her life. It’s been a very rewarding experience for us. If you simply choose to make a personal donation, we will be writing occasional news updates on the progress.

To touch the past, Touch a Rock.

To touch the present, Touch a Flower.

To touch the future, Touch a Life.

To change a life, Teach a Child.

Thanks, Gary and Monika

 

 

 

The Turtle V – Update # 9 – Vehicle Specs – 2019

July 19, 2019

Base Vehicle: 1999 Ford F-550 4×4 Super Duty, 165” WB Chassis Cab

Design and Assembly: The Turtle Expedition, Unltd.

Year Built: 2000, modified and updated continuously (as needed)

Heading for the Guadalupe hot springs we followed off-road pre-run tracks.

Heading for the Guadalupe hot springs we followed off-road pre-run tracks.

Engine: International 7.3 L Power Stroke Diesel V8 equipped with intercooled ATS Aurora 3000 Turbo, DieselSite Adrenaline high pressure oil pump, DieselSite coolant filtration system, K&N high-flow air filter, AMSOIL dual remote bypass oil filtration system, Airtex fuel pump, Racor auxiliary fuel filter/water separator/fuel heater with clear bowl, Magnaflow Performance 4” exhaust system

Torque: 550 lb.-ft. @ 2,000 RPM

Horsepower: 305 HP @ 3,200 RPM

Transmission: ZF 6-Speed with South Bend Clutch

Transfer Case: New Process Gear 271 F

Front Differential: Dana 60 with ARB Locker and DynaLoc manual hubs

Rear Differential: Dana S-135 with Eaton Truetrac limited slip

Front Suspension: Dual Rancho RS9000 XL 9-position adjustable shocks, Deaver Spring pack, Hellwig HD sway bar

Rear Suspension: Rancho RS9000 XL 9-position adjustable shocks, Deaver Spring pack, Hellwig HD sway bar & Hellwig load leveling air suspension

Front Bumper: Custom by Buckstop with locking storage compartments, Warn winch, special mounts for Total Vision front camera and GoPro, Hella auxiliary driving lights

Winch: Warn 16.5ti with Viking synthetic Dyneema® HMPE Line

Rear Bumper: Custom by Unique Metal Products with storage for Hi-Lift Jack bar

Tires: Michelin 335/80R20 XZL MPT mounted on custom steel Rickson wheels

Electrical: Two Group 34 Odyssey Extreme batteries

Alternators: Ambulance package. Dual high-output alternators for starting and camper batteries

Air Supply: Dual Extreme Outback ExtremeAir Magnum 12 Volt compressors with 5-gallon AccuAir reserve tank

Fuel System: Dual Transfer Flow tanks with manual switch

Fuel Capacity: 94 gallons total: 46-gal custom Transfer Flow main tank and 38-gal auxiliary Transfer Flow tank plus two 20 L (5-gal) jerry cans on the rear

GVWR: 17,500 lbs. (factory rating)

GVW fully loaded: 15,000 lbs.

Sections of the Devil's Highway along the Arizona/Mexican border were fast and dusty.

Sections of the Devil’s Highway along the Arizona/Mexican border were fast and dusty.

The Turtle V – Update #8 – The Camper Wrap-up – 2019

July 12, 2019

So there you have it, The Turtle V and its Tortuga Expedition Camper. If you have seen The Turtle V blogs #1 to #7 2019 on our website, you now know more about this vehicle than anyone has ever asked or wondered.

Ultimate Vehicle

If we are talking about the ultimate overland vehicle we need to be clear about the word ultimate. According to Merriam-Webster it means something that cannot be further improved or refined. Let’s keep that in mind.

At just over 13,000 feet in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan we enjoyed the morning sun and took the opportunity take a hot shower and to dry some clothes. No laundromats in sight here.

At just over 13,000 feet in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan we enjoyed the morning sun and took the opportunity take a hot shower and to dry some clothes. No laundromats in sight here.

 

Designing your own Camper

Designing your own camper is a can of worms and can be very frustrating, time consuming and expensive. We know!! We have built, modified and traveled in five Turtles and two project campers built for Ford and Dodge. There are lots of mistakes to make. Unless you have the luxury of time to experiment as we have had for the past 48 years, there are some things to think about.

First you need to decide where you’re going and for how long. Will you be visiting National Parks, taking weekend trips to the beaches of Mexico, or driving around the world? If the former, do you really need four-wheel drive, a winch, and locking differentials? Is it going to be warm and sunny where you’re going? Your personal level of comfort is critical. The second consideration is who you are traveling with. Will it be just yourself and a companion, or with two kids, a cat, and a dog? These factors will influence both camper size and equipment needed.

The Aksaray-Sultanhan is the largest Caravanserai along the Silk Road in Turkey.

The Aksaray-Sultanhan is the largest Caravanserai along the Silk Road in Turkey.

 

German Ideas

We learned many tips from German camper manufactures like Unicat, Langer & Block and Alustar, after visiting their factories, and from fellow travelers at events like the Africa Fest and the Safari Club meeting in Germany. For example, custom cabinets were sized to fit what would be stored in them. A file cabinet is a great convenience for organizing trip information and documents. Compartments just the size of the Pelican cases we use for camera, computers and a major First-Aid kit maximize use of space. All drawers for food, cooking utensils and clothing are on full-slide ball-bearing tracks with positive marine-style steel latches. Space is always critical. Our 10” dinner plates fit perfectly on a 10 1/2” shelf. A larger 15” or 18” shelf would be a waste of space! CAD design is helpful. Using CAD, when you move the kitchen sink it tells the bed and the window if there is still space. Bathroom? Where do you put a 3ft X 3ft X 6.5ft space in a small camper, just for occasional use? The Germans figured this out too. Use the doorway! It is a space that is always there. Good for a roomy shower or a Porta Potti that slides out on tracks.

As we started down this amazing set of switchbacks in Kyrgyzstan, we could imagine a string of camels coming up heavily loaded with the treasures of The Silk Road.

At 15,272 feet in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan, our ATS turbo made our 7.3 Power Stroke engine think it was at sea level. The barometric altitude compensator on our two Eberspacher heaters worked perfectly.

 

Level of Comfort

Next to determine is your level of comfort—a very individual matter. You may be content curling up in a sleeping bag on the ground, crawling into a pop tent, or climbing up to a roof-top tent. Those are all fine choices, but they relate back to where you are going, for how long, and ultimately the weather. Can you be comfortable for five days of pouring rain in Ecuador? How does a roof-top tent feel at -60°F in Siberia? How does anything feel at 135°F in the desert of Turkmenistan? At such extreme temperatures, and they are not that difficult to find, the advantages of a well-insulated hard-side camper become more obvious. While we love to meet and mix with the locals wherever we camp, when the mosquitos are buzzing in your ear and the locals are watching your every move, there are times when it’s nice to go inside and close the door.

