UNICAT Heating and Warm Water Compartment

Extreme Altitudes with Diesel | MAN 10.224 | Eberspächer D5 | Webasto Cooker X100

We use Diesel as the only fuel on board like many worldwide travellers: MAN 10.224 truck, two Eberspächer Heating Systems D5 (all made 1996) and a Webasto Diesel Cooker X100 (2009). During preparations for Silk Road 2015-2017 we contacted all above manufacturers asking for statements about functioning of their items at altitudes higher than 1.800 m.

Webasto Diesel Cooker X100
Webasto Diesel Cooker X100

MAN replied on the spot saying that operating our 10.224 at those altitudes is no problem, not even at 6.000 m around Himalaya. Power losses may occur, however. Eberspächer and Webasto guaranteed function below 1.800 m. In addition Webasto’s X100 comes with an Altitude-Button guaranteeing for 2.500 m.

Above that altitude Webasto proposed to adjust potentiometers of pump and fan on the way according to CO2 (the actual model enables to activate this manually by software). For altitudes above 2.000 m Eberspächer claimed installation of a by-pass with an altitude-adjusted pump guaranteeing for 4.000 m. The production of this pump, however, had been stopped last year, news for Eberspächer. Consequently it was advised to replace the current heater by a modern Hydronic M10 with automatic altitude adjustment. At our cost.

But the above information is misleading and incorrect, except for MAN. Our MAN had no problems at all up to 3.500 m, in contrast to its drivers no power losses, and no smoke emission. Surprise: Both, cooker and heating worked perfectly, too, even without operating buttons or by-passes. No smoke, no power losses.

UNICAT Heating and Warm Water Compartment
UNICAT Heating and Warm Water Compartment in Detail

What does this tell us? Two out of three manufacturers do not know their own product performance never testing any of it, faulty informations and instructions being forwarded instead. Extremely unprofessional, annoying and far from a glorious chapter of high class workmanship except MAN: Volkswagen corporate but highly professional…

Inside View of Frame Breakage

Rahmenbruch | Frame Breakage in 2014

After return from Scotland MAN maintenance was due. For more information on the trip see:  www.truck-the-world.com

Surprise: Almost total frame breakage at the right cabin bearing and and bent frame left.

Another Frame Breakage
Another Frame Breakage but now at the rear Cabin Bearing

Analysis showed that breakage had been caused by extreme frame torsion. Longitudinal roll travel of is high under extreme conditions.  UNICAT design allows insertion of extreme frame torsion usinf the frame structure as spring-damping unit. Standard frame structure, however, is unable to disperse forces over the total length of the frame resulting in local overload including bending and breaking.

Simple bearing plates, lack of longitudinal enforcement of the frame  structure, and of stiffening girders between right and left cabin  bearings lead to breakage under extreme conditions together with fatigue. A typical design and fatigue fault.

Inside View of Frame Breakage
Inside View of Frame Breakage

Again, the frame was repaired in Düsseldorf. Both frames, right and left, were cut out, welded and reenforced inside and outside.

Cabin Bearing and Swallow Tails
Welded Frame
DSCN5655
Cabin Bearing and Swallow Tails outside during Repair

Swallow tailed steel plates  induce torsion over extended frame length. In addition dampers were renewed.

Swallow Tailed Enforcement of Frame Structure
Swallow Tailed Reinfnforcement of inside Frame Structure
At Work in Düsseldorf | Germany

All measures taken were designed and mounted by the owner, manufacturing was made by professional companies. The maker UNICAT was not involved.

For more information about works, companies and cost, please  contact the site.

Waste Water/Fecal Tank Loose at Peloponnes | Greece

Repairs between 2011 and 2014

In Greece, combined waste water/fecal tank was almost lost due to improper construction including underdesign of bolts, for more information on the trip see:  www.truck-the-world.com

Waste Water and Fecal Tank Loose in Peloponnes | Greece
Combined Waste Water/Fecal Tank Loose in Peloponnes | Greece
Tank Holding Bolt Sheared off (Middle)
Rear Tank Holding Bolt Sheared off (Middle)
DSCN5126 (2)
Front Bolt still in Function, Intermediate Frame Bent

The tank was removed and sanified including sensors. A new construction was designed fixing the tank directly to the frame using 4 lashes welded to the tank, counterparts screwed to frame.

Holding Tank Lashes
New Holding Tank Lashes
New Wastewater/Fecal Frame Mounted Tank
New Wastewater/Fecal Frame Mounted Tank with Lashes left and right

It was found that on narrow roads and tracks, sand ladders were sticking out too far and hit several times. The holding construction was bent and removed.

