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Old 12-01-2004, 09:09 PM   #1
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I know that this is a tuff question, but with all the diffrent manufactures out there its getting real hard to tell were the quality builders are.

Maybe a list of conversion builders and what ranking you would place them in and why?

We have yet to buy but are getting real close now and I dont want to make a 130-150k mistake.

I see huge diffrences in price with coaches that have the same basic power train.

This coach will serve as a dual purpose unit that will be used to spend 10 days in the desert with no hook ups and it will aslo see some cross country touring during the summer months.

Thanks in advance for any help pointing me in the best direction.

P.S. I dont live anwhere near any of the manfactures so flying clear across the united states is a little tuff.

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Old 12-02-2004, 01:58 PM   #2
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Location: N.E. Ohio
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Glamis -

First, what are you looking to buy? Motorhome, Garage unit, or Toter?

Are you buying off the lot or you going to build custom to your spec's?

And last what is important to you? Is the chassis and frame your concern, how about interior fit & finish, exterior construction, ect..

There are a ton of varibles to consider in a conversions and you really need to identify those that are important to you and evaluate those in the actual product.

Show Hauler is one of the leaders when it comes to interior fit and finish & frame structure. They are also at the high end of the price scale because of this and their willingness to customize a conversion to you requirements. But there are somethings people dont like about them, such as their lack of insulation (although they will ad additional if you really want it and I have never had a problem with what they use & multiple exterior panels versus smooth side.

I will tell you that if it where me (and I am in the middle of building my second Show Hauler) I would definetly spend the bucks to get over to Indiana and check all of these guys out. $150,000 is a chunk a change, and I would not want to gamble on a rig that turns out to be junk. And I will tell you there is alot of junk on the market right now.

I am sure others will chime in on the other manufacturers.


2012 Showhauler 28'6" Motorhome on a Columbia w/ 450 Mercedes.
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Old 12-02-2004, 07:05 PM   #3
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I agree with Bill. A trip to Indiana is not much if you are going to spend $150,000.

Last May I traveled from Colorado to Indiana to visit the factories. There are 5 in the general area of Elkhart. Here is a brief list of some of the things I observed.

Renegade by Kibbi. They are the only company using the FRP panel construction. You have to decide it you like that type of construction. They build a lot of different models so some customization is possible because one of their other models might already have that feature.

They leave their holding tanks open, like most of the truck converters, but when I asked if they could enclose them I was told that there was a law that said you cannot enclose holding tanks. I then said most RV motorhome builders enclose them and took the person to the parking lot and showed him my motorhomes enclosed tanks. Makes you wonder how much they look beyond just their product.

Haulmark. Built the most like conventional RV company's motorhomes. The walls are vacuum formed by an outside vendor. While this is used a lot in the RV industry is limits any changes. Haulmark was the least willing to do any custom work. "It would slow down the production line" So what you see is what you get with them. But they do have some good features like a cab bunk cutout and interesting way of mounting a flat screen tv at the cab over.

United Specialities Trendsetter, NRC Modifications, and Showhauler all build with a welded steel framework. All three seem willing to do custom work. These three definately are different from the Renegade and Haulmarks.

Bill has already mentioned the insulation issue. One thing I found is that RV manufacturers, including the truck conversion companies, are not real knowledgeable on insulation. I went to a total of 9 manufacturers on this trip and only at United Specialities did they know the difference between "bead board" and Styrofoam. A couple of times standing right next to a stack of "bead board" they called it Styrofoam until I educated them to about the difference. They had no knowledge of other foam insulation like polyiso or urthane. I would think that the manufacturers would do more research. But a lot of the RV type products are copies of other manufacturer's styles or construction.

One thing I did not like on the Showhauler is the moulded fiberglass rear cap. This is what you see on the usual RV based motorhomes. If you ever have a accident you are going to have to get that same cap, which will have to come from one source in Indiana. The other styles can probably be repaired in most places of the country by a good truck body service facility, even Renegades FRP.

Bill likes Showhauler and I agree that they would be on my short list of companies to consider.

There is also also another manufacturer who has posted some things lately. Butler in Wisconsin. I have not seen one of his rigs but his knowledge of insulation and some other things seems to be superior to what I found in Indiana. I might have to make a trip up to Wisconsin to check them out.

One impression that I did have after my visit was that none of the companies produced a bad product. I have seen conventional RV based motorhomes that I just wanted to walk away from and would not even consider. With a few adjustments any of the truck conversions would probably be a good product. Of course the truck conversion style of chassis is one of the main things that makes them better in my opinion than the usual Class A or diesel pusher motorhomes. Plus the availability of toterhomes or garage units if you want that style.

I hope these impressions give you some help.
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Old 12-03-2004, 06:27 AM   #4
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Location: Huntley, Illinois
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Glamis, The previous posts are right on track. I have experience with Haulmark, United Specialties and Renegade. You will want to partly base your decision on how flexible you can be finding a floorplan that suits you. The next question is: which exterior coach frame & wall system you prefer.

