M1010 for my daughter the field biologist

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I understand and agree with the training and equipment recommendations. Winches for self-extraction, ground anchors etc. make a lot of sense. She's had SatComms for years, as a condition for her Dad to let her spend months in the wilderness while weeks travel away from the nearest road. She's done the African wilderness thing too. (We use Delorme for SatComms, and Global Rescue for wilderness extraction insurance, and we've been very happy with them in case anyone is interested.)

We'll get her off-road training for whatever vehicle she ends up with. The 4wd vans leave me underwhelmed. I drove an AWD Astro van for years, and the lack of a front crumple zone did not inspire confidence.

Looking at the SUV market, they all seem designed for paved roads only. It seems a little silly to buy a new or newish SUV and then replace the suspension. Perhaps that's the best option. I had hoped otherwise.

Thanks for all the suggestions, and shared wisdom.
 

turnkey

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which very you get ....Like the guys here say ..Get her trained in the use of it....I guess she has C&C on her ...Best of luck on the pick.
 

Robo McDuff

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One of your best options for this would be a Toyota Landcruiser. The real working horses, not the later "comfort line". I am a biologist myself and have been driving around in northern BC (Alaska Highway mile 422) from February until July, including during severe flooding.

In BC, we used a 1980 Chevy Blazer. In the Czech Republic, we used a 1988 Landcruiser from 1994-1998, radio tracking river otters. At one time we helped out during severe flooding in the Czech Republic (hence the red cross on the hood) delivering water to cut-off farm houses. I would say the Landcruiser out-performs most if not all jeeps in its class. Only a few places where the wider wheelbase of the Chevy came in handy, in all other places the Landcruiser is the better on. A |Land-rover is good too, but very uncomfortable. A Unimog might be better in terrain, but less outside the terrain. Our Toyota did not have a front winch, but they do exists. Hubs are lock-free. As far as I remember, it had a 4 cylinder 2.5 liter diesel engine. Strong enough to get you everywhere and get out of it again as well.

Toyota-c.jpg


If you want another argument, look at what the flying doctors and police in Australia and a lot of people in the Sahara preferred in the 1970-1990s: Toyota Landcruiser. The long base you can sleep in as well, the short base you can have a tent rack on top of the jeep, sleeping inside is a problem.
 

Robo McDuff

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Cannot edit, so another post. With the hubs lock-free I meant to say that they could be locked or released manually. One advantage of the smaller diesel engine is that you use less fuel. Not a cost topic but a range topic; you don't have to stop at a gas station every second day. A heavy 6 cylinder engine in front of the jeep can make a jeep front top-heavy, this was a problem with some the Nissan jeeps in the 1980s and 1990s; horrible in wet and muddy or snowy terrain (Olga used to drive one for the Protected Landscape Administration she was working for).
 

98G

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One thing to think about regarding reliability, is the emissions equipment on late model diesels.

The priority of the design places integrity of the emissions equipment over the safety of the operator. In DEF equipped models if you run out of DEF you can't start the vehicle. In DPF equipped models, running the engine at idle causes the DPF to fill rapidly, requiring you to run the vehicle at speed (not just high rpm, but high load) to clear the DPF. Fail to clear it and it won't run.

This has been an issue people who depend on idling their truck to stay warm, far from cell service and far from a real road : the DPF fills due to idling, the system demands a 20 minute run at highway speeds to regenerate it, and then when you can't do that that it shuts off and you freeze to death, all in the name of EPA emissions mandates.

I trust my 5tons more than I trust my DPF equipped RAM. (No, I don't advocate a 5ton for your daughter). Hmmwv with a hardtop, except those are really toys for the well funded collectors at this point.
 

hklvette

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We'll get her off-road training for whatever vehicle she ends up with. The 4wd vans leave me underwhelmed. I drove an AWD Astro van for years, and the lack of a front crumple zone did not inspire confidence.

Looking at the SUV market, they all seem designed for paved roads only. It seems a little silly to buy a new or newish SUV and then replace the suspension. Perhaps that's the best option. I had hoped otherwise.

Thanks for all the suggestions, and shared wisdom.
4WD van != AWD van. The Quigley conversions use 3/4 ton pickup running gear, and in the case of the Ford vans they're essentially a 3/4 ton truck underneath anyway. As for your Astro's crumple-zone problem: that was an issue with both the Astro and Safari, where the crumple zone was effectively behind the driver due to a poor chassis design.