The high grasslands of Kyrgyzstan near Lake Song-Köl gave us unlimited perfect campsites.

The high grasslands of Kyrgyzstan near Lake Song-Köl gave us unlimited perfect campsites.

When I began outfitting the first Turtle in the early ’70s, a 1967 109 Land Rover seemed like the perfect choice. There were specific goals to be met. Most importantly, my traveling partner and I needed to sleep in a comfortable bed in any weather. That requirement does not change for a week in Baja or a year in Tajikistan. We also needed to be able to go to the bathroom. Not necessarily the most important thing…but it will be if you can’t. Are you happy behind a bush with a shovel or a portable toilet seat, (a luxury if you don’t like to squat), or a toilet seat over a plastic bag and small trashcan? Maybe a step up to a Porta Potti is preferred? The bush works really well provided there are bushes and not many people around. The plastic bag in the trashcan for inside the camper is an excellent solution—we used this for years. It should be noted that it’s a lot easier to get rid of a plastic bag than it is to find a place to dump 5 gallons of poop. Use a pee jar at night! Privacy you ask? If you are traveling in a small camper for a year and cannot go to the bathroom in front of your partner, you may have a bigger problem. Don’t forget to include a bathing option: a solar bag on the roof, sponge baths, a dive in the ocean with sea-soap or Joy detergent, or a real hot shower inside or outside your camper. Be aware that you need to plan on how you will handle personal hygiene before you stink.

Umpqua National Forest, Utah. Welcome to our living room on the road.

Umpqua National Forest, Utah. Welcome to our living room on the road.

 

Purified water

The next critical consideration is a reliable source of purified water. This concern in developing countries isn’t just bacteria, but more importantly, viruses. Though there are all kinds of water filters and purifiers available, the term “purified” is often inaccurately used. Don’t be fooled!! Sickness from bad water can ruin your trip or even your life!! The most practical solution we found is to chlorinate the water in the water holding tank, then filter out the chlorine and dead bacteria and viruses. We installed the Everpure dual-filter Superchlorination/Dechloination system we have used for many years. The Everpure system uses a method suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Most towns and cities use chlorine to purify their water, which is why it can often taste like a swimming pool. Everpure recommends 1/6 once, (5ml), or 1 teaspoon to each 10 gallons or 8 drops per gallon in your tank. Chlorine, common bleach, is available all over the world. (Don’t use the kind with soap or lemon flavors. Swimming pool service stores are an optional source.) It’s not always an exact measurement because sometimes we have to guess how much water is left in the tank. There is a small test kit if you are worried. A little more doesn’t hurt. The chlorine kills bacteria and most importantly, viruses. This system allows us to fill the tank from any source: a river, lake, irrigation ditch, or village well.

The old trails leading into the interior of Baja California always lead to surprises.

The old trails leading into the interior of Baja California always lead to surprises.

 

Cooking

Cooking is another important component of a well-designed overland camper. Eating is essential to your health. Aside from the cute little backpacking stoves that are designed for, well, backpacking, you have choices with regard to fuel: diesel, kerosene, unleaded gas, alcohol and propane are available everywhere in the world. Electrical induction stoves might work if you have a generator and big batteries. (You may need to change all your pots and pans.) Diesel stoves have obvious advantages if you are driving a diesel truck, but we highly recommend you try some diesel stoves at home for a few days before you decide. We did! We recommend propane; maybe little disposable cans for a short trip but a 20 lb tank for longer adventures. In case you never thought about it, the whole world cooks on propane, otherwise known as LP. It is important to understand that LP stands for—Liquid Petroleum. Yes, it is a liquid and we can find it and refill our Manchester LP tanks anywhere in the world using a local adaptor, purchased at a hardware store, and a local exchange tank. 

As we started down this amazing set of switchbacks in Kyrgyzstan, we could imagine a string of camels coming up heavily loaded with the treasures of The Silk Road.

As we started down this amazing set of switchbacks in Kyrgyzstan, we could imagine a string of camels coming up heavily loaded with the treasures of The Silk Road.

 

Storage

From a vehicle standpoint, you have to look at all of the above to determine how much storage you will need. If the goal is to see how far off the beaten track you can get and still be comfortable, it shouldn’t be too big to go where you want to go. Choosing a vehicle with an appropriate gross vehicle weight rating is key—adding bigger springs or stiffer shocks to a low-GVWR platform is not necessarily the answer. The brakes and frame of a vehicle were designed by expert engineers for the rated GVW. Dual rear wheels are not a good idea. They plow sand, mud and snow, and they will pick up big rocks and cause tire failure.

Following part of the infamous Hastings cut-off in Nevada, a mistake the ill-fated Donner party made, we drove through a slice of history.

Following part of the infamous Hastings cut-off in Nevada, a mistake the ill-fated Donner party made, we drove through a slice of history.

 

Fuel

Lastly, you must consider the type of fuel. Gasoline is available everywhere. Octane and quality varies. Diesel has always been the preferred choice for overland travel. Newer diesel engines require ultra-low-sulfur fuel and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which will pose a problem in third-world regions. I suggest starting with an older 3/4- or 1-ton American diesel pickup with the weight capacity you need that will run on any diesel fuel. There are millions of used trucks out there and the aftermarket companies offer products that will make them stronger and more reliable. You can scroll through the companies on the Suppliers page on our web site, https://turtleexpedition.com/suppliers/, for some answers. Take the thousands of dollars you save and use after-market products to improve the reliability of an older vehicle.

Our weeklong camp on the Sea of Cortez was idyllic. No we’re not telling exactly where it was.

Our weeklong camp on the Sea of Cortez was idyllic. No we’re not telling exactly where it was.

 

Building The Turtle V

The goal in building The Turtle V was to create a vehicle that was comfortable and reliable, and a camper that was big on the inside and small on the outside. Did we succeed? For our kind of travel, which is living on the road, (not off-road but sometimes very bad roads), and exploring the remote regions and cultures of the world, the answer is absolutely! Is this the ultimate Overlander? It is a work in progress; check with us after we’ve driven around the world a third time.

If you are thinking about building your own camper or buying one, the previous seven blogs should give you food for thought. If you want to see some of the previous four expedition campers, you might find some answers on our vehicles page or at https://expeditionportal.com/the-trail-of-the-turtles-thirty-five-years-of-learning-and-mistakes/

If you’d like to see a few more pictures of The Turtle V on the road, browse through the blogs on our website that cover our most recent 40,000-mile/26-country/two-year expedition around the world, following the Silk Road or check out https://expeditionportal.com/world-nomad-the-turtle-v/

If you just want to know more about us, you might find some information at https://expeditionportal.com/32806/

A remote camp on the Pacific of Baja California gave us an evening light show and almost a double rainbow.

