Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#811 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-21 21:59:57

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In the meantime, at home, in the living-room (where else?) the Super Téneré was parked and stripped to remove all the pieces that were broken in the crash I had during the last long trip. Fortunately the front forks were untouched though many plastic parts were damaged and needed replacement. One thing was clear: the bike did not like me. Too many little problems, leaks and finally the crash. Hmm… she was trying to tell me something. Of course, the crash was my fault, by the way.

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I got all the pieces I could find in the local market and ordered the pieces to be imported, and went on with the old and faithful Africa Twin for the daily commuting and also for longer trips.

One good day, Eduardo and I went to the coast on a flash trip and parked at a gas station to have some coffees on our way back home. We were talking about the idea of letting the Super Téneré go and suddenly this guy showed up on a shiny GS 1200. My brother in law was pretty enthousiast with the model, but I was not convinced at all. He went to check it out and the pilot came and asked if we liked the bike. Yes, of course, was the natural answer. Well… it is for sale, he replied. And, to make a long story short, he asked for a very, very, very attractive price and he left after exchanging business cards. Eduardo said no more words on the issue and shot me that famous glance. Dammit!

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The next days I tried to do anything I could to go on with the project but my regular job consumed all my time. The pieces ordered by eBay continued to arrive from all over the world. One day the spares for the headlights arrived and I realized that even if they looked pretty good, almost original, they were not original at all and were much more fragile and a bit different so I had to do some manouvers to adapt them to the supports, which took also a lot of time and care not to brake them.

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Anyway… what happened with the BMW? What do you think…

Victor brought the bike to San Felipe on his way back to the north where he lived, we made the paperwork, I took him to the bus and we remain good friends since then. The GS, full version with 12.000 km, was mine. Yes…I know…

Carmen fell in love with the bike right away, but she made me promise, again, not to get rid of the Africa Twin, ever. I agreed… naturally.

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At the shop, Eduardo kept on servicing and repairing any kind of expedition vehicles drawn by his growing reputation on the many web pages the Merkabah and the workshop have appeared along the life of the project. This Dutch Defender needed a rebuild of the aft differential among a few more little things and the owners were pretty happy after the repairing.

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The spares for the Super Téneré arrived and I started to rebuild her pretty carefully. I knew she was leaving, though I had more than one doubt and wanted to keep them all the four bikes. Ah… this crazy love for steel….

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#812 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-21 22:08:12

Knowing my tastes and my way of driving I took the GS to get her fitted with protection bars and some other toys to leave her ready to be used as, well… as this kind of bike is meant to be used.

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Days were getting warmer and warmer with the approaching summer and Carmen experienced a renewed joy riding the GS so I profited every moment to take her out and make short trips to the coast or to the mountains. Time for working on the Merkabah was more and more scarse but this was more important.

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When I could, I accomplished little tasks. I got the painted AC condenser and bolted it pretty solidly to the radiator. Hey…it was quiet a job, so don’t look it so lightly.

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So… what happened to the Super Téneré? Eduardo took her, finished the repairs and serviced her completely and in the end he was pretty happy with her, for a modest price… of course.

We made the first official trip riding north to have lunch at a reknown truck drivers’ restaurant by the coast in the north, and ate fish until to almost explode. It was a little cold and cloudy, but it was a good first ride together with the ¨new” bikes.

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One good early morning my father was forced to wait for the fog to dissipate to work on the mountains near San Felipe and he stood stuck a couple of hours in the airfield near my job place. We had a good chat and spent a few time together. When you get old you learn to appreciate every single moment with your elders. Good.

Generations apart, from right to left, my father’s 206 Long Ranger, Pairoa’s Africa Twin, and my grandfather’s Beechcraft Expeditor. I am the one who does not fly fixed nor rotary wings.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#813 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-22 15:04:22

Another day I took the cabin’s sway bar and all the pieces related and assembled the whole front suspension. Had to make some modifications to make it all fit properly and then, struggling against the weight and the difficulty of handling of the damn thing, I could at least put it right where it belonged without ruining anything else.

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The whole kit belonged to Spare, the old and canibalized truck, and I felt that it was not pretty happy there. Hmm…

I drilled some holes and added a few more components to the front fender picture, but never got to get anywhere, just summing this and that to the equation. It was very frustrating not to finish anything.

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At that time the mountains were pretty invitating for dirt bike riding, which was very usefull to fight back the frustrating feelings. As the summer starts to cook them, the tracks become more and more rocky and slippery so I profited to go up there as long as it was still safe to go. Ahh… it feels so good to be there!

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There were many reasons why I did not work hard on the Merkabah those days apart from the usual lack of time, and I decided to work and service the bikes instead. I wanted a little more grab on the foot pegs of the Africa Twin so I took a rusty piece of steel and shaped it to stretch the original pegs. A few efforts, lime work, welding and paint and… voilà! new wider pegs. I profited to repair the stand and the support and the bike was pretty happy with the touch of care.

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It was already harvest time, and Eduardo and I were invited to celebrate with “asado de cordero”, roast lamb country style, one good weekend. Unfortunately Eduardo went on an oil spot and crashed gloriously at an intersection. He was on the Yamaha 400 and he made it to the place, but he broke his right foot as the Xrays showed later. Bad.

