1989 TriStar Syncro Project


Ever since I saw one of these canopies on a US Army DoKa in Germany I knew I had to have one.  They are cab height for improved aerodynamics, solid construction that can take a lot of abuse, water tight to keep everything dry inside, vents for air circulation, ties downs for stuff on top and just very unique looking.  Only problem is they were a very limited production and when they came up for sale in Germany they are damn expensive.  I got my canopy for a little less than the market price because all the locks were broken along with the oil filled shocks that hold the doors up.  

These canopies are usually olive drab in color.  Not really the best choice for a shiny red TriStar.  So I will have to get it stripped and painted to match the color of the truck.  I will put some black highlights on the canopy to match the two tone paint of the TriStar.  Basically I will keep the rubber seals black, the rear window black and paint the trim / tie downs on the top black. 

I want to make this truck look similar to a rally support truck as you would see in the Paris-Dakar rally.  So, the idea at this point is to advertise the company that I run, Fast Forward Automotive. The running rabbit would be the same dark metallic silver as the factory SYNCRO and 4WD logos and would not be an over powering color.  The company name, location and phone number will be black or slight off-black to match the paint on the TriStar.  Below is what I have accomplished using my limited Corel Photo Paint skills!

Next step is to take the canopy aluminium shop and get a bracket system made up for the antennas along with a spare tire bracket on the roof of the canopy.  Then it is off to the auto body shop to get the paint and sign work done.

Canopy Design Concept. Canopy being worked on at the auto body shop

November 2004 Note: canopy turned out well didn't it!?

Because to take a lot of trips to the back country, good communications is essential.  There are a lot of different frequencies used when we travel and I am an amateur radio operator - VE7PBS.

Most logging roads in British Columbia are radio controlled, most commercial vehicles also have a VHF-HI radio system (135-174MHz).  At the beginning of each road there is a road name and the frequency used on the road.  For example the 2700 Road uses 152.99MHz.  Each kilometer on the road is marked with a sign 2701, 2702, 2703 etc.  You are supposed to call each kilometer you are at so that other traffic know you are coming.  There are two common frequencies used for truck to truck communications on the highway; 154.10MHz and 158.94MHz.  These are good to get the conditions of the roads ahead, find out where the police are and listen in to general bull between truck drivers.  There is also a lot of 2m amateur radio activity in BC as well.

There isn't much commercial or amateur activity on the UHF (400MHz) band in BC, but it is a good frequency to have because it is what is used for FRS communications which is getting more and more popular each year.  When travelling in groups, most people will have FRS or CB.

This is where things get a little more interesting.  The problems with VHF and UHF communications is that it is basically line of sight.  If the person you want to communicate with isn't between you and the horizon you can't talk to them.  Amateur radio repeaters will eliminate this problem to a degree, but sometimes we go to places where we can't 'hit' any repeaters.  This is where the HF or short wave frequencies between 1.6MHz and 54MHz come into play.  HF can be used to call internationally on some frequencies or at least several hundred kilometers on most frequencies.  So if you need some emergency or need to let the wife know how you are doing you can get a hold of someone!  The upper region of the HF band is where you will find CB radio (27MHz) - lots of people have these radios so again it is good to have when travelling in groups.

I an using a 100W Alinco DX70-TH HF/6m radio in my TriStar along with an Icom W2A VHF/UHF hand held  radio.  The DX70-TX has two antenna outputs.  One for 30KHz to 30MHz and the other for 50MHz to 54MHz.  I will be installing a pair of AS/1729 military antennas that I purchased from Murphy's Surplus (excellent customer service) on the front section of my NATO canopy.  These 3.3m long antennas were originally used on the VW Iltis, MB Unimog and many other NATO vehicles and were used for communications in the 30MHz to 76MHz frequencies.  The 1st antenna will be set to the 6m amateur radio band (50-54MHz) via it's built in tuner.  The 2nd antenna tuned with an SGC 239 antenna tuner and can operate between 7.0MHz to 30MHz bands which is almost all of the amateur radio HF bands and the CB band.  The antennas will be too tall for driving on the highway as the combined height of the antenna and vehicle will be in excess of 5m tall.  To remedy this, there is a spring at the bottom of the AS/1729 antenna and it can be folded over horizontally for use on the highway.   My Syncro Westfalia Joker has an Icom 706MKII-G installed in it, which is basically the two above radios combined into one.  With the above set-ups, if it communicates of radio waves, I can talk to it!

AS/1729 antenna mounting position.

We travel a lot to the more remote places where we are hours away from a fuelling station.  With TDI power we also have increased fuel economy ~10L/100km but sometimes this is not enough.  We will be fabricating an auxiliary 72L tank that will fit on the underside of the vehicle between the two frame rails on the passenger side.  We will also have a coolant operated heat exchanger inside the fuel tank as well so that we can run vegetable oil in the summer and Diesel fuel in the winter when it is below -35C and not have fuel that will gel up on us.  With this additional tank we are hoping to get about 18 to 20h of operation on a single fill up (of both tanks) or about 1200km on the highway.

Currently we are prototyping this.


2004 David Marshall