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 Living on the Road :: Wothahellizat Mk1

 

This spiel refers to Wothahellizat Mk1 which is no more, I'll leave it here though because much still applies to Wothahellizat Mk2.

How many miles on it? The truck has only 34,000 miles on the clock. This is genuine and quite reasonable for an ex-army vehicle that was then used by a fire brigade (it had 12,000 when we bought it). Therefore the running gear is in good condition.

To give you an idea, when we had the springs reset last year, the shackle pins pushed out with a small amount of pressure from my finger. They looked new.

We put a recon Perkins 6354 in it. The motor has only 20,000 miles since the rebuild. It was built by Mick Umback at The Rock Tractor Repairs. Mick is well known as an expert on Perkins, and for doing a good job.

The gearbox was rebuilt about 15,000 miles ago.

Why would you buy an old truck? The truck is old-fashioned technology which is easy and cheap to work on, but apart from maintenance you shouldn't have to work on it. It's had an easy life.

There's no computers here, if something breaks you can weld it back on, or wire a sapling onto it until you get into town.

It's still easy to find parts (there's an ad in every "Deals on Wheels" specifically for ex-army ACCO parts). The Army ACCOs were renowned for their reliability and I'm inclined to agree, we've had no problems with the original truck bits.

I installed a Perkins engine for the same reason, absolutely everybody knows about the Perkins 6354.

When we built this we both had well-paid jobs and didn't mind spending big, for example the inverter cost $5300. Everything was purchased new, no second-hand bits were used.

What about power steering? The ACCO has Armstrong power steering, which is to say none at all. It can be added, and I always planned to do so, but so far have not felt the need.

What's it like to live in? This motorhome looks industrial on the outside, but it's luxurious inside.

The interior is light, airy, and spacious with plenty of room. Paul Clitheroe (The "Money" show host) commented that it was like being in a beach house.

We pretty much live inside, with the huge shutters it's just like being outside, without the dust and bugs. Of course you can sit outside around the campfire if you want, and I often do with fellow campers.

But with this machine you can be comfortable anywhere, no matter how dusty, muddy, or windy.

What's it like to drive? It's not fast, we potter along at 65-70kph. If that sounds slow that's because it is, what's the rush? In the three years we've been driving around Australia there's never been a time I'd like to have gone faster.

If you think that's too slow you're still thinking in "rat race" terms. You don't own a vehicle like this to run up the Kimberly for the annual holidays, you buy it to live there for a few months.

What are the great points? The deck, we're just not just selling a motorhome here, we're selling a lifestyle. To sit on the deck with a beer and watch a Ningaloo sunset is priceless.

The deck is self-supporting (ie no legs required) and sits two metres in the air, it's common for us to back it over the bushes that grow around just about every campsite. At that height you get both the breeze and the view.

Space. There's plenty of room to swing your cat (but don't bring it, you can't go into national parks with a pet). There's bags of storage.

Power. The 3300-watt inverter will drive just about anything, I even do light welding jobs from it. If there's sun you won't ever need to plug in. If not there's a small Honda 1kva generator to top things up.

Self sufficiency. You can live anywhere, once you turn off the motor you're home. There's enough storage to shop for three months or longer, and water for well over a month.

We don't need awnings to sit outside, the lounge room is so open it's as good as being outside, without the dust.

Security. Partly because we're well off the ground, and partly just because of the look of the vehicle, we never have any worries camping anywhere. Chris feels comfortable alone on the side of the road while I'm away for several days. There is literally no need for her to get out of the truck, everything she needs is inside.

What are the not-so-great points? The size, at least in the beginning. It took me a while to get used to driving a large vehicle. These days we still find places that we can't fit into, but in general I'm confident putting it into tight spots.

Crowds at caravan parks. I used to find it quite stressful trying to get set up in a caravan park with 30 people standing around gawking. We solved the problem by not going into them.

We haven't stayed in a caravan park for several years now.

How do you go finding campsites? No problems, any few square metres of reasonably flat ground will do. Because we don't normally sit outside it doesn't matter if we're on mud, long grass, dust or whatever.

At the time I'm writing this we've just spent one month in the Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon area. Most people spend three or four days. The campgrounds around here cost about $30 per night, if we used them we would have spent $900 in camping fees. Because we're comfortable anywhere, we haven't paid a single cent for accommodation in that month.

