UniMoG Creature Comforts
and other modifications.
Since we've been
known to put on something like 1700km in a 5 day long weekend, the
inside of the MOG needed to be a bit more comfortable. We've
done a bit of work on the interior of the cab, as well as built a
pop-top camper that slides into the bed of the truck.
off-road camping experience has evolved over the years. We
started with a tent and our Baja Bug. Then we camped for a time
in our '65 Bus (you wouldn't BELIEVE some of the places you can drive
a Bus!). With the Bus, we enjoyed being a turtle, with our home
on our back, but there were two problems. We were abusing the
poor old guy, and we always end up camping in some wet conditions... a
trip without rain is very rare. One cold, wet, October day,
after spending the afternoon getting un-stuck, we realized that the
back of the Bus was not big enough for camping in inclement weather.
The bed takes up the whole space, except for a very small space
near the back door. All other storage is under the bed.
Cooking indoors?.. Forget it. Eating indoors?.. Not
comfortably. Soon after that trip, we ordered the MOG.
camper is carefully designed. At this point, it is a plywood
prototype. We wanted to prove the concept before building it
with more expensive materials. The design has proven itself.
We replaced the roof in the summer of 2001 with a custom built
aluminum one. The old wooden roof was simply too heavy, and had
started to leak. When the wooden lower part rots away (one more
season? two? too many now, but we'll get to it someday...) it will be
replaced with one of very similar design. The material for the
bottom part has yet to be determined... another wooden one?.. steel?..
aluminum?.. or some combination thereof.
view in the cab from the driver's door.
much the first thing we did was added a headliner to the canvas top.
The canvas snapping on the steel bars while driving was nearly
deafening. We discovered once the headliner was installed that
it has the added benefit of absorbing a large amount of engine and
transmission noise, the canvas reflected it back at us.
headliner is a heavy purple cotton twill with a black broadcloth
backside. The top part has two layers of quilt batt in between,
the sides and back have one. The top slides between the steel
bars and the canvas, with a thin bungee cord through a casing at the
front hooked on the bolts holding the top on each side. The
string allowed the front to sag a bit too much. We have since
added a wooden dowel in a sleeve along the front of the headliner,
tucked behind the bolts that hold the cab top in place. Much
better!!! The sides are sandwiched in the canvas that wraps
around the door frame, and velcroed to the top of the headliner.
the corners there are strips of velcro slipped behind the bars to hold
the top in place.
the upper back corner, there's a flap that slips in beneath the bar,
then holes where the buckles that hold the canvas come through.
The bottom of the back is held down with a thin bungee strung
through eyelets that were already in place in the cab. The
headliner has buttonholes to slide over these eyelets.
headliner is held in place around the window hole with velcro.
One inch wide velcro sewn to the liner adheres to half of the
two inch wide velcro stapled to the cab canvas. The other inch
of the velcro on the canvas holds our tunnel in place when the camper
is on the back (which is the usual). For when the camper is off,
we have a flexible window (the same stuff that they make the rear
window in convertibles out of) that velcros in place. The tunnel
is marine vinyl both inside and out, with quilt batt in between.
The bottom of the tunnel has two layers of batting for comfort
climbing between the camper and the cab. We find that we hear
less transmission noise with the tunnel in place. The tunnel
also velcros in on the camper side.
second modification for our comfort in the cab was to insulate the
doghouse. We have multi-layered sound deadening foam on the
underside of the doghouse which is about 1 1/4" thick. It works
very well. Combined with the carpeting we've added bit by bit
(low-pile rubber-backed carpet mat), all of these modifications make
our cab MUCH quieter. It is possible to carry on a reasonable
conversation while driving down the highway.
can be seen in the top picture, the driver's seat has been replaced
with a bucket seat from a VW Vanagon. The original seat was too
broken down to continue using, it had become uncomfortable and spewed
stuffing all over the place. With the removal of the headrest
and addition of four tabs on the rails of the VW seat, the seat bolts
right in place and is quite comfortable. The passenger seat has
also been changed to the VW version.
the driver's seat is mounted our 24 to 12 volt converter. The
terminal strip to the upper left of the converter feeds our 12 volt
accessories. The solar regulator to the right of that takes care
of charging our auxiliary batteries and shutting things down when the
battery voltage drops too low. The switch selects the method of
charging the auxiliary 12 volt batteries. The charging options
are solar panels on the roof (not yet installed), the 12 volt output
from the converter, or shut off all charging.
our first convertor fried when it got wet, we've covered the whole
setup with a piece of vinyl as a rain guard. Note the mount
point for the lap belts we've installed. Also note the fire
extinguisher complete with padding to keep the driver from bashing an
elbow. (Yes, the padding is a toque at the moment, a padded
cover to match the headliner is on the todo list.)
the back wall between the seats we have our stereo (complete with rain
guard) and the handset for the car kit for the Satellite phone.