The lamb was delicious, though.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#814 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-22 15:15:02

Continuing with the loving care of the Africa Twin I took out and made a good repair of the rear rack, broken a few years ago on a rough trip to the south and poorly repaired thereafter. Edie no longer worked with me so I made the plastering and then prepared the piece, primed and painted it. It went quiet good, though the criticism comes from very close.

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Do you remember that the front dual shock absorbers were in conflict with the air springs? Well… I forcedly neglected it until I had no more choice but to take the supports out and to modify them in order to address the issue. I would have to do it sooner or later.

In the end I just made a couple of supples to move them a few centimeters to the front to get them away from the shocks, enough not to have to drill any other single hole in the frame and not to remove any wire or tecalan bundle.

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A few weeks passed and I went on the mountains again, but it turned to be the last ride until the rains came back. The tracks were pretty slippery and tricky, though, all in all, it was a pretty long and rough but nice ride.

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Mamut, a former german military NG 1017 owned by a couple made from a german guy and an argentinian woman came to the shop some day. A major repair of the engine was needed and it was at its final standing state. They were reluctant at first but they had to surrender to the evidence, and they prepared themselves for a longer stay in San Felipe.

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I went on with the supports for the shock absorbers and after drilling quiet a lot of steel put them back on the frame to see the result of the efforts. Hmm… not brilliant, but I thought it was okay… hardly. I would have to inflate the air springs to check. I left the supports unpainted in case there were further modifications to make and threw the issue back to the oblivion.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#815 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-22 15:30:14

Life was hard as always, those days, and the dogs kept on waking me up and dragging me out of bed every Sunday morning for their weekly run, no matter what. Fortunately the trees had all their foliage to screen the merciless sun of San Felipe.

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After a little more than two weeks Mamut’s engine was ready. The owners inspected everything over and over again, still not pretty convinced of my brother in law’s work. Some like, some not…

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A few minutes after their depart, a big guy came: Shujaa. The 6x6 MAN had been built in Austria by his former owner and the quality of the craftsmanwork was outstanding.

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Shujaa was the big boy of Karin and Oliver, a pretty nice german couple touring the world with which we had a very fine time, nice evenings and pletoric dinners. They parked near home and we helped them with some repairs and replacement of their broken washing machine.

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Unfortunately for the poor Montero, a coolant hose broke and the engine heated up when going to Santiago. I was pretty distracted and I did not note the alarm signs nor the temp gauge until it was too late. Christ.

The vehicle had to be towed to the shop and though the damage seemed not to be so severe I and Eduardo preferred to open the engine and make a full inspection and repair because there was a big trip scheduled for march and the 4x4 had to be in perfect conditions.

And so, the V6 went out again and disassembled completely to change all the parts that needed to be or was better to be replaced. You see… nothing is coincidence. If the hose broke in the deep south or in the altiplano we would be seriously screwed. In the end, I was gratefull for the incident.

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But life is not only hard, but a bittersweet symphony… sometimes.

I changed the tires of the GS1200 and put some more knobby tires to have more grip and stability in the dirt and took her out to make a test to the mountain tracks I love so much. She is always a big, heavy lady, but she performed so good in the dirt that I felt gratefully surprised, and relieved.

I have to admit that I had prejudices about the brand and the model, and that I was wrong, so far. Good.

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More good news. The guys finally replaced the camera of the drone that also broke, that I broke, during the trip on the Super Téneré. It hurt, though.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#816 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-22 15:42:46

Franz AC had a lot of problems of different nature so he couldn’t reach the shop in many weeks. I tried to go a little further and began to look for the way to fix the compressor for the AC to the engine.

I had kept the carter from Spare so it was much more easy to work with it instead of making any templates or calculations from under the frame.

Got an appropriate piece of thick steel sheet and cut the pass through for the oil filler and the oil sump. I was too lazy to go get the heavy duty jigsaw from home so I used, again, the toy jigsaw at hand at the shop. It went good, though.

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It was pretty nice a beginning but I had ordered a spacer for putting the second pulley for the driving belt of the compressor and the turner never delivered it. I had to leave the neo-support unconcluded until the spacer was ready and I was able to make the proper measurements.

Among other things, the rear view camera system arrived. I ordered it with four cameras to cover the front, the back and the sides of the Merkabah. I preferred to have a solid system than a system based on wireless communication between the cameras and the monitor. Why? Still I am not sure. More cables to go through the dashboard.

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One evening, not long ago, Franz finally showed up after a tough day at his regular job place. He brang the reductions, the copper pipes and the precise type of silver welding rods that were needed to stretch the circuit of the AC.

He worked his way and welded the pieces to the evaporator. Good, but then he realized he had left the connectors back at his own shop. Ops.

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So the job was left uncomplete and he promised to come back another day. At least I had an idea of how the sealing cover had to be designed and made, and that was I began to do.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#817 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-22 15:58:13

I privileged the nice days of the weekend to go out and enjoy local trips with the family instead of spending the time working at the shop.

We went to the beach, even if it was plain season. I do not like too much people, you know, but he secret was to go early in the morning and have lunch pretty late and go back home early again. At five in the afternoon, when everybody was fighting for their square meter as you can see on the picture, we were done, enjoying the ride and the nice road in between the mountains on our way home.