FWIW good expeditionary vehicles are not cheap, regardless of the route taken.
 

microjeep

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I would suggest 4 door Jeep Rubicon with winch, 4" lift, 35" tires and small expedition camper trailer very road worthy, capable and reliable.2cents
 

red

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If she is carrying a few weeks worth of gear and you want her to be able to access the sleeping area without getting outside the vehicle a full size SUV or van is your best option. Then comes the question of a trailer for the cargo, is she comfortable driving with a trailer in tow offroad? If no, then the best options with a newer vehicle would be a suburban or land cruiser.

Both handle well, highway capable, reliable, and spacious enough for her needs. From experience, suburbans turn much tighter and handle better offroad than expected.
 

Forester

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I'm an MV newbie looking for advice.

My daughter is a field biologist. She spends weeks at a time out in the wilderness gathering samples. She mostly studies the microorganisms in fresh-water systems. They usually drive until they can drive no further, then they canoe, ski, showshoe and/or hike until they reach the area they're to study. She needs a serious 4wd vehicle she can use as a base of operations.

She's also an EMT and working on her Wilderness First Responder certification.

I've been reading up on what it would take to make an M1010 reliable and roadworthy. Bigger tires, better fuel pump, and electrical upgrades seem the norm.

I've seen lots of threads where people rip the guts out of the box and start to turn them into expedition vehicles. Those folks always seem to abandon the project for some reason or another. I'm inclined to leave the box as-is. It's just a warm dry place to sleep, that offers better protection from predators and the elements than a tent.

Would I be better advised to just get a good 4wd pickup and put a camper in the bed? I like the idea of her being able to pass between the cab and the rear without going outside. A 4wd motor home costs as much as a house. That seems silly.

You guys know these vehicles. Would an M1010 be a good choice for her? Are they available? Is there a shop or mechanic that works on them and can make one reliable?

(A deuce would be way too much vehicle for her.)

Thanks,
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I've been a Forester for the past 20 years or so and have done fieldwork all over North America, tid bit in South America, a scant in Europe. I have literally camped for six months straight. The best type of vehicle HANDS DOWN is the one that I know when to park it and put my feet, four wheeler, or snowmobile to use. The bigger, the badder, the more extreme the vehicle just means the worse, the more dangerous, or the more broken the situation you will eventually find yourself in, and you will stay there longer. Especially when/if you are the left hand side of the learning curve and/or weren't graced by god with a nack/instinct for off road driving. I would hesitate to even put a winch on it until you've been stuck a few times.... I could tell you stories... I hire a lot of 20 somethings and many of those think that part of their job description is being an off road rally driver. I have found time and time again that nothing is more time consuming, expensive, and down right dangerous.

Now that being said. A good 1/2 ton extended cab pickup truck with good tires and positraction is all you need. Fore sure get all the plies you can afford in the tires. In the summer there will be a SMALL ATV in the bed of that truck, in the winter a SMALL snowmobile. Landcruiser/Landrovers are great, but you don't have a bed to put things in, and if you are in BFE you're vastly more likely to find parts and someone knowledgeable to work on something domestic. Anything based on a 3/4 ton is simply an invitation to get stuck in the mud - to much weight.

Winches are nice, but I hesitate to give them to the un-initiated. They too can be dangerous and I have found that they last at most about three years no matter if they are used daily or never. They ALWAYS break when you really need them, or you need another two feet of cable. A winch on the four wheeler is a different matter and highly recommend that.

Minimum of two good jacks, one bumper one scissor is a must. You can always jack the truck up to fill in whatever hole you fell into with rocks/wood/whatever. Chainsaws are a help in the wood part of that matter, but again I can not recommend one to the untrained.

If one is staying out for ten days or less its tent city. Over that consider buying/renting a popup camper. If it's raining sideways you can always sleep in the cab.

Worried about the creatures that stir in the night? Get a dog. Really worried about the creatures that stir in the night, get a dog and a 12 gauge.

Cant tell you how many times one of my workers(ok I've done it too) loose a day + worth of work because they just had to drive that last 1/4 mile and get horribly stuck. When in doubt get out and walk.

Cant tell you how many extra repairs I had to pay for because someone pushes a vehicle to the limits for little gain in distance. Things in life that are thrilling are often expensive one way or the other...

Best advice... If you are within a mile of where you need to work and you see something slightly questionable, stop and walk. More than that, stop and get on the four wheeler. I'd like to think that after 20 years of doing it I can drive effectively and more safely offroad than the average Joe; pushed to the limits I could make it further than most. Grab someone off the street give them an ATV driving class and they could journey the same path without breaking a sweat and easily go places you wouldn't dream of taking a truck. Give me three + feet of the right snow and I can go just about anywhere on a snowmobile...