(The kit was actually mounted in the camper, we don't have the
Sat. phone anymore.) There was also a speaker for hands free mounted
above the fire extinguisher. Here you can also see a bit of our
carpeting. Behind the passenger seat is our first-aid bag (all
you can see is that tiny strip of red). The stereo speakers
don't appear in any of these pictures, but we have a set from a
bookshelf unit that we hang just inside the camper on either side of
the window. We have a second set of speakers which have now been
installed in plywood boxes in the corners behind the seats. Not
perfect sound quality, but not bad!
We converted one of the side boxes to a second battery box which
houses our 12 volt batteries. Two 12 volt deep cycle batteries
hooked in parallel are installed to power our fridge, and camper
We constructed a steel frame, lined it with carpet for protection, and
strapped the batteries down with a nylon cinch strap. The frame
has tabs on the bottom to hook beneath the two pieces of angle iron we
bolted into the box for rails for the batteries to slide on.
The strap eventually deteriorated due to the acidity of the battery
box evironment, and the tow strap is now carried in another location.
We have built a steel frame that bolts the batteries down, and
use two small c-clamps to hold the frame to the runners beneath.
The door frequently comes open during rough off road situations,
but the batteris have never moved!
Our dash is not quite stock either. One of the first things we
did was move the choke button from its original position (to the right
of the hand throttle in the bottom position) to the side of the
doghouse (to the left of the turn signal switch). This allowed
the choke cable a straight shot to the carburetor and made it that we
don't have to remove the choke cable to remove the valve cover to
adjust the valves.
Several switches have been added, for our electric fuel pumps, extra
The magnetic clips are wonderful for holding pencils and notes.
The magnetic base protractor (round thing to the right of the coolant
reservoir) is a good, cheap way to be able to measure our side-slope
angle. Can also be positioned on the top of the door to measure
angle of ascent.
There are two 12 volt lights wired in series for interior lighting.
One is mounted under the dash on the passenger side. The
other is mounted to the heater housing.
We have added some instrumentation to the dash, and we're not done
yet! The arrow on the left points to our transmission
temperature gauge. The arrow on the right points to our tach.
Both are 12 volt, so when our converter died we were without
them, but you CAN drive the truck without them, you just have to pay
more attention to the amount of radiant heat you're getting from the
To the left of the horn button beneath the dash is the remote cable
control for our winch.
The cable is strung along the steering column and comes out through
the grille. Using this method we are able to control the winch
either right at the valve, or from the driver's seat. We've used
this remote control a couple of times and it works very well.
Also note the Master-Pull synthetic winch line. We had squished
our wire rope pretty badly in a couple of places and decided that the
increased cost was worth it to keep from having to keep replacing the
wire rope. The line should pay for itself pretty soon, as it
bounces back when you squash it. A real added benefit is the
light weight of the synthetic rope. We have already done a
couple of fairly hard pulls with the synthetic line, and it performs
very well. The piece of old green tarp is bungeed over the winch
line to protect it from UV rays.
That green tarp has now been replaced with a custom-fitted vinyl
cover, elasticsized around the bottom. The winch line has also
been replaced with a new synthetic line, as a rough spot snagged the
first cable and eventually ate through a spot. The sound parts
of the original line are very useful with the snatch block.
While we're looking at the front of the truck...
We've added a pair of side lights to the front of the truck (12 volt,
wired in series). They are positioned to increase the arc of
light in front of the truck out to the sides to aid depth perception.
They also help keep you from driving off the road down the side
of the mountain when you're on a logging road after dark trying to
find a place to camp for the night. We put them where we did
hoping that we wouldn't take them off on brush. The theory seems
to have worked, the narrow passage wand on the bumper got swept off by
some alder bushes, but the light didn't move.
The convex mirrors work great to view traffic, there is practically no
blind spot. However, there is no depth perception, you can't see
how far to back up. We've added these flat round mirrors we
picked up at Princess Auto. The mount is a piece of flat bar
welded to a 12mm nut which has been tapped through the side to take a
6mm set screw. The mirrors do vibrate and move a little more
than we'd like, but work reasonably well. We do have a set of
replacement convex mirrors, but we haven't quite figured out the
mounts yet... besides, we haven't broken these two yet (we have broken
two mirrors already).
