The $500 ScienceMobile build

LabRat

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Kroil. I say again Kroil.
These so called mechanics on staff to assist at the DIY lift bays have obviously watch too many fast and furious movies.

“Use this Liquid Wrench!!”
“Dude, that’s for shade trees that work far too hard.”
“Naw, it’s the best!”
“ORLY? We been here an hour. Two cans of LW and all it’s done is make a mess.”
 

LabRat

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Man, I’m beat.
Been a mad dash for a month to get this beast purchased, roadworthy, and tested before the July excursion. Basically, have three weeks to go.

Ran into a few minor issues with the lift- all due to my obsessive nature. I keep finding bits that while perfectly serviceable, don’t meet my standards for safety.

When I say safety, I’m talking about overkill in most cases. Remember, I’ll be solo and off the grid for the bulk of the trip during a pandemic and the hottest, driest, most fire prone season in recent history.

Im certain most of you find some of the stuff I’m doing on this project a little silly, but I learned the hard way many times it’s better to be a bit paranoid and overprepared.

All the springs are dry, so I’m not going to get much worm hunting done (my main area of research), but the pandemic and weather ensure the fossil hunting and rock hounding will be epic.
Biggest issue right now though is fuel.
I think of come up with a way to carry the 80 liters I’ll need, but have to fab the mounts and test them.
Weight has become an issue, so I’ve made the hard decision to strip down everything non essential.
I’m not talking the chowbox/kitchen/lab bench or my dc fridge. Cut groceries in half and replaced them with MREs. Increased water capacity by 40 Liters, and scrapping most science equipment for packing materials. I’ll just have to make stops in a town every few days to ship stuff back to my labs in Nebraska.
Having trouble getting ammo. I rarely take firearms with me, but may little Savage 64F takedown has proven useful and comforting when alone in the more remote stretches! But without the proper ammo, it’s pretty much useless.

goal right now is to get max load weight down to 700lbs including me.
 

profdlp

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Have you checked out the Rotopax line?


If I ever get to do a lengthy offroad I am going to have a couple of those on my roof rack.
 

LabRat

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Have you checked out the Rotopax line?


If I ever get to do a lengthy offroad I am going to have a couple of those on my roof rack.
I did look at them, but In my thinking the cost to capacity ratio isn’t good. I’ve got 6 NATO Jerry cans, 4 in 20L and two in 10L from my Baja buggy days. I’ll only need three, but will take 4 just in case.

Im currently toying around with fabbing “saddlebag” racks that hang from the roof rails over the third windows. That covers two- then a similar concept for the other two on the rear doors.
Then again I found some 40is liter marine tanks, one of which would mount well on the roof rack.
 

profdlp

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I see you. The reason I don't have the Rotopax already is that I flinch at the price.

Your saddlebag idea sounds interesting!
 

LabRat

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Think I solved the spare fuel issue. I’ve replanned my routes in and out of Kairopowits and shaved off time and miles.
Got me down to needing just 40L spare fuel, but turned a six hour hike into an overnighter to get to the sampling site OR I may be able to tag along with some of the other science types according to the Ranger I spoke with.

Ive also got my load weight down to 600lbs. No need to take my campfire and alcohol stove equipment since fires are banned. so no room needed for hauling wood either.
So lots of MREs on trail and cooking with propane at basecamp!
Good news is this allowed me to take my DC fridge and my dry ice maker and CO2 tank again and still have weight allowance for all biological and geological samples.

By all reports all the usual water sources are dry, so minimized aquatic samples equipment and maximized soil sampling as the worms Im looking for are dormant as resting eggs in the dry sediment. Harder to get lucky and find them, but better than loosing a grant!

Also picked up a wicked deal on a barely used ARB Skydome tent.

Still not happy with my flat floor, chowbox, or pull out work surfaces, so I’m skipping all of them for now. Modified a 2x6 folding table to act as a pull out or a stand free, that can go on the roof rack with the traction boards and fuel tanks.
 

LabRat

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Got seriously POed at work, so burned some PTO and went home to work on excursion prep.
Door handles dev chromed, manual key lock repaired.
And thanks to some really nice architectural board I forgot I had in the shed out back from my window and curtain wall factory days...I got the basic construction of a removable flat floor completed. Wooden version weighed around 60lbs. New version weighs 40lbs and is twice as strong.

Also ordered.some nice seat covers.
Tires should be delivered and mounted Friday on the steels, so I'm hopeful I can get these ugly, beat up alloys and mismatched garbage tires off for good.
 

LabRat

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Also converted my favorite stereo microscope over to 12 VDC and wired up an adapter so it plugs direct into an automotive socket now.
Have filled and stocked the mobile lab box. Dry goods and MREs ready to roll.
Tested the solar shower made from the original water tanks I built. Gets to a very nice 104F after just two hours in direct sunlight. Runs off the 12v pump I had intended for the sink.
Found A battery operated, USB recharge faucet for use with standard 5 gallon water bottles, so made an adapter for it to go on my preferred dual wall collapsibles.
Got fire extinguishers mounted, and started fabrication of my geology and sampling tools racks.

Found and ordered gas tank skid plate for only 190$.
 

LabRat

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Just scored a HUGE deal on a bit of kit. Not sure if this is allowed here, so if it isn't mods please delete and accept my apologies in advance as I didn't see another place to share this savings!

So, I had my eye on the Slumberjack Roadhouse tarp for a few weeks. There is a version with a screen/bug net option, something I would love to have for the areas where the mosquitos are bad (Colorado- Nebraska Sandhills- Saline River- North Sulphur River- etc. etc.)
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Anyway after some serious web crawling, I managed to get the screen version, regularly priced at 199.95$ everywhere, including tax and 1 day shipping for a total of 171.15$ !!!!!



Right now at Sportsman's Warehouse they have a 20$ off any order over 100$ PLUS Free shipping for the same. I'm just a few hours away, so it is overnight shipping for me.

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Great deal! They were already priced lower than anyone else, so this is pretty darn great for a highly rated shelter that fits perfectly on a Liberty. (No, I don't work for them or anything, in fact never heard of them till the other day....)

Figured I'd share since there is only a few left and I know some of you are into abusing your Heep in similar ways to me.

 

LabRat

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I see you. The reason I don't have the Rotopax already is that I flinch at the price.

Your saddlebag idea sounds interesting!
Found 20L gal rotopax knock offs for 80$ A pop. Fits perfectly in my cheap harbor freight roof basket. No need for the overpriced locking mounts either since I’ll only use them once or twice a year.

I really hate roof baskets, but necessity and all that.
 

LabRat

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Here’s some teaser shots of what I settled on for the cargo area. Total cost was 17$. I bought the pockets from an Amazon flash deal. Supposed to Velcro to the rear seat backs with straps over the headrest…so that *****…but self tapping screws made it better.

Everything else is cobbled from scrap I had in the shed and garage. Had to edge the architect board with particle board due to sharp edges.
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LabRat

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So picked up the ARB Skydome 2 Swag today. They are nearly impossible to get here in the states. I got it for 350$ from a Fj overlander.

If you can get one, it will be the last tent you ever buy. It barely fits in a Liberty…but you can skip all other tent related gear. Mattress built in. Silicone Duck floor. Tons of ventilation. Heavy Carhartt type denier construction.

I’ll share the details in a few weeks when I close out this thread and post the “full reveal” before and after shots of this project.

15 days and I’m on the road. 15 days to finish this toy!
 
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