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After a couple of months the guy that was charged with the upholstering of the central console finally delivered the pieces. They were just a handfull of them but, you know, there always is a thousand scuses. Anyway, I finally got them and put them in a box.

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Franz returned, as promised, and he welded the specially turned terminals to the pipes and… that was it.

With that simple gesture the bloody evaporator could be installed under the dashboard and the rest of the items could be completed. Good.

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I insulated the pipes and fixed the evaporator in place. I then closed the big hole with the already fabricated cover, put the piece of inner lining back and fabricated a little holder for the draining hose of the evaporator.

That little though unexpectedly complex issue was finished, for now.

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Next act, put some order and get all the wires back in place along and through the dashboard.

I didn’t remember at that point what was any of them for.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#818 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-22 16:20:12

Talking about renewals, do you remember the old John Deere with which we moved the cabin of Spare? Well, it went on a full overhauling on its side, and Eduardo was proud of it, working as if it was its first day.

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There were many pieces of the cabin around so I grabbed among them the air ducts and the cover plates of the dashboard and went after the heater. I thought it was okay but it had to be repaired because the plastic was too old and broken at the edges and I dealt with it with pieces of the heater of Spare and the soldering pistol.

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Unfortunately, the hoses were not in good condition so I had to wait for the guy that sold them to come back from his holidays to put new ones and get the heater installed. Ops… I forgot the hoses.

So, what to do next? Of course… put the cabin back on the frame!

The front suspension of the cabin was ready but the rear one, the one original from the old 2626, needed new shocks, and I wanted more powerfull shocks than the stock ones. I ordered then a couple of heavy duty ones that arrived the next day, but the spikes were of a different measure.

Maestro Chaleco was charged with the task of adapting them, and he delivered the next day. He did a very good job with the welding though I had to give the final touch by polishing the shafts very carefully.

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I assembled the rear mountings including the new shocks that barelly fitted in and set them ready to receive the cabin. They looked pretty good to me and I was very happy.

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As soon as I could I put again the hooking device on the roof hatch and connected it to the floor of the cabin via four chains anchored to secure points to avoid deforming the cabin while lifting it.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#819 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-02-22 16:32:46

The crew of the shop helped me to mount the wheels of the Merkabah, which was incredibly straightforward comparing with me doing it alone, as usual. I put the front wheels insideout because it was easier to do and that way you could work more easily between the tire and the frame.

A new manual winch was ordered just for the occasion, and when it arrived, the next day, I went to the roof and placed a double arrange of thick ropes from one to the other crossbeams to hang the winch from them.

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Lifting the cabin was pretty easy and it was quiet an event for those who still were wandering by the shop at that time of the evening. Of course, Eduardo and Alejandro didn’t miss the chance to act like clowns. I really love these guys.

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They helped me to push the chassis forward to under the cabin and then to adjust the cabin so to bolt it to the front supports and let it rest on the rear ones.

Do you see the baldy guy in the picture? Well, when I started with this project I had all my hair.

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Eduardo was amused by the fact that the cabin was so high placed off the ground and joked about her sister trying to get in. She was not amused at all.

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In the end I could not bolt the cabin properly as it turned to be more difficult than I thought, and it was getting late so I desisted and pushed the truck back to its classical position with the aid of the guys and let it stay that way until the next working session.

I secured the cabin with two bolts per each side only and then I made a shooting session, enjoying the moment when the Merkabah went back to look like an actual truck.

Oh, yes… it felt pretty good.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#820 Beitrag von saubaer » 2018-02-22 16:52:48

Congratulations! What else is there to say :unwuerdig:

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Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#821 Beitrag von waYne » 2018-02-22 20:47:07

Congrats!

Gesendet von meinem SM-G900F mit Tapatalk

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#822 Beitrag von a90 » 2018-02-22 23:07:41

Very nice to see it coming back in shape !

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#823 Beitrag von tooFATtoDRIVE » 2018-03-17 14:38:06

I absolutely adore this project!!!

(1) I have somewhat unusual question: I always wondered what would be the max size/measurements of an expedition truck that would allow you to travel to remote places in South America? In particular the length and height.

(2) I remember you were once asked whether you would choose a different base truck and you responded that you would have chosen one with a longer wheel base. Do you expect any issues during your travels in terms of size of your truck?

(3) Lastly - the issue of the turning circle. I read every now and then that 6x6 and 8x8 trucks are sometimes very difficult to manoeuvre in the mountains etc. Do you expect this to be an issue for you once this magnificent truck is ready for travels? Is there any reliable source of information regarding the turning circle (in German: Wendekreis) for these older trucks?

Keep your updates coming!!!

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#824 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-04-04 16:51:28

tooFATtoDRIVE:

Thanks for your words and sorry for the delayed answer but I was on my holidays.

Talking about size and turning radius of a expedition truck I have to say that you can see any kind of truck on the roads of South America, sometimes gigantic logging trucks in horrible muddy tracks and pretty long buses in narrow and serpentine mountain roads, and day all go along... more or less.

In general, old trucks like mine have and oddly tight turning radius despite of having a tractional front axle. Don't know exactly the measures. Longer means problems when you get into old andean villages with streets used to see only pedestrians and cattle, and taller means problems in the same way regarding awnings and electric wires, but you can easily stay out such cities, park nearby and walk in. You can also have problems if you get into the woods, for instance in some national parks with narrow passes in between the trees, but it is a matter of anticipation and good judgement.