A remote camp on the Pacific of Baja California gave us an evening light show and almost a double rainbow.

 

Gary’s Interview on CarsYeah.com – July 8, 2019

July 8, 2019

What a fun interview!

Mark Greene at CarsYeah.com brought back memories I had not thought of for years and he made me also realize that

I really am a car guy!

 Enjoy, Gary

Click here to listen!

The interview is also live on Cars YeahiTunesGoogle Play, Spotify, YouTube, iHeartRadio, Radio.com,Alexa TuneIn, and Stitcher

Inspiring Automotive Enthusiasts

CarsYeah.com

The Turtle V – Update #7 – The Camper Part 2 – 2019

July 5, 2019

Let’s walk through the camper

The Dinette

Our dinette table can sit four in a pinch, but it was sized and designed for two adults and it does not make into a bed. Six-inch medium dense foam with a reclined back make it ideal for working or eating or just relaxing. Behind each seat is a large compartment for dirty clothes or—-wine. Most campers have places for clothes but never for dirty clothes! The double-pane pass-through window to the cab is made of Lexan and securely locked from inside. When we camp, we unlock the window in the cab in case we need to climb through in an emergency.

Southern Utah, May 2015

 

Cockpit Control Panel

Above the dinette, Blue Sea electrical breaker switches control all 12V and 110V power sources with individual breakers for fans, step, solar panels, shore power, etc.

The PROsine control panel tells us the current charge of our Odyssey batteries, the temperature of the batteries, and allows us to switch from the 2000-watt inverter to the 100-amp charger.

The Xantrex Link 10 shows us the current charge on our battery system and exactly how many amp hours we have left based on current use.

The Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000E controller increases the charge current by operating the PV module in a manner that allows the module to produce all the power it is capable of. Patented Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology allows Solar Boost 2000E to increase charge current up to 30% or more compared to conventional charge controllers.

Overhead Storage

As import as storage is in a small camper, we designed cabinets and top cupboards to maximize space for mostly light-weight items for everyday use that keeps the center of gravity low.

Kitchen Counter Tops

The Corian we used for countertops has survived extremely well. Small scratches can be polished out.

The Corian we used for countertops has survived extremely well. Small scratches can be polished out.

While we never shy away from interesting street food, we do 95% of the cooking ourselves. A well-equipped kitchen for preparing delicious and healthy meals had to include two sinks, plenty of counter space, filtered and purified water, (hot & cold), and a three-burner propane stove. For the surface of the counter tops we chose Corian, and we are really happy with its durability.

Why a Propane Stove?

Filling our propane tank from a local exchange tank in Greece was about a five minute job.

Filling our propane tank from a local exchange tank in Greece was about a five minute job.

We had investigated and experimented with diesel stoves and there was no question that cooking with propane was and is the best choice over diesel, alcohol or induction plates. In case you never thought about it, the whole world cooks on propane, otherwise known as LP. It is important to understand that LP stands for—Liquid Petroleum. Yes, it is a liquid and we can find it and refill our Manchester LP tanks anywhere in the world using a local adaptor, purchased at a hardware store, and a local exchange tank. And by the way, did you ever try to BBQ some fresh fish filets on a diesel stove?

Barbecue – Oven & Microwave

Nothing like a fresh loaf of bread on a remote beach in Belize (1980).

Nothing like a fresh loaf of bread on a remote beach in Belize (1980).

In the Turtle V, we originally had an oven and a microwave. Both took up too much space for as little as they were used. We prefer our Weber Go-Anywhere portable grill to keep the heat outside of the camper. It connects to one of our LP tanks with a quick-disconnect valve. (see Turtle V #6 Camper 1)

If we really want to bake something, you would be amazed the bread and meatloaves we have prepared in a Coleman Folding Oven. Back in 1988 on Lake Titicaca in Peru, Monika even baked a pineapple upside down birthday cake in a pan on the stove. 

BED

The bed is a 5” medium density mattress with a natural wool cover and fitted sheets. During the day it folds in half and the front base slides into the lower base, creating a comfortable day-bed. At night, it takes 30 seconds to make the full bed, leaving one sink open. All pillows, down comforter, light blanket and down jackets store in stuff bags that also serve as pillows as needed. The length of the bed—which ultimately determines the actual outside width of the camper’s box—is the same length as the bed in The Turtle III & IV, (6’ 7”). Under the lower mattress we added plastic waffle mats to prevent moisture created by body heat on a cold surface in sub-zero temperatures.

During the day the bed is perfect for a quick nap, even for two.

During the day the bed is perfect for a quick nap, even for two.

Below the bed are three full-extension drawers, two for clothing (one drawer each!), one season at a time. The top drawer for general stationary; batteries, chargers, paper, a portable printer and a portable photo printer, etc. The shelf above the bed is a good place for books and a few knickknacks that make the camper feel like home, even for a one night stop. Lightweight items are held in place with Velcro. The collapsible bed with pre-fitted sheets, accomplishes one of our primary goals in the design. We wanted the camper to be as big on the inside but as small as possible on the outside.

The bed is a 5” medium density mattress with a natural wool cover and fitted sheets. During the day it folds in half and the front base slides into the lower base, creating a comfortable day-bed. At night, it takes 30 seconds to make the full bed, leaving one sink open. All pillows, down comforter, light blanket and down jackets store in stuff bags that also serve as pillows as needed.

Refrigerator

Next to the entry door is the refrigerator cabinet purposely positioned over the wheel well.

Next to the entry door is the refrigerator and cabinets purposely positioned over the wheel well.

Ice chests are a fond memory. When you fill an ice chest with ice at the market, there is little room for food. We installed a Dometic CoolMatic Compressor refrigerator with a freezer. It runs on 110V or 12V and does not need to be level, unlike the more common absorption types. On 12V it draws only 6 Amps with a low voltage cut-out, and it is extremely quiet. 

After trying a couple of other brands over the years our Dometic Coolmatic compressor refrigerator has been ideal. It’s extremely quiet and can even make ice cubes, freeze ice cream or week’s worth of chicken or fish.

Above, on the side and below are large storage cabinets used for storage of household items.

