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Thread: AWD SAFARI MICRO MOTORHOME ... a DIY project

  1. #1
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    Default AWD SAFARI MICRO MOTORHOME ... a DIY project

    My 1999 AWD SAFARI is back on the road after I added on a MIcro Motorhome type body to it.
    It needed to be inspected, BC certified, and re-registered after all the changes made.


    Search on the net for the old TIGER astro/safari motorhomes for some idea of what inspired me.

    Basically the same over all length as the original safari van, but now with an 81" wide, 6'2" high motorhome body at the back, over LT 235/75/R15 DURATRAC tires, Bilstein shocks, etc.

    I still have some final exterior trim work, gonna redo the bottom 1/3 in Black RUBBER 1/8" THICK checker plate material, and build the heavy duty bumpers, with front and rear 2" receivers for the removable winch.

    Still need to do the interior.
    Still need to replace the sagged out rear springs with 4" lift / HD models, then level the front with the torsion bars to match the rear, and a wheel alignment.

    Final tid bits discovered this week driving around town:
    because the van has been off the road, sitting fiddle or over a year while I did the camper body, I just filled the tank with fresh fuel and some cleaning additives, changed the oil and did an electrical tune up ... NEW wires, plugs, cap & rotor. Spent a half hour under the van while it was up on the hoist, checking for any possible problems that might show up. The underside/front suspension/drive train is in surprisingly good condition. Gonna do a trans flush, lube all the diffs and transfer, etc.

    After a few short shake down cruises here on Vancouver Island, If things go well, I plan to head SOUTH to Arizona next month, for the OVERLAND EXPO near Flagstaff, May 22, and possibly wander around down South after that. I would like to be back in BC for the Horizon's Unlimited CAN WEST meet in Nakusp, BC, Aug 25 - 28.

    I used to do most of my recent overlanding/adventure touring on various big adventure motorcycles, and before that, in good Ol' VW vans. But now, at an age where I am not quite as nimble as I used to be, and where a 4" thick memory foam mattress is an essential rather than a luxury, I prefer to wander around the roads less travelled in an AWD motorhome. Small enough to get into most places, and big enough to live in for months at a time.

    NOW FINALLY,
    I have an AWD micro motorhome that will take me most anywhere, with comfort, style, and safety.
    (;-{)
    LAZ 1
    Last edited by LAZ 1; 04-29-2016 at 09:53 AM.

  2. #2
    OLC Member JeepGSD's Avatar
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    This is a super cool unit! I love the van platform and you have really made it something special. Can't wait to see your finished interior and notes from your trip to Overland Expo

  3. #3
    OLC Member binrat's Avatar
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    Posting 1 picture.... just to tease. Nice work BTW.

  4. #4
    OLC Member cruiserpilot's Avatar
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    I saw something like that in Duncan for sale. Not the same one is it? If so I'd like a chance to meet over coffee and look it over. I go to
    Radd Cruisers all the time down there. I have a Land Cruiser I'd like to do something like that to, let me know. If I was smarter, I'd use something
    like that for long trips to the Arctic/Yukon instead of my Land Cruiser.

  5. #5
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    The van was at RADD CRUISERS for a week while getting the brakes done. It is not actually for sale ... although a couple of people have asked about buying it. It is still a work in progress. ... installing bigger windows, and black rubber CHECKERPLATE Rock guard around the bottom, re-covering the temporary aluminum siding, insulating with 1 1/2" foam, interior paneling, cabinets, stove, Porta potti, etc. It still.needs the rear HEAVY DUTY springs installed, then a few Vancouver Island "road less travelled" trips to shake out any bugs.

    After that, who knows? I might consider selling it when it is finushed. Building vehicles like this has been my hobby for 50 years. Each one gets a bit closer to that elusive"PERFECT OVERLANDER". I already have ideas about how to do get next one even better.
    (;-{)
    PS: Yes, we should meet .and chat about overlanding. I drove an older deisel "Land Crusher" for a while. I can bring a picture of my first van/ big box body build. ... it was on a VW, and I lived in it for months. It eventually went up North with a young couple "TREE PLANTING". They survived a Northern BC Winter living in it.
    Last edited by LAZ 1; 04-21-2016 at 09:10 AM.