In six months in Tasmania we only paid for camping two or three times, and that was in National Parks like Asbestos Range NP where the camping fees were reasonable.

What's it like off-road? We have no trouble with ground clearance issues, and it handles sand like it's not there. Low trees and tight corners can give trouble, so far we've got around those obstacles.

We haven't done any serious off-roading in this vehicle, but then we didn't when we owned our first Landcruiser either. Our aim is to get to nice places and stay there for long periods. We have friends with similar-sized trucks who have done some tough trips, the Canning Stock Route (CSR), York Peninsular on the old Telegraph road, Simpson Desert, for example.

You don't have to be doing the CSR to find 6x6 useful however, sometimes just getting another 200 metres makes the difference between a crowded campsite with no view, and your own private patch of pristine beach.

We have regularly managed to reach better, quieter, and more secluded campsites because we could handle rougher terrain than the average motorhome.

 

 

As seen on Channel Nine's Money show. See diary #35 for some info about the Money show interviewing us.
Also Wothahellizat was featured in the November edition Caravan & Motorhome magazine, ABC's Dimensions show, Caravan World Magazine etc. For a full list see the "In the Press" section.

 

Inventory/features

Truck

  • Recon Perkins 6354 turbo diesel motor installed about 20,000 miles ago
  • Solenoid shut off for motor
  • Recon Eaton 5sp synchro gear box
  • Original drive trail from g/box back, only 35,000 miles on clock
  • Shock absorbers added to rear axles (not standard on 6x6 but fixed bad tyre wear)
  • 20,000lb PTO winch fully operational
  • Engine never even looks like overheating, even on long uphill hauls in high temps
  • All oils serviced every 5000k
  • Exhaust brake
  • All new instruments except speedo
  • Old handbrake replaced with air operated spring brake chamber

Kitchen

  • 42ltr convection microwave
  • Three-burner cooktop with large wok burner
  • Greens mixer tap
  • Drinking water spigot
  • Two large granite sinks
  • Three very large drawers for pans, crockery etc
  • Cutlery draw
  • Under sink storage for vacuum cleaner, buckets etc
  • Full-hieght slide-out pantry, accessible from both sides
  • Coffee making nook under microwave
  • Bread maker sits in nook, slides out when making bread
  • 240 litre Fisher & Paykel fridge, 1/2 fridge, 1/2 freezer, freezer at bottom, 24v
  • Slide out rubbish and laundry bin
  • Huge full height cupboard with fold away door, currently used for computers, printers etc

Lounge room

  • Two Jason recliners
  • Two overhead fans
  • Bookshelves for about 80 paperbacks
  • Entry hatch converts to visitor settee
  • Full height door gives access to deck
  • Sliding glass windows at rear
  • Water storage under floor
  • General storage under floor, currently used for 3-months supply of home brew
  • Huge shutters allow an outside feel, shutters can be locked at 4 different open positions
  • Small tables for laptop, coffee etc

Shower

  • 3/4 sized bath as base
  • Greens mixer tap and shower head on flexible hose
  • Skylight
  • Entire thing folds away to become part of the kitchen bench
  • Bath can be used for storage when not in use

Toilet

  • Proper flushing toilet with 80ltr holding tank
  • Overhead fan
  • Heaps of storage for loo rolls, cleaning products etc
  • Slide out door to provide privacy

Vanity

  • Located on rear of toilet door
  • Occupies void area above toilet when door closed
  • Faces into hallway when door open
  • Sink with Greens mixer tap
  • Under sink storage

Hallway

  • Air conditioner under floor, works but I never completed the ducting, we haven't needed it
  • Inverter under floor
  • Storage under floor
  • Bookshelves for over 100 paperback and/or large books
  • Rinai gas heater in storage compartment
  • Bookcase opens for access into garage
  • Two cupboards each with four wire basket drawers
  • Huge slide out storage compartment, currently used for CDs, stationary, etc as required for my business
  • More storage behind cupboards
  • Storage could easily be converted into a bunk
  • Powder fire extinguisher

