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OKA NT Building Diary Part 3

At OKA again

On November 10th 2005, almost 2 years after our first visit, we arrive again at OKA in Perth.
The bad news is that our OKA is still not ready and neither will they manage to have it ready for the end of the year.
The good news is that almost all the required parts have come in, just 3 are missing, and they says that all they have to do is bang it together.

Arthur, one of the bosses Emmanuel, Arthur's PA Lindon, the developer

Arthur (the CEO), Emmanuel (his PA) and Linden (the developer) show us "our" OKA respectively the parts of it.

Adrian is just finishing the last bits of our cabin.
(The first cabin they had built did not pass Linden's scrutinizing eye and was re-designed.
The floor of the second cabin did not like the welding and it bent out of shape, so they had to redo it.)

All the parts are sitting in shelves, nicely laid out for us to inspect.

The chassis is there, the engine and the cables ....

As OKA cannot commit to a date but think that by mid January 2006 they will manage to get it all finished we sit down and discuss solutions.
OKA suggests to get Alu-Star staff from Germany to Australia on OKA's expenses to finish the truck on OKA's site.
This would give OKA the advantage of having some extra time to finish should there be any further delay as they can work side-by-side with the Alu-Star staff.

Susi's brother, an airplane-mechanic, has a good look at the OKA and advises us that we should stick to the truck, even if it takes some extra time.
He thinks that the quality of the work is very good and also the material used is very solid.

So we decide to agree to OKA's plan and will finish building our camper in Australia.
Alex from Alu-Star finds out that the next possibility to send a container to Perth would be leaving Murg (new location of Alu-Star) on December 6th, arriving in Fremantle on January 24th.
There is one small problem: Alex and his wife have just bought a Jack Wolfskin shop and Alex must be back to help with the shop by latest end of February.
The work that still has to be done adds up to aprox. 540 working hours and this cannot be accomplished with one person in this time-frame.
So OKA agrees to have 2 people sent over from Alu-Star on OKA's expenses.

We also agree to some new rims that just have been approved.

The new "bolt together rims" can be unscrewed to easily change the tyre out in the bush.
With these rims one can drive the OKA up to 130 Km/h and not just 100 Km/h as with split rims.
They will be bought while we are in Europe.

The new schedule for us means flying back to Europe and pack all our gear into a container as soon as possible.
Originally we had planned to do this work in 3 months and now we will only have 2 weeks to get all our gear cleaned, make an inventory of it, pack it and load it into the cabin / container.

Back in Europe

When arriving back in Europe we get a real temperature shock, flying away in Perth with some + 30C and arriving in Switzerland to -15C and snow.

But building a snowman can also be fun ... as long one can go back later to the heated room!

At Alu-Star work is in full swing. All available people are there finishing as much of the started work as possible as we know that in Australia it will not be easy to get all the bits and pieces.

Arthur from OKA warned us that due to the Chinese buying up all available steel the market in Australia is really dry for certain qualities of steel.
It is exactly the steel that Alex wants to use for the supporting frame of the cabin.
Not being able to get this steel in Australia would mean that the camper can not be mounted on the chassis and therefore cannot be finished.

After many phone calls Alex finally finds somebody that can deliver the required quality and amount and we are in full swing again.

The intermediary frame needs to be done very accurately. Due to the welding the frame often bends out of shape and needs to be corrected.

Then one side is done and the whole thing needs to be flipped over.
Try doing that with a frame that ways more than 130 kg of steel.

The frame is ready and is carried over to the cabin.
Again strong men are required ....

The cabin is moved from the trolley to some stands and the frame moves under it.

We are not sure if the German Post is aware off what their mail boxes can be used for ... almost as versatile as milk crates in Australia ...

The steel frame is now to line up exactly as the cabin needs to be fitted exactly. Otherwise later on while driving it could move around too much.
Then wholes are drilled through the frame into the cabin (fun work when you are lying underneath it) and all screwed tightly together.

In the meantime Ruedi and Susi start cleaning the cabin.
The roof-tent also needs a good scrub. The Australian Quarantine would not appreciate sand from Tunisia in it .....

While the guys from Alu-Star work on the supporting frame the cabin is packet. It just all fits.
Knowing how a ship can roll in a storm all is secured carefully and tied down with straps.

To prevent the cabin form banging against the walls in heavy seas a steel frame is welded into the container.
The cabin is pushed carefully and precisely into the container, not much space is left, neither on the sides nor on the top.

Ruedi realises that the top of the container has not been cleaned!
All solar panels are cleaned and the roof washed down.