Safe Water

Safe water is a must. We installed the Everpure dual-filter Superchlorination/Dechloination system we have used for many years. The Everpure system uses a method suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Most towns and cities use chlorine to purify their water, which is why it can often taste like a swimming pool. We add 8 drops of chlorine bleach per gallon which is available all over the world. It’s not always an exact measurement because sometimes we have to guess how much water is left in the tank. There is a small test kit if you are worried. A little more doesn’t hurt. The chlorine kills bacteria and most importantly, viruses.

The two easy-to-change Everpure filters can last for months. We can fill our 40-gallon water tank and jerry cans from creeks, lakes, rivers, irrigation ditches or any water faucet in any village or gas station.

The two easy-to-change Everpure filters can last for months. We can fill our 40-gallon water tank and jerry cans from creeks, lakes, rivers, irrigation ditches or any water faucet in any village or gas station.

The first-stage coarse filter takes out dirt, sand and big stuff. The secondary primary filter, with a pore size of 0.5 micron, removes the chlorine and other foul tastes and odors, asbestos and industrial wastes, amoebas, giardia and their cysts but not salt. (In case you wondered, 0.5 micron is 1/50,000 of an inch. One micron is 0.001 mm or 0.00004 inches.). It feeds the small secondary faucet at the sink used for all cooking and drinking with sparkling clear premium-quality water. The main sink faucet has hot and cold water, which is also purified, (Superchlorination), but may have a slight chlorine taste. It is perfectly fine for washing and bathing, and you could even drink it. The hand-held sprayer head is handy for a quick hair wash.

The two easy-to-change Everpure filters may last for months. We can fill our 40-gallon water tank and jerry cans from creeks, lakes, rivers, irrigation ditches or any water faucet in any village or gas station.

Water Storage

A 40-gal water tank is mounted under the floor of the dinette, keeping the weight low. If we are careful, that’s enough for ten days and we carry two 5-gal. jerry cans for reserve. The jerry cans can also be used to transport water to the truck when there is no hose. A reliable ShurFlo 4008 water pump sends water to the filters, sink and showers at 3 gal. per minute. In case you wondered, a nice long hot shower, (turn the water off while soaping up and shaving), uses 3 gallons of water.

Hot Water, a Luxury

The roomy shower in the doorway is a German idea for a space that’s always there. It’s great when it’s not practical to use our outdoor shower.

The roomy shower in the doorway is a German idea for a space that’s always there. It’s great when it’s not practical to use our outdoor shower.

Hot water is a luxury and it’s so easy. We installed an Eberspaecher, (Espar), D5 Hydronic Coolant Heater. This small compact unit is plumbed to the cooling system of the engine. It burns a minuscule amount of diesel from the main tank. Its Espar barometric altitude compensator was tested in Tajikistan at over 14,000 ft. It has its own little internal pump and heats the engine coolant to about 160°F. We designed valves and transfer manifolds to direct that 160°F coolant to whatever we need to heat. It can preheat the engine on a cold morning, or heat the camper using a small radiator, or if we send that hot coolant to the Kelvion Plate heat exchanger and pump cold water through it, we have hot water in about 3 minutes after we push the remote start button on the D5 Hydronic., (next to my bed). We use a Watts Series MMV thermostatic mixing valve to keep the water temperature at the kitchen or shower to a safe 120°F. Since the system is directly connected to the engine’s coolant, the small radiator in the camper and hot water will work any time the engine is running.

What? No separate Bath/Shower?

Bathing and going to the bathroom are both very important elements of a practical comfortable camper for long-term travel overland in undeveloped countries, or anywhere else for that matter. Where do you put a 3ft X 3ft X 6.5ft space in a small camper, just for occasional use? The Germans figured this out too. Use the doorway! It is a space that is always there. We designed a sunken entry that drains into a separate 12-gallon holding tank. (Great for washing muddy shoes) A light coated ripstop nylon shower curtain encloses the exposed interior part of the entry and gives us a relatively large shower with plenty of elbow room. It is much bigger than the 19in X 27in entry pad which has plenty of room for our feet and room to move around. Shower head and controls are in an entry wall compartment. The wet ripstop curtain dries in a few minutes.

When you gotta go, you gotta go!

Being able to disconnect the toilet seat from the storage tank make it easy to dispose of the black water.

Being able to disconnect the toilet seat from the storage tank makes it easy to dispose of the black water.

Going to the toilet is an interesting subject with options, but for sure, you will need to go. A shovel behind a bush works. A folding toilet seat is nice. A small trash can with a plastic bag under your folding toilet seat is an indoor option. The Thetford Porta Potti 365 with electric flush has a 5.5 gal holding tank, enough for about 56 flushes. On the road, if we don’t fill it up with pee, it can last two weeks. Dumping is not a big problem. In the wild, you can dig a hole and cover it up. Otherwise, any outhouse, squat pit toilet or gas station works. The clear advantage of a Porta Potti is that it is “portable”, unlike the equally popular cassette toilets that need to be bolted to the floor in their own little room. Our Porta Potti slides out on HD tracks into the doorway. There when we need it. Gone when we don’t. If you prefer, it’s portable, so you can pick it up and move it. Privacy?? Really, if you are traveling in a third-world country in a small camper for a year or more and you can’t go to the bathroom in front of the person you are traveling with, what can we tell you? You might be better off with a classic slide-in camper with the standard shit-shower-brush-your-teeth-and-cook-breakfast-all-at-the-same-time-please-and-don’t-get-the-toilet-paper-wet-bathroom. I should mention here that like many overland travelers have discovered, at night we use a “pee jar”. Don’t fill the Porta Potti up with water or pee.

Sink or no sink

We also had to decide if we needed a special little sink in a special little room to brush our teeth and a separate sink to wash dishes when we could touch both sinks without moving our feet. They both drain into the same holding tank! Easy choice huh? We brush our teeth in the kitchen. All grey water goes to a separate 14-gallon holding tank that we drain daily or when it is convenient. It’s big enough for several days if we conserve water.

Electric Power

All power, both 12V DC and 110V AC, is controlled by Blue Sea marine circuit breakers. There are almost no fuses in the camper.

All power, both 12V DC and 110V AC, is controlled by Blue Sea marine circuit breakers. There are almost no fuses in the camper.

Electric power is a necessity today. After testing other brands over the years, when we built The Turtle V we started using Odyssey Extreme AGM batteries. We use 4 34/78-PC1500s in the camper, also installed under the dinette floor, and two of the same size as starting batteries. If one should fail, they are all interchangeable and it is a basic size that can be found anywhere automotive parts are sold. The camper batteries are wired so that we are drawing from all four at the same time, not just battery #1. Odyssey Extreme AGM batteries are deep cycle, marine and starting, all in one.

