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Old 07-18-2007, 09:36 PM   #1
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Hi everybody. My name is Nick Russell and my wife and I have been fulltime RVers for over 8 years. We live and travel in a 40 foot MCI bus that we converted ourselves. If anybody is interested in the conversion process, you can see a complete story on it on our website at www.gypsyjournal.net.
Lately we have been talking about a new project, building a truck conversion toy hauler. We like the Volvo Class 8 trucks, but are flexible on what truck to get. I have a ton of questions, but will start with a couple:

1 - We spend a lot of time around Elkhart, Indiana. Does anybody know of shops in that area that could stretch a frame and maybe build a box to our specs?

2 - Any idea what stretching a frame to get a conversion with an overall length of 40 feet would coast?

3 - For those of you with Renegade or Haulmark
type truck conversions, what kind of fuel mileage can one expect?
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Old 07-19-2007, 11:29 PM   #2
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Nick, IMO, if you can afford to go with a new truck, do it.
I'm building a 33ft rig (overall 43') on a Freightliner Columbia. There were 14 pages of spec sheets on the cab and chassis. Many of the spec's are specific to building it into a motorhome.
Just to highlight a few: The frame (already stretched from Freightliner) is doubled ft to back; the ft axle is rated @ 16,000lbs (vs 12,000 as rated on most used tractors), the rear gear ratio is compatible to a motorhome ie, better fuel economy (vs low ratio in typical used tractor that hauls 90,000 lbs down the road); and,...it's already equipped with rear air-suspension, stretched driveline, stretched wiring, exhaust, etc.
Then, consider 500k mile & 7 year warranty.
There aren't many dealers that have the knowlege to spec out a truck for "motorhome" cab & chassis purposes. Most of the "boys" in Elkhart get theirs through Freightliner in Springfield, Illinois (John Patkunis is the sales rep in the know).
I had the shell built @ Hawk Engineering in Jackson, Mo. (www.hawkengineering.com)
I liked his fabrication methods & ideas better than anyone else.
He built the cage from 1&1/2" square tubing on 16" centers, uses .050" alum skins, 3/4" ply for {walk-on} roof. (1.5" sq tubing allows for ample insulation space)
Also, he uses a lot of other "better than average" materials & very tight construction tolerances which also sold me.
I'm finishing the interior and wanted the shell absolutely square & plumb,...which it is!
As for fuel milage,...It's equipped with a 450 Mercedes & Eaton 10spd auto-shift,...I drove it from Jackson, Mo to OKC, Ok (aprox 600 miles) through the back roads (and bucking a 25mph head wind) average speed 70mph,...& got 10mpg. The truck only had 500 miles on it & it's tight. I would expect the mpg to improve after it's been through the breakin period.
The Mercedes is probably the most fuel efficient engine out there at this time and the auto-shift trans is smarter than the average driver, which also makes the chore of driving much more pleasent.
Again,...this is just my humble opinion.
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Old 07-20-2007, 08:48 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info, Bob. Sounds like you have it planned out pretty well.

Unfortunately, a new truck isn't in our budget, but I sure wish it was.
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