Best of luck, now get out and walk....
 

IsaLandr

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I'm going to jump into this conversation with another alternative:

Have you looked at, or even heard of, a Centurion Classic? This may just be a good way to go, and could solve most if not all of the issues at hand here.

For those who have never heard of them, these are fullsize conversions by the Centurion company; basically it's a four-door Ford truck with the bed and cab back removed, and a full Bronco rear installed instead. We have one, and it's probably the best truck we've ever had.

These were available in F150, F250, and F350 chassis, with gas or diesel engines, automatic or manual transmission, and both 4x2 and 4x4. If left unmolested, the interiors are very comfortable and well appointed. Ours is a C350 Powerstroke diesel with a 5-speed, 4x4, on the 1-ton chassis, lifted about 8" and sitting on 35" tires with rear air suspension. It's a hel of a truck and I wouldn't trade it for anything. This one has manual locking hubs and a manual transfer case, but there are other options, including the electronic system found on later trucks.

You get four doors, the third row seat folds flat and combines with the second row seat into a fullsize bed while still retaining some rear cargo space. The second row is a 70/30 design that rolls forward up against the front seats, the third row is removable, and you end up with a full pickup bed inside. The Bronco top is removable as well, and it has the regular Bronco tailgate with electric window. And while older (built from 1982 to 1996 when the Bronco was discontinued), they're built with relatively modern mainstream parts and easy to support.

There's a dedicated website for these, http://www.fourdoorbronco.com/ that I recommend for anyone interested in the Centurion Classic.
 

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Have you looked at, or even heard of, a Centurion Classic? This may just be a good way to go, and could solve most if not all of the issues at hand here.
Thanks for the suggestion. They look like a Chevy Suburban, which I have been considering too. I'll read up on them.
 

Robo McDuff

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DEF/DPG became mandatory only around 2009, earlier cars would not have that equipment, and a well-maintained eight year old Landcruiser definitely is up to a lot of abuse.

However, I think forester made a lot of top remarks; copy it and put it on your beware list.

We experienced the same in BC. Never believe that your 4x4 will get you out of everything that is thrown at you. Get some good support stuff. We once got stuck several hours on an otherwise good mountain gravel road. The rain had washed out a small grove straight across the road, a bit narrower on the high side and wider on the low side, but sharp edges and deep. We had a lot of miles to go still, so walking was out. The guy driving thought that it would be doable going as high as possible, but the lower rear wheel got stuck and pulled the other rear wheel into the rut as well. He tried too hard to get out at first, and we got stuck with the rear of the car resting on the ground, the rear wheels more or less turning without traction on the bed of the rut. No bumper jack, impossible to get the normal jack underneath a rear bumper or anywhere. Not enough equipment with us to do much, no handy tree stems or whatever laying around to help. Took us several hours to get the !@#@! truck out of that stupid rut.

Another good point: repairing a broken truck. A very good point. No matter how good maintained, every car can have a failure. Which means you need to be able to quickly and easily repair it locally. I hate to say it, but that goes heavily against Land Cruiser, Land Rover or Unimog. And for that matter, against ALL new SUV's with all their electronics. Never a car that depends mostly on electronic door locks, immobilizers etc. Most new cars here have only one door with a normal lock, the rest is electronic. Very nice, but if your main battery goes out or your remote key battery, you cannot lock your doors anymore. If a battery is flat, you can be up the creek in a major way.

For that, diesels are always better than gas. Less engine maintenance, less dependance on electronic: if your battery gets blown, as long as you can get/keep the engine running, you can continue. With a gasser, once your battery is dead, your car stops also.

I slept in the back of the Chevy with the plastic cover with -25 Celcius (-4 Fahrenheit). No problem. The cabin provided the shelter, the mattress and the down clothing the heat. I also slept in the back of a Toyota J40 short base, but that is too crampy. A long-base would offer the same comfort. Camper in the back: bad idea unless you drop it somewhere off, leave it there as base, and do the real wilderness without the camper on the back. Those things make the trucks have and much more unstable.

For that matter, you might take the older Toyota Hilux or Tacoma (both real pick-up variations) into consideration as well.

