Diagnosing the Transmission Anomaly

We spent some time this weekend making a micro-controller test platform to develop a new control unit for the EM-1 (Erg Machine 1) transmission. We’ll be reporting on that once we’ve made more progress, but now seems like a good time to describe our diagnosis of the gearbox error and the steps we took to make sure we didn’t have any problems because of the transmission while in Tunisia.

During the road test we experienced an intermittent problem with the transmission; from time to time when accelerating or decelerating the gear would not engage.

One of the nice things about the Scania SBA 111 is its automatic transmission. This makes it a good vehicle for a first big truck experience, since the driver can concentrate on driving and doesn’t have to worry about shifting the gears. It’s also great for dunes (as we learned), since there’s no worry about losing momentum when shifting gears. However, the downside is that the automatic transmission adds complexity to the maintenance and increases the number of potential failures. Read more of this post

Blog Notes

It’s been just over a week since we returned from Tunisia. What a fantastic trip it was!

A few people expressed disappointment that we weren’t able to update the Tumblr during the trip. To be honest, it was ambitious to even hope for that. Surprisingly we had mobile data access in most cities and camps, including the oasis paradise of Ksar Ghilane, but in between the only link with the outside world would have been by communication satellites. Even so, there simply wasn’t time to do more than send a few Twitter updates while on the ground.

We arrived home on Monday, having spent a few extra days vacation elsewhere in Europe, and started transferring photos to the computer on Tuesday. There are going to be some changes, but the blog should resume next week, with news from the trip, as well as a description of the gear box LED monitoring device that was discussed on the Terrangbil forum after someone found our as yet undocumented YouTube video.

As usual, for up to the minute news, follow us on Twitter.

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Fixing the cooling system leak

The fix of the cooling system leak in the fuel pre-heater was completed today at the Scania workshop in Echandens with the replacement of the leaky stopcock.

Although replacement of the part itself was not difficult, we decided to have Scania do it, because its location between the exhaust manifold and the injection pump made it difficult to access. Moreover, the stopcock was tightly mounted, and we did not want to damage anything by trying to remove it without the proper tools.

The leakage seems to have stopped, but we’ll check on it closely over the next few days to be sure.

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Road Test

When the main preparations were finished, it was time for a serious test drive to take the truck in hand and make sure everything was in order. Two weeks ago, we set out on a 3-day road test, the interesting part of which took us through the Gorges of the Tarn, the Mont Aigoual, and the Gorges of the Ardèche.

We covered over 1000 km, on steep, winding roads to put the engine and gear box through their paces. We also tested out the sleeping arrangements, camping near Yssingeaux, Sainte-Enimie and Vallon-Pont-d’Arc.

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Rear axle

You’re never fully dressed without a smile.

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Auxiliary Fuel Tank

We mounted a 630 liter auxiliary fuel tank in the truck bed to have sufficient autonomy for several days of driving in the dunes. Since we don’t know yet how much the engine will consume in those conditions, we can only estimate how many kilometers we’ll be able to travel before we need to find a gas station. With the main and auxiliary tanks both full, we may be able to drive up to 1,600 km before needing to fill up the tanks.

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Sleeping Arrangements

A sleeping and storage area was created in the personnel cabin. We removed the bench seats on both sides and attached slats to the metal support arms to create a structure that reinforces the panels on which the mattress lies. The area under the bed serves as storage for clothing, cooking and camp supplies. Use of three hinged panels allows them to be raised for better access to the stowed items.

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Paint Design

Just for fun, we added a splash of color. The design is reminiscent of the original Swedish army camouflage patterns, but by using bright colors and minimizing the patterns, the allusion remains subtle and the dominant impression is more harlequin than military.

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Military camouflage colors are not a welcome sight everywhere, so repainting was important.

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Lifting the personnel cabin onto the truck bed

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