Older tunnels and some metallic bridges may cause some trouble if your truck is too high, but if you stay below 3.9 meters you will probably be safe.

I have seen any type and size of buildind machinery and trucks in quiet difficult roads and situations so I do not have concerns about the dimensions of the Merkabah and trust the 6x6 configuration. The problems rise when you are big and heavy and get stuck in sand or mud, and if you do not have the means or self-recovery, well... that´s when you start to sweat.

Kind regards.


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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#825 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-05-16 18:16:08

a90:

Booklet received. Thanks a lot! It looks like new and is full of interesting data. Need to work up my german, though.

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You think that I was sleeping? No Sir... I am still working! I have to fix my computer and at some moment this story will go on.

Thanks again and regards to the forum.


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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#826 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-19 23:38:04

Here we are again. Hope you guys are all okay.

Time has passed, and I have done as much as I could to go on with this story. As usual, time is the most scarse of the resources and I have made not big progresses the last months. Though, I have been continously working.

To firmly and correctly hold the cabin in place and complete the assembly of the front fender I had to modify some of the original supports of the Merkabah that differed from the donor supports from Spare, which ment no big trouble except for to find them in the first place, hmm…

Making order and putting the wires and tecalan tubing in order was not complicated, but time consuming, and I had to make some supports and holders to get them in place. Some plastics had not survived the bad treatment and hard work over the years.

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The hot water circuit for the heater was a major issue regarding the front of the cabin, and it had to be addressed before many other components so I got a couple of double angled hoses to replace the long ago worn out hoses of the Merkabah and managed to install them in the narrow space left. This allowed me to bolt the washer-wiper in position.

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Then, the water pipes were inspected, cleaned and painted and the whole thing was plugged and screwed in place. I then installed the washer-wiper motor and, slowly, things began to look more and more interesting.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#827 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 0:18:52

During March, though, Carmen and I took our holidays and we spent the hole month travelling back and forth on the GS 1200. I cannot help myself and I beg your pardon because I will put some of the pictures of the trip... only a few.

It all began with the decision of going south or north. Autumn was approaching so we decided to go south even if the forecast was not pretty benign, but if we did otherwise we would have gone in plain rainy season. So we got on the Beast and drove south, where we found the forests, the lakes and the big countryside we like so much. We passed the border and went through the Route of the Seven Lakes in Argetina. Carmen was pretty happy with the comfort she could ride with on the GS and we both enjoyed the first hundreds of kilometers with no issues.

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We stayed at some relatives' house at the Puyehue lake where we found the first rains. It was pretty nice to walk under the rain after the pretty long summer season in San Felipe. We profited every minute that the sun showed up behind the clouds and went around to visit the many and very known beautiful spots there.

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But, even the best spaghettis with fresh tomato sauce and the salad made with letuces picked with your own hands from the orchard could not counter the wills for riding and enjoying the holydays, so we packed up and took our way back to the north, step by step, staying at many different places and testing both the capacities of the GS and Carmen's nerves. They both endured.

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We made some very nice promenades by rarely used routes to different places, national parks, volcanoes, etc, always with the rain stepping close on our heels. Sometimes we had to stay enclosed in some nice and warm cabins in the woods, looking at the rain fall and watching Netflix, and we really enjoyed to spend some relaxed time near the fireplace.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#828 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 0:25:41

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We found an old friend, and had a sad and delicate moment contemplating the mercyless rust that gradually had been growing and eating the steel since we met for the first time, some seven years ago. Pretty sad indeed.

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We went near the border, high on the mountains, and found one of the big Andean lagoons half covered with ice and snow. Nice spectacle after seeing them almost empty.

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I asked Carmen how far north could we reach, to make some sort of schedule to adjust the remaining days of the vacations, and she surprised me when she said: Why don't we go to San Pedro? That meant more than 2.000 kilometers from where we were then. I was delighted, you know, because if it was for me I could go to end of the world and back again on the bike, so she really enjoyed the ride.

The GS drove us eventually back home where we spent a couple of days making laundry and then we headed to the north of our beautiful country where we found the mountain passes, the rocks and the dirt roads we also love so much. Of course, we had not a single rainy day any more.

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We visited our friends René and Karen and stayed at their nice hotel at Vicuña, and the Beast met Terral the truck. It was quite a formal german encounter.

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And, at some point, we reached the Atacama desert, high in the north. It was our second time, but this time we enjoyed it a lot more. Less people, mostly foreign tourists at that moment of the year, out of the high season, and less dusty winds. The last was really nice.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#829 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 0:32:15

We could freely walk the streets, kept with the original dirty look for the joy of the tourists, and choose the tables at the restaurants. Took a few rides to some uncommon and common destinations to the volcanos, the hidden valleys, the altiplanic lagoons and so on without encountering too many people. It was great.

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We found a fistfull expedition trucks, the weirdest one a new Bremach that looked pretty well... but strange. We did not talk to anyone, though, this time.

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After a few days in San Pedro de Atacama we departed heading back south, towards home, with time enough left for visiting a few places along the coast, like the Portada of Antofagasta, never seen before by Carmen or myself. We travelled with no hurry and made a few stops, shooting hundreds of pictures of the many interesting and beautiful places across the dryest region of the planet. The florid desert I had visited in october 2017 on the Super Ténéré was long over and no flower was at sight.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#830 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 0:40:41

At Caldera, an old harbour some 800 km from San Felipe, we met a nice heard of big and lazy male sea lions that waited to be fed for free by the fishermen, and I found what I thought could be the next project after the Merkabah, apart from the space ship and the time machine, of course.

