An old fire engine as a luxurious travel vehicle – Natascha and Flo put a lot of work and love into the conversion of their LF16. They give HEROES WORLD an insight into their DIY project.
“500 liters,” states Flo. He points to the diesel tank installed between the axes of the old LF16 fire engine. He directs his gaze up at the driver’s cab and then looks back at the trailer. “We restored, replaced and installed everything ourselves!” Indeed, the camper‘s external shell was the only job Natascha and Flo did not tackle themselves – it was done by a specialist from Poland. All the interior works were based on Flo’s painstaking planning and were inspired by Natascha’s ideas. The couple organized everything they needed via online portals.
The original notion came to them during a trip to Sweden. “Just such a truck” was parked next to them in a bear park at Lake Orsa. It had also had a camper shell added. Natascha’s jaw dropped. “That’s fabulous.” Flo, who works as a goldsmith, began to suspect the truth of the matter. “It could be a lot of work and a money pit,” he thought. As soon as the couple arrived back home, Flo started to look out for a suitable truck. Then, practically on their own doorstep, they happened to come across the LF16, which was still in its original fire truck condition. Its previous owner had acquired the vehicle from the fire brigade in Lenzing, a small town near Düsseldorf. His plan was to convert it into a motor home. However, this ambition met with very little enthusiasm on the part of his family. And so Flo and Natascha splashed out €8,000 for the 30-year-old Iveco-manufactured truck. A real bargain given the fact that the air-cooled six-cylinder engine had only clocked up 25,000 kilometers. It was also a fire truck which had spent more time in maintenance than it had on the road. “The technology is very simple, but it’s as robust as a tractor,” says Flo, who is now welding the last trusses on the trailer. After 18 months of conversion works, there is now nothing left to remind anyone that this was once a fire truck. Fire brigade red has mutated into a cool shade of expeditionary gray. The driver’s cab has been tweaked to provide four seats instead of nine. An air suspension system has been added to the driver and passenger seats. Behind, there are two offset children’s seats, or “women’s seats” as Flo jokes. The point of this jest is that the vehicle’s air-cooled Deutz diesel engine is located directly below this area and heats up the metal. “Keeps your feet nice and warm.” There is a special spot for the dog next to the window. Everything has been thought through down to the last detail.
The structure which appears to be taking a piggyback ride on top of the trailer is actually home to the kind of interior rarely found on four wheels. There is a kitchen with an oven, two gas jets and an induction hob. When the sun is shining, the latter is heated by a gel battery fed by a three-meter square solar panel on the roof. The pair also built the battery themselves. The rear of the camper shell contains a comfortable double bed complete with a swivel-mounted 42-inch LED TV. The shower cubicle is fitted with a wet/dry toilet to minimize odors. Between the two lies a comfortable mini-dining area with high-end panoramic windows. Cupboards with air-sprung closing systems are everywhere. Each nook and corner has been cleverly turned into useful storage space. Futuristic switches dim the indirect lighting and give an optical finish which is reminiscent of a design studio.
In order to achieve all of this, Flo and Natascha stripped their Iveco FL16 right down to its reinforced flat springs. They sawed the original driver’s cab apart and replaced every screw. All that is now needed is a vehicle inspection certificate. “That could be a close call,” says Flo. “Or maybe not,” Natascha grins back. The couple have been in close touch with a tester from the very outset.
They could have swung into action long ago had it not been for this confounded virus. “60 kilometers” – that‘s the distance they‘ve been traveling in their mobile outdoor dream thus far. One trip to Munich, and then back again. “Maybe it works out soon,” Natascha hopes. She is eying a small trip around the Baltic Sea, over to Poland and Finland and then a return leg via Sweden and Denmark. But even if this journey fails to come to fruition, spending time together in their DIY domicile, which they found on an old military training site, is a holiday in itself.