Electric Power Sources

The house batteries are kept charged on the road by an auxiliary 200-amp alternator that is run though a remote Balmar marine regulator. The main 160-amp alternator charges the two starting batteries. The Turtle V came from the factory with the dual-alternator ambulance package. We also installed two BP85 solar panels on the roof that run through a Blue Sky Energy Solar Boost 3000i controller. A ProSine 2.0 2000-watt inverter supplies 110AC for charging computers, camera batteries and other electrical tools. In addition, the Prosine 2.0 incorporates 100-amp converter/battery charger that we configured down to 25-amps when we are plugged into shore power. It automatically drops to a maintenance level when the truck is stored for a long period of time. A separate 220V to 110V step-down converter is used when we are in countries that use only 220 volts AC.

Circuit Breakers and Wiring

Therm-O-Link wire does not melt or burn in the case of a short.

Therm-O-Link wire does not melt or burn in the case of a short.

All power, both 12V DC and 110V AC, to everything that uses power, is controlled by Blue Sea marine circuit breakers. There are almost no fuses in the camper. All wiring was done using Therm-O-Link wire that will not melt in case of a short. All connections were made with Quick Cable lead free solder or heat shrink terminals. All wiring was laid and routed on the inside of the camper walls before Formica siding and cabinets were installed.

Heaters

Our primary heater, a diesel-powered Eberspaecher (Espar) Airtronic, is tucked away behind one of the kick boards under the sink. A second heater, a small Hunter radiator, takes hot coolant from the engine while driving to keep the camper warm if we open the valve for that purpose and turn its fan on.

Lighting

Lighting is very important. Despite the advantages of all the new LED lights, we stayed with the warm Optronics and Hella fluorescents used in previous campers. Seven overhead and two reading lights fill the darkness wherever they might be needed. 

Fans

We do not have air conditioning. Since we rarely stay in campgrounds where shore power might be available, two Fan-Tastic Vents and a couple of small portable fans keep air moving when temperatures climb. We didn’t want to deal with carrying a generator and separate fuel.

Music

Music is nice to have at home, so why wouldn’t we want it in our camper? Four speakers give surround sound. The Kenwood AM/FM radio allow us the balance the sound, front to back, depending on where we are. It will play CDs, flash sticks and the collection on our iPod. No, we do not have a TV.

 

The Turtle V – Update #6 – The Camper Part 1 – 2019

June 22, 2019

The Turtle V Expedition Camper

A One-of-a-Kind Build

After constructing a wood prototype—stick and staple—an aluminum exoskeleton was fabricated and welded at all joints. Inside this exoskeleton, 1 ½ “ panels of honey-comb Nida-Core were hand laid with fiberglass and attached to the aluminum frame with marine Sikaflex adhesive, secured with marine pop rivets where needed. All cabinets and other accessories, both inside and out, were attached to the Nida-Core walls using Yardley brass nut-certs and 3M EPX 2-part epoxy.

Turtle V #6 Camper 1 005

After constructing a wooden prototype, an aluminum exoskeleton was fabricated and welded at all joints.

You cannot twist a Box

In 2000, this European-style expedition camper was designed by us with pencil on paper and mounted to the chassis of the F-550 using a three-point suspension system engineered by the experts at Midwest Four Wheel Drive in Missouri. There are two supporting pads at the front and a large pivot bolt at the rear. This completely isolates the camper from the twisting of the frame. You cannot twist a box. It will break apart!

Our Goal for the Camper:

Big on the Inside – Small on the Outside

After driving across Russia in 1996 for eleven months, we noticed the advantage the big Kamaz personell carriers had for height clearance by angling the size of the roof. Since you never stand up against the wall you do not loose any headroom and though you may loose some storage space, up high is not where you want your center of gravity. Admittedly, we did not want The Turtle V to look like another US camper or motorhome. That was one of the reasons we did not put a bed over the top of the cab nor add inside storage.

 

 

 

 

 

The camper was designed to be as big and comfortable on the inside with maximum use of space, and as small as possible on the outside. After 30 years of exploring the backroads of over 40 countries in four previous vehicles, (see Vehicles on www.turtleexpedition.com), and two special project trucks we built for Ford and Dodge, we knew where we would be going and what vehicle could get us there—and home again. Back in 1997/1998 we had carefully studied designs by respected European expedition camper companies including AluStar, Unicat and Langer & Bock and attended a couple of large overlander gatherings in Germany. Using the advantage of looking through a filter gained by years of observing what worked and what didn’t, the design began to take shape. We had an inside view on the newest and most functional products available at that time, and it continues to evolve.

Basic Living Requirements

Basic living requirements were simple; sleep, cook, eat, work, bathe and go to the bathroom without opening the camper door, for a week if necessary. A comfortable bed, a comfortable place to sit, to eat and work, a functional kitchen with a three-burner propane stove to prepare healthy meals, two sinks with two faucets, one for purified water and one for filtered purified water, a compressor refrigerator, an inside and outside shower, a Porta-Potti, a good sound system and plenty of light where it is needed.

Let’s start on the outside:

Camper Roof

Two BP85 solar panels on the roof run through a Blue Sky Energy Solar Boost 3000i controller.

Two BP85 solar panels on the roof run through a Blue Sky Energy Solar Boost 3000i controller.

On the roof of the camper we installed a system of Yakima permanent rack rails. The Yakima rails accommodate low-profile Yakima Skyline Towers and cross bars to which we can attach racks for a canoe, kayaks, or a Yakima ski box. In preparing for our recent 40,000/26-country expedition, we had a custom weather-proof locking aluminum storage box designed for additional clothing, (summer or winter), backpacking gear and other travel equipment. It was mounted on the rear Yakima cross bars. Two BP 85 solar panels on the roof run through a Blue Sky Energy Solar Boost 3000i controller.

?Air Conditioning?

We did not want air-conditioning nor the generator and separate fuel it would require. In the places we travel we rarely have shore power. Two Fan-Tastic Vents give us great air circulation. One is located on the ceiling between the dinette and the stove and the other over the bed. Two smaller fans can be moved where we need them.

Windows

Aside from offering protection from burning sun or pouring rain, an awning is great place to hang clothes to dry when there isn’t a tree for fifty miles.

Aside from offering protection from burning sun or pouring rain, an awning is a great place to hang clothes to dry when there isn’t a tree for fifty miles.

All windows are Seitz dual-pane with privacy and mosquito screens incorporated. They can be locked in vent-mode. All windows are a size too small to crawl through but plenty large enough to see out of.

Awning

Of course we needed an awning, not only for shade or rain in a camp, but its poles provide a quick clothes line if we do a small wash when there isn’t a tree for fifty miles. The 8.8 ft. Fiamma 45 has served us well and opens in a couple of minutes for a quick lunch break.