Bedroom

  • Two single beds, can be moved to form a double
  • Storage under beds
  • Two fans with remote switches at bed head
  • Individual reading lights
  • Large shutters at bed level for breeze
  • Half-height wardrobe holds more than enough clothes (you won't need the ballroom gown with this lifestyle)
  • Hydraulically operated roof, raises about 1m to provide full standing height, put up/down in a couple of minutes
  • Solid walls all around when raised
  • Roof plenty high enough to use the bedroom without raising the roof
  • With roof down, easy access to the truck roof through a hatch
  • With roof up, easy access to the truck roof through two rear facing doors

Garage

  • One Honda SL230 motorbike
  • One spare truck tyre
  • Electric winch for tyre and bike
  • Plenty of space for tools
  • Foldout workbench, crane can lift heavy items onto bench, crane also used to lift motorbike and spare tyre
  • Garage door provides shelter while working at bench

Cab

  • Two comfortable bucket seats
  • Overhead consol with AM and UHF CBs and reversing monitor
  • Hanging space at rear for jackets etc
  • Space for a 3rd (or even 4th) seat
  • Windscreen open outwards
  • Access to house through rear
  • Powder fire extinguisher

Deck

  • Fully self supporting, no need for legs
  • Approx 2m clearance underneath, can be placed over bushes, fences etc
  • Makes a useful shelter for the motorbike
  • Walk straight out from the lounge room
  • Can easily hold four people, probably more
  • Raised by electric winch
  • Roof can be locked in a half open position to provide temporary shelter for the entrance
  • Solidly locked in place, will not move even in howling gale
  • Put up/down in a couple of minutes

Power

  • 8 x 220 AH Trojan batteries, mounted in two rubber isolated cradles between the chassis rails, wired as two 24v banks
  • Each bank separately protected by circuit breakers
  • 2x 12v batteries for stair and deck winches, charged from the main 24v system
  • 8 x 64W Unisolar panels mounted flush with the tropical roof
  • BP Solar FBR 2/40 regulator
  • Comprehensive control panel with gauges for everything
  • Honda eu10 1kva generator in separate compartment under body, can be used while driving
  • 240v circuits protected with RCDs and breakers
  • Trace 3300w full sine wave inverter/charger

Fuel

  • 2 x 300ltr diesel tanks
  • Filter/water separator
  • 90ltr petrol tank with electric pump to fill bike and generator

Water

  • Two bladders stored under the lounge room floor
  • Can be filled/drained individually
  • Total storage approx 700ltr
  • Drinking water and fresh water pass through different systems
  • Drinking water is doubly filtered with 20um sediment filter then <1um silver impregnated carbon filter. Nothing but water gets through that sucker
  • Separate pumps for drinking and fresh water, systems can be connected if one fails
  • Fleetwood 23ltr hot water system, piezo ignition controllable from inside

Gas

  • Two 9kg bottles connected to system with changeover valve
  • Another two bottles stored behind
  • Connected bottles swing out for easy maintenance
  • Can change over valve without opening compartment

Outside storage/access

  • One large storage compartment, currently used for tools, hoses, welder etc. Also provides access to the hot water system and most of the plumbing.
  • Another large compartment houses the black water wheelie bin, engine oils, chemicals etc
  • Another large compartment currently houses two folding mountain bikes, more tools, and provides access to the working parts of the fridge and hydraulic power pack
  • Yet another large compartment accessible from outside and inside. Used to house a full size compressor, now largely unused
  • Three compartments at rear of body, one houses assorted wooden leveling blocks, a powder fire extinguisher and a rechargeable water fire extinguisher. Another is used as a boot locker, and the third holds my oxy set and assorted ground sheets and work cloths
  • Spare wheel/tyre with hand winch at rear
  • 5m ladder stored under body
  • Storage for assorted oil trays, funnels etc
  • Provision to bolt vice on bumper bar or work bench

General

  • Power points everywhere
  • All under floor storage compartments can have the bottom removed to provide full access to the drive train
  • All wiring and plumbing is accessible
  • Tropical roof (what's not solar panels)
  • Easily walk around most of the roof
  • Very secure vehicle, Chris is happy alone for days, she doesn't have to go outside at all
  • Security camera system, you can see out even when all shutters are closed

 

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  home  nature photography  living on the road  electronics
        graynomad chronicles  map of our travels  wothahellizat  the GRAYnomad OV  other WORTS  links  about  in the press  faq
                  wothahellizat Mk1  wothahellizat Mk2
                            construction diaries  photographs  plans  specifications
 
 





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PO Box 450, Gin Gin, QLD, Australia.
www.robgray.com