After being in the container by almost 2/3 the cabin just does not want to move anymore.
Extra weight is added to the forklift but this does not help, it's wheels turn but the nothing moves.
It is late already and Alex and the crew send Susi and Ruedi home. They will find a solution.

Next morning all is nicely packed, the stand for the roof tent is also done and all ready for the container to be loaded to the truck.
We never found out when they had finished working but looking at their faces they did not get much sleep that night.

The crane arrives at 7 AM and the container is loaded.

German Customs seal the container and that's it, all ready to be picked up by the moving company.

Alu-Star goes OKA

On January 15th 2006 we leave Zurich in direction of Singapore.

As there are no connecting flights we are forced to a short stop over and enjoy the city and some Thai cuisine.

On January 18th we arrive in Perth and of course go straight to OKA.
Sad to say but the OKA is still not ready.

So we go "home" to the house organised by OKA.

The house belongs to the owner of OKA and is very comfortable.

There is lots of space for all uf us.

OKA has also organised 2 cars, a Mitsubishi Magna and for the "boys" an old Kingswood.
Alex loves the "Kings" as he calls it.

So we go to bed and get a good sleep.
Tomorrow all will look different ....

Next day we start work at OKA as part of the local crew.
Lots needs to be organised, tool bought, material ordered, etc.

The work plan is done and important dates in the OKA schedule planned into our work.

Work starts slowly as we are not yet used to where what can be found.

Because we are not organised and have no clue where to get what we decide to take the weekend off.

We go to Rottnest Island and enjoy the nice island and the quokkas.

On Monday we get organised and pick up in speed.

Just before Aussie-day the cabin is placed on the chassis for the first time.
Luckily all fits and the OKA crew can leave for a long weekend.

OKA has given us access to the factory so we can work over the long weekend.
We decide to go to Perth in the afternoon and join the Aussies.

They sure are patriots!

We enjoy a fabolous view of the firework being fired off from various locations including the tops of the skyscrapers.
After the fireworks we are suprised to see how clean the Aussies have left the borders of the Swan river.
All is neatly stacked away in containers, almost no rubbish left on the floor.
If one considers that the crowd was over 1 mio people!

Due to the long weekend and the factory being closed we have undisturbed access to all machines.
We make good progress with our work. Soon the modified bull-bar and the bumper bar are ready for galvanising.

It is Alex's first visit to Australia so on Sunday native animals are on the plan.

The following week the OKA crew is finishing the wiring and hosing of the engine and the chassis.
There is still so much work to be done on it and we find it hard to beleive in the dates given to us by Arthur.
According to his plan the OKA should be ready for us latest end of January, final compliance testing done on February 17th.

On January 31st the container arrives on board of the "CMA CGM Matisse".
What a coincidence that the same ship that took us to Perth 3 month earlier should now bring our container!

The captain is the one we had from Hamburg to Le Havre.
He gives us a warm welcome and shows the ship to the Alu-Star folks.
They are quite impressed about the engine and the size of it.

At OKA work continues.
But Murphy is present again ... the windows were not built to spec and need to be sent back.
The drawbacks are so frustrating to all.

The wheel carrier is finished, just the galvanising is now missing.

The temperatures in Perth rise and rise and so due the temperatures in the work-shop.
We are not used to it and enjoy a break in "our" airconditioned office.

The work on hoses and cables has been finished. Arthur and crew are now ready to put the cabin on the chassis permanently.
It is already the first week of February and all contingency time is used up again.
Not only we are stressed about the delays, the OKA crew also is.
They have many clients lined up for the next vehicles and just encounter problems over and over again.

One has to consider, that our truck is the very first assembled together and that every single piece and screw is thoroughly quality tested.

The container arrives

On February 7th the container finally is delivered to the logistics company and we have temporary access to it.
The first work is getting the cabin our of the container.

For that we require a bit more space so the container is moved.
The little forklift in vain tries to push it around and its bog brother comes to help.

We unpack the front bits so Alex has space to cut the welded steel away from the containers walls.

The small forklift pulls the cabin out of the container and the large one holds the cabin from the side.
Again because there is so little space between the cabin and the container walls this has to be coordinated and done precisely.

The large forklift has to start all over again but finally the cabin is out of the container.
We are very pleased to see that there is no damage neither on the cabin nor on its contents.

It is such a good feeling to finally see our little home here in Australia.

Now we have to get it cleared by customes and immigration.
We hope to get the back-section through as "cabin" and not as "car part".
If customs agrees to "cabin" we have to pay 5%, if it is a "car part" it will be 10% plus luxury tax ...



No liability for timeliness, integrity and correctness of this document is accepted.
Last updated: Thursday, 10.01.2019 3:30 PM

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