Fabi Lentsch explains the story behind the old fire truck that became a world traveling vehicle and home for powder thirsty skiers
„Well, the whole thing started with my good friend Markus Ascher aka „Moggä“ when he rolled up with his amazing 4×4 camping car.
I always knew that I wanted to build my own home on wheels but I had to wait for the perfect moment. Seeing Moggä’s van accelerated this project a lot. About one year later when I decided to drop out of the Freeride World Tour I asked Moggä if he wants to help me build the perfect ski expedition car and it didn’t take me long to hear a „Yeah man, lets do this!“
I will get straight to the point now, otherwise you will have to read this story for several hours,. We totally underestimated this project. At first we wanted to buy a slightly bigger van than he had used but sooner or later we figured out that we need a proper truck. Fitting several athletes and an appropriate media crew in one car that has to be able to go almost anywhere needs to be huge and strong. Two really intense months of research later we finally bought a Mercedes 1113 LAF that was built in 1985. It’s hard to explain how difficult this was so I’ll just tell you that it was super difficult. There are many different models with many different features and just a few of those were suitable for us. This truck was used by a local German Fire Brigade.
As soon as I bought it we fixed as many things as possible. Demounted the blue lights, got rid of all the unnecessary cables, built the whole engine apart and back together and so on. All of this happened in Aachen together with Axel who was our technical mastermind back then.
A couple of weeks later we had the first proper meetings at the Lagermax Vehicle.
Those guys are the real experts for rebuilding any kind of car and were an indescribable big help for this project. If you need help to make your own van dream come true, they know how to do it. We agreed on some basic stuff like how big the cabin has to be, how many and on which positions we want to build windows, if we want a connection from the living cabin to the drivers cabin and countless other stuff. Again this sounds quite easy but this process took us several weeks. Imagine planning windows and their position without really knowing how the interior should look like. Building this truck was by far, and I mean BY FAR the craziest and most complex thing that I’ve ever been through. Obviously I’m a skier and never had anything to do with mechanics, vehicle modifications, carpeting or any other stuff like that. This means that I but also Moggä who is really good at those things had to gain lots of knowledge in order to make it happen.
Once the plans for the cabin were ready we helped out the experts as much as possible. From polishing the raw cabin construction to painting it, mounting the outer shell, adjusting the floor and lots of other things.
As soon as the cabin was kind of ready we drove it down to Kärnten on a trailer. In this southern part of Austria we started with the interior design together
with Infracom and the Tschetschonig woodwork. We started with insulating the metal construction. Another perfect example for underestimation: We thought we’d insulate for about three days and start with the wall covering. We ended up insulating for more than one week… I could give you countless other examples but let’s not get that far.
We mounted a few wooden constructions on top of the Armaflex insulation where we attached all the furniture. This way we eliminated any dew points in the inside of the cabin. All the gaps between the metal construction got insulated with Austrian sheep wool.
Almost done with the interior we drove the cabin back up to Lagermax where we finished all the electronic „things“, painted/primed the cabin, mounted a skibox, the reserve wheel on the front, a Dometic generator underneath the cabin and and and….
That’s when Julian Vogel came into play. This guy was just unbelievable. He painted the whole truck entirely with spray cans. Actually we worked all day long on the truck itself and Julian sprayed during night shifts since we were on a really really tight schedule. Check out his website and see some other crazy artworks: https://julianvogel.me
Just before Christmas we drove back to Infracom and finished the whole interior design within three really long days. All furniture was built with Austrian pine wood. Well what should I say, it turned out way nicer than we thought.
We decided to build two beds into a cupboard that you can pull out like a draw in order to keep as much storage room as possible. Now this truck has 8 official beds (two bunk draws, a big fold-out bed in the back that fits two people and 4 beds above the drivers cabin)
Thanks to Pertinger we’ve got the best possible stove you could have in a camper. It provides a nice warmth that heats up the camper even if the electricity is down. We can use the hot plate on top to cook and even have a baking oven. It also makes it easy to dry all our clothes above the stove after a long day in the powder.
The original plan was to finish the truck by end of October, have two months to plan the trip, maybe go for a road trip to Portugal or somewhere else to see if everything is working out and just relax a bit.
In the end we mounted the last shelf on the 4th of January and hit the road on the next day in the morning.
After all I’m just glad that everything worked out and that we finally started this awesome 5 months road trip towards the east. At some point during the construction process I almost thought it’s not worth it anymore. There were months where I just couldn’t make it happen to climb a mountain, go paragliding, running or whatever. There were a couple of periods where we worked straight for weeks. Starting at 6am in the morning, finishing at 9pm in the evening with just a quick lunch break in between. I also lost 7kg during the summer, had a relationship crisis and all sorts of stuff. But sometimes in life I think you just have to go all in to reach your goals and in the end I think we did quite a good job to actually finish it before the winter really started. Now traveling in a self constructed truck with my friends and some of the best skiers in the world is just amazing.
At this point I want to give all the companies a huuuuge THANK YOU for supporting us. Another THANK YOU goes out to all the great people in person, who have helped to work on the car or in the backgrounds and have backed me up in this challenging time! Without you this project would have never been possible. „
Some more facts:
Insulation of the floor: Va-Q-tec
Solar power on the roof: Alternative Energiesysteme Holleis
Pre heating system: Eberspächer
Windows, Electronics, Fridge and other essentials by Dometic
Lots of special equipment by Fabian Heidtmann