The interior difference that I notice would be that United Specialties and Showhauler seem to have a "fancier" interior, while the Haulmark and Renegade are more utilitarian, although you can dress them up with options, interior color and material selections. I have no experience with NRC.

If you need a whole lot of customizing, Haulmark is out. Showhauler and United Specialties can do just about anything, not completely sure about NRC- I think they customize also. Renegade does more customizing then people seem to know about. They all build on the same chassis types.

As far as price difference, I have specified coaches from different manufacturers and I have not found a big difference in dealer cost if you compare "apples to apples". The wide range of dealer markup is probably what you are seeing. Showhauler does seem to be a little higher as I talk to other people- very nice product though. The other price difference is in the chassis. I have a $5,000 to $8,000 difference on chassis prices depending on when they were ordered by the coach manufacturers. There have been and will be increases because of steel, fuel, etc. Luckily, I bought a bunch when the price was much lower.

If you can't make it to the factories, you may be able to attend the PRI show in Indianapolis next week. You would need credentials and be in a business related to racing though. Butler is supposed to be there also.

I Hope to visit Glamis one day with our 4-wheelers.

Good Luck!!
'18 Renegade 45'
Volvo Twin Screw, 500 hp I-Shift 12 Speed
30' Renegade Stacker Trailer
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Old 12-04-2004, 07:41 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.

We are looking at an 28-30 motorhome conversion. The information really helps. We are having a hard time deciding whether to have a custom coach built or buy a demo unit/used as long as it has the majority of the things we need. Wife keeps saying budget .

I would like to get out to the factory's and take a tour.

This helps in narrowing the field though and again thanks for the replies.
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Old 12-04-2004, 02:49 PM   #6
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Location: ellijay, ga. usa
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you are familiar with the saying "it's up to you"???? well-- if you are going to keep the caoch build it tour way-- if you are not sure and are still in the i'm not real sure --- go with a pre-buit unit,---- that way you are in and out for less money while still being able to build 'xactly what you want later---- mase
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Old 12-04-2004, 08:21 PM   #7
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Yes I will be at the PRI Show, stop in and say hi. I'm one of the little guys they put in a booth in the far back corner so you have to look to find me. They did offer that if I paid $4000 I could park a truck on the street outside the convention center. AHHHH the tradeshow world.

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Old 12-05-2004, 06:57 PM   #8
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A few months ago we were in the same boat and ended up going to some dealers a few hours away and seeing coaches. We ended up with our United Specialties. We found it had the nicest quality, GREAT storage and the amenities we wanted, we did buy ours off a dealer who had it already in stock. It was almost fully loaded. We looked at Renegade but were turned off by the fact that only 3 of the 8 storage compartments were usuable, the rest had generator, batteries and tanks etc.. The styling of the renegade was dated and tired, it needs an update. Looked at Haulmark the quality wasn't there, inside storage was nice, ouside once again wasn't excitng. Also looked at Optima, nice unit, if you got the bucks... didn't fit my wallet at the time. The best thing is look at them all and compare, we love our choice and haven't second guessed it.

Definately pick Bob's (RJDHOMES) brain, he is very knowledgeable and helped us a lot. We would have bought through him if we hadn't found the one we did.
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:53 PM   #9
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Does any of the others offer the cab cut-out like Haulmark for ease of passage between the coach and cab?
Do any of them offer thermopane windows and ducted heat to the holding tank compartments for winter use?
Does any converter do a significantly better job than others on plumbing and electrical quality and reliability?
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:22 PM   #10
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"ducted heat to the holding tank compartments for winter use?"

Some of the truck conversion companies don't even enclose the holding tanks or the dump valves. So ducting heat is not even a consideration. Some will put heating pads on the tanks. But if these are the 120v type you need to be hooked to shore power for them to work. One company had the valves in a compartment but the tank running side to side across the chassis was not enclosed.

The other thing, and this is also true of a lot of the regular RV manufacturers, is insulation. I just looked at a brand new model motorhome from one of the larger RV manufacturers that has "enclosed and heated" tanks. Below the dump valves is this nice moulded plastic/fiberglass catch pan with the round fitting for the dump hoses. Probably one foot by 2 to 3 feet. At the most 1/8" thick. I doubt that in cold weather you could begin to keep that compartment warm unless you ran the furnace almost non stop. I saw the same problem on another brand on a $300,000 diesel pusher.

Auxiliary rear heater. If you are going to use a comversion in cold weather make sure you get a auxiliary heater in the back of the unit getting heat from the engine coolant. Otherwise the only way to keep the back of the unit warm while traveling is to run the propane furnace while driving.

Some of the problems that I have seen are from the fact that truck conversions developed from the racing market. Most forms of auto racing take place in warm weather. So the untis are built with warm weather in mind.
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