Former Sand Ladder Holding Construction after Several
Former Sand Ladder Holding Construction after Several

A construction was designed placing ladders laterally as tank protection underneath coffers as seen on Rally Dakar trucks.  Ladders are fixed with belts, a simple light wheight construction with simple handling.

Sand ladders underneath tanks
Coffer Mounted Sand Ladders underneath Tanks

A new coffer was designed to close the space between right side tanks and rear wheel as underride protection.

New Side Coffer
New Alloy Steel Side Coffer

Originally, the truck came with 380V in 5 phases since it was intended to install welding equipment.  This was never done and the generator was rather removed saving wheight and keeping the original cables, plugs and fuses.

Only in 2012 the 380V-network was completely removed. Phase separation was made and additional fuses were installed for the converter and for both 220V phases.

Battery and Fuse Compartment during Work
Battery and Fuse Compartment during Work

Also, after finding 50 litres of fresh water in the cabin and after flooding the battery compartment shown above, it was found that the original flexible, metal-coated pipes were just fixed by tape to walls and bottom. Tape aging led to pipes hanging around or wandering over the ground. Such, friction destroyed metal coating piece by piece under off-road conditions. Broken filaments simply bored the pipes they ought to protect.

All pipes were replaced by simple food safe plastic pipes. This was quite time comsuming since UNICAT design does not provide cable nor pipe channels or easy access.

Also the light weight roof rack was removed completely together with spare tire, front and side beams and search light saving another 150 kg.

New Front after removal of Light Wheight Roof Rack, Beams and Spare Tire
New Front after Removal of Light Wheight Roof Rack, Beams and Spare Tire

All measures taken were designed and mounted by the owner, manufacturing was made by professional companies. The maker UNICAT was not involved.

For more information about works, companies and cost contact the owner.

 

Frame Breakage Marked with Nail Polish

Rahmenbruch | Frame Breakage in 2002

On our way home from West Africa on Trans-Sahara Highway N1 Agadez-Tamanrasset severe problems occurred with the chassis when driving  into an unseen sand trap at moderate speed.

For more information on the trip see:  www.truck-the-world.com

The truck was suddenly stopped by the upper rim of the trap. Nothing happened to passengers except shock: The driver cabin jumped forward for 10 cm with both cabin front joints shearing off. The frame showed breakage close to the right front spring hanger, the rear hanger of that laminated spring had sheared almost off the frame.

Frame Breaking Marked with Nail Polish
Frame Breaking Marked with Nail Polish
Rear Spring Hanger Shearing off
Rear Spring Hanger Shearing off

Neither current nor welding equipment were available in the desert and provisional repair was repeated several times on the way North through Sahara desert using bolts, belts and car jacks together with patience and time.

Slow speeds and pot-hole avoidance as far as possible in deserts led  back to civilization. On the way, provisional welding was done in Tamarasset, Hassi Belguebour and Hassi Messaoud, none of them sustainable.

Driver Cabin after Welding in Tamarasset | Algeria
Driver Cabin Susppension Welded in Tamarasset | Algeria
Rear Spring Hanger (Middle) after Welding
Rear Spring Hanger (Middle) after Welding in Hassi Belguebour | Algeria
Welding in Hassi Messaoud | Algeria
At Welding in Hassi Messaoud | Algeria

The bashed truck made 2000 km on Sahara tracks at walking speed. 7 extended stops kept the truck going,  half of them in Sahara without any human support. Arriving in Hassi Messaoud, the German Automobile Club ADAC refused back haul because of excessive truck height talking about 3 cm. This refusal resulted in plus 2500 km on African and european roads at low speed. Consequently, after return to Bonn the truck broke down entirely and was hauled by MAN for repair.

Overall analysis showed that front axle load was excessive by UNICAT design leading to inadequate  spring travel, quite unuseful for expedition trucks operating in heavy terrain at high speeds. In addition, measures taken earlier had been unsufficient.

Final frame repair was made by a professional company in Germany. Cabin was separated from the frame, frame aligned on a 1000-ton bank, welded and reinforced. Roof rack and spare wheel were replaced by a light version roof rack and a simple spare tire resulting in front axle load within limits and 7 cm spring travel. No technical problem has occurred since in that part  of the vehicle.