Outside Lights – Front Rack – Air Horns

All running lights are Grote LED. Backing up a camper at night can be troublesome. We installed four powerful flood lights that can be turned on manually or automatically when we shift into reverse. On the front of the camper box a large cab-over multi-use storage rack was designed. A Weather Guard locker fits perfectly with room for more jerry cans, a load of firewood or a Cascade Designs SeaLine bag for diving gear. It afforded a convenient place to bolt a pair of Fiamm stainless steel marine air horns. Loud horn is an international language. A remote-control GoLight has a good field of view from the Weather Guard lid.

Outside Storage Compartments

When we ship the truck or park in non secure areas, all outside doors can be locked or even double locked.

When we ship the truck or park in non secure areas, all outside doors can be locked or even double locked.

All outside compartments, the camper and the cab doors can be locked or even double-locked for shipping. The compartments were built knowing mostly what was going to be stored in them. In addition to their function, big pad locks are a physical intimidation. Too much trouble. Thieves are usually looking for something easy, quiet and fast.

Driver Side

Two side compartments on the front driver side contain a fuel fill port for our auxiliary Transfer Flow tank, the Racor fuel filter previously mentioned in Blog 5 and the Eberspaecher Hydronic coolant heater.

A series of valves and transfer tanks allow us to direct the hot coolant back to the engine and/or through a Kelvion Plate heat exchanger and/or to a small radiator heater inside the camper. It’s free heat when we are driving. We also gained more storage space when we replaced the leaky marine 6 gallon hot water heater with the Kelvion Plate heat exchanger. 

The Watts Series MMV thermostatic Mixing valve cools the 160°F water from the Kelvion Plate heat exchanger down to a safe 120°F tap water in about three minutes.

A Warn quick disconnect in this compartment lets us  plug in our jumper cables utilizing the four Odyssey camper batteries. 

The Dual ExtemeAires can take our 41” Michelin XZLs from 30psi to 55psi a little over a minute.

The Dual ExtemeAires can take our 41” Michelin XZLs from 30psi to 55psi a little over a minute.

Below that is a compartment for our dual ExtemeAire Magnum 12 Volt compressors by Extreme Outback Products and storage boxes for air hoses, electrical cables and adapters.

At the far rear, the propane compartment was sized to fit two Manchester 20-lb tanks with a secure hold-down and a duel-tank switch-over regulator leaving room for pre-measured repair and equipment boxes and the outside shower system.

Rear Compartment – three access doors

The big rear compartment has room for long bulky gear that isn’t needed every day.

The big rear compartment has room for long bulky gear that isn’t needed every day.

The big compartment behind our Darr military sand ladders holds long equipment like our awning crank, wash brush, and fishing poles, chains, recovery gear and spare parts. It is also accessible from both sides of the camper. On the driver side, the fill tube of our main Transfer Flow tank is located while the passenger side is filled with leveling blocks, a shovel, a saw and two bottle jacks, etc.

Passenger Side

The upper door on the passenger side rear holds every-day camping gear like our ZipDee chairs, the Weber Go-Anywhere BBQ, a foldable Coleman stand, table tops, a Ready Welder 12 V welding system, the portable toilet seat, etc. It is the only door that opens towards the rear because it makes access in camp more convenient.

Entry Door

This is our newest version of a mosquito screen. Magnets snap back in place.

This is our newest version of a mosquito screen. Magnets snap back in place.

Playing around during the initial design phase, we decided that the best place for an entry door was on the passenger side in front of the rear wheel. A rear entry door like in The Turtles III and IV, is always dusty or muddy and the same thing can happen to a door behind the rear wheel. After we came back from our Silk Road/Around the World adventure in 2015, the entry door was replaced by Global Expedition Vehicles. It’s a great design, water and dust tight and has a secure locking mechanism. Monika recently sewed a two-part mosquito screen attached with Velcro that closes with magnets. The bottom is weighted down with a string of fishing weights.

The Rear

On the rear of the camper custom racks are securely bolted to the camper wall. They hold and lock two Nato-style water and two fuel cans by Midwest Can Co. and our spare tire in the center. The 198-pound tire and wheel are easily removed using a draw bar that fits into a receiver socket on the roof. A 500-lb capacity Warn Drill Winch lowers the tire to the ground. The Total Vision rear view camera is located below the receiver socket.

Oil Reservoir

Amsoil is on tap from a 14-gallon reservoir built into the camper behind the wheel well.


Amsoil is on tap from a 14-gallon reservoir built into the camper behind the wheel well.

On the right rear corner of the camper (behind the wheel well) we designed a 14-gallon oil reservoir that is filled from the inside and has a spout on the outside when we need a quart of oil. Quality oil, like the Amsoil 15/30 Heavy Duty Diesel Oil we use is the heart of our Power Stroke engine and cannot be found in some of the countries we travel through. Once in Kyrgyzstan, we drained our 15-quart engine sump and a shop wanted to pay us $5.00 for the oil we asked them to recycle! We gave him the oil and a hat.

Mud Flaps

Our PlastiColor mud flaps are extremely important for keeping all kinds of slop off the sides and back of the truck. We reinforced them to limit flapping. When backing up in deep water, brush, sand or snow, quick-connect cables keep the mud flaps from being damaged by the tires.

Steps and Milk Crate

Heavy duty folding steps give us access to the top storage boxes or to clean the solar panels. When they are folded flat people and especially children don’t seem to be tempted to climb on them. 

A double Kwikee Electric RV step and a milk crate are the perfect solution to enter the camper.

For easy entry into the camper, we installed a double Kwikee Electric RV Step. It is on purpose that it does not open automatically, only by a control switch inside the doorway.

The milk crate, reinforced and powder coated, is an amazing piece of travel equipment. It’s a step. You can sit on it. Stand on it to check the engine or wash the windshield. You can keep fish fresh in a tide pool. Flip it over and clean fish on it. Carry fresh vegetables in it. And by the way, when you wipe mud, sand or snow from your shoes, it falls to the ground. We lock it on with a custom cable and an American Lock.

We could have easily stayed here for a couple of days but China was calling.

Tajikistan 2014: We could have easily stayed here for a couple of days but China was calling.