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The sign annouced that the old and rusted boat was for sale at a very convenient price, and after a few gallons of paint, some restoration work and a few modifications I was sure I could manage to make it host the Merkabah in the cargo bay so we could travel the whole world without depending on any bloody Ro-Ro.

Carmen just stared at me for a few seconds, gave me one of her famous enigmatic smiles, and kept on walking. She had heard some worse plans before... I think.

It took us a few more days to return home, and we chose not to go back by the highway but the secondary roads instead. It was a lot more kilometers, though it was worth it. Beautiful and solitary landscapes, nice hidden places, dirt roads and low speed travelling. What else?

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In the end we travelled half the country, more than 8.500 km on the odometer, and there were no issues with the GS. It was a veeery good ride.

And, going back to business, since our return I have been doing my best to complete the installation and adaptation of the different components needed to make the Merkabah run as desired… but it has been hard, finding errors and problems that have slowered the pace, as you will see as long as you continue to read.

I got the main gauges of the dashboard, cleaned and installed them. I was a little affraid that the speedometer cable would be a little short because of its re-routing due to the presence of the front winch, though it turned to be not a problem and fitted perfectly.

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It looked pretty good to me, finally having the gauges in place. Next act was to get my hands on the gauge dash panel, hidden in some lonely box, protected from new elements but covered with ancient dirt and memories. I spent some time cleaning it up as good as possible and replacing some elements that were not part of the original equipment. The caps and buttons of many donor trucks were pretty useful. I could not fix the dimmer for the gauge lights, though.

Once at its place, I made the necessary moves, plugged the bundles of wires and worked out the way to put all the electric harnesses in the everytime more reduced space in the dashboard. It looked even better, right?

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As I am a little obessed about noise reduction inside the cabin, I padded the inner side of the steering column with elastomeric membrane, trusting it will effectively reduce the noise of the mighty V8 coming from below the floor. Then, I jumped over the steering wheel and the steering column itself.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#831 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 0:47:55

I had gotten an articulated column from a wrecked truck with which I would be able to raise and lower the wheel and move it forward and backwards, like the top of the line truck from the old 1978s, and replace the fixed and more humble system of the workhorse actually the Merkabah was.

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I put a lot of time and efforts to firstly remove the fiercely stuck steering wheel from the shaft, and ended up braking the wheel and bending the extractor. Then I needed to replace the shaft because the splins were different from those of the truck, and I struggled against the bloody thing, obviously not made to be disassembled… ever, until I had all its components separated. There were some bendings and bruises, some rust, some play at the unions, and I could not find the proper internal bearing so, after a while, I dessisted and grabbed the original steering column, cleaned, lubricated and painted it and finally installed it. It looked good too, and was a humbling lesson for my ambitious aspirations.

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The days passed, and every available minute I had tried to complete little tasks. I installed the brake fluid reservoir and hoses and then assembled the front fender, which turned to be a pretty uncomfortable labor due to a problem with the design of the opening mechanism of the cover of the winch, that was pretty obvious when assembled but that I completely forgot when fabricating it. Anyway, I managed to bolt all the pieces and to find a not too complicated way to disassemble the fender to access the winch if needed. But it was hard and slow.

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Pneumatics… big item. The tire inflation system needed an air treatment device before the air could get to the manifold of the solenoid valves. Both air filter and pressure regulator had to be installed under the cabin to be at hand for servicing, so I looked for the best place available now that the cabin was where it belonged and the real thing was at sight. Every spot I had thought about was covered, jammed or unreachable so I decided to put a holder bar bolted to the top of the radiator and to put there, plainly visible, the pneumatic stuff.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#832 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 0:55:44

I was at it, fabricating the supporting bar with the usual junky piece of steel, when we received the visit of Perry and Ellen, from Germany. Their 1017 was very nice built and they had transformed and adapted it to their tastes pretty well. Perry has a solid mechanical background as motorbike pilot and mechanician and is very skilled, and they both make a great couple that travel with no hurry. It was a pleasure to meet them.

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When the bar was finished I installed the regulator and the filter but soon I found out that further modifications would be needed, hmm.... I followed then with the horns and the siren of the alarm. They hardly fitted in, though. The Merkabah came with a big air horn mounted on the roof, but I had sealed every single hole on the roof and did not want to drill any more, so... no horn on the roof and a couple of very powerfull electric horns under the cabin instead.

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Perry did not like drilling the roof either, and so he glued the roofrack directly on the roof with some strong kind of Sika product, and it worked great. This idea was pretty interesting and mostly replicable; he also routed the power wires for the lights on the back wall of the cabin, almost invisibly.

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And not only the roofrack was a good idea but many aspects of the truck of Perry and Ellen were well thought and had well executed solutions that would be taken in consideration when proceeding with the building of the Merkabah.

At some moment I unpacked the new fog LED lights and bolted them to the original support of the fender, but I did not like the look. I left the lights there and had to see after other issues and could not work on the project for some days.

