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.
seen on Channel Nine's Money show. See diary
#35 for some info about the Money show interviewing us.