At OKA again
On November 10th 2005, almost 2 years after our first
visit, we arrive again at OKA in Perth.
The bad news is that our OKA is still not ready and
neither will they manage to have it ready for the end
of the year.
The good news is that almost all the required parts
have come in, just 3 are missing, and they says that
all they have to do is bang it together.
Arthur (the CEO), Emmanuel (his PA) and Linden (the
developer) show us "our" OKA respectively
the parts of it.
Adrian is just finishing the last bits of our cabin.
(The first cabin they had built did not pass Linden's
scrutinizing eye and was re-designed.
The floor of the second cabin did not like the welding
and it bent out of shape, so they had to redo it.)
All the parts are sitting in shelves, nicely laid out
for us to inspect.
The chassis is there, the engine and the cables ....
As OKA cannot commit to a date but think that by mid
January 2006 they will manage to get it all finished
we sit down and discuss solutions.
OKA suggests to get Alu-Star staff from Germany to Australia
on OKA's expenses to finish the truck on OKA's site.
This would give OKA the advantage of having some extra
time to finish should there be any further delay as
they can work side-by-side with the Alu-Star staff.
Susi's brother, an airplane-mechanic, has a good look
at the OKA and advises us that we should stick to the
truck, even if it takes some extra time.
He thinks that the quality of the work is very good
and also the material used is very solid.
So we decide to agree to OKA's plan and will finish
building our camper in Australia.
Alex from Alu-Star finds out that the next possibility
to send a container to Perth would be leaving Murg (new
location of Alu-Star) on December 6th, arriving in Fremantle
on January 24th.
There is one small problem: Alex and his wife have just
bought a Jack Wolfskin shop and Alex must be back to
help with the shop by latest end of February.
The work that still has to be done adds up to aprox.
540 working hours and this cannot be accomplished with
one person in this time-frame.
So OKA agrees to have 2 people sent over from Alu-Star
on OKA's expenses.
We also agree to some new rims that just have been
The new "bolt together rims" can be unscrewed
to easily change the tyre out in the bush.
With these rims one can drive the OKA up to 130 Km/h
and not just 100 Km/h as with split rims.
They will be bought while we are in Europe.
The new schedule for us means flying back to Europe
and pack all our gear into a container as soon as possible.
Originally we had planned to do this work in 3 months
and now we will only have 2 weeks to get all our gear
cleaned, make an inventory of it, pack it and load it
into the cabin / container.
Back in Europe
When arriving back in Europe we get a real temperature
shock, flying away in Perth with some + 30°C and arriving
in Switzerland to -15°C and snow.
But building a snowman can also be fun ... as long
one can go back later to the heated room!
At Alu-Star work is in full swing. All available people
are there finishing as much of the started work as possible
as we know that in Australia it will not be easy to
get all the bits and pieces.
Arthur from OKA warned us that due to the Chinese buying
up all available steel the market in Australia is really
dry for certain qualities of steel.
It is exactly the steel that Alex wants to use for the
supporting frame of the cabin.
Not being able to get this steel in Australia would
mean that the camper can not be mounted on the chassis
and therefore cannot be finished.
After many phone calls Alex finally finds somebody
that can deliver the required quality and amount and
we are in full swing again.
The intermediary frame needs to be done very accurately.
Due to the welding the frame often bends out of shape
and needs to be corrected.
Then one side is done and the whole thing needs to
be flipped over.
Try doing that with a frame that ways more than 130
kg of steel.
The frame is ready and is carried over to the cabin.
Again strong men are required ....
The cabin is moved from the trolley to some stands
and the frame moves under it.
We are not sure if the German Post is aware off what
their mail boxes can be used for ... almost as versatile
as milk crates in Australia ...
The steel frame is now to line up exactly as the cabin
needs to be fitted exactly. Otherwise later on while
driving it could move around too much.
Then wholes are drilled through the frame into the cabin
(fun work when you are lying underneath it) and all
screwed tightly together.
In the meantime Ruedi and Susi start cleaning the cabin.
The roof-tent also needs a good scrub. The Australian
Quarantine would not appreciate sand from Tunisia in
While the guys from Alu-Star work on the supporting
frame the cabin is packet. It just all fits.
Knowing how a ship can roll in a storm all is secured
carefully and tied down with straps.
To prevent the cabin form banging against the walls
in heavy seas a steel frame is welded into the container.
The cabin is pushed carefully and precisely into the
container, not much space is left, neither on the sides
nor on the top.
Ruedi realises that the top of the container has not
All solar panels are cleaned and the roof washed down.
