But there are things that have happened that are quite cool as I’ve been investing in some parts that I know I am going to need. Which is exciting, yes, but also bloody expensive. I’m used to modifying Land Rovers with bits and bobs but this truck is in another dimension!
I’ve found a seller of full Garmin explorer stuff, so that’s a Satellite communications device, and an HGV Sat Nav.
This product has a forward facing dashcam and inputs for rear view wireless reverse camera and side view camera. I intend to put the side view camera facing as a blind spot camera for the passenger side, especially useful when driving overseas. The whole lot would set me back over £1000 if I bought it all new. I paid £600 and it included a brand new MkII cab ladder.
I then found someone selling a brand-new Pioneer double din stereo with Apple car play, Bluetooth for the phone and DAB radio. I got that for 25% off. I already had some 6x9 high quality speakers, so now I just need mid-range and tweeters for the dash, plus an amp and some enclosures for the 6x9’s so I can mount them somewhere.
Those of you reading this that are surprised at someone putting so much effort into a music system in a truck, have probably never driven thousands of miles on military grade tyres in an empty metal truck. Trust me on this – do not skimp. It’s going to be your office for a lot of the time!
I decided not to link here to each bit of tech, as there is going to be a fair amount, so instead I’ve added a whole section on the web page listing all the products and kit etc. I will write about those separately and post it there. Hit the GEAR tab for more info.
Oh, the truck got moved up to Motorcraft in Doncaster where they managed to remove the rear bed prior to lock down starting. Luckily for me, a friend new a dealer in ex-military stuff and he bought the bed complete. So that got it out of the way and gave me some spending money. Well, not really, that went on transporting the truck up because I still can’t drive it.
Good news was I passed my medical easy enough and got my licence back.
The tyres I had bought months ago were finally delivered and win of wins, they came on Hutchinson rims (did not intentionally rhyme that, but I’m claiming it as a milestone should my rapping career take off).
Now for those not in the know https://www.hutchinsoninc.com/wheels/are world famous truck and off road wheel builders. And they are not cheap things either. I was happy to receive them, especially as they were free. After all, pop them on ebay and you never know right? Few more spends for the pot.
It was only after I posted a photo to the MAN HX FB Group, that I was told those wheels fitted my truck. AND, they had CTIS fitted. What is CTIS you ask? Central Tyre Inflation System, a remote way to lower and inflate your tyres remotely without leaving the cab.
Suddenly I have not only obtained some excellent wheels, I’ve gained an option I didn’t know I could have. Hutchinson rims look different (better) and are stronger and lighter to boot. Result.
The other element of these is that they are the option tyre that can be fitted to the MAN HX60. Whereas the primary tyre is the Continental 14.00, these Michelin brand XZL come in 395/85/20 which is about 2 inches wider than the Continental and the pattern a little more aggressive for off road work. Effectively the Continentals are referred to as 70/30 on/off road and the XZLS’s are 50/50. Much more useful when going off piste. Slightly noisier thrumming down the asphalt roads of Europe (the bit about the sound system is making sense now right?).
Elsewhere I purchased a small auxiliary switch box with a couple of Carling switches fitted. These will be great for cab based 12v system stuff. That was a cheap thing at £30.
One of the other things I’ve been working on is the best floorplan, given the box size. I was very lucky to make friends with a chap called Ufuk Mustafa who’s CAD skills brought my awful coloured block drawings into 3D. One of the amazing things about seeing things in such a fashion is being able to understand how things relate to one and other. Thus, my original idea no longer appealed, but the later one did work. See the plans section for that.
The final bit of news was that Ian from Motorcraft called me and announced the box he had semi built wouldn’t fit my chassis as well as he had hoped. He said it would work, but he didn’t want people looking underneath and thinking motorcraft did a poor job.
Therefore, he proposed building a completely new box, but at the original deal. It would include windows and the door as well as two skylights. It would be built from latest tech composite and would be their first MAN HX build, so it had to be right.
I could have this deal on one condition – I had to lend it to him for Septembers Overland Show. I counter proposed. As I was intending going to the show, how about he paid for me to get in, and I would park up and help out on the Motorcraft stand?
Last to get resolved was the chassis sub frame. I had originally intended to go with the existing capture springs (to save money), but Ian wasn’t a fan as he needed to know that it was his sub rails and capture springs. As we were now looking at a new box, I had the opportunity to change up so I invested in a torsion free system. This would ensure that the whole truck had the best start it could get, before I messed it up with my ‘Bodge & Scarper DIY Ltd’ attempts.
During that discussion, we talked about various torsion systems and ways to get the best from it. And I was mindful that someone told me (or I read in a book) that nothing should have a single function. With this in mind I discussed with Ian best ways to achieve this with the torsion system and he came up with a fabulous suggestion which was ideal. I’m going to keep it a secret for now, but it will be so cool.
Finally, for this blog the only piece of kit I needed to obtain for Ian to start work, was a winch.
Well, one thing I was convinced of was moving the spare from where it was put by MAN, to the rear. I like symmetry and I wanted the two spares on the rear but they are over 100kg (240lb) each. The system that is fitted currently is simple but takes up space. So, it needed a rack on the rear that could raise/lower the spares. Cue electric winch.
Ian over engineers to ensure stuff doesn’t break, but I know winches and an 9000lb (4000kg) winch was overkill to lift some tyres up and down. Even if I put a scooter up there, it would be way more than needed. However, it was also not enough to recover a 20,000lb truck. What I needed was a BIG winch.
Ideally you would be fitting a hydraulic winch. They run off the engine and as long as the engine is running, they will winch all, day, long. But I didn’t expect to need to winch all day long. I also didn’t need the expense. As much as these things are, I’m still running to a budget and blowing an extra couple of thousand on winch I didn’t need, wasn’t something I wanted to consider. So I looked around and asked a guru, winch servicer extraordinaire and long-time friend David Lovejoy. He gave me pointers, what to look for, and what to avoid. I was debating between two choice devices when someone on an Overland forum posted a link to a previously unheard-of brand in Australia. www.sherpa4x4.com
Now one thing I learned from the winchmeister is that most of these winches are copies of each other and that many of them come from China. But there are grades of quality where the copies of the copies are cheap. And the mere copies, pretty good. Keeping up? Great.
The Sherpa Stallion has higher powered motor, big drum and a sensible price (not a cheap price, but sensible) and a whopping 25,000lb of pull (12000kg). Plus, it’s yellow. Which is a big selling point as far as I’m concerned. Not so some of my friends!
Anyway, winch was purchased and ordered from Australia. Have to say they put up with my stupid questions, helped me out and as long as you remember Brisbane is like 8/9 hours ahead of UK and whatever hours behind USA (depending where you are in America) and you may therefore not get an answer until the following working day, you are all good.