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Continuing with pneumatics, I decided to install the valve manifolds for both the CTIS and the suspension system at their designated place under the dashboard on the motor tunnel. It was a big step, even if you can't appreciate it. Once bolted I realized how tight was everything, separated only millimeters one thing from each other.

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Profiting of a trip to Santiago I went to buy fittings, terminals and some stuff necessary to complete the adaptations of the gauges and controls of the systems. Of course, there was one gauge missing and it took me a couple of days to find it. Anyway, I made some minor changes to simplify things and came out with all the components ready for assembly. But it was easier to say than to do.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#833 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 1:03:41

I also began with electric connections and then with the air tubing and fittings. It soon became pretty crowded everywhere, but I really liked the look of it. Firstly, though, I had to install the isolating lining under the floor of the cabin. This was ready since the past year, gathering dust on the back of the frame. I put it on and then I could cut the passthroughs for the tubes and the wires.

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Those days another truck carrying more overlanders arrived to San Felipe. Neil and Patricia, also a very nice couple from England were in contact via internet since a few weeks, and they came from the south where they have had an incident when they pulled over the shoulder of the road and the truck rolled over. Bad. They were able to go on with the aid of the locals but the truck still needed some repairs, and we managed to get them a nice and safe place to do the repairs near home, where other overlanders had stayed before.

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I went on with the preparation of the pneumatic systems so I checked and rechecked all the connections of the pressurized air circuit and tightened very orderly every fitting, every cap and every valve. Checking and rechecking I realized that I had some errors and connected the right ones with the right ones.

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Some issues left in the oblivion at some point in history were addressed and given a solution where needed, and I put both the big rear air reservoirs back on, cleared the whole frame and cleaned a little the couple of tons of dust cumulated so far. Ah… it really looked like a truck then!

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#834 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 1:16:26

After a few weekends with no running, I went out with the dogs, not too early, some sunday morning, to discover the trees in autumn clothings. Peach trees and poplars showed off their best ocre and yellows. I really like autumn.

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Some of the errors regarding the connections involved the distribution of the air circuits at the very beginning of the system, so I made the proper changes, plugged and screwed appropriately the connections between the governor, the air dryer and the air tanks and checked and rechecked again. Manuals did not help a lot, though, and I did not want to blow out things, no sir.

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Naturally, to make the air pressure circuit work, every connection had to be finished, tight and sealed, so I had to complete and install all the air circuits, which were trully a lot. There were the circuits for the differential blocks, the motor brakes, the parking brakes, the auxiliary circuits and the circuit for the piloted purge of the air tanks. The problem was that I had no much time to do it and I wanted to make it very camly and check things threefold not to commit more mistakes and to avoid going back later to correct errors.

With the aid of the guys of the workshop I pushed the truck forward again a few centimeters (it was very, very hard this time), enough to allow the cabin tilt and, with the aid of the roof hoist, I lifted it and locked it in place.

I began to work with the bundle of tecalan under the cabin, very uncomfortably. Putting them in order and making the right connections with clean and shiny racords and manifolds gave a great feeling of progress, though.

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At some moment, Alejandro came with a box he found behind some other boxes full of stuff at the office. It was the missing box with the rocker switches. Christ, months with no news from them. Great. I ordered the ones that were lacking, like the washer-wiper and the AC power switches and kept the newfound box at plain sight since then.

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Unfortunately, I had some very busy weeks and I could barely pass by the shop only to say hello to the people and to contemplate how the dust covered the dashboard, the hanging wires and the sad look of the ensemble.

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Anyway, I finally got some hours to work a little and before going on with the air circuits I put the big lining piece under the motor tunnel. Couldn’t do otherwise, of course. Had to make some last minute adjustments but it went pretty well in the end.

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Once the lining was ready I put the gear lever in place and the hand air valves followed along with the parking brake valve. It was quite difficult to tighten the little valves, not being able to reach them from both sides of the floor at the same time.

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Some hours later, in the early darkness of the winter afternoon, all the valves were up and the air circuits were completed. Good.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#835 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 1:23:42

The next day it all seemed pretty promising, and I took the gear lever extension to put it on. I was happy to do it, but I was a little concerned about its length. If I dropped the cabin to the driving level and it was still stretched comparing to the original (before the incident when tilting the cab for the first time) it would push the gear case lever backwards and may damage the components. I would wait until all the wires and tecalan were on to make the tests.

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I worked some more on the air circuits to put them as orderly as possible and rearranged the bundles and the wires for the motor brake sensor. So boring.

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Hours passed and the work proceeded though it did not show off. Every little piece or component needed some kind of adjustment, cleaning, re-routing, completing or something else that slowed the job. The Merkabah patiently waited… and waited.

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At some point I checked the service brake circuit and the double brake servovalve and found that there also was a mistake regarding the connections. There were no definitive nor tighten up connections there and all the tecalan hoses were purposedly loose so it was all easy to correct.

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I was replacing the manual purge valve on the fourth big air tank and suddenly I saw myself with the broken valve on my hands. Not a big deal, honestly, but I had to take the reservoir out to get the thread free, and that was a real pain in the ass.

So, I removed it and, in record time, I took out the stuck piece of valve. I then put the reservoir back on and installed the valve and completed the air-managed purge circuit.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#836 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 1:31:42

When I was connecting the pipe that brings the air from the compressor to the hose that feeds the governor I literally screwed up and ruined the threads. Ops. I took both the pieces out and got them to the proper people that replaced the connectors and solved the mishap. Please... don't tell.