  6. #6
    OLC Member uriedog's Avatar
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    That's a great start, on a great platform

  7. #7
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    Installed two much bigger windows at right side and back, and installed a proper hatch door. bit by bit it is getting there ...
    tomorrow to Victoria to build my HEAVY DUTY bumpers, get a transmission service, and grab some rubber checkerplate material for the rock guards.
    (;-{)

  8. #8
    OLC Member Do-Boy's Avatar
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    MMMOOOAARRRR!!!! Such a rad project. Is it so much to ask to have a capable 4wd that I can sleep and stand inside?

  9. #9
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    Started in with gluing the BLACK rubber checkerplate rock guard material around the box. Got the back done, will do the sides later this week.

    Building this motorhome conversion would have taken a lot less time if [ IF ] I had done it right the first time. Unscrewing all the trim, popping out all the staples, and peeling off the old/ TEMPORARY ALUMINUM roof flashing material I had installed JUST TO MAKE THE UNIT WATERPROOF, doubles or triples the build time.

    Next one will go faster, now that I worked out most of the building bugs with this one.


    Beefing up the SAFARI AWD chassis to take the box was relatively simple ...
    2" spacer body lift at front, radiused the front wheel wells for tire clearance without messing with the torsion bars, or raising the center of gravity. Heave Duty BILSTEIN shocks, NEW 1750 lb rated rear springs, LT 235/75/R15 DURATRACK tires, new brakes and brake lines, etc. Even with the 3.42 gear ratio, and running at near max GVW all the time, I am satisfied with the power, and the handling is surprisingly good for a motorhome, capable of AWD on rough roads.

    BUT,
    my gas mileage on the first tank was only 13 MPG, mixed city/hiway. Before I dropped that big box on the back, and the van basically sat off the road for over a year, I used to get 16/20 mpg.

    Other than the gas mileage, and the fact that it is taking forever to get it completed, IMHO, the project was a success.
    (:-{)

    Hopefully, I will spend this Summer doing a lot of GULF Island Hopping, on and around Vancouver Island.
    And in the Fall, I plan to head South for a long term adventure involving sunshine, sandy beaches, etc, Etc, ETC!!
    Last edited by LAZ 1; 04-27-2016 at 09:37 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Opinions and feedback on STYLE gratefull accepted

    Time for some feedback and opinions on the STYLE and APPEARANCE of my Micro Motorhome Overland Build … AKA …
    LAZ’s Home For Wayward Wanderers.

    I just added some BLACK RUBBER checkerplate / rockguard to the back of my motorhome body, 1/8” thick, 40” wide, with 1 ” natural color aluminum angle iron for corner mouldings. Comments from a few people who have seen it on the road, have been very positive. All agree the Black Checkerplate at the bottom with thick aluminum corner trim, looks much more appropriate and "purposeful" for an “OVERLANDING” built rig, than the conventional “RV White Aluminum and White trim”.

    BEFORE:


    AFTER:


    But now I am not sure which way to proceed with the exterior covering.

    Originally, I planned to wrap just the bottom of the box, 40” high, with Black rubber checkerplate, and that is still a given. I have that material bought and paid for, and ready to install. However, I was then planning to use GREY checkerplate, similar to what is on the roof, for the top section, giving the box a ?stylish? “Two Tone “ look. But so far, feedback has indicated that “BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL”, and that I should use Black for both top and bottom.

    One friend stated that the Black Checkerplate with 1 ” aluminum corners made the box look “RUGGED”, “SERIOUS”, “SOLID” and “TOUGH”, and suggested I cover the entire box in Black. Another agreed that the Black looked great, but stated that ALL BLACK everywhere, without any break or high light, would be too much, and suggested a “divider” or “racing stripe” between the top and bottom.

    I would appreciate some feedback and opinions from the forum regarding whether all black, black and grey, or black with a dividing stripe , are preferred.

    PS: “Design by internet feedback” is always an interesting experience. We all know that, “an elephant is a mouse that was designed by a committee”. I have used this process before on other projects, and found that opinions from other special interest forum members, can provide alternative perspectives and point out unseen pitfalls, before design decisions and potential mistakes are made.

    Hopefully you all will provide some valid and helpful guidance,
    Thanks
    LAZ 1
    Last edited by LAZ 1; 04-29-2016 at 10:09 AM.

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