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OKA NT Building Diary Part 2

At Bad Kissingen

Alu-Star offers us to be at the Abenteuer-Allrad in Bad Kissingen and show our cabin.
The fair is the largest one in Europe and is held from May 26th to May 30th, 2005.
Of course we accept!

We drive up to Bad Kissingen already on Wednesday to help with the preparations.
As Ruedi's sister Heidi and her husband Peter will also come and want to know the GPS position of the guest campground is (we will be staying on the fair-ground) we drive up to it ... and what do we see standing where we were standing last year?
Gräter's OKA (the OKA that was built-up by Langer & Bock)!!!

It is interesting to see the 2 vehicles side by side, to compare the sizes.
Amazingly enough the OKA is not much longer or wider than the Defender, but it is 1/3 higher.
That will be new to us and we will have to get used to it.

We check the stand but Alu-Star has not yet arrived so we set up camp and take the bicycles for a ride.

Then Alu-Star arrives with our cabin.
Alex has some huge tyres in the back of his trailer. They are for Stepahnie and Heiner's truck ... well, we will see.

Where should we place it?
The cabin is not that heavy. A bit of pushing and all is set.
Soon Stephanie and Heiner arrive with their truck.
Alex will display it as contrast to our cabin that only has the furniture elements in it, but no doors or fittings.
Our cabin will be used mainly to show the basics of the furniture elements and also the way Alu-Star works.

Alex explains that he does not like the normal tyres, for the fair he wants to have some real off-road tyres and has therefore brought along his own tyres.
But he soon realizes that it is hot, the tyres heavy and well fixed ... no pain, no gain!

Thomas finds that bottles can also be opened with the heavy tools ....

The next day the fair starts.
Stephanie shows the interior of their truck, Ruedi explains the details of the back-section, Alex and Thomas are busy discussing prices, Joks and Heiner bring ice cream every so often.

The stand is a big success.
Even on Friday when it is supposed to be quiet we have visitors non-stop and there is not much time for a break.
In addition Joks and Thomas catch a nasty cold. We call up Heidi and Peter to bring medications when they come to the fair.

Heidi und Peter also almost need to break into our house to organize the Honda power-generator as with this heat the fridge is hard working and needs lots of power, but we have not yet mounted the solar cells on the Defender.

The days are hot, hotter, extremely hot .... on Saturday we hit 32 degrees Celsius, on Sunday even 35.
All that helps is a cold "Radler" (shandy) in the evening.
Thanks for that Heidi and Peter, this was much appreciated!

On Saturday at the exhibitor's evening we are very happy, that there is only Sunday to be survived.

First pictures of our OKA

OKA sends the first pictures of our truck.
But they also inform us that there are problems with the harness and they will not manage to send the OKA by the end of June.
In fact they say that it will probably be end of August when they send it.
As we cannot shift our trip to Australia on the "Matisse" for us this means that we will probably have to come back and finish building after November.

OKA sends us pictures from the chassis so we can check if it fits to the cabin Alu-Star is building in Germany.

We find parts that are above the z-0 line and get all excited.
But OKA sends detailed pictures with measurements and all is fine again.

The tanks, engine and some electrical cabling .....
Lets see what pictures come next.

Furniture and bed

The furniture is based on an aluminium frame, that is covered with burned-in car paint to prevent black fingers
(Aluminium has a tendency of constantly releasing fine particles with results in everything that gets in touch with it being black).
The side panels and doors are made from painted Alu-Cobond panels that have been spray-painted and the paint burned in.
There is no wood used at all because of the risk of moisture expansion.

The cabinet doors are fitted with strong locks to prevent doors from opening on corrugated roads and the equipment to be found all over the floor.

Building the cabin's doors and side panels is very time consuming and is mainly done by Ruedi.

From cutting the Alu-Cobond board, to preparing and drilling wholes for the screws and also for ventilation purposes, adjusting the panels, having them spray-painted, adjusting them, fitting the lock, to adding supporting strings to keep the panels in the proper angle .... it seems to be a never ending job ....

The largest and most complex piece of furniture is the block containing the fridge.
It has many drawers, doors and panels of different sizes and also the bench attached on the side.

A large cabinet on top of the fridge will be the new "home" of Ruedi's guitars.

The kitchen, the eating area and also the bed room are all equipped with overhead compartments.

The height of the bed is critical as the bicycles "garage" for our 2 full size foldable mountain bikes (Dahon - Zero-G Performance) needs to fit underneath.

Because it is such a complex construction Alex is building the bed himself.
The bed has a constant widths of 70 cm and is expandable to 140 cm at night.
Where ever possible an aluminium slatted frame is used instead of a solid area to give the mattresses the best possible ventilation.