 

Photos by The Turtle Expedition and Chris Collard

The Turtle V – Update #5 – The Cab – 2019

June 14, 2019

The cab is our office on the road. First we applied Rhino Lining to the floor, and to further reduce road noise, the floor and doors are insulated with vibration-dampening Dynamat. Kraco floor mats are easy to clean. For ease of entry, Kodiak Sidewinder automatic folding steps were installed that drop down when the door is opened. Recaro Style Orthopedic seats incorporate seven adjustments, a heater and ventilation fan. Four-point Mastercraft Safety Harnesses hold us securely and comfortably in place. A custom walnut center console contains maps, flashlights, auxiliary locks and all small travel accessories. It incorporates cup holders specifically sized for our Aladdin travel cups and a very hidden secret storage compartment for a complete spare set of keys and other items that even you couldn’t find. On the front, a 12-volt plug outlet powers our Rugged Radios communication system and a small Statpower PRO Watt 125 inverter can charge phones and computers on the road. On the side of each seat a Kiddy Safety Halotron fire extinguisher is securely mounted. Behind each seat hangs a 3-liter Platypus hydration bag with a sucky-tube Velcoed above the door for easy use. The Platypus can be removed for hiking trips.

While eating breakfast in the Karakol Valley, Kyrgyzstan, Gary was watching local traffic pass by.

While eating breakfast in the Karakol Valley, Kyrgyzstan, Gary was watching local traffic pass by.

  Driver’s Control Station

A quick look at the dash, left to right, will show a switch for the side flood lights on the rack over the cab, a fuel tank selector switch, a inside/outside temperature gauge, a hand controller for our roof-mounted GoLight, and the information screen for our SmarTire pressure/temp tire monitoring system, which keeps us informed of the pressure and temperature of each tire and warns us if there is any sudden pressure or temperature change. A switch engages our front differential ARB Locker, and next to it another switch turns on our dual ExtremeAire 12-volt compressors by Extreme Outback Products. These compressors feed an AccuAir 5-gallon aluminum reserve tank which serves to operate our twin Fiamm marine air horns, the front ARB Air Locker and to inflate our Hellwig Air Assist suspension bags. Air is also used to re-inflate tires, reseat beads if tire repairs are needed, and just a general use of high-pressure (120 psi) air for air tools. Loud air horns are an international language!

Rugged Radio and air pressure gauges

Our Rugged Radios intercom system allows us to communicate in a normal voice and also listen to music fed by Bluetooth.

Our Rugged Radios intercom system allows us to communicate in a normal voice and also listen to music fed by Bluetooth.

In the center we upgraded to a Kenwood AM/FM radio with CD and flash stick ports. These power a factory premium 4-speaker sound system or can go via Bluetooth to our Rugged Radios intercom headsets. This communication system has greatly increased the safety and pleasure of overland travel, allowing us to speak in a normal voice and be heard every time. Two 12-volt auxiliary plugs are factory standard. Air pressure gauges show the condition of left and right Hellwig air bags and the pressure in the AccuAir 5-gallon aluminum reserve tank. Where the ashtray used to be we placed the controls for the Passport SR1radar/laser detector.

Mechanical Auto Meter gauges

At eye level there is an Auto Meter 14-psi oil pressure warning light, mechanical Auto Meter gauges for Volts, Water Temperature, Oil Pressure, Boost, Exhaust Gas Temperature and a Garmin GPS. Overhead is a custom walnut console that holds a Cobra CB radio, JRV map lights and control switches for fog, driving and four backup lights.

Total Vision remote cameras

Where the rear view mirror normally goes there is 5-inch monitor that is fed by our three Total Vision remote cameras, one on the front bumper, a second on the rear above the spare tire, and a third inside the camper. A switch allows us to toggle between the three cameras from the cab.

Extra Safety Measures

Vehicle doors are so easy to open without a key using a Slim-Jim, we installed an auxiliary padlock on both cab doors. Thieves will need to break a window to get, and that’s noisy and messy. As a further theft deterrent, we fabricated special window covers from Space Blanket material (purchased at REI). They attach in seconds with Velcro tabs. If a thief can’t see what there is to steal, he usually just walks away or doesn’t even cross the street. The Space Blanket material also keeps the cab cool when we are parked in the sun. Car alarms are useless most of the time. The blinking red LED on a KC rechargeable flashlight set on the dash at the bottom of the windshield gives would-be thieves something to worry about.

The Turtle V – Update #4 – Drivetrain, Suspension & Fuel – 2019

June 7, 2019

 

Traffic was light in Azerbaijan.

Traffic was light in Azerbaijan.

Not the least important part of any vehicle, the drivetrain of The Turtle V has been carefully selected and designed to do a job, reliably.

The front differential of the F550 is a heavy duty Dana 60. We added an ARB Air Locker and protected it with the Dynatrac Pro Series off-road differential cover. The function of the ARB is simple. It is air actuated from our 5 gallon AccuAir air tank which is constantly kept full, (120 psi), by our twin ExtremeAire Magnum 12 Volt Compressors by Extreme Outback Products. If we start to lose traction it’s simply a matter of pushing a button on the dash and the ARB locks the front axles together like a spool, giving maximum traction to both wheels at the same time. Otherwise the front differential remains totally open for comfortable normal driving. ARB Air Locker has proven its reliability in both The Turtle III & IV.

The rear axle holds a massive Detroit S135 fitted with a Detroit Truetrac (by Eaton) limited slip. The Truetrac operates as a standard or open differential under normal driving conditions, allowing one wheel to spin faster or slower as necessary. When a wheel encounters a loss of traction or the terrain changes, the gear separation forces take effect and transfer torque to the high-traction wheel. The helical-shaped gears mesh with increasing force until wheel spin is slowed or completely stopped. When the vehicle exits the low traction situation, the differential resumes normal operation. We tried the Detroit Locker but it proved to be much too aggressive on hairpin gravel roads and even on pavement. ARB does not make one for the Detroit S135.

(See Turtle V Blog Part II for information on the Dynatrac Free-Spin bearing replacement.)

South Bend Clutch

Ford’s factory clutch exploded after only 60,000 miles. We replaced it with a HD South Bend Clutch, pressure plate and throw-out bearing. There had been an annoying tendency for the clutch to grab. We replaced the factory clutch slave cylinder and its hard plastic line with the South Bend unit that features a flexible stainless steel line. The problem instantly disappeared.

The ZF six-speed manual transmission and two-speed transfer case are not as smooth as our old four speed in The Turtle III or the five speed in The Turtle IV, but now, with a hard 200,000 miles on it, we should not complain. We never used the PTO option. A periodic oil analysis of all the gearboxes has shown that there is no unusual wear in the transmission.

K&N Breathers

Thanks to highly mounted K&N breathers on The Turtle II, we had no problems crossing this flooded two-track where beavers had decided to dam a creek in the Upper Peninsula Michigan.

Thanks to highly mounted K&N breathers on The Turtle II, we had no problems crossing this flooded two-track where beavers had decided to dam a creek in the Upper Peninsula Michigan.

