VW MAN 8.136 ~ A small truck for the Sahara

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That summer's adaptions to the MAN include increasing the fuel range and adding some water storage. Bike fuel storage would have to be a locally bought oil drum or two again; it's just too complicated to work it out while maintaining space to get the bikes down to Algeria in the first place.

There are plenty of cheap artic tanks on ebay from £25 (left) with huge capacities up to 600L, but the problem is they all seem to be about 700mm deep (from chassis to outer edge of lorry) and the MAN has a limit of around 640mm.

Asking around at lorry breakers one then finds that your average 7.5 ton truck has good dimensions but a modest capacity of only around 200L, not much better than the 140 + 4 x 20 at present.

The space we have to play with is around 1500+ L x 640 D x 450 H, giving a very useful potential capacity of up to 430 litres if L x D x H = V. So it may have to be the expense of a custom made tank; we have a quote in the pipeline.

The spare wheel arm (left) gets in the way of a smooth line and maximum height from front to back so to simplify things the fuel tank will extend behind the arm to the back wheel arch (red bit) and in front will fit a tall water tank (blue), as in the picture right.


Other than that, the biggest expense is hunting down a set of XZL tyres. I've been searching the web and calling around and it appears my preferred size of 365/80 R20 is only used on European Mogs and the like. Plenty used in Germany and a few end up here with used Mog tyre dealers. Other than that I have a tip for a yard near Senas, south of Avignon which has masses of 20-inchers. At the very worst I could buy and fit a set on the way down to Marseille for lot less that £500+ each new in the UK. But that's a bit too last minute, even for me.

I hope to go tubeless which will mean another adventure in search of 20-inch 10-stud tubeless rims, but how can hard it be? They say the world is getting smaller every day.

Talking of which, I had a puncture on the way up to Matt's; luckily just outside the Costa at Unknown Services on the M1. Heavy work as you can imagine; when totally flat the jack does not have the reach to raise the wheel enough so it took an hour and a few lattes.
And of course separating 18-year-old split rims is no picnic but eventually we bashed them apart, fitted a new tube and pumped it up. No harder than Tojo splits and again, heavy work but as long as you do it right I do wonder where this urban myth of killer split rims ever came from. These splits weigh a ton though. I dread to think of the price, but I wonder what some 20" tubeless alloys would cost - the ones with the cool 'turbo-vane' pattern. Steels are best I suppose.



Spotted this Bending MAN in Germany recently. It hurts just to look at it. It featured twin and pivoting shackles, in case you're wondering.


Suddenly my MAN finds itself sold so my story ends here.
Shame, I would have liked to take it a bit further but in 2009 the next but one owner
did and in 2010 he sold it on at the BK Show in Germany.

Thanks for watching