Tunisia 2010: Day 1 — Departure for Marseille

During the last few days leading up to our trip to Tunisia we spent our evenings making final checks and preparations. A few days before departure we learned that due to unforeseen circumstances the assistance truck would not be making the trip, so we had to make some last minute rearrangements to carry all the necessary equipment and supplies securely in the truck bed.

Fully loaded truck bed

The bed is 2.5m long and 2.3m wide, but the auxiliary fuel tank, spare tire and refrigerator take up a significant amount of space. We had originally intended to place the refrigerator in the shelter, but it was too bulky to install there without significantly reducing the comfort of the sleeping arrangements. This limitation was not a problem according to our original plan. Even with three 25 liter cans for extra fluids (transmission fluid, engine coolant and oil for the axles), we had room for a quad that we had agreed to transport from France to the edge of the desert for one of the members of our group. There was just enough place in the bed to hold the quad and still have space to move around.

When we learned that we would be providing assistance and transporting equipment and supplies for the other vehicles, as well as being completely autonomous ourselves, we had to make some changes to the loading plan. We had initially planned to carry one spare tire, but to be safe, we decided to load two. In addition to the second spare, we also had to transport the welding station, generator and jerry cans for the other vehicles. Finally we wanted to have sand ladders because digging out a 10 ton truck if it gets stuck in the sand is not the same as digging out a Jeep, and we wanted to be prepared for any eventuality. The additional equipment we needed to load left no room in the bed for the ladders, so we had to stow them securely on the roof of the personnel shelter.

Truck bed before loading sand ladders

Loading sand ladders onto the shelter roof

We were scheduled to leave Marseille the morning of Saturday, September 4th on the ferry to Tunis. Because of the morning departure and the need to arrive early for embarcation, we decided to leave for Marseille on Friday afternoon and spend the night nearby.

Although the trip by car takes around 5 hours, excluding stops, it takes longer by truck because the speed limit on the Autoroute is 90 km/hour for vehicles over 3.5 tons. Even so, 90 km/hour is almost top speed for the Erg Machine, which was not designed to run so fast for any length of time. For the most part, we maintained a speed between 80-85 km/hour, which was easier on the engine and much more comfortable for us.

We left around 3pm in the afternoon, and it was after 1am before we found a place to stop for the night. The drive to the Ferry Terminal the following morning wouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes. It was not easy to sleep with the noise of the highway and the excitement of finally being on the way to the desert, but we were able to rest for a few hours. We would have plenty of time to sleep on the ferry.

3 Responses to Tunisia 2010: Day 1 — Departure for Marseille

  1. Pingback: Tunisia: September 2010 « Erg Machine

  2. JC Brixey says:

    I love this truck! I have been looking to do the same thing with one of these but had not seen anyone else who had used one for an expedition yet. Out of curiosity what kind of fuel consumption did you see during your trip? Both on and off road if you don’t mind.

    • ergmachine says:

      We use about 30-32 litres of fuel per 100km on the road. Offroad is difficult to estimate because we transferred fuel from the auxillary tank and don’t have a gauge to measure exactly how much we used. We guessed it might be about twice the on-road consumption, or 50-60 litres per 100km.

      Your project sounds wonderful. We’d love to hear more about it!

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