Having said all that, my preference say different but to be honest, I probably would go for a 10 year old Ford, Chevy, or Toyota Hilux 4x4 workhorse with the smaller engines. You don't need the most powerful 8 cylinder engine. With a light to average load without trailer, the average 2.5 - 3 liter engines probably would do the off-road work as well if not better. The lower weight of the smaller engine gives the car a better balance. Give everything a good makeover. If really wanted make a flexible connection between cabin and back but do not make it into one long unit; I saw that in terrain the rear part quite regularly was a bit twisted from the front cabin.
 

microjeep

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as forester said, training training training! being a lady has no bearing on the matter but lack of understanding will. Been jeepin a long time also and agree that having the ability to say I'll walk from here is probably harder to teach than anything else!
 

saddamsnightmare

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February 8th, 2015.

I would recommend to you, as if it were my daughter,a clean, well restored Unimog U1300L Diesel Ambulance, it costs about as much as a civilian pick up, but has several advantages over anything usually suggested. 1: Ambulances get little mileage, but are kept serviced. 2. They have ultra high speed axles, so they can do about 70 MPH all day long. 3:Lower center of gravity, higher ground clearance then US trucks, hence more stable in most situations. 4. greater carrying capacity then similar sized US trucks, more robust frame and suspension, and generally easier to service (cab tilts off the engine and transmission). 5. Originally designed for the German farmer as a combination tractor/truck, they are designed to be worked on by mechanics and owners with a modicum of mechanical skills, most modern US vehicles are not so designed.6. Often are equipped at factory with self extraction winches that are extremely heavy duty compared to US vehicles equipped at their size and weight. 7. The get about 15-18 MPG depending on how you use the accelerator. 8. Generally they have heaters in the back, some have AC (but that is not common in Europe as of yet).

I have a much older gasoline engine Unimog, and except for being slow and not taking ethanol laden gasoline well, it has been an excellent truck. My next truck will be a Unimog U1300L to avoid the ethanol issues. The alternative might be a Pinzgauer Ambulance, but they are more uncommon in the US then Unimogs, and thus might be harder to find parts and service folks who will work on them. My experience with modern (post 2000) US built pickups/ambulances is that they are underbuilt, overladen with technology which can leave you stranded on the road or trail, and are generally not worth the money paid for them.

My wife's 2006 Jeep Wrangler had an electronic fuel pump fail recently-left it deader then a doornail, and the Chrysler part was $400 and the truck has less then 90,000 gentle miles on it. My 1989 Ford F250 was run hard for 350,000 miles with only a clutch, alternator and one fuel pump failure (out of 2 on the truck) and is still running at 450,000 miles. It worked better then the later trucks because it was basically simpler and more rugged in the design then the later pickups are.

For extreme off road work, the Unimog is generally the king of the woods and deserts, it most often finishes the Paris-Dakar rally (but rarely ever comes in first on speed). I would take a hard look with one of the reputable Unimog im[porters first and see what's out there.:driver:
 

IsaLandr

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Thanks for the suggestion. They look like a Chevy Suburban, which I have been considering too. I'll read up on them.
Bigger than a Suburban, better built, with the advantage of being available with a diesel and 1-ton frame and suspension if that's what you prefer. And of course that removable Bronco top is a nice bonus. The major advantage of this approach is that pretty much everything in the truck is off the shelf stock Ford parts. Any parts supplier will have just about everything a person might need when repairs are necessary. Even back woods small town podunk parts stores will have nearly everything these need.

I'm a major fan of both Pinzgauer and Unimog, as well as things like the former military ambulances and utility chassis. Those are some really good suggestions. But when it comes to practicality and ease of support, I think the Centurion Classic or a similar type of truck has the advantage. The more exotic imports and military trucks are frequently harder to get parts for, and usually more expensive. That's not to say Ford stuff isn't expensive too, because it is. Relative to military hardware, however, especially imported vehicles, I feel it's definitely more economical.

I don´t usually try to talk anyone out of getting a military vehicle, I think it's a hobby/lifestyle the entire family can appreciate and enjoy. But in this case, I really think something with off the shelf parts support, with a wider and more easily accessible supply source, is the more practical way to go here.
 

Robo McDuff

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clean, well restored Unimog U1300L Diesel Ambulance, ....... 7. The get about 15-18 MPG depending on how you use the accelerator. :driver:
I agree with most of what you say but unfortunately, those beasts are used as expensive as brand new trucks, which they outperform with a considerable margin. Regardless, if I had the money it would be a serious contender for a used Toyota Landcruiser or Hilux but for three things.