Moving to the back of the truck...
Camper top down, tailgate up. The camper is carefully designed
to be exactly the same height as the point of the Swiss cab. We
figure that the truck does not need any added wind resistance driving
down the highway! As an added bonus, we can just sneak the truck
in our shop, the overhead door is 8'. The cab of the truck
measures 2" shorter than that! Due to the way everything works,
the roof of the camper brushes the weather stripping on the bottom of
the garage door when we pull the truck in and out. Tight fit!!!
Our custom license plate.
On the right side at the back, we've installed a 6' long ABS pipe.
The front end is capped, the rear end has a threaded cap.
This tube is for the storage of our hiking sticks and the sticks
which we currently use to hold up the top of our camper. There
is plenty of space left for other long, thin things that we decide we
need to store in there.
To the left of the tube can be seen a piece of fuel line hanging down.
This is our extended vent line for the stock fuel tanks.
We found that we could smell fuel with the stock vent
arrangement behind the cab.
In the jerry can holder, we carry an ammo box with some of our spare
parts in it. The box is water/dust proof.
You can also see one of our backup lights. The same as at the
front, there are two 12 volt lights wired in series. At the
moment, they are turned on by a switch in the dash. We have
plans to put a press switch where it will be contacted by the
forward-reverse lever when the transmission is in reverse.
With the top still down, here is a view into our camper.
A better view of our drop down table. It is great for cooking
and eating at. Unless the weather (or insect life) is very bad,
we prefer to cook and eat outdoors.
The camper is inhabitable even with the top down, though there isn't
much headroom. We need to be able to crawl in and sleep in
locations where we don't want to draw attention to ourselves by
popping up the top, such as truck stops. The ceiling has been
insulated with blue styrofoam since this picture was taken. On
both sides, right beside the bed, are seats.
The top of the seat lifts to expose a removable wooden box, the
opening is tall enough for pint jars. In the bottom portion of
each seat is a drawer, tall enough for quart jars. Sharon has
taken up canning in order to get away from the necessity of keeping so
much food cold. These seats are designed to hold about a month's
worth of canned meals.
In one of the above pictures you can see an electric cooler, things
like eggs, cheese, fruit and steak still need to be kept cold.
All of the cupboards are carefully designed for what they hold, with
shelves in strategic places. The cast-iron frying pan shelf even
has hooks and bungee cords to keep the pans from smashing out through
Under the bed is enclosed for additional storage. In this view
you can also see the corners of the drawers in the bottom of the
The top is held closed by a strap and catch on either side of the
door. This system is not ideal, we're working on it.
It is very important to keep the fabric of the top rolled and clipped
out of the way of the air inlet of the fridge while the top is down.
Top popped. Keith is 6'2" and he can stand up fully from the bed
to the back of the camper. We have since augmented the aluminum
sticks holding the top up with gas struts. The struts help lift
and hold the top, but aren't quite strong enough to trust to hold the
roof for the night. The tent fabric is ripstop nylon, held to
the roof with self-tapping screws and stapled to the camper body.
The shaded portion is bug screen. The nylon is fastened
over the screen with velcro at the top. If the weather is
conducive, we can pull the nylon down all the way around and be
sleeping pretty much in the open air... with no bugs! Our system
also works very well to get just the right amount of ventilation while
sleeping. Enough that you don't suffocate, not so much that you
The place is quite roomy with the top up. The countertops are
very convenient. A mat at the door keeps dirty boots from
mucking up the floor.
The stack of plastic drawers is great for clothes and small items.
The bungee is to keep the drawers shut while off road.
This arrangement has been augmented with some extra hooks and a
longer bungee zig-zagging back and forth across the drawers, as the
the above arrangement didn't always keep the top drawer closed.
Our bed is 4' x 6'. We have 2" of firm foam covered with 2" of squishy
foam, then more quilts than you can imagine. This is a very
comfy bed! In the upper right hand corner of the bed is a jut...
the filler for our auxiliary gas tank is situated there on the
outside, but it really doesn't bother us. Note the bug screen
velcroed in place over the tunnel. The cab is not exactly
sealed, so we try to keep the mosquitos out of our sleeping space.
Also note the bungee cords holding the bedding down. We
learned in our Bus that bedding likes to slide all over the place when
you drive on the rough stuff, so we keep our bed tied down.
And to keep our toes warm while getting dressed. You have to
have the VW's represented wherever you go, right?!