After being in the container by almost 2/3 the cabin
just does not want to move anymore.
Extra weight is added to the forklift but this does
not help, it's wheels turn but the nothing moves.
It is late already and Alex and the crew send Susi and
Ruedi home. They will find a solution.
Next morning all is nicely packed, the stand for the
roof tent is also done and all ready for the container
to be loaded to the truck.
We never found out when they had finished working but
looking at their faces they did not get much sleep that
The crane arrives at 7 AM and the container is loaded.
German Customs seal the container and that's it, all
ready to be picked up by the moving company.
Alu-Star goes OKA
On January 15th 2006 we leave Zurich in direction of
As there are no connecting flights we are forced to
a short stop over and enjoy the city and some Thai cuisine.
On January 18th we arrive in Perth and of course go
straight to OKA.
Sad to say but the OKA is still not ready.
So we go "home" to the house organised by
The house belongs to the owner of OKA and is very comfortable.
There is lots of space for all uf us.
OKA has also organised 2 cars, a Mitsubishi Magna and
for the "boys" an old Kingswood.
Alex loves the "Kings" as he calls it.
So we go to bed and get a good sleep.
Tomorrow all will look different ....
Next day we start work at OKA as part of the local
Lots needs to be organised, tool bought, material ordered,
The work plan is done and important dates in the OKA
schedule planned into our work.
Work starts slowly as we are not yet used to where
what can be found.
Because we are not organised and have no clue where
to get what we decide to take the weekend off.
We go to Rottnest Island and enjoy the nice island
and the quokkas.
On Monday we get organised and pick up in speed.
Just before Aussie-day the cabin is placed on the chassis
for the first time.
Luckily all fits and the OKA crew can leave for a long
OKA has given us access to the factory so we can work
over the long weekend.
We decide to go to Perth in the afternoon and join the
They sure are patriots!
We enjoy a fabolous view of the firework being fired
off from various locations including the tops of the
After the fireworks we are suprised to see how clean
the Aussies have left the borders of the Swan river.
All is neatly stacked away in containers, almost no
rubbish left on the floor.
If one considers that the crowd was over 1 mio people!
Due to the long weekend and the factory being closed
we have undisturbed access to all machines.
We make good progress with our work. Soon the modified
bull-bar and the bumper bar are ready for galvanising.
It is Alex's first visit to Australia so on Sunday
native animals are on the plan.
The following week the OKA crew is finishing the wiring
and hosing of the engine and the chassis.
There is still so much work to be done on it and we
find it hard to beleive in the dates given to us by
According to his plan the OKA should be ready for us
latest end of January, final compliance testing done
on February 17th.
On January 31st the container arrives on board of the
"CMA CGM Matisse".
What a coincidence that the same ship that took us to
Perth 3 month earlier should now bring our container!
The captain is the one we had from Hamburg to Le Havre.
He gives us a warm welcome and shows the ship to the
They are quite impressed about the engine and the size
At OKA work continues.
But Murphy is present again ... the windows were not
built to spec and need to be sent back.
The drawbacks are so frustrating to all.
The wheel carrier is finished, just the galvanising
is now missing.
The temperatures in Perth rise and rise and so due
the temperatures in the work-shop.
We are not used to it and enjoy a break in "our"
The work on hoses and cables has been finished. Arthur
and crew are now ready to put the cabin on the chassis
It is already the first week of February and all contingency
time is used up again.
Not only we are stressed about the delays, the OKA crew
They have many clients lined up for the next vehicles
and just encounter problems over and over again.
One has to consider, that our truck is the very first
assembled together and that every single piece and screw
is thoroughly quality tested.
The container arrives
On February 7th the container finally is delivered
to the logistics company and we have temporary access
The first work is getting the cabin our of the container.
For that we require a bit more space so the container
The little forklift in vain tries to push it around
and its bog brother comes to help.
We unpack the front bits so Alex has space to cut the
welded steel away from the containers walls.
The small forklift pulls the cabin out of the container
and the large one holds the cabin from the side.
Again because there is so little space between the cabin
and the container walls this has to be coordinated and
The large forklift has to start all over again but
finally the cabin is out of the container.
We are very pleased to see that there is no damage neither
on the cabin nor on its contents.
It is such a good feeling to finally see our little
home here in Australia.
Now we have to get it cleared by customes and immigration.
We hope to get the back-section through as "cabin"
and not as "car part".
If customs agrees to "cabin" we have to pay
5%, if it is a "car part" it will be 10% plus
luxury tax ...