1) Breakage is less likely, but if somethings breaks, parts are probably even more rare and difficult to get than Toyota.
2) Range. Most adverts I saw and the specs from dealers say max 14 mpg is possible with quiet driving on highways, but do anything else and they quickly go down to 10 mpg or below, in heavy terrain even worse. Unimogs are often used for professional expedition holidays (desert trips, South America, Asia etc) for their durability, and those things in terrain go down to FOUR mpg (their words, not mine).
3) Not so relevant, but they are SLOW, at least for my European background. I like to get quickly to the place where I go off-road.

Several companies in the Netherlands and Germany have loads of them being bought up long and not so long ago from NATO surplus. The brother of the REOMIE trucks (mostly US deuces and 5-tons) deals in them, see his website
 

Csm Davis

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Okay JPG let's talk about what you asked about, the M1010 I think you are on the right track but it's still going to be expensive let's get some numbers here.
M1010 5,000.00
Good all spring lift 4" 2,000.00
5 HUMVEE tires and wheels. 1,000.00
4 dually hubs and install 1,000.00
Electrical mods and upgrades. 1,000.00
Complete tune-up of truck. 1,000.00
Winch and other expo gear. 1,000.00

Is this everything probably not but it's close, I would plan on 15-20,000.00 and if you come in lower good for you. But if it were one of my girls that is probably be what I would be looking at.
Now for the reasons why a M1010 over the others listed is,
it's a Chevrolet parts almost anywhere
1 ton running gear, hard to break
Cheap compared to the others
No computer and simple engine
Pass-through and good room
Has been built over and over not a strange vehicle to any good shop.
 

jpg

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Thanks. That's the conclusion I'm coming to also.

The Unimog U1300L ambulance looks more capable, but the seat cushion of the driver's chair is 4' off the ground, and mileage is awful. The M109A4 is also intimidatingly tall. They both have a similar footprint to my pickup, a 1-ton crew cab dually long bed Chevy. But I think she would take one look at the height of those and lose interest fast. You could run out for a gallon of milk in an m1010 and not feel totally stupid.

I did spend a bunch of time looking at the Unimog ambulances. NATO is selling off a bunch of them. UK dealers have dozens of them, like an '88 with 20,000 km for GBP 19,000 from the UK GL. That's complete with ambulance guts in the back, which gives you seating and seat belts for 7 in the back plus 2 in the cab, or fold down 4 stretchers to sleep 4. They would be perfect, except that you have to climb a staircase to get into the cab, and <10mpg. If the truck were for me, I'd probably get the Unimog. FWIW, simon@unimogs.co.uk quoted GBP 44,609 (about $70K) for a fully refurbished, left-hand drive, low-mileage U1300L ambulance with turbo, movable winch you can place front or back, overdrive (to cruise comfortably at 75mph), new 37" Michelin XZLs, and 125 gallons in 2 fuel tanks. That's out of my price range, but I mention it in case others might be interested. I'd be very happy with that truck.

To Forester's point above, the M1010 is less capable off-road, but lighter (9.5K lbs vs 16K lbs) so more easily un-stuck. And you can use either vehicle like a toy hauler, and put an ATV or snowmobile in the back.

ORD suggested switching to a 700R4 transmission, in addition to the 37" tires. That would cruise comfortably at highway speeds. And the 700R4's lower first gear would compensate for the torque lost to the taller tires. So that looks like another $2K. (She bought her first car when she turned 16, a V6 accura with 100K miles. So she expects a vehicle to have "guts". I know the M1010 is under-powered with the 6.2, but a lower first gear should help.)

So I'm looking into what it would cost to get a thoroughly refurbished M1010, with the known flaws fixed.

Okay JPG let's talk about what you asked about, the M1010 I think you are on the right track but it's still going to be expensive let's get some numbers here.
M1010 5,000.00
Good all spring lift 4" 2,000.00
5 HUMVEE tires and wheels. 1,000.00
4 dually hubs and install 1,000.00
Electrical mods and upgrades. 1,000.00
Complete tune-up of truck. 1,000.00
Winch and other expo gear. 1,000.00

Is this everything probably not but it's close, I would plan on 15-20,000.00 and if you come in lower good for you. But if it were one of my girls that is probably be what I would be looking at.
Now for the reasons why a M1010 over the others listed is,
it's a Chevrolet parts almost anywhere
1 ton running gear, hard to break
Cheap compared to the others
No computer and simple engine
Pass-through and good room
Has been built over and over not a strange vehicle to any good shop.
 
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