Due to the space constrains some of the work has to be done be in a very uncomfortable way.

Two standard mattresses especially build for the measurements 70 x 195 cm are used.
This results in final measurements of the bed of 195 x 140 cm.

Kitchen and Water

The Wemo 78 liter stainless steel fridge is placed below the guitar compartment.
It is wrapped with an additional 2 - 4 cm of insulation material.
The same strong lock that is used in all drawers is fitted in the door .
This will prevent the fridge from opening on corrugated roads and its contents being spilled all over the floor.

The external Danfoss compressor is fitted to a solid steel plate that is bolted to the floor.
This needs to be done to ensure it will endure the vibrations once we are on tour and not start "walking" the floor.

The bench top is coated with 3mm of Corian.
It is prepared by the local cabinet maker.
Alex is please to see that the bench top fits as planned.

Ruedi's father Max is here for a visit and studies the description of the Wallas cook top.
We chose the Wallas 95DU Diesel glass-ceramic model as we did not want gas in the back-section.
The Wallas is widely used in yachting. It has a reputation of being a bit "delicate" so we will have a separate diesel tank with an extra filter.
Also we know that above 3500 m altitude above sea level it could cause problems.
As we will travel mostly below that altitude we think it is the correct cook top for us.

The sink is a regular household sink. Household quality was chosen because it is much stronger than camping equipment.
Also the sinks usually installed in the campers have smaller tubing that clogs easily.

The sink has a removable drainer that fits on top of the cook top thus making multiple usage of the corner area possible.

Below the sink there is not much space left.
Cramped together there are a

  • Water filtration system
    A Gardena pump (5000/3 SGP; 230V~; 750 W; 5200 l/h;3.3 ba) pumps water through char-carbon filters in parallel (for pre-filtering) into the 2 x 100 liter in stainless steel tanks.
    The tanks will withstand a car-fire without leaking.
  • 20 liter boiler (Mobitherm CAL020)
    The boiler is heated by the cars cooling system or by the diesel water heating (Eberspaecher)
  • UVC-filter (SterilAir AQD64-C: max. 20 l/min (1200 l/h))
    The cold water is pumped by a Shurflo Sensor pump (max. 24 l/min; 4 bar) through the UVC-filter, then through another char-carbon filter to the cold water tap.
    This water is suitable for drinking.
  • Waste water tank for the sink
    A 20 lt waste tank is built around the boiler. The tank can either be left open and the waste water would just run through or it can be closed and used as tank (in cities or areas where one is not allowed to let waste water out directly).
  • Diesel tank for the Wallas cook top
    From the main diesel tanks some diesel is pumped through a filter into a 8 lt diesel tank just below the cook top for cooking.
    This has been done because the Wallas is very sensitive to the quality of the diesel and also it should not run dry.
    The overflow goes directly back into the main diesel tank, no spilling possible (nobody likes the smell of diesel in his living quarters ...)

Electrical installations

The power is mainly generated by 8 x Shell SM55 solar panels mounted on the roof delivering up to 440 KWh.
Battery charging is controlled by a Tarom 235 solar controller from Steca, max. solar power 35 A.
(We got all our solar equipment from IWS SOLAR AG, a specialist in solar power, based in Bauma, Switzerland.)
In times of need additional electrical power can be generated and fed into the system with a mobile power generator Honda 10i (1000 W).

Two SWISSsolar professional batteries 6V= blocks (in series), 440 Ah, are used.
The container of the batteries consists of high-quality transparent plastic and makes controlling of the electrolyte conditions possible at any time.
For this reason the steel frame where the batteries sit is made on two levels thus allowing checking of both batteries at one glance.
The frame is mounted on silent blocks to reduce vibrations.

The batteries can be loaded by alternator, solar, generator or by 230V~ mains.

The battery charger / inverter / transfer system is a Studer Compact C1312.
(Battery charger: 55 A; Inverter: 1300/1600 W; Transfer system: 15 A.)
The charger is also mounted with silent blocks at the bottom and on the side.

An emergency main switch can disconnect the back-section from all power sources.

All wires are held in cables conduits. The installation of the conduits is a pain in the b.... with so little space available to work in.

Some cables need to be soldered and hose shrunk on. All needs to be done especially strong to sustain the constant friction and the vibrations.

With all the wires from and to the batteries the conduits are quickly filled and some new ideas are required on how to get some more space for even more cables.

The power of the electrical installation is tested with the electrical chainsaw and found to work.

Well, well, well ... what is happening here?
Ruedi had to fit the conduits in the compartments above the bed.
This work required him to lay on the mattresses and he was too lazy to get his dirty overall on and off so he left it off completely.
Luckily the neighbours wife did not come for the coffee that day!

