As the proud owner, I am pleased to present the recently completed and re-purposed 1990 BMY M923A2, 6-wheel drive, Expeditionary Vehicle appropriately named: BRAVO 1.
Purchased in June 2015 as a surplus U.S. military 5-ton cargo truck, it had undergone a thorough reconditioning by the military in 2009; this included installation of a new Cummins diesel engine (16,000 miles) and automatic Allison transmission, undercoating, and Michelin 48” super-single all-terrain tires (11,000 lb. capacity each). It has since been re-configured with an amazing number of surplus military parts and commercial features. Weighing in at over 36,000 lbs., the overall dimensions are 30’ long, 8’ wide (plus safety mirrors), and 13’ tall. A total of approx. 15,000 lbs. of added material and equipment is incorporated into the formal design prepared by the owner, which included detailed fabrication worksheets for use by the fabrication team.
External modifications include removal of the short cargo drop-down sides, re-fitting of the exhaust stack to a horizontal configuration, the bed extended by about five feet, and the spare tire carrier relocated to the rear of the vehicle. The expeditionary box is plated with 1/8” steel, welded to insulated 2” and 3” tube steel frame assemblies; windows are military grade insulated glazing protected by external brush guards. Interior bunks and galley frames are also similarly heavily constructed.
The underframe is fitted with a 77-gallon diesel fuel tank, two 50-gallon fresh water tanks, a 150-gallon grey/black waste water tank, and two storage compartments. Waste tank hoses are stored in a specially designed rear bumper assembly. BRAVO 1 comes complete with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), air brakes, and automatic tire pressure inflation system for use in highway, off-road, emergency, and run-flat configurations; an air hose provides auxiliary air supply to tires on stranded vehicles. The primary entrance to the living/sleeping quarters is via a surplus MRAP-style collapsible stair that leads to the 5-psi certified, water-resistant, fully-dogged Navy vessel door.
Upon entrance to the interior, a number of unique features are immediately evident: a double bunk (surplus Navy berths), as well as a Navy ship’s wardrobe, and two securable safes with combination locks. The galley-type stainless steel counter includes a sink, Kitchenaid under-counter refrigerator, and pull-out tabletop.
BRAVO 1 is electrified through a commercial 50-amp, 120 volt service panel (military vehicles run on 24 volt), with breakers that feed the overhead/exposed LED lighting system, wall outlets, hot water tank, and combined heating/air conditioning/dehumidification system. Cooking is accomplished with portable stainless electric burners and roaster oven, for both external and internal use. Off-grid electricity is supplied by an external portable generator, with cabling to supply 50 amp, 30 amp, and 15 amp service.
Water is secured from two sources – from a stationary water source (i.e., campground), as well as the mobile 50-gallon tanks previously mentioned that feed an onboard transfer pump. Included in this amazing rig is a full-service bathroom accessible via another 5-psi surplus Navy door that incorporates both a commercial-style pressure-tank-operated toilet and full shower. Hot water is provided by a 19-gallon hot water tank.
Rounding out the unique features of BRAVO 1, all walls are wrapped with walnut veneer plywood; included is a wall-mounted 42” flat screen TV with accompanying DVD/BlueRay player. The main cabin ceiling consists of galvanized roof panels, which also line the bathroom walls, and ceiling. A great variety of storage is evident – from the areas inclusive within the bunks, to the wardrobe, combo safes, galley cabinetry, and front-facing overhead bins.
Last, but certainly not least, BRAVO 1 includes a movable ship’s-style ladder that accesses the roof-mounted emergency exit hatch. This exit-way also leads to the forward observation deck – perfect for use as a photography platform to view nature in all its’ finest glory. Further, note that the roof deck is designed to support several people once collapsible handrails have been installed – perfect for NASCAR mid-field spectator participation and pre-game sporting events.
After fourteen months of fabrication, BRAVO 1 recently passed NC inspection, and is now commissioned as a legally operable vehicle on both public roads and rough terrain back roads. As required by NHTSA law, a total of 37 lights are appropriately stationed around the entire exterior for purposes of identification, illumination, and safety awareness. Also, note that per NC law, a CDL is NOT required to operate this daunting vehicle.
This expeditionary beast is built rugged for off-road use, yet handles well in city traffic – being mindful, of course, that this behemoth has an unintended effect to promote curious and alluring stares by those being passed by. Safe and secure in such an exceptional vehicle, one can be assured that there are few back roads and moderate off-terrain areas that can’t be conquered by BRAVO 1.
You are welcome to visit this extraordinary expeditionary vehicle at the Overland Expo in Asheville, NC!
Bruce Kibler • 1990 BMY M923A2