Where possible remote K&N breathers on gear boxes and differentials were added to keep water out during river crossings or beaver ponds.

Deaver Springs, Rancho and Hellwig

Custom suspension has been designed by Deaver Suspension to carry our anticipated fully loaded weight of 14,000 pounds, all the time. No overload springs. All our Deaver Spring packs feature a full “military wrap” and have Teflon pads between leaves for smooth flexing. Dual adjustable Rancho RS9000XL shock absorbers in front set on #3 and single adjustable RS9000XLs set on #6 at the rear have shown to be reliable under the harshest conditions. Adding Hellwig Air Assist bags at the rear softens the ride and Hellwig HD sway bars front and rear improve stability and cornering.

The Turtle V carries 94 gallons of Diesel thanks to Transfer Flow’s two tanks

Our factory fuel tank was replaced with a custom Transfer Flow tank with a 46 gallon capacity and an emergency drain plug if we should get a bad tank. Transfer Flow also installed their 38 gallon auxiliary tank and designed a special switch-over valve so we can choose which tank to run from. Those two tanks along with our two 5-gallon jerry cans give us a total of 94 gallons of diesel, or an easy 1,000-mile range. If there is a road anywhere in the world 1,000 miles long, there will be diesel somewhere, or it wouldn’t be a road.

Racor and Airtex

An auxiliary Racor fuel filter/water separator/fuel pre-heater with a clear bowl allows inspection for dirt or water in the fuel before it even reaches the Airtex fuel pump.

 

The Turtle V – Update #3 – Bumpers – 2019

May 31, 2019

The Turtle V gets a Buckstop front Bumper

The Turtle V, a yurt on wheels, was quite comfortable among its fellows in the beautiful Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan, valley.

The Turtle V, a yurt on wheels, was quite comfortable among its fellows in the beautiful Tash Rabat Valley in Kyrgyzstan.

The front bumper is a custom design by Buckstop Truckware in Oregon, incorporating some of the features of our previous bumpers like lockable storage compartments, two trailer hitch receivers, headlight protection bars and rock deflector in front of the steering cooler. Mounts for a Go Pro camera and our front Total Vision camera were added. We upgraded our previous 12,000 lb. Warn winch to their new 16.5 TI which is discreetly mounted low, and locked inside the bumper. The Viking synthetic line is safer and lighter. PIAA LP570 LED white long-range driving lights and PIAA 510 Series Xtreme White SMR fog lights were strategically placed. Both can be controlled with manual JRV switches or by the dimmer switch. A Passport SR1 radar/laser sensor is neatly mounted out of harm’s way.

Bumpers are made to keep a cow or a deer out of our radiator. To stop rocks and gravel from chipping the paint on the hood, we applied a computerized layer of XPEL Paint Protection Film.  The same material protects our headlamps from rock chips and scratches. The film is non-yellowing. XPEL has custom-cut patterns for nearly every vehicle.

The Turtle V’s rear Bumper

The rear bumper was custom-designed by Unique Metal Products. Like the front bumper, it incorporates 2” X 2” HD trailer hitch receivers on both sides and the middle. The socket in the middle holds our Yakima bike rack, a Class 3 trailer hitch or a Mac’s Trail D-Vice. The end sockets on each side fit a specially designed drawbar that can be used for a Hi-Lift jack or an auxiliary table for our Weber Go-Anywhere BBQ, (see upcoming Camper Blog). The bumper itself serves as a compartment to store the main Hi-Lift jack bar, leaving the foot and lift mechanism stored clean and safely away.

For high clearance trucks, a rear bumper like this is a legal requirement in Europe to keep little cars from driving under you.

The Turtle V – Update #2 – Tires, Wheels, Steering, Bearings & Fender Flares – 2019

May 24, 2019

The Turtle V project was full of challenges. First, we had to get rid of the dual rear tires. Duals don’t work on rocky roads and they plow sand, mud and snow.

With a temperature of 140F, it was hard to sleep near the burning hole in Turkmenistan.

With a temperature of 140F, it was hard to sleep near the burning hole in Turkmenistan.

 

 Michelin XZL’s and Rickson steel wheels

After some experimentation, we chose Michelin XZL 335/80R20s and mounted them on custom 20X11 Rickson steel wheels. Michelin is the only tire company that makes anything like the XZL. Its ability to carry a full single axle load of 7,540 lbs. at 50 psi or even less without overheating is unique. It handles highway speeds of 70 miles an hour like any mud and snow tire and we can drop the pressure down to 25 psi or even 15 psi without bead locks. Despite the XZL’s aggressive tread, we still carry Pewag mud & snow chains for both front and rear axles. The Rickson wheels can be reversed to run on front or rear and still track in line. Valve stems on both sides facilitate airing up and down.

The perfect answer: Warn Drill Winch 

Getting the 197-pound wheel and tire down from our custom mount on the rear of the camper was easy. A 2’ draw bar slips into a receiver on the roof and a Warn Drill Winch lowers the tire to the ground using a 14-volt cordless drill for power. The Warn Drill Winch can lift over 500 pounds.

SmarTire system

SmarTire Pressure and Temperature monitors were installed on all rims before tires were mounted and balanced.

SmarTire Pressure and Temperature monitors were installed on all rims before tires were mounted and balanced.

Before we mounted and balanced the tires we installed a SmarTire sensor/transmitter on each rim. As we drive, the SmarTire receiver on the dash tells us the pressure and temperature of each tire and warns us if anything suddenly varies from preset perimeters.

 

MOOG tie rods and LEE Power Steering

Steering with the big 40.7” tires was not really a problem, but to take the load off the MOOG tie rods, drag link and the idler arm bushings, we had a custom LEE Power Steering pump engineered with a remote reservoir for better cooling and a full ram-assist system which eliminates the need for a steering shock absorber.

Dynatrac’s Free-Spin™ Heavy-Duty Hub

The first big mechanical challenge was the ongoing problems with Ford’s unit bearing on the front Dana 60 axle. Clearly designed to speed up assembly times, both Timken and TRW knew there would be problems. Fortunately, the easy fix was Dynatrac’s Free-Spin™ Heavy-Duty Hub Conversion Kit. It was designed to replace the factory unit bearings with fixed spindles for superior strength, and smooth performance. It uses Timken bearings that can be found all over the world and can be adjusted and serviced by any mechanic.

Custom Bushwacker Flares

With the bigger tires, fender flares were necessary. We basically ramped up the truck to see what hit and cut it away. Bushwacker digitized the cut out and made custom flares. The rear flares were easier. We just built the camper to fit the 40.7 inch diameter of the XZLs, allowing room for suspension travel and mud and snow chains.