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The weather was still firm and we took some of the dogs to the beach one weekend. Like the vast majority of dogs, they love the sea, though they got sick aboard the Montero and they vomited four times on our way to the coast. It was pretty hard, but we finally reached the shore and we were happy running and playing with the waves and the sand. It was a pretty nice trip and worth the problems. They only vomited twice on the way back home.

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It was true that the weather was still pretty benign, but we needed some water urgently, and the mountains needed some snow as you can see from the picture taken from the roof, at work. This was May, and the Andes range should have been all covered by snow by then. The forecast announced more rains for the most of the south of the country, and the high cirruses made you think on wet days ahead. But the forecast was wrong, as usual, and San Felipe got no rain in many weeks.

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I went back to electrics, and made some changes. Checked all the connections, completed some circuits, made the maths and corrected some issues. I followed every wire and replaced some unnoticed worn out ones.

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The wischintervallrelais and the richtung warnlinkgeber were also missing (I really love those names in german) so I emptied the last boxes in search of them and voilà, there they were, along with the original fuse tray of the Merkabah. I put them on and made the appropriate connections with the harnesses. It all fitted, as expected, and looked good to me also.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#837 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 1:37:29

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The same box contained other missing items that I was pretty happy to find, as the cover of the rear fuse box and one of the the rare bolts of the cabin rear shock absorbers.

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I had to redo the wiring of the washer-wiper, among other jobs. There were so many wires all around! Re-routed two big wires to the rear, one with 12V for the winch to lift the bike, and another with 24V high output, just to have it at hand for whatever reason.

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I made detailed schemes with the codes and colors of the wires and marked every change I made, as you may immagine, and spent a long time installing, wrapping and clamping together the wires for the new lights, the new instruments, the new switches and so on. I followed every wire to be sure of where they went and where they came from and installed a few more warning lights on the instrument panel, ready to be connected to any new gadget I could possibly add in the near future. Little details that make a difference.

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In the meantime, the english travellers worked on their truck and fixed the broken roof and many other components of the Box that were damaged by the rollover in the south. They were very happy to be there, at a safe and quiet place. Unfortunately we had not plenty of time to share with them, though they were not completely alone and had some visitors as this young couple from Switzerland and also Perry and Ellen from Germany, known friends of them from previous travels.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#838 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 3:31:20

Next thing to do was to install the alarm. I picked up a very simple device, but it turned to be very complicated the same. I made the plan, bought many relais and began to connect things. It really got messy, but it was only the preliminary setup. Once everything was tested and proven reliable enough I would made order for good and arrange the stuff properly. In the meantime I would have to deal with the mess.

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At some point I remembered that the external cameras needed also to be wired, so I picked the cables from the backup monitor system box and did the proper maneuvres to get them in place, from the top roof to the rear frame, which was not as simple as it sounds. I realized that I ordered enough cable to wire the entire world.

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Pulling the cabin with the hoist really bothered me so I picked the hydraulic cylinder that was lying eternally on the bench between the stuff with the sign “Fix this” and cleaned it for the tenth time. The pivoting joint was jammed, hard as hell. I put it in the bench vise and tried to free it but could not make it move a tenth of millimeter. I then applied a little heat Maestro Chaleco’s way with the oxygen torch and only then loose it, but unfortunately the joint moved out a little from its seat in the cylinder and not from the rod. At least it moved and that was enough for me at that time so I made sure it was stable enough to test it once repaired, if it could be finally repaired.

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Challenging the stormy forecast, and everybody’s advice, I took the hydraulic cylinder with me on the bike and went to Santiago the next day. Left it in a specialized hydraulic shop and picked it up when returning home. It did not rain a single drop, though it was pretty, pretty cold.

Eduardo checked the cylinder and preached me because they had not done a good job and I did not check it before picking it up, nor asked him before taking it to ”any” shop. Anyway, I shrugged and cleaned properly the valves and the ad hoc components myself. Maybe they were not so incompetent, though, but my brother-in-law know his business.

I looked for the plastic hoses that connected the cylinder to the metallic pipes and could not find them. I was sure they were at hand before taking the cylinder, but I checked many times and wasted a lot of time looking for them, fruitlessly. I gave up and went to the office and had a cup of tea with Carmen. Her advice was simple and clean: Do something else, Pairoa. She was right, so I obeyed… looked for a better and definitive place to put the fog lights... found it... and went home to watch some movies.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#839 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 3:41:56

Next time, one Saturday morning with subzero temperature, the hoses showed up almost by themselves, as expected, and after some reglamentary inspection and cleaning process the hydraulic circuit was closed, the pump was filled up with hydraulic liquid and the initial test was made with satisfactory results. I then installed the cylinder, always in momentary mode, and it worked very good, though the cabin was tilted up and forward with the lever in the “down” position. Ops.

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There was another big problem, also, and it was that when the cabin was in the lower position the force of the cylinder was almost directly applied on the leaf spring and stretched it instead of making the cabin to pivot on the hinges. That’s why the suspension system of the cabin comes with a big pivoting lever that I completely neglected when putting the cabin on the frame. Ops.