Light Roof Rack UNICAT behind German Couple in the Need of Friends | Algeria
Light Roof Rack UNICAT behind German Couple in the Need of Friends | Algeria

All measures taken were designed and mounted by the owner, manufacturing was made by professional companies. The maker UNICAT was not involved.

For more information about works, companies and cost contact the owner.

My Unicat DSCN1197

First Tests and Adaptations

First tests in Southern Europe showed that front axle wheight was excessive resulting in limited spring travel. In 1998 the original driver cabin roof rack was removed, a light version was installed. Spare wheel  was replaced by spare tire. Battery capacity was reduced to 400 Ah.

Grey side coverings were removed as well as wheel crane and Panda Diesel generator.

Also, high mounted sand ladders were removed from the rear hatch and placed on the right side for easier handling and as underride protection.

Replacement of Original Roof Rack
Replacement of Original Roof Rack and Sand Ladder Repositioned

Redesign increased spring travel saving about half a ton.

All measures taken were designed and mounted by the owner, manufacturing was made by professional companies. The maker UNICAT was not involved.

For more information about works, companies and cost contact the owner.

 

CyberViewX v5.10.02Model Code=58F/W Version=1.06

Expedition Truck MAN UNICAT MM10 FKv/EX 46

The Chassis

The expedition truck was designed by the owner and built by UNICAT in 1996/97 on short wheel-base MAN L27 4-wheel-drive 10 ton chassis registered as 7,49 t. Three differential locks  and reasonable ground clearance on single Michelin XZL tires empower driving through deserts and across mountains worldwide. Diesel engine comes with 220 HP and ZF-16 gearbox plus reduction gearing and four Diesel tanks with 860 l in total. A long driver cab and air conditioning provide comfort. Cab mounting, axles, springs plus stabs reinforced, same for engine cooling.

Front with original Original Massive Safe Guard Roof Rack with Spare Tire and Beams and Search Headlight
Front with Original Massive Safe Guard Roof Rack, Spare Tire, Beams and Search Headlight
Rear View with High Mounted Sand Ladders and Camera
Rear with High Mounted Sand Ladders and Camera

500 l fresh water supplies, 70 l waste water and Dometic vacuum toilet with 40 l fecal tank plus 170 l fridge and 30 l deep freeze. Cooking with Webasto Diesel cooker, water heating system Eberspächer Diesel, booth battery capacity 400 Ah/12V, chassis battery capacity 150Ah/24V, solar cells max 200 W. A 1000 W 12V-220V converter is provided.

UNICAT is a producer of luxury off-road vehicles. Special design enables movement between both, booth and chassis, under off-road conditions. UNICAT design mounts the booth on a bridge connected to the truck chassis at four points in total. Front and rear of the bridge end in  2 traverses connected to roll bearings on the chassis enabling longitudinal roll beween cabin and chassis.

Rear Frame Ends and Cabin Frame Traverse to be seen over NATO-Hitch during Production:Distortion Testing  of the Truck
Rear Frame Ends and Cabin Frame Traverse to be seen between Cabin and NATO-Hitch during Production: Distortion Testing of the Truck

Two additional bearings retain the chassis right and left and prevent the cabin from extreme roll using frame distortion as a spring-damper-system. No additional damping.

IMG_0396
Cabin-Frame Bearing on the right Side

As shown on the photos below, Diesel Tanks and Coffers were not mounted to the frame but fixed to the bottom of the cabin resulting in higher capacity.  This design results in extreme cabin roll with full tanks turning out to be a problem under severe off-raod conditions later.

Right Side with Entrance and DieselGEnerator behind Ladder
Right Side with Entrance and Diesel Generator behind Ladder and Side Protection

The Booth

…in tripartite design provides reasonable comfort for 2 long distance travellers: Classic seating compartment in front, kitchen, multi use entrance/bath/shower plus toilet and cupboard in the middle, high mounted double bed in the rear. Excessive storage in the cabin and  in chassis mounted coffers holding spare tire, Diesel generator, tools and spare parts.

5 windows and 2 roof hatches and white colours guarantee for brightness in the booth.

Unicat MM10FKv
Inside View of the Cabin from Rear to Front with Diesel Cooker left, Exit through Bath/Shower right and Seating Compartment in front of the Rolller Blade Covering Passage to Driver Cabin
Unicat MM10FKv2
View of the Cabin rear with Kitchen, Water Basin, Fridge and Control Panel right plus Double Bed at the End also Showing Extended Storage underneath Cabin Cieling

Up to date the truck has seen more than 60 countries travelling 200.000 km worldwide, average fuel consuption is 19l/100km.

…find more information here