All lights are 12 V.

Above the dining table there is a lamp faucet where a hanging lamp can be clicked in while standing and easily removed during driving.
It would not survive being left hanging in off-road terrain .....

Euronorm power outlets for 12 V are available all over the cabin, 220 V is only available in the kitchen and in the eating area, both very close to the 220 V converter.

A Sopo Alarm plus for CO and narcotic/sleeping gasses is installed.
The movement detector will be installed later on in the cabin of the OKA.

The installation of the control panel is not easy and requires 4 hands ....
Due to space constraints the piano hinge used for mounting needs to be cut. Ruedi does not dare to cut too much so Alex gets into action.

The panel contains all electrical controls and switches.
It also is home of the 30 GB iPod we received as far-well present from our colleague at work (thanks again guys and girls!) and an Alpine car stereo system (car radio / CD / MP3 Player).

The woofer of the Infinity Kappa 3-way loudspeaker system is installed underneath the bench.
Alex is all smiles about it. Guess he can't wait to hear it or more ... sit on the bench and feel it!

The tweeter and mid-tone speaker are built into custom made speaker cabinets that are coloured in the same gray as the frames of the cabinets.
Don't they look sexy?

Sikka and break cleaner

Some of the most important "tools" at Alu-Star are Sikkaflex and break cleaner:
- Break cleaner is used everywhere where cleaning and degreasing is required before and after processing
- Sikkaflex is not only employed for sealing but also in all cases where things are not supposed to loosen-up on their own ever again (screws, bolts, etc.)

Thomas (Dr. Sikka) applies Sikkaflex.

The excess of the applied Sikkaflex is removed with the lid of the break cleaner can (see, another usage of break cleaner!) leaving a nicely modeled seal.

The seal is then trimmed with break cleaner. Voilà!


We have decided to go for a parasol from May, size 2,5 x 3,5 m instead of a "standard" awning since awnings are not sturdy enough for off-road usage.
This parasol does not have a supporting stand in the middle but is held from the top thus enabling us to have a large table underneath it without problems.

We don't want any part of the OKA (except the tyres of course) to touch the ground so no ants can move in.
Therefore the parasol will be mounted on the side wall of the OKA.
For that the cabin is fitted with "airline rails" (metal rail system with snap-on fasteners).

Alex is preparing the fixings for the parasol swivel arm.

The method is discussed and Alex builds the actual swivel arm.

Then the device is tested. Sh......! It sags already with a bit of pulling at its end!
The 3 mm aluminium pipe is not strong enough. It will never hold up if a bit of wind hits the parasol.
After a long discussion it is decided to have a proper technical study done.

The parasol is opened and the angles studied.

After some technical discussions Ruedi and Alex define the new holding mechanism.

Alex needs to change something in the worst possible location, where getting the washers in the right position and also keeping them there until the screws are tighten isn't easy ..... but Alex will find a solution until we come back from Australia in November.

Yes, he has! And it works!!!

The holding-mechanism is hooked into the airline rails, then the parasol screwed on and voilà! 2,5 m x 3,5m of shade are available!

Mozzie-screen door

Thomas is busy building a foldable mozzie-screen door.

The door needs to be built around many different elements like door knobs of the main door, opening of cabinets and must still protect from mozzies, big mammals and human-beings; so to say: a classical "all-in-one device suitable for every purpose".
But once finished the door will look very elegant .... and will cost us a fortune.
Stay tuned to watch the final product.


The curtains are clipped on to supports and just fit above the window frames.
Once again it fits exactly ..... sheer luck!

Susi is busy working on a prototype of a removable mozzie screen.

The mosquito-screen material is placed in a frame of Alcantara, the same one that was used for the seats. The screens can easily been lifted away to access the windows for opening or closing.

The Mozzie-screen frame is held together with Velcro thus enabling the exchange of mosquito-screen by finer or courser ones depending on the beasts that should remain outside ... fliers, mozzies or even sand flies.


The table is made from sealed wood covered with Corian.
It can be extended to give eating space for 4.

The table is fixed with Airline rails and supports.
The other side is supported by an expandable leg.
The height of the table can be adjusted depending on the requirements.

The table can be shifted to both sides freeing more space to the other side e.g. if somebody wants to sit sideways ont he back bench.

The table can be lifted up or even removed completely making access to the storage space below the table easy.
Sounds like another all-providing genetically engineered animal .....

Pending work: Bicycle garage

Thomas has started the work on the bicycle garage.
This will be the next building big task.



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Last updated: Thursday, 10.01.2019 3:30 PM

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