We purchase the Daf T244 or GS in 2004 as an ex-military truck, we chose this base unit because they have power steering, 4X4, tilting cab and no electronic engine management and parts are readily available, the conversion into an overland camper took about four years. These trucks are designed to carry about four tonnes and fitted with the Cummins 5.9 turbo diesel engine which is a fantastic power unit and very reliable. The original truck was built to withstand any thing the Army could chuck at it and hence was very overengineered, so we spent a lot of time lightening the unit as we needed to achieve weight of under seven and half tonne so its could be driven on a standard car licence.
The truck was stripped down back to its cab and chassis and a six-speed gearbox fitted along with an intercooler and the more modern Bosch injection pump used on the commercial range of trucks. Twin fuel tanks were fitted, and the sides of the truck clad in aluminium panels which also function as side underrun protection incorporating two lockers on each side, and to the rear behind the axel a waste water tank and another storage locker. The whole chassis was blasted and primed and re painted along with cab. To mount the accommodation pod a four point linkage system was designed which is commonly accepted as the best method as it reduces stress on the accommodation box whilst still allowing the chassis to flex for off road traction. This was plasma cut from 8mm sheet steel and then fully welded and drilled to fit on the chassis then galvanised for long life. The original wheels and tyres are 128Kg each and are of a split rim design and very hard to find modern tyres to fit also they do have problems with overheating on prolonged tarmac use, so Aspect wheels made five new rims of a drop well design and tubeless to a modern tyre size and these were fitted with brand new Michelin Quarry tyres. There are several advantages as they can be repaired without removing them from the axel easily and cheaply, also they are a lot lighter and can easily be handled by one person. The cab has been sound proofed and lined so it’s quite civilised when on the road and there is loads of space behind the seats where we were going to fit an additional cooler for drinks. The roof of the cab has the machine gun hatch which can be removed by three catches in seconds and lets the sun and air into the whole cab.
The aluminium accommodation box has a bespoke chassis built which allows it to be fitted and removed easily on to the chassis cab with only four bolts. The pod was designed to be completely self-contained and so it can be used without being connected to the truck. The aluminium pod was sprayed insulated to a depth of 30mm and then an additional 25mm of Celotex was clad over the top of this and then kitchen grade white plastic covering all walls and ceiling. The floor has 18mm of phenolic board then 50mm of Celotex and 18mm of marine ply to top it off and industrial vinyl flooring so it’s very well insulated and easy to clean. There is a separate raised small double bed with two lights and two lockers with charging points. The raised seating area which seats four and converts to another double bed. The kitchen area has a four-burner gas hob and gas oven, the fridge freezer has a three-way function so 240volt, 12 volt and gas. The heating is via gas and blown around the pod to all the areas via 50mm ducts which have adjustable flow. In the kitchen area there are all the controls for the charging/electrical system and isolation valves for all gas appliances. On the roof of the pod is a 300Watt solar panel array which charges the leisure batteries in the rear storage area accessed from outside the pod. The fresh water is stored under the raised seating area and holds 200 Litres this is pumped via a pressure set in the rear storage area. The hot water is provided by a gas/ 240Volt water heater in the rear storage area it holds about twelve litres but will easily run the shower in the bathroom. The bathroom has a full-sized shower with shower cubicle so nothing else gets wet in the bathroom. There is a cassette toilet the flush tank and the toilet cassette is accessed from the outside. To access the pod there are side out steps and there is also a small ladder mounted under the pod which can be used in restricted space e.g. car ferry where the steps cant be deployed. All the side windows are Seitz double glazed flush design with integral insect and blackout blinds. Above the kitchen is a marine hatch which you can stand on its that strong! There is another marine hatch above the shower which has a waterproof marine vent fitted so constant fresh air.
At the back of the pod is the bike lift this is remote controlled and was built to take a Honda XLR250 Baja trial bike included in the sale. Its easy to roll the bike on to the lift and strap it down then press the button and it goes up level with the pod floor over a meter from the ground, safely out of the way. If you are not travelling with the bike then the whole bike rack folds up flat against the back of the truck completely out the way. When the bike rack is in the up position there is no way to access the rear storage area so it very safe. And finally there is a secret removable panel which reveals a safe which could house a laptop and paperwork etc.
The load bed has a completely new chassis and floor with the original roof hoops which can easily be dismantled and removed with a new canvas cover specially made. So you can have a completely covered load area or a load bed with sides or a flat bed as the sides panels can again be easily lifted off the sides in five sections. You can fit a long wheelbase Land Rover in the load bed so it’s quite big.
The motorbike is a Honda XLR250 Baja the bike was never imported to this country but found fame in the far east. It a tough single cylinder four stroke 250cc trial bike there is no battery and only has a kick starter. It can easily take two people and still performs well for such a small bike there is a rear rack and rear footrests which is unusual for this type of bike. The six-speed gear box is light and smooth and capable off road and on, these are getting hard to find now.
The load bed and accommodation pod can easily be swapped over in about an hour or so, the more you do it the faster it gets. The load bed and pod have their own legs and there is a set of hand operated jacks which just fit on all the legs to raise and lower the units for fitting and removal. There are a few spares and all the manuals which the military issued, loads of photos of the build and some from our travels.
Fuel tank 155ltr x 2
Entered service 1993
Cab seating 2
Engine Cummins 6BT 5.9-liter diesel (has been intercooled)
Engine power 145 hp in standard form, now probably 200hp +
Maximum road speed 89 km/h
Range 1260 km May be more as 6 speed gearbox fitted
Side slope 30%
Vertical step ~ 0.5 m
Trench ~ 0.6 m
Fording 0.75 m
Loadbed fitted with full fuel tanks
Weight empty 5.6t
Length 6.65 m
Width 2.49 m
Height 3.34 m
Pod Fitted with full fuel tanks and 200Ltrs of fresh water
Weight 7.5 t