I looked for the lever at every place in the shop and I could not find it. Double ops. There was surely a good reason why I had done it, but the reasons why I take decisions, especially when taken long ago, usually do not stay in my head forever and I assume that they were good enough to do so. In this case I only remembered that this may happen.

Following my wife’s former advice I left the search for the lever for another occasion and went out to buy a couple of meters of steel wire and made a loop to limit the upward displacement of the cabin and allow the hydraulic force tilt it instead. Of course it worked, but the feeling of making another mistake was not a good feeling.

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Surely I had considered that the cabin of the Merkabah was lighter than the cabin of Spare, from which the suspension system was taken, and so it would sit a little higher respect of the original height of the 6x6, which actually happened. Then, I had thought that I would have to limit the upper displacement of the suspension not to brake the shock absorbers and to level the proper height of the cabin to make the front line and the fenders line even. I remembered some of that but it was not clear. That’s why the steel wire loop was a natural answer, but I was not sure.

Anyway, the cabin tilted back and forth only on hydraulics so I could work on it pretty easily. I left the hoist in place as a backup, though. Did not trust the repair of the cylinder.

Looking at the picture, so many hours spent working on electrics, pneumatics and so forth, and it looked exactly the same as many weeks before. Started to feel a little discouraged.

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Oh, and there was the issue of the gear change lever also. Of course, the length of the lever was excessive and putting the cabin in driving position made it push forcedly backwards the gear box rods and levers. I tried to compensate it with the regulation mechanism but went out of range. Hmm… I would have to bend the big lever. Not of my taste.

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Well, after all, I had a working hydraulic cylinder, the cabin tilted properly, I had a lever to fix, and the Merkabah had new challenges to face prior to see the open road. It was, summarily, the same as before. I made order, took some pictures and left.

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The following working session I only dedicated the available time to complete the electric network, checking and rechecking circuits, isolating terminals and making every connection tight and safe, or so I tried.

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When I had time for it, a few days later, I got the gear lever out and made myself a vain attempt to bend it. I then took it to Verardo’s machineshop and assisted a very experienced guy who heated up precisely the steel and, at the second attempt, we bent properly the lever so it fitted right and the regulation mechanism was properly set. Did not look pretty good, a little too flattened on the bendings, ruined paint… though it fitted. Good.

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Re: Mercedes 2626 AK 6x6

#840 Beitrag von pairospam » 2018-06-20 3:51:04

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At work things became hectic and there was a lot to do, so I could not make great progresses on the project for many days, again. When I could step in the shop I decided to complete the item of the AC compressor. The spacer I ordered long ago was left in the oblivion by the turner so I would go on with the support leaving the final regulation for the last minute, when the spacer would finally be delivered.

The design of the support was very challenging as it would be bolten to the engine block with a long force lever, so it would have to be light though pretty strong as the bloody compressor was a big guy. I had chosen a 6 mm base plate, thick enough according to me, that would be reinforced with welded perpendicular squares and veins. The problem I faced at that moment was that I was left with almost no material as Spare’s chassis was practically consumed and no much steel was left of it. If I can, at any time, avoid going out for shoping or getting something I am pretty glad, so I looked around and found some pieces that could be useful and I went on with the plan.

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It was nice to use, finally, the magnetic welding squares I had bought many months ago. They are a really big help to keep the pieces still and squared, though they are so bloody strong that to set them properly is quite a job.

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And it rained in San Felipe, at last. It was so cold that the surrounding mountains were covered with snow bringing a nice spectacle in the gelid morning. The Andes range in the East looked pretty nice too from the roof. The fallen leaves, pushed down by the force of the water and the strong winds lined up the streets and parks of the city. It was pretty nice a view and a good feeling too. We all, people, animals and plants needed the water.

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Dressed like an eskimo, I went on with the fabrication of the support. Everybody complained about the cold, but every year since I live in San Felipe winter time has been the same, sometimes with the lowest temperatures registered in Chile.

I took an old friend from the junk and considered it could still make some contribution to the project, so I cut a few more pieces from its flesh. I shaped them properly using the power grinder, remembering times when fabricating pieces from scratch was a routine, and then continued drilling and reshaping and so on.

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I was very enthousiastic about the support, measuring, bolting, taking out and measuring again, hitting my head many times against the frame and the engine in the tiny and uncomfortable space under the truck, and the will to finish with the AC item was pretty strong.

And then… Eduardo approached.

He looked at the thing, raised one eyebrow, and sentenced it was too weak for the size and demand of the compressor. I fought back, in defense of my efforts, appreciations and design, but he gave me a lesson on diesel engines vibrations and harmonics, on how they destroy weldings, how the microvenatures of the steel are anhilated by the welding and how they allow the metal to crack, on the resistance the compressor makes when connected, and, finally, I gave up. I needed a thicker support plate.

I put my helmet on and rode to Verardo’s machineshop. Some of the guys and Verardo himself helped me to search for a 10 mm piece from the junk containers but not one fitted the necessary dimensions. There was a nice plaque 12 mm thick, but it was heavier than the compressor itself so I asked him to cut a special piece for me the day after. It was time for leaving.

I went back to the shop, stared at the steel pieces, the pile of worn out cutting discs, and shrugged. I swept the floor from a ton of steel lime and dog’s hair and had a last lonely cup of tea before making order and go home.

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