Is it possible for me and my Dad to drive a truck around the world? I have Cerebral Palsy and I spend all my time in an electric wheelchair. My Dad says why not and I agree. This is the start of an adventure of a lifetime.
Like many other potential Expedition Truck owners, who have nurtured a dream to travel, when you realise that your dream will become a reality, the questions then begin. What will the base vehicle be? What Euro fuel rating, what age and therefore what level of technology do we need? What axle configuration, what engine size or quite simply where do I buy a lorry from?
I have quite a lot of equipment, wheelchairs and medical equipment that I need to take with me wherever I go. I sat for hours with my Dad looking for trucks on the internet. We wanted to buy a new one and then we read that Low Sulphur Diesel isn’t available around the world and that the electronic brains of modern trucks cant cope with low sulphur at high altitude. All the older trucks we looked at were at really high mileages, somebody suggested we try ex-military trucks, they are quite expensive for their age, 20 years old, but they are very low mileage.
My dad came back from work one day very excited and told me that he had found a truck with an expedition truck builder who builds high quality vehicles. Sadly the company were greedy and we couldn’t afford the price they wanted to charge for the build. My dad got really angry that the we paid the company £5000 for absolutely no reason.
So again the search continued to find a suitable vehicle and someone to build it for us. Dad even suggested that he build it himself which I did laugh at. He takes ages to fix my wheelchair when it breaks down sometimes.
Dad went to Poland to visit a company that said they could build us an expedition truck just as we needed, but he said he was worried about going backwards and forwards all the time during the building and it would be difficult for me to get over there regularly.
Dad was really excited, he said he had bought a truck, unfortunately he said it was in Holland so we couldn’t go and see it. He said the man who owned Mainstreet the truck dealers whose name was Erik was really nice and helpful (www.Mainstreet.nl). Dad said Erik arranged for off road wheels and tyres to be fitted to the truck in Holland and really kindly arranged to bring it to the UK himself.
At the same time Dad started to look around in the UK for a coachbuilder that could build the truck, after may failed attempts of finding a company, Dad went to see Ian Parkin-Coates at Motorcraft Conversions in Doncaster (www.motorcraftconversions.com). He said he was really friendly and seemed keen to help me to get into an expedition truck. He said he could build it by September 2018, my dad said our dream might become a reality thanks to Ian and his company – I am really looking forward to meeting him.
Dad told me he went to Doncaster to meet Erik and his family after they kindly brought our truck over to the UK.
Quick update on the build process
Its been just about 12 months now since the start of the build and I thought that I would give a quick overview of where we are. I will admit that I thought that we would be looking to collect the vehicle from Ian in the next couple of weeks but alas this build has not been a straight forward as we imagined.
The build was always going to be a series of compromises to cater for the adjustments that had be to be made with a disabled son. The seating for James to be able to be brought through from the cab area to the living area is definately a challenge for Ian. His seat needs to be on runners to allow for it to be brought into the living area and turned so that he can be put in it to get into the cab. This seat will also double as a seating area for him to have meals. However, it is a challenge that Ian has taken on with vigour and we await to see the end result.
Ian has decided to build the vehicle in a different way to what he would normally do and he is completing back to front. The main bedroom area is just about finished and added to the delay with further storage being constructed on the rear wall.
The outside lockers and skirts have now been made and everything for the inside bought. Its just a case now of it all coming together.
After much discussion and yes we will to no we won’t a final decision has been taken on the window surrounds. We are now not going to have the lips on the top of the window frames.
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January 2019 Update
There have been a number of delays as would be expected with a build this complicated and the paint stage that we thought would be before Christmas has now happened. The truck moved for the first time in about 12 months to the paint shop where it will be stripped down and then re-built. Many hours were spent over the RAL paint board and we have decided to stick with smoke grey.
The majority of the inside build has now been completed. Meetings have taken place with Nick Ward who is making the seating (www.AutobahnCustoms.Com). I must thank Nick and Ian for their patience. The colour of the leather has been chosen and the thickness of the foam.
Sensory lighting has been installed for James and I am sure he will spend many an hour getting me to change the colours!!!!!. We have also put some LED lighting in around the underside of the work surface and seating area.
A logo for the trip has been designed and many thanks must go to Mary Masterson for her creativity in capturing what this adventure is all about.
We now need to wait for the truck to come out of paint hopefully the middle of February